Chisolm’s Manual of Military Surgery, Civil Practice to Civil War: The Medical College of the State of South Carolina 1861-1865

Chisolm’s Manual of Military Surgery

“In putting forth this Manual of Military Surgery for the use of Surgeons in the Confederate service, I have been led by the desire to mitigate, if possible, the horrors of war, as seen in its most frightful phase in military hospitals.”
Julian J. Chisolm
Preface to First Edition.

“When the war suddenly broke upon us, followed immediately by the blockading of our ports, all communication was cut off with Europe, which was the expected source of our surgical information. As there had been no previous demand for works on military surgery, there were none to be had in the country, and our physicians were compelled to follow the army to the battle without instruction. No work on military surgery could be purchased in the Confederate States. As military surgery, which is one of expediency, differs so much from civil practice, the want of proper information has already made itself seriously felt. In times of war, where invasion threatens, every citizen is expected to do his duty to his state. I saw no better means of showing my willingness to enlist in the cause than by preparing a manual of instruction for the use of the army, which might be the means of saving the lives and preventing the mutilation of many friends and countrymen.”
Julian J. Chisolm
Preface to First Edition.

From the outset of the war, Julian John Chisolm (1830-1903) realized that knowledge of military medicine was practically non-existent among doctors in the South. Using the knowledge gained during his time observing the treatment of soldiers wounded in the Second Italian War of Independence (1859) in Milan, Italy, Chisolm wrote and published his book, A Manual of Military Surgery: For the Use of the Surgeons in the Confederate Army With an Appendix of the Rules and Regulations of the Medical Department. First published in July 1861, the manual described how to treat specific types of wounds, construct field hospitals, and manage food, clothing, hygiene and non-surgical diseases. Later editions contained detailed illustrations showing how to perform specific procedures such as amputations. The manual became one of the most popular surgery books published by the Confederates States of America and resulted in the publication of three more editions. These later editions incorporated the knowledge gained from the battlefield to improve the treatments of gunshot wounds.

Four editions of the manual were produced during the course of the war and are now available for research use at the Waring Historical Library:

1861 edition

1862 edition

1864 edition

Or online:

1861 edition:

1862 edition:

1863 edition:

1864 edition:

“After three years of incessant and bloody warfare I have been called upon to embody, in a new edition of “The Manual of Military Surgery,” the large experience of the medical staff of our army. It has been my aim to condense, in a concise, practical form, the improvements in the treatment of gunshot wounds which have been developed during our active campaigns, and repeatedly confirmed upon thousands of wounded.”
Preface to the Third Edition.

Internet Archive. Ebook and Text Archive. Duke University Libraries, 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 June 2011.

Jefferson Digital Commons C 2011.