Thursday, January 23, 2020

Medicine During the Civil War Essay -- essays research papers fc

Medicine During the Civil War 1861-1865   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  When Walt Whitman wrote that he believed the â€Å"real war† would never get into the books, this is the side he was talking about (Belferman 1996). Yet, it is important that we remember and recall the medical side of the conflict too, as horrible and terrifying as it was (Adams 1952). Long before doctors and people knew anything about bacteria and what caused disease was the time of Civil War medicine. Doctors during the Civil War (always referred to as â€Å"surgeons†) were incredibly unprepared. Most surgeons had as little as two years of medical school because very few pursued further education. At that time, Harvard Medical School did not even own a single stethoscope or microscope until well after the war. Most Civil War surgeons had never treated a gun shot wound because they were accustomed to treating minor head colds and sore throats. Many had never performed surgery or even held a scalpel. Medical boards let extremely unqualified students practice medicine due to much needed help for wounded soldiers on the battlefield. â€Å"Some ten thousand surgeons served in the Union and about four thousand served in the Southern Confederacy (Cunningham 1958).†   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  By far, the deadliest thing that faced the Civil War soldier was disease and infection. For every soldier who died in battle, two died of disease (Cunningham 1958). Among the long list of terminal and fatal diseases that plagued the battlefield as well as the operating table and hospitals were dysentery (a severe form of diarrhea which was very common among the soldiers), measles, small pox, malaria, pneumonia, and â€Å"camp itch† which was caused by skin disease and insects. Malaria was usually brought on by camping in damp areas, where mosquitos were prone to. There were many factors that came into play which explained why disease spread so rapidly. Among the explanations were as follows: inadequate physicals before entering the Army, the fact many troops came from rural areas, neglect of camp hygiene, insects and rodents in the area, exposure to other infected individuals, lack of clothing and shoes, and poor conditions of food and water. Many unqualifi ed recruits entered the Army and diseases cruelly weeded out those who should have been excluded by physical exams prior to recruiting (Shildt 1986).   Ã‚  &... .... The many men and women, North and South, who served in the hospital and sanitary services during the war were proud of their achievements (Adams 1861-1865). The morbidity and mortality rates of both armies showed marked improvement over those of other 19th century wars. The physicians and sanitarians held down the disease fatalities to levels that their generation considered more than reasonable. It was a gruesome business for doctors and patients alike; yet without the doctors and nurses in blue and gray, much of the young manhood of America at mid century might not have survived for the work of rebuilding. (Adams 1861-1865) Works Cited Adams, George W. Doctors In Blue,†Medical History of the Union† Baton Rouge:University of Louisiana Press, 1952 Belferman, Mary â€Å"On Surgery’s Cutting Edge in the Civil War† The Washington Post, June 13, 1996 Cunningham, H.H. Doctors in Gray, Baton Rouge: University of Louisiana Press, 1958 Coco, Gregory A. A Strange and Blighted Land-Gettysburg, The Aftermath, 1995 Schildt, John W. Hunter Homes McGuire:Doctor in Gray, 1986 Adams, George W. â€Å"Fighting for Time† The National Historical Society’s-The Image of War 1861-1865 Volume IV

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