Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Booknotes: Matchless Organization

New Arrival:
Matchless Organization: The Confederate Army Medical Department by Guy R. Hasegawa (SIU Press, 2021).

"Matchless organization" is not a phrase that frequently comes to mind when considering the merits of any particular element of the Confederate military bureaucracy, but Guy Hasegawa, author of Matchless Organization: The Confederate Army Medical Department, nevertheless maintains that "(d)espite the many obstacles it had to overcome—including a naval blockade, lack of a strong industrial base, and personnel unaccustomed to military life—the Richmond-based Confederate Army Medical Department developed into a robust organization that nimbly adapted to changing circumstances."

More from the description: "In the first book to address the topic, Guy R. Hasegawa describes the organization and management of the Confederate army’s medical department. At its head was Surgeon General Samuel Preston Moore, a talented multitasker with the organizational know-how to put in place qualified medical personnel to care for sick and wounded Confederate soldiers."

Even amid the extreme exigencies of war, the department managed to fulfill its most immediately pressing tasks while also looking toward the future. In the book, Hasegawa "investigates how political considerations, personalities, and, as the war progressed, the diminishing availability of human and material resources influenced decision-making in the medical department. Amazingly, the surgeon general’s office managed not only to provide care but also to offer educational opportunities to its personnel and collect medical and surgical data for future use, regardless of constant and growing difficulties."

Just going from the chapter headings, the book appears be a pretty broad survey of the topic. Among other things, the volume addresses medical department organization, personnel, and leadership matters; both domestic and foreign sources of medical supplies; battlefield, hospital, and prison care; examining boards; and contributions to medical science that outlasted the war.

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