Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War

Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War


By (author) Margaret Humphreys

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  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 229mm x 36mm | 703g
  • Publication date: 20 August 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 1421409992
  • ISBN 13: 9781421409993
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 19 black & white halftones

Product description

The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease. During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members - especially women - and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all. In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war-and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

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Author information

Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, a professor of history, and a professor of medicine at Duke University. She is the author of Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War and Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Review quote

Marrow of Tragedy by Duke University's Margaret Humphreys, is an immensely readable synthesis of what she terms 'the greatest health disaster that this country has ever experienced.' -- John David Smith The News & Observer Humphrey's work accomplishes several tasks. It puts mid-19th century health care through a prism of military concerns, civilian responses to war, medical science and women's environment. It offers clear and concise depictions of individuals and their vendettas, such as military officers embracing or not tolerating civilian efforts. Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War presents a compelling story of Americans, civilian and military, struggling together to do acts of mercy and create better environments during an era of brother against brother bloodshed. -- Rea Andrew Redd Civil War Book Review In many ways, Marrow of Tragedy is likely to remain the definitive general medical history of the war for years to come... The book has high production values and makes one of the most important contributions to our understanding of that so-called third army of the Civil War-disease-and the efforts of those on both sides of the Mason-Dixon to fight it. It needs to be read by specialists and nonspecialists alike and should find a place on the shelf of every academic library worthy of the name. -- Michael A. Flannery Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences