This significant historical volume was produced by the Center of Military History as part of its special studies on the War of American Independence (the Revolution). This book deals with the period when the Medical Department existed only as a wartime expedient and concludes with the passage in April 1818 of the law that finally established the department on a permanent basis. The discipline that governed Army surgeons and their patients enabled them to control treatment and record its results with a precision and regularity impossible in civilian medicine. Thus Army surgeons and the Medical Department played a large role in the progress of medical science, a role not always recognized by the profession, by the scholarly community, or by the public at large. This new history of the Army Medical Department tells the beginning of that story. It is a significant and long needed contribution to the study of military medicine.

The colonial physicians who formed the American Army's Medical Department in 1775 were all civilian practitioners, many without any military experience. A small percentage had earned M.D. degrees, but most were either apprentice or self-trained, and few made any attempt to specialize in the manner customary in Europe, where a choice was usually made among medicine, surgery, and pharmacy. During the second half of the eighteenth century, however, American doctors were growing in stature at home and abroad. Although more of them were receiving a formal medical education, usually in Europe, they were still limited by the general lack of scientific data and by their profession's predilection for reasoning rather than research as a way of discovering better forms of treatment for their patients. The traditional humoral explanation for disease was by this time losing ground to several new and conflicting systems, where fact took second place to theory, in an all-out attempt to reveal one or two basic causes for all disease. Disagreements over therapy gave added intensity to the feuds and controversies which characterized eighteenth century practice, in general, and American medicine, which was not restrained by European guild traditions, in particular.

Contents * Foreword * Preface * Chapter 1 * The State of the Art * Medicine * Surgery * Medical Education and Experience * Chapter 2 * Evolution of the Continental Army Medical Department * Creation of the Hospital Department: Church as Director General * Morgan as Director General, 1775 to 1777 * New Arrangements for the Hospital Department * Shippen's Controversial Administration * The Hospital Department Under Cochran * Chapter 3 * From Siege to Retreat, 1775 to May 1777 * The Boston Area, 1775 to 1776 * The Northern Department * New York and New Jersey, 1776 to 1777 * Hospitals in New York State and New England After the Evacuation of New York City * Chapter 4 * Year of Despair and Hope, June 1777 to June 1778 * The Middle Department * The Northern Department * The Eastern Department * Chapter 5 * From Defeat to Victory, June 1778 to 1783 * North of the Potomac: Before the Victory at Yorktown * South of the Potomac: Before the Victory at Yorktown * After the Victory at Yorktown * Chapter 6 * Between Wars, 1783 to June 1812 * Continental Army Patients Remaining in Hospitals * Campaigns Against the Indians * Forts and Their Garrisons * Wilkinson in the Louisiana Territory, 1809 * Management of Supplies * Chapter 7 * Administration of Medical Support, June 1812 to January 1815 * Opening Months of the War of 1812 * Work of the Medical Department * Chapter 8 Early Campaigns in the North, 1812 to 1813 * Season of 1812 * Season of 1813 * Chapter 9 * Defeat and Final Victory, 1814 to 1815 * Campaign in the North * Campaign in the South * Chapter 10 * The Lessons of War, 1815 to 1818 * Indecision and Decision, March 1815 to April 1818 * The State of the Art * Appendices