September 28: Phineas Jonathan Horwitz (1904)

Phineas J. Horwitz was a surgeon in the U.S. Navy for 37 years and served as the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the position that would later become the Surgeon General of the Navy. Horwitz was born in Baltimore in 1822 of Jewish parents. His father was a surgeon and attained great distinction as a fine classical scholar, a profound thinker, and eloquent lecturer. After graduating from the University of Maryland, the younger Horwitz continued his medical studies at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1847, as assistant surgeon, and was assigned to duty on board the frigate Cumberland, and afterwards placed in charge of the Naval Hospital in Tabasco, Mexico during the Mexican War. He was promoted to a passed assistant surgeon in 1853 and was at sea much of the time in South America and Africa.

In 1859 Horwitz was stationed in Washington as assistant chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Owing to the feeble health of the chief, the labors of the bureau fell almost entirely on Dr. Horwitz during the trying time of the Civil War. His position involved voluminous correspondence, the adjustment of pensions, the supplying of surgeons, apothecaries, nurses, medicines, and the general management of all financial matters pertaining to the office. These duties were discharged with such noted efficiency that upon the death of his predecessor he was at once appointed chief of the bureau. During his decade in Washington, Horwitz became associated with the Church of the Epiphany. Parish records contain the burials of two of his children – Joseph and Caroline and the baptisms of four children – Orville, Thomas, Theophilus, and George. Son Orville would go on to become a noted surgeon, a third generation Horwitz to follow that profession.

< Previous     Next >

No comments yet

Add comment