Philip Skinner Wales – Medical Director, United States Navy

Philip S. Wales (1834-1906) became an assistant surgeon in 1856 and was assigned to the East India Squadron. During the Civil War he saw duty aboard two warships and at the Norfolk Naval Hospital. Dr. Wales became Surgeon General in 1879.

He founded the Museum of Naval Hygiene which, when later united with the naval laboratory and Department of Instruction, became the prototype of the Naval Medical School. During his term a subordinate embezzled Navy funds and Dr. Wales was court martialed and found guilty for “neglect of duty and culpable inefficiency in the performance of duty.” Although the Secretary of the Navy declared that no evidence existed of any corrupt act or motive on Wales’ part, the unfortunate man lived out the rest of his years in disgrace.

Philip Skinner Wales, born 1834 in Annapolis Maryland and died 9-15-1906 in Paris France. He was the Medical Director of the US Navy and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Philip Skinner Wales, surgeon, born in Annapolis, Maryland, 27 February, 1837. He was educated at the University of Maryland, and, after a course of study in the medical department there, settled in Baltimore, and finally in Washington.

He entered the navy as an assistant surgeon, 7 August, 1856, was commissioned Surgeon, 12 October, 1861, and served in the steamer “Fort Jackson,” of the North Atlantic and Western Gulf squadrons, in 1862-‘5. He was a member of the board of examiners in 1873-‘4, commissioned Medical Inspector, 30 June, 1873, and appointed Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery on 26 January, 1880, serving until 27 March, 1884.

When President Garfield was shot he assisted in attendance for a short time. While he was Chief of the Bureau of Medicine, unscrupulous clerks in his office contrived to defraud the government, and he was tried by a court-martial and suspended for five years for neglect of duty, though acquitted of all real responsibility for the acts of his subordinates. He is a member of various medical societies, and the author of “Mechanical Therapeutics” (Philadelphia, 1867) ; “A New Method of controlling the Velum Palati” in the New York ” Medical Record” for November, 1875 ; “A New Rectal Dilator and Explorer ” (Washington, 1877); and papers in the ” American Journal of Medical Science” and in the “Philadelphia Medical and Surgical Reporter.” He has in preparation a large work on medical science.

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