Gorgas, William Crawford (1854–1920)

By: Frank E. Vandiver

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

William Crawford Gorgas, pioneer, physician, and United States Army surgeon general, was born at Toulminville, Alabama, on October 3, 1854, the son of Gen. Josiah and Amelia (Gayle) Gorgas. Josiah Gorgas was chief of ordnance of the Confederate Army. After training at Bellvue Hospital Medical College, Gorgas was appointed to the United States Army Medical Corps in June 1880. He was sent to various posts in Texas for duty-Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown. While at Fort Brown, from 1882 to 1884, he met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. Gorgas was appointed chief sanitary officer in 1898 and surgeon general of the United States Army in 1914. As such, he won international fame battling yellow fever, the scourge of tropical climates-first in Florida, later in Havana, and finally at the Panama Canal. Shortly before he died he was knighted by King George IV in Queen Alexandra Military Hospital. Gorgas died on July 3, 1920, and was given a special funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral, with the honors of a British major general. His body was brought to the United States and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Scribner, 1928–81). Endorsements, Resolutions and other Data in Behalf of the Nomination of Dr. William Crawford Gorgas for Election to the New York Hall of Fame for Great Americans (2 vols., Birmingham: Gorgas Hall of Fame Committee, 1950). John M. Gibson, Physician to the World: The Life of General William C. Gorgas (Durham: Duke University Press, 1950). Marie Gorgas and Burton J. Hendrick, William Crawford Gorgas: His Life and Work (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1924). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Frank E. Vandiver, “Gorgas, William Crawford,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gorgas-william-crawford.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

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