Today, we’re pleased to share Paige Gibbon Backus’s talk from the 2020 ECW Virtual Symposium. Paige, who once managed Ben Lomond Historical Site—a Civil War hospital following First Manassas—spoke on “A Fight for Life or Death: The Carnage Found in the Medical Field During the Civil War.”
“It’s always interesting to study medicine because we take so much of it for granted today,” Paige says. “From immunizations and medicines, to transplants and prosthetics, people can live a lot longer and do a lot more than they could even just a century ago. It is amazing to see how far science has progressed and how many terrible diseases have been eradicated.”
Paige says an accident three years ago brought her understanding into even sharper focus. While on a trip out west, she broke her leg in three places. “As I got prepped for surgery and saw all the pins and metals they used to put my leg back together, all I could think of is that 100 years ago, that probably would have been it for me,” she admits. “I would have had to either be left behind, or gotten an infection, or would not have been able to do anything with that leg the rest of my life. But now, I my leg is back to 95% normal, and that would not have been possible without modern medical science. It is amazing, yet terrible to think about what all of these soldiers during the Civil War had to suffer through because of the lack of modern technology and medicine.”
Paige says the virtual symposium was harder to pull off than a lot of people might imagine. “As a public historian, I thrive on the reactions of the audience and getting the audience involved,” she says. “When presenting at Stevenson Ridge, I presented to two people and three cameras with bright lights shining on me. To me, personally, that is a lot more nerve racking than speaking to a room of 100 people! While it was something different than I was used to, it was a great experience and I hope you enjoy watching my presentation and much as I enjoyed researching and presenting it.”
Meanwhile, tickets for the rescheduled Seventh Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge are available for early bird purchase by clicking here. Tickets are $155.00 each and cover all three days, August 6-8, 2021. Our theme, “Fallen Leaders,” will feature a keynote address by Gordon Rhea on the fall of Jeb Stuart at Yellow Tavern, ten speakers, and a battlefield tour of Longstreet’s wounding in the Wilderness by Greg Mertz.