kevin [@]

Greetings to all,

This dissertation started when I read a report by Dr. Phelps, United States Volunteers, on the medical care at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, April 6-7, 1862.

“The sufferer [wounded] had not the alternative of choosing between transportation North (steamer) and death, and remaining upon the field with a reasonable chance of recovery, even though
it were under the rudest shelter that the bedding found would have afforded.”  [1]

Dr. Phelps, believed hospital tents offered superior survivability rates because they had better ventilation than the ships or land hospitals, and he suggested being cared for on a ship or in brick-and-mortar hospitals meant death,

This video introduces my dissertation topic,

BETTER HEALING: Hospital Ships of The Western Sanitary Commission at The Battle of Pittsburg Landing in the Spring of 1862.

The dissertation compares the two types of medical care offered at Pittsburg Landing, battlefield medicine and medical care provided on steamships (steamers) sent by various states that had regiments at the battles; for example, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin sent steamers.  Other groups, such as The Western Sanitary Commission out of St. Louis, Mo., the United States Sanitary Commission, and other civilian aid groups, sent steamers.

My dissertation question is basic: Which of the two types of medical care offered better care – better survivability rates?  It seems like a simple question, yet as you ponder the logistics of how the troops and ship ordered and received their medical goods and examine what types of medicines were available and how they were prepared and administered, the question becomes complex. Of course, one must look at sanitation – environmental factors.  That is, sanitation before the medical establishment knew of it and accepted Germ Theory (Koch, Pasteur, Lister, in the mid to late 1860s).  Thus, which medical care offered a healthier environment? Which had cleaner water and better disposal of waste? The most crucial factor is which group had better doctors, nurses, stewarts, apothecaries – pharmacists.  Moreover, we must look at the physiological impact of the two types of medical care on a soldier’s well-being.

This video does not cover all of that. It is an introduction to my topic.  There will be more videos as I continue to research and draft my dissertation.

Last October 2022,  after a week long research trip at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Illinois State Archives  we stopped and recorded this unscripted video on October 30, 2022 at the Civil War site The Battle of Pittsburg Landing, a.k.a. Shiloh – April 6,7, 1862.   Unscripted video – Yes, I make mistakes.

When you stop thinking of Civil War Medicine as medieval – barbaric, cruel, and ignorant, and start thinking of Civil War medicine in a bigger picture, you find many well meaning, intelligent, well educated doctors and staff, along with the not so good doctors and staff, as well as, many other obstacles to saving the lives of men.  The country and the medical society was not ready for the slaughter.  It’s simpler to kill soldiers than save them. The answer to my thesis is complex.

“The battle of Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh, will be recorded in the history of this war as one of its most terrible scenes….There was no organization of the medical department, especially for the field of battle…slow relief to the wounded, unjustifiable operations, and a lack of supplies.”

Dr Phelps, Surgeon United States Volunteers

Stats on The Battle Of Pittsburg Landing:

Confederate and Union soldiers: 103,000 Combined Forces –

3,477 killed

16,420 wounded

3,841 missing.

Confederates:                                                     Union

40,335 engaged                                                   42,682 engaged

8012 wounded                                                     8408 wounded

1723 killed                                                             1754 killed

959 missing.                                                          2885 missing. [2]

[1] Austin Flint, M.D., ed., United States Sanitary Commission. Sanitary Memoirs Of The War of The Rebellion…Causation And Prevention Of Disease, An To Camp Diseases. (New York: Hurd And Houghton, 1867), p. 47

[2] Thomas L. Livermore, Numbers and losses in the Civil War in America, 1861-1865. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1901), 102,103.