Monday, October 16, 2006

Author news: Bill Gurley

Bill Gurley, co-editor with Cynthia Pitcock of "I Acted from Principle": The Civil War Diary of Dr. William M. McPheeters, Confederate Surgeon in the Trans-Mississippi (published by University of Arkansas Press as part of The Civil War in the West series), recently emailed me with some kind words about this website--which were greatly appreciated by me--and he also informed me of some of his current projects.

Regular readers may remember that Bill contributed a chapter to the upcoming book "The Earth Reeled and Trees Trembled" - Civil War Arkansas, 1863-1864, mentioned earlier here on this blog. The essay was gleaned from Gurley's research for an upcoming book length project. This is how he describes it:

"This chapter discusses the medical casebook of Confederate surgeon Dye was a surgeon from Texas in charge of the Texas Branch Hospital following the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry. What makes Dye's journal so unique is that it is not only a chronicle of Confederate medical practice in the Trans-Mississippi, but Dye drew pictures of all of his patients. I've never seen another Confederate medical casebook like it. The chapter in Mark's book is just a small sampling of the 125 cases Dye describes. I am working on editing and annotating the complete casebook for publication. Its tentative title is "Yankee Bullets, Southern Blood: The remarkable casebook of Confederate surgeon Henry M. Dye."

The book will examine a wide variety of Civil War medicine topics using each case as an template. Whenever possible, the post-war biography of each patient will be explored since many of Dye's patients (Texans, Arkansans, and Missourians) filed for pensions after the war, and several left reminiscences. Dye's approach to medicine, in many respects, turns the stereotypical view of Civil War surgeons on its head. One chapter of the Dye book will focus on the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry since 108 of the 125 cases were wounded in that fight. Many new and unpublished sources will be used for this discussion of the battle

Bill is also working on a history of Mosby Monroe Parsons' division of Confederate Missourians, a project which we will alas have to wait several more years for. Its completion will mark the culmination of over 15 years of research, and with Gurley's passion for discovering unpublished source materials and for good maps, I am greatly looking forward to its publication. With the recent release of Richard Lowe's history of Walker's Texas Division and the work in progress by guys like Bill and Donald Frazier, it looks like there is some welcome momentum gathering for the publication of more Trans-Mississippi unit histories.

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