Deputy Surgeon General Edmund Greswold McDowell entered the Army Medical Department as an assistant surgeon in November 1855. He served with the 44th Regiment in the North China Campaign in 1860 and was at the action at Sinho and the storming and capture of the Taku Forts (medal with clasp Taku Forts 1860).
During the Egyptian Expedition of 1882, Brigade–Surgeon McDowell was in medical charge of one of the eight field hospitals attached to the Expeditionary Force. The other medical officers were Brigade Surgeons: Edmund McGrath, Oliver Barnett, Henry Richard Lobb Veale, Eugene Francis O'Leary, and Surgeons-Majors: William Tanner, John Warren and John Henry Beath. The two Bearer Companies were under the medical charge of Surgeon Major Sidney Keyworth Ray and Surgeon Major Thomas Francis O'Dwyer. The officers of the Army Hospital Corps were Captain F Philpot and Lieutenant of Orderlies J Hynd, T Phillips, E Enright, W A Moss, F Tighe, W McKay, R Howell, H Graham, and J D Marshall.
Brigade–Surgeon McDowell was thanked for his services during the cholera epidemic in Egypt. He received the Order of the Medjidie (3rd Class).
In 1884, he was the Principal Medical Officer of the Eastern Soudan Expeditionary Force commanded by Major General Sir Gerald Graham VC KCB to the Eastern Soudan for the relief of Tokar. He was present in the engagements at El Teb and Temaai and was twice mentioned in despatches (27 March and 6 May 1884).
The despatch of Major-General Graham to Lieutenant General Stephenson issued by the War Office stated:
The Army Medical Department under Deputy Surgeon General McDowell was most ably administered and the wants of the wounded carefully provided for and promptly attended to. As soon as we were in possession of the position at El Teb, on February 29, I signalled to Fort Baker, at the instance of Deputy Surgeon General McDowell, for tents, medical comforts to be sent immediately. The mule convoy under Surgeon Prendergast arrived and the serious cases were at once placed under cover for the night. (Prendergast was later himself seriously wounded when speared in the chest while attending a wounded man at Temaai). Immediately after the action Surgeon Major Connolly, PMO of the Cavalry Brigade, took out eight mule cacolets and proceeded over the ground where the Cavalry had charged to make sure no wounded were left. After the action of Temaai, the wounded were at once brought into the zeriba, and promptly attended to. Surgeon General McDowell reported that
though many of the wounded had injuries of the severest forms we had no deaths from haemorrhage, a fact which exhibits, in the strongest light the skill and attention of the medical officers, working under the most trying circumstances.
He was awarded the medal Egypt 1882–1889 with clasps for Suakin 1884 and El-Teb Temaai.
Service Record — Edmund Greswold McDowel
6 Nov 1855 Staff Assistant Surgeon. Commission antedated from 9 January 1857.
Malta 8 Dec 1855 Arrived from England.
Malta 10 Nov 1856 On duty at Cottonera. Returned to England.
20 Aug 1856 Reduced but re-appointed on 9 January 1857. In 1856, there was a reduction of the Army Medical establishment when several junior medical officers commissioned in 1855 remained unemployed for some months. On their re-appointment, however, their commissions were antedated to the original state.
1857 On duty in Limerick and Kinsale Co. Cork.
1858 On duty in Queenstown.
9 Nov 1858 Promoted Assistant Surgeon 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, vice Assistant Surgeon John Johnson, who was dismissed the service by the sentence of a General Courts Martial on 3 October 1858.
1860 Served in North China with the 44th Regiment, including the action at Sinho, and the storming and capture of the Taku Forts.
12 Oct 1861 Exchanged with Staff Assistant Surgeon Henry William Devlin.
1862–1863 Served in China.
1864–1865 Served in Birr Co. Offaly.
1865–1866 On duty in Kinsale Co. Cork.
1866–1870 On duty in Canada.
3 Sept 1870 Promoted Staff Surgeon.
1871 On duty in Chester.
1872 On duty in Queenstown and Dublin.
1873–1874 To Bengal from Dublin.
1 Mar 1873 Surgeon–Major.
1874–1880 On duty in Bengal.
Jan 1881 Moved to Preston.
4 Aug 1881 Brigade–Surgeon.
Nov 1881 Moved to Chatham.
9 Aug 1882 Served in the Egyptian War of 1882 in medical charge of one of the eight field hospitals attached to the Expeditionary Force.
1882 Awarded the Order of the Medjidie (3rd Class) for his services in Egypt.
12 Feb – 6 Apr 1884 On 12 February 1884 the General Officer Commanding in Egypt was instructed by Horse Guards to mount an expedition under the command of Major General Sir Gerald Graham VC KCB, to the Eastern Soudan for the relief of Tokar. Brigade Surgeon E G McDowell served as the Principal Medical Officer of the Eastern Soudan Expeditionary Force. The medical staff consisted of 1 Brigade Surgeon with local rank of Deputy Surgeon General, 3 Surgeon Majors, 10 Surgeons and 1 officer and 67 non commissioned officers and men of the Army Hospital Corps. Only one movable hospital was deployed. After the reduction of the Army of occupation in Egypt, the Ordnance Department had returned to England a large quantity of field hospital equipment remaining after the Egyptian campaign of 1882. Four ambulance wagons were embarked for use during the expedition.
May 1884 Granted special leave of absence from Cairo to England till 3 September 1884.
Appointed an Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Third Class or Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services in the Sudan Expedition.
26 Aug 1885 Appointed Principal Medical Officer at Woolwich with the local and temporary rank of Deputy Surgeon General vice Brigade–Surgeon Samuel Black Roe MB CB who was promoted Deputy Surgeon–General vice Deputy Surgeon–General Oliver Barnett deceased.
4 Mar 1886 Promoted Deputy Surgeon–General, vice DSG Alexander Guthrie MD, who died at Chatham on 3 March 1886.
1887 President of the Nova Scotian Branch of the British Medical Association established at Halifax in 1887. This was the first branch to be established on the continent of North America. Its aims were to co-operate with the parent Association in promoting the best interests of the medical profession, and with the special intention of advancing the general and social interests of the profession in Nova Scotia, by giving to them a corporate unity and drawing together members of the Branch, whether naval, military, or civil, for the discussion of professional topics. The Nova Scotian Branch had thirty-four members,with Deputy Surgeon-General E G McDowell C B, MD as president and Dr W Tobin of Halifax as the Honorary Secretary.
30 Nov 1891 Retired to half-pay having completed 26 years' service on full-pay. Brigade Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John Butler Hamilton was promoted Surgeon Colonel to fill the vacancy created on the retirement of E C McDowell.
5 Feb 1901 At St Mary's Cadogan Street S W London, by the Rev M A Kelly, Donald Keith McDowell CMG younger son of Surgeon Colonel E G McDowell CB, married Bertha Kathleen Mary Bailey, eldest daughter of Mr John Bailey, deceased.
26 July 1907 Died in Portland.