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history, American Civil War, Dalafield Commision, Military Medicine, Neurology


Throughout the American Civil War, the United States Army Medical Department underwent a medical revolution that facilitated the emergence of neurology as a unique discipline. The advancements and innovations that arose during that period can be attributed to an event that occurred a decade earlier. In 1855, the Delafield Commission traveled across Europe to observe and report on military operations and advancements during the Crimean War. In addition to changes in artillery and cavalry, the Delafield Commission also reported on innovations in military medicine. Their reports were published just before the Civil War, and some recommendations began to be implemented during that conflict. Based on the commission’s observations, new improvements in hospital design, ambulance and triage systems, amputation procedures, and anesthesia administration were introduced. Many of the major reforms were facilitated by Dr. William Alexander Hammond, Surgeon General from 1862 to 1864, who was appointed to that position following a recommendation by a member of the Delafield Commission. In addition to the reforms that spearheaded the medical revolution during the Civil War, Dr. Hammond also established Turner's Lane Hospital, the first neurological hospital in the United States. The work conducted by Hammond and Dr. Silas Mitchell, the head physician at Turner's Lane, facilitated the emergence of neurology, which was accelerated by the environment of the Civil War. The Delafield Commission reports and their utilization by American physicians in the Civil War allowed for major medical reforms to occur, which in turn accelerated the emergence of neurology within the United States.

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Kurt Hackemer

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