Origins of the Hospital Corpsman
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What is the origin of the Navy Hospital Corpsman?

In the Navy, members are expected to combine professional ethics with the tradition of “service with distinction.” Every other branch depends on you and your unique skills.

How and when did the Navy hospital corpsman begin

In 1799, Congress made a rule that required warships to be fitted with a sickbay or what was known as a cockpit.

These cockpits were where sick and injured men were cared for by Surgeons and Surgeon Mates. Surgeons had assistants who were known as Loblolly Boys.

Surprise surprise, but these Loblolly Boys are today’s Hospital Corpsman.

Why were Hospital Corpsman originally called Loblolly Boys?

The funny story is that one of the duties of a pre-dated Hospital Corpsman was to bring porridge or loblolly to the injured.

Who were some of the most well known Loblolly Boys?

  • John Wall
    The service’s first Loblolly Boy
  • John Domyn
    The first Loblolly Boy prisoner of war
  • Joseph Anderson
    The first African-American Loblolly Boy

We must keep in mind that Loblolly Boy’s served throughout the Quasi-War from 1797 to the First Barbary War which ended in 1805. However, during this age, many names and sailors’ identities have been lost in this time.

When did the name Loblolly Boys become official?

The name Loblolly Boys became an official name in 1814. However, there were several classifications.

  • Surgeon Stewarts
    These were medical enlisted sailors from the age of American expansion to the end of the Civil War.
  • (Male) Nurses
    These were junior enlisted medical personnel
  • Baymen
    These were known as “one who manned the sick bay.”
  • Apothecaries
    These were predecessors to modern-day pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

How and when were apothecaries given the title pharmacists?

The actual title pharmacist came from an act of Congress in 1898 and President William McKinley when the Hospital Corps was merged into the Navy Medical Department.

On top of that, more appointed ratings came about.

  • Hospital Stewards – Chief Petty Officer
  • Hospital Apprentice First Class – Third Class Petty Officers
  • Hospital Apprentice

During this time, 25 senior Apothecaries officially became Pharmacists. They were also known as the charter members of the Hospital Corps.