Medicine of the Civil War
By: Shalin Mehta
Cause of Death
Civil War Surgeons were often inexperienced, and surgery at the time was very unadvanced. Surgeons often resorted to amputation when treating patients, and some wounds could not be treated. Infection was extremely common because of the lack of sanitation and supplies, and few surgeons knew how to maintain sterility. Surgeons used anesthetics like Chloroform and Ether when available, but when they were not available, doctors had to improvise. For example, some doctors dosed their patients with whiskey in replace of anesthesia. Some people believed the doctors were doing more harm to patients than help. A surgeons kit included a tourniquet, several knives and scalpels, and a saw for amputation
CIVIL WAR SURGEONS
2 out of 3 soldiers died from disease rather than battle
620,000 Americans died during the Civil War. That is more than any other war fought in American Histoy
Soldiers suffered from Dysentery,
Typhoid Fever, Mumps, Measles,
Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Malaria,
and Small Pox. Horrible hospital
conditions and lack of sterility and
sanitation made camps breeding
grounds for disease.
Many wounds were treatable,
but doctors could not maintain
sterility and infection was
extremely common. Many
doctors resorted to amputation,
and some wounds were practically
a guarantee of death.
Clara Barton was a very influential Civil War Nurse. Barton was horrified by the hospital and camp conditions during the Civil War. Barton took care of wounded soldiers at Antietam, and she was known as the Angel of the Battlefield for her work as a nurse. After the civil war, her work led to the formation of the American Red Cross.
Calomel or Mercury Chloride is a medication used to treat malaria and yellow fever.
Quinine is used to treat various things from malaria to arthritis to leg cramps.
Morphine is often used as a pain reliever and to reduce shortness of breath symptoms.
Laudanum is an extremely addictive drug that contains morphine and is used to treat a variety of things.
These medications were often used irresponsibly. Inexperienced doctors would use the same medications to treat anything from tuberculosis to knee pain to a cold.
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- Dixon, Byina. "Civil War Medicine." Civil War Trust. Civil War Trust, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 May 2016.
- Smith, Paul. "Civil War Medicine." Civil War Medicine. Civil War Medicine, 2013-2014. Web. 18 May 2016.
- Dougherty, Terri. Americas Deadliest Day: The Battle of Antietam. Mankato, MN: Edge, 2009. Print.
- McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. Print.