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West Virginia Independence Hall to host Civil War medicine lecture on Sept. 28

Gordon E. Dammann, D.D.S., will present a talk and slide presentation, “Dr. Jonathan Letterman: The Father of American Battlefield Medicine,” at the West Virginia Independence Hall Museum in Wheeling on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2005 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Dammann’s talk will trace Letterman’s life from his birth in Canonsburg, Pa., through his medical education and his career in the army from 1859-1864. He also will discuss Letterman’s time in Wheeling and his work to plan a medical dispensary wagon.

Letterman is known for giving every army in the world the present field medical system; an ambulance evacuation system; a surgical resuscitation and treatment system; a centralized field medical supply system; a preventive medical inspection system; a field medical records system; and a tented field hospital system. He also established the precedent that all this should be controlled and commanded by medical officers. After World War II, Major General Paul R. Hawley, chief surgeon of the European Theater of Operations wrote of him, “There was not a day during WWII that I did not thank God for Dr. Jonathan Letterman. He was truly a surgeon for the soldiers.”

Dammann has a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and a doctoral degree from Loyola University School of Dentistry. He is the chairman and founder of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md., and he is the founder and past president of the Lena Area Historical Society. Dammann has written Volumes I, II and III of Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment and edited the reprint of Memoirs of Jonathan Letterman, MD, Surgeon of the U.S. Army, 1861-1864. In addition, he also is on the editorial board of North/South magazine and an instructor of Civil War history at Highland Community College.

For more information about the Sept. 28 lecture, contact Gerry Reilly, site manager of West Virginia Independence Hall Museum, at (304) 238-1300.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia, and is listed on the Civil War Discovery Trail which links more than 500 sites in 28 states to inspire and to teach the story of the Civil War and its impact on America. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is owned and operated by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays, and is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Ginny Painter
Deputy Commissioner/Communications Manager
West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone (304) 558-0220, ext. 120
Fax (304) 558-2779
Email [email protected]