Learn more about the Coolidge Stretcher, part of the “Evacuation Gallery” at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
Coolidge stretchers were unique medical transport devices because they could be used either as litters or as hospital beds. The adjustable back and leg rests allowed the patient’s head and legs to be elevated when desired.
This particular design was created by the Medical Inspector of the United States Army, a surgeon named R.H. Coolidge for use with a two-wheeled ambulance he designed. The stretcher in the collection of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine was used by the 4th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.
More about the 4th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry
The 4th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry was organized for three-years service in the United States Army in August 1861. The unit formed at Camp Olden in the state capital at Trenton.
The regiment first experienced combat with the Army of the Potomac outside Richmond in June 1862. Several months later, they traveled through Frederick, Maryland on their way to participate in the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam. With the Army of the Potomac, members of the 4th New Jersey were trained in the Letterman Plan – stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers were trained and prepared to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield.
At some point during their service, the 4th New Jersey’s medical staff received this Coolidge Stretcher for use in transporting and treating its wounded.
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