Civil War Medicine

Civil War Medicine

A Surgeon's Diary
Robert Hicks
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/01/2019
Format: Hardback 28 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04007-7
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


In this never before published diary, 29-year-old surgeon James Fulton transports readers into the harsh and deadly conditions of the Civil War as he struggles to save the lives of the patients under his care. Fulton joined a Union army volunteer regiment in 1862, only a year into the Civil War, and immediately began chronicling his experiences in a pocket diary. Despite his capture by the Confederate Army at Gettysburg and the confiscation of his medical tools, Fulton was able to keep his diary with him at all times. He provides a detailed account of the next two years, including his experiences treating the wounded and diseased during some of the most critical campaigns of the Civil War and his relationships with soldiers, their commanders, civilians, other health-care workers, and the opposing Confederate army. The diary also includes his notes on recipes for medical ailments from sore throats to syphilis.

In addition to Fulton's diary, editor Robert D. Hicks and experts in Civil War medicine provide context and additional information on the practice and development of medicine during the Civil War, including the technology and methods available at the time, the organization of military medicine, doctor-patient interactions, and the role of women as caregivers and relief workers. Civil War Medicine: A Surgeon's Diary provides a compelling new account of the lives of soldiers during the Civil War and a doctor's experience of one of the worst health crises ever faced by the United States.

Author Bio

Robert D. Hicks is Director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, where he holds the William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine. He is the author of Voyage to Jamestown: Practical Navigation in the Age of Discovery.



This is not only a fascinating firsthand look at the experiences of a Civil War Surgeon who participated in some of the most notable actions of the war, it is also a deep and unique meditation on the meaning of Dr. Fulton's work and the broader medical, military, and cultural significance of his Civil War experience.


Daryl Black, Executive Director of Seminary Ridge Museum

"Civil War Medicine tells the story of Assistant Surgeon James Fulton of the 143rd Penn. Inf. Well written and detailed, this book is a must for any Civil War medical enthusiast."

Peter J. D'Onofrio, President of the Society of Civil War Surgeons, Inc.

"In Civil War Medicine: A Surgeon's Diary, Robert D. Hicks has produced an imminently useful book that includes the transcribed and annotated diary of Dr. James Fulton, who served as assistant surgeon with the Pennsylvania's Bucktail Brigade; an introduction that clearly and concisely situates Fulton, who hailed from Chester County, Pennsylvania, in his social, political, and medical milieu; and a collection of essays by prominent experts in the field who find in the diary all sorts of opportunities to look at Civil War through Fulton's eyes—and his hands."

Judith Giesberg, author of Sex and the Civil War


This book is an incredible resource for anyone interested in the human experience of the Civil War—as recorded by a medical professional tasked with saving lives in America's bloodiest conflict. Dr. Fulton's diary and the essays by preeminent experts in the field of Civil War Medicine reveal the story of the birth of our modern health care system. Thankfully this diary landed in the able hands of Robert D. Hicks, an equally great storyteller, scholar, and historian.


David Price, Executive Director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Becoming a Doctor

Part I

Chapter 1: To Virginia, Measles and Typhoid (Diary, August 18, 1862 to February 19, 1863)

Chapter 2: Chancellorsville and "a Spiteful Morose Scamp" (Diary, February 22, 1863 to June 28, 1863)

Chapter 3: Searching for Flour at Gettysburg (Diary, June 29, 1863 to July 4, 1863)

Chapter 4: Return to Virginia and Christmas with Secesh (Diary, July 5, 1863 to December 25, 1863)

Chapter 5: "To bring man in communion with his God" (Diary, December 26, 1863 to January 29, 1864)

Chapter 6: Dr. Fulton after 1864

Chapter 7: Commentary

Part II

Chapter 8: "Examined at the University of Pennsylvania": Dr. Fulton, his Professional Milieu, and Military Medicine 1862-64, by Shauna Devine

Chapter 9: "We Got Up and Began to Pack our Medicines": What Dr. Fulton Prescribed, by Guy R. Hasegawa

Chapter 10: "We Soon Concluded to Operate": Dr. Fulton's Tools and Methods, by James M. Edmonson

Chapter 11: "The Christian Commission also Brought in a Wagon Today": Dr. Fulton, Voluntary Relief Associations, and Women in Hospitals, by Barbra Mann Wall

Chapter 12: "We Made Up Soup as Fast as Possible": Nutrition and the 19th Century Male Body, by Margaret Humphreys

Chapter 13: "Such is the Character of Many Men": Dr. Fulton's Politics and the Moral and Political Consciousness of Soldiers, by Randall M. Miller