William Maxwell Wood
1809 – 1880
Who was William Maxwell Wood?
William Maxwell Wood was an officer and surgeon in the United States Navy in the middle 19th century. He became the First Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy in 1871, with the equivalent rank of Commodore. He rose to President of the Examining Board in 1868 and Chief of the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in 1870 following his service in the American Civil War as Fleet Surgeon of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron aboard the USS Minnesota and Medical Officer of the James River Flotilla, participating in several famous Naval battles, and establishing temporary hospitals as needed during the Civil War.
As BUMED Chief, Wood was instrumental in increasing the stature of the Naval Surgeon, championing a bill eventually passed by Congress increasing the rank and compensation of physicians in the Navy, enabling the Navy to attract and recruit more qualified physicians. During Wood's tenure at the top of BUMED the Naval Hospital at Mare Island, California was completed and opened. Earlier in his career Wood was the personal consulting physician of President Zachary Taylor.
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