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This is the story of the hospital of the Union Second Corps. In a time period that we look back on with aghast dismay, where “laudable pus” and hospital fevers were the norm, when antisepsis and microbes were totally unknown, this hospital had an incredible 86.6% survival rate following the battle of Gettysburg! In spite of enormous, almost overwhelming, difficulties, the Second Corps hospitals succeeded because of the tough, compassionate dedication of its surgeons, and the selfless sacrifices of a small group of volunteers, men and women who cared enough to come to a town that could be smelled from miles away as dead men and animals began to decompose in the sweltering summer heat.
To understand these hospitals, one must know something of the lives of the soldiers, surgeons, and civilians that met there. To study their stories, one must also be somewhat familiar with the battle that brought them together, for it was, for many, the defining point of their lives. For some, where (and often more importantly how) they were wounded served as the deciding factor between life and death.
This, then, is the story of the personnel of the Union Second Corps hospital, as they grappled with death before, during, and after the bloody battle of Gettysburg.
–from the Foreword by Roland Maust
Other books by MAUST, ROLAND