Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Primary Souce: 45th Pennsylvania' Hospital Steward's Report on South Mountain

  “It’s too damned hot here” – A medical history of the 45th Pennsylvania’s first battle

A common theme in Civil War history is examining how soldiers described their first experience in combat. Many referred to this with the period phrase “seeing the elephant.” After experiencing their first combat, however, those who survived lost that naïve excitement they first carried into combat.
The same also applies to the medical teams that accompanied their regiments into their first battle. For the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the first blood came at the Battle of South Mountain in September 1862. The regiment had spent almost its entire first year of the war in coastal South Carolina, and lost many more men to disease than it had to Confederate bullets or shells. The men spent their days drilling, building fortifications, and performing other hard labor as necessary.
In the regimental history for the unit, published in 1912, Hospital Steward James A. Myers described the first time the 45th Pennsylvania’s medical personnel went into action and the chaotic first taste of combat.

Full Text Link:National Museum of Civil War Medicine

 Image: James A. Meyers, Hospital Steward, 45th PA. Image taken from regimental history on

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