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Becky Bunny, upset with her family, ventures down the wrong path -
a path that leads to a dark and dangerous forest. Even though Becky
gets herself into quite a pickle, she is well-prepared to deal with
the dangers she encounters. The lessons she learned from her family
are the key.
"Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge M.D." is a remarkable
account of nineteenth-century medicine, politics, and personal life
that recovers the captivating experiences of a Civil War-era
regimental surgeon who was also a president of the Illinois State
Medical Society and a United States consul in Mexico. First
published in 1872 by Trowbridge's family and even printed on a
family-owned press, only a handful of copies of the initial
publication survive. In this first paperback edition, Trowbridge's
memoirs are reprinted as they originally appeared.
Indiana-born Trowbridge moved to Illinois in his early twenties. A
teacher by trade, he continued that career while he began the study
of medicine, eventually starting a medical practice near New
Castle, which he later moved to Decatur. Though respected by the
community, Trowbridge lacked an authentic medical degree, so he
enrolled in a four-month course of medical lectures at Rush Medical
College in Chicago. "Autobiography "describes the atmosphere of the
medical school and delineates Trowbridge's opinions on the lack of
quality control in medical colleges of the day.
Although three years of study and two annual terms of sixteen weeks
were the actual requirements for the degree, Trowbridge was allowed
to graduate after a single course of lectures and completion of a
twenty-page thesis due to his previous experience. He then married
a young widow and returned to Decatur, where he began a partnership
with two local physicians and inaugurated a county medical society.
In addition to practicing medicine, he was known and respected for
regulating it, too, having supported legislation that would
legalize dissection andprohibit incompetent persons from practicing
In 1861, Trowbridge began service as a surgeon of the 8th Illinois
Volunteer Infantry commanded by Colonel Richard J. Oglesby.
"Autobiography "describes his experiences beginning in Cairo,
Illinois, where the infantry was involved in several expeditions
and where Trowbridge made his "debut at the operating table."
Revealing a litany of surgical duties, replete with gruesome
details, these war-time recollections provide a unique perspective
on medical practices of the day. Likewise, his commentaries on
political issues and his descriptions of combat serve to correct
some of the early written histories of the war's great battles.
After receiving an honorable discharge in 1864, Trowbridge returned
to Decatur to resume his partnership with Dr. W. J. Chenoweth and
devote himself to surgery. His reminiscences recount several
difficult surgeries, his efforts to reorganize the county medical
society (which had collapsed during the war), and his
communications to the Illinois legislature to set higher
qualifications for practicing physicians. He was later elected
president of the Illinois State Medical Society and appointed by
President Grant United States Consul to Vera Cruz on the eastern
coast of Mexico, where he studied and challenged the treatment of
yellow fever. The autobiography ends in 1874 with a six-day family
vacation and the marriage of his daughter to a merchant of Vera
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