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Ainsworth, Fred Crayton (11 September 1852–05 June 1934), military surgeon and adjutant general, was born in Woodstock, Vermont, the son of Crayton Ainsworth, a modestly prosperous businessman and machinist, and Harriet Carroll, a seamstress and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union activist.

During 1869 and 1870 Ainsworth attended but did not graduate from Dartmouth College. Upon returning to Woodstock, he studied medicine for three years, then enrolled in the medical school of the City University of New York. He graduated with honors in 1874, served a brief residency on the Bellevue Hospital medical staff, and then won an appointment as an assistant surgeon in the Medical Department of the U.S. Army. In November 1874 he reported to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for his first army assignment as a surgeon....

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Bancroft, Edward (09 January 1744–08 September 1821), physician, scientist, and spy, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Bancroft and Mary Ely, farmers. The elder Bancroft died in 1746 of an epileptic attack suffered in a pigpen, two months before the birth of his younger son, Daniel. His widow married David Bull of Westfield in 1751, and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Bull operated the Bunch of Grapes tavern. Edward Bancroft was taught for a time by the recent Yale graduate ...

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Beatty, John (19 December 1749–30 April 1826), physician, army officer, and government official, was born in Warwick, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Clinton Beatty, a Presbyterian minister, and Anne Reading. John attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where he was one of twenty graduates in the class of 1769. He received an A.M. there three years later. As an undergraduate, he was an original member of the school’s literary club, the American Whig Society. During the interval between his two degree awards, Beatty studied medicine under Dr. ...

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John Shaw Billings. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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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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Blunt, James Gillpatrick (21 July 1826–25 July 1881), physician, soldier, and politician, was born in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine, the son of John Blunt. Blunt spent his early youth in Ellsworth, Maine, but at age fifteen enlisted as a merchant seaman. Leaving the sea at age twenty, Blunt studied medicine at the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio, earning a medical degree in 1849. He set up a practice in New Madison, Ohio, where he married Nancy Carson Putnam. In 1856 he migrated to the frontier, settling at Greeley, Kansas. There he continued his medical practice but soon became actively interested in politics, becoming deeply involved in the antislavery movement and aiding ...

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James Craik. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04995).

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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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William Henry Forwood. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B012090).

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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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Gihon, Albert Leary (28 September 1833–17 November 1901), naval surgeon, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Hancock Gihon, a physician, and Mary J. (maiden name unknown). He received his early education at the Central High School in Philadelphia and was the first student to graduate with an A.B. under its collegiate program. He graduated from the College of Medicine and Surgery in Philadelphia with an M.D. in 1852, at the age of nineteen. In 1854 Gihon was granted an A.M. by Princeton University....

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Edward Hand. Etching by H. B. Hall. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B013942).

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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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Hoff, John Van Rensselaer (11 April 1848–14 January 1920), U.S. Army medical officer, was born in Mount Morris, New York, the son of Alexander H. Hoff, also a medical officer, and Ann Eliza Van Rensselaer. He received an A.B. from Union College in New York in 1871 and an M.D. in 1874 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Some accounts suggest that he also received an M.D. from the Albany Medical College in New York in 1871 and an A.M. from Union College in 1874. In 1874 he was given a contract as acting assistant surgeon, in which capacity he served in action against the Sioux Indians. When a vacancy occurred in the Army Medical Department in November 1874, he was commissioned assistant surgeon and first lieutenant....

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Jones, Calvin (02 April 1775–20 September 1846), physician and militia leader, was born near Sheffield, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Jones, a soldier of the Army of the Revolution, and Susannah Blackman. Little is known of his early schooling, though he probably acquired learning in local schools and by reading avidly throughout his life. To learn medicine, he apprenticed with a local Berkshire physician and was certified to practice by the United Medical Society shortly after his seventeenth birthday. By 1793 he was practicing medicine in Freehold, New York, and the following year published ...

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Kean, Jefferson Randolph (27 June 1860–04 September 1950), U.S. Army medical officer, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Robert Garlick Kean, a lawyer, and Jane Nicholas Randolph, a great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson. Entering the University of Virginia in 1879, he was withdrawn for a year because of inadequate progress in his studies. His father required him to teach school for a year before allowing him to return to the university, where Kean received his M.D. in 1883. After graduate study at New York’s Polyclinic Hospital and Medical College, he passed the required entrance examinations for the Army Medical Department and in December 1884 was commissioned first lieutenant....

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Marchbanks, Vance Hunter, Jr. (12 January 1905–21 October 1988), aerospace surgeon, was born at Fort Washikie, Wyoming, the son of Vance Hunter Marchbanks, Sr., an army cavalry captain, and Mattie (maiden name unknown). Marchbanks, Jr., was influenced by the military career of his father, who was both a Spanish-American War and World War I veteran. A childhood operation inspired his “passion” for medicine. Marchbanks operated on cherries in his backyard, opening them up, removing the stones, and sewing shut the incision....

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McCaw, Walter Drew (10 February 1863–07 July 1939), army medical officer, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of James Brown McCaw, a physician and former Confederate medical officer, and Delia Patteson. Because of his son’s precocity, McCaw’s father hired a tutor to guide McCaw through the work of the average undergraduate curriculum, which enabled him to finish his studies in half of the time that he would have spent in college. He then attended the Medical College of Virginia, from which he received an M.D. in 1882. He earned a second M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1884. He never married....

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Edgar Alexander Mearns. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-115922).

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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 ...