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MEDICINE ON THE BATTLEFIELD How did medicine affect the outcome of the American Civil War? Many of the illnesses and diseases that spread throughout the.

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Presentation on theme: "MEDICINE ON THE BATTLEFIELD How did medicine affect the outcome of the American Civil War? Many of the illnesses and diseases that spread throughout the."— Presentation transcript:

1 MEDICINE ON THE BATTLEFIELD How did medicine affect the outcome of the American Civil War? Many of the illnesses and diseases that spread throughout the field hospitals were because of either contagions or infections. Infections, specifically gangrene, posed serious threats to soldiers as it often affected those who had an amputation and was considered a “significant medical issue for the balance of the war”. In an attempt to right the unsanitized conditions of the field hospitals, the U.S. Sanitary Commission lobbied Congress to reform the Army Medical Department which led to the “creation of a corps of medical inspectors” and also the “building of pavilion-type hospitals”; hospitals were soon placed near an adequate water supply and provided “proper ventilation”. In the beginning of the Civil War anesthesia would lead to “profound technical changes” in the approach of procedures and operations. Initially, anesthesia came in the form of ether and chloroform; however, due to the war, many field hospitals were forced to continue operating in a manner without anesthetics because of the lack of supply and unavailability. Treatments such as quinine for malaria or bromine for gangrene were denied to field hospitals because of the disorganized and ineffective supply lines. We operated in old blood- stained often pus-stained coats… with clean hands in a sense, but they were undisinfected hands – William Williams Keen “ ”

2 Works Cited Grzyb, Frank L. Rhode Island's Civil War hospital : life and death at Portsmouth Grove, Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, foreword by Robert C. Rubel. Rutkow, Ira M. Bleeding Blue and Gray : Civil War surgery and the evolution of American medicine. 1st ed. New York : Random House, Bell, Andrew McIlwaine, Mosquito soldiers : malaria, yellow fever, and the course of the American Civil War. Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c (accessed November 15, 2012) journal.com/maps/imgs/1895-usa.jpg (accessed November 15, 2012) 3LtBRtckI/AAAAAAAAAWE/REP7aXaoWZQ/s1600/Wounded+Seven+Days+Yankees.jpg (accessed November 15, 2012) Pratt, Chastity. "The Civil War's Medical History." The Washington Post (1974-Current File), Jul 07, Mary Belferman Washington Post,Staff Writer. "At Civil War Museum, History's Cutting Edge." The Washington Post (1974-Current File), Jun 27, Nonetheless, malaria and yellow fever were two other illnesses which affected numerous soldiers because the “large armies … accelerated the development of diseases that thrive on human hosts”. Unfortunately, the onset of either malady hindered the armies’ ability to fulfill their duties and follow instructions. In the beginning of the war “coasts and prairies, woodlands and wetlands, and bayous and bogs of the newly formed Confederacy”, in combination with the mosquito population, allowed mosquitoes to thrive; thus, the insects created an ongoing battle for the soldiers to fight as the mosquitoes “stymie[d] military campaigns, kill[ed] thousands of soldiers and sailors, and cause[d] pain and suffering for countless southern civilians.” The affect these two maladies had on the war only intensifies the medical history which conjures the idea that disease not only affected the casualties of the war, but also the outcome of the war because of a decreased amount of viable, healthy soldiers in both the Union and the Confederacy. The lack of nutrition affected the soldiers because it yielded few essential vitamins and minerals which would have been helpful in the healing process, fighting, or prevention of illness. Furthermore, the water from which soldiers drank was often contaminated because “they were located near open latrines”. A field hospital at Savage Station


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