Army Medical History- Indian Wars

Indian Wars (1866-1886)



After the Civil War, surgeons who accompanied troops fighting in the Indian Wars conflicts usually worked with small and isolated units. They did not have the aid of a disciplined and well-trained Hospital Corps. These surgeons also did not have the understanding of disease and infection that would not come until much later. Although the Medical Department had its first significant lesson in improving the health of soldiers and even Native Americans, through MAJ Letterman’s additions and improvements and when it tried to reduce the disease among the Apaches tribe, the Army was not prepared for struggles the war brought about.

The battle of Wounded Knee was a turning point. It was the first battle of the Indian Wars in which the Medical Department's Hospital Corps took part. It was also the last battle of the conflict. This battle was the last time wounded soldiers had physicians who were not familiar with the danger of germs. This marked a turning point for the Army Medical Department.