Colorado's Healthcare Heritage

Updates to Volume One — 1862

In 1862, Army Surgeon General William Alexander Hammond, MD, 34, a neurologist, established the Army Medical Museum in Washington to provide a collection of specimens for research in military medicine and surgery.

Dr. Hammond's original specimens were collected on Civil War battlefields. President Lincoln had appointed Dr. Hammond surgeon general on April 25, 1862, after he had rejoined the Army because of the Civil War. Prior to that, Dr. Hammond had been chair of anatomy and physiology at the University of Maryland medical school in Baltimore.

In June 1862, Surgeon General William Hammond appointed Major Jonathan Letterman — a 38-year-old native of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, who had received his MD in 1849 from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia — to be medical director of the Army of the Potomac. Major General George B. McClellan authorized Dr. Letterman to reorganize the battlefield medical system. Because his accomplishments, Dr. Jonathan Letterman is now known as "the father of battlefield medicine."

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