Question of the Week: 4/16-4/22/18

What medical advancement during the Civil War era is most significant to you?

7 Responses to Question of the Week: 4/16-4/22/18

  1. Prosthetic devices, such as artificial limbs existed before the Civil War, but became more common, and began to improve in that period. Some men came home with no limbs at all, and survived. The impetus for improvement had begun. I wear a prosthetic today, which is far more functional than theirs, as are our instruments of destruction.

  2. The most significant medical advance was lye soap. Mother Bickerdyke & other women marched into filthy hospitals soap & water in hand. Their attention to hygiene instantly cut mortality. Nobody had any understanding of infectious germs. However, the benefits of basic hygiene was glaringly obvious. All of the innovations ( professional nurses, segregating infectious cases from wounded into separate wards, reconstructive surgery, dedicated hospital ships & trains, etc. ) would not have been possible without hygienic conditions in the hospitals.
    During the Mexican war, 10 men died of disease for each battle casualty. That was reduced to three to one in the Civil War. The decrease of mortality from wounds was equally dramatic. The simple application of lye soap was what made that possible.

  3. I think the limited responses are symbolic of what a great question this is. I have to admit of all the reading and studying with them in the Civil War I really don’t feel educated enough in terms of the medical aspect to leave a intelligent answer. Great question!!!

  4. I must admit I had to do some research for this question. From what I can find considering all the amputated limbs, and the Confederacy having limited amounts of chloroform, which even Stonewall Jackson when chloroformed for his infamous amputation thank God for the way he felt, doctors in the Confederacy developed a system which now is common sense but did not exist then. They were able to put hoses to the tanks of the chloroform and make shift face masks so that it was used more efficiently than able to use a more people. Considering what it must be like to have a limb sod off I have to say this is a very important development to me. Considering there was nothing 4 infections and Etc developed yet I would have to go with this innovation. But as I stated great great question not enough of us have studied the medical developments. War, or the threat of major war, is like going to space in terms it always Usher’s in great developments weather Medical, Everyday Use items, or even microwaves as the Space Program Usher again. Again great question I had to do some research to make my decision, and if I had to have a limb sawed-off I would pray to God there would be a chloroform mask there.

  5. Jonathan Letterman and his establishment of a system for moving wounded, setting up field hospitals, etc.

  6. The advances made in reconstructive surgery during the war and afterwards. Gurdon Buck had a lot to do with that.

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