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McGuires and Medicine

Dunnock Johnson Family ~ Dorchester & Washington DC

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The Medical McGuires
Johnson McGuire, son of Sarah and Hugh was the long-time chief of cardiology at the University of Cincinatti School of Medicine. Johnson McGuire pursued further training in cardiology in Vienna. Dr. McGuire represented the fifth generation of physicians in his family dating back to 1801 in Virginia. He founded the Cardiac Laboratory in 1935 and is also credited with performing the first cardiac catheterization which was performed on a pig and was one of the first physicians to utilize the determination of cardiac output in patient care.

The following biography is for the father of Hugh Holmes McGuire (spouse of Sarah Johnson McGuire). The Veterans Administration Hospital in Richmond is named Hunter Holmes McGuire and his great-grandson Hunter H. McGuire was until 2001 when he retired, chief of surgery at that same hospital.


Hunter Holmes McGuire (Oct. 11, 1835 - Sept. 19, 1900), surgeon, was born in Winchester, Virginia. He was the son of a physician and surgeon, Dr. Hugh Holmes McGuire, and of Ann Eliza (Moss) McGuire. He was a descendant of Edward McGuire of County Kerry, Ireland, who settled in Virginia in 1747. McGuire received his premedical education at Winchester Academy and later studied at the Winchester Medical College, from which he received his diploma in 1855. The year following, he matriculated at both the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, but was forced to return home because of an attack of rheumatism. In 1857 he was elected professor of anatomy in the College at Winchester, but he resigned the position after one session and went once more to Philadelphia, where he established a quiz class and pursued further studies. John Brown's raid gave rise to such intense sectional feeling in 1859 as to lead to a mass meeting of Southern medical students in Philadelphia and a resolution that they go South. McGuire was the leading spirit in this movement and assumed the expenses of such of the three hundred students as could not pay their own way to Richmond. He resumed studies there and acquired a second medical degree. He then went to New Orleans, where he established a quiz class in connection with the medical department of the University of Louisiana.

When Virginia seceded from the Union, he volunteered as a private soldier and marched to Harpers Ferry. He was soon commissioned as a medical officer, and in May 1861 he was made medical director of the Army of the Shenandoah, then under command of "Stonewall" Jackson. Later, when Jackson organized the First Virginia Brigade, he asked that McGuire be made its surgeon. Thereafter he served as chief surgeon of Jackson's commands until the latter's death. He was also his personal physician. Subsequently he was surgeon of the II Army Corps, under General Ewell, medical director of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Ewell, and medical director of the Army of the Valley of Virginia, under General Jubal Early. It is said that he organized the "Reserve Corps Hospitals of the Confederacy" and that he perfected the "Ambulance Corps." The latter consisted of a detail of four men from each company to assist the wounded from the field to hospitals in the rear. The men wore conspicuous badges, and no other soldiers were permitted to leave the ranks during battle for the purpose of rendering aid. Just what constituted the "Reserve Corps Hospitals of the Confederacy" does not appear from any available records. McGuire was always active in securing the release of captured Union medical officers, and when he was himself captured by General Sheridan's troops in March 1865, he was at once paroled and in two weeks released.

In 1865 he was elected professor of surgery in the Virginia Medical College, and served as such until 1878, when he resigned; in 1880 he was made professor emeritus. He was actively connected with the establishment at Richmond in 1893 of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, later named the University College of Medicine, and was its president and professor of surgery at the time of his death. He also organized St. Luke's Home for the Sick, with a training school for nurses. He wrote a great variety of articles, mostly upon surgical matters, but also upon such subjects as "Nervous Troubles Following Organic Urethral Stricture" (Virginia Medical Monthly, October 1890), "Sexual Crimes among the Southern Negroes, Scientifically Considered" (Ibid., May 1893), "Cases of Tuberculosis Cured by Cancrum Oris" (Kansas City Medical Record, April 1897), "The Treatment of Acute Exudative Nephritis Following Infectious Diseases" (Bi-monthly Bulletin of the University College of Medicine, March 1898). He also contributed to John Ashhurst's International Encyclopędia of Surgery (6 vols., 1881-86), to William Pepper's System of Practical Medicine (5 vols., 1885-86), and to the American Edition of Timothy Holmes's System of Surgery, Theoretical and Practical (3 vols., 1881-82).

Always an ardent Southerner, when in his later life his attention was called to the "efforts of Northern writers and their friends to pervert the world's judgment and secure a world verdict in their favor," he at once undertook a campaign which resulted in the appointment of a committee to examine the school histories in use in Virginia, in the reorganization of the Virginia School Board, and in the condemnation of offending books. His account of the death of his own good friend, "Stonewall" Jackson (American Medical Weekly, Jan. 6, 1883), is touching and beautiful in its simplicity and in the pictures which it evokes so vividly. In 1866 he married Mary Stuart, by whom he had nine children. His death, after six months of invalidism, resulted from cerebral embolism. Always an outstanding and honored figure in his community, McGuire was also the recipient of many honors from his professional fellows. In Capitol Square, Richmond, a bronze statue of heroic size, which is a remarkable likeness, perpetuates his memory.


[W. G. Stanard, The McGuire Family in Va. (1926); H. A. Kelly and W. L. Burrage, Am. Medic. Biogs. (1920); The Clinic Bull., Sept.-Oct. 1910; Revue de Chirurgie, Nov. 1900; British Medic. Jour., Sept. 29, 1900; Medic. News, Sept. 29, 1900; Va. Medic. Monthly, Oct. 1877; Richmond and Louisville Medic. Jour., Oct. 1877; Dublin Jour. of Medic. Science, Nov. 1, 1900; New England Medic. Monthly, Jan. 1885; Trans. of the Thirty-first Ann. Session of the Medic. Soc. of Va., 1900 (1901); Trans. of the Southern Surgic. and Gynecological Asso., 1902 (1903); Annals of Gynecology and Pediatry, Nov. 1900; Pacific Medic. Jour., Nov. 1900; Jour. Am. Medic. Asso., Sept. 29, 1900; Boston Medic. and Surgic. Jour., Sept. 27, 1900; N. Y. Medic. Jour., Sept. 22, 1900; Medic. Record, Sept. 22, 1900; Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Jan. 1923; the Times (Richmond), Sept. 20, 1900.]

"Hunter Holmes McGuire."Dictionary of American Biography. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.