This year marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War when the nation was divided over the issue of slavery.
During that time, many freed blacks enlisted in the Union Army, including several African American doctors.
Little is known about these brave men, but there is a move to change that.
Prologue to Change
Retired physician Dr. Robert Slawson is fascinated by two subjects: history and medicine.
Slawson spent eight years as a doctor in the Army and 28 years teaching medicine at the University of Maryland. He is particularly interested in medical history, mainly the contributions that African Americans have made.
After completing a research project on medical education prior to the Civil War, Slawson was assured from all of his readings that there were no African Americans in formal medical education in the United States.
But after further study, he found that several blacks had indeed attended and successfully completed medical school. A handful had even served as doctors during the Civil War.
He wrote about his findings in his book, Prologue to Change: African Americans in Medicine in the Civil War Era.
When President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863, nearly 200,000 blacks joined the Union Army.
"Of the physicians we've identified serving with the Army, three of them were commissioned officers," Slawson told CBN News. "The other nine were contract surgeons."
"The things they were doing as doctors mostly was taking care of disease," he explained. "They would do examination, take care of people with sickness, give medications."
Source: CBN News | Charlene Israel