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The Surgeon of the Alabama

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1267, p. 41.

July 9, 1864


Mr. David Herbert Llewellyn, who was the surgeon of the Confederate war-steamer Alabama during the two years of her adventurous career, perished by drowning on Sunday, the 19th ult., sinking with his ship after her conflict with the Federal steamer Kearsarge. He was the son of the Rev. David Llewellyn, Perpetual Curate of Easton, near Pewsey, Wiltshire. He was educated at Marlborough College, and studied for the medical profession, firstly as an articled pupil of Dr. Hassall, at Richmond, and then, from 1856 to 1859, at Charing-cross Hospital, where he gained the silver medals for surgery and chemistry. The last letter which Mr. Llewellyn ever wrote was addressed to Mr. Travers, the resident medical officer of Charing-cross Hospital, and is as follows:--" Cherbourg, June 14, 1864. Dear Travers,--Here we are. I send this by gentleman coming to London. An enemy is outside. If she only stays long enough, we go out and fight her. If I live, expect to see me in London shortly. If I die, give my best love to all who know me. If M. A. de Caillet should call on you, please show him every attention. I remain, dear Travers, ever yours, D. H. Llewellyn." Mr. Llewellyn was much loved and respected by all on board. In the final struggle of the Alabama, when the ship was sinking, the whale-boat and dingy, the only two boats uninjured, were lowered, and the wounded placed in them, Mr. Fullam being sent in charge of them to the Kearsarge. When the boats were full, a man (unwounded) endeavoured to enter one, but Mr. Llewellyn held him back. "See," said he, "I want to save my life as much as you do; but let the wounded men be saved first." "Doctor," said the officer in the boat, "we can make room for you." "I will not peril the wounded men," was his reply. He remained behind and sank with the ship, an ever memorable instance of that chivalrous spirit and devotion to duty which we are proud to believe characterise the medical officers of the united services and the medical profession generally in the United Kingdom. It is further gratifying to hear that Llewellyn's fellow-students have appointed a committee to provide for the erection of a tablet to his memory in Charing-cross Hospital, where as a pupil he had so greatly distinguished himself, and that another memorial is to be fixed in the church of Easton parish, where he was born. The Portrait of him which we have engraved is from a photograph taken at the Maison Rideau, Cherbourg, on the Thursday before his death.

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