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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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James Markham Ambler. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B01766).

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Ambler, James Markham Marshall (30 December 1848–30 October 1881), naval surgeon and explorer, was born in Markham, Virginia, the son of Richard Cary Ambler, a physician, and Susan Marshall. At age sixteen Ambler became a volunteer in the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. He studied a premedicine curriculum at Washington College in 1865–1867 and then entered the University of Maryland. After acquiring a medical degree in 1870, he practiced in Baltimore until his appointment as an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy. During 1874–1875, he was stationed in the North Atlantic. In 1877 he joined the staff of the Naval Hospital at Norfolk, Virginia....

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Clarke, Parker (03 April 1748–25 March 1823), surgeon and soldier, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Clarke and Lydia Phillips. In 1769 he married Judith Lunt; they had three sons. After obtaining some medical training in New England, Clarke immigrated to Cumberland Township on the Isthmus of Chignecto in Nova Scotia. By 1770 he was living in Fort Lawrence, where he farmed and practiced medicine as a prominent member of the New England planter community, which by then formed the majority of the population on the isthmus and throughout Nova Scotia....

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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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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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John B. Hamilton. Illustration from Harper's Weekly, 17 Sept. 1887. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B08334).

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Hamilton, John Brown (01 December 1847–24 December 1898), surgeon general of the United States, was born in Jersey County, Illinois, the son of Benjamin Brown, a clergyman, and Martha Hamilton. Of Scottish descent, the family founded and ran a country academy that offered students a classical education. Hamilton attended this school in his early years, helping out with the family farm in his free time. When he turned sixteen, he arranged to be apprenticed to Joseph Hamilton, a local physician, apprenticeship being a common path in those days to a career as a doctor. After a year of apprenticeship, Hamilton joined the G Company of the sixty-first Illinois Regiment and served throughout the rest of the Civil War....

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Kilty, William (1757–10 October 1821), jurist and army surgeon, was born in London, England, the son of Captain John Kilty, a merchant seaman, and Ellen Ahearn. Raised in London, Kilty was educated at the College of St. Omer in France. He accompanied his family to Maryland around 1774, settling in Annapolis, where he studied medicine under Dr. Edward Johnson....

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Thomas Lawson. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B016886).

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Lawson, Thomas (29 August 1789?–15 May 1861), surgeon general of the U.S. Army Medical Department, was born in Virginia, the son of Thomas Lawson and Sarah Robinson. Nothing is known of his childhood or education, but in all likelihood he attended neither college nor medical school but received his medical education through apprenticeship with a local physician. He never married....

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Joseph Lovell. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B018124).

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Lovell, Joseph (22 December 1788–17 October 1836), military surgeon, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James S. Lovell and Deborah Gorham. He received the A.B. degree from Harvard College in 1807 and, after studying medicine as an apprentice to a local physician, received the M.D. degree in 1811, ranking first in the first class to graduate from the Harvard Medical School....

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Mann, James (22 July 1759–07 November 1832), physician and military surgeon, was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, the son of David Mann and Anna (maiden name unknown). After graduating from Harvard in 1776, Mann studied medicine with Dr. Samuel Danforth of Boston. He joined the Continental army on 1 July 1779 as a surgeon of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1781 he was captured and imprisoned on Long Island by the British for two months. The following year, having resigned from military service because of ill health, he opened a private practice in Wrentham. In 1788 he married Martha Tyler, with whom he had five children. At this time he began writing the first of the many scientific articles he was to publish in the course of his lifetime. His contributions to medical literature during this period twice brought him Harvard’s Boylston prize, in 1803 for a paper on children’s diseases and in 1806 for an article on dysentery. He became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1803....

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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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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 ...

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Otis, George Alexander (12 November 1830–23 February 1881), U.S. Army medical officer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of George Alexander Otis, a lawyer, and Anna Maria Hickman. His mother remained for some time in Boston after his father died in 1831 before returning to her native Virginia, and Otis attended Boston Latin School before entering school in Fairfax County, Virginia. He received a B.A. from Princeton College in 1849 and entered medical school at the University of Pennsylvania that same year, after spending the summer studying with a local physician. He married Pauline Clark Baury in 1850; they had two children. In 1851 Otis received both an M.A. from Princeton and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He then studied ophthalmic and general surgery in Paris, France, until the spring of 1852, when he returned to the United States and opened a private practice in Richmond, Virginia....

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Stitt, Edward Rhodes (22 July 1867–13 November 1948), naval surgeon and author, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of William Edward Stitt, a merchant and former Confederate army officer, and Mary Rhodes. Stitt’s mother died in 1870, and Stitt was brought up by an aunt in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He attended a private school before enrolling in the University of South Carolina, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1885. He attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, earning a Ph.C. in 1887, then received an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1889. He had already been accepted into the U.S. Navy Medical Corps and was commissioned an assistant surgeon....