Albert James Myer, an Army Doctor
in Texas, 1854-1857
PAUL J. SCHEIPS*
IN A RECENT ARTICLE IN THIS JOURNAL, JAMES O. BREEDEN GAVE AN
excellent account of the army's medical history in Texas during
the years between the Mexican and Civil wars, which, as he says, not
only throws light on the army's medical history but also upon that of the
settler. Breeden's account, based as it is partly upon the Surgeon Gen-
eral's Statistical Report on the Sickness and Mortality in the Army of
the United States,' provides in summary and tabular fashion a wealth of
statistical information and references that, taken together, constitute a
great fund of information on the subject. Breeden's article is thus a
made-to-order backdrop for the account that follows of Albert James
Myer, a young assistant surgeon in the army who served variously at
Forts Davis and Duncan in the years 1854-1857, and for the letters
he wrote to his future brother-in-law James Walden. Myer's experi-
ences, though limited in time and place, give life and a personal di-
mension to the statistical view so ably presented in the Breeden account
and probably provide a typical view of army medicine as practiced on
the western frontier of the 185os. With David A. Clary's 1972 article on
Dr. Daniel Weisel's tour of duty at Fort Davis in the post-Civil War pe-
riod, a substantial published record of the medical history of Fort Davis
and the beginnings of a similar history of Fort Duncan are now avail-
*The author, Paul J. Scheips, is a historian based in Washington, D.C., where he is cur-
rently the sheriff of the Potomac Corral of The Westerners. This paper is a product of
Scheips's continuing work on a full-length biography of A. J. Myer and has been supported
by the Johnson Fund of the American Philosophical Society.
1U.S., Surgeon General's Office, Statistical Report on the Sickness and Mortality in the
Army of the United States, Compiled from the Records of the Surgeon General's Ofice . ..
(3 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1840, 1856, 1860). These reports, Jan., 1819-Jan., 1860, were pre-
pared for publication as follows: [Volume 1] (1819-1839) by Samuel Forry, and [Volumes
II and III] (1839-1855 and 1855-1860, respectively) by Richard H. Coolidge. Volumes II
and III, published as 34th Cong., Ist Sess., Sen. Exec. Doc. 96, Ser. 827, and 36th Cong., Ist
Sess., Sen. Exec. Doc. 52, Ser. 1035, will be cited hereafter as Coolidge, Statistical Report.
2James O. Breeden, "Health of Early Texas: The Military Frontier," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, LXXX (Apr., 1977), 357-398; David A. Clary, "The Role of the Army
Surgeon in the West: Daniel Weisel at Fort Davis, Texas, 1868-1872," Western Historical
Quarterly, III (Jan., 1972), 53-66.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/. Accessed May 5, 2015.