Scheduled Speakers and Presentations
Dr. Robert Hicks
Vaccination Pure and Spurious: The Confederate Vaccination Crisis of the Civil War
The Confederate southern states experienced several smallpox epidemics during the American Civil War, blaming the disease on the Union northern states. Confederate doctors responded by vaccinating soldiers but then discovered that some vaccinations were ineffective (“spurious”) and instead spread other diseases, particularly syphilis. This presentation considers how the Confederacy managed vaccinations and tried to solve the numerous spurious cases. This tale includes the deliberate infection if children on plantations as a source of vaccine, and allegations of vaccination poisoning in the conflict’s only war crimes trial. In a surprising convergence of history, a museum collection, and current disease research, a detective story concludes the presentation!
Robert D. Hicks, PhD is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine, of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He holds a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and degrees in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Arizona. He is the editor of Civil War Medicine: A Surgeon’s Experience (Indiana University Press, forthcoming).
Dr. Peter Carmichael
Trying to Cure Cowardice
“Trying to cure Cowardice” explores how army surgeons understood cowardice, and the ways that military physicians treated men who were “broken down” by combat. As part of the presentation, Carmichael will share documents from doctors who wrote about the causes of trauma, and who also speculated as to how they might restore the manhood of those soldiers who could not face the battlefield.
Peter S. Carmichael is the Fluhrer Professor of History and the Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. After completing his doctorate at Penn State University under Dr. Gary W. Gallagher, Professor Carmichael went on to teach at Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and West Virginia University. He is the author and editor of four books, including The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. He has also published a number of articles for both scholarly and popular journals, and he speaks frequently to general and scholarly audiences. Every June Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s Sumer conference, which draws more than 250 attendees from across the country. He also helped create the Brian Pohanka Internship program that places more than25 Gettysburg College students at Civil War-related historical sites every summer. See http://www.gettysburg.edu/cwi/. More recently Professor Carmichael has appeared on the popular show Who Do You Think You are.? He also has also been involved in documentaries for the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and the History Channel, and his lectures have been covered by C-Span. In October, the University of North Carolina Press will release The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies.
Paige Gibbons Backus
Revealing the Chaos and Carnage of the Hospitals of First Manassas
The Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, resulted in about 3,500 casualties in a span of less than 24 hours. The first major battle of the Civil War, this significant event revealed how unprepared the armies, both Union and Confederate, were to handle the wounded. After the battle, the horror continued in numerous “hospitals” throughout the area, including the Pringle House Hospital, known today as Ben Lomond Historic Site.
A native of Wisconsin, Paige Gibbons Backus graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Historic Preservation, and has a master’s degree in Applied History from George Mason University. She currently serves Prince William County as the Historic Site Manager at Ben Lomond Historic Site and Historic Lucasville School. Mrs. Backus has worked at several historic sites throughout Northern Virginia including Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Sully Historic Site, and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and has an keen interest in early medical and women’s history.
“The suffering we get used to:” Sensory History and Civil War Nurses
This presentation analyzes the ways in which women nurses’ experiences during the American Civil War were shaped by their sensory environments. For both nurses and soldiers on the battlefield, war was a total sensory experience, and I argue that paying close attention to all five senses enhances historians’ knowledge of the lived experience of the Civil War, especially the traumatic encounters that would long haunt the war’s participants. This presentation reexamines popular diaries and letters of Civil War nurses through a sensory lens and discovers a unique, gendered understanding of war and trauma. It is organized around two central themes: how sensory encounters created deep feelings of intimacy between nurses and soldiers, and how nurses’ wartime experiences led to numbness, perhaps as a way to mask the traumas of war. The touch of a soldier’s hand, the sight of mangled bodies, the stench of death, and the numbing sound of artillery fire were described in detail by Civil War nurses, and analyzing their words and coping methods provides exciting new avenues into Civil War, women and gender, and history of medicine studies.
Melissa DeVelvis is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of South Carolina, specializing in the Civil War era, women and gender studies, and sensory and emotions history. She is currently processing and archiving the collection of Bishop John Hurst Adams for the South Caroliniana Library and is a part-time site interpreter for Historic Columbia. Her dissertation examines women, gender, and emotions during secession in South Carolina, 1860-1861.
Dr. Guy Hasegawa
The Confederate Surgeons General
A key to appreciating the provision of medical care to Confederate troops is an understanding of the leadership of the Confederate Medical Department. Samuel Preston Moore is well recognized as the Confederate Army’s Surgeon General, but it is not generally known that he was preceded in that office by two other officers, David Camden DeLeon and Charles H. Smith. Learning how those three men came to occupy the office of Surgeon General will provide insight into the decision-making processes of Confederate leaders.
Guy R. Hasegawa is Senior Editor of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (Bethesda, MD). He received a B.A. in zoology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of California, San Francisco, before completing a residency in hospital pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr. Hasegawa has published numerous scholarly articles about Civil War medicine and coedited and contributed to the book Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine (Edinborough Press, 2009). He is the author of Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) and Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015). He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and is a Director Emeritus of the Society of Civil War Surgeons.
After Letterman – The Army of the Potomac’s Medical Department in the Overland Campaign
After Major Jonathan Letterman’s departure from the Army of the Potomac in early 1864, the army’s medical department faced arguably its greatest test. With the arrival of General Ulysses S. Grant in the Eastern Theater, the war in Virginia escalated. The Union Army’s Overland Campaign led to a number of the bloodiest, most savage engagements of the Civil War: the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor. This presentation will examine the unique challenges this campaign created for the Army of the Potomac’s Medical Department and how the lessons learned by Major Letterman and his subordinates in earlier battles were utilized to quickly and efficiently evacuate soldiers from the bloody battlefields of May-June 1864.
Jake Wynn is the Director of Interpretation at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. He is a 2015 graduate of Hood College in Frederick, MD where he received his bachelor’s degree in history and communications arts. Wynn has previously worked with the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, the Tourism Council of Frederick County, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is currently stationed at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Washington, DC.
“They persevered in their glorious work”: The Army of Northern Virginia’s Medical Corps in the Gettysburg Campaign
Lafayette Guild’s medical department had its hands full during the Gettysburg Campaign–a campaign that stretched dozens of miles and led to approximately 28,000 Confederate casualties. Guild’s surgeons and nurses were faced with a daunting task. How did the Confederate medical corps manage to care for thousands of wounded soldiers during the campaign and attempt to bring many of their wounded back to Virginia? And how did the department perform during the campaign? This talk will examine these questions and more by looking at the campaign through the eyes of the surgeons and wounded of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Kevin Pawlak is the Director of Education for the Mosby Heritage Area Association and works as a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam National National Battlefield. Kevin also sits on the Board of Directors of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. He is also on the advisory board of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University, his alma mater.
Kevin is the author of Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital, published by The History Press in 2015.
Flowers to Pharmaceuticals – Lessons from a 19th century medicinal garden
During the American Civil War, access to drugs and medicines became a serious issue for communities on both sides of the conflict. Instead of relying on official sources, civilians often relied on what they could scrounge or grow themselves.
NMCWM volunteer Greg Susla will discuss his three years of work on the re-established and medicinal herb garden at the Pry House, focusing on the 2018 expansion. He will note the medicinal applications of the various plants grown in the garden and their uses during the 19th century and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Greg Susla has been a volunteer at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine since January 2011. Greg received his pharmacy degrees from the Universities of Connecticut and Florida and completed a critical care pharmacy residency at the Ohio State University Hospitals. Greg spent the majority of his career as the ICU pharmacist at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and volunteered his time in the ICU at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Greg has been active in the Society of Critical Care Medicine for over 25 years serving on a number of the Society’s committees, and is a Fellow in the American College of Critical Care Medicine. Greg recently retired as the Associate Director of Medical Information at MedImmune in Gaithersburg, MD. Greg is leading the restoration of the garden and is being assisted by his wife Lisa and other staff members and volunteers at the Museum and Pry House. Greg and his wife Lisa live in Frederick, MD.
Captain Frank K. Butler – Winner of the 10th Annual Jonathan Letterman Award
Captain Frank K. Butler, (USN ret), MD served as a Navy SEAL, as an innovator and leader in Navy and civilian dive medicine, and most importantly as the driving force of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). TCCC are strategies for providing the best trauma care on the battlefield and a set of guidelines to properly train non-medics to deal with the preventable causes of death in the field and now in the civilian world.