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General W.C. Gorgas - History


General W.C. Gorgas

General W. C. Gorgas

William Crawford Gorgas, born in Mobile, Ala., 3 October 1854, was educated at the University of the South and graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1879. He entered the Army Medical Corps in 1880. During the Spanish-American War, he was sent to Cuba and permanently rid Havana of yellow fever. In 1904 he was sent to the Isthmus of Panama, where his successful fight against yellow fever and malaria insured completion of the canal. He served (1914-18) as Surgeon General of the United States and in 1916 was promoted to Major General. After he retired from the Army in 1918, General Gorgas was active throughout the world fighting tropical disease until he died in London 3 July 1920.

( Str.: dp. 8,000 1. 386', b. 45'3", dr. 24'4"; s. 10 k.; cpl
154; trp. 1,200; a. none)

General W. Gorgas, former Hamburg-America Lines Prinz Sigismund, was built in 1902 by Neptun Aktiengesellschaft, Schiffswerit & Maschinenfabrik, Rostock, Germany. Seized by USSB on entry of the United States in World War I, she carried troops and cargo to Europe under charter operations of the Panama Railroad & Steamship Co., New York. After conversion to a troop transport, she was turned over to the Navy and commissioned 8 March l919, Lt. Comdr. James Edward Stone, USNRF, in command.

General W. Gorgas, assigned to the Crusier and Transport Force, departed New York 25 April 1919 to embark Army troops and load cargo at Bordeaux, France, and return to Philadelphia 2 June 1919. She again sailed for Bordeaux 5 June 1919, returning to Newport News, VA., 4 July 1919. She brought home 2,063 troops from France in these two transatlantic voyages.

General W. Gorgas s decommissioned at New York 28 July 1919 and returned the same date to USSB. Prior to World War II, she was operated on commercial routes by Libby, McNeill & Libby. In November 1941 she was chartered by the War Department for troop transport service between Seattle and Alaskan ports. She continued her Army troopship duties to Alaska until returned to WSA at Seattle in January 1945. Transferred by that agency to Soviet Russia in 1945, she was renamed Mikhail Lomonosov.


Biography [ edit | edit source ]

Born in Toulminville, Alabama, Gorgas was the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas. After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Dr. Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. He was assigned to three posts -- Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown—in Texas. While at Fort Brown (1882–84), he survived yellow fever and met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. Ώ] In 1898, after the end of the Spanish-American War, he was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. ΐ] He served as president of the American Medical Association in 1909󈝶.

Gorgas was made Surgeon General of the Army in 1914. In this capacity, he was able to capitalize on the momentous work of another Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, who had himself capitalized on insights of a Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. As such, Gorgas won international fame battling the illness—then the scourge of tropical and sub-tropical climates—first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally at the Panama Canal. As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project. Α]

In 1914 Gorgas and George Washington Goethals were awarded the inaugural Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. Β] He received an honorary knighthood (KCMG) from King George V at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in the United Kingdom shortly before his death there on July 3, 1920. Γ] He was given a special funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral. Δ]


William Crawford Gorgas

William C. Gorgas William Crawford Gorgas (1854-1920) was a pioneer in the field of public health and tropical medicine. His work in eradicating yellow fever in Panama made possible the construction of the Panama Canal. Gorgas served as U.S. Army surgeon general, received honorary degrees from seven different universities, won honors from several foreign countries for his service to public health, and fought tirelessly to improve sanitary conditions throughout South America and Africa. Gorgas at Sewanee The iron works failed in 1869, and Josiah Gorgas took a position as headmaster at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, set in a remote, mountain-top wilderness and populated largely by ex-Confederates. Gorgas accompanied his father, attended the university, and graduated in 1875. Gorgas then spent an unhappy year in his uncle's New Orleans law office. He was determined to follow his father into the U.S. Army, but he failed to get into West Point and instead enrolled in medical school at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City, graduating in 1879. He interned at Bellevue and at the New York Insane Asylum at Blackwell's Island, New York, before entering the U.S. Army Medical Corps in June 1880 as a first lieutenant. William Crawford Gorgas in Uniform Promoted to major, Gorgas became chief sanitary officer for U.S.-occupied Havana, Cuba, in July 1898. He instituted strict sanitation codes that led to the decline of other diseases in the city, but yellow fever occurrences continued to rise. Gorgas rejected the theory that mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever until 1900, when Major Walter Reed proved that the female Stegomyia (now known as the Aedes) mosquito spread the disease. Gorgas soon implemented efforts to destroy mosquito breeding sites, and by September 1901 these procedures had eliminated yellow fever in the Havana area. Gorgas became enormously popular among Havana's citizens. George Goethals Unfortunately, this favorable period ended in 1907 with the appointment of still another chief engineer and commission chairman, George W. Goethals, a man who issued orders and viewed disagreement as disloyalty. Gorgas had won cooperation from the Panamanians and canal employees through charm and salesmanship. Now he found himself reporting to a man who did not believe in his sanitation program, was bitterly hostile to him personally, and ruled the construction project like a dictator.

Following a funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral, a full military cortege, including Coldstream Guards playing Chopin's Funeral March, processed through the streets of London. Gorgas's family transported his body back to the United States, where it lay in state for four days at Washington's Church of the Epiphany. Burial followed at Arlington National Cemetery.

Gibson, John M. Physician to the World: The Life of General William C. Gorgas. 1950. Reprint, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989.


Gen. William C. Gorgas

On this site stood the Gov. John Gayle home, birthplace of William Crawford Gorgas, world famous sanitarian, Panama Canal Zone, 1902-14 Surgeon Gen. & Maj. General conqueror of dread plagues of yellow fever and malaria.

Erected 1951 by Historic Mobile Preservation Society.

Location. 30° 42.696′ N, 88° 4.878′ W. Marker is in Mobile, Alabama, in Mobile County. Marker is at the intersection of Saint Stephens Road (U.S. 45) and Rosemont Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Saint Stephens Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2113 Saint Stephens Road, Mobile AL 36617, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd / Founding Members (approx. 0.4 miles away) Oaklawn Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away) Catholic Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away) Vernon Z. Crawford Law Firm (approx. one mile away) Christopher First Johnson House (approx. 1.2 miles away) Dunbar/Central High School (approx. 1.2 miles away)


Biography

Born in Toulminville, Alabama, Gorgas was the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas. After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Dr. Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. He was assigned to three posts — Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown—in Texas. While at Fort Brown (1882–84), he survived yellow fever and met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. In 1898, after the end of the Spanish-American War, he was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. He served as president of the American Medical Association in 1909&ndash10.

Gorgas was made Surgeon General of the Army in 1914. In this capacity, he was able to capitalize on the momentous work of another Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, who had himself capitalized on insights of a Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. As such, Gorgas won international fame battling the illness—then the scourge of tropical and sub-tropical climates—first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally at the Panama Canal.

As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project.

In 1914 Gorgas and George Washington Goethals were awarded the inaugural Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. He received an honorary knighthood (KCMG) from King George V at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in the United Kingdom shortly before his death there on July 3, 1920. He was given a special funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral.After his death, Gorgas’s ongoing work (through the Rockefeller Foundation) in eliminating yellow fever in Mexico and Central America was carried on by retired Brigadeer General Theodore C. Lyster.


Colonel W. C. Gorgas, Chief Sanitary Officer, and His Office Force

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Major-General William Crawford Gorgas

Since the last annual meeting of this Society, it has suffered the loss of its most illustrious member, Major-General William Crawford Gorgas.

General Gorgas will be known to future generations as the Great Sanitarian of his age. History will emphasize the fact that he applied practically, on a large scale, the knowledge of the transmission of yellow fever by one particular species of mosquito which fact had been so thoroughly and so completely demonstrated by the Board of Medical Officers of the United States Army headed by Walter Reed that through his initiative as a practical sanitarian yellow fever was banished from Cuba in an astoundingly short period of time that his broad vision, comprehensive knowledge and practical application of the sanitary principles required in the prevention of disease made possible the construction of the Panama Canal. At the time of his death he was waging a contest with yellow fever in its final remaining strongholds in South and Central America.


Gorgas sends “Long Tom” to Wilmington

On January 5, 1864, Major-General W.H.C. Whiting wrote Colonel Josiah Gorgas, at the Confederate Ordnance Department, requesting assistance:

Colonel Gorgas: My 30-pounder Parrott burst yesterday fighting the enemy at Lockwood’s Folly, killing 1 man and wounding officer in charge. It was at third fire. This is all the Parrott gun I have. Hurry the others. All the guns I have seen lately are defective should be tested and examined. Send this to General [Samuel] Cooper.

On January 3, the blockade runner Bendigo ran aground at Lockwood’s Folly. While making a run north along the coast, the captain of the Bendigo mistook the wreck of the Elizabeth, a blockade runner which had ran aground in late September 1863, for a Federal blockader. The captain tried to run between the shore and what he thought was a threat, but ran into another – the shallow waters of the inlet.

The Bendigo lay on a shoal close enough inshore for the Confederates to attempt recovery of the cargo, but far enough off shore to allow Federal gunboats to obstruct any recovery. Over the next couple of days, both sides sparred over the wreck. The Federals finally damaged the wreck sufficiently to prevent Confederate recovery. But the lure of further salvage brought the USS Iron Age into those shallow waters a week later, ultimately resulting in her demise. (All in all, a fantastic series of events, but one I must leave to a correspondent with better footing in regard to the Wilmington sector.)

The 30-pdr Parrott mentioned by Whiting was part of the force deployed to support the recovery operations. It was a Confederate copy of the original 30-pdr Parrott rifle, patterned after one of Robert P. Parrott’s 30-pdr rifles captured at First Manassas in July 1861. The captured Federal gun received the nickname “Long Tom,” due no doubt to the length of the barrel (and I would add such christening is not unique among artillery pieces). Unable to replicate the coiled band technique used at West Point Foundry, Tredegar opted to use a series of welded wrought iron bands. The (composite) band over the breech is about 10-inches longer than the guns produced by West Point Foundry.

This was not the first time the Tredegar 30-pdr Parrotts had failed in action. Recall just over a year earlier, one of these guns failed at Fredericksburg, in very close proximity to General Robert E. Lee and other senior officers. Perhaps with the failure rates in mind, Gorgas responded on January 6 with the offer of something better than another Tredegar gun, “There are arms on the way to him, and I have asked Colonel [Walter] Stevens for the gun known as “Long Tom,” now on the defenses here.”

The declarative in Gorgas’ response leaves little doubt – this is the “Long Tom” from the artillery section commanded by Lieutenant Peter C. Hains at First Manassas, which had fired the first shot of the battle, and which was later captured by Confederates. The Confederate Ordnance Department described this gun, in The Field Manual for the Use of the Officers on Ordnance Duty , as:

The 30-pounder Parrott gun (captured at Manassas) has a caliber of 4.2 inches weight 4190 lbs. entire length 132 inches five grooves. The wrought iron band at breech is 19 inches in length and 2 inches in thickness. It is rifled with one turn in 24 feet.

These particulars are important for those track the history of “Long Tom.” The weight given – 4,190 pounds – was about ten pounds less than standard. The dimensions match, within a half inch here or there, those of Parrott’s specifications. The only major discrepancy is the reported rifling. Parrott used increasing-pitch rifling. That indicated in the manual is about twice that specified for Federal use. Then again, I don’t think anyone climbed down the bore of the gun to verify the rifling.

“Long Tom” had to be one of six of its type received by the Federals prior to the battle of First Manassas. Of those six, only one survives today – registry number 4, located in Cleveland, Ohio (in Woodlawn Cemetery, if anyone cares to pass along a photo or two). Its weight is reported at 4,175 pounds, ruling it out but offering a comparison figure. The variation of the weight reported, by the Confederates, for “Long Tom” as compared to the design specification and single survivor of the lot leads to the conclusion that 4,190 pounds was the actual weight of the gun. The writers of Big Guns , looking at ordnance receipts retained at National Archives, concluded that based on the reported weight, “Long Tom” was registry number 2.

Setting aside for the moment the administrative details identifying “Long Tom,” the gun went to Wilmington to serve in the batteries defending Cape Fear River and covering the blockade runners. And at least one report indicates “Long Tom” burst like its Confederate cousins. Colonel William Lamb noted such in a diary entry from December 1864:

December 17 – Bought two dozen eggs at $20. Came down the river with General Whiting in the Cape Fear. The Long Tom rifle exploded in Battery Anderson last night. Went up to see it. The carriage was torn to pieces and the gun was broken into over seven large pieces.

However, contradicting Lamb’s entry is a catalog of weapons captured by Federals near the end of the war. General Henry L. Abbot, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, reported that Captain Samuel Hatfield, his ordnance officer, made a complete inventory of weapons captured at Fort Fisher in January 1865. In that list appears a line for “4.2-inch Parrott (No. 2)” indicated as in “good order.” A separate line tallied a disabled “4.2-inch banded” rifle. The nomenclature used on that second line matches the identification of Confederate rifled and banded guns of other calibers listed in the table.

So the indication is that Hatfield inventoried a U.S. gun of the Parrott pattern with registry number 2. He didn’t offer weights or other details. However, the circumstantial evidence points to this being “Long Tom.” Maybe not a water tight conclusion, but strong enough for me. I conclude that “Long Tom” that opened the action at First Manassas ended up at Fort Fisher at the end of the war. Unfortunately, the Federals recapturing the gun failed to appreciate its history. Thus, if you go with Lamb or Hatfield, “Long Tom” ended up on the scrap heap… literally and figuratively.

(Sources OR, Series I, Volume 33, Serial 60, page 1066 Volume 46, Part I, Serial 95, page 167. ORN, Series I, Volume 11, page 746. The Field Manual for the Use of the Officers on Ordnance Duty , Confederate Ordnance Department, Richmond: Ritchie & Dunnavant, 1862, pages 20-21. Edwin Olmstead, Wayne E. Stark, and Spencer C. Tucker, Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast, and Naval Cannon , Alexandria Bay, NY: Museum Restoration Service, 1997, page 114.)


William Crawford Gorgas

William C. Gorgas was born Oct. 3, 1854, near Mobile, Ala., the son of Josiah Gorgas, later a Confederate general and vice-chancellor of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn. Young Gorgas's early education was irregular because of the Civil War, but in 1875 he took a bachelor of arts degree from the University of the South.

Desiring a military career, Gorgas exhausted every possible means of getting an appointment to West Point, then decided to enter the Army by way of a medical degree. After graduating from the Bellevue Medical College in New York City and serving an internship at the Bellevue Hospital, he was appointed to the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army in June 1880. Then followed tours of duty at various Texas posts, in North Dakota, and nearly 10 years at Ft. Barrancas, Fla., a notorious yellow fever area to which Gorgas was assigned because he had previously had the disease and was therefore immune. In 1883 he married Marie Cook Doughty.

After the occupation of Havana, Cuba, by American troops in 1898, Gorgas took charge of a yellow fever camp at Siboney. Later that year he became chief sanitary officer of Havana. Acting on information furnished by the Yellow Fever Commission of U.S. Army physician Walter Reed that a particular strain of mosquito was the carrier of yellow fever, Gorgas deprived the mosquito of breeding places, quickly destroying the carrier and ridding the city of yellow fever. This work brought him an international reputation.

In 1904, when work commenced on the Panama Canal, Gorgas went to the Canal Zone to take charge of sanitation. Although it was known that yellow fever had been largely responsible for the French failure to build the canal, Gorgas encountered continuing opposition to his antimosquito measures from an economy-minded administration. He persevered, however, and, with the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, finally succeeded in making the cities of Panama and Colón models of sanitation.

As a result of his work in the Canal Zone, Gorgas came to be generally regarded as the world's foremost sanitary expert. A number of foreign governments and international commissions sought his aid, and his book Sanitation in Panama (1915) quickly became a classic in the public health field. In 1914 he was appointed surgeon general of the Army, and he served in that capacity until his retirement 4 years later. He died in London on July 3, 1920, and is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.


Contents

Born in Toulminville, Alabama, Gorgas was the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas. After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Dr. Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. He was assigned to three posts—Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown—in Texas. While at Fort Brown (1882–84), he survived yellow fever and met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. [2] In 1898, after the end of the Spanish–American War, he was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. [3] Gorgas capitalized on the momentous work of another Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, who had himself built much of his work on insights of a Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. He won international fame battling the illness—then the scourge of tropical and sub-tropical climates—first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally, in 1904, at the Panama Canal.

As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project. [4]

Gorgas served as president of the American Medical Association in 1909–10. He was made Surgeon General of the Army in 1914. That same year, Gorgas and George Washington Goethals were awarded the inaugural Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

He retired from the Army in 1918, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 64. [5] He received an honorary knighthood (KCMG) from King George V at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in the United Kingdom shortly before his death there on July 3, 1920. [6] He was given a special funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral. [7]