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Without Concealment, Without Compromise:
The Courageous Lives of Black Civil War Surgeons


The first-ever comprehensive exploration of
the lives and service of Black Civil War Surgeons

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Available in paperback and e-book for Kindle and Nook.

"Newmark's succinct and accessible prose effectively accomplishes her goal of historical recovery. She offers a much-needed examination of the inspiring lives of multiple Black men who fought to destroy not only the Confederacy, but also ever-evolving forms of racial and gender discrimination within the U.S. army."

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Courtesy NARA

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Courtesy Oblate Sisters of Providence

Without Concealment, Without Compromise: The Courageous Lives of 

  Black Civil War Surgeons is a collective biography of fourteen Black

 physicians who served as surgeons during the American Civil War.  The book illuminates how their lives and successes challenged the

prescribed notions of race in America and the crucial role they played in the evolving definition of freedom and patriotism. 


EXCERPT  © Jill L. Newmark  All Rights Reserved.

On a rainy morning in February 1864, Major Alexander T. Augusta, former surgeon-in-charge of Contraband Hospital in Washington, D.C., left his lodgings to head to a court martial hearing downtown where he was called to testify. As he stepped outside, he hailed the approaching streetcar. He attempted to enter the car, but was stopped by the conductor who told him that he would have to ride upfront with the driver because no Black passengers were permitted to ride inside. Augusta refused and moved forward to take a seat when the conductor physically ejected  him from the car forcing him to walk to the hearing in the rain and delaying his arrival. Outraged, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner introduced legislation to desegregate streetcars in Washington which became law the following year.   

Augusta’s position and status as a military officer and surgeon enabled him to be a catalyst for change through his public activism. His streetcar incident and Sumner’s response illustrate the challenges he and others faced in the fight for equality as well as the ability of an individual to be a force for social and political change. Historian Wilbert L. Jenkins noted that during the Civil War Black people were “central actors in their own lives and not…passive objects of a white-dominated society.” This is certainly true of Augusta and the thirteen other African American men who became physicians and took positions as medical officers in the U.S. Army. They were not complacent or satisfied with only achieving their goal to become physicians, but were committed to using their positions to advance the cause for freedom and equality.    

The lives and accomplishments of fourteen Black men who served as surgeons during the American Civil War are explored in this book through the themes of justice and freedom, patriotism and pride, and the individual as a force for change. The accounts of these men go beyond the obvious merits of their military service to explore the people and influences that shaped their early lives and the impact they made on their communities, their race, and their country. Their ambitions were not deterred by society's prejudicial dictates, and their dignified acts of resistance and pioneering new pathways challenged the status quo. They became symbols of an emancipated future.

[end of excerpt]


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Author Jill L. Newmark is an independent historian and former Curator and Exhibition Specialist at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.  

She has curated numerous exhibitions and written several articles on African American medical personnel who served during the American Civil War. 


In the Press

A magnificent accomplishment. These revelations about Black medical contributions to the war will inspire historians and their students for years to come.


A monumental achievement. The portraits of these men are compelling. Without Concealment, Without Compromise is a must read for anyone interested in either the Civil War or the history of medicine.


“Far from a purely inspirational narrative, Jill L. Newmark aptly demonstrates the social, political, cultural, and personal struggles and indeed artistry of a group of pioneering Black soldier-surgeons  whose collective recognition is long overdue."

Margaret Humphreys,


Author, Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War, Professor of History of Medicine, Professor of Medicine, Duke University

Jim Downs, PhD

Author, Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine, Associate Professor History, Gettsyburg College,  Editor of Civil War History 

Christopher M. Tinson, PhD

Author, Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s, 

Associate Professor of History, Department Chair African American Studies, St. Louis University.

In The Press

Upcoming Events



Past Events

May 24, 2023             Book Talk Podcast - Emerging Civil War

June 3, 2023               Book Launch Celebration

June 7, 2023               Book Talk at the Massachusetts Historical
                                    Society, Boston, Massachusetts

June 10, 2023             Book Talk at National Museum  of Civil War
                                    Medicine, Frederick, Maryland

June 17, 2023             Book Talk at Clara Barton Missing Soldiers

                                    Museum, Washington, D.C.

July 20, 2023              Book Talk - African American Civil War
                                    Memorial and Museum, Washington, D.C.

July, 28, 2023             Book Talk Podcast - New Book Network

October 25, 2023       Book Talk - Poughkeepsie Public Library, New York

October 26, 2023       Book Talk - Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

November 1, 2023    Book Talk - Yale University, New Haven, CT

November 17, 2023  Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Bleinheim,
                                    Fairfax, VA




Click on an image to access the article.

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"Face to Face with History," 

Prologue, Fall 2009, Vol. 41, No. 3., 

National Archives and Records Administration

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"A Civil War Surgeon's Books Rediscovered"

Circulating Now, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

"Physician and Preacher:

Wills R. Revels

         and the American Civil War."       

Traces, Summer 2010,

Indiana Historical Society

News & Reviews

News and Reviews


Civil War Research Uncovering Just How Deeply Our House Was Divided


"Seen from the perspective of a group biography of Black Civil War surgeons, the Civil War becomes not just a saga of divided families and a saga of how a people were liberated, but also about that oldest of American stories: how to become an individual by becoming an American.


The book’s splendid title, “Without Concealment,” signals a kind of deliverance — not only for its subjects but for our sense of who we are and what our nation stands for."

                                                                                              Carl Rollyson

The Civil War Monitor
Book Review

July 11, 2023

"Jill L. Newmark's splendid new monograph...cements itself as a welcome contribution to various historical literatures which seek to understand the significance of Black military families in and beyond the United States.

"Newmark's succinct and accessible prose effectively accomplishes her goal of historical recovery. She offers a much-needed examination of the inspiring lives of multiple Black men who fought to destroy not only the Confederacy, but also ever-evolving forms of racial and gender discrimination within the U.S. army.

"Newmark's book is a must-read and must-cite for those interested in (or studying) Black military service in the Civil War era." 
 Holly A. Pinheiro, Jr., PhD
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