Monday, February 24, 2020

Booknotes: Christopher H. Tebault, Surgeon to the Confederacy

New Arrival:
Christopher H. Tebault, Surgeon to the Confederacy by Alan I. West (McFarland, 2020).

From the description: "Among the top physicians of the Confederacy, Christopher H. Tebault distinguished himself as a surgeon during the Civil War. Recognized for his medical contributions after the war, he was nominated Surgeon General of the United Confederate Veterans, a position he used to compile the history of Confederate medicine, advocate for veterans and contribute to Southern literature. A staunch "Lost Cause" proponent, he also fought Reconstruction policies and the enfranchisement of former slaves."

Alan West's Christopher H. Tebault, Surgeon to the Confederacy holds claim to being the "first biography" of the doctor. It is pretty much a full biography, covering much more than the Civil War years. In fact, only one chapter discusses Dr. Tebault's Civil War career, which started with his 1862 med school graduation and assignment to the 21st Louisiana. The rest of the book covers his postwar medical practice in New Orleans and the many other activities referenced above.

In addition to using Tebault's own extensive writings as general source material, West also compiles an informative collection of some of Tebault's more important articles related to Civil War medicine. Organized at the back of the book in an appendix of sorts, they discuss Confederate vaccination, medical resources, hospitals, and the effects of New Orleans's wartime drainage system on the health and mortality rates of the city.

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