Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical

Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical


Nearly two-thirds of the Civil War’s approximately 750,000 fatalities were caused by disease–a staggering fact for which the American medical profession was profoundly unprepared. In the years before the war, training for physicians in the United States was mostly unregulated, and medical schools’ access to cadavers for teaching purposes was highly restricted. Shauna Devine argues that in spite of these limitations, Union army physicians rose to the challenges of the war, undertaking methods of study and experimentation that would have a lasting influence on the scientific practice of medicine.

Though the war’s human toll was tragic, conducting postmortems on the dead and caring for the wounded gave physicians ample opportunity to study and develop new methods of treatment and analysis, from dissection and microscopy to new research into infectious disease processes. Examining the work of doctors who served in the Union Medical Department, Devine sheds new light on how their innovations in the midst of crisis transformed northern medical education and gave rise to the healing power of modern health science.



A must-read for anyone interested in the American Civil War and the birth of modern medicine in the United States.–Journal of American Culture

[Devine] makes a convincing case that at least one good thing came from the horror of the Civil War, namely the advancement of medicine.–America’s Civil War

Recommended to readers in the history of medicine or military medicine.–Library Journal

Truly a seminal work. . . . Devine’s work will undoubtedly become one of the most important illuminations of Civil War military medicine and a ground-breaker connecting that war on disease and injury to the rise of modern and scientific American medicine.–Journal of America’s Military Past

Learning from the Wounded presents a truly fresh thesis. This is a convincing book, well researched and written engagingly and enthusiastically.–Canadian Journal of History

This important work is a major contribution to knowledge about the development of medical practice and research protocols. It deserves a wide readership among advanced students, researchers, and faculty.–Choice

A bold new interpretation of the impact of the Civil War on the profession of medicine in nineteenth-century America.–Bulletin of the History of Medicine

There exists a massive bulk of raw data relating to the medicine and surgery of the Civil War era. Shauna Devine has diligently and tenaciously sifted out the salient parts to our eternal benefit.–On Point: The Journal of Army History

An excellent book for anyone interested in Civil War medicine.–New York Journal of Books

A thoroughly researched and detailed analysis of the Civil War’s powerful impact on American medicine.–Journal of American History

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *