Civil War Medicine

All the Info you need on Civil War Medicine

The Role of Medicine in the Civil War...

During the Civil War, both sides were devastated by battle and disease. Nurses, surgeons, and physicians rose to the challenge of healing a nation and advanced medicine into the modern age. However, while “advanced” or “hygienic” may not be terms attributed to medicine in the nineteenth century, modern hospital practices and treatment methods owe much to the legacy of Civil War medicine. Of the approximately 620,000 soldiers who died in the war, two-thirds of these deaths were not the result of enemy fire, but of a force stronger than any army of men: disease. Medicine helped change that.

"The Efficiency of Medical Service"

Several key figures played a role in the progression of medicine at this time. Jonathan Letterman, the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, brought “order and efficiency in to the Medical Service” with a regulated ambulance system and evacuation plans for the wounded. As surgeon general of the Union army, William A. Hammond standardized, organized and designed new hospital layouts and inspection systems and literally wrote the book on hygiene for the army.


1.) Approximately 620,000 soldiers who died in the war, two-thirds of these deaths were not the result of enemy fire. What made them Die?

2.) What number of men were in each group for field surgeons to help?

3.) Who was Jonathan Letterman and what did he do?

Answer Key

1.) Disease killed them.

2.) The field surgeons grouped them by threes.

3.) He was a medical director and he brought "order and efficiency in the medical service" with a regulated ambulance system.


Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 27 May 2015. <>

"Civil War Medicine: Dr. Letterman's System Evolves." Presidential History Blog. N.p., 09 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 May 2015. <>

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 May 2015. <>

"EasyBib: The Free Automatic Bibliography Composer." EasyBib. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015. <>