Phelps, Edward Elisha
Age: 58, credited to Windsor, VTVITALS
Birth: 04/14/1803, Windsor, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Ascutney Cemetery, Windsor, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions
and other veterans who may be buried there.
Marked on verso in period ink: 'Edward E. Phelps, M.D. Surgeon 4th Vermont Infantry 1862'. He is actually the brigade surgeon.
(Houghton photograph from the Gibson Collection)
Vermonters held important positions on the medical staff of the army. Early in the war a State Board of Medical Examiners was appointed to examine candidates for appointment as surgeons and assistant surgeons of Vermont regiments. It consisted of three eminent physicians, Dr. S. W. Thayer, Jr., of Burlington, Dr. Edward E. Phelps of Windsor, and Dr. Charles L. Allen of Rutland. In February, 1862, Dr. Phelps was commissioned by the Secretary of War as brigade surgeon of volunteers, and was succeeded on the board of examiners by Dr. Hiram F. Stevens. This board practically determined all the appointments and promotions of the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the Vermont regiments, and secured for the troops superior medical care. In December, 1861, Dr. Phelps was sent by the governor to Camp Griffin, to investigate the causes of the sickness prevailing in the First Vermont brigade. In February, 1862, he was appointed brigade surgeon of that brigade. At a later date he was placed in charge of the general hospital at Brattleboro, at which over 4,000 sick and wounded soldiers were received during the war. Thousands of the Vermont troops were inspected by Dr. Phelps for admission to the service, and his services throughout the war were of the highest importance and value. (Benedict, vol. ii p. 784)
The thing which chiefly gave the brigade distinction during the fall of 1861, was the extraordinary amount of sickness which prevailed in the regiments. This began to be remarkable in November, and soon attracted anxious attention in Vermont, and wide notice throughout the army. On the 12th of December, Dr. Edward E. Phelps, one of the foremost physicians in Vermont, who had been sent by the governor to investigate the subject on the ground, reported that of the men of the five regiments, numbering 4,939 on the ground, no less than 1,086, or about one-fourth, were excused from duty in consequence of sickness. Of these, 221 were sick in hospital, 245 sick in their tents, and 550 able to be up and about though unfit for duty. The prevailing diseases were remittent and intermittent fevers, typhoid pneumonia, and diarrhoea. The only cause Dr. Phelps could assign for this condition of things, was that the regiments had been too long stationary in their camps, on soil which had become saturated with noxious elements. But why these conditions affected the Vermonters, above all others similarly situated, was not explained. (Benedict, vol. i, pp. 237-8)
Additional biography: A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography, p. 269.
Edward E. Phelps, M. D., LL.D., who has practiced medicine in Windsor for over 50 years, died Friday morning, aged 76. Dr. Phelps graduated at Yale in the same class as N. P. Willis, and at Dartmouth Department, of which institution he was chosen professor of medical Jurisprudence and Pathological Anatomy, which office he held for over 30 years. For two years ( 1835-1837) he was professor of anatomy and surgery in the medical department of U. V. M., and received the honorary degree of A. M. in 1835 from the University.Orleans County Monitor, December 12, 1880
He was brigade Surgeon in the War of the Rebellion during the four years. He was a physician of a wide and extended practice, his reputation extending throughout the states of New Hampshire and Vermont.
He leaves a wife and one daughter.
Courtesy of Deanna French