Saturday, April 30, 2016

Healing the Wounds of War

 The Central Park statue of Dr. James Marion Sims is pictured along 5th Ave in the Manhattan borough of New York

Over the years, countless thousands the New Yorkers have passed by monuments in their city that were dedicated to two eminent physicians who were related by marriage, but there is little doubt that few of them, until recently at least, had ever realized that the statues were erected in memory of former Southerners. The two men of medicine were Dr. James Marion Sims of Lancasterville, South Carolina, and his son-in-law, Dr. John Allan Wyeth of Guntersville, Alabama. Dr. Wyeth had been a Confederate cavalryman who served under Generals John Hunt Morgan, Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest, and whose 1899 biography, “That Devil Forrest,” effectively dealt with the charges that the general had been responsible for the massacre of Union troops, mostly African-Americans, at Fort Pillow in Tennessee and had been a leading member of the Ku-Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869. It is, however, the statue of Dr. Sims, a man who had never served the Confederacy in any capacity, that has become the focus of racial controversy and cries to have his monument removed.

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