Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Forthcoming and Noteworthy---Jonathan Letterman, Surgeon in Blue and Pioneer of Battlefield Emergency Care

Surgeon In Blue: Jonathan Letterman, The Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care, Scott McGaugh, Arcade Press, 30 black and white photographs,bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, 340 pp., hardcover, $25.95. 2013, Available July 1.

From the publisher: Jonathan Letterman was an outpost medical officer serving in Indian country in the years before the Civil War, responsible for the care of just hundreds of men. But when he was appointed the chief medical officer for the Army of the Potomac, he revolutionized combat medicine over the course of four major battles—Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg—that produced unprecedented numbers of casualties. He made battlefield survival possible by creating the first organized ambulance corps and a more effective field hospital system. He imposed medical professionalism on a chaotic battlefield. Where before 20 percent of the men were unfit to fight because of disease, squalid conditions, and poor nutrition, he improved health and combat readiness by pioneering hygiene and diet standards. Based on original research, and with stirring accounts of battle and the struggle to invent and supply adequate care during impossible conditions, this new biography recounts Letterman’s life from his small-town Pennsylvania beginnings to his trailblazing wartime years and his subsequent life as a wildcatter and the medical examiner of San Francisco. At last, here is the missing portrait of a key figure of Civil War history and military medicine. His principles of battlefield care continue to be taught to military commanders and first responders.

Text SourceArcade Press

CWL:  From a review copy---the bibliographic notes run from about 20 to 50 for each chapter and range from the December 1865 Atlantic Monthly essay on the Gettysburg Battlefield, a 2004 PhD dissertation on Letterman's development of a battlefield evacuation system and Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Phil Lechak's  A Blue and Gray Sea of Misery [unpublished]. McGaugh spent a full day with 'brogans on the ground' with Lechak. Also, McGaugh has found a rare photograph of  the home in which Letterman was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania [three miles from CWL's house].

There are four chapters on four battles; Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Other chapters focus on Letterman's July 4 1862 rise to command on  of the Army of the Potomac's medical service and his service of coroner for the city of San Francisco. The book's spine is firm and the text block falls open easily.  CWL is anxious to begin Surgeon In Blue: Jonathan Letterman, The Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care.

No comments: