Acted from Principle
The Civil War Diary of
Dr. William M. McPheeters, Confederate Surgeon
in the Trans-Mississippi
Edited by Cynthia DeHaven Pitcock
and Bill J. Gurley
first known daily account of the western Civil War by a
Magazine Breakout Book 2002
—North Carolina Historical Review
At the start of the Civil War, Dr. William McPheeters was
a distinguished physician in St. Louis, conducting unprecedented
public-health research, forging new medical standards, and
organizing the state's first professional associations.
But Missouri was a volatile border state. Under martial
law, Union authorities kept close watch on known Confederate
sympathizers. McPheeters was followed, arrested, threatened,
and finally, in 1862, given an ultimatum: sign an oath of
allegiance to the Union or go to federal prison. McPheeters
"acted from principle" instead, fleeing by night to Confederate
territory. He served as a surgeon under Gen. Sterling Price
and his Missouri forces west of the Mississippi River, treating
soldiers' diseases, malnutrition, and terrible battle wounds.
almost the moment of his departure, the doctor kept a diary.
It was a pocket-size notebook which he made by folding sheets
of pale blue writing paper in half and in which he wrote
in miniature with his steel pen. It is the first known daily
account by a Confederate medical officer in the Trans-Mississippi
Department. It also tells his wife's story, which included
harassment by Federal military officials, imprisonment in
St. Louis, and banishment from Missouri with the couple's
two small children. The journal appears here in its complete
and original form, exactly as the doctor first wrote it,
with the addition of the editors' full annotation and vivid
introductions to each section.
is a historian of medicine at the University of Arkansas
for Medical Sciences.
J. Gurley is a Civil War enthusiast and a professor
of pharmacology at the University of Arkansas for Medical
6" x 9", 440 pages, 7 maps, 15 photos
$22.50 (s) 1-55728-795-3 | 1-55728-795-3