Civil War Medicine Conference


Twenty-First Annual Conference on Civil War Medicine

October 4-6, 2013

Philadelphia, PA


“One of the best conferences that I have ever attended.  Well-organized, well-run

and effective.  This was a very worthwhile conference that reflects positively

upon the museum and its personnel.  Thank you for a wonderful experience.”

2012 Annual Conference on Civil War Medicine Attendee


Join us in Philadelphia and see why the Museum’s Annual Conference is called “one of the best conferences that I have ever attended.”   Listen to stimulating lectures, make new friends and become part of an annual family reunion.  This year, the conference is being co-sponsored by the Mütter Museum.  The lectures will take place there on the Friday, as will a special tour!  Watch our website,, for updates.  Conference information regarding speakers, bus tour, etc., will be available mid-May.  All members will receive a conference brochure.  For further information, contact Tom Frezza,, or call 301-695-1864, ext. 14.


Location:  DoubleTree By Hilton, Philadelphia-Valley Forge PA


Civil War Medicine…it’s not what you think! 

                Come learn the facts at the Twenty-first Annual Conference on Civil War Medicine, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 4-6, 2013, at the DoubleTree By Hilton, Philadelphia-Valley Forge PA.  The National Museum of Civil War Medicine has assembled an impressive panel of prominent historians, authors, and medical professionals speaking on a wide variety of topics relating to Civil War medicine. 

                Highlights of the conference include eleven unique lectures on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a Saturday afternoon bus tour of the hospital and medical sites in Philadelphia.  Friday is even more special, for the lectures and cocktail hour will be held at the Mutter Museum.  Also included is a Saturday evening dinner.  Back by popular demand is our Thursday evening pre-conference program.  

Conference attire is casual.  Period clothing is welcome at the Saturday dinner.

Conference registration will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton.  Registration will start on Thursday , October 3, 2013, in the evening, and will pick up again Friday, October 4, 2013, from 9am until 11am.


Here is the list of speakers and their topics for the coming conference.


Thursday, October 3, 8 p.m.

Pre-Conference Event

The Critical Importance of Volunteerism in Service to our Combat Wounded from the American Civil War to Present Day Conflicts

Gordon Donald

                From the American Civil War through modern day conflicts, one thing has remained the same, the absolute necessity of volunteers to care for our Wounded Warriors.  Our Armed Services cannot provide everything our heroes need.  Politicians are of little value at best.  Volunteerism is the only solution, and the spirit that truly makes America great.


Friday, October 4, 1-5 p.m.


The Confederate Artificial Limbs Program

Guy Hasegawa, Pharm.D.

                This lecture will describe the details and operation of the program, how limb makers were selected, and how the devices were supplied to beneficiaries.  This topic is a follow-up to Guy’s lectures in 2010 (artificial limbs in general) and 2011 (the Union artificial-limbs program) and is covered in his recently-published book Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs.  The topic is appropriate for this conference because artificial limbs, although common during the war, are not well understood today and because the process by which the Southern states provided limbs during the war has received almost no attention in written histories.


Cold Blooded Envenomation’s of 1861-65

Mark Laubacher

                Like today, snake bite envenomation was rare during the U.S. Civil War.  Yet, such a medical emergency posed treatment challenges because of a knowledge deficit of the various toxicities and wound care depending on the creature.  It is imperative that historians and students of Civil War medicine be familiar with the geographical location of these venomous reptiles, the signs and symptoms of a poisonous bite, and the treatment modalities used during the time.  Additionally, the presentation will review some citations involving snake encounters and offer a rationale for the lack of additional encounters and bites.


S. Weir Mitchell: Chance Favors the Prepared Mind (and what a mind!)

Michael Martin Cohen, M.D.

                The presentation on Mitchell will focus on the medical treatment and the valuable insights which he (and his collaborators) made as a result of the wounded Civil War soldiers who came under their care.  The listener will briefly be taken back in time from today’s ultra-technical practice of medicine through the twentieth century, to the practice of medicine at the time of the Civil War.  Then the focus will be on the care and treatment of the wounded soldiers at Turner’s Lane and thereafter by Mitchell, his colleagues, and eventually his son who provides an almost 30 year follow up of these soldiers.


Turner’s Lane

Robert Hicks, Ph.D.

                From their disparate backgrounds, physicians S. Weir Mitchell, William W. Keen, and George R. Morehouse assembled one of the most unusual and important temporary hospitals during the last year of the Civil War at Turner’s Lane in Philadelphia.  The long-term, rehabilitative care afforded to 160 soldiers at Turner’s Lane, many of whom had been wounded at Gettysburg, provided an unparalleled opportunity to study diseases and wounds of the nerves, particularly peripheral nerve injuries.  This presentation recounts the achievements of Turner’s Lane’s sole year of existence and previews an ambitious exhibit of “the real war” at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia.


Saturday, October 5, 8 a.m.- Noon


Horror, Killing, Thrill and Adrenaline Rush: The Psychological Kaleidoscope of Combat

Stephen Goldman, M.D., FAPM, DFAPA

                Men have gone to war almost since the dawn of civilization.  While the horrors of battle have been the subject of epic poems, classic novels, prize-winning histories and soldier’s memoirs for centuries, along with increasingly graphic films and documentaries, other emotions and experiences associated with combat have been comparatively underemphasized, if addressed at all.  But if those who work with veterans are to understand wars’ full spectrum, the yin of exhilaration and joy felt by those who have been under fire and survived, versus the yang of combat’s terror, destructiveness and revolting facets, must be examined.


Lincoln’s First Responder, Dr. Charles Leale

Jon Willen, M.D.

                Dr. Charles Augustus Leale was the first doctor to arrive at the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, after John Wilkes Booth fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head with a Philadelphia Derringer pistol.  At the time, Dr. Leale was a 23-year-old surgeon in Charge of the Wounded Commissioned Officers ward in the United States Army General Hospital in Armory Square, Washington, DC.  Just six weeks earlier, he had graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York.


The Life and Times of a Civil War Hospital

Ira Spar, M.D.

                 An antiquated medical system designed for garrison army life was saddled with a level of scientific and medical knowledge inadequate for the deluge of returning soldiers.  Starting virtually from scratch a health care system primarily funded and regulated by the federal government was created which in New Haven was centered in the state’s hospital for the indigent.  This talk will portray how health care was delivered for sick and wounded soldiers of Connecticut returning from the many battlefields of the Civil War.


80 Acres for 121 Days

Phil Lechak

                Using period photographs, accounts from eyewitnesses, modern maps, and aerial photographs, we will examine the often over-looked and under-appreciated section of the Gettysburg landscape: Camp Letterman.  Chosen because it was a location with plentiful clean water, on a hillside that provided good drainage, and a large grove of trees that provided both shade and movement of fresh air, it deserves our acknowledgement today.


Bus Tour, Saturday, 1-5 p.m.


Sunday, October 6, 8 a.m. – Noon


Dr. John Jay Terrell – Doctor to Man and Horse

Charles Driscoll, M.D.

                Dr. Terrell was not only the man whose pioneering work in the Pest House of Lynchburg reduced the mortality of smallpox from 50% to 5%, but he also helped save one of the greatest “machines” of the war effort.  In 1863 an epidemic of pulmonary flu was killing thousands of horses.  Dr. Terrell’s work and findings were able to bring this epidemic to an end.  In this presentation, we will find out more about Dr. Terrell’s life and work to save both men and horses.


Let Us Turn Our Faces to the Past – Christopher Hamilton Tebault and Confederate Medicine

Alan West

                Christopher H. Tebault was a well-known Confederate surgeon, but there has been no biography written about him.  While surgeons in both the North and South were trained in the same schools and with the same textbooks, the war left Confederate surgeons with limited supplies and in many circumstances the need to use inventiveness in treating the wounded and sick.  Dr. Tebault’s story will add significantly to our understanding of Confederate medicine during the Civil War.


A Close Up Look at the Philadelphia Army Laboratory

Patrick Vance

                In 2013, the North-East corner of Sixth and Oxford Streets in Philadelphia is still an industrial address.  During the Civil War that property was occupied by a neat three story brick manufacturing building leased by the Medical Department and emblazoned with “U.S. Army Laboratory” in dark four-foot letters over a white background.  A photograph of that building has become iconic in studies of Civil War pharmacy.  An in-depth exploration of the “rest of the story” behind the photograph of the Philadelphia Laboratory is a perfect fit for the conference this year.


Official Conference Hotel

DoubleTree By Hilton, Philadelphia-Valley Forge

                Located on the West DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia, PA, the DoubleTree is a newly renovated hotel.  Nearby attractions include the Court and the Plaza at the King of Prussia mall, golf courses, Historic Valley Forge National Park, QVC Studio Tours, and Philadelphia Premium Outlets.   And it is just 25 minutes from downtown Philadelphia.

                This full-service hotel features T. Burke’s, a restaurant that serves American cuisine for dinner from 4p.m. to 11p.m.  Recreational amenities include a fitness center, a heated outdoor pool, and a complimentary shuttle service to local businesses, King of Prussia mall and surrounding restaurants. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel. 

                All guestrooms feature coffee/tea makers and irons/ironing boards. Guestrooms are all non-smoking. 

                Special conference rates are $105 Thursday-Saturday for a single king bed or two double beds.   The number of reserved rooms is limited, so make your reservations early.  Phone the Doubletree at 610-337-1200 for reservations. 


Photos from the 2012 Civil War Medicine Conference


2012 Conference Karen and George Show

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