Jonathan Letterman Essay

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The Civil War was America’s bloodiest war. Soldiers were not only dying from battle itself, but from the daily practices the military had in place. Medical care and response was lacking organization resulting in many preventable deaths. In 1862 this all changed with the appointment of Medical Director Jonathan Letterman, who focused on how soldiers were being treated both on and off the battlefield. Jonathan Letterman was crucial to the Union’s victory because he advanced civil war medicine and made it more accessible hence why his gravestone describes a man “who brought order and efficiency into the Medical Service and who was the originator of modern methods of medical organization in armies" (Arlington National Cemetery). From the start,…show more content…
Thus, replacing Charles S. Tripler. Right away, Letterman faced his first challenge of scurvy. A prominent epidemic amongst the soldiers, Letterman saw right away that a lack of proper nutrition lead to the sickness. He would take it upon himself to bring “large amounts of potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, beets, and fresh bread to improve the soldiers’ diet, and the scurvy cleared up immediately” (Schroeder-Lein 185). Letterman still faced a major challenge though. The challenge involved working with the Army’s protocol in place at the time for dealing with the health of wounded or dead soldiers and sanitary conditions among camps due to a lack of proper shelter. Letterman noted that transportation has an important influence upon the manner in which wounded soldiers are attended to after a battle and that there must be adequate shelters to tend to the wounds of soldiers. As Letterman declared to the General, “if the transportation is not sufficient to enable officers of the department to conduct it properly, the effect must fall upon the wounded” (“Dr. Letterman’s Gettysburg Report”). Letterman’s concept of the medicine wagon would soon prove to become a technological innovation for the Army. After all, as declared by Letterman in his “Report Detailing the Medical Department of the Army of the Potomac” the removal of so large a body of wounded was no small

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