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Civil War Pharmacy

Civil War Pharmacy

A History

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Michael A. Flannery, with a foreword by Margaret Humphreys


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
23 illustrations


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About the Book

When the Civil War began, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry was concentrated almost exclusively in Philadelphia and was dominated by just a few major firms; when the war ended, it was poised to expand nationwide. Civil War Pharmacy is the first book to delineate how the growing field of pharmacy gained respect and traction in, and even distinction from, the medical world because of the large-scale manufacture and dispersion of drug supplies and therapeutics during the Civil War. In this second edition, Flannery captures the full societal involvement in drug provision, on both the Union and Confederate sides, and places it within the context of what was then assumed about health and healing. He examines the roles of physicians, hospital stewards, and nurses—both male and female—and analyzes how the blockade of Southern ports meant fewer pharmaceutical supplies were available for Confederate soldiers, resulting in reduced Confederate troop strength. Flannery provides a thorough overview of the professional, economic, and military factors comprising pharmacy from 1861 to 1865 and includes the long-term consequences of the war for the pharmaceutical profession.

Winner (first edition), Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences, Best Book Award


Michael A. Flannery, professor emeritus of UAB Libraries, University of Alabama at Birmingham, has written, cowritten, or coedited six books. He is the recipient of the Kremers Award, which honors excellence in the history of pharmacy by an American, and continues to teach for the Honors College at UAB.



"Michael Flannery’s Civil War Pharmacy was, and remains, an indispensable guide to the complexities, contradictions, and general confusion of the pharmaceutical side of America’s Civil War. This second edition does not just incorporate new research into various aspects of Civil War medicine, the use of disinfectants, for example, or anesthesia, but also has additional chapters on battlefield and naval pharmacy." —Susan-Mary Grant, American Nineteenth Century History

"Civil War Pharmacy was—and is—a thoroughly researched study of the challenges, triumphs, and debates that dominated the medical and pharmaceutical communities during the war. It not only demonstrates that the war had an enduring impact on postwar pharmaceutical production and distribution but also shows that physicians and pharmacists were actively questioning traditional remedies in hopes of bettering patient care. Ultimately, Civil War Pharmacy overturns popular perceptions of Civil War medicine as backward and ineffective. In doing so, it offers new perspectives on wartime medical practices."—Lindsay Rae Privette, H-War, H-Net

Civil War Pharmacy has long been the gold standard in scholarship pertaining to the medical crisis that engulfed the nation at its critical hour. Yet, in this refreshed edition, Michael Flannery has furthered our knowledge with new insights inside naval and battlefield hospitals. Everyone interested in Civil War medicine or the evolution of health care in America should have this book.”—Brian Craig Miller, author, Empty Sleeves: Amputation in the Civil War South
“Flannery’s book is a comprehensive, thoroughly documented, and extremely readable history of medicines in the Civil War.”—John Parascandola, former U.S. Public Health Service historian
“In tracing the wide dissemination of medical knowledge . . . Flannery demonstrates that the war years provided unparalleled training ground for many physicians—in particular how they learned to use and dispense drugs. This rich and engaging account digs deep into what it was like to doctor patients in the Civil War hospitals.”—Shauna Devine, author of Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science

"Michael Flannery's Civil War Pharmacy (2004) went a considerable distance toward bridging the gap, but new scholarship, along with some omissions noted by reviewers, has led Flannery to update his award-winning book. The resulting Civil War Pharmacy: A History, Second Edition incorporates current work in the field while also adding two new chapters on battlefield pharmacy and naval pharmacy."--Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors Blog

"Now in an updated second edition, Civil War Pharmacy: A History is a scholarly chronicle of the rise of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Once concentrated almost entirely in Philadelphia, the industry embarked on a nationwide expanse after the war. Civil War Pharmacy explores how this field of medicine gained traction and popularity; how large-scale manufacture and dispensation of drugs became feasible during and after the war; and much more. The second edition particularly focuses upon societal involvement in providing and distributing medical drugs, both among the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War. Expertly researched, and enhanced with extensive notes, Civil War Pharmacy: A History is highly recommended especially for public and college library American History collections."--Midwest Book Review

"This new edition moves outside the scope of medicines dispenced in the hospital setting with the inclusion of two new chapters, "Battlefield Pharmacy" and "Naval Pharmacy," which provide insight into the availability and dispensing of medicines on the battleground and abroad ship. Both chapters are short, but contain new information, discussion and insight."--Christine Whitaker, Watermark