Saturday, December 5, 2020

Booknotes: Bullets and Bandages

New Arrival:
Bullets and Bandages: The Aid Stations and Field Hospitals at Gettysburg by James Gindlesperger (Blair, 2020).

Inspired by Greg Coco's work on Gettysburg field hospitals, James Gindlesperger Bullets and Bandages: The Aid Stations and Field Hospitals at Gettysburg aims to provide the most comprehensive survey to date of places in and around Gettysburg that treated wounded soldiers. In it the author "provides a context for the medical and organizational constraints of the era and then provides details about the aid stations and field hospitals created in the aftermath of the battle. Filled with historical and contemporary photos, as well as stories about the soldiers and their healers, this book is a detailed guide for visitors to the site as well as others interested in American Civil War history."

In deciding which hospitals and aid stations to include in the volume, Gindlesperger limited his scope to places that were officially designated as a hospital or aid station, tended multiple wounded, and had a doctor present. Additionally, those sites that had a particularly "interesting story" to tell or took care of a prominent individual were also considered.

The book is organized into chapters by area, and each site's GPS coordinates were included unless the property owner objected. Just from a quick glance through the table of contents, it looks like well over 200 sites are examined. The volume has high production values, with thick, glossy pages that present both modern color photos and archival B&W images to good effect. The annotated history and commentary text attached to each site runs around a full page in length (some more, some less). Site numbers ranging from six to twenty-seven in each chapter are also helpfully plotted on a series of color street maps. It looks like a highly useful history and touring guide for Gettysburg researchers and enthusiasts.


  1. It's quite a familiar aspect of Civil War literature that Gettysburg gets the minutiae treatment, but it would be nice to see aftermath studies, casualty care/removal and the like similar to this(though not as in-depth) for some of the other the great battles of the war.

    1. Agreed. I am surprised there hasn't been one for Shiloh. The opposite of Gettysburg in terms of nearby support/care infrastructure and you could also examine early-war unpreparedness for mass casualties.


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