Medical preparation for the Great Reunion

In my novel Gettysburg, 1913: A Novel of the Great Reunion, one of the main characters is the fictional Doctor Samuel Chambers, a Philadelphia physician in his early 30s who finds himself in charge of the medical preparations for the Great Reunion of behalf of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health and the Gettysburg Reunion Commission. I did my best to stay true to the actual sequence of activities among the Department of Health and where the Medical Corps of the United States Army became involved and, in actuality, assumed primary responsibility.

The official Pennsylvania Commission report goes into great detail about the real-life preparations and activities by both Pennsylvania and the U.S. Army, and paradoxically the narrative is (to me, anyway) both fascinating and somewhat dry. Still, you can consult the report for the roles of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health under the direction of the real-life Doctor Samuel Dixon; Army Lieutenant Colonel and Chief Surgeon A. E. Bradley, who was quoted in the official report as proclaiming that “Surely never before in the world’s history have so great a number of men so advanced in years been assembled under field conditions;” and the American Red Cross.

So if you really want to gain an appreciation for the massive undertaking that went into the medical provisions to take care of more than 50,000 aging veterans (not to mention tens of thousands of spectators) amidst what was expected to soaring temperatures during those first days of July, 1913, take a look at the descriptions and details in Pennsylvania’s official report on the Great Reunion, including Colonel Bradley’s report contained within the pages of the book.

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