Tarnished Scalpels The Court-Martials of Fifty Union Surgeons
Everything you know about Civil War surgeons is wrong. Sure, they didn't know about bacteria, and they did perform amputations, but their patients didn't bite on bullets. Both armies usually had ample supplies of general anesthetic, ether during the day and chloroform at night. (Ether was explosive.) The reasons they were court-martialed ranged from the reasonable to the absurd.
In this new book, the authors examine the relationship between the principles of the medical profession and the often byzantine regulations of the army. As a result, the courts-martial in this book primarily fall into two categories: failure to practice proper medicine and failure to follow the procedures and administrative rules that govern army life, with some overlap. As usual, Lowry peppers many of these accounts with his dry wit, but he also offers penetrating analyses of the problems faced by many of these doctors, who often were forced to work under intolerable conditions. 2000, Stackpole Books, 288p.
Owen Parry, author of Faded Coat of Blue: Amid the flood of Civil War books that washes over us each year, Dr. Thomas Lowry's works have long stood out for their brilliant research, originality, and insight. Now, with his accomplished co-author Dr. Jack Welsh, he has produced a work as fascinating to the average reader as it is useful to the specialist. Tarnished Scalpels offers us a richer portrait of our greatest war's reality than could any other ten books on the subject. These are tales of folly, fear, and shame, well told by men who understand both medicine and good writing.