Surgeon General Department
Samuel Preston Moore (September 16, 1813 – May 31, 1889) was an American military physician, who served in the medical corps of the United States Army during the Mexican–American War, and later as the Confederate Surgeon General throughout nearly all of the American Civil War.
When the American Civil War began in 1861,
Moore was still a U.S. Army surgeon. He resigned his commission on February 25,
and returned to his medical practice in Little Rock, Arkansas. After the state
of Arkansas seceded from the Union, Moore was approached by Jefferson Davis to
join the Confederate cause, who cited "the army’s unfortunate military situation
and the lack of trained medical men..." to persuade him On March 16 Moore was
assigned to lead the new Confederate Army Medical Department as surgeon general.
He replaced Charles H. Smith, who had been the acting surgeon general. Moore
assumed his post on July 30; he would hold this position until the end of the
war. By 1863 Moore's headquarters were the Confederate capital of Richmond,
Virginia. He also would set up a Reserve Surgical Corps.
Facing shortages in medicines, supplies, and equipment due to the ongoing Union blockade of Southern ports, as well as a shortage of few trained surgeons, Moore's job was difficult. He raised the recruiting standards and gave the most capable surgeons positions of authority. Moore designed the barracks-hospital layout, which is still in use today. This single level pavilion-style hospital was ordered built throughout the South. He improved the field ambulance corps and supplemented the few available medicines with drugs made from the South's indigenous plants, which were produced in laboratories set up by Moore.
To address the quality of surgeons, Moore organized an examination system to identify untrained doctors. If they failed, the doctor would serve as an attendant in a hospital for a time and retake the test. This system allowed semi-trained surgeons to be further educated, and unusable doctors to be dismissed from service. In 1864 Moore established the Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal, a manual to instruct the surgeons throughout the army; it included both exact descriptions and drawings of operations. During the war Moore also founded the Association of Army and Navy Surgeons of the Confederate States of America. This organization is believed to be the oldest military medical society in the United States. He also added dentists to the hospitals, the first time in American history its soldiers and sailors had access to this service. By the end of the war in 1865, the Medical Department of the Confederacy had about three thousand men under Moore.
To each regiment of infantry or cavalry was assigned a surgeon and an assistant surgeon; to a battalion of either, and sometimes to a company of artillery, an assistant surgeon. Whenever regiments and battalions were combined into brigades, the surgeon whose commission bore the oldest date became the senior surgeon of brigade, and although a member of the staff of the brigade commander, was not relieved of his regimental duties; sometimes, however, he was allowed an additional assistant surgeon, who was carried as a supernumerary on the brigade roster. To the senior surgeon of brigade, the regimental and battalion medical officers made their daily morning, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports, and reports of killed and wounded after engagements, which by him were consolidated and forwarded to the chief surgeon of the division to which the brigade was attached; regiments and brigades acting in an independent capacity forwarded their reports to the medical director of the army or department, or to the surgeon general direct. Requisitions for regimental and battalion medical, surgical, and hospital supplies, as well as applications for furlough or leave of absence, discharge, resignation, or assignment to post duty, on account of disability, were first approved by the regimental or battalion medical officer, after giving his reasons for approval and the nature of the disability in the latter instances, and forwarded by him to the senior surgeon of brigade, and by him to the chief surgeon of division and the other ranking officers in the corps and army for their approval. Independent commands reported to the medical director of the department or army, or the surgeon-general direct. Medical purveyors nearest to the army, as promptly as possible, forwarded all needed medical, surgical and hospital supplies, on approved requisitions.
Assignments to the position of chief
surgeon of division were sometimes made in accordance with seniority of rank of
the senior surgeons of brigades, in other instances on application of the
general commanding the division. His duties, in addition to approving reports
coming from the senior surgeons of brigades, were to advise with the division
commander in all matters pertaining to the medical care and hygiene of his
command, and to have personal care of the attaches of the division staff and
headquarters, and to advise and consult with his medical subordinates.
To each corps was assigned a medical director, a commissioned surgeon, his permanent assignment being made on personal application of the lieutenant-general commanding the corps; temporarily and when emergency demanded, his duties, which were similar to those of the chief surgeon of division as pertaining to the corps, devolved upon the chief surgeon of division whose commission bore priority of date; he, in turn, being succeeded by the ranking senior surgeon of brigade.
A medical director was assigned to the staff of each general commanding a department, or an army in a department, his selection usually being in deference to the general on whose staff he served and to whom was submitted for approval all reports and papers, from the various army corps, independent divisions, brigades, or smaller detachments. He also bad charge of the staff and attaches of the department or army headquarters.
The non-commissioned medical staff consisted of a hospital steward for each regiment or battalion, with the rank and emoluments of an orderly sergeant, his selection as a rule being made by the ranking medical officer of the command, usually a graduate or undergraduate in medicine, or one having had previous experience in handling drugs; and his duties were to have charge of the medical, surgical, and hospital supplies under direction of the regimental or battalion medical officer, caring for and dispensing the same, seeing that the directions of his superior as to diet and medicines were carried out, or reporting their neglect or failure. The regimental band constituted the infirmary detail to aid in caring for the sick in camp and to carry the wounded from the field of battle, and when so occupied were under the surgeon or assistant surgeon. When necessary, additional detail was made from the enlisted men to serve temporarily or permanently on the infirmary corps. In some instances, an enlisted man was detailed as hospital clerk, and with the hospital steward was required to be present at sick-call each morning; these soldiers, with the infirmary detail, were relieved from all other regimental duty, such as guard duty and police detail.
The duties of the assistant surgeon were to assist or relieve the surgeon in caring for the sick and wounded in camp or on the march. On the field of battle he was expected to be close up in the immediate rear of the center of his regiment, accompanied by the infirmary detail, and to give primary attention, first aid to the wounded-this consisting in temporary control of hemorrhage by ligature, tourniquet, or bandage and compress, adjusting and temporarily fixing fractured limbs, administering water, anodynes, or stimulants, if needed, and seeing that the wounded were promptly carried to the field-hospital in the rear by the infirmary detail or ambulance.