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  • Online publication date: December 2014

2 - Walcheren and the Army Medical Board

  • Catherine Kelly, University of Western Australia
  • Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
  • pp 31-50
Summary

The AMB was overhauled again in 1798 and given a new constitution. Sir Lucas Pepys and Thomas Keate remained on the AMB as physician and surgeon general, respectively, and Francis Knight was appointed inspector general of army hospitals. The AMB's new constitution divided previously shared responsibilities, created overlapping duties and resulted in illogical processes of appointment and promotion of medical officers. The Board was notorious for the infighting in which its members engaged and it was eventually discontinued. On 27 February 1810, the London Gazette announced the appointment of John Weir as director general and Theodore Gordon and Charles Kerr as principal inspectors of a new board ‘for superintending and conducting the whole Medical Business of the Army’.

The divisions within the AMD, between the AMB and the new school of ‘military medical officers’ adverted to in Chapter 1, widened during the course of the 1798 Board's tenure and provided a key focus for the expression of competing visions of the future of the AMD and military medicine generally. This chapter will examine those conflicts, which culminated in an inquiry into the Walcheren Campaign in 1809. It will show that debates about military medicine became violently personal and factionalized and that the vicious nature of these debates was driven not solely by an intellectual commitment to particular theories of disease, but also by a desire to procure the patronage of powerful men, such as the members of the AMB.

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War and the Militarization of British Army Medicine, 1793–1830
  • Online ISBN: 9781848931848
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