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LTC Alexander Thomas Augusta

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LTC Alexander Thomas Augusta

  • Birth 8 Mar 1825 Norfolk, Norfolk City, Virginia, USA
  • Death 21 Dec 1890 Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
  • Plot Section 1, Lot 124A, map grid G/33
  • Memorial ID 22770

Civil War Union Army Surgeon. The first African American surgeon in the U.S. Army. Highest ranked black officer during the Civil War and the first black to hold a medical commission in the Union Army. From Norfolk, Virginia, as a young man Alexander Augusta first made his way to Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked as a barber. He began his study of medicine with private tutors and next applied for admission to the University of Pennsylvania. Though access was denied, a professor was impressed with Augusta and brought him under his guidance. The threat of slavery forced him to leave for Canada. In 1856, Augusta was accepted to the College of the University of Toronto. His Bachelors of Medicine degree was awarded by Trinity Medical College. After establishing a successful private practice in Canada, in 1862 Dr. Augusta returned to an America on the verge of Civil War. Pressed into service in 1863, Augusta became the first black surgeon in the U. S. Army. He was commissioned a major in the Seventh U. S. Colored Troops on April 14, 1863 as the (then) highest ranking black officer. Only seven other blacks were named army surgeons, and all except Augusta were attached to hospital in Washington. Soon two white assistant surgeons complained to President Lincoln about having to report to a black officer. Lincoln then appointed Augusta to as executive-in-chief of Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C. Dr. Augusta soon petitioned Senator Henry Wilson for payroll assistance. He successfully argued that as a medical examiner he deserved more than the $7.00 per month normally given to a black enlisted man. Senator Wilson agreed and pressured the Army paymaster in Baltimore to apply the appropriate pay rate for his rank. In March of 1865, Augusta received the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the first black ever to gain this stature. Afte r discharge in 1866, Augusta continued private practice in Washington, D.C., and played a key role in establishing the Howard University Medical School in Washington, were he taught for several years. He retired from Howard University in 1877 and continued to practice medicine until his death. Lieutenant Colonel Augusta received full military honors with burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 18 Jun 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22770
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for LTC Alexander Thomas Augusta (8 Mar 1825–21 Dec 1890), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22770, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .