Discussion in 'Medical Care of the Civil War' started by originalrebelyell, Mar 20, 2017.
What kind of physical Exam would have been required to join the Union or Confederate Army.
Good question. I have never read of what the required abilities were.
My Dad said that after WW2 started if a man could see lightning and hear thunder he was considered 1A in the draft
I'm away from my books at the moment, but read that standards were pretty lax overall. Being "sound in wind and limb" was how one vet recalled the physical standard. Let me see what I can dig up tonight. Great topic!
I have never found a lot on the subject really.
This looked pretty cool!
I remember reading several years ago one requirement was the soldier had to have enough teeth to open the powder for their guns, and it was known that some would “knock their teeth” out instead of fighting. Got the book from the library and can’t remember what it was or if this is true or not, but I’m sure there are people here who know for sure.
There's a post at the blog History Myths Debunked, knocking that one down in connection with the period of the American Revolution. It's apparently a popular myth within the reenactor community.
Well, the fact that a number of women managed to join up, show that it was not done that well.
Try Stuart Charles Tripler's 1858,
Manual of the medical officer of the army of the United States: Recruiting and the inspection of recruits
Haven't read it, but I'm sure the answer's in there somewhere. Though, I expect that in wartime standards were relaxed quite a bit.
See also: Recruiting Exams and Disqualifications for Military Service
I'm guessing as time progressed if you could breath and were not bleeding you were good to go.
Jack Davis addressed this somewhat indirectly in a presentation he gave on women soldiers a few years back. He argued that the vast majority of women who served as soldiers did so without formally going through the enlistment process -- they just showed up in camp and blended into the regiment, usually with the help of one or more accomplices, but never went through the full enlistment process, including the medical exam.
I know Jack Davis is well-known for disparaging the idea of female CW soldiers, but it seems like this is a valid point re: medical exams.
That would result in: no pay, no weapons, no equipment, no food...
I really don't see that happening. They might have dodged the medical exam, but they needed to be on the books.
And it would make it way more likely that someone would notice when the number of soldiers on parade don't match the numbers on the books. It would only work if every single soldier in the regiment knew about it... not likely.
But with the chaos and almost total lack of professionalism during the early mobilization I really don't see any argument against a lax medical examination... just like everything else was lax.
The US military and government simply didn't have the needed procedures for mobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
(In comparison every single danish male aged 21 had to show up to a proper medical examination, then if fit for service would serve for 18 month in the army. So when the army mobilized to its war footing in late 1863, the army, in principle, already knew every single soldier who showed up and they had all served before.
This also have the added benefit that we today know the average height of danish males aged 21 for every single year since 1849)
Possibly a male friend might take the medical examination in her stead. On the other hand, she might take his place after he enlisted, so he would get credit for serving and exempt from future service -- taking his identity, as it were. There are any number of possibilities. Unless it was a "home town" company, a man might not be known on sight by anyone.
I'm guessing as time progressed if you could breath and were not bleeding (too much) you were good to go.
Thanks for posting this! An interesting publication I have never seen before!
A manual of instructions for enlisting and discharging soldiers : with special reference to the medical examination of recruits, and the detection of disqualifying and feigned diseases
by Bartholow, Roberts, 1831-1904
Roberts Bartholow, MD https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=58411378
My pleasure! It was a pretty cool manual and I was glad it was readily available to review.
The medical standards couldn't have been too stringent...after all 14 and 15 year old boys were getting in by lying about their ages. And they weren't enlisting as drummer boys either.
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