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Marrow of Tragedy

The Health Crisis of the American Civil War

Margaret Humphreys

Publication Date
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Soldiers lay wounded or sick as both sides struggled to get them fit to return to battle.

Winner, George Rosen Prize, American Association for the History of Medicine

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...

Soldiers lay wounded or sick as both sides struggled to get them fit to return to battle.

Winner, George Rosen Prize, American Association for the History of Medicine

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.

Reviews

Reviews

An immensely readable synthesis of what [Humphreys] terms 'the greatest health disaster that this country has ever experienced.'

In many ways, Marrow of Tragedy is likely to remain the definitive general medical history of the war for years to come... The book has high production values and makes one of the most important contributions to our understanding of that so-called third army of the Civil War—disease—and the efforts of those on both sides of the MasonDixon to fight it. It needs to be read by specialists and nonspecialists alike and should find a place on the shelf of every academic library worthy of the name.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
400
ISBN
9781421422770
Illustration Description
19 halftones
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Understanding Civil War Medicine
2. Women, War, and Medicine
3. Infectious Disease in the Civil War
4. Connecting Home to Hospital and Camp
5. The

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Understanding Civil War Medicine
2. Women, War, and Medicine
3. Infectious Disease in the Civil War
4. Connecting Home to Hospital and Camp
5. The Sanitary Commission and Its Critics
6. The Union's General Hospital
7. Medicine for a New Nation
8. Confederate Medicine
9. Mitigating the Horrors of War
10. A Public Health Legacy
11. Medicine in Postwar America
Afterword
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Margaret Humphreys

Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, a professor of history, and an associate clinical professor of medicine at Duke University. She is the author of Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, also published by Johns Hopkins.