Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War

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JHU Press, Jul 3, 2013 - History - 385 pages
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The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease.

During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members—especially women—and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all.

In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war—and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

 

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Contents

Call and Response
1
1 Understanding Civil War Medicine
20
2 Women War and Medicine
48
3 Infectious Disease in the Civil War
76
The Work of the USSC
103
5 The Sanitary Commission and Its Critics
131
6 The Unions General Hospital
152
7 Medicine for a New Nation
184
Disease Wounds and Shortages
208
9 Mitigating the Horrors of War
243
10 A Public Health Legacy
271
11 Medicine in Postwar America
290
Afterword
310
Notes
313
Index
373
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About the author (2013)

Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, a professor of history, and a professor of medicine at Duke University. She is the author of Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War and Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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