Civil War

Select Your Surgeon

Black Surgeons of the Civil War  

Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta

Augusta offered his services to the United States Army and in 1863, he was commissioned as major and the Army's first African-American physician; he became the first black hospital administrator in U.S. history while serving in the army. He served among the Seventh Regiment of United States Colored Troops where he served as regimental surgeon during the Civil War. In 1868 Augusta was the first African American to be appointed to the faculty of Howard University and the first to any medical college in the United States.


Charles Burleigh Purvis, M.D.

In 1864 he served in the Union Army as a military nurse in the American Civil War. This was at Camp Barker, and he graduated from Western Reserve in March 1865. Two months after graduation, he took the position of an acting assistant surgeon with the rank of first lieutenant and was assigned to duty in Washington, DC.   was the first Black man to run a civilian hospital and the first Black doctor to treat a sitting president when he tended to President James Garfield in 1881. One of the first Black Americans hired to be a Union Army surgeon, would spend the rest of his life trying to collect his military pension.


Dr. John H. Rapier Jr.  

He attended one year of classes at the Michigan Medical College, then went to the Iowa College In Keokuk, Iowa. In 1863 he became the first African American to be graduated from a medical school west of the Mississippi River. Upon graduation he sought and obtained an appointment as ActingAssistant Surgeon, serving at Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Rapier Jr. 

William P. Powell Jr.

In May 1863, Powell applied for and was offered a contract with the United States Army to serve as an acting assistant surgeon. He was assigned to the Contraband Hospital for fugitive slaves and black soldiers in Washington, D.C., under the direction of Maj. Alexander T. Augusta. In October 1863, Augusta left the hospital to muster in with his regiment, the Seventh U.S. Colored Infantry, leaving Powell in charge.

Powell Jr. 

Black Surgeons of the Civil War  

Anderson Ruffin Abbot

Abbott, (born April 7, 1837, Toronto, Upper Canada—died December 29, 1913, Toronto, Ontario, Canada),  was the first Canadian-born person of colour to graduate from medical school. He served in the Seventh Regiment of United States Colored Troops where he served as regimental surgeon during the Civil War.


Willis Revels

A physician and pastor of Bethel AME Church,he was a Civil War recruiter for 28th U.S. Colored Troops. (1810-Mar. 6, 1879). Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to free parents, Willis R. Revels first came to Indiana when he attended Union Literary Institute, a Quaker academy. His brother, Hiram Rhodes Revels, also attended this school and later became a United States senator from Mississippi (1870-1871).

Revels 1  Revels 2

Cortland Van Rensselaer Creed 

Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, MD 1857 1833 – 1900 Physician Son of John and Vashti Duplex Creed Graduate of the New Haven Lancasterian School First African American Graduate of Yale First African American to earn an MD from an Ivy League Medical School 1st Lieutenant and Surgeon of the 31st Regiment US Colored Troops. 


Joseph Dennis Harris

Harris became an acting assistant surgeon assigned to the U.S. Army’s Balfour Hospital in Portsmouth in 1864. In 1865, Harris sought a commission as a Union surgeon but failed to do so due to lack of opportunity. He instead became a physician in Freedmen’s bureau hospitals in Virginia.


Black Surgeons of the Civil War  

John Van Surly DeGrass 

In May 1863 DeGrasse volunteered for the Union Army and in September he received a commission as assistant surgeon with the 35th United States Colored Infantry, one of only three African American physicians to do so. He was the only black surgeon to serve in the field with his regiment in South Carolina and one of only eight to serve in the Union Medical Corps.


Alpheus W. Tucker

Alpheus William Tucker was born in Detroit sometime in 1844 or the next year; he grew up in Toledo, Ohio and attended Oberlin from 1861 to 1863 (with Charles Burleigh Purvis). He served at the Contraband Hospital in Washington D.Cand stayed in Washington to practice medicine after the war.


Benjamin A. Boseman

After a lengthy apprenticeship with prominent Dr. Thomas C. Brinsmade in Troy, Boseman completed his medical studies at Dartmouth Medical School in 1863 and Bowdoin College's Maine Medical College in 1864. He then served the Union as an assistant surgeon in the United States Colored Troops. During the Civil War, Boseman was a contract surgeon with Union soldiers on Hilton Head Island. 


William Baldwin Ellis 

William Ellis was one of the 13 African Americans physicians who served with the Union Army during the Civil War.


Black Surgeons of the Civil War  

David O. McCord 

​David O. McCord. was one of the 13 African Americans physicians who served with the Union Army during the Civil War as commissioned officer.

Black Medical Nurses

  • Susie King Taylor joined the fight when she was just 13 years old.
  • Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first African American woman doctor.
  • Harriet Tubman led a raid on Rebel plantations and freed 750 people.
  • Sallie Daffin brought the races together after terrorists burned her schoolhouse.
  • Sojourner Truth desegregated the Washington streetcars while working as a nurse.
  • Ann Bradford Stokes helped start what became the Navy Nursing Corps.