Gangrene and Glory

Medical Care during the American Civil War
Author: Frank R. Freemon
An unusually powerful medical history and photodocumentary of the field hospitals, injuries, primitive treatments, and the dedicated medical personnel who fought the war against death behind both sides in the Civil War
Paper – $25.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/2001
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About the Book

This unusual history of the Civil War takes a close look at the battlefield doctors in whose hands rested the lives of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers and at the makeshift medicine they were forced to employ.

A medical doctor and a credentialed historian, Frank R. Freemon combines poignant, sometimes horrifying anecdotes of amputation, infection, and death with a clearheaded discussion of the state of medical knowledge, the effect of the military bureaucracy on medical supplies, and the members of the medical community who risked their lives, their health, and even their careers to provide appropriate care to the wounded. Freemon examines the impact on major campaigns--Manassas, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Atlanta--of ignorance, understaffing, inexperience, overcrowded hospitals, insufficient access to ambulances, and inadequate supplies of essentials such as quinine.

Presenting the medical side of the war from a variety of perspectives--the Union, the Confederacy, doctors, nurses, soldiers, and their families--Gangrene and Glory achieves a peculiar immediacy by restricting its scope to the knowledge and perceptions available to its nineteenth-century subjects. Now available for the first time in paperback, this important volume takes a hard, close look at a neglected and crucial aspect of this bloody conflict.

About the Author

Frank R. Freemon, a practicing physician, holds a doctorate in history and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is the author of Microbes and Minié Balls, an annotated bibliography of Civil War medicine.


"[Gangrene and Glory] should provide a greater awareness of this national tragedy. . . . In Dr. Freemon's vivid account, one almost sees the pus, putrefaction, blood, and maggots and can imagine the unbearable pain and suffering."--Journal of the American Medical Association

"Highly readable and well researched . . . a wonderfully good narrative."--Civil War History

"Eminently readable and lavishly illustrated."--Bonnie Ellen Blustein, ISIS

"Frank R. Freemon's latest work takes its place at the top alongside the pioneering works of Cunningham and Adams."--James I. Robertson Jr., Journal of Southern History