John Hall (British Army officer)

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For Shakespeare's son-in-law, see John Hall (physician).

Sir John Hall KCB (1795 in Little Beck, Westmorland – 17 January 1866 in Pisa) was a British military surgeon.

Studying at Guy's Hospital and St Thomas's Hospital, he joined the Army Medical Service in June 1815, being posted to Flanders just in time for the final stages of the Waterloo campaign. He then served in Jamaica (1818-1827 and 1841-44), Ireland (from 1835-36, and in 1844), Spain and Gibraltar (1836-39), South Africa {1847-51, during the Cape frontier wars) and Bombay (1851-54).

He was ordered from Bombay straight to the Crimea for the Crimean War in 1854, with the rank of Inspector-General of Hospitals, to head its main receiving hospital at Scutari during that campaign. In that role he came into contact and conflict with Florence Nightingale (whom he called in his letters a “petticoat imperieuse”), though he fully welcomed the help offered by Mary Seacole. He returned from the Crimea in 1856, and retired a year later.

Though his actions in the Crimea led to his being mentioned in dispatches, becoming a KCB and officer of the Légion d'honneur, and receiving the third class of the Turkish order of the Mejidiye, he also faced criticism for them. The ‘Observations on the Report of the Sanitary Commission despatched to the Seat of the War in the East,’ that he published in 1857 brought him into conflict with John Sutherland and Nightingale, since (with one other pamphlet by Hall) they were intended to rebut her criticisms of his organisation of the army hospitals. Intending to spend his retirement in India writing a medical history of the Crimean campaign, he was left part-paralysed by a stroke and gave up the intended book, touring Europe instead for the remainder of his life.

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