Matchless Organization: The Confederate Army Medical Department, Guy R. Hasegawa, Southern Illinois University Press, paperback, $26.50 2021
The essental reference about a surprisingly well organized medical department
Despite the many obstacles it had to overcome—including a naval blockade, lack of a strong industrial base, and personnel unaccustomed to military life—the Richmond-based Confederate Army Medical Department developed into a robust organization that nimbly adapted to changing circumstances. In the first book to address the topic, Guy R. Hasegawa describes the organization and management of the Confederate army’s medical department. At its head was Surgeon General Samuel Preston Moore, a talented multi-tasker with the organizational know-how to put in place qualified medical personnel to care for sick and wounded Confederate soldiers.
Hasegawa investigates how political considerations, personalities, and, as the war progressed, the diminishing availability of human and material resources influenced decision-making in the medical department. Amazingly, the surgeon general’s office managed not only to provide care but also to offer educational opportunities to its personnel and collect medical and surgical data for future use, regardless of constant and growing difficulties.
During and after the war, the medical department of the Confederate army was consistently praised as being admirably organized and efficient. Although the department was unable to match its Union counterpart in manpower and supplies, Moore’s intelligent management enabled it to help maintain the fighting strength of the Confederate army.
Guy R. Hasegawa, a retired pharmacist and editor, is the author of Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War and Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs.