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Preface

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Preface

In 1973 the Army Medical Department Historical Unit sought a way to contribute to the celebration of the approaching Bicentennial and needed to do something with a newly arrived lieutenant. A history of Army medical relief for civilian communities struck by natural disasters offered an answer to both problems, and I received an assignment to prepare one. I have tried to make the record of that aid as complete as possible and hope my account gives a sense of the significant and commendable contribution Army medical personnel have made in relieving human suffering. In compiling a list of relief missions, however, I became intrigued by how and why the Army's role evolved. In the individual disaster relief operations, not just the delivery of health care but the relations between soldiers and civilians and the conflict between local cultural practices and modern medicine interested me. Within the constraints imposed by the focus of the volume on medical missions, I have tried to explore these larger issues.

Before I completed the study, the Bicentennial passed, the Army Medical Department Historical Unit became, a part of the Center of Military History (CMH), and I returned to civilian life. I am particularly grateful to Col . John Lada, the late Rose C. Engelman, and especially the late Charles J . Simpson for helping make it possible for me to finish the project after I left active duty. I also appreciate the kindly aid of the archivists, librarians, and other individuals who eased the task of compiling a list of disasters and finding records of Army aid during them. John B. Corr, author for CMH of a brief history of Army disaster relief, and Lillian C. Kidwell, librarian at the headquarters of the American National Red Cross, were extremely helpful in the early stages. Throughout my research, the staffs of the Old and Modern Military Records sections of the National Archives- particularly Elaine Everly, Michael Musick, Tim Nenninger, and Edward Reese- guided me to their holdings. Richard J. Sommers helped me use the archives at the Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. His colleague John J. Slonaker, who has an awesome knowledge of the institute's library and unfailing patience with researchers, provided frequent and invaluable aid. Charles Phillips, Sarah Gastley, Mary Ambrose, and the other members of Roderick M. Engert's General Reference and Research Branch at the Army Medical Department Historical Unit not only located documents but cheerfully filled countless interlibrary loan requests.

I owe much to several generous scholars who read and criticized earlier drafts of the study. John Duffy of the University of Maryland, Robert H, Bremner of the Ohio State University, and Samuel R. Williamson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggested ways to improve and shorten- if a distinction can be drawn- an early 900-page draft. Robert W. Coakley, Col. James W. Dunn, Rod Engert, Walter Hermes, Col. William Strobridge, and Col. Earl L. Ziebell at CMH gave advice on a, succeeding draft. Graham A. Cosmas offered useful perspective on the Spanish-American War era section, and Mary C. Gillett tried very hard to teach me a bit of medical, history and at least succeeded in improving my treatment of the topic here. I am also grateful to Albert E. Cowdrey. As chief of the Medical History Branch of CMH, he inherited a bulky, unfocused manuscript and guided it into a book. Almost every line benefited from his suggestions and revision. Finally, Mary D. Nelson kept me from many errors with her conscientious and skillful editing. Not even all of these people working together could save me from my own stubbornness, and the errors and infelicitous prose that remain are mine.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
30 September 1982

GAINES M. FOSTER