Edward Walsh Ireland

Biography of Edward Walsh

Edward Walsh, signature in Register of Doctors of Medicine, 1791
Edward Walsh, signature in Register of Doctors of Medicine, 1791

Edward Walsh graduated MD from the University of Glasgow in 1791 and went on to serve as a medical officer at the Battle of Waterloo, 18th June 1815. Alongside his impressive career as a military medic, he was also a poet, artist and author.

Born in 1756 in Waterford, Ireland, Walsh studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh (1778) and later at the University of Glasgow (1791). Following his studies, he joined the British Armed Forces, first as Regimental Mate in the 65th Foot Regiment (1796-1797). In May 1797, he transferred to the position of Assistant Surgeon to the 29th Foot; with this Regiment, Walsh served at the Irish Rebellion (1798) and the Helder Expedition in Holland (1799). One of Walsh’s literary works is his Narrative of the Expedition to Holland in the Autumn of the Year 1799 (London, 1800), in which he sings the praises of his colleagues in the 29th Foot. In August 1800 he was stationed as Surgeon to the 49th Foot Regiment. He was present at the Battle of Copenhagen (1801), at which his hand was shattered. He took a short period of leave to recover from this injury.

Still with the 49th Foot, Walsh served in Canada from 1803. During this time, he was stationed in Fort George, where he documented local natural history, including details of aboriginal people. He lived with the Potawatomi and Chippewa and trained them in basic healthcare. He was one of the first medics to vaccinate First Nation tribes against smallpox. This care for oppressed peoples extended itself to the abolitionist movement, of which Walsh was a keen supporter.

In 1806, Walsh returned to Europe as Surgeon to the 62nd Foot, and later with the 6th Dragoon Guards (from 1809), with whom he served in the Peninsular War (1807-14). Whilst stationed on the Walcheran Expedition (1809) he contracted Malaria. He was given the title of Physician in August 1813, and in this position served in Holland in 1814. At the Battle of Waterloo, on the 18th June 1815, Walsh served unattached as a physician to the British Army; he was a pioneer in curing battlefield trauma. On 25th July 1816, he retired from service.


Edward Walsh
Born 1756.
GU Degree: MD, 1791;
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: Royal Army Medical Corps
English snippet: MD graduate of the University of Glasgow 1791
Record last updated: 17th Jun 2015

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