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Cyrus Teed – Civil War Doctor??

One of the things that the Koreshans (or, perhaps those “post” Koreshans) always said, was the Cyrus Teed was a surgeon during the Civil War. Since we mentioned John Sargent, a Civil War Veteran, in our Monthly Feature for March, and since this question always comes up, I thought we would put this question to rest.

Cyrus Teed enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 3, 1862 on Staten Island, New York City. He gave his occupation as a “Physician”, but he enlisted as a Corporal. The muster rolls, for the most part, only list him as “present”, however, a few show him detached from his Company, which was the 127th New York Infantry.

On October 15, 1863, Teed was honorably discharged from the Army. This took place at the Army hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the official record, Teed was discharged because of…

“Paralysis of left leg following sunstroke on the march, as he says, has been getting worse ever since admission. Degree of disability. Total – so not fit for Invalid Corps”

He obviously did recover since he was to later appear with no disability whatsoever. Teed did apply for a pension from the government in 1899 and in the depositions given on his behalf, it was said that he did continue to suffer problems with his left side and that he was unable to do manual labor.

In his second “Declaration for Pension”, dated February 1908, just seven months before his death, Teed says that he “served as special aid to (Acting General) while he was in command…” No mention is made of any medical service.

Finally, in a letter dated October 15, 1938, a representative of the government says… “There is nothing of record to show that he ever acted in a medical capacity during his period of service”

The myth about his service as a Civil War physician does not seem to have been part of Teed’s description of himself, but rather his followers and in particular those who would have wanted to make him into more of a “distinguished” person. That “public” person who would have garnered more respect — a “gentleman” if you will.

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