J. Julian Chisolm, A Manual of Military Surgery for
the Use of Surgeons in the Confederate States Army. 2nd ed.
514 pp. Richmond: West & Johnson, 1862. Chisolm (1830-1903) was
the foremost surgeon in the Confederacy, and his important military surgery
manual went through three editions.
John Julian Chisolm (1830 – 1903), surgeon and oculist, was born in
Charleston, SC the son of Robert Trail and Harriet Emily Chisolm. He
received his medical degree from the Medical College of South Carolina
(1850) and continued his studies in London, Milan and Paris (1859). During
the Crimean War Chisolm studied treatment techniques in European military
At the outbreak of the Civil War he received the first Confederate Military
Commission issued to a medical officer and attended the wounded at Fort
Sumter. His Manual of Military Surgery (1861) was presented to the
surgeon-general while the Battle of Bull Run was fought. Chisolm’s
manual is regarded as one of the most famous artifacts in the History of
Civil War Medicine.
Julian Chisolm holds the distinction of having made the most important
decision in the life of the most famous eye and ear patient who ever lived.
In 1886, Helen Keller’s father brought her, a mute six-year old, deaf and
blind since birth, to Dr. Chisolm. He confirmed for the last time that she
would never see nor hear, but he was convinced that she could be educated.
An extraordinary thought for the time, it required extraordinary efforts by
extraordinary people. Chisolm referred Captain Keller to Alexander Graham
Bell, who secured the teaching services of Annie Sullivan. The results were
important to both our social history and our drama.