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Books, Journals, New Media
April 25, 2001

Civil War SurgeonsTarnished Scalpels: The Court-Martials of Fifty Union Surgeons

Author Affiliations
 

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media

 

Not Available

 

by Thomas P. Lowry and Jack D. Welsh, 258 pp, $24.95, ISBN 0-8117-1603-1, Mechanicsburg, Pa, Stackpole Books, 2000.

JAMA. 2001;285(16):2135-2136. doi:10.1001/jama.285.16.2135-JBK0425-4-1

Tarnished Scalpels is to my knowledge the first book about physician court-martials during the Civil War. Add to this that the authors have made the subject interesting and entertaining, and you have the winning formula for a splendid work.

The text is well written, detailed, and often witty, with the authors' comments and analysis following each court-martial account. A wide array of remarkable tales make up the book, and it is obvious that the authors were diligent in their research in the National Archives. Unfortunately, the official transcripts of most Confederate physician court-martials no longer exist, as the result of a fire that destroyed much of Richmond, Va, in April of 1865, but Union court-martial records are readily available.

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