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John A. Wyeth (John Allan), 1845-1922
With Sabre and Scalpel; the Autobiography of a Soldier and Surgeon
New York; London: Harper & Brothers, 1914.


John Allen Wyeth (1845-1922) was born in Marshall County, Alabama. He enrolled at the LaGrange Military Academy in Alabama in 1861, but left after one year to join the Confederate Cavalry. During the war, he saw some action, but was taken prisoner from October 1863 until April 1865. After the war ended, Wyeth studied medicine under Dr. James M. Jackson in Guntersville, Alabama. He graduated with an M.D. from the University of Louisville in 1869 and received further training from the Bellevue Medical College in New York. In 1881, he founded a postgraduate institution, the New York Polyclinic Medical School in New York and was senior professor of surgery and president of the faculty until he died.

Wyeth composed his autobiography, With Sabre and Scalpel (1914), "to record from personal observation something of the social, economic, and political conditions which prevailed in the South before, during, and immediately after the Civil War." Through the context of his personal experiences, Wyeth describes southern life, particularly in Alabama, touching on issues of education, social class, abolition, and slavery; his writing style includes both vignettes and short opinionated essays. Following a discussion of antebellum politics. Wyeth also tells of his experiences during the Civil War as a scout patrol of a detachment of Morgan's Cavalry. The text continues with a discussion of Wyeth's career as a doctor and concludes with his family's genealogy.

Work Consulted: Dictionary of American Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928-1958.

Harris Henderson

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