Military Review

Medical Service of Napoleon's Grand Army

46
Medical Service of Napoleon's Grand Army
Napoleon before the dying Marshal Lann after the Battle of Essling. Painting by Paul-Emile Boutigny. The conditions of keeping the wounded in the hospitals of the era of the Napoleonic wars are clearly visible.


Most of the wars of the XNUMXth century at their initial stages focused on the siege of border fortresses in order, after their fall, to open an operational space deep in enemy territory. Therefore, military hospitals were installed exactly near the fortresses, not caring at all that such institutions could operate in other regions. Far from the theater of military operations, one could count only on civilian shelters, church monasteries and help from the local population.

1792


The first revolutionary war of 1792 exposed the complete failure of such a system. Then, for the first time, a mobile war was waged, the fate of which was decided in the field, and not under the fortress walls. Also, for the first time, the army in the field was mostly staffed with volunteers who were much weaker than professional soldiers and much less adapted to the hardships of a wartime. Therefore, the number of sick and malnourished people has increased dramatically. Moreover, the French army has grown significantly in comparison with the army of the French king.

The situation in which the medical service found itself was aggravated by the fact that, breaking with the old regime, the authorities of the revolutionary Republic not only closed medical schools, but also abolished the obligation to have a medical diploma. And insofar as many royalist officers left the army, and among those who remained were constantly looking for supporters of the monarchy, the "old" doctors and surgeons did not enjoy confidence. And the military authorities preferred to attract completely new personnel to the service, even if they did not possess the fullness of professional knowledge.

This is how the principle appeared that

anyone who wishes can treat and even become a surgeon, as long as he only enjoys "civil confidence."

Thus, the decree of the national convention of December 21, 1792 equated doctors with officers. Chief physicians, surgeons, and pharmacists, chief medical officers at army level, became brigadier generals. First-class doctors, surgeons and pharmacists were equated with colonels. 1nd class medics became captains, and 2rd class - lieutenants.

1793


The decree of the convention of March 23, 1793, issued already taking into account the experience of the past war, determined the rules for the recruitment of medical personnel. The new order, first of all, abolished the requirement to have a certificate of "civil trust". And they returned the previous professional criteria.

This did not help much, as doctors and surgeons, frustrated by arbitrary dismissal several months earlier, were in no hurry to return to service. In this regard, the army was again forced to turn for help from all comers who had at least some idea of ​​medicine, including priests and seminarians. Some of them, already in military service, became really good surgeons.

Further, on December 1, 1793, the convention authorized the Minister of War to call into the ranks of all doctors between the ages of 18 and 40. And to send to the military hospitals those doctors and surgeons who previously served in the army as volunteers.

A week later, another decree on the reorganization of the medical service saw the light. Under the Minister of War, a central medical council was formed, consisting of nine people - three surgeons, three doctors and three pharmacists. They were appointed by the minister from among physicians with 20 years of experience in military medicine, and of them - at least a year in command positions.

Each army of the Republic introduced the posts of First Surgeon, First Medic, and First Pharmacist, who created medical councils for their armies. A senior surgeon was appointed in every infantry semi-brigade and in every cavalry regiment. And in each battalion or squadron there were positions of the first and second surgeons. The task of training doctors was assigned to four hospitals - in Lille, Metz, Strasbourg and Toulon.

The medical service was run by the general military administration. At the army level, she was subordinate to the commissioner-ordinator, and at the hospital - to the military commissar. In theory, both commissioners were supposed to work with the medical officials and work with them to determine the needs of the army. In practice, there was such ambiguity and ambiguity that the military administration gradually took over the entire medical system. It soon turned into big problems.

1794


On February 21, 1794, the new Jacobin government undertook another reorganization. The Central Medical Council was abolished. And instead, the Health Commission was established (Commision Santé), subordinate directly to the executive committee in Paris.

Each hospital has a vigilance and administration committee composed of two members from the municipality, two representatives from the local vigilance council, and a military commander. Medics, military commissars and hospital authorities were required to provide the vigilance and administration committees with any information they requested.

The system of training medical personnel has also changed. Now, to become a military doctor, it was enough to complete accelerated medical assistant courses at the rear hospitals of the army. Again there was a requirement for all doctors to have a certificate of "civil trust".

The slightest suspicion of unreliability was enough for the "enemies of the people" to lose their posts and even go to prison. They were replaced by people trusted by vigilance committees, often without training.

For example, Pierre-François Percy, the luminary of modern military medicine, had to take an exam in medicine for 28 hours in front of members of the municipality of provincial Bouzonville, who did not have the slightest idea of ​​medicine.

1796


On May 19, 1796, the directory carried out another reorganization of the military medical service. The health commission was abolished, and in its place were introduced inspectors general, appointed by the minister of war, that is, in fact, subordinates to him. Worse, physicians were directly subordinated to ordinators and military commissars, who were free to establish, at their own will and in all details, the organization and operation of hospitals and infirmaries, as well as appoint and dismiss doctors, surgeons and pharmacists who were "untrustworthy"

Since then, the administration has been empowered to decide what the medical service should look like in wartime. In other words, the ordinators and commissars determined how many wounded would need to be treated, what their needs would be, and how to meet them.

In addition to the humiliation that such reforms brought to medical specialists, often dependent on ignoramuses and crooks, these decrees had sad consequences, as they created fertile ground for corruption and enrichment at the expense of the wounded under the pretext of saving money. In a situation where ordinators and commissars decided everything (how much money should be allocated for the maintenance of the wounded, how much to spend on their treatment, and how much on tolerable conditions), rare hospitals and infirmaries were kept at an acceptable level. Criticism and protests from doctors often ended with their dismissal from the army or transfer to another unit.

1800


This pernicious tendency to save on everything at the expense of the wounded continued in the next decrees of Napoleon Bonaparte.

A decree of 12 August 1800 reduced the number of military hospitals to 30. Only four hospitals: in Paris, Lille, Metz and Strasbourg, retained the right to train new personnel.

The next decree of December 7, 1800 reduced the number of hospitals to 16. The result of this "effective management" was the dismissal from the army of all doctors, surgeons and pharmacists who were not currently directly involved in providing medical care. Worse, these often experienced and honored professionals received only small pensions and justifiable disappointments.

1801


Finally, on October 10, 1801, another batch of doctors was dismissed from the army.

And among them are those who entered the service by conscription in 1792 as young students without diplomas, but gained extensive experience in an endless series of wars over almost ten years.

A sharp decline in the number (especially) of surgeons led to the fact that a large number of the wounded had to be sent to civilian hospitals and shelters.

1805


Preparing for war with Austria, Napoleon issued on September 4, 1805, an order to register all doctors whom he had previously so frivolously dismissed from military service.

Responsibilities for registration were assigned to prefects, who, despite all calls and persuasions to doctors to return to the service, did not achieve the desired results.

As a result, the medical service of the Grand Army did not cope with its tasks when it had to deal with thousands of wounded at Austerlitz.

An urgent measure to improve the situation was the conscription of civilian surgeons into the army.

But since the 1805 campaign ended in victory, it was decided not to deal with medical problems anymore and leave everything as it is, that is, not to increase the staff.

1813


It was only after the defeat in the campaign against Moscow that Napoleon made another attempt to improve the medical service of the Grand Army.

On April 1813, XNUMX, he ordered each department to dispatch one physician and four surgeons to the army.

And on May 12, he demanded three more surgeons from each department.

But the human losses of the war of 1812 were so catastrophic that new reinforcements were no longer able to adequately replenish the medical service of the Great Army.

A. Gerard. Napoléon et le service de santé... Revue du Souvenir Napoléonien, (286-287): 2-22, 03-05 1976.
HCB Rogers. Napoleon's Army... Allan, 1974.
Ph. J. Haythornthwaite. Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars... Cassell, 1999.
PJ Linon. Officiers d'administration du service de santé... Études et recherches médico-militaires, 1983.

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Photos used:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lannes
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  1. Lech from Android.
    Lech from Android. 20 February 2021 05: 48
    +7
    It is always like this ... When politics interferes with the work of professionals, business suffers, France is not alone in this misfortune, such a phenomenon was observed almost everywhere ... Including here.
    1. 210ox
      210ox 20 February 2021 06: 28
      +6
      I would say differently. When trying to save money, hide their squalor and mistakes
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 20 February 2021 08: 40
        +5
        Quote: 210ox
        When trying save hide your squalor and Errors

        The trip to Russia was a crazy gamble: the army went without proper material, incl. and medical support.

        but even the little medical equipment that was available was ruthlessly rushed to speed up the advance.

        Here is what was happening in the Great Army even at the beginning of the offensive, in Vitebsk, just after a few small battles, according to the testimony of Napoleon's faithful companion Caulaincourt:
        I was instructed to inspect hospitals, distribute money to the wounded, calm and encourage them. I fulfilled as best I could, this mission, sorrowful and dangerous, the unfortunate suffered the most severe hardships, they simply slept on the floor, most of them even without straw; they were all in the most disadvantaged position. Many of them, including even the officers, were not yet bandaged. Churches and shops - everything was overcrowded: the sick and the wounded at first were mixed in one heap. There were too few doctors and surgeons, and they were in short supply. In addition, they did not have the necessary materials - no linen, no medicine.. Except for the guard, which kept something, dressing points of all other military units did not even have boxes with a set of tools; they were left behind and died along with the carts that had to be abandoned on the roads due to the death of horses. Vitebsk, where they hoped to find some materials, turned out to be almost completely empty.

        Great was the disappointment, cruel to the unfortunate sufferers, and there was no means to ease their torment... Our sick and wounded died for lack of even the slightest help. Numerous boxes, enormous supplies of every kind, which had been collected in two years at the cost of such an expense, disappeared - were looted or lost due to lack of transportation means. This campaign, which was waged with no real result on post offices from the Neman to Vilna and from Vilna to Vitebsk, had already cost the army more than two lost battles and deprived it of the most essential resources and food supplies.

        ... And never before have the unfortunate brave men received such poor care. Physicians and administrative chiefs, talented and energetic, were desperate to see the situation in which the hospitals were located. They tried in vain to make up for all the shortcomings with their work. Mwe were only in Vitebsk, and we had not yet had a battle, and there was already a lack of lint!


        And already during the retreat from Moscow, the surviving wounded, put on carts according to Napoleon's order, were ruthlessly thrown onto the road ...
        1. Destiny
          Destiny 20 February 2021 11: 09
          +12
          the army went without proper material, incl. and medical support.

          Not all was well, I agree, even if the chief surgeon of Napoleon's armies, Jean Larrey, describing the results of the medical support of the French troops, wrote:
          "No hostile general could have knocked out as many Frenchmen as Daru, the chief of the commissariat of the French army, who was entrusted with the medical service."
          1. Alex013
            Alex013 20 February 2021 11: 52
            +9
            By the way, Jean Larrey spoke about the state of Russian hospitals this way:
            "The hospitals that attracted my particular attention would do honor to the most civilized science."
        2. ee2100
          ee2100 20 February 2021 14: 29
          +4
          The author, as I understand it, wanted to describe the creation of military field surgery as a separate medical discipline in France. The French army was considered, at that time, the most advanced. And naturally they were "pioneers" in this direction.
          Olgovich
          "And already during the retreat from Moscow, the surviving wounded, put on carts in accordance with Napoleon's orders, were mercilessly thrown onto the road ..."
          Better remember how many Kutuzov left the wounded in Moscow and how many of them were then burned down.
          1. Olgovich
            Olgovich 20 February 2021 18: 45
            -3
            Quote: ee2100
            Olgovich
            "And already during the retreat from Moscow, the surviving wounded, put on carts in accordance with Napoleon's orders, were mercilessly thrown onto the road ..."
            Better remember how many Kutuzov left the wounded in Moscow and how many of them were then burned down.

            find out better. that he left them in the most suitable place for the non-transportable wounded, and all this is according to the customs of the war of those years.

            and how many of them burned down-name the same.

            And who burned Moscow, remember.

            The French wounded were deliberately dumped by their own comrades and the stream of carts tamped them into the mud.

            And later they ate them, again their comrades.
            1. ee2100
              ee2100 20 February 2021 20: 28
              +3
              "you better find out that he left them in the most suitable place for the non-transportable wounded, and all this is according to the customs of war of those years." Olgovich
              I would like to learn more about customs.
              You have some kind of concept of "war customs" of those years.
              Miloradovich asked Napoleon to help the wounded left in Moscow, according to various sources, up to 30000 people.
              According to various sources, about 40000 people from our side were wounded during the Battle of Borodino.
              Count Rostapchin is the main suspect in the arson of Moscow.
              I am surprised by the disadvantages addressed to me when I write well-known information. This is not a propaganda site, is it?
              1. Olgovich
                Olgovich 21 February 2021 10: 35
                -3
                Quote: ee2100
                I would like to learn more about customs.
                .

                belay
                so find out who and what is stopping you?
                Quote: ee2100
                left in Moscow wounded, according to various sources up to 30000 people.

                not:
                The command was forced to leave in Moscow from 10 to 15 thousand people (about the same number were evacuated, most of whom were not transportable
                (Zemtsov V. N. The fate of the Russian wounded left in Moscow in 1812 // Borodino and the liberation campaigns of the Russian army of 1813-1814: Materials of the International Scientific Conference / Compiled by A. V. Gorbunov. - Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. - Borodino : Borodino Military History Museum-Reserve, 2015. - pp. 225-250. - ISBN 978-5-904363-13-0)

                Most of them were subsequently captured by the French and then perished during their retreat.

                2,, 5 thousand were released.
                Quote: ee2100
                Count Rostapchin is the main suspect in the arson of Moscow.

                occupiers prime suspects
            2. Fat
              Fat 21 February 2021 01: 05
              +3
              There are no komnets for the cannibalistic Bro, they did not disdain the horses, they ate that their comrades did not disdain only from you I heard
              1. ee2100
                ee2100 21 February 2021 19: 39
                +2
                "For the sake of a catchphrase, he will not regret his own father"
                Proverb-saying.
          2. Former naval person
            20 February 2021 19: 36
            +4
            the author is planning a series of articles on this topic.
            1. ee2100
              ee2100 20 February 2021 21: 31
              0
              Do you write about yourself in the second person? Cool! We, Nicholas II!
              Megalomania? Or is it a coronavirus inspired?
            2. Fat
              Fat 21 February 2021 01: 17
              +1
              Do, Bro we are waiting ...
              Why did you decide to be on the side? Scary, al ashamed? Publisher?
              Nobody took you by the handles. Personally noted. (((Sorry
  2. ee2100
    ee2100 20 February 2021 06: 14
    +16
    Having written an article on the medicine of Napoleon's army and not mentioning the chief surgeon of the army, Dominia Jean Larrey, is somehow not solid.
    This surgeon contributed a lot to the development of military field surgery.
    He came up with the so-called. "flying ambulances" which are the prototype of modern ambulances.
    He introduced the fundamental principle of sorting the wounded, which greatly reduced the number of irrecoverable losses.
    He is a brilliant surgeon and a brave man. He himself repeatedly provided first aid to the wounded on the battlefield.
    1. Destiny
      Destiny 20 February 2021 08: 15
      +16
      Quote: ee2100
      Having written an article about the medicine of Napoleon's army and not mentioning the chief surgeon of the army, Dominia Jean Larrey, is somehow not solid

      It also struck me when I read it. The person is worthy of memory at least for the fact that yes, this is actually the father of the ambulance as we know it in its modern form.
      He himself repeatedly provided first aid to the wounded on the battlefield.

      At Waterloo, Wellington even ordered not to shoot until Larrey gathered the wounded. For him there was no difference, his own or someone else's wounded in front of him - in Russia he often treated our wounded along with the French. A great man and doctor, he deserves a separate article.
      1. ee2100
        ee2100 20 February 2021 08: 29
        +8
        I agree. Worthy.
        The author described the creation of military field surgery by the scientific poke method multiplied by revolutionary quirks.
        1. Fat
          Fat 20 February 2021 14: 17
          +4
          Note, comrades. We are promised a sequel.
          And first of all - a very good overview IMHO.
          1. ee2100
            ee2100 20 February 2021 15: 05
            +3
            Are you talking about the article? OK. We look forward to continuing.
            As for me, this article is about the creation of military field surgery in France, it's like studying the history of the USSR based on materials from party congresses.
            1. Fat
              Fat 20 February 2021 15: 55
              0
              Yes, about the article ...
              And the materials of the congress are not for discussion in the bustle))))
              1. ee2100
                ee2100 20 February 2021 16: 30
                +4
                What the author writes about. Date - did this, date - did this, etc. There is no cause, no effect, no conclusion.
                Let's wait, maybe you will be right. am
                1. Fat
                  Fat 20 February 2021 17: 03
                  +2
                  Wait and see.
                  (Folk wisdom). drinks
                2. Former naval person
                  21 February 2021 10: 02
                  0
                  alas, what you see is already a text edited by the military review. everyone can provide the original article.
                  1. ee2100
                    ee2100 21 February 2021 10: 26
                    +2
                    Corrected and supplemented. am
                    I will wait for the continuation, health!
                  2. ee2100
                    ee2100 21 February 2021 14: 24
                    0
                    If you send I will be grateful: [email protected]
                  3. Fat
                    Fat 21 February 2021 20: 25
                    0
                    Send it, Bro. Let's see how the tub differs from the bucket.
                    Somehow I accidentally got on the raw material, Someone worked inaccurately.
                    I was impressed, with few words.
    2. Former naval person
      20 February 2021 19: 38
      +6
      there will be about larrey and about volatile ambulances - a whole series of articles on this issue is planned.
      1. Fat
        Fat 20 February 2021 21: 14
        0
        Thank you, Bro, otherwise the backgammon in the area is tough, not patient ...
        Honestly waiting. This is Important.
  3. Boris55
    Boris55 20 February 2021 07: 41
    -2
    Medical Service of Napoleon's Grand Army

    Why great? An army that has suffered a crushing defeat cannot be great! By the way. March 31 will be another anniversary of the surrender of Napoleonic France.
    The Russian army is really great.

    1. Deniska999
      Deniska999 20 February 2021 08: 01
      +5
      The official name of the French army in the Napoleonic wars is the Great Army, as it is called in all scientific works.
      1. Boris55
        Boris55 20 February 2021 08: 08
        -1
        Quote: Deniska999
        The Great Army, as it is called in all scientific works.

        For the West and our Westerners, repainting black into white is a natural process, but why do we need it? It is strange that the Hitlerite army is not yet called that ... although, one must think, if the West declares Hitler great, then we will also find those who will call him great. Monuments to traitors are erected here:



        In general, you need to have your own head on your shoulders, and not live someone else's.
        1. Deniska999
          Deniska999 20 February 2021 09: 05
          +6
          This is just a term, you have developed demagoguery about the pernicious influence of the West from scratch.
          1. Boris55
            Boris55 20 February 2021 09: 21
            -2
            Quote: Deniska999
            This is just a term

            "As you name the ship, so it will sail." A person may not know what troubles he brought to our land, but the fact that he is great will stay with him forever, and the cake and Napoleon cognac will fix this in his mind.

            A bit of theory.
            There is a phenomenon. An image of this phenomenon is being formed. This image is endowed with a code (word). When we hear a word, we have an image, we understand the phenomenon. As an example. When we hear the word thunderstorm, we have an image of pouring rain with thunder and lightning. We understand the phenomenon.

            What image do you get when you speak великий and how does it compare with the invader Napoleon, because of whom Moscow was burned?
            1. Deniska999
              Deniska999 20 February 2021 09: 35
              +6
              Suggest Roskomnadzor to prohibit the use of the concept of "Great Army" in relation to the French army of Napoleon. They will appreciate it. And I'm indifferent. Although you call it "Impeccable Imperial Legions", each phenomenon has a name, then we apply it.
              1. Boris55
                Boris55 20 February 2021 10: 21
                -2
                Quote: Deniska999
                Suggest Roskomnadzor to prohibit the use of the concept of "Great Army"

                And without a pointer from above - how? laughing

                Quote: Deniska999
                each phenomenon has a name, then we apply.

                Each phenomenon has a name, but changing the name, the correct image does not arise, the phenomenon becomes incomprehensible and Napoleon turns from an enemy into a friend. This is how the manipulation of consciousness occurs.



                ps
                Judging by your answer, I will assume that you have the correct image for the term great, and it does not refer to Napoleon.
                1. gsev
                  gsev 20 February 2021 14: 30
                  +3
                  Quote: Boris55
                  And without a pointer from above - how?

                  Is it because you demand that the term Napoleon's Great Army be banned because its defeat excessively exalts the Russian victory?
                  1. Boris55
                    Boris55 21 February 2021 07: 52
                    -1
                    Quote: gsev
                    Is it because you demand that the term Napoleon's Great Army be banned because its defeat excessively exalts the Russian victory?

                    Not true. After all, the more majestic the enemy is defeated, the more majestic the one who did it.
    2. Former naval person
      20 February 2021 19: 40
      +5
      because that is how it was called - La Grande Armée, i.e. Great Army.
      1. Boris55
        Boris55 21 February 2021 07: 50
        -1
        Quote: Former Naval Person
        because that is how it was called - La Grande Armée, i.e. Great Army.

        They, and if the sun rises for you in the West, they can call it whatever they like, but for us all those who come to rob us, kill us, etc. will never be great.
        1. Former naval person
          21 February 2021 10: 03
          +2
          actually, if you fly from london to vancouver, you can see the sun rising in the west ...
        2. gsev
          gsev 22 February 2021 02: 07
          +1
          Quote: Boris55
          as they please

          Historical terms are introduced by historians. It would be foolish to cancel them by politicians and administrative authorities. In addition, it is not clear what the replacement of the term Napoleon's Great Army will lead to harm or benefit for the Russian state. In my opinion, the very discussion of canceling the 200-year-old term looks like a silly caricature.
  4. A. Privalov
    A. Privalov 20 February 2021 09: 21
    +5
    A very simplified and one-sided coverage of the topic.
    1. Fat
      Fat 20 February 2021 14: 22
      +2
      So far, only a review. You can't fit so many events into one article.
      Although to be realistic and demand the impossible ...
  5. BAI
    BAI 20 February 2021 14: 53
    +2
    Something the author about the hospital in Jaffa said nothing.

    The treatment was extremely simple. Napoleon left everyone and left.
    But we must give him his due - he visited the plague hospital and shook hands with one person. I was not afraid.
    1. Former naval person
      20 February 2021 19: 46
      +3
      about Jaffa is well written by a historian whose name is no longer mentioned. for me, Jaffa does not fit into the context of the planned series of articles about Napoleon's medical service. rather in the context of the Egyptian campaign. and whether there will be an article about the Egyptian campaign - we'll see.
      1. Fat
        Fat 21 February 2021 01: 37
        +1
        Sorry for the tough, manly line, Bro
        Nice style, decent style. It's a pity that I couldn't before ...
        Heh heh
        With respect to you and the topic raised ...