Tag Archives: Civil War

Andersonville, Georgia and Elmira, New York: When Hell was on Earth

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” — Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy   Andersonville Prison, Georgia. South end view of the stockade, showing the sentry stands in the distance. Photographed by A.J. Riddle, August 17, 1864. Library of Congress Liljenquist Family Collection. No known restrictions on publication. Elmira Prison, Elmira, […]

Infectious diseases in the Civil War

Lloyd Klein  San Francisco, California, United States   Dr. Louis Pasteur. Photo by Paul Nadar, 1878. Wellcome Collection. Via Wikimedia. CC BY 4.0. The main cause of death during the American Civil War was not battle injury but disease. About two-thirds of the 620,000 deaths of Civil War soldiers were caused by disease, including 63% […]

Book review of ‘All manner of ingenuity and industry’: a bio-bibliography of Dr. Thomas Willis 1621-1675

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of “All manner of ingenuity and industry” Thomas Willis, born four hundred years ago, is still known by students of neuroanatomy today for the eponymous Circle of Willis. Yet most doctors do not know the story of Willis, the seventeenth-century British physician and his remarkable contributions to […]

Abraham Lincoln’s smallpox

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looking at an album of photographs. Anthony Berger. 1864. Library of Congress. A brutal, bloody civil war had been tearing the United States of America apart for two years when President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863. Four months before […]

General Robert E Lee’s myocardial infarction: did illness impact the Battle of Gettysburg?

Lloyd Klein San Francisco, California, United States   Robert E Lee in March 1864. Julian Vannerson, photographer, after 1875. No known restrictions on publication. From the Library of Congress. Ascribing the loss of the Battle of Gettysburg to an illness of General Robert E. Lee became common among historians thirty years ago. The legend of […]

Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc, and Moses

Faraze A. Niazi Jack E. Riggs  Morgantown, West Virginia, United States   Harriet Tubman 1822 – 1913 Slave, abolitionist, activist. Suggested to have had visions and dreams as manifestations of temporal lobe epilepsy. Via the Library of Congress. Listen to my words: “When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, […]

Albert C. Barnes, MD: the physician who spun silver into gold

Sylvia Karasu New York, New York, United States   Argyrol, the compound developed by Dr. Albert C. Barnes and Dr. Hermann Hille to treat ophthalmia neonatorum, a conjunctivitis that led to blindness in newborns then caused by gram-negative gonococcus bacteria. Infection was contracted from mothers during vaginal delivery. Credit: Argyrol bottle, c. 1902-1907, Barnes & […]

Harvey Cushing: Surgeon, Author, Soldier, Historian 1869-1939

John Raffensperger Fort Meyers, Florida, United States   Harvey Williams Cushing. Photograph by W.(?)W.B. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Harvey Cushing was a third-generation physician, born to a family of New England Puritans who had migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid 1830s. His father and grandfather were successful physicians; family members on both […]

Samuel Mudd MD: Good Samaritan or conspirator?

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1 Samuel A. Mudd, MD. Wikimedia. As he rose in the Washington, D.C. courtroom on June 30, 1865, to hear his verdict, Dr. Samuel Mudd looked older than his thirty-one years (Figure 1). His odobene mustache framed his mouth and his goatee was speckled with prematurely […]

The death of Zachary Taylor: the first presidential assassination or a bad bowl of cherries?

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1: Senator Foote pulling a revolver on Senator Benton on Senate Floor. The quote above Benson’s head reads, “Get out of the way and let the assassin fire! Let the scoundrel use his weapon! I have no arm’s(sic) I didn’t come here to assassinate.” Library of […]