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Confederate Civil War Surgeon John Lawing

Account of Surgeon John W. Lawing, Thomas' Legion, C. S. Army, on the expedition from Bull's Gap to Watauga River, April 25-27, 1864.
 
Carter DEPOT, EAST TENNESSEE, April 28, 1864. EDITOR, WESTERN DEMOCRAT: I desire through your paper to give a brief account of the engagement recently fought at this place. The enemy, about 2,000 strong, consisting of the Third Indiana, the Tenth Michigan Mounted Infantry, and a battalion with two pieces of artillery under Brigadier-General [Mahlon Dickerson] Manson, United States Army, attacked this place on Monday, April 25.The fight began at 2 o'clock p. m., and with only occasional intervals continued until dark. The resisting force, which consisted of only a portion of Colonel [William Holland] Thomas' Legion, North Carolina Troops, and without artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel James [Robert] Love [II] of North Carolina, met them heroically and repulsed them in a crippled condition. Under cover of the night the enemy removed their wounded and dead and resumed the firing early next morning, but after a short skirmish they retired. A few of our cavalry pursued and on their return reported that the enemy had burned a small bridge, torn up a portion of the railroad track, and were still retreating, evidently not intending to renew the attack. The loss of the enemy, as far as ascertained, was nineteen killed, twenty-seven wounded and three captured. Among their killed was a major and a captain. Our loss was three captured, three very slightly wounded, and one seriously wounded. During this engagement our men displayed a heroism worthy of veterans and of the noble cause in which they are engaged. This victory, though comparatively small, is in keeping with the progress of events which makes our Confederate cause ever plainer to our minds and dearer to our hearts.
 
John W. Lawing
 
Surgeon, Thomas' Legion. [Printed in the Charlotte, North Carolina Western Democrat, May 10, 1864.]

Recommended Reading: Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs (Hardcover) (475 pages). Description: Nothing is left unstudied! Alfred Jay Bollet covers a multitude of areas in the world of the medical care/treatment featuring early war ill-preparation, being overwhelmed, medical science, surgery, amputations, wounds, hospitals, drugs, diseases, prison camps and notable individuals of the era. Every chapter offers added insight via biographies on individuals that had influence on the subject discussed—thus adding more intrigue to this book. Continued below...

This book is considered very comprehensive and fair to all parties involved…often bringing to light the importance of doctors and nurses through out the entire war and its aftermath. Numerous sidebar articles appear throughout the text to embellish points of interest and a nice appendix is provided, as well as countless charts offering statistical data. Bollet's style is very reader friendly - you don't have to be that “med student” to enjoy it!

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Recommended Reading: This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. Review from Publishers Weekly: Battle is the dramatic centerpiece of Civil War history; this penetrating study looks instead at the somber aftermath. Historian Faust (Mothers of Invention) notes that the Civil War introduced America to death on an unprecedented scale and of an unnatural kind—grisly, random and often ending in an unmarked grave far from home. Continued below...

She surveys the many ways the Civil War generation coped with the trauma: the concept of the Good Death—conscious, composed and at peace with God; the rise of the embalming industry; the sad attempts of the bereaved to get confirmation of a soldier's death, sometimes years after war's end; the swelling national movement to recover soldiers' remains and give them decent burials; the intellectual quest to find meaning—or its absence—in the war's carnage. In the process, she contends, the nation invented the modern culture of reverence for military death and used the fallen to elaborate its new concern for individual rights. Faust exhumes a wealth of material—condolence letters, funeral sermons, ads for mourning dresses, poems and stories from Civil War–era writers—to flesh out her lucid account. The result is an insightful, often moving portrait of a people torn by grief. Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Recommended Reading: Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care during the American Civil War (University of Illinois Press). Description: Gangrene and Glory covers practically every aspect of the 'medical related issues' in the Civil War and it illuminates the key players in the development and advancement of medicine and medical treatment. Regarding the numerous diseases and surgical procedures, Author Frank Freemon discusses what transpired both on and off the battlefield. Continued below...

The Journal of the American Medical Association states: “In Freemon's vivid account, one almost sees the pus, putrefaction, blood, and maggots and . . . the unbearable pain and suffering.” Interesting historical accounts, statistical data, and pictures enhance this book. This research is not limited to the Civil War buff, it is a must read for the individual interested in medicine, medical procedures and surgery, as well as some of the pioneers--the surgeons that foreshadowed our modern medicine.
 
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."
 
Recommended Reading: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover) (537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History (June 26, 2008). Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume. Continued below...

Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding source for genealogists.

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