Monday, November 23, 2015

Booknotes: Surgeon of the "Old Sixth"

New Arrival:

Surgeon of the ''Old Sixth'': The Life and Times of Dr. Norman Smith and the Civil War's 6th Massachusetts by M.P. McConnell (Ellen Carson Pub, 2015).

Dr. Smith was the regimental surgeon of the 6th and the book covers his time with the 90-day volunteer regiment from its famously warm April 1861 reception at Baltimore to its August mustering out. In the intervening period, the regiment safeguarded the approaches to Washington. Author "M.P. McConnell vividly exposes the chaos of the first days of the Civil War when the stakes were so high including new details about the ''Old Sixth'' Regiment's camp conditions, health problems, number of Baltimore casualties, and discipline challenges at the end of its service. The medical practice of a 19th century New England doctor comes alive in the story along with details of the first amputation of the Civil War by Dr. Smith just steps away from the Capitol Rotunda in the then chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court." The sexagenarian Smith didn't reenter military service but rather traveled to Europe for a time before returning home to the U.S. Also from the description, the book is "(r)ichly illustrated [much of it in color] with the first-ever gathering of period artwork and photographs chronicling the ''Old Sixth'' Regiment's service and is the product of "extensive research into archival collections with never before published first-hand accounts from letters, diaries, and orderly books ..."

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