Civil War Surgery

I expected this article to be another “Civil War Days” entry, talking about reenactors and cotton candy for the kids, but it was a surprisingly fascinating look at Civil War surgery techniques, containing a few new-to-me facts (the first of which I’ll research a bit more before accepting it as gospel):

It was considered a great honor for a soldier to be amputated on his regimental flag, because that was a representation of the unit, Pekarek said.

If the injured soldier did not survive, the flag would continue on, stained with his blood. That practice brought unit cohesion and encouraged many soldiers to continue fighting and following that flag

And this:
After determining that amputation is necessary, the surgeon would either given him chloroform or ether. The north had ether, and the south had chloroform, which is easier to make than ether, but it’s also explosive. Both had similar properties in taking the patient under so the surgeon could amputate.

Warning to prospective readers, though: This is pretty gruesome stuff. Be prepared for some squeam.

Leave a Reply