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American Medical Biographies/Charlton, Thomas Jackson

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Charlton, Thomas Jackson (1833–1886)

Thomas Jackson Charlton was born in Bryan County, Georgia, in 1833, and died in Savannah (where most of his professional life was passed), on December 8, 1886. He was the son of Dr. Thomas Jackson and Sarah Margaret Charlton. His grandmother was Emily, daughter of Thomas Walter, the author of "Flora Caroliniana," the first considerable work on southern botany. Dr. Charlton attended Franklin College, now the University of Georgia, and graduated from the Savannah Medical College, later becoming professor of obstetrics and clinical surgery there. While yet a student the yellow-fever epidemic of 1857 occurred in Savannah and he promptly volunteered his services, as he had previously given them in the Norfolk epidemic. He received a gold medal from the grateful people. Practising for a short time in Savannah, he received an appointment as assistant surgeon in the United States Navy, and was assigned to the sloop-of-war Jamestown. When Georgia seceded he promptly resigned and reported for duty at home. He was commissioned surgeon in the Confederate States Navy; was sent on a secret mission to France, and on his return was assigned to the Confederate cruiser Florida, being captured on that vessel in the harbor of Bahia, Brazil. On the voyage to Chesapeake Bay, small-pox broke out on the United States vessel and Dr. Charlton, with the prompt manliness and humanity which characterized him, at once volunteered his services. These were gratefully accepted, and his devotion was so pronounced and so successful that after a short incarceration in Fort Warren, Massachusetts, the enemy treated him as the British had his great grandfather under similar circumstances and turned their backs while he walked out, with the understanding that he would not return south. Being a man of the highest sense of honor, he observed his parole, and went first to England and then to Halifax, Nova Scotia, returning to Savannah after the cessation of hostilities, to enjoy a large practice to the end of his life. He was attending physician to the Savannah Hospital and when the epidemic of 1876 devastated Savannah, devoted himself with entire sacrifice to his people. Practising before the era of specialists, he nevertheless attained great reputation as a surgeon and in obstetrics and fevers. He was twice married, first to Julia Catherine Crane, daughter of Heman Averil Crane, and after her death to Julia Johnstone. His eldest son, Thomas Jackson, became a doctor in Savannah.