Learning from the Wounded

The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science

By Shauna Devine

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 26 halftones, 3 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3337-4
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1156-3
    Published: March 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4462-0
    Published: March 2014

Civil War America

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Awards & distinctions

2015 Tom Watson Brown Book Award, Society of Civil War Historians and Watson-Brown Foundation

2015 Wiley-Silver Prize, The Center for Civil War Research, University of Mississippi

A 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Nearly two-thirds of the Civil War's approximately 750,000 fatalities were caused by disease--a staggering fact for which the American medical profession was profoundly unprepared. In the years before the war, training for physicians in the United States was mostly unregulated, and medical schools' access to cadavers for teaching purposes was highly restricted. Shauna Devine argues that in spite of these limitations, Union army physicians rose to the challenges of the war, undertaking methods of study and experimentation that would have a lasting influence on the scientific practice of medicine.

Though the war's human toll was tragic, conducting postmortems on the dead and caring for the wounded gave physicians ample opportunity to study and develop new methods of treatment and analysis, from dissection and microscopy to new research into infectious disease processes. Examining the work of doctors who served in the Union Medical Department, Devine sheds new light on how their innovations in the midst of crisis transformed northern medical education and gave rise to the healing power of modern health science.

About the Author

Shauna Devine is visiting research fellow in the department of the history of medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University.
For more information about Shauna Devine, visit the Author Page.


โ€œ[Devine] makes a convincing case that at least one good thing came from the horror of the Civil War, namely the advancement of medicine.โ€ โ€”Americaโ€™s Civil War

โ€œA thoroughly researched and detailed analysis of the Civil Warโ€™s powerful impact on American medicine.โ€ โ€”Journal of American History

"A bold new interpretation of the impact of the Civil War on the profession of medicine in nineteenth-century America." โ€”Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Recommended to readers in the history of medicine or military medicine." โ€”Library Journal

โ€œAn excellent book for anyone interested in Civil War medicine.โ€ โ€”New York Journal of Books

โ€œA segment of the real war has gotten into Learning from the Wounded.โ€ โ€”Civil War Book Review