Samuel Preston Moore
(September 16, 1813 – May 31, 1889) was an American physician,
who served in the medical corps of the United States Army during the Mexican–American War, and later
as the Confederate
surgeon general throughout nearly
all of the American Civil
Early life and career
Samuel P. Moore was born in 1813 in Charleston,
South Carolina. He was a son of Stephen West Moore, a
prominent banker in Charleston (originally from Virginia), and his
wife, Eleanore Screvan Gilbert.
His brother, Stephen M. Westmore
, also served in the
Confederacy. Moore was educated in the local public schools of
Charleston, and then attended South Carolina Medical
with the intention of becoming a physician.
graduated in 1834 and relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas, to start his medical practice.
On March 14, 1835, Moore entered the U.S. Army, and was appointed
as an assistant surgeon.Eicher(2), p. 606. In this capacity he
serviced in the American frontier, including regions of Missouri, Kansas, Florida, as well as
along the Texas border with
Moore married Mary Augusta Brown in
Moore also served as a surgeon during the Mexican–American War,
which lasted from 1846 to 1848. He befriended Col. Jefferson Davis
, the future Confederate
, who was greatly impressed with Moore's abilities.
Following the war with Mexico, Moore served in several U.S.
postings, including a short stint at the United States
Military Academy at West Point as a surgeon.
On March 30, 1849, he was
promoted to the rank of major
in the army's Medical
Civil War service
When the American Civil War began in 1861, Moore was still a U.S.
Army surgeon. He resigned his commission on February 25, and
returned to his medical practice in Little Rock, Arkansas. After
the state of Arkansas seceded from the Union
, Moore was approached by
Jefferson Davis to join the Confederate cause, who cited "the
army’s unfortunate military situation and the lack of trained
medical men..." to persuade him On March 16 Moore was assigned to
lead the new Confederate Army Medical Department as surgeon
general. He replaced Charles H.
, who had been the acting
surgeon general. Moore assumed his post on July 30; he would hold
this position until the end of the war.Eicher(2), p. 72.
Moore's headquarters were the Confederate capital of Richmond,
He also would set up a Reserve Surgical
Facing shortages in medicines, supplies, and equipment due to the
ongoing Union blockade of Southern ports, as well as a shortage of
few trained surgeons, Moore's job was difficult. He raised the
recruiting standards and gave the most capable surgeons positions
of authority. Moore designed the barracks-hospital layout, which is
still in use today. This single level pavilion-style hospital was
ordered built throughout the South. He improved the field ambulance
corps, and supplemented the few available medicines with drugs made
from the South's indigenous plants, which were produced in
laboratories set up by Moore.
To address the quality of surgeons, Moore organized an examination
system to identify untrained doctors. If they failed, the doctor
would serve as an attendant in a hospital for a time and retake the
test. This system allowed semi-trained surgeons to be further
educated, and unusable doctors to be dismissed from service. In
1864 Moore established the Confederate States Medical and
, a manual to instruct the surgeons throughout
the army; it included both exact descriptions and drawings of
operations. During the war Moore also founded the
Association of Army and Navy Surgeons of the Confederate States of
. This organization is believed to be the oldest
military medical society in the United States. He also added
dentists to the hospitals, the first time in American history its
soldiers and sailors had access to this service. By the end of the
war in 1865, the Medical Department of the Confederacy had about
three thousand men under Moore.
After the war ended in 1865, Moore resumed his life as a civilian
doctor. He began a medical practice in Richmond, where he would
spend the rest of his life. From 1877 to 1883 Moore also served on
the Richmond School Board. He died in Richmond in May 1889, and was
buried in the city's Hollywood
While Moore's abilities and effectiveness have been disputed,
Jefferson Davis approved of his performance. Military historian
Bruce Allardice describes his contemporary judgments as positive,
citing praises such as "his great work as an organizer, his
remarkable executive ability" and his "great brusqueness of manner
and his sternness as a disciplinarian." Military historian David J. Eicher
disagrees, saying "Surg. Gen.
William A. Hammond
(U.S.) and Samuel P. Moore (C.S.)
were relatively ineffective as administrators..."Eicher(1), p. 789.
Another summary also praises Moore's results, stating:
Moore's rank in the Confederate Army has also been disputed. When
the Confederate Army's Medical Department was organized on February
26, 1861, the legislation stated the surgeon general would be a
. However, Military historian Bruce
Allardice considers Moore to be a brigadier general
, as did Confederate
magazine. The Confederate Congress
Act of February 27, 1861, stipulated that the post would be a staff
officer only.Eicher(2), p. 23. Moore is also listed as an
"unsubstantiated" brigadier general of the South Carolina militia,
appointed in 1865. Subsequent legislation to make the surgeon
general a brigadier was proposed but never became law.
- Allardice, p. 168.
- Wakelyn, p. 323.
- Allardice, p. 168. "He helped pioneer innovative medical
practices,... including the employment of dentists in the
- Wakelyn, p. 324.
- Allardice, p. 168. "CV lists Moore as a brigadier general,
appointed from South Carolina in 1865."
- Allardice, Bruce S., More Generals in Gray, Louisiana
State University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8071-3148-2.
- Eicher(1), David J., The Longest Night: A Military History
of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN
- Eicher(2), John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High
Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN
- Wakelyn, Jon L., Biographical Dictonary of the
Confederacy, Greenwood Press, 1977, ISBN 0-8371-6124-X.
- uab.edu Reynolds Historical Library biography
- Cunningham, Horace H. Doctors in Grey, Baton Rouge,