Life and Limb

Perspectives on the American Civil War

Edited by David Seed, Stephen C. Kenny, and Chris Williams

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ISBN: 9781781384268

Publication: June 19, 2015

The contemporary perspectives – fiction, first-hand accounts, reportage and photographs - found in the pages of this collection give a unique insight into the experiences and suffering of those affected by the American Civil War. The essays and recollections detail some of the earliest attempts by medical professionals to understand and help the wounded, and look at how writers and poets were influenced by their own involvement as nurses, combatants and observers. So alongside the medical observations of figures such as Silas Weir Mitchell and William Keen, you’ll find memoirs of writers including Louisa May Alcott, Ambrose Bierce and Walt Whitman. By presenting the wide range of frequently traumatic experiences by writers, medical staff, and of course the often ignored common foot soldiers on both sides, this volume will complement the older emphasis on military history and will appeal to readers of the evolution of medicine, of the literature the time, of social anthropology, and of the whole complex issue of how the war was represented and debated from many different perspectives. While a century and a half of developments in medicine, social care and science mean that the level of support and technology available to amputees is now incomparable to that in the mid-nineteenth century, the insights into the lives and thoughts of those devastated by psychological traumas, complex emotions and difficulties in adjusting to life after limb loss remain just as relevant today. Phenomena explored in the book, such as ‘Phantom Limb Syndrome’, continue to be the subject of medical and academic research in the twenty-first century.

Chris Williams is Research and KE Impact Officer at the University of Liverpool.

David Seed is Professor of English at the University of Liverpool. He is the editor of (with Susan Castillo) American Travel and Empire (LUP, 2009) and author of Cinematic Fictions (LUP, 2009).

Stephen C. Kenny is Lecturer in 19th and 20th century North American History at the University of Liverpool.

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Civil War Voices and Views David Seed

Early Experiences in the Field: ‘Surgical Reminiscences of the Civil War’ William Williams Keen
Case 275: The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion

With the US Sanitary Commission: On the Hospital Boat Wilson Small: The Other Side of War Katherine Prescott Wormeley
Evacuation from Virginia, 1862: Hospital Transports Frederick Law Olmsted
Hospital Routine Jane Woolsey
A Death in the Ward: Hospital Sketches Louisa May Alcott
Nurse and Spy: Nurse and Spy in the Union Army Sarah Emma Edmonds
Front-line Nursing: Reminiscences of My Life in Camp Susie King Taylor
‘The Mute Look that Rolls and Moves’: Walt Whitman’s Civil War Robert Leigh Davis
Specimen Days & Collect Walt Whitman

Jonathan Letterman on the Medical Corps: Medical Recollections of the Army of the Potomac Jonathan Letterman
The Confederate Military Prison Hospital at Andersonville, Georgia: Contributions Relating to the Causes and Prevention of Disease Austin Flint
Field Hospitals: A Glimpse: Hardtack and Coffee John B. Billings
Field Hospitals: The Need: A Manual of Military Surgery Samuel David Gross
Plea for an Ambulance Service: A Brief Plea for an Ambulance System Henry Ingersoll Bowditch
Hospital Broadside: North Carolina Hospital Broadside, 1863
Hospitals in Richmond, Virginia: A Diary from Dixie Mary Chestnut
Malingering: ‘Surgical Reminiscences of the Civil War’ and A Rebel’s Recollections William Williams Keen and George Cary Eggleston
Roberts Bartholomew on Nostalgia: Contributions Relating to the Causes and Prevention of Disease Roberts Bartholomew
Medical Welfare Begins: ‘Debut and Prospectus (The Crutch) and ‘Wounded’ (poem by ‘Sanatosia’)
(Dis)embodied Identities: Civil War Soldiers, Surgeons, and the Medical Memories of Combat Susan-Mary Grant

Painful Looks: Reading Civil War Photographs Mick Gidley
Mathew Brady’s Photographs: Pictures of the Dead at Antietam (New York Times)

‘The Invalid Corps’ (song)
The Case of Napoleon Perkins Dillon Jackson Carroll
The First Amputee: ‘Record of Services’ James Edward Hanger
Testimonial Letter Lieutenant George Warner
The Salem Leg (brochure)
Testimony of Wearers (The Salem Leg: Under the Patronage of the United States Government for the Use of the Army and the Navy)
The Human Wheel: ‘The Human Wheel, Its Spokes and Felloes’ Oliver Wendell Holmes
‘The Case of George Dedlow’ Silas Weir Mitchell
‘Phantom Limbs’ Silas Weir Mitchell

Diary: October 29, 1862: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale Henry Tisdale
The Battle of Shiloh: Aftermath: ‘The Battle of Shiloh’ from Annals of the War Willis De Hass
The Battle of Ellyson’s Mills: A Confederate Surgeon’s Letters to His Wife Spencer Glasgow Welch
Aftermath of Battle, Cedar Mountain, Virginia: ‘Personal Recollections of the War’ David Hunter Strother
After the Battle of Winchester: A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War David Hunter Strother
The Negro as a Soldier Christian Fleetwood
Army Life in a Black Regiment Thomas Wentworth Higginson

‘What I Saw of Shiloh’ Ambrose Bierce
‘The Coup de Grace’ Ambrose Bierce
‘A Resumed Identity’ Ambrose Bierce
‘Recollections of a Private’ Warren Lee Goss
The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane
The Aftermath Stephen C. Kenny

Select Bibliography

A short and accessible primary source reader on the medical history of the American Civil War.
Handley-Cousins, H-Disability 

This volume should prove a very good classroom companion for teaching the Civil War’s medical history at ground level, and for understanding how the war took shape in written word and visual image, as suffering morphed into memory.
Steven M. Stowe   Social History of Medicine

The book is nicely presented and handsomely illustrated with both figures and plates. It bears similarities in form with David Seed’s earlier edited anthology on American Travellers in Liverpool (Liverpool University Press, 2008) with which local readers may already be familiar.  Life and Limb may find a welcome niche in the library of anyone with an interest in medical history and of the Civil War in particular.

A. J. Larner   Medical Historian, Issue 26

Format: Ebook

ISBN: 9781781384268

Publication: June 19, 2015

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