Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dr. Charles Caldwell and Nathaniel Greene

Charles Caldwell (May 14, 1772 – July 9, 1853, Nashville, Tennessee)

A noted 19th century U.S. physician who is best known for starting what would become the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Born to Irish immigrants in Caswell County, North Carolina, he earned an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1796while studying under Benjamin Rush. After graduating, he practiced medicine in Philadelphia and was a lecturer at Penn. He also edited the "Port Folio" (one of the day's primary medical magazines) and published over 200 medical publications.

In 1819, he left Philadelphia to join the fledgling medical school at Lexington, Kentucky's Transylvania University, where he quickly turned the school into the region's strongest. In 1821, he convinced the Kentucky General Assembly to purchase $10,000 worth of science and medical books from France, many of which are still held at the university.

Despite his success, his "abrasive" and "arrogant" temperament created enemies at Transylvania. The university's medical program would fold soon afterwards. The school dismissed him in 1837, and he then traveled with several colleagues to Louisville, where they created the Louisville Medical Institute. as at Transylvania, he made the new school an instant success, with its rapid growth into one of the region's best medical schools. However, he was forced out in 1849 due to a personal rivalry with Lunsford Yandell.

Oddly, Dr. Charles Caldwell authored the book: Memoirs of the Life and Campaigns of the Hon. Nathaniel Greene, Major General in the Army of the United States, and Commander of the Southern Department, in the War of the Revolution. The book was published in 1819 when Caldwell was Professor of Natural History in the University of Pennsylvania. For images of this book go to:

Book Images

See also:


However, possibly it was not so odd that Dr. Caldwell would author a book on Nathaniel Greene. Caldwell was born in Caswell County, and it was through Caswell County that General Greene conducted his famous "Retreat to the Dan." Caldwell would have been a young boy at the time and may have had some personal recollection of the event or what he heard at the time.

A book on Greene's tactical retreat is available from the CCHA:

CCHA Publications

See also: The Tactical Retreat of General Nathaniel Greene, Thomas J.
Edmonds (2006).