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Joseph Jones, M.D.

Joseph Jones, M.D.: Scientist of the Old South

James O. Breeden
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Joseph Jones, M.D.
    Book Description:

    Of the many books written over the past century about the Old South and the American Civil War, a very few explore the scientific history of the South or the medical history of the war itself. In the first volume of this impressive biography of Joseph Jones, Mr. Breeden does much to illuminate the development of scientific thought and of medicine in the nineteenth-century South.

    Jones was far in advance of most of his fellow physicians. The thoroughness of his research, the tenacity of his effort, and the brilliance of his findings won him respect while he was still a very young scholar. When the war came, he showed himself fiercely patriotic as a soldier but coldly empirical as a scientific investigator of many infectious diseases. In the course of the biography the author illumines the development of modern medicine in this country and the state of the nation's medical schools in the middle of the nineteenth century.

    The greater part of this volume is devoted to Jones's wartime service, which was mainly behind the battle lines in the hospitals and prison camps. The growth of the problem of gangrene among the wounded -- a horrifying result of overcrowding and lack of sanitation -- is examined in particularly telling detail; the ravaging of the Andersonville prison camp by this and other diseases was the subject of some of Jones's most controversial research, and his written report as a reluctant witness in the trial of the Southerners held responsible. At the outset of the war, Joseph Jones was an energetic and well trained young doctor with considerable experience in teaching and research; by its end he was perhaps the foremost expert on infectious diseases in the South or in the nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6222-5
    Subjects: History, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    The Old South is not remembered for the pursuit of science. In the 1820s and early 1830s science had found an encouraging environment in the South, but mounting sectional tension changed this. As this section steadily broke with the rest of the nation during the three turbulent decades preceding the Civil War the southern mind was increasingly dominated by proslavery sentiments, romanticism, and religious orthodoxy, all of which severely inhibited the critical mind and intellectual curiosity vital to scientific inquiry. With the decline of free thinking there developed a cultural climate distinctly unfavorable to the pursuit of science.¹

    But scientific...

  5. Chapter 1 Formative Years
    (pp. 1-12)

    The diverse background of her founders has prompted E. Merton Coulter to label colonial Georgia “a sort of crossroads of the world.”¹ Of the many groups who came, one of the most interesting was a band of New England Congregationalists who settled in the verdant, marshy coastal region between the Medway and and South Newport Rivers at the middle of the eighteenth century. This area has often been in the vanguard of Georgia’s history. At the onset of hostilities with England, for example, the colonists here, well ahead of the rest of Georgia, enthusiastically embraced the American cause. As a...

  6. Chapter 2 School Days
    (pp. 13-36)

    Charles Colcock Jones’s acceptance of a second appointment at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Columbia brought an end to his children’s happy plantation childhood. But it was due in large part to his deep concern for his sons that he accepted this position. They were ready for college, and South Carolina’s capital, depicted by observers as a “small, quiet, and unimposing-looking” but “rather … interesting little town” of six thousand at the head of navigation on the Congaree River with “an air of neatness and elegance” and “the residence of a superior class of people,” was the home of South...

  7. Chapter 3 Young Professional
    (pp. 37-67)

    Joseph Jones’s penchant for scientific investigation complicated his choice of a career. The problem, simply stated, was that despite his training in medicine Jones hoped to avoid the life of a practicing physician because it would leave little time for research. He wrestled with this question during much of his last year of medical school, and at graduation the young physician’s future was uncertain. He had, however, reduced his alternatives to two: he could stay in Philadelphia and continue his physiological investigations on a full-time basis or accept the chair of chemistry at the Savannah Medical College. At the outset...

  8. Chapter 4 Secession
    (pp. 68-89)

    Joseph Jones was painfully aware of the growing sectional hostility. Although his wholehearted defense of the South and of southern institutions bordered on extremism, he sincerely hoped that disunion could be averted, and he followed the steadily deteriorating relations between the sections with visible apprehension. But at the opening of 1860 Jones, as a newlywed, was more immediately concerned with his career.

    Finances continued to concern him. The Medical College of Georgia had suffered a severe setback at the opening of the 1859–1860 session when only 110 students were enrolled instead of the anticipated 150. Attempts to increase this...

  9. Chapter 5 Private Jones
    (pp. 90-116)

    Secession had an electrifying effect on Georgians. The decision in itself came as no surprise, since many had long felt that the state’s only choice was to join her rebellious sister states of the lower South. Now the suspense and uncertainty were over: Georgia had taken her stand no matter what followed, and a wave of optimism swept over much of the state. This feeling was clearly reflected by the students of the Medical College of Georgia, who sought and won the closing of the school on February 15, 1861, a month early.

    Joseph Jones was also anxious for the...

  10. Chapter 6 The Making of a Confederate Surgeon
    (pp. 117-145)

    Determining his personal contribution to the southern war effort was no easy task for Joseph Jones. It was not until eight months after the end of his tour of duty with the Liberty Independent Troop that his role became clear. This was unlike Jones. In the past his actions had been characterized by a decisiveness often bordering on impulsiveness.

    Jones had not meant to be indecisive. On the contrary he had planned to return to Augusta as soon as he was mustered out of service to chart his future course. But he postponed these plans at the insistence of his...

  11. Chapter 7 Surgeon Jones
    (pp. 146-166)

    By the time Joseph Jones arrived home in late September 1863 his son was much improved. The youth was soon out of danger, and Jones resumed his research. On October 9 he left for Charleston, considering it important to visit “this low malarious region during the last and most unhealthy months of the fall” if he were to determine the relationship between malaria and typhoid fever. Specifically he planned to test the hypothesis advanced by many of his contemporaries that “remittent fever of malarious origin can be converted by an actual change into typhoid fever.” Jones was adamantly opposed to...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. Chapter 8 Defeat
    (pp. 167-177)

    By the opening of 1865 Joseph Jones’s confidence in the inevitability of southern victory had given way to despair. He was ready to accept, and indeed hoped for, a negotiated peace. Many on both sides shared this hope. Several attempts in the summer of 1864 to end the war had failed, but the prospects for peace seemed almost promising in February 1865, when a three-man southern delegation headed by Vice President Alexander H. Stephens met with Lincoln and his secretary of state, William H. Seward, on board a Union transport anchored at Hampton Roads, Virginia. During the course of these...

  14. Chapter 9 Andersonville
    (pp. 178-198)

    The arrest, condemnation, and execution of Henry Wirz spurred a heated debate about Andersonville prison. On the one hand outraged northerners have vehemently contended that Andersonville’s unspeakable horrors were the result of a cold-blooded conspiracy by leading Confederates to murder helpless prisoners; on the other, the southern apologists, although fewer in number, have vociferously countered, attributing the suffering and death to the prostrate state of the Confederacy. The arguments on both sides are painfully lacking in objectivity. The inevitable result has been a confusion of voices.¹

    Yet one voice stands out from all the rest—that of Joseph Jones. He...

  15. Chapter 10 Hospital Gangrene
    (pp. 199-214)

    Little known in the United States prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, gangrene became one of the conflict’s most serious medical problems. In reality the generic termgangrene, orhospital gangreneas this disorder was most commonly called, included a wide range of streptococcic, staphylococcic, and other dangerous infections. The prevalence of these secondary infections is readily understood when one considers the general lack of knowledge of the principles of antisepsis and asepsis, the unsanitary condition of hospitals, and the improper attention accorded wounds. Unfortunately for the injured Civil War soldier Lord Lister’s revolutionary discoveries revealing the life-saving...

  16. Chapter 11 The Balance Sheet
    (pp. 215-230)

    Over 600,000 soldiers lost their lives during the Civil War. Untold thousands who later died from disease or injury incurred during the war pushed the death toll incalculably higher. Even more tragic was the fact that the costly biological price this conflict exacted was highly cumulative. “We lost not only these men,” Allan Nevins has written, “but their children, and their children’s children…. We have lost the books they might have written, the scientific discoveries they might have made, the inventions they might have perfected.” “Such a loss,” he exclaimed, “defies measurement.”¹

    Having participated in the bloodshed, the combatants—both...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 231-232)

    Like most southerners after Appomattox Joseph Jones contemplated the future with an uneasiness bordering on fear. His world, the slaveholding South, was gone, never to return. Jones feared that his scientific career had suffered the same fate. For the moment all he could do was to salvage what was left to him. There was no future, he soon learned, in attempting to revive his prewar career at the Medical College of Georgia. New and greener pastures beckoned, first at the University of Nashville and then at the University of Louisiana (later Tulane University). At the Louisiana school he was to...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 233-276)
  19. A Note On Sources
    (pp. 277-284)
  20. Index
    (pp. 285-294)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)