I want to know exactly how much people know about Civil War medicine, what they think about it, and would they be interested in learning more about it. I'm an avid scholar of Civil War medical history and I'm trying to get a feel for contemporary opinions and breadth of knowledge about Civil War medicine, particularly what people today think about the surgeons.

Views: 50

Replies to This Discussion

I know nothing. Just stereotypes of saw-bone doctors in field hospitals, using whiskey as anaesthetic and antiseptic... these are probably stereotypes that aren't supported by evidence. I have read some of Walt Whitman's work as a nurse in the Civil War, via a biography of him.

I'd love to know more. I'm sure it's a history that can be written well and in an interesting manner!

I do know that morphine was available, and plentifully used as an analgesic. In fact, it was so commonly used that morphine addiction came to be known as "Soldier's Disease". Bear in mind, it was still a very new drug, and the concept of physiological as well as psychological addiction were not really understood.

I believe that it was during the civil war that the technique of intravenous injection of drugs was first tested in the field, although not via a dedicated intravenous catheter, as is the case nowadays. Drugs were injected directly from a syringe into a punctured vein (a technique we call a "hot shot" these days). Syringes back then were glass and steel affairs, and the needles had to be sharpened periodically so that they could puncture skin. In fact, my grandmother (a nurse for 60 years) left me a set of such syringes when she passed away. I keep them in a shadow box on my wall. Quite beautiful, i think.

I could be wrong, but i believe that this was around the time when the concept of antisepsis (proposed by one Baron Von Lister, from whom listerine took it's namesake) was first beginning to take hold. In those early days, the readily available anitseptics were either alcohol (yes Vy, the whiskey antiseptic story is true), phenol, or creosote (imagine rubbing that on a fresh stump. OUCH!)

Again, check the books, but i do believe that ether was available as an anesthetic, although rarely used in the field due to its explosive nature.

    I once heard a story that a doctor doing amputations in a two story building would drop the bad limb in a pile out the window. Eventually the pile became level with the window. I also saw a picture of a typical Civil War doctor's briefcase. It has a lot of saws.

    I think heroin was invented during the Civil War in an attempt to create a pain killer less addictive than morphine. We see how that turned out...

RSS

Latest Activity

Michael Rowland replied to Benjamin Hodge's discussion Question about love languages for anyone that's done them...
"We both took that quiz as well! I got Physical Touch. My wife got Acts of Service. She really enjoys a clean house. So when I've got the time and want to do something, I find something that needs cleaning. I typically do more than my…"
11 minutes ago
Josh100LuBu posted a photo

Josh100LuBu - Heading Out

Quick photo before I head out.
24 minutes ago
Will replied to Rusty Rogers's discussion Politically-Biased History? in the group The Great Debate
"http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/12/weak-men-are-superweapons/ Also, big claims elicit big opposing claims.  As Orwell noted, specifics are less likely to deceive.  Good reason to avoid specifics?  I would hope not."
31 minutes ago
Michael Rowland replied to Gus Parker's discussion Honorifics
"I tend to use someone's full name when I first make contact with them. I will only use an honorific if it's something like Doctor, Professor, or Judge as that's an earned honorific and should be respected. Only when I'm…"
38 minutes ago
Vytautas replied to Rusty Rogers's discussion Politically-Biased History? in the group The Great Debate
"Yes, Fox is a prime example of the latter, Rusty."
39 minutes ago
Josh100LuBu replied to Stein's discussion Being called by your last name
"I like to be called Lord. I am officially a Lord so it's what most usually call me. "
42 minutes ago
Shane replied to Rusty Rogers's discussion Politically-Biased History? in the group The Great Debate
"Interesting. I'd wondered what became of those kids. I always assumed they'd had to choose their world."
52 minutes ago
Michael Rowland replied to Stein's discussion Being called by your last name
"I generally prefer going by my first name. I work in academia, and everyone uses their first name. The only time someone refers to someone else by their last name ("Dr. Smith" or "Professor Smith") during a normal day is when…"
1 hour ago

© 2015   Created by Brett McKay.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service