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Death, Disease, and Life at War: The Civil War Letters of Surgeon James D. Benton, 111th and 98th New York Infantry Regiments, 1862-1865

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Union surgeon James Dana Benton witnessed firsthand the suffering and death brought about by the ghastly wounds, infections, and diseases that wreaked havoc to both the Union and Confederate armies. A native of New York, Dr. Benton penned a series of letters throughout the war to his family relating his experiences with the 111th New York Infantry as an assistant surgeon, Union surgeon James Dana Benton witnessed firsthand the suffering and death brought about by the ghastly wounds, infections, and diseases that wreaked havoc to both the Union and Confederate armies. A native of New York, Dr. Benton penned a series of letters throughout the war to his family relating his experiences with the 111th New York Infantry as an assistant surgeon, and later with the 98th New York as surgeon. His unique correspondence, together with insights from author Chris Loperfido, coalesce to produce Death and Disease in the Civil War: A Union Surgeon’s Correspondence from Harpers Ferry to Richmond. Dr. Benton was present for some of the war’s most gruesome and important battles, including Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg. He was also present at Harpers Ferry, Second Battle of Auburn, Battle of Morton’s Ford, and Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural address. His pen offers an insightful and honest look into what everyday life was like for the surgeons who tirelessly worked to save the men who risked their lives for the preservation of the nation. Loperfido’s Death and Disease in the Civil War should be read by every student of the Civil War to better understand and come to grips with what awaited the wounded and the medical teams once the generals were finished with their work.:


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Union surgeon James Dana Benton witnessed firsthand the suffering and death brought about by the ghastly wounds, infections, and diseases that wreaked havoc to both the Union and Confederate armies. A native of New York, Dr. Benton penned a series of letters throughout the war to his family relating his experiences with the 111th New York Infantry as an assistant surgeon, Union surgeon James Dana Benton witnessed firsthand the suffering and death brought about by the ghastly wounds, infections, and diseases that wreaked havoc to both the Union and Confederate armies. A native of New York, Dr. Benton penned a series of letters throughout the war to his family relating his experiences with the 111th New York Infantry as an assistant surgeon, and later with the 98th New York as surgeon. His unique correspondence, together with insights from author Chris Loperfido, coalesce to produce Death and Disease in the Civil War: A Union Surgeon’s Correspondence from Harpers Ferry to Richmond. Dr. Benton was present for some of the war’s most gruesome and important battles, including Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg. He was also present at Harpers Ferry, Second Battle of Auburn, Battle of Morton’s Ford, and Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural address. His pen offers an insightful and honest look into what everyday life was like for the surgeons who tirelessly worked to save the men who risked their lives for the preservation of the nation. Loperfido’s Death and Disease in the Civil War should be read by every student of the Civil War to better understand and come to grips with what awaited the wounded and the medical teams once the generals were finished with their work.:

30 review for Death, Disease, and Life at War: The Civil War Letters of Surgeon James D. Benton, 111th and 98th New York Infantry Regiments, 1862-1865

  1. 5 out of 5

    Straw

    Letters from a surgeon serving with the 111th NY.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Petri

    This is a great look at history. The first hand account of the terrible consequences of war. The editor has done a great job of fleshing out the Doctor's account of his experiences with the accompanying history of the events surrounding the doctor's personal experiences. The story seems very complete and appendixes at the end provide much information needed to fully understand the circumstances under which the people of the time lived and how they copped with the events they lived through. Award This is a great look at history. The first hand account of the terrible consequences of war. The editor has done a great job of fleshing out the Doctor's account of his experiences with the accompanying history of the events surrounding the doctor's personal experiences. The story seems very complete and appendixes at the end provide much information needed to fully understand the circumstances under which the people of the time lived and how they copped with the events they lived through. Awarded to me through Goodreads.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Bartlett

    Medical history of the American Civil War has always fascinated me, not only because it tends to be overlooked in larger works, but because many regulations were put in place after the war because of it. Death, Disease, and Life at War are the letters of Surgeon James D. Benton and gives many in the Civil War community a chance to see the lives of both the 111th and 98th New York Regiments through the ideas of their medic. I’m not sure the last time I’ve seen regimental histories, or letters fro Medical history of the American Civil War has always fascinated me, not only because it tends to be overlooked in larger works, but because many regulations were put in place after the war because of it. Death, Disease, and Life at War are the letters of Surgeon James D. Benton and gives many in the Civil War community a chance to see the lives of both the 111th and 98th New York Regiments through the ideas of their medic. I’m not sure the last time I’ve seen regimental histories, or letters from certain regiments, through the eyes of a surgeon, and this addition to Civil War academia is welcomed. Christopher E. Loperfido is a graduate from Oswego State University with a bachelors degree in history and political science. He also worked for the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park as both an intern and National Park Service Ranger. Death, Disease, and Life at War, is his first book, and I hope it’s not his last. Civil War letters are some of the most interesting portraits of history to me, mainly because it is the outlook of those who fought for their country and their cause. And while some might say that you have to take them with a grain of salt, I take them for their face value, presenting what a certain person wants to say about a moment in time. However, the letters of Surgeon Benton have offered a medical insight. Loperfido, in offering these letters to us, gives an insight into that field that I’ve always wanted more from. While not every letter presented has something to do with medicine, or surgical means, those that do have given me a greater understanding to this practice in the war. Not only that, but the author’s narratives and editorials throughout only add to the depth of the information presented before us. The number of appendices that finalize the book are also more insights into the medical world I did not know before. The subjects range from Dr. Letterman, to amputations. There’s also an appendix on lint. These are all things that add to our study of Civil War medicine. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Civil War medicine. I also recommend this to those just getting into the study of the war. I own one of the medical manuals from the war, and it’s highly unreadable to me since I know little about surgery or the jargon used in the lines. But this book presents the material in an understanding way, and it is fairly approachable. From the narratives and editorials, I hope that Loperfido gives us more in his career.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    Dr. Benton had an active role in a fascinating period of American history — the Civil War. As an army surgeon, he certainly saw and dealt with a lot of horrible agony, suffering, and death. Although his letters don’t do a deep dive into what he experienced, they give a good idea. Author Loperfido does the reader a good service by filing in the blanks, explaining the bigger picture of the war when each of the letters is written. His footnotes also shed a great deal of light onto the people and pl Dr. Benton had an active role in a fascinating period of American history — the Civil War. As an army surgeon, he certainly saw and dealt with a lot of horrible agony, suffering, and death. Although his letters don’t do a deep dive into what he experienced, they give a good idea. Author Loperfido does the reader a good service by filing in the blanks, explaining the bigger picture of the war when each of the letters is written. His footnotes also shed a great deal of light onto the people and places Dr. Benton refers to in his letters.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    The letters themselves were more of a general and regimental military history rather than a medical focus. The medical focus came in the appendices. The first appendix could have been omitted as it was very much like the third, but with less information.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Georgiann Baldino

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill Carbo

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura K. Andrews

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leisha Shanklin

  12. 5 out of 5

    William Shep

  13. 5 out of 5

    Larry Thomson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Redd

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jana Lee

  16. 4 out of 5

    rachel schwab

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joel Manuel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  19. 4 out of 5

    Todd Sanders

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roger

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen V Woelfel

  22. 4 out of 5

    John P McFarland

  23. 5 out of 5

    Trashcanman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Phil

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donna Agnelly

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie Eggers

  28. 5 out of 5

    Delta Pelgrim

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill Pilon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Hunt

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