memorial of Dr. A. Y. P. Garnett, provides invaluable details on genealogy. Notes he was the physician for numerous prominent Confederates, including Lee and his wife.

From the Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 1891; Vol. 7, pp. 323-325


ALEXANDER YELVERTON PEYTON GARNETT was born in Essex County, Va., September 19th, 1820, and was the son of Muscoe Garnett and Maria Battile, his wife. Among his ancestry were many of the best known old families of Virginia.

His boyhood was spent at his home, and his education conducted under private tutors without any incident worthy of mention.

He began the study of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of nineteen, graduating therefrom in 1842, and after passing his examination before the Naval Medical Board was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Navy. His first cruise was to the Pacific, under Commodore Stribling, on the United States steamer “Cyane;” while on a subsequent cruise he visited South America, and at Rio met the lady who subsequently became his wife, Miss Mary Wise, the daughter of Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, then United States Minister to the Court of Brazil. After his marriage he was stationed temporarily at Washington, but soon resigned his position in the Navy and began his career as a civil practitioner. From the first he was very successful, and throughout his long career he continued to be a popular physician and to gain and hold the friendship and regard of his patients. His success can, in a measure, be attributed to the active interest he took in his profession, his skill as a diagnostician, and to the remarkable attractiveness of his manner.

He was soon elected to the chair of Theory and Practice of Medicine in the National Medical College, which position he filled acceptably.

At the outbreak of the Rebellion his sympathies were warmly enlisted with his native State; he left Washington for Richmond, Va., where he remained until the close of the war. So many of his friends and former patients were in this city that he very soon found himself actively engaged in as large a practice as before his removal.

He was appointed surgeon in the Confederate Army, and placed in charge of two hospitals. He was also a member of [page break] the Board of Medical Examiners to examine applicants for admission to the Medical Corps. These positions he continued to hold during the entire war. He was the physician of General Lee and family, as well as to the families of Generals Joe Johnston, Hampton, Preston, Breckinridge, and of many members of the Confederate Cabinet and Congress.

At the termination of the war in 1865, when Richmond was evacuated, Dr. Garnett, at the request of Jefferson Davis, accompanied him as a member of his personal staff, but after the surrender of Johnston’s army he returned to Richmond a paroled prisoner. 

He resumed the practice of his profession in Richmond, but in 1865 returned to Washington. Here he immediately found himself engaged in active practice and in lecturing. He was elected to the chair of Clinical Medicine in the Medical Department of Columbian University, which position he held for many years. He also became one of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Hospital, and served as President of the Medical Society and of the Medical Association of the District of Columbia.

In 1874 he was chosen President of the Southern Memorial Association of Washington, and selected to deliver the oration upon the occasion of the interring of the dead of Early’s army, who had fallen in the attack upon Washington. His address upon that occasion was very appropriate and conciliatory in its tone.

Dr. Garnett was elected President of the American Medical Association, and presided at its meeting in 1886. His address on medical education excited a great deal of notice and approval at the time, as he brought into very broad relief the evils of medical education in this country.

His last public work was in connection with the meeting of the International Medical Congress, held in Washington in 1887. It is well known how many obstacles and difficulties attended the completing of the arrangements for that meeting, and it was only by dint of most arduous labor and untiring energy that Dr. Garnett, as Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements, gave it so large a measure of success. There is no doubt that the anxiety of mind and physical fatigue attendant upon his duties at this time helped to bring on the [page break] failure of health which ended in his sudden death in the summer of 1888.

Dr. Garnett contributed a number of papers to medical journals, which were all of great practical value and interest. The paper which he read at the meeting of this Society, in 1887, entitled “Observations on the Sanitary Advantages of Tide Water Virginia,” is a fair example of his thoroughness in the treatment of medical questions.

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