The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon / Edition 1

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Overview

J. Franklin Dyer’s journal offers a rare perspective on three years of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a surgeon at the front. The journal, taken from letters written to his wife, Maria, describes in lengthy and colorful detail the daily life of a doctor who began as a regimental surgeon in the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers and was promoted to acting medical director of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac. This firsthand account traces Dyer’s attempts to manage his Gloucester household even as the Second Corps fought on the Peninsula, at Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and from the Wilderness to Petersburg. Over time his letters to his wife become fraught with the tension of a man losing his early martial ardor as he witnesses the ghastly procession of suffering and death. Both a talented surgeon and a careful administrator, Dyer nevertheless declined opportunities to work at hospitals in the rear in order to stay near his old regiment and the fighting. He confronted the aftermath of battle—thousands of wounded and dying men—with a small staff and simple instruments. He and his fellow surgeons saved lives as best they could—often at the cost of amputated limbs—then dropped to the ground from exhaustion and slept in blood-drenched uniforms until the cries of the wounded woke them and induced them back to work. Dyer also provides a glimpse of the most devastating opponent the armies faced: disease. He and his medical colleagues fought cholera, typhus, dysentery, measles, and, despite official denials in Washington , a scurvy outbreak that weakened Federal units during the Peninsula campaign.
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Editorial Reviews

The Journal of Military History

"Dyer's text is a wealth of primary source material for the battlefield impressions. . . . He was a skilled observer, a severe critic, and a fine prose stylist. . . . Chesson's scholarship is impeccable."—Eric von der Luft, The Journal of Military History

— Eric von der Luft

Journal of Southern History

"The publication of [Dyer's] journal is important because there are but a limited number of available works by Civil War surgeons, and his letters are well written with apt descriptions of battles and leaders of the war. . . . The entries are thoughtful and lucid, providing a rare glimpse of the Civil War through the eyes of a man who came face to face with death and used his considerable medical talents to try and defeat it."—C. David Dalton, Journal of Southern History

— C. David Dalton

Civil War Book Review

"This is a very well edited volume and [it] provides one of the best insights in the daily life of a front line medical officer during the most turbulent period in our country's history."—Peter D'Onofrio, Civil War Book Review

— Peter D'Onofrio

Virginia Libraries

"A well-informed viw of the war's effects on Virginia's society and its people."—Brent Tarter, Virginia Libraries

— Brent Tarter

Council on National Literatures Book Digest

“J. Franklin Dyer’s journal is a rare find, and Michael B. Chesson’s edition is a worthy presentation. . . . Chesson’s editorial work is commendable.”—P. C., Council on National Literatures Book Diges

— P. C.

www.medscape.com

"There is a surprising amount to be learned from doctors' diaries, and J. Franklin Dyer's The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon (edited by historian Michael B. Chesson) is one of the best. . . . A reader of this excellent diary will encounter a skilled physician, a dedicated American, and an engrossing writer. . . . [Michael B. Chesson] with his many assistants, has chased down thousands of details about Dyer's life, his associates, and his descendants."

—Thomas P. Lowry, www.medscape.com

— Thomas P. Lowry

Rocky Mountain Telegram

“Dr. J. Franklin Dyer’s journal offers a rare perspective on three years of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a surgeon at the front. . . . A fine example of an unusual genre. Such works are rare. . . . Even if surgeons’ journals were more common, Dyer’s would still be valuable for its detailed observations and their good humor and wit.”

—Mae Woods Bell, Rocky Mountain Telegram

medscape.com

"There is a surprising amount to be learned from doctors' diaries, and J. Franklin Dyer's The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon (edited by historian Michael B. Chesson) is one of the best. . . . A reader of this excellent diary will encounter a skilled physician, a dedicated American, and an engrossing writer. . . . [Michael B. Chesson] with his many assistants, has chased down thousands of details about Dyer's life, his associates, and his descendants."—Thomas P. Lowry, medscape.com

— Thomas P. Lowry

The Journal of Military History - Eric von der Luft
"Dyer's text is a wealth of primary source material for the battlefield impressions. . . . He was a skilled observer, a severe critic, and a fine prose stylist. . . . Chesson's scholarship is impeccable."—Eric von der Luft, The Journal of Military History
Journal of Southern History - C. David Dalton
"The publication of [Dyer's] journal is important because there are but a limited number of available works by Civil War surgeons, and his letters are well written with apt descriptions of battles and leaders of the war. . . . The entries are thoughtful and lucid, providing a rare glimpse of the Civil War through the eyes of a man who came face to face with death and used his considerable medical talents to try and defeat it."—C. David Dalton, Journal of Southern History
Civil War Book Review - Peter D'Onofrio
"This is a very well edited volume and [it] provides one of the best insights in the daily life of a front line medical officer during the most turbulent period in our country's history."—Peter D'Onofrio, Civil War Book Review
Virginia Libraries - Brent Tarter
"A well-informed viw of the war's effects on Virginia's society and its people."—Brent Tarter, Virginia Libraries
Council on National Literatures Book Digest - P. C.
“J. Franklin Dyer’s journal is a rare find, and Michael B. Chesson’s edition is a worthy presentation. . . . Chesson’s editorial work is commendable.”—P. C., Council on National Literatures Book Diges
medscape.com - Thomas P. Lowry
"There is a surprising amount to be learned from doctors' diaries, and J. Franklin Dyer's The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon (edited by historian Michael B. Chesson) is one of the best. . . . A reader of this excellent diary will encounter a skilled physician, a dedicated American, and an engrossing writer. . . . [Michael B. Chesson] with his many assistants, has chased down thousands of details about Dyer's life, his associates, and his descendants."—Thomas P. Lowry, medscape.com
Virginia Libraries

"A well-informed viw of the war's effects on Virginia's society and its people."

—Brent Tarter, Virginia Libraries

Journal of Southern History

"The publication of [Dyer's] journal is important because there are but a limited number of available works by Civil War surgeons, and his letters are well written with apt descriptions of battles and leaders of the war. . . . The entries are thoughtful and lucid, providing a rare glimpse of the Civil War through the eyes of a man who came face to face with death and used his considerable medical talents to try and defeat it."

—C. David Dalton, Journal of Southern History

Civil War Book Review

"This is a very well edited volume and [it] provides one of the best insights in the daily life of a front line medical officer during the most turbulent period in our country's history."

—Peter D'Onofrio, Civil War Book Review

The Journal of Military History

"Dyer's text is a wealth of primary source material for the battlefield impressions. . . . He was a skilled observer, a severe critic, and a fine prose stylist. . . . Chesson''s scholarship is impeccable."

—Eric von der Luft, The Journal of Military History

Council on National Literatures Book Digest

“J. Franklin Dyer’s journal is a rare find, and Michael B. Chesson’s edition is a worthy presentation. . . . Chesson’s editorial work is commendable.”

—P. C., Council on National Literatures Book Diges

medscape.com

"There is a surprising amount to be learned from doctors' diaries, and J. Franklin Dyer's The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon (edited by historian Michael B. Chesson) is one of the best. . . . A reader of this excellent diary will encounter a skilled physician, a dedicated American, and an engrossing writer. . . . [Michael B. Chesson] with his many assistants, has chased down thousands of details about Dyer's life, his associates, and his descendants."—Thomas P. Lowry, medscape.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803266377
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 323
  • Sales rank: 1,335,460
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael B. Chesson is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Note on Editorial Method
1 A Blunder Has Been Made: July 1861-March 21, 1862 1
2 We Have Been Obliged to Retreat: March 26-August 27, 1862 15
3 Into the Fight with Our Regiment: August 31-November 10, 1862 35
4 Such a Row in Washington: November 12, 1862-January 23, 1863 49
5 A Far Better State of Things: February 20-April 23, 1863 63
6 Those Dutchmen Would Not Fight: April 27-June 11, 1863 73
7 My Heart Almost Failed Me: June 17-July 6, 1863 85
8 I Have Faith in Meade: July 7-September 28, 1863 101
9 Certain Death Awaited So Many Brave Men: October 2, 1863-December 11, 1863 119
10 Hancock and Myself Run This Machine: January 31-May 3, 1864 137
11 We Shall Hammer at Them: May 4-30, 1864 147
12 Very Few Wounded Were Brought In: May 31-June 15, 1864 163
13 A Mass of Earth Rose in the Air: June 17-July 31, 1864 171
14 The Prospect of Quarters in Libby: August 2-29, 1864 185
15 This Government of the People: November 1864-December 1866 197
Epilogue 203
Appendixes 209
Notes 233
Index 299
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