Civil War Times

‘I’M EXHAUSTED’ UNION SURGEON DANIEL G. BRINTON

Daniel Garrison Brinton was an important medical figure in the 19th century. Born in 1837 in Thornton, Pa.—on a farm that had been in his family since 1684—he graduated from Yale in 1858 and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1860 before traveling to Europe in 1861 to study at Paris and Heidelberg. Upon returning to the United States, he entered the Union Army in August 1862, becoming surgeon-in-chief of the 1st Division of the 11th Corps in the Army of the Potomac. After the 11th Corps moved west to join the Army of the Cumberland in late 1863, Brinton saw action at Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge. He served as medical director of the 11th Corps until April 1864, when physical disabilities forced him to leave the front. Brinton spent the remainder of the war as surgeon-in-charge of the U.S. Army General Hospital in Quincy, Ill. Following the war he earned renowned as an anthropologist and linguist, serving on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania from 1886 until his death in 1899.

Throughout his time in the service, Brinton wrote to his parents in Pennsylvania, offering them keen observations of army life. He saw the fighting at Chancellorsville firsthand, which he called “a hard week and a rude introduction to camp life.” Stonewall Jackson’s famous night attack produced “a most tremendous din of musketry and artillery about a quarter of a mile from us” that “roused us to our feet in a twinkling.” According to Brinton, the intensity of the firing over the next hour was such as “the oldest campaigner among us confessed he had never before heard.”

Following the battle, Brinton saw Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker riding with his staff. “The General was

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