Libraries, private and public, include shelves of books dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg. All the fighting at the epic battle is documented in detail but the logistics and medical services have yet to be fully explained and documented. Mr. Kirkwood fills that void with “Too Much for Human Endurance”.
Ronald D. Kirkwood is an award winning writer and a docent at the Spangler farm since it opened in 2013. In describing the contribution of the Spangler farm he introduces leaders, surgeons and sergeants, and describes the ebbs and flow of the battle line as it applies to the tenacious attempts to save soldiers lives. He includes 60 photos and 13 sketches and maps with sufficient detail to clearly support his narrative.
Mr. Kirkwood describes the medical support that occurred on George Spangler’s Farm and much more. There is no doubt the authors intent to detail the medical support provided on the land associated with the farm and it’s relation to the battle itself is fulfilled. His description of the support structure amplified by numerous narratives provided by those that served as reluctant patients, and provides a description of death such as that of Confederate General Lewis A. Armistead.
His narrative amplifies the status of medicine, sanitation, and the use of chloroform to mitigate pain and anguish, allowing medical practitioners to apply their skill to save lives. While the patients on the farm were principally from the XI Corps. Other organizations were treated as well and the annexes detail the biographies of surgeons, elements of the XI Corps, how the artillery reserve at the battle was utilized, specifically the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery, and an accounting of the Spangler farm wounded and dead.
This is an excellent and very detailed look at the activities behind the battle line fighting at Gettysburg and a rare description of the energy exerted to save lives and support the tactical success of the Union Army at Gettysburg.
As an aside former President Richard Nixon placed flowers at his great-great-great grandfather’s grave in 1953 at Gettysburg.
Mr. Kirkland’s book is clearly an excellent addition to the Gettysburg story as well as a detailed accounting of military medical practice in 1863.
Reviewed by Arley McCormick