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B.D. Howard
B.D. Howard

Federal (USA)

Assistant Surgeon

Benjamin Douglas Howard

(1836 - 1900)
Home State: New York
Command Billet: Staff officer
Branch of Service: Medical
Unit: Army of the Potomac


Before the Antietam Campaign:
Howard was one of 5 siblings who were orphaned when school-age children. He came to New York in 1853 looking for a college education on the way to his intended career as a medical missionary. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts beginning in 1855, but did not continue to graduation. He then returned to New York, graduating as a Doctor of Medicine in 1858 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now part of Columbia University).

Shortly before the War, apparently intrigued by the institution of chattel slavery and its abolition, he traveled to St. Louis and got a job as a clerk in a slave market there. While in that occupation he reportedly helped to get fugitive slaves North via the Underground Railroad, but was found-out, and had to flee the state in fear of his life.

In May 1861 he obtained a commission as Assistant Surgeon in the 19th New York Volunteer Infantry (redesignated 3rd New York Light Artillery in December 1861). He served with them until September, when he was commissioned Assistant Surgeon in the Regular Army.

In the Antietam Campaign:
He was on the staff of the Army of the Potomac, and assisted with wounded troops on the Maryland Campaign. He treated General Hooker's wounded foot after the battle of Antietam.

The remainder of the War:
After Antietam, he continued in US Army service, including duty as medical purveyor (purchasing agent) and acting Medical Director of the Department of the Ohio, until resigning his commission on 28 December 1864. By that time he had developed and successfully introduced an improved ambulance design for field use, and had perfected a method for sealing "sucking" chest wounds.

After the War:
He continued in private surgical practice in New York, and also taught medicine in Ohio and Vermont, before returning to England in about 1873. He traveled around the world during the rest of his life, and was known particularly for his method of artificial respiration - the Howard Method - which was used widely into the 1960s. In the 1880s and '90s he studied prisons and their medical issues, writing two books on the subject from his research and visits to far-eastern Russia.

References, Sources, and other notes:
His military service dates are from Heitman1 and Phisterer2, with other biographical details from his New York Times obituary (Wednesday, June 23, 1900, page 7 [pdf]), and the Preface to his book Prisoner of Russia (1902).

More on the Web:
See more about Dr. Howard and General Joseph Hooker's wounded foot in an article on behind AotW. The picture here from a CDV in the De Gregoris Image collection, posted online by Dr. Michael Echols & Dr. Doug Arbittier.

Birth Date: 03/21/1836    Place of Birth: Chesham, Buckinghamshire, ENGLAND    
College: College of Physicians and Surgeons    Graduating Year: 1858    
Death Date: 06/17/1900    Death Place: Elberon, NJ    Burial Place: Elberon, NJ


1   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, Vol. 1, pg. 545  [AotW citation 1083]

2   Phisterer, Frederick, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 6 volumes, Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1909-12, Vol. 2, pg. 1178  [AotW citation 1084]

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