Posts Tagged ‘History’

What is going on with Turkey?

Thursday, November 26th, 2015


Turkish F 16s shot down a Russian SU 24, a bomber, after it entered Turkish airspace and did not respond to warnings.

A U.S. track of the Russian plane shot down by Turkey shows that the plane was inside Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

After 10 warnings without a response, a Turkish fighter jet shot the plane down Tuesday. U.S. officials said Wednesday that all of the warnings occurred before the plane entered Turkish airspace, Martin reports.

What remains unclear is whether the Russian plane was still in Turkish airspace when the F-16 fired, Martin reports. The explosion that brought the warplane down occurred when it was back in Syrian airspace, the U.S. officials said.

Why did Turkey do this ? One reason may be that the Russians were attacking Turkmen who are opposed to Assad.

Another is that Turkey is involved in oil trade with ISIS.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who canceled his planned trip to Turkey after the incident, described the shooting down of the Russian plane as a “planned provocation.”

He said the Turkish action came after Russian planes successfully targeted oil infrastructure used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, alleging that Turkey benefited from the oil trade.

Lavrov also said that Turkish territory was used by “terrorists” to prepare attacks in other countries, but offered no details. He said that Russia “has no intention to go to war with Turkey,” but added that Moscow will re-consider its ties with Ankara.

Turkey has been trending to Islamism since Erdogan took over the government ten years ago.

President Erdogan also attended the summit, proceeding to speak at the event’s closing ceremony: “Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178. In his memoirs, Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba”. In this way, the Turkish President managed to cause a sensation, while ignoring the fact that mere notion of the ‘discovery of America’ is nothing but a linguistic ploy used to consecrate the European domination of the world from the 16th century onwards and to discount the achievements of the continent’s native populations.

Richard Fernandez has a theory about why this is happening.

Charles Krauthaummer argues that since the Turks could not have been spurred into action by such minor Russian intrusion into their airspace, their true motive must have been to signal Moscow to lay off one its proxies, the Turkmen. They were willing to violate the ‘no clash between principals’ rule to emphasize the point.

This I think sort of highlights that, the Turks are the most opposed to Assad of anybody on the ground. It wasn’t only that the Russian airplane went into Turkish air space. It’s that the bombing run was against Turkmen, who a minority in Syria, ethnically Turkish that the Turks have always felt they have to defend.

Remember that Turkey and ISIS are both Sunni Muslim and the entire ISIS movement began as a Sunni reaction to the extreme provocation of the Sunnis by the Pro-Iran government of Iraq.

The challenge has been Russia’s focus on propping up Assad rather than focusing on ISIL. … Until that happens, it’s very difficult. It’s difficult because if their priority is attacking the moderate opposition that might be future members of an inclusive Syrian government, Russia is not going to get the support of us or a range of other members of the coalition.

Putin’s reaction to the incident on the occasion of his meeting with the King of Jordan describes the same strategic picture, albeit viewed from the other side of the lines.

Obama is basically an ally of Iran and that may be why he withdrew US forces that might have imposed discipline on the Iraqi government. In that sense, ISIS was created by Obama as the Sunnis had nowhere else to go. Turkey has little incentive to fight ISIS as they share Sunni religious affiliation and have no love for the Kurds and other anti-Assad forces. They certainly have little love for Shia Islam, of which Alawite is a form.

The differences between Russia and the West are also a a major factor in our dilemma.


Ben Carson and his stories.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


This past week, the leftist media has gone after Carson like he was threatening the Democrats’ hold on the black vote, which is what I think is happening.

First, Politico accused him of lying about a scholarship to West Point. They have had to retract much of this story and it seems fatally flawed.

Editor’s note: POLITICO stands by its reporting on this story, which has been updated to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response. The original story and headline said that Carson’s campaign had admitted he “fabricated” a “full scholarship” from West Point, but now Carson denies that his campaign’s statement constituted such an admission, and the story and headline were changed to reflect that. POLITICO’s reporting established that Carson said he received a “full scholarship” from West Point, in writing and in public appearances over the years — but in fact he did not and there is actually no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the taxpayer-funded academy.

This, of course, is nonsense and Politico is taking flak from all over about it. Carson was a high achieving high school member of the Junior ROTC who had sky high SAT scores in 1969 (Not to mention being black). Most reporters have never had the experience of being solicited by universities but I have and I’m sure Carson’s story is true.

According to a tale told in his book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by the offer of a “full scholarship” to the military academy.

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.

This is irrelevant. Carson was offered an appointment and others have had a similar experience. His JROTC membership makes this especially likely as 1969 was the end of the Viet Nam war and a low point for the US military.

Other controversies have been the obsessive focus of the press for a week.

In his book Gifted Hands, Carson relates that, in his youth, he had a violent temper. He said he once tried to hit his mother over the head with a hammer over a clothes dispute and, that while in the ninth grade, he attempted to stab a friend who had changed the station on the radio; the blade broke in his friend’s belt buckle. After this incident, Carson said that he began reading the Book of Proverbs and applying verses on anger.

Again, there is no evidence that this is untrue and it happened 50 years ago. Carson has given many talks on religion and motivation and his personal story gives this force.

The latest is his story of the pyramids being used by Joseph of the Bible to store grain. This is quoted by many as evidence of mental derangement.

Even if it is true that Obama’s ties to radical left-wingers were more relevant than Carson’s kooky pyramid theory, I want to hear about any strange notions Carson has propounded in his years as a public figure. Does he study the facts of the real world and process them accurately and make appropriate conclusions? If not, I don’t want him making the decisions that will affect us all.


A very interesting explanation of Europe’s suicide.

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

I am a fan of James C Bennett and his book, “The Anglosphere Challenge.” I have just come across an essay of his from 2003 that seems to have a lot to say about the current crisis in Europe.

His thesis is that this is a suicidal period for Europe that began with The Holocaust.

I have to agree with his premise.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe’s Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

I think this is a great insight. I also enjoyed his book, “America 3.0,” more for its history than for its optimistic view of the future.

His points are chiefly about the difference in family structure between England and America with nuclear family structure and the other countries which have an extended family structure that is so common in societies where trust and security is constantly threatened.

I wonder if the trust levels in those European countries from 2008 has changed? I think they have and this is evidence, at least for Germany.

“You’re as big of an asshole as that idiot Ralf Stegner,” a certain Birgit M. recently wrote in a letter to Thomas Kutschaty, justice minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was a referrence to the deputy party leader of state chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who recently said the organizers of the weekly Pegida marches in Dresden and elsewhere should be investigated by intelligence services. “You should all be put in a sack and have a hammer taken to you,” Birgit M. wrote in her tirade.
Then there was the man who called Dorothea Moesch, a local SPD politician in Dortmund, late in the evening on June 30. “We’re going to get you,” he threatened. “We’re at your door.”

Another local SPD politician in Hesse, district administrator Erich Pipa, has been similarly threatened. “We can have you taken out at any time,” he was informed in a letter.

The SPD, of course, is the Social Democratic Party which supports all the left wing causes including unlimited immigration.

Pipa became the target of hatred because he was recently awarded a Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor, for his longtime lobbying work on behalf of refugees. Finally, Stahl was the subject of denigration because of his public declaration that he wants refugees to feel welcome in his city.

Why would anyone be upset about that ? This will not end well, at least in continental Europe. Britain ? Who knows ?

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

This seems to me to be major insight and I compare it with the book by Paul Johnson, “The History of the Jews.”

It is a bit fanciful but I compare this to the famous quote from Robert Heinlein,

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

How many of the “small minority” is made up of Jews I have no idea but there is an interesting parallel.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones — a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Now, 12 years after this essay was written and after 7 years of the most anti-Semetic US president of modern times, I see that we are joining this moral poverty so typical of Europe. The Germans seem intent on importing a population of Muslims with no history of innovation or cultural development to take the place of the declining and judenrein population of native Germans. I should probably correct my use of the term “anti-Semetic” above as Obama seems very fond of Arabs, who are also “Semites.” The proper term would be “anti-Jewish.”

America 3.0 has a more optimistic outlook than I have. My own review of America 3.0 is less optimistic about the solution which I fear will be bloody and expensive and might end in a new dark age.

The analysis of American history is worth the price of the book and the time to read it. I wish the recommendations for recovery were more likely to be adopted. There are some excellent points about future trends, as in medicine for example. I like some of the suggestions for defense policy. The whole thing is a nice exercise in predicting the future. I just wish it would happen that way. I previously reviewed George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. I think I like this one better and highly recommend it.

As I watch what is happening, both here and in Europe, my fears overwhelm my remaining optimism. I hope I’m wrong.


Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

We spent the day yesterday ( the 16th) at Waterloo. The battle field is largely preserved and reminds me a bit of Gettysburg. There is an excellent museum and we spent an hour or so at Hougoumont Farm where the battle really began.

Napoleon planned to draw Wellington’s reserve to Wellington’s right flank in defence of Hougoumont and then attack through the centre left of the British and allies’ front near La Haye Sainte.

Before the battle started, Hougoumont and its gardens, located on the allies’ right flank, were garrisoned and fortified by the 1st Battalion, 2nd Nassau Regiment, with additional detachments of jägers and landwehr from von Kielmansegge’s 1st (Hanoverian) Brigade. The light company of the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards under the command of Lt-Colonel Henry Wyndham, was also stationed in the farm and chateaux, and the light company of the 2nd Battalion, Third Guards, under Lt-Colonel Charles Dashwood in the garden and grounds

The fighting here lasted all day and ended finally when the defenders were forced out as the buildings burned. It was too late for the French which had been reenforcing failure all day.

The French eventually committed 14,000 troops to Hougoumont Farm, of whom 8,000 were killed. The most famous encounter was The Battle of the Closing of the gate. The French had surrounded the farm which was an enclosed bastion of brick and stone walls with a gate access to the rear. They managed to force open the gate with axes into the yard but a few British soldiers managed to close it again and all the French who had gained the yard were killed. The few who closed the gate, were to be famous after the battle.

Sous-Lieutenant Legro, of the French 1st Light Infantry, broke through the wooden doors with an axe, allowing French soldiers to flood the courtyard. Graham’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel James Macdonnell, led his men through the melee in the courtyard to the gates, in an attempt to shut them against the pressing French. This was done with the help of three officers (Captain Wyndham, Ensign Hervey, and Ensign Gooch), Corporal Graham, and a few other soldiers including Graham’s brother Joseph. James Graham was the one to slot the bar in place. Flagstones, carts, and debris were then piled against the gates to hold them secure. The Frenchmen trapped within the courtyard were all killed, apart from a young drummer-boy.


The crucial mistake made here was by Napoleon’s brother, Prince Jerome, who commanded the first French troops to attack Hougoumont Farm. When they were repulsed, Jerome kept reenforcing the attack and drew the French focus to the strong point which resisted all day.


The farm is to the left and in advance of the British lines. La Haye Sainte is in the middle and both were to be crucial strong points for the British. A word about British tactics here.

Wellington was outnumbered and the hard center of his force was his British Peninsula Campaign veterans. He stationed them on the “military crest” of the low hill behind Hougomont and La Haye Sainte. This sheltered them from French cannon fire. Direct fire cannon fired cannon balls which would skip and were devastating for infantry in squares. It was important to disperse these squares when under fire by cannon. Napoleon was a master of artillery and had won many battles with it. Wellington, in Spain, had learned to shelter his infantry. He even had them lie down in the grass behind the crest of the hill to rest and make them invisible to French cannons.

The fact that it had rained hard the night before the battle, a reason often given for the late hour of the French attack, made the ground soft and the cannonballs often dug in rather than skip along the surface.

Infantry squares were almost impervious to cavalry assault so the wise commander attacking such a force would combine artillery and cavalry to weaken and disperse the defenders. Napoleon knew this but his brother drew the center of gravity to the strong point.

The two battalions that defended Hougoumont suffered 500 dead and wounded out of strengths of 2,000.

The French lost 8,000 of 14,000 men. The courage of the men who closed the gate is still celebrated in England.

The same occurred at La Haye Sainte, another fortress in the center. It was well in advance of the infantry lines at the hill crest. The French attacked and the result was the destruction of The King’s German Legion, which had not prepared the farm as well for defense. However, they did hold it until afternoon.

It was the scene of a famous charge by Marshall Ney who led the French cavalry on a futile charge that destroyed the center of Napoleon’s army.

the French could not see the squares until they were almost on top of them.
Here then they came over the ridge at a steady canter, to be decimated by grapeshot from Mercer’s and other batteries, and by musketry from the squares, at an opening range of about 50 paces.

Pressed on by the ranks behind, they charged past between the squares, losing their formation as they did so. Lord Uxbridge came up with the survivors of the Household Brigade, and the infantry watched a bloodthirsty cavalry battle which raged all round them. At least ten times the French cavalry retreated down the hill, or round by the Nivelles road, reformed their ranks and attacked again, until all this ground between the lane and the ridge was so covered with dead men and horses that they could not ride over it.

Uxbridge lost his leg in this battle and it is buried, in the town.


It is buried here, behind Wellington’s headquarters in Waterloo town. He had a very good prosthesis made which is displayed in the museum at Wellington’s headquarters in Waterloo town.

The La Haye Sainte farm is still there although it is not open to visitors.


The farm lies in the center and is at present privately owned. I understand there is a pending sale to add it to the museum.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

We are here in Brussels staying in a business hotel near the center city. Not far is The Grand Place, where the Hotel de Ville and the Guildhalls are located.

At the beginning of the 13th century, three indoor markets were built on the northern edge of the Grand Place; a meat market, a bread market and a cloth market.[3] These buildings, which belonged to the Duke of Brabant, allowed the wares to be showcased even in bad weather, but also allowed the Dukes to keep track of the storage and sale of goods, in order to collect taxes. Other buildings, made of wood or stone, enclosed the Grand Place.

It has been destroyed in several wars since then and always rebuilt.

Town Hall

The Hotel de Ville is the town hall and dominates the square.


Here we stand in the Grand Square. It was raining and the rain stopped for a hour or so, then resumed.


The “Museum” which began as the “Bread house” and then became the palace is now partially covered by plastic cloths as work seems to be going on. We were there on a Monday so the museums were all closed. We walked about and Jill found a Starbucks coffee place so she was content.

We did quite a bit of walking and found The Black Tower, which is the only remaining remnant of the city wall.


The Black Tower is near the St Catherine’s Church and was on our walk. Naturally, any visit to Brussels must include Manneken Pis, the statue of the small boy urinating. Why this is an attraction, I:m not sure but it was surrounded by Chinese tourists snapping their pictures with it. We of course, had to follow suit.


Today we go to Waterloo Battlefield.

The Medical History of the American Civil War IV

Friday, September 4th, 2015

More of the series on my lecture on the Civil War.


The Ambulance Corps were organized and the photo shows one group during the war.


The next Army Surgeon General was Letterman who changed Tripler’s organization and built larger hospitals and worked on sanitation projects that had been ignored by the early medical services. Disease was a greater risk to soldiers than wounds and had been since Classical Greece. When large numbers often were accumulated without proper sanitation, disease was rampant. Florence Nightingale was one of the first to realize the importance of cleanliness.


One of the greatest medical pioneers of the Civil War was John Shaw Billings who designed hospitals, including The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. He was never Surgeon General but he did organize what became the Public Health Service.


One of Letterman’s new hospitals was this one which was constructed in time for the battle of Gettysburg.


One of the brilliant surgeons who joined up and contributed was this man, John H. Brinton. Typically, he was dismissed by the politicians around Lincoln because McClellan had appointed him.


The most common medical problem was chronic diarrhea.

27,558 Union soldiers died of chronic diarrhea. Without bacteriology, still unknown in 1865, it is impossible to trace the causes.

Typhoid fever killed another 27,056 soldiers.

In the Boer War, in 1899 to 1902, typhoid fever killed thousands of British troops.

of the British Force of 556 653 men who served in the Anglo-Boer War, 57 684 contracted typhoid, 8 225 of whom died, while 7 582 were killed in action.(11) As had been the experience in America, the disease was found to be one which occurred in static camps.

This occurred years after infectious diseases had been identified and the cause of illnesses had been described.

The First Word War was the first war in which more men died of wounds than of disease.


This slide, from the “Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, shows the seasonal nature of the disease. The nutritional aspects are seen in the incidence during the siege of Atlanta.


One example of another page of the History. There were over a million cases of acute diarrhea during the war. “Colored Troops” only appeared after 1863.


Diseases were classified according to the medical knowledge of the time. “Miasma” were those which we now know to be infectious. Malaria, for example, mean “Bad Air” in Latin.


Tuberculosis was a severe chronic disease which would not be curable until Streptomycin came along in 1946. There were two forms, “consumption” which was the pulmonary form, was not known to be contagious. “Scrofula” is the cervical lymph node form and is associated with milk from infected cows. This was the form studied by Louis Pasteur who recognized that it was transmissible and that heating milk prevented it.


Treatment of disease was as primitive as one might expect although quinine was known and used by the Union Army. The blockade of the South prevented its use there. Vaccination was widely practiced and opium was used for pain. There was anesthesia since 1846 and chloroform was more common than ether.


Malaria was widespread in the US at the time. Mosquitoes were vaguely known to be associated. Mosquito nets were used although the mechanism was not well understood.

The Medical History of the American Civil War III

Friday, September 4th, 2015

This continues the series from a lecture I have given a few times.


William W Keen was a student when he first served as an Army surgeon at Bull Run. That experience changed the Army medical services and gave a great deal of power to the volunteer organizations.


William Hammond quickly replaced the incompetent surgeons who had been in place when the war began. He was competent but argumentative and clashed with Stanton who became Secretary of War.

Hammond met Jonathan Letterman. Hammond worked with Letterman and Rosecrans on the design of a new ambulance wagon.

The atmosphere in the upper levels of medical services was then one of internal strife and personal conflicts. Hammond—a tall and imposing young man[12]—was no man of intrigue, nor even, according to all accounts, a very flexible person. However, the situation offered him the possibility for advancement. When Finley, the 10th Surgeon General, was fired after an argument with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, against Stanton’s advice and the normal rules of promotion, named the 34-year-old Hammond to succeed him with the rank of brigadier general. Hammond became Surgeon General of the Army on 25 April 1862, less than a year after rejoining the army.

Lincoln liked “Men who fight” and defended his choices but Hammond was just too hard headed.

On his initiative, Letterman’s ambulance system was thoroughly tested before being extended to the whole Union. Mortality decreased significantly. Efficiency increased, as Hammond promoted people on the basis of competence, not rank or connections, and his initiatives were positive and timely.

On 4 May 1863 Hammond banned the mercury compound calomel from army supplies, as he believed it to be neither safe nor effective (he was later proved correct). He thought it dangerous to make an already debilitated patient vomit. A “Calomel Rebellion” ensued, as many of his colleagues had no alternative treatments and resented the move as an infringement on their liberty of practice. Hammond’s arrogant nature did not help him solve the problem, and his relations with Secretary of War Stanton became strained. On 3 September 1863 he was sent on a protracted “inspection tour” to the South, which effectively removed him from office. Joseph Barnes, a friend of Stanton’s and his personal physician, became acting Surgeon General

Stanton later died of an asthma attack so his “personal physician” was important to him. Calomel was “The Blue Pill” that had been advocated by Benjamin Rush. It was an ancient remedy based on the success of mercury in the treatment of syphilis dating back to Paracelsus in the 14th century. Medicine until the 20th century was quite primitive and many remedies were tried for wildly inappropriate indications.

van gogh

For example, a Van Gogh painting of his doctor shows evidence of digitalis intoxication which might have caused his death. Yellow vision is one indication of overdose of digitalis (sudden death is another) and a Van Gogh painting, Portrait of Dr. Gachet shows the characteristic yellow tint plus an example of the plant held by the doctor.

Anyway, Hammond was replaced after some of his innovations including evacuating the wounded from the Peninsula Campaign of McClellan. They were taken by ship back to large hospitals near DC.



Treatment of the wounded early in the war was primitive and would soon improve under Hammond’s reforms.


The volunteer organizations began to make their influence felt and the Army was unable to resist the reforms.


Tripler, for whom the great Army hospital in Hawaii is named, was chosen by McClellan to be the chief surgeon for the Army of the Potomac. His great innovation was the “Ambulance Corps.”


The “Ambulance Corps” restored the invention of Baron Larrey and began the reforms of the Union

To be continued

The Medical History of the American Civil War II

Friday, September 4th, 2015

This continues the story of medicine in the Civil War. Samuel Gross, a Professor of Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1860, realized that no textbook of military medicine and surgery existed so he wrote his own in 60 days. It is shown in this exhibit at the Warren Collection at Harvard’s medical library.

manaual of mil surg

The Confederate Army also had no manual so the Gross manual was used by both sides in the war. It was quickly copied for Confederate Military surgeons. A copy of the manual, which was identical to the Union Army manual is preserved at Jefferson Medical College in digital form.


The first battle, famously, was at Fort Sumpter where the commanding office during the battle was actually the medical officer, Samuel Crawford.


The woeful state of the army medical department was recognized immediately and a volunteer organization quickly organized. The first was the US Sanitary Commission. It was rebuffed by the Army but quickly became very powerful. This was a people’s war and the Army was incompetent, as everyone knew.


Here is the cover of Gross’s book. It was used throughout the war, which had enormous influence on American and world Medicine. The book from which this lecture is taken was used by Theodore von Billroth to design the Prussian Army medical corps for the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. The French had forgotten Baron Larrey’s lessons and suffered terribly.


The cover of the Confederate version of Gross’s textbook.


Joseph Woodward was an academic surgeon, such as it was known at the time.

“Woodward was the first scientist to establish photomicrography as a tool for both scientific and medical investigations.” According to an article in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine:[2] “In addition to collecting specimens for the museum’s archive, he co-authored the definitive medical history of the Civil War in the 6-volume 1870 publication of the MSHWR.4 Woodward’s technique using aniline dyes for staining thin sections of tissue, along with his pioneering work in photomicroscopy, helped prepare the groundwork for modern surgical pathology.”

The “History” is “The Medical and Surgery History of the War of the Rebellion” of which there are six existing full copies. I found one copy in the USC Medical Library and asked the library staff, who had no idea of its value, to place it in a locked collection room. It would be like finding a copy of “De Revolutionibus” on the shelves of an open university library.


The design of Union Army Hospitals was entrusted to Frederick Olmsted, who had designed New York City’s Central Park. He was, after the war, very involved in establishing The National Park Service.


The first battle of the war illustrated the appalling condition of the medical services of both sides. There were no ambulances and the wounded and to walk back to Washington City, as DC was known then.

A famous American surgeon, who would write one of the world’s great medical textbooks, William W Keen acted as a young army surgeon at the battle.

He studied at Brown University, where he graduated in 1859. He graduated in medicine from Jefferson Medical College in 1862. During the American Civil War, he worked for the U.S. Army as a surgeon. After the war, he spent two years studying in Paris and Berlin.

His “An American Textbook of Surgery” was a hugely influential text and the 1905 edition had a chapter on brain surgery by Harvey Cushing and a chapter on “Appendicitis,” the first use of the term in medical literature, written by John B Murphy, who was the first advocate of early appendectomy for appendicitis.

To be continued.

Planning a trip to Greece

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

I have been a student of Greek history for many years. When I was a medical student and later a surgery resident, I kept a copy of J.B.Bury’s “History of Greece to the Death of Alexander on my bedside table as reading material for relaxation. I have read it several times.

Another source of pleasure has been the novels of Mary Renault, the pen name of Eileen Mary Challans. Sh wrote a series of historical novels which won awards and which provided a more intimate view of Greek society in the classical era. Some of her novels provide a more sympathetic view of homosexuality than I have found anywhere else but that is not the attraction. Her history sounded like something written by one who lived it.

Another favorite novelist is Helen MacInnes who wrote novels of adventure set in and after World War II. Two of them were about places in Greece and one of those, Mykonos, is a favorite spot.

Mykonos harbor

Her novel describes this harbor and, while a new cruise ship terminal has replaced some of her story, the harbor looks just as she described it.

Mykonos square

The story, titled “The Double Image” describes a tiny square in the town that sounds exactly like this one looks.

We are looking forward to this trip with some trepidation, however. Why ? Because Greece may be heading into serious trouble.

Since December, Greeks have been preparing for a weekend such as this, pulling more than 30 billion euros out of banks. Week after week, the Bank of Greece borrowed banknotes from the rest of the continent to replenish this hoarding of the one asset Greeks still trust — cold, hard cash. Its liabilities to the rest of the euro area for the excess physical cash it has to put into circulation quadrupled between December and April, the last month for which there’s available data.

In November of 2012, there was rioting in Athens and it was about proposed austerity.

On the same day that Greece’s parliament passed harsh new austerity measures as part of a multi-billion euro rescue package, workers cleared wreckage from burned-out buildings damaged during a round of intense riots the day before.

The unpopular bailout deal requires dramatic cuts in wages, pensions and jobs, according to Reuters, and Sunday’s protests saw the worst violence in Athens in years.

Since those riots, a new radical leftist government has been elected that has vowed to defy the EU and austerity.

Greece’s new leftist government opened talks on its bailout with European partners on Friday by flatly refusing to extend the program or to cooperate with the international inspectors overseeing it.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government also sacked the heads of the state privatization agency after halting a series of state asset sales.

The politically unpopular policy of privatization to help cut debt is one of the conditions of Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailout that has imposed years of harsh austerity on Greece.

Now, the moment of truth approaches and what will happen ?

Everything comes together on Monday [Monday June 22 !]. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, back from a visit with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, will spend his weekend coming up with a proposal to take to a Monday showdown with euro-area leaders.
A deal there is key. The bailout agreement that’s kept Greece from defaulting expires June 30. That’s the day Greece owes about 1.5 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund.
In an interview published Saturday in Brussels-based l’Echo newspaper, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned that the ruling Syriza party could be replaced by neo-Nazis if Greece ends up defaulting and leaving the euro.

This may be standard leftist scare tactics but what will happen ? We have planned the trip to anticipate potential trouble in Athens. I have been to Athens before and have been to the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Annie in Athens

Annie much more photogenic than I am and this was taken when she was 14 and standing on the Acropolis.

The plan is to fly to Athens and then spend only two nights there. I have planned a side trip to another place described in one of Helen MacInnes’ novels, Decision at Delphi, which is set soon after World War II and describes Sicily as well as Athens and Delphi. Delphi is quite high in the mountains north of Athens and involves some climbing so we will spend most of that time in the Delphi Museum.

Important finds included sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paeonius, the Hermes of Praxiteles and many bronzes. In total 14,000 objects were recorded. The finds were displayed in a museum on the site.

Today, the Museum contains treasures from those excavations.


The museum itself.


And the interior with the exhibits. The trip can be made in a day and I have made arrangements.


On the way to Delphi, I want to make a short side trip to see the Lion of Chaeronea. This statue was erected over the common grave of the Sacred Band of Thebes. This was a unit of sworn lovers, probably all homosexual but in the fashion of classical Greece in which women were closely held in harem-like seclusion and men tended to adopt a pattern of an older man with a younger boy which might be merely sexual or it might be a sort of apprenticeship in arms. The Sacred Band had never been defeated in battle until that day, August 2, 338 BC. On that day, the Sacred Band was annihilated by the army of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. The Band was buried in common grave and the lion statue erected over their grave. It was found by British tourists around 1900 and excavated and restored. Beneath the site were found the skeletons of nearly 300 men.


The battle,according to accounts which survived, was won when the Macedonians’ right flank conducted a sudden retreat, drawing the Athenians out of line. The Sacred Band was destroyed holding the line. I want to see their grave.

After that day trip, we plan to fly to Thessaloniki, a city east and north of Athens to visit the tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander and winner of the battle of Chaeronea.


The remains in the tomb have recently been confirmed as those of Philip II

The tomb, itself, is well preserved and restored. The town of Vergina is near Thessaloniki and too far from Athens to drive in a day.

From Thessaloniki, we will fly to Crete and spend a few days near the Palace of Knossos and its museum.


The museum and the palace ruins should keep us busy for five days, then we fly back to Athens for one night and catch our flight to London and home the next day.

Or so the plan goes.

Another D-Day anniversary.

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

I have posted a few photos from our trips to Normandy in years past. I haven’t been back since then but have been reading about it. Here is SLA Marshall’s description of the first wave at Normandy.

It was very nearly a disaster for the whole invasion although Utah and the British and Canadian beaches were far less dangerous for the troops. One reason was the geography.

Utah Beach was nearly flat and there was no bluff as there was at Omaha. The problem at Utah was that the country behind the beach was low and the Airborne drop was to secure the causeways that controlled access to the dry ground beyond the fields flooded by the Germans. Sante Mere-Eglise was the center of the Airborne mission.


It is much more quiet today although the famous parachute still hangs from the church roof.