Download Full Text (5.2 MB)
Dr. Jonathan Letterman was the medical director for the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Dr. Letterman graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1849. With his appointment to the largest portion of the Union Army, Dr. Letterman was tasked with improving what would today be called a population health nightmare. Soldiers lived in filth, ate food devoid of nutrition, were forced to train beyond what was necessary no matter the conditions, and worst of all, were not provided with an organized medical department to treat them if they were wounded or became ill. He focused his attention on improving the healthcare soldiers received, bettering the culture of army medicine, and teaching individuals healthy and sanitary behaviors. His innovative ideas not only saved the lives of thousands of soldiers wounded on the battlefield, they prevented disease, increased the fighting strength of the Union Army, and ultimately aided the United States in winning the Civil War.
How a Civil War surgeon’s population health initiatives helped save the Union, CWIC, Thomas Jefferson University
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health
Walker, 2LT Tyler, "How a Civil War surgeon’s population health initiatives helped save the Union" (2015). CWIC Posters. 12.