George Miller Sternberg

George Miller Sternberg

Death 3 Nov 1915 (aged 77)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 2, Grave 994
Memorial ID 6882 · View Source
Suggest Edits

United States Army Brigadier General, Medical Pioneer. He was born at Hartwick Seminary, Otsego County, New York, the eldest of ten children of a Lutheran clergyman, Levi Sternberg. Levi would later became principal of Hartwick Seminary. He was educated at the seminary where his maternal grandfather, George B. Miller, a Lutheran clergyman, and a professor of theology, taught him. At age sixteen he started teaching school in Germantown, New Jersey, and at nineteen he began studying medicine with Dr. Horace Lathrop of Cooperstown, New York. Later, in 1860, he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. In 1861, when the Civil War began, he passed the exam for admission to the Army Medical Corps and was appointed Assistant Surgeon on May 28th of that year. Assigned to the infantry, he was involved in the First Battle of Bull Run, where he was wounded and captured by Confederate soldiers. Held at Fairfax Court House, Virginia, he managed to escape and returned to his regiment. Known for often disregarding his own safety while tending to the sick and wounded, he displayed this courage again while under heavy fire at Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill. Not long after his participation in these battles, he contracted typhoid fever and was evacuated North. Upon his recovery, he performed hospital duty in several cities. At the end of the war, he was in command of the United States General Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted Captain and Major, for faithful and meritorious service during the war. After the war, he was widely credited with the development of ambulance services for wounded soldiers and many of his battlefield treatment methods he innovated, remains in place today. He was soon transferred to the West where he later served in most of the Army's forts. He was promoted to Captain on May 28, 1866. While serving at Fort Riley, Kansas, he took part in several expeditions against hostile Cheyenne Indians. In July 1870, he was ordered to Governors Island, New York, and after serving there for two years, he then reported to Fort Barrancas, Florida. These two assignments gave him frequent contacts with yellow fever; in the latter duty he contracted the disease himself. Noting the efficiency of moving the inhabitants out of an infested environment, he successfully applied the methods to the Barrancas garrison. He then published two articles in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal proving him an authority on yellow fever. In 1877, he was ordered to Fort Walla Walla, Washington, where he participated in a campaign against the Nez Perce Indians. In his spare time, he continued to carry out various experiments concerning his latter work. In April 1879 he was ordered to Washington D.C., and detailed with the Havana Yellow Fever Commission. After a year of study, the Commission decided that the solution of the cause of yellow fever had to wait upon further progress in the new science of bacteriology. In 1881, simultaneously with Louis Pasteur, he announced the discovery of the pneumococcus, now recognized as the pathogenic agent in lobar pneumonia. He also was the first in the United States to demonstrate the plasmodium of malaria (in 1885) and the bacilli of tuberculosis and typhoid fever (in 1886). He also was a pioneer in the study of disinfection and in 1886 was awarded the Lomb prize for his work. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on January 2, 1891. On May 30, 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed him Surgeon General with the rank of Brigadier General. During his tenure, he was responsible for the establishment of the Army Medical School, the founding of two hospital ships, aided Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee in organizing the female nurse corps and the Corps of Dental Surgeons. He appointed Dr. Walter Reed to head the Yellow Fever Commission in 1900, the commission which ultimately discovered the source of the deadly disease. He considered his greatest achievement to be the establishment of the Army Medical School. On June 8, 1902, he was retired due to age restrictions. Besides being known for his military and medical careers, he is also known for his interest in fossils which led to his being credited with the discovery of a giant deer. His interest led his brother, Charles H. Sternberg, and his nephew, George F. Sternberg, to become major collectors of fossils and experts in the field. He donated his collection to the Smithsonian for further study. His personal papers was donated to the Forsyth Library at Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. His actual birthyear is 1838, even though his headstone was carved 1836.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was George Miller Sternberg?

Current rating:

41 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 7 Nov 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6882
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for George Miller Sternberg (8 Jun 1838–3 Nov 1915), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6882, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .