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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Craik, James (1730–06 February 1814), physician and military surgeon, was born on his father’s estate near Dumfries, Scotland, the son of Robert Craik, a member of the British Parliament; the name of his mother is unknown. Little information about his early life is available. Although his parents were apparently not married, he was acknowledged by his father, who assumed responsibility for his education. After studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, he joined the British army as a surgeon. Shortly after being sent to the West Indies, he resigned his position and sailed for Virginia in 1751. After a short period in the Norfolk area, he moved to Winchester, Virginia....

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Forwood, William Henry (07 September 1838–11 May 1915), army medical officer, was born in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware, the son of Robert Forwood and Rachel Way Larkin (occupations unknown). He attended both private and public schools before entering the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his medical degree in 1861. He was commissioned as an assistant surgeon and first lieutenant in the Union Army Medical Department on 5 August of that year....

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Hand, Edward (31 December 1744–03 September 1802), medical doctor and revolutionary war soldier, was born in Clyduff, King’s County, Province of Leinster, Ireland, the son of John Hand, occupation unknown, and Dorothy (maiden name unknown). In the 1760s he enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, and completed medical studies in 1766 with a good academic record. Thereupon he entered the British army as a surgeon’s mate and came to Philadelphia in 1767 with the Eighteenth Royal Irish Regiment of Foot. He was ordered to Fort Pitt in western Pennsylvania, and in 1772 he purchased an ensign’s commission with profits earned from land speculation. Two years later he sold his ensigncy, resigned from the army, and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to practice medicine and surgery. In 1775 he married Catharine Ewing, with whom he had eight children over the next seventeen years. At the outbreak of the revolutionary war, Hand, an ardent Whig, joined his neighbors in resisting Britain. Offered a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Continental army, he obeyed the “glorious summons” to arms and marched with Colonel William Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion to the siege of Boston. On 1 January 1776 he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the First Continental Infantry and two months later was chosen its colonel. With this regiment, he fought in the battle of Long Island and later, at Throg’s Neck delayed a British advance toward White Plains. He retreated with ...

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Mearns, Edgar Alexander (11 September 1856–01 November 1916), ornithologist, mammalogist, and army surgeon, was born in Highland Falls, New York, the son of Alexander Mearns and Nancy Carswell. He attended Donald Highland Institute in Highland Falls. When still very young, he grew interested in local plants and animals and planned a book on the natural history of the area, which he was unable to complete at the time. Many years later, in 1898, he did publish a fifty-page account of some of his conclusions as “A Study of the Vertebrate Fauna of the Hudson Highlands, with observations on the Mollusca, Crustacea, Lepidoptera, and the Flora of the Region” in the ...

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Reed, Walter (13 September 1851–23 November 1902), U.S. Army medical officer and bacteriologist, was born in Belroi, Virginia, the son of Lemuel Sutton Reed, a Methodist minister, and Pharaba White. After a year as an undergraduate, Reed entered medical school at the University of Virginia in 1868 at the age of seventeen; when he received an M.D. in July 1869, he was the youngest to receive this degree in the school’s history. After a year of study at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City, he earned a second M.D., although this degree was not officially awarded until he turned twenty-one. In 1871, after a brief time on the staff of the Kings County Hospital at Brooklyn, he accepted a residency at Brooklyn City Hospital and then served as an assistant sanitary officer for the Brooklyn Board of Health....