Surgery’s Cutting Edge

A new Civil War Medicine museum is opening in Frederick, MD. Given the description in this article, it sounds well worth a visit.

In the beginning of the war, wounded soldiers languished for days before they were retrieved. Sometimes their friends would stop fighting and carry them to the rear, knowing no one else would, recounts historian James M. McPherson in Battle Cry of Freedom. Litter-bearers were musicians, other soldiers and anyone who could be spared. Letterman developed a system for evacuating the wounded, establishing ambulances and dedicated personnel for each regiment.The wounded were treated in three stages: “There was a dressing station 60 to 70 yards from the front line” Dammann said, noting that 350 doctors on the Union side were killed in battle. “First aid was done here, tourniquets and splinting. From there, they went back into battle or to a field hospital, maybe in a barn or church three or four miles behind the lines. Here they had operating surgeons, where they did amputations. Wounds of head, chest and abdomen werent treated; they were given painkillers and most died there. From here, they were evacuated, usually by train, to fixed hospitals.” Letterman’s system saved lives, but for every man killed in battle, two died of disease. Many perished from malnutrition, especially in the South.

via On Surgerys Cutting Edge In Civil War.

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