Civil War photography, medicine explored

Aug 15, 2014
Courtesy of: Earle Shettleworth Famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady took a portrait of Hiram Berry of Rockland.

Camden — The final two speakers in the Maine and the Civil War series at the Camden Public Library will be Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth and Dr. Richard Kahn.

Shettleworth will give an illustrated talk on Maine Civil War Photography Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. Kahn will present A Union Physician Discusses Civil War Medicine, accompanied by some of his collection of medical devices from the Civil War era, Thursday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m.

The Civil War was a defining moment in state and national history. More than 70,000 Maine men and women participated in the four year conflict from 1861 to 1865, with approximately 10,000 losing their lives. The widespread use of photography on both the home front and the battlefront recorded many aspects of the war. Through 150-year old images, Shettleworth will explore how the war impacted Maine within the state and on the battlefield.

Among the subjects pictured is Gen. Hiram Berry of Rockland, in a photograph taken by the famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. At the beginning of the Civil War, Berry went to Augusta and offered his services to the Governor and was given orders to recruit a regiment. He participated in the First Battle of Manassas. For his gallant service at Bull Run, he was promoted to brigadier general in March 1862; and he was promoted to major general on Nov. 29, 1862. Berry was placed in command of the 2nd Division of the III Corps, succeeding Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, who had ascended to corps command. Berry was killed by a sharpshooter at 7:26 a.m. May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Kahn draws from the unpublished diary of a Maine hospital steward and several case studies, including a display of some of his collection of 19th-century medical gear. Because he lived in Union for 35 years, he said he “can speak as a Union physician.”

“I will be discussing general medical problems in the Civil War that might be subtitled Minie balls and microbes. I’ll use actual medical case histories of Maine soldiers; as an example I will refer to George B. Noyes, a Bowdoin/Medical School of Maine man who becomes hospital steward. Finally, I will discuss several case histories of injured men who were cared for by Walt Whitman and whose pathological specimens exist and will be shown,” he said, adding he also will exhibit some medical instruments and books about Civil War medicine.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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