Of Ships and Surgeons Going “Private”

I started this blog when I was the Executive Director (Founding) of the Society for the History of Navy Medicine. I intended the blog to be the public voice of the Society, and so it was during my directorship of six years. When the Society’s next Director, Jim Dolbow took the helm, he created a blog specifically (and appropriately) for Society news and events. I suspect that the Society’s third Executive Director, Professor Annette Finley-Croswhite will expand the use of that site to get the Society’s word out. Given the firm establishment of the Society’s blog, I believe now’s a good time to take this blog, which is really my personal “historical” statement, “private”. Henceforth, the blog will be my personal means of communicating maritime medical history and commentary to the world.

After posting an article (typically of 400 – 600 words, and usually a researched historical piece) a week here for nearly two and a half years, my brain was pretty much sucked dry – I REALLY respect professional writers who must work to a weekly deadline for a whole career! – and the muse left me. But now, after a year’s sabbatical, I think it’s time to tiptoe back into the arena. Accordingly, I will post such occasional piece here, either history or commentary, as I am moved to produce. I hope you gain some benefit from these scriblings

The Blogger-in-Chief

(c) 2014 Thomas L Snyder, MD

The Grog, Issue 37, 2013 (A Journal of Navy Medical History and Culture)

The latest “ration” of The Grog, A Journal of Navy Medical History and Culture, is now online and can be found on our website here.

According to Andre Sobocinski, editor and historian, “In this edition, we look back at the U.S. Navy’s long history with sharks–from curious cases of shark attacks documented by Navy physicians to the development of “full-proof” repellents.  We follow this with an assortment of original stories and sidebars ranging from a look back on the life of a long-living World War II Prisoner of War and the service of Navy flight nurses in the Pacific and in Brazil to the recollection of Surgeon General Edward Stitt’s “Budget Battles” and a glimpse at the Navy Medical Department in 1963.

As always, we hope you enjoy this journey on the high seas of Navy Medicine’s past!”

Guest Blogger: Chaplain Dave Thompson on Non-Combat Casualties

Our blog-friend Chaplain Dave Thompson joins us for another post. This time, he writes about the matter of non-combat casualties of war since the Civil War.

As you are well aware, I have been trying to tell the story of disease in our wars…especially WW I ( The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 in WW I), which cost more lives than combat in that conflict, For every American war before WW II, this largely was the case… death to disease trumped all combat deaths in these conflicts!.

In the Civil War a similar phenomenon of more deaths to disease than combat occurred (see: http://www.civilwarhome.com/casualties.htm ). Of the 618,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War, 2/3rd’s of them died of disease (414,152) and only 1/3 died in combat (204,070).

Then there were an additional 24,866 soldiers who died in prison due to disease and mistreatment as POW’s by both Union and Confederate forces!Outside of McKinley Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize Winning novel of a Confederate POW camp in SW Georgia,  Andersonville (see: http://www.amazon.com/Andersonville-Plume-MacKinlay-Kantor/dp/0452269563/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362578878&sr=1-1&keywords=andersonville ), much of  the darker story of neglectful treatment of POW’s in the Civil War, on both the Union and Confederate sides, is rarely told today in general American History texts covering the 19th Century. See the Camp Sumter/Andersonville POW Prison story ( http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/camp_sumter.htm ), where 45,000 union POW’s were imprisoned (see:http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/camp_sumter.htm ), and where 13,000 died of a variety of diseases (see: http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/causesofdeath.htm ).

Andersonville’s decrepit conditions were chronicled in the diary on P.O.W Newell Burch. Burch of the 154th New York Infantry, was captured the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned at Belle Isle and then Andersonville. He is credited with being the longest held Union Soldier during the Civil War, a total of 661 days in Confederate hands (usgwarchives.net). His diary is currently possessed by the Minnesota Historical Society.

The breakdown of casualties to disease and battles was quite interesting. Again, the stunning statistics of disease in war (over 66% of Civil War soldiers died in bed not in battle) that is often airbrushed out of our American histories, only telling the “glory” side of war.  More Civil War soldiers died of dysentery and diarrhea alone (way over 200,000) than were killed in all the battles and battlefields of the Civil War. Yet, you don’t see that kind of detail dealing with sickness in Civil War museum exhibits or re-enactments of battles…no field hospitals are built in rear areas in these re-enactments, nor any effort made to tell the general public the story of disease that accounted for the deaths of 2/3 of all the Civil War deaths in the Union and Confederate Armies. Many Americans are ignorant of this fact as we near the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.

The “other war” against disease in conflicts is the kind of military history that is not talked about a lot in our “battle-centric” telling of war stories. Fundamentally, I sense, especially among military historians a problem in methods of historiography which focuses on battles as the easiest and most interesting things to report in a conflict, as well as an easy way to add up winners and losers by territory conquered or numbers killed (KIA) or  wounded (WIA). Meanwhile, lurking in the background are less jazzy statistics, like death dealing diseases in rear area cantonments, that cumulatively would trump the numbers of any combat casualties of a particular battle, campaign, or war.

Thus, we often ignore this larger background story of disease in war that dismally claims massive numbers of victims by a 2-1 margin in rear area field and general hospitals and POW camps, because it may have little to do with a 2 or 3 day battle like the Battle of Gettysburg. Unless a disease struck in the middle of a battle (like the 1918 Flu Pandemic did at the height of the Meuse Argonne Campaign in WW I, where General Pershing’s AEF was being decimated by this malady that made so many troops ineffective in  that battle), little is ever said in the course of a war about the role of disease in a war (except that written by medical historians and buried in medical record archives of the Army and Navy). Only in long Civil War sieges like that of Vicksburg or St. Petersburg, or the discovery of terrible health conditions in POW camps, would reports of sickness creep into a battle history, and then only in a sentence or paragraph of historical commentary, before getting back to what really was interesting…the movement of the chess pieces of armies and stories of bravery of solders, marines or sailors in combat.

Yet at the end of the war, when you add all the casualties related to cause of  death, we are shocked to discover the overwhelming numbers of those who lost their lives to disease…and a fair minded person asks, “where did that come from?” This big under-reported story of disease during the progress of a war is often ignored in our battle-centric focus of war reporting and military history inquiry, causing this “end of war statistic” to jump out at us after the war is over… but the military histories have already been written excluding this stark fact.

This dismal and boring aspect of disease in war largely goes under-reported in war…just like the story of logistics in war…the thousands of logistics ships and convoy escort ships that kept our forces going for four years to Europe and across the Pacific in WW II (a really big story of one of the main reasons we won WW II, which was lost in the historical glitter and clutter of reporting only 2 day to a week battles at sea…at Midway, Coral Sea, the “Slot” off of Guadalcanal, and Philippine Sea…or the terrible Pacific Island campaigns fought by sailors and marines that each took several weeks to a month per island). My eyes were opened to this little told “boring” logistical history, when I served on the USS Sacrament (AOE-1) that kept a whole aircraft carrier battle group going in beans, bullets/bombs and ship and jet fuel and supplies and mail  for a deployment in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Sacramento_%28AOE-1%29 ). Wars and combat operations would grind to a halt in weeks without this logistical tail working well. Rarely is that story told in our histories.

You are then struck with the challenge of historiography…how we select what we report on and what we ignore in our telling of military history. My sense is disease has not been given equal billing…or at least paid its due, in many of our American war chronicles of military history. It would make a great topic at a convention of military historians…and hopefully the presenter would not be thrown out of the presentation room for pressing for better reporting of this often lost story of the “other war” with disease that goes on in every one of our conflicts. The diseases change from war to war, but the challenge remains: Today we still face the danger of a variant of the 1918 flu pandemic bug getting away for us with CDC estimates of 100 million casualties…or “super drug resistant bugs” that can overwhelm a military hospital full of wounded military personnel and kill through infection many servicemen in record time.

As a former Navy Fleet Hospital Chaplain for a 500 bed combat zone fleet hospital,  I am impressed with this side of war that a lot of chaplains in military hospitals, as well as military doctors, nurses and medics/corpsmen, see with great regularity. It is not the glory side of war, but the gory side of war…with field and general hospitals filled with wounded warriors and service personnel stricken with all manner of death dealing diseases, soon forgotten as the battle moves on…and the story quickly moves on to the next battle or campaign.

The big lesson of history in our wars is the critical role our military medical departments play in dealing with wounds of war and infectious and debilitating diseases of the battlefield that can swallow large portions of armies and navies over the course of a war. It is a cautionary tale to military leaders not to neglect paying attention to disease in war that easily can kill more service personnel than any combat they may encounter. The record of history is clear that to ignore the medical aspect of military operations is to traverse into a deadly kill zone at one’s own peril with often devastating consequences. Only as we report this “other war” against disease and it becomes part of our military histories and learning from past conflicts, will we remain vigilant and prepared to fund and support efforts to deal with future medical challenges of disease on the battlefield.

Well, I have waxed long on the topic of disease getting better billing in our military histories. You are welcome to float this topic at a convention of military historians, but I am not sure what kind of reception you will receive. The “glory story of war” bias is alive and well among many military historians who see reporting diseases during wars as a distraction from what really is important in military history…reporting battles, campaigns and politics of war.

All I would hope would happen is an act of inclusion of reporting on disease among military historians…not exclusion …not diminishing the acts of valor or sacrifices of combat…but including better reporting of the role of disease in war in keeping with the scope and dimension of the problem… in the larger sphere of military history reporting.

©2013 David Thompson

Guest Blogger: Chaplain Dave Thompson on World War I Flu and Combat Deaths, as Seen Through a Wisconsin Lens – and, a World War I Memorial

Chaplain Dave Thompson, USN, RET, has become something of a regular correspondent. Regular Readers may remember that the 1918 Influenza pandemic is one of my core interests, so when Dave sent this piece on flu and combat deaths among Wisconsin soldiers, I took notice. Now you can, too. Jim also mentions efforts to create a World War I Memorial on the National Mall in Washington,DC.
 
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Herewith, Chaplain Dave:

I came across an interesting document yesterday demonstrating the impact of disease to combat deaths of a 50:50 ratio in WW I. The Gold Star List is quite a document and testament of the huge role disease played in WW I.  “Wisconsin’s Gold Star List: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Nurse casualties for WW I”, was written in 1920 shortly after WW I and spells out in detail the cause of death of all Wisconsin service personnel in WW I (see: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/worldwarone/wisconsin/ ). The Wisconsin Gold Star list encompasses soldiers, sailors, marines and nurses who were casualties from that state by county listing in WW I (click on any county to look at the list).

The Wisconsin WW I Gold Star List takes cold national statistics of 50,280 combat deaths, 57,000 deaths to disease (with 52,199 being  American  troop deaths due to the pneumonia/influenza epidemic of 1918), and the remainder due to suicide and accidents to make up 116,000 deaths  of American Service personnel in WW I… and it personalizes these large casualty figures into cause of death and assigns real names to people who “just lived down the block” from our relatives, before going off to war and never returning. It helps us better remember all those who lost their lives in World War I due to combat action or the Great Influenza/pneumonia Pandemic of 1918.

What makes Wisconsin WW I Gold Star List so unique is, outside of North Carolina, to my knowledge, no other state did this kind of historical retrieval of information on WW I casualties and put it in one organized place like this for states to commemorate WW I (usually the names of Army personnel are buried in Army division casualty lists and are not organized by state to see the impact of World War I upon a state and counties and cities within their boundaries.

This document really brings the cost of war home to Wisconsin residents, who knew these people or their families. Many grand-children and great-grandchildren will recognize their loved on from such a list and it makes more personal for all American the cost of World War I in human lives.

Also, what makes Wisconsin a rather unique study of casualties is: It gives a much more balanced reporting of casualties at home in WW I U.S. military training camps where some  30,000 service personnel died of the flu, as well as  identifies  flu/pneumonia deaths and other diseases WW I servicemen suffered with the AEF in Europe, along with combat casualties and death from wounds and accidents.

Any objective reader of these lists can see the stark, almost equal proportions of casualties between those who lost their lives to disease (mostly to pneumonia, which  was the last stage of the influenza that raged through our armed forces in 1918 during WW I)… as well as listing those who lost their lives due to combat action with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe WW I.

The 32nd Red Arrow Division from the Wisconsin National Guard was involved in heavy fighting in Europe involving its citizen solders in heavy combat, unlike many other states that never got their National Guard units overseas. The 32nd Division suffered the 3rd highest casualties  of AEF Army Divisions in WW I, 13,261 casualties (2,250 KIA & 11,011 WIA) in WW I. They were in the thick of the fighting  in the Meuse Argonne Offensive when the Great Influenza/Pneumonia Epidemic struck our AEF forces in Europe in 1918.

The 32nd Division was also used in post-war occupation duty in Germany and some of its subordinate units were used in an expedition to Russia to support the White Russian Army against the Red Army in 1919 (suffering casualties to disease, including the last wave of the influenza/pneumonia epidemic in 1918-1919). They came home to Wisconsin in the summer of 1919, serving much longer after World War I than many other Army units and WWI soldiers who were not part of occupation duty and were demobilized much earlier.

The Gold Star List records deaths due to combat action (killed in action or “KIA” or Died of Wounds or “DW”), accidents, suicide, murder, and death due to disease or “DD,” spelling out the specific disease that claimed their life…including many influenza and pneumonia deaths caused by the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

I have taken 10 samplings from around the State of Wisconsin to demonstrate how both disease (mostly the influenza/pneumonia epidemic in 1918) and combat contributed to this list in almost equal proportions (see: sample below):

(1)  Ashland Country (Northeastern Wisconsin): 39 casualties, with 23 dying of disease (19 by influenza/pneumonia  and 4 by other diseases)  and 16 dying from combat (14 KIA and 2 died of wounds).

(2)  Brown County (East central Wisconsin around Green Bay, WI):  46 casualties, with 28 dying of disease (23 by influenza/pneumonia and 5 by other diseases) and 18 dying from combat(12 KIA and 6 died of wounds).

(3)  Dane County (South Central Wisconsin near the State Capitol in Madison, WI) : 142 casualties, with 77 dying of disease (60 by influenza/pneumonia and 17 by other diseases)  and 65 dying from combat (52 KIA and 13 died of wounds).

(4)  Douglas County (Northern Wisconsin around Superior, WI on the border with Duluth, MN): 51 casualties, with 27 dying of disease (23 by influenza/pneumonia and 4 from other diseases) and 24 dying from combat (15 KIA and 9 died of wounds).

(5)  Eau Claire County (North Central Wisconsin near Eau Claire, WI): 50 casualties, with 29 dying of disease (27 by influenza/pneumonia and 2 from other diseases) and 21 dying from combat (19 KIA and 2 died of wounds).

(6)  Fond du Lac County (South Central Wisconsin near Fond du lac, Wisconsin): 77 casualties, with 34 dying of disease (28 by influenza/pneumonia and 6 from other diseases) and 43 dying from combat (29 KIA and 14 dying of wounds).

(7)  Kenosha County (southeast corner of Wisconsin near Kenosha, Wisconsin on the Illinois border): 43 casualties, with 23 dying of disease (21 by influenza/pneumonia and 2 from other diseases) and 20 dying from combat (13 KIA and 7 dying of wounds).

(8)  La Crosse County (southwestern Wisconsin near La Crosse, WI on the southeastern border of MN): 55 casualties, with 29 dying of disease (24 by influenza/pneumonia and 5 from other diseases) and 26 dying from combat (14 KIA and 12 dying of wounds).

(9)  Milwaukee County (south eastern Wisconsin near Milwaukee, WI): 387 casualties, with 165 dying of disease (118 by influenza/pneumonia and 47 from other diseases) and 222 dying from combat (183 KIA and 39 dying of wounds).

(10) Waukesha County near Waukesha, WI in southeastern Wisconsin, a western suburb of Milwaukee, WI): 61 casualties, with 43 dying of disease (38 from influenza/pneumonia and 5 from other diseases) and 19 dying from combat (15 KIA and 4 dying of wounds).

A fair and balanced picture of WW I casualties in this sample of 10 representative Wisconsin Counties is that 478 service personnel died of disease (381 died of the influenza/pneumonia epidemic of 1918) and 474 died of combat…almost in equal numbers,

This state sample from Wisconsin squares pretty much with national statistics of the close to 50:50 ratio between casualties to combat and those to disease in WW I.

Hopefully the newly created  WW I Centennial Commission created this year and any WW I Memorial that may be created on the Mall in Washington, DC might reflect this balanced perspective on WW I casualties and tell the story of WW I to reflect the losses both in combat and to disease in The Great War.

This is an interesting and valuable document that tells in a more balanced way the terrible cost of war and the role disease (especially The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918)… as well as combat… and how it played out in this conflict, which claimed the lives of 116,000 servicemen (many whom have yet to be properly recognized in a National WW I Monument or in our many county, state or national museums covering World War I.

I hope you find this interesting and helpful information to include in the WWI story, as we prepare for the Centennial of WW I and consider an effort to have a National WW I Monument built on the Mall in Washington DC by 2018.

Guest Blogger: Tom Farrell on “Corpsmen on Mount Suribachi”

This week, we welcome CAPT Tom Farrell, MC, US Navy, Ret, as our guest blogger. Tom has been working on identifying the Navy Corpsmen present at the iconic flag raising on Mt Suribachi in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Herewith, Tom Farrell’s “say” in the matter.

CORPSMEN ON SURIBACHI: PARTICIPATION IN THE TWO FLAG RAISINGS

Corpsmen of Suribchi

Corpsmen of Suribchi

Thomas C. Farrell, Jr.
Captain MC USN(r) 
Raymond Jacobs
Sgt USMCR

 

“Clifford Langley was not there.” James Bradley1, thus began my search for the identity of the second corpsman that accompanied John Bradley on 1st Lt. Schrier’s patrol to the summit of Mt Suribachi.

February 23, 1945, LtCol Chandler Johnson Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment after receiving a briefing from Captain Arthur Naylor that a patrol lead by SGT Sherman Watson, had successfully reached the summit of Suribachi, ordered 1st Lt. Harold Schrier to lead a 40 man patrol composed of elements of the Easy company Third Platoon and personnel from other 2nd Battalion elements up the mountain. After ascending to the summit, the patrol raised a small flag brought along on a pipe at 1030 hours. This was the first flag raised on that day and the event was photographed by Marine photographer Louis Lowery. The subsequent raising of the second, larger flag 2 hours later yielded the famous scene captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. The fact that there were 2 flags raised and confusion as to whether Rosenthal “posed” his shot generated a debate. The first flag on Suribachi’s summit was an immense morale booster to the embattled Marines below. Its unfurling lead to loud cheering and  signaling from the Navy ships offshore. The Rosenthal photo had a massive positive PR benefit to the Corps and as it was the centerpiece of the upcoming 7th War Bond Drive, Commandant Vandergrif ordered all mention of the first flag raising to cease. This directive lead to an institutional ossification during which individuals in the Lowery photos were routinely misidentified in the official Marine Corps records.

My interest in the identity of the first flag raisers peaked after examination of the Lowery photo showed an extra set of hands and helmet in the photo not identified as to owner.

Thanks to the kindness of COL Walt Ford2 at Leatherneck Magazine, I was able to obtain 14 of Lowery’s photos of the event. Using available sources, I tentatively identified all the individuals in the photos. I then sent them to Raymond Jacobs3 (patrol radioman “f” Co), Charles W. Lindberg 4 (“E” Co flame-thrower) and Keith Wells 5(XO “E” Co) asking them to confirm or change my initial identities. I now had eyewitness confirmation of true identities of the participants (see photo#1). It was now clear that individual identified as Schrier holding the flag pole was actually John Bradley!

Two Navy corpsmen accompanied the patrol (plus stretcher bearers, number unknown.) The first, John Bradley PhM2c was assigned to 3rd Platoon “E” Company. The second assigned corpsman was Clifford Langley PhM2c but he was wounded on February 21, 1945 and was not part of the patrol. The identity of the second corpsman remained obscure until recently. John Bradley in an oral interview for the Naval Historical Center (www.history.navy.mil)6 recalled that he and “another corpsman by the name of Zimik (?) Pharmacist mate 2/c were the corpsmen attached to that patrol.” The publication of James Bradley’s Flags of our Fathers 7contained Rosenthal’s Gung Ho! photo. A debate over the identification of some of the individuals eventually led to the recognition of Gerald Ziehme PhM2c as a member of the patrol. His wife Judith told me that “Jerry said Bradley grabbed him and pulled him into the photo.”8 He had volunteered to go as “he had neither a wife or child” though assigned to headquarters from a replacement battalion.

Three Marine Divisions (3rd, 4th, and 5th) took part in the Iwo Jima invasion (Operation Detachment). Integral to the divisions were 100 Navy Surgeons and approximately 1000 Navy corpsmen. Casualties to these medical elements were: Surgeons 23 (2 killed ) Corpsmen 827 (201 killed ) 9. The nature of the conflict to include large amounts of artillery led to an overall killed to wounded rate of 8% overall versus 3% for WWII in general. The corpsmen’s casualty rate exceeded even that of the Marines. Four corpsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor, two posthumously. John Bradley earned the Navy Cross on February 21, 1945 for conspicuous bravery attending to a gravely wounded Marine while under intense enemy fire.

Typical of WWII veterans, the two corpsmen went on with their lives not discussing their experiences. Bradley did participate in the 7th bond tour, the dedication of the Marine Memorial and played himself in The Sands of Iwo Jima but otherwise resisted attempts at interviews and it was only after his death that his son learned through saved memorabilia of his father’s accomplishments. In fact James Bradley was unaware that it was his father misidentified as Schrier in the Lowery photograph until we showed him the other Lowery photographs. Ziehme did not seek public recognition until he was labeled an “imposter” after his attempts to correct the Gung Ho! photograph identities. His reaction was to hire a lawyer and a forensic photographic expert to confirm his presence in the Gung Ho! Photograph 10.  His wife Judith also told me that Jerry and John Bradley would often run into each other awaiting care at the Veterans Administration Hospital and remained friends.

While Iwo Jima and the two flag raisings remain primarily a Marine Corps icon, it is our hope that this article would highlight some of the contributions Navy Medicine, particularly the corpsmen, made to this epic battle. Navy Corpsmen are “The Jewels of Navy Medicine” and the respect we as Navy medical personnel receive from our Marine comrades, we owe in no small part to their devotion to duty and sacrifices. “THE MARINES HAVE FOUND THEIR FEW GOOD MEN-NAVY CORPSMEN!”

I invite your attention to the following materials.

Corpsmen On Iwo Stanley Drabowski Jan-Feb Navy Medicine 1995

Surgeon on Iwo  James S Vedder Presidio Press 1984

REFERENCES:

  1. James Bradley  Personal communication
  2. COL Walt ford USMC(r)  Personal communication
  3. Raymond Jacobs  Personal communication
  4. Charles W Lindberg  Personal communication
  5. Keith Wells  Personal communication
  6. Naval Historical Center  www.history.navy.mil
  7. Flags of our Fathers  James Bradley Bantum Books May 2000
  8. Judith Ziehme  Personal communication
  9. The History of the Medical Department of the United States Navy in World War II  Volume II FMFRP 12-12 U. S. Marine Corps 22 November 1989 (NAVMED P-5021 1953)

Civil War Sailors Monument, Washington DC

Gina and I planned to go to the recent Inauguration, and we’d secured tickets through our Congressman’s office. But jury duty supervened. So we canceled our reservations and gave the tickets to our older son James, who lives in the DC suburb of Falls Church.

Peace Monument, Washington DC (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

Peace Monument, Washington DC (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

It turns out that our tickets permitted access to an area pretty close to the inaugural event, in a small traffic circle that contains one of James’s favorite Washington features, the little-known and under-appreciated “Peace Monument”, also known by the moniker cited in my title, above.

The monument was erected in 1877-78 to memorialize Union naval deaths at sea during the Civil War. Sculpted by Maine native Franklin Simmons – a well-known portrait sculptor of the time – it stands, at 44 feet, in Peace Circle at Pennsylvania Avenue and 1st Street NW. The top figures depict America (or Grief) holding her covered face against the shoulder of History, weeping in mourning. History holds a tablet inscribed, “They died that their country might live.” The major figures standing below are Victory – facing west – with an infant Mars, god of war, and an infant Neptune, god of the sea, lounging at her feet. Facing the capitol stands Peace, with symbols of peace and industry, science, literature and art resting at her feet.

The monument’s inscription reads, “In memory of the officers, seamen and marines of the United States Navy who fell in defense of the Union and liberty of their country, 1861-1865.” Admiral David D Porter, Civil War commander of gunboat fleets, conceived the monument and raised the necessary funds from private donors. The monument came under the cognizance of the Architect of the Capitol in 1973. Badly weathered and damaged after 100 years of neglect, it has since undergone three major restoration / preservation efforts, in 1990-1991, 1999 and 2010. Interestingly, several limbs of the statue’s figures were broken off when crowds climbed on them during the 2009 inauguration.

My son “discovered” the Peace Monument  in the 1990s and is a serious devoté. His favorite image of it is this one:

Peace Monument in Washington DC snow

Peace Monument in Washington DC snow (Photo: source unknown)

My source of information is the Architect of the Capitol website, http://aoc.gov/capitol-grounds/peace-monument, accessed 31 January 2013.

©2013 Thomas L Snyder

Blogger’s Imposed Sabbatical – Jury Duty, Week Two. The Final

Guilty of Murder in the First Degree.

Testimony rolled over into the third week because a witness for the defense was a no-show on Friday. We all came in and seated ourselves in the jury box. Just as I was taking my jacket off the Judge said, “Don’t get comfortable!” As she put it, “Some times these things happen”, but since there was to be no additional testimony, we could all go home. With a cheerful “Enjoy your long weekend!”

Monday was the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Gina and I went downtown to a theater to see the President’s inauguration speech on a really big screen. But for the rest of the day, well into evening, we watched network coverage of the day’s events in the comfort of our toasty warm living room.

The Judge had other hearings on Tuesday, so we were “off” for another day. On Wednesday, everyone, including the final defense witness, showed up. The testimony took only a few minutes to complete, and Counsel rested her case. Next, the Judge literally read the jury instructions to us. The DA made her final argument, about an hour long, and we broke for lunch. In the afternoon, we heard the Defense Counsel’s argument and the DA’s rebuttal. After some additional “procedural” instructions from the Judge, the bailiff escorted us to the Jury Room. The one remaining alternate juror – one replaced juror number six when he came down with the flu about 3 days into the trial – received the thanks of the Court and went home.

The Jury Room was surprisingly small – just enough room for us to barely circulate around the table, upon which the Bailiff had piled paper bags of physical evidence. Fortunately, there was a coffee maker and a water dispenser, along with a canister of ground coffee of uncertain age. While not of gourmet quality, it did serve to keep the coffee-drinkers among us “in the game”. The room had a wall of windows, so our deliberations occurred in the light of a bright California sun.

To our universal relief, one juror volunteered to be our Foreman. After a vote of confirmation, he started us off with an around-the-table session where we could say what we thought of the trial, and, if we wanted, to express our opinion about the defendant’s guilt or innocence. At this point, it was pretty apparent that three of our number were entertaining “reasonable doubt” about guilt. No one asked for a vote, though. We were content to sleep – or not – on our individual considerations of the evidence and testimony.

We reconvened at 10 the next morning. The Foreman and two other jurors then took us, point by point, through the elements of the evidence and testimony: did it establish convincingly that the defendant was in the area at the time of the murder? did it convince us of the weapon that was used? what was the motive for the crime? was the crime gang-related? The answers to some of these questions were not direct, particularly because the one eyewitness to the crime was a hostile witness who refused to actually name the murderer in Court. At one point, we requested the testimony of two witnesses be read to us. For this the Court was reconvened, with all the actors – Defendant, Counsel for Defense, District Attorney and Judge – present. After brief instructions, the Judge excused herself, and the Court Reporter read the requested testimony. Back in the Jury Room, we worked without break – pizza was ordered in for lunch – and at the end of the day, we took a secret ballot vote: 11 -1. At 4.30, we called it a day. We needed to sleep some more on the information we had.

Friday morning saw us present and cheerful at 10. We did another review of all of the points of evidence. We agreed to another secret ballot, this time with each voter writing his or her points of uncertainty. You could feel tension in the air as the Foreman opened and read each ballot. The tension quickly broke when the final ballot made it unanimous: guilty. Bailiffs escorted us to a nearby restaurant for lunch, and when we returned, we set about deciding the other allegations: use of a weapon – an easy “guilty”, and a crime performed for the benefit or in association with a street gang – not convincing, as jurors saw an element of personal vendetta in the murder act.

The Foreman signed off on all of the verdicts and we once again rang for the Bailiff. Court convened in very short order, and once again all the actors were present, this time with an audience section well filled with what we presume to be families of both victim and defendant. The Judge directed the Foreman to hand the Verdict form to the Bailiff, who delivered it to the Judge. After briefly perusing it – showing no reaction whatever – she handed it to a Clerk of the Court who read the verdicts out loud. The Judge asked Counsel if she wanted us individually polled – one of the jurors had cautioned us that this might happen – and she said, “Yes”.  The Clerk then intoned, “Juror Number One, did you vote ‘guilty’?” “Yes.” “Juror Number Two, did you vote ‘guilty’?” “Yes.” “Juror Number Three….” With the polling confirming our unanimous vote of guilt, the Judge thanked us for our service noting that it is difficult to obtain juries for long and difficult trials like this one. The bailiff escorted us out of Court through a door at the front of the room, so we didn’t have to see the families’ reactions. Two jurors, however, had noticed that both mothers cried at the announcement of the verdict. One juror said that the DA mouthed, “Thank You” to us as we filed out.

It was an amazing experience, and I’d serve again in a trice. Each juror took the duty very seriously, and while there was humor – at one point, one of us called out to another in the bathroom, “Is it Number One or Number Two?”, as we were plumbing the definitions of Murder in the First Degree and Murder in the Second Degree – we all felt the serious nature of our task. Several jurors had kept quite detailed notes during the trial, and where two or more of their notes confirmed a point of testimony, this was very valuable. I was especially taken with the respect each of us had for the others: there was no bullying argument or rolling of eyes. Each and every juror spoke out with opinions, questions, reasoning; or a comment on some nuance in the testimony that the rest of us may have missed. One juror expressed the need to be “fair” and to re-weigh selected bits of the testimony, and this was respected without impatience. In the end, in the Courtroom, every juror’s “Yes” was spoken with a firm voice of real conviction.

Guilty of Murder in the First Degree.

©2013 Thomas L Snyder

Blogger’s Imposed Sabbatical: Jury Duty

Jury duty prevents my doing any research or writing this week, and probably next.

I take this civic duty very seriously. Even though we were scheduled to fly to DC for the inauguration, I told my wife that should I be selected, the trip would be off. This is a murder trial, and because I’m a surgeon, I fully expected – based on comments from a friend who’s a San Francisco District Attorney – I’d be dismissed, based on a peremptory challenge from one of the attorneys.

Because this is a high-stakes trial, I imagine, jury selection seemed especially laborious. I was among nearly one hundred prospective jurors who convened at the appointed time on Wednesday 2 January. After some preliminary housekeeping, 12 prospective jurors and 6 prospective alternates were selected at random; the rest of us followed them into the courtroom and took our places in the audience section. The judge briefed all of us: the charge is murder with a firearm; expect the trial to run three or four weeks.

Court staff handed us a questionnaire that asked the usual “what’s your address?” questions, but also if we knew anyone who worked in law enforcement, or if there was anything about this trial that might prevent us from weighing the evidence with an open mind and deciding a verdict. The judge keyed on those last questions when she questioned each potential juror. She also identified the individuals for whom a month-long trial would create hardship: college students with imminent return to classes; moms with children under five; small business owners whose absence would cause a financial hit. The judge released them all. Two people told her their Christian belief that only God could determine guilt or innocence; they went home. When I told the judge and the lawyers that I had an appointment in a week, I thought for sure it would mean my exit as a juror. Silence from all three.

The judge’s final questions to all were, “Can you weigh the evidence without bias?” and, “Can you keep an open mind?” Then the lawyers – first the attorney for the defense, then the District Attorney – questioned each. Finally, the peremptory challenges: each lawyer named the jurors they wanted excused with thanks. As prospectives were dismissed, the court clerk called names from the rest of us at random to fill empty seats in the jury box. The Q & A sequence repeated until late Friday afternoon. I was third from last to take my seat – juror #10. But we ran out of prospective jurors with empty seats remaining in the jury box. The judge told us to return at 9.30 on Monday.

With a new crop of prospective jurors, we repeated the questions, dismissals, questions and challenges until Wednesday afternoon, when, with only a few people remaining in the audience section, the jury, with me still in chair #10, were sworn in. The judge selected two alternate jurors from a reduced pool of four. She gave us her instructions, and the DA called her first witness.

Our days start around 9.30, except on Tuesdays, when the Judge’s court hear other cases, hearings and motions. We get a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon break, and an hour and a quarter for lunch.

We heard the DA’s witnesses for a week; on Thursday, it was defense council’s chance to create a reasonable doubt in our minds. Defense’s first Friday witness was an apparent no-show so Her Honor granted us an extra-long weekend. We reconvene at 9.30 on Wednesday.

Next week: Deliberation? A verdict?

©2013 Thomas L Snyder

Book Review: Haycock and Archer, eds., “Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700-1900

Your correspondent is serving jury duty (a murder case – could run a month), and accordingly, has not been able to do his usual research to write. Fortunately, this week, Professor Timothy Walker sent me notice if the book review below with the note “this might be of interest to members of your Society [of the history of Navy Medicine]”. I suspect it will be of interest to readers of this blog, too. Thanks to the kind Professor! As you can see, the review comes to us by way of the h-net list serv from MSU.

From: H-Net Staff <revhelp@mail.h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 3:19 AM
Subject: H-Net Review Publication: Fabbri on Haycock and Archer, ‘Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700-1900’
To: H-REVIEW@h-net.msu.edu

David Boyd Haycock, Sally Archer, eds.  Health and Medicine at Sea,
1700-1900.  Woodbridge  Boydell Press, 2009.  xiv + 229 pp.  $95.00
(cloth), ISBN 978-1-84383-522-6.

Reviewed by Christiane N. Fabbri (Yale University)
Published on H-Disability (January, 2013)
Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison

Surgeons, Sailors, and Slaves in the British Royal Navy: Observations
of Maritime Medicine from 1700 to 1900

Naval medicine in the context of military, colonial, and social
history has become a growing area of historical enquiry, as evidenced
by the number of publications in the field within the past decade.
The nine essays presented in this volume are based on the 2007 series
of historical seminars sponsored by the National Maritime Museum in
Greenwich. Collectively, they highlight the important contribution of
maritime medicine to the development of the British Empire during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They explore the crucial role
naval surgeons played during this period in the advances in
sanitation and hygiene, surgical techniques, nutritional
deficiencies, and tropical diseases. They also underscore the growing
professionalization and prominence of naval medicine, starting with
the founding in 1694 of a hospital for old and disabled seamen in
Greenwich followed by the establishment of the Sick and Hurt Board
for taking care of sick and wounded seamen and prisoners of war,
through to its contributions in the fields of Laboratory Medicine and
Tropical Diseases at the end of the Victorian era.

The book is based on extensive original research, and includes a
valuable bibliography. Its contributors come from a broad range of
fields: social and cultural history, military and colonial history,
the history of science and medicine, psychiatry, and surgery. The
nine chapters of the collection are grouped around two central
themes: the first five are devoted to the practice and administration
of naval medicine in the Royal Navy, and to the crucial importance of
sailors’ health in war and maritime battles; the second four examine
health at sea in times of enforced migration, during the voyages of
slaves, convicts, and indentured or poor migrants.

The editor’s introductory chapter sets the stage from the opening of
the eighteenth century when the renowned London physician Richard
Mead reflected that “medicine still deal[t] so much in conjecture
that it hardly deserves the name of a science” (p. 1), to the end of
the nineteenth century, when after Louis Pasteur’s discoveries the
causative organisms of most common contemporary infectious diseases
had been identified.

The first chapter, an award-winning essay by medical historian Erica
Charters, discusses the inception of what may be some of the first
large-scale clinical trials conducted for the purpose of maintaining
and improving the health of seamen by the Sick and Hurt Board during
the Seven Years War of 1756 to 1763. Historians have attributed the
success of Britain during this war to the navy’s regular sending out
of fresh provisions; clearly, medical and naval officials recognized
that this was key to maintaining health and preventing disease among
sailors during long periods at sea. Contemporaries such as naval
physician James Lind understood diseases like scurvy to be the result
of a lack of fresh provisions, but still explained the disease itself
with traditional medical theories of putrefaction and lack of
adequate humors rather than lack of a specific substance, namely the
essential nutrient now known as Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. It was
the initiative and systematic investigation by the Sick and Hurt
Board that led to the institution of early standardized experiments,
first in land hospitals, then at sea, where naval surgeons were
charged with evaluating the efficacy of the experiment. Their
findings led to effective new means of provisioning men at sea, such
as the issue to sailors of the widely popular “portable soup.” Most
likely this empirical approach was motivated as much by strategic
military concerns as by therapeutic ones. Nevertheless, as Charters
shows, in its quest to improve the health of seamen the Sick and Hurt
Board contributed significantly to the development of standardized
clinical research methodology.

John Cardwell’s essay, “Royal Navy Surgeons, 1793-1815: A Collective
Biography,” is part of an ongoing research project seeking to provide
insight into the geographic and social origins, medical training, and
professional expertise of the naval surgeons of the French Wars.
Contemporary caricatures of “middle-aged sawbones, driven to the Navy
by alcoholism or incompetence” (p. 38) are not borne out by the
extensive data culled from multiple primary sources, including
service registers and other Admiralty archives. Indeed, the
prototypical naval surgeon of the era, in spite of his usually
relatively modest background, received considerable education and
training, comparable to that of his civilian counterparts, including
apprenticeship as well as university and teaching hospital study.
Tracing the career paths of his cohort, the author demonstrates that
a considerable number of naval surgeons developed successful
practices after their naval service, with some, such as Scottish
surgeon and naturalist Sir John Richardson, garnering lasting fame
for their advancement of nineteenth-century science and letters.

Michael Crumplin, himself a retired surgeon, focuses on the practical
challenges faced by the ship’s medical officer after what, in the
author’s view, was often inadequate experience or haphazard training.
He describes the training and credentialing of naval surgeons, and
provides much interesting detail of their practice setting, including
allocation by rate of ship, daily practice and record-keeping
requirements, surgical instruments needed and supplied, together with
medicinal inventories and sick-bay and dispensary plans. While most
of the surgeon’s duties entailed the care of common ailments such as
gastrointestinal complaints, colds, and rheumatism, combat injuries
would rapidly overwhelm a lone practitioner with few or no
assistants, no matter how sophisticated his casualty triage system.
Until 1795, naval surgeons were able to fine their patients fifteen
shillings for presenting with venereal infections. These were
considered shameful but reportedly accounted for over 60 percent of
urinary tract complaints, and the protocol surely discouraged
consultation (p. 77). Ships medical officers were also called upon to
deal with gruesome battle wounds and perform major operations such as
limb amputations under extremely difficult conditions.

Pat Crimmin’s essay sheds light on how political contexts and cost
considerations influenced the activities and therapeutic choices of
the Sick and Hurt Board. Her painstaking study of the board’s
archival records helps explain some of the difficulties encountered
in improving naval medicine and sailors’ health, as well as the
board’s own ultimate demise when it was abruptly abolished in 1805.
The accusations were a deplorable state of its business, financial
slackness, and poor record keeping. After all, “medical men, by their
training, could not be expected to transact the business of accounts”
(p. 106).

At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and over the half century
following the abolition of the slave trade, the career of a Royal
Navy surgeon had become so unattractive that it deterred most
volunteer candidates. The health of the navy and the working
conditions of seamen received equally little attention. Mark
Harrison’s essay details how the problems of naval antislavery
operations in tropical stations, and the high death rates of the
crews of the West Africa Squadron, ultimately focused public
awareness on the plight of sailors and brought about a turning point.
Thus the fateful Niger Expedition (1841-42) not only resulted in the
development of medical topography and quinine prophylaxis against
fevers, but also led to broader reforms of naval medicine and health,
including improved conditions for its surgeons. At the end of the
nineteenth century these efforts culminated in the founding of the
London School of Tropical Medicine. The formal study of tropical
diseases had grown out of what was originally a branch of the
Seamen’s Hospital Society.

A second section of four essays centers on the morbidity and
mortality that befell crew and passengers onboard slave ships and
during the enforced voyages of convicts and indentured laborers. The
death rates among such migrant populations were a consequence of
the often appalling and inhuman circumstances: overcrowding and
inadequate provisioning (to maximize profits) together with filthy
conditions. All this made fertile environments for the spread of
diseases such as dysentery, smallpox, and scurvy; it is estimated
that gastrointestinal diseases caused over 40 percent of such deaths.
Slave mortality during the so-called Middle Passage is reported to
have fluctuated widely, from about 10 percent to over 50 percent. In
1693, of 700 slaves bound for Barbados on the Royal Africa Company’s
ship Hannibal only 480 arrived alive. Decreases in death rates in the
transatlantic slave trade by the middle of the nineteenth century
reflect the direct impact of improved health conditions and the
critical role of the ships’ surgeons. Interestingly, mortality rates
of the crew, likely due to malaria or yellow fever contracted in West
Africa, remained unchanged over the same period of study.

The lessons learned by the Royal Navy of the eighteenth century were
gradually implemented during the transport of convicts and other
emigrants from Britain to Australia in the nineteenth century.
Legislation supporting strict sanitary guidelines for surgeons and
captains of government-commissioned ships resulted in much lower
passenger mortality rates during these voyages compared to those of
the much shorter, but unregulated, transatlantic crossings.

This book will be of interest to many historians, particularly those
working in the field of maritime and colonial history, and the social
history of medicine and public health. Clearly, maritime medicine in
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is “a rich subject, … ripe
for further investigation” (p. 17). Navy surgeons not only played an
important role in the health of their ship’s passengers, but also
made incontrovertible contributions to the development of
investigational medicine and public health. Future avenues of
research might profit from greater scrutiny of the veterans of
maritime service: the numerous retired and/or disabled sailors and
their physical and emotional sufferings, post-traumatic casualties of
the era.

Citation: Christiane N. Fabbri. Review of Haycock, David Boyd;
Archer, Sally, eds., _Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700-1900_.
H-Disability, H-Net Reviews. January, 2013.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=37836

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
License.

Guest Blogger: Commander David A Thompson, CHC, USNR, Ret, On the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918

Today, I welcome a guest blogger, retired navy Chaplain David A Thompson. He is researching the 1918 Influenza epidemic. 

Since starting this research, I have had a lot of living relatives of WW I vets come out of  the woodwork to tell their stories of their loved one’s death or survival of the flu in the military in 1918: One 85 year old woman shared with me her dad served with my dad at Camp  Dodge…and was, as a admin NCO [administrative non-commissioned officer, ed.], directed to order over 700 coffins for the dead and had to  help contact families of  dead and dying soldiers. Another clergy friend shared his mother’s dad died of the flu in the Army, meanwhile at home his mother lost her mother, three brothers and a sister to the flu …and was orphaned…all in two weeks in the Fall of 1918! Another Army chaplain friend shared how his dad was with fledgling Army Air Corps in France and was tasked by the CO [commanding officer, ed.] in ministering to dying soldiers due to the flu and ghost writing letters of condolences to families for the CO in lieu of lack of a chaplain. All these children/grandchildren of WW I vets, are now in their later 60”s-80’s like me (I’m a young 66).

A typical letter was shared by a writer friend in St. Paul about an Uncle  who was in the Navy who died of the flu pandemic in World War I :

“Dave, thank you very much for your email. I hope you do tell that important story. It reminds me of one from my own family. My father was a World War II navy veteran. His oldest brother, a gifted athlete, had enlisted in the navy in World War I at 18. He was sent to a naval station in South Carolina where he was assigned to train marksmen while preparing to ship overseas. You probably know what’s coming. Flu swept through his barracks and he came down with it. A telegram was sent to the family in Illinois, but by the time my grandfather, who worked for the railroad as the salvage yard manager, had boarded the train to go East, he was traveling not to see an ill son but to claim his body. He accompanied the coffin and, at one point on the trip back, realized the car it was in was being decoupled. He immediately got off the train and waited with the car for a day until he could see it was safely joined to another train headed to Illinois and that he was with it. My aunts always said that the family never really recovered from Ted’s death. When I was going through my father’s things after his own death, I found his mother’s gold star and a pipe in a leather case with Ted’s initials scratched into it. I felt it was a legacy that needed a special home and one day realized it should go to my cousin’s daughter, who was serving as an officer in the navy and had grown up a mile from that South Carolina barracks and whose grandmother was Ted’s closest sibling. I also put copies of the clippings about Ted together for my children and niece and nephew so that he could stay part of the family life and heritage.”

David McCullough illustrates problems with the flu on the home front, that worried WW I servicemen, in his book Truman. He wrote that Captain Harry Truman (later President Truman) serving as an Army Field Artillery Officer in the 35th Division in France with the AEF [American Expeditionary Force, ed.], hearing of the influenza epidemic in his home town in Missouri, “became so alarmed he hardly could contain himself.” His sweet-heart Bess, her brother Frank, and two friends all had the flu. Truman wrote home, “everyday someone of my outfit will hear that his mother, sister, or sweet-heart is dead. It is heartbreaking almost to think we are so safe and so well over here and the one’s we’d like to protect more than all the world have been more exposed to death than we.”

It was a terrible time for deployed soldiers and sailors, as well as those in training camps in the US, who were  filled with anxiety and concern for family and friends back home who were ill with the flu (25.8 % of the civilian populations) and thousands (675,000) dying back home.

Since there were no ‘footprints” in VA hospitals of wounded warriors from this terrible flu epidemic in WW I (you either got well in 6 weeks or you were very quickly dead), only mute testimony of these flu deaths related to the military (as well as civilian population) is found in US civilian cemeteries or ABMC military cemeteries in France and England (see: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/su.php ) and Brookwood American Cemetery, 35 miles southwest of  London, England (see:http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/bk.php ). The Meuse Argonne American Cemetery (see: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ma.php ) located 150 miles northeast of Paris, France with 14,000 graves, also has many flu casualties buried there. It was during the Meuse Argonne Campaign when the pandemic hit the AEF in full force in October-November 1918 during this battle (over 20,000 + AEF troops died of the flu in this 6 week period of this campaign), while  30,000 died in CONUS [Continental United States, ed.].

Military flu casualties in the US were buried in VA or thousands of community cemeteries in the US, like the one in Texas noted here (see website:  “WW I Casualties from Fayette County”  from a county in Texas that documented so many flu victims among WW I veterans in its county cemeteries http://www.fayettecountyhistory.org/deceased_WWI_veterans.htm ). Most CONUS Navy flu casuloaties were buried in this matter…bodies shipped home by train for quick 15 minute graveside services with only immediate family and clergy without military honors, due to quarantine.

In discussing the WW I Centennial Commemoration of WW I with the American Legion National HQ, there may be an interest in mobilizing American Legion Posts in every county across our nation to dig into county WW I records (like they did in Fayette County, TX) to find veterans who died in the Great  War due to combat or to the flu and tell their story during the WW I Centennial Commemoration in 2018. Such an excavation of WW I veteran records with photos and cause of death will bring to life for the public the sacrifices of WW I veterans and the impact upon our forces of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918.

©2013 David A Thompson