Surgeon Simon Baruch

One of the most famous members of the 13th Mississippi was Dr. Simon Baruch, a young surgeon, who transferred to the 13th from the 3rd South Carolina Battalion in August 1864—though just why he transferred, and to the 13th, I haven’t been able to find out. (See UPDATE below)

He was not especially notable during the war (except for a medical paper he wrote while in a Union prison: on bullet wounds, according to one source, or bayonet wounds, says another) and the details of his service are often contradictory. He does seem to have been captured twice, having been ordered to stay behind to care for the wounded, including after Gettysburg.

Much of his fame was post-war, particularly due to his famous son, financier Bernard Baruch, an adviser to presidents from Wilson to Truman. I suspect the young surgeon was not the 13th’s only Jew, though I haven’t found any proof of others yet. (See this UPDATE from the archives.)

Baruch moved to New York in the 1880s but that didn’t quench his Southern pride, according to writer Thomas C. Mandes who is quoted in this nicely-balanced piece:

“If a band struck up ‘Dixie,’ Dr. Baruch would jump up and give the Rebel yell, much to the chagrin of the family. A man of usual reserve and dignity, Dr. Baruch nevertheless would let loose with the piercing yell even in the Metropolitan Opera House.”

Baruch apparently placed this item in the May, 1910 edition of Confederate Veteran magazine:

“Simon Baruch, 51 W. Seventieth Street, New York City, who was assistant surgeon of the 3d South Carolina Battalion, desires to obtain the address of the surgeons who after the battles of Boonsboro (South Mountain), Md., and Sharpsburg, Va., were sent to be exchanged on the Steamer Louisiana from Baltimore to Fortress Monroe, and thence to Acker’s Landing in September, 1862, also the addresses of any of the one hundred and six surgeons and fifteen chaplains who were ‘detained’ at Fort McHenry after the battle of Gettysburg. Dr. Baruch was among those ordered by General Lee to ‘remain until further orders’ in charge of the wounded after these battles.”

UPDATE:  In her 1991 bio of Baruch, Simon Baruch, Rebel In The Ranks of Medicine, 1840-1921, author Patricia Spain Ward says Baruch published a paper on bayonet wounds (comparing them to Minie bullet wounds) in the Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal in July, 1864. I’ll have more on her description of the paper’s conclusions in a subsequent post.

Meanwhile, Ward also says that Baruch was “assigned” to the 13th by the Confederate medical directorate after he was promoted from assistant surgeon to full surgeon. She says he had previously been assigned to the 3rd South Carolina, in Kershaw’s Brigade (which was in the same division as the 13th), apparently because he was a resident of Camden, SC.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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14 Responses to Surgeon Simon Baruch

  1. Andy Hall says:

    Dick, there’s a (very brief) reference to Baruch in an article on gunshot wounds by Middletom Michelhere (p. 102). Not sure if this if the article in question or if its is a side-reference to Baruch’s ongoing interest.

  2. Dick Stanley says:

    Thanks, Andy. But I can’t get your link to work.

    Ward says SB only wrote about the Minie bullet, and only in passing, though I suppose its shape and the rifling of the barrel, which makes it whirl in flight and on impact, makes it almost modern.

  3. Andy Hall says:

    Full cite: Simon Baruch, “Two Cases of Penetrating Bayonet Wounds of the Chest,” Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal I, (1864), 133-34. Baruch is mentioned several times in Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care During the American Civil War by Frank R. Freemon.

    See also: Simon Baruch, “A Surgeon’s Story of Battle and Capture,” Confederate Veteran 22 (1914), 5454-48.

  4. Dick Stanley says:

    Great, thanks. Nothing like the primary source. I was planning to do more posts on SB, anyhow, and these links will help.

  5. Pingback: The Incredible Dr. Simon Baruch | 13TH MISSISSIPPI INFANTRY REGIMENT

  6. Pingback: Simon Baruch on bayonet wounds | 13TH MISSISSIPPI INFANTRY REGIMENT

  7. Pingback: “Under Divine blessing we must rely upon the bayonet” « Dead Confederates

  8. Pingback: Jews in the 13th | 13TH MISSISSIPPI INFANTRY REGIMENT

  9. Debra Smith says:

    Please tell me where you found the photo of Dr. Simon Baruch.

    • Dick Stanley says:

      I found it somewhere on the Web, after an extensive search on his name and honorific. Don’t remember exactly where. Sorry. You’re welcome to download a copy of it if you like. Just right click on it and save it to your location. Thanks for the comment.

  10. James Mills says:

    There is a Civil War Trails sign in Thomasville, NC denoting the good doctors assigment to Thomasville in April 1865 to treat arriving wounded from the Eastern part of North Carolina. The sign features him in uniform and is located on East Main Street near Memorial Park, stating historical facts.

    • Debra Smith says:

      Thanks for the tip about the Thomasville marker! The Camden Archives has a high resolution version of that picture, which I’ve ordered. Source of the younger image (above) is still a mystery.

      • Dick Stanley says:

        After a brief Google image search, I recalled that I got the image above from this site. See “notes” at the bottom of the page which says it may have been an 1862 painting by Belle Wolfe (later his wife) and indicates it is from the collection of the Camden (SC) Archives and Museum.

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