The Tennessee in the Civil War Message Board

Nashville TN CWRT - April meeting


April 17th, 2018 – Our 108th meeting!! We begin our tenth year. We now meet on the THIRD TUESDAY of each month!

The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on TUESDAY, April 17th, 2018, in the visitor’s center of Ft. Negley Park, a unit of Metro Parks, Nashville, TN. This is located off I-65 just south of downtown between 4th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South on Edgehill Avenue/Chestnut Avenue. Take Exit 81, Wedgewood Avenue, off I-65 and follow the signs to the Science Museum.

The meeting begins at 7:00 PM and is always open to the public.

Our Speaker and Topic - "They Changed Everything: Civil War Embalming Surgeons."

The number of deaths, from combat and disease, in the American Civil War was staggering. The nation never expected this when the war began in 1861. The sheer numbers of dead, and even more wounded, forced both sides to deal with medical issues like never before. War often brings about big technological and other changes and this war was no exception.

Ever heard of the names Holmes, Bunnell, Prunk, Brown & Alexander, Hutton, Scollay, Buchley, Plant? Actually the list could go on further. These men represent just a small example of the individuals who served as embalming surgeons during the Civil War. This was tough work, and over time embalming surgeons have been either assailed as con artists or saints. There is not much middle ground here. However both assessments, as with most sweeping historical assessments miss the truth. There is a great usually untold story about the mission, activities, and long lasting results for American culture which has lasted to this very day because of the work of these individuals. Make no mistake the embalming surgeons in the Civil War changed the way American's cared for their dead permanently. Their story needs to be told, and this presentation is a humble attempt to do just that.

Our speaker is Todd Van Beck, a historian and experienced mortuarian with many years in the funeral industry who lectures across the country.