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Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

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Galusha B. Balch, M.D.

 

Balch, Galusha B. Graduated Columbia 1860 98th Reg NY Vol Inf.
2nd Vet Cav NYV
Asst. Surg Oct. 1861-Sept. 1862
Asst. Surg Jan. 1864-Nov. 1865

Galusha Burchard Balch, son of  Alvah Burchard and Mary [McArthur] Balch, was born February 6, 1839, at Plattsburgh, N. Y. 

Galusha B. was born and reared upon the farm on which his grandfather located in 1800. He finished his schooling at the Plattsburgh Academy, and after teaching district schools for two sesisons entered the Berkshire Medical College at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Here he was under the tutilage of Dr. Harry Childs and his son, Dr. Timothy Childs. He then finished his medical education at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Medical Department of Columbia College at New York City, and graduated in 1860. After graduating he practiced first at Saranac, and then at North Lawrence, New York. At the outbreak of the Civil War he passed the examination of the board of examiners for medical staff appointments in New York regiments, and was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 98th New York Infantry, October 20, 1861. The regiment was at that time being recruited at Malone, N. Y.

In the spring of 1862 he went to the front with this regiment. It was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and went to the Peninsula under General McClellan. Upon the taking of Yorktown he was detached from his regiment and assigned to duty in the general hospital there, and for a time was in charge of the steamer State of Maine, transporting sick to Baltimore. While thus engaged Dr. J. Simpson, the medical director at Baltimore, said in a letter to the Surgeon General that the condition in which the State of Maine arrived was highly creditable to Dr. Balch, that the sick were well cared for and that the sanitary condition of the vessel was in a much better state than that of the others that had lately arrived.

Contracting typho-malarial fever at Yorktown, he lay sick in hospital for about six weeks. Having returned to lus regiment early in August before he had fully recovered, the condition of his health led him to resign on Sept. 20, 1862. Returning north he located, as soon as his health would permit, at Sheffield, Massachusetts, and practiced his profession till December, 1863, when, feeling restored to health, he accepted a commission as Assistant Surgeon of the Second Regiment of Veteran Cavalry, New York Volunteers. With this regiment he went to the Department of the Gulf in February, 1864, and was the only surgeon with the regiment during the lied River campaign of that year, and with it in the battles of Alexandria, Grand Eccre, Camptee, Pleasant Hill, Cane River and Yellow Bayou.

During the summer of 1864, and winter following, the regiment was stationed at Morganzia Bend on the Mississippi river, and was kept constantly scouting up and down both sides of the river between Baton Rouge and the mouth of the Red river, having frequent sanguinary skirmishes. The Doctor was almost always out with these scouting parties, and consequently was frequently exposed to the bullets of the enemy.

In March, 1865, the regiment was sent to Pensicola, Fla.,  and joined General Steel, who moved around into the rear of Mobile, Ala., to co-operate with General Canby in capturing that city. After the surrender of Fort Blakely the regiment moved out through the state of Alabama, and on April 11, fought the battle at Mt. Pleasant, one of the last of the war. After the surrender of all the opposing forces the regiment was sent to Talladega, Alabama, where it remained until it was mustered out on November 8, 1865.

In the spring of 1866 the Doctor located at Plattsburgh, N. Y., and purchased a drug store. This was destroyed by the great fire of Plattsburgh, in 1868. In 1872 he moved to Yonkers, N. Y., where he is now practicing his profession. In 1876 he was appointed Health Officer for the city and organized the Health Department and made it one of the best in the state at that time. This office he held two years.

In 1877 he was elected vice-president of the Westchester County Medical Society, and, in the year following, was chosen as its president and is still a member of that society.

Additional information from another source:

He attended Plattsbnrg Academy, taught school himself, and in the meantime began the study of medicine under Dr. L. F. Bid well. His medical studies were continued at the Berkshire Medical College under the instruction of the two Childs, father and son, and later at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia College, N. Y., whence lie graduated in 1860. Saranac, N. Y. was the chosen Held of the young physician but as his practice there was insufficient for his ambition he removed to North Lawrence, N. Y., where he was at the outbreak of the Civil war. On the 9th of Oct., 1866 he had married Harriet Cornelia daughter of Truman Bishop and Mary Ann (Austin) Andrews, of Richmond, Mass., who, however, was born at Addison in New York. Dr. Balch was commissioned Assistant Surgeon of the 98th N. Y. Vol. Inf., 24th Oct., 1861 and with his regiment joined the army of the Potomac under McClellan. Afterthe taking of Yorktown he was assigned to special hospital service and his name will be recalled with gratitude by many Union soldiers who came under his charge during the period he had charge of the S. S. State of Maine, conveying the sick to Baltimore.

Having contracted typhoid-malaria fever he resigned and retired to Sheffield, Mass., to recruit his health and establish a practice, but in Dec., 1863 he again accepted a commission as Asst. Surgeon this time in the 2dN. Y. Veteran Cavalry and was soon in active service in the Red River campaign. In 1864 he was always at the front with the regiment being the only surgeon in the command, and, on account of the perilous duty the regiment was called upon to perform, frequently exposed to death by bullet. At one time his health was so shattered, he was unable to mount his horse unaided. He was with the regiment until mustered out, 8 Nov., 1865, having during the last year or the war served in Florida, and Alabama.

Col. M. H. Chysler, the commander of the regiment paid the Doctor deserved tribute in a letter written in 1880 and in which he says "you never shrank from danger; you were a fearless and efficient officer.

Source: Google digital books

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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