Todd Quintard: Civil War Doctor, Preacher, Soldier and Friend
Personal Chronology (Todd Quintard was born in Stamford, Connecticut, 22 December, 1824. His father, Isaac, was born in the same house, and died there in the ninetieth year of his age. Todd was a pupil of Trinity school, New York, and he studied medicine with Dr. James R. Wood and Dr. Valentine Molt. He graduated at the University of the City of New York in 1847. He afterward removed to Georgia, where he began to practice medicine in Athens. Elliot, 2003) in 1851 he accepted the chair of physiology and pathological anatomy in the medical college at Memphis, Tennessee, and became co-editor with Dr. Ayres P. Merrill, of the Memphis "Medical Recorder."
In 1855 he took orders as a deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was advanced to the priesthood in the following year, and in January, 1857, became rector of Calvary church, Memphis. (Wilson and Fiske, 1999) Trained as a physician and ordained an Episcopal priest, Quintard was a remarkable man by the standard of any generation. When Tennessee seceded from the Union in May 1861, Quintard joined the Confederate 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment as its chaplain and during the maelstrom of the Civil War kept a diary of his experiences. He later penned a memoir, which was published posthumously in 1905.
Quintard was a unique man. One of his fellow churchman described him this way. He was a man of striking personality, of immense force, whom to see and talk with once was to remember forever. This clean-carved positive individuality gave him great power as a preacher, but even more power in private conversation... He heart was so tender and sympathetic, and his faith was so strong and entire that his consolations were to the suffering and sorrowful a message from God.... Few men have combined such gifts of the mind and heart." (Gaylor, 1937)
After the war, Quintard became the prime mover in the revival of Leonidas Polk's dream of an Episcopal Church-sponsored University of the South, and in 1865 he was consecrated bishop of Tennessee, a position he held until his death. These interesting and lively war-year remembrances of one of the Confederacy's most exceptional characters shed new light on the little-known western theater's military, civilian, and religious fronts.
Context of the Work
Quintard's work is a unique perspective. Maybe his viewpoint was a product of his education. Maybe because Quintard was a doctor and a pastor he was allowed to move through the ranks of the military without the pressures of winning the war pressing down on his every thought. His work was one of winning people, not winning political disputes. As he practiced medicine, and offered spiritual guidance, he was free to reach into the hearts and souls of the soldiers. Their lot was to kill, to take the next hill without being cut down by a surprise flank attack. The freedom with which Quintard could observe the war allowed him to record the personal reality of the conflict.
Civil War documentaries often drone on about the North VS the South, and how it often divided families, with fathers fighting on one side and sons on the other. But Quintard walked with the men that were his friends. He watched them become wounded, and many die while his work was thankless, and demanding. In his memoirs, Quintard was able to catch all the emotions of the battle field without becoming overdrawn, of overly sophistic about the meaning of their struggles. The soldiers were people as well as soldiers. They often did not know the meaning of their commander's orders, to hold, advance, or fall back. They only knew the reality of the battle field. Quintard was able to catch these images and pen them into his journals, a recorded snapshot of average people caught in a struggle that was tearing apart the nation.
In his writing, and other historical records of the Civil War, individual members of the medical corps were sometimes singled out for special praise. Surgeon Edmund Burke Haywood in Raleigh, North Carolina, was commended as being "constant, kind, and indefatigable in the discharge of his duties." An occupant of the Third Georgia Hospital in Richmond acknowledged that his surgeon treated him as kindly as would have his own parents. The death of Dr. W.J. McCain, a Texas surgeon, early in the war called forth the touching tribute by one soldier that Dr. McCain was "a good Physician, a true friend and a Christian Soldier, all that knew him, loved him."
The surgeon who received words of the highest praise was Dr. Quintard who served the First Tennessee Regiment as both medical officer and chaplain. Concerning Quintard it was said: "During week days he ministered to us physically, and on Sundays spiritually. He was one of the purest and best men I ever knew. He would march and carry his knapsack every day the same as any soldier.... He was a good doctor of medicine, as well as a good, doctor of divinity, and above either of these, he was a good man per se.... He loved the soldiers, and the soldiers loved him, and deep down in his heart of hearts was a deep and lasting love for Jesus Christ... implanted there by God the Father Himself." (Cunningham, 1958)
Confederate medical officers met the demands imposed upon them as courageously and as effectively as could have been expected. Visits to hospitals other than their own for purposes of investigation, the formation of medical societies would appear to indicate the presence of a desire to improve themselves professionally. In the field hospitals, disease was their greatest enemy. The troops often camped in wet and damp conditions found in America's wilderness in the 1800's. These conditions brought on diseases like malaria. Poor and sometimes raw or uncooked food caused dysentery and diarrhea. The trinity of malaria, dysentery and diarrhea claimed many lives. During the war, "Camp itch" was the result of insects and unsanitary living conditions. These illnesses occurred at a time before antitoxins. The Science of Bacteriology was unknown to medical authorities. The experimentation of different herbs and treatments by Civil War doctors greatly aided in later day development of pharmacology. In consideration of today's standards, Civil War medicine was medieval.
Quintard was present during the early fighting in Virginia, marched into Kentucky with Braxton Bragg, attended to the wounded at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, witnessed two Confederate retreats from Middle Tennessee, and watched the Federal armies overrun the Deep South in the spring of 1865. He met such diverse personages as Robert E. Lee and Federal Major General James H. Wilson; prayed with Bragg, Leonidas Polk, and John Bell Hood; shared a bed once with Nathan Bedford Forrest; and performed the sad duty of conducting the funerals of his friends who were killed at Franklin, Tennessee. Throughout his military service, he organized hospitals and relief efforts, filled in as a parish priest, and served as chaplain at large of the Army of Tennessee.
Purpose of the Memoir
While understanding Quintard's personal purpose for this memoir is difficult, one can see form the information he captured images of those things which were important to him. From understanding the man, and his values, we can build a case toward his purpose in writing. First, Quintard was himself an educated man. He was a leader in his field, moving from medical field to pastor to head rector in a new state which he had come to serve. Quintard obviously took his vocation very seriously, or he would not have risen to a place of leadership in such a short time.
While a chaplain in Nashville, Quintard was elected, or more likely appointed as the chaplain over the military "Rock City Guard" who was stationed there. He records that he was neither fond or, nor familiar with the military life, but non -- the less, he served the military, and often gave sermons encouraging unity, and right living within the nation. His talks were considered by some as exceedingly pro-union. (Elliot, 2003)
None the less, when the war erupted, Quintard was asked by the same Rock City Guard to accompany them into battle, and tend to their spiritual needs. In a reprint of a document in the first appendix of the book, the "Battalion of Rock City" each pledge their own lives in support of his own in order to pave the way for him to continue in the military chaplain's duties during the war. He agreed to serve the men who were commissioned to fight the war. His concerns were of both the physical and spiritual wounds of his new flock. Quintard tirelessly pursued his goals, not of winning the war, but of winning the man.
Significance of the Work.
Quintard's diary offers an unusual perspective and insightful observations gained from ministering to soldiers and civilians as both a priest and a physician. With thoughtful editing and annotating, Quintard's writings provide a valuable window into…