General William C. Gorgas 1854-1920

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General William C. Gorgas 1854-1920


Gorgas, William Crawford, 1854-1920


Biography from the Dedication of the Gorgas Steam Plant that occurred on September 16, 1944 at Gorgas, Alabama.

"William Crawford Gorgas was born October 3, 1854, near Mobile, Alabama, the son of General Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas.

Failing to secure an appointment to West Point, he decided to enter the Army as a doctor. Graduating from Bellevue Hospital in New York City, he passed his army medical examinations and in June 1880 was enrolled in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant.

Shortly after the Spanish-American War began, he was promoted to major and served as brigade surgeon during the entire Santiago campaign, later becoming sanitary officer of the City of Havana. Experiments, conducted by Major Gorgas at Havana, confirmed by mosquitoes. Because of the success in eliminating yellow fever from Havana, he was made Assistant Surgeon General of the United States Army in 1903, with the rank of colonel.

President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 called him to another and vastly more difficult job of health protection on the Isthmus of Panama. The French had failed in an earlier attempt to build a canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific, because of the heavy toll of lives from yellow fever and malaria.

General Gorgas and his associates had important new knowledge unknown to the French regarding the habits of two mosquitoes, the Stegomyia, carrier of yellow fever, and the Anopheles, carrier of malaria fever. Through their efforts, the Canal Zone was soon changed from one of the most dangerous to one of the safest places to live.

Today the Canal stands out not only one of our greatest engineering accomplishments, but, also, as a monument to the many years of patient medical research and human sacrifice which helped make the engineering accomplishment possible.

In 1914, Colonel Gorgas was promoted to Surgeon General of the United States Army, with the rank of brigadier general, becoming major general in 1916. He was retired in 1918.

He died in London on July 4, 1920, at the beginning of a trip to Africa in the interest of yellow fever control. Shortly before his death, King George V of England made him a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George"

William Crawford Gorgas is connected to Tuscaloosa and West Alabama as that his father Josiah was president of the University of Alabama.


Alabama Power


Tuscaloosa Public Library


Alabama Power


September 16, 1944


Tuscaloosa Public Library


Alabama Power






Tuscaloosa County (AL)

Original Format


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