History of the Medical College of Georgia


1861-1876

By October 1861, the events of the Civil War indicated to the remaining faculty and to the Board of Trustees that MCG would not open in the fall. The announcement was made in the newspapers as well as in the Southern Medical Surgical Journal, which was suspended after the November-December 1861 issue due to the high cost of paper and the probability that it would be unavailable later at any price. Throughout the war, Confederate surgeons used the Medical College building as a headquarters and at times, it was also employed as a hospital. It served as a part of the Third Georgia Hospital, which stretched along Telfair Street from Richmond Academy to old Holy Trinity Church.

After a four-year hiatus, the school reopened on the first Monday of November in 1865 with 47 students - 44 Southern students and three Northern soldiers. In August 1873, the Medical College of Georgia became the Medical Department of the University of Georgia. The affiliation was loose because the local Board of Trustees retained actual control of the college. During the session of 1875-76, several women from Misses Dearing and Young's classes attended Col. Rains' chemistry lectures, marking the first appearance of females in MCG classes.

1876 Class Photo
1876 Class Photo
Operations 1875-1876
Operations 1875-1876

Dr. Louis Alexander Dugas (1806-1884)
Dean, 1861-1876 and First Librarian

Louis Dugas, DeanDr. Louis Dugas came from an accomplished and well-educated French West Indies family. He studied under renowned professors and physicians in Philadelphia, Maryland and France. In 1831, he joined the MCG faculty. In 1834, each faculty member contributed $1,000 for him to go to Europe to purchase materials for a library and museum. He returned with a fine and valuable collection, most of which has been preserved and is currently housed in the Historical Collections and Archives of the Greenblatt Library. His service as dean came during the trying times of the Civil War and its aftermath. He served as editor of the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal for seven years and made voluminous contributions to medical literature. He developed a test for dislocation of the shoulder still used today (Dugas sign). He was often far ahead of his time in medical practice. His insights into the origins of yellow fever foreshadowed the discovery of its transmission by mosquito and he used animal sutures years before it became commonplace. He was the only surgeon south of Virginia to perform the Civiale technique of lithotrity (crushing a urinary stone within the bladder), and the only U.S. surgeon performing ligature of the ischiatic artery for aneurysm. He outlined a bold approach for treating abdominal wounds with which he claimed success. One of his more controversial techniques was the use of a hypnotic trance on a patient during surgery who reported no pain. He also was involved with civic affairs, serving on the City Council repeatedly, and helped erect the Signers Monument recognizing the three Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence.

New City Hospital

New City Hospital Augusta's "New" City Hospital opened in 1869. The original two-story building was located directly behind the Old Medical College on the corner of Washington (Sixth) and Walker Streets. Built by W.H. Goodrich, the structure cost $6,093 and could accommodate 14 patients. The Sisters of Mercy nurses, under the direction of Rev. Ignatius Persico (then Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Savannah), provided excellent service and compassionate care from 1871 to 1891.

 

Freedman's Hospital

Freedman's Hospital In 1871, the Freedman's Bureau hospital moved from its temporary facility at the Augusta Foundry to a newly constructed building across the street on the south side of Walton Street between Center (Fifth) and Elbert (Fourth) Street. The two-acre facility cost an estimated $5,000. The hospital had 65 beds, 60 for indigent patients and five for paying patients.