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Re: [civilwarwest] Anyone read the new Civil War medicine book?

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  • Aurelie1999@aol.com
    I found the book easily understood and my knowledge of medicine is confined to Flintstone band aids and the miracle of Excedrin. I will, however, confess that
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 1, 2002
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      I found the book easily understood and my knowledge of medicine is confined
      to Flintstone band aids and the miracle of Excedrin. I will, however,
      confess that I did not sit down and read every word particularly the tables
      etc. It is, however, an excellent reference.

      I was also knocked over by the dismantling of myths. "In their desperation,
      they developed novel approaches to abdominal, chest, eye, plastic and
      orthopedic surgery, as well as surgery for head woods, later termed
      neurosurgery." So many of have been so mesmerized by contemporary anecdotal
      evidence that we are ready to consider Phoebe Pember Yates' diary as a
      definitive work on civil war medicine. While I have no doubt that the
      memoirs and diaries of those who were there are accurate, I also know these
      works do not tell the broader story that uses a wider lens for seeing the
      amazement rather than the horror of CW medical practice.

      My one comment or criticism is that the book is weak when presenting the
      Southern story of the medicine. I had the feeling that it was just easier to
      research the northern efforts and the south got short changed.
      Connie
    • WmHiram
      OK, thanks, Connie, I ll pass that information on. I thought that there was a lot that the book didn t say about the day- to-day running of the medical corps,
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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        OK, thanks, Connie, I'll pass that information on.

        I thought that there was a lot that the book didn't say about the day-
        to-day running of the medical corps, but that only leaves the field
        wide open for more books, eh, including the definitive volume on
        Confederate medicine.

        BTW, at the Society of Civil War Surgeons convention last year I met
        the gggranddaughter of J. J. Woodworth, the famous Confederate
        surgeon who wrote the book on wartime surgery. She did a nice
        presentation on his life, and we may expect a biograpy of him in the
        next year or two.

        Billie

        --- In civilwarwest@y..., Aurelie1999@a... wrote:
        > I found the book easily understood and my knowledge of medicine is
        confined
        > to Flintstone band aids and the miracle of Excedrin. I will,
        however,
        > confess that I did not sit down and read every word particularly
        the tables
        > etc. It is, however, an excellent reference.
        >
        > I was also knocked over by the dismantling of myths. "In their
        desperation,
        > they developed novel approaches to abdominal, chest, eye, plastic
        and
        > orthopedic surgery, as well as surgery for head woods, later termed
        > neurosurgery." So many of have been so mesmerized by contemporary
        anecdotal
        > evidence that we are ready to consider Phoebe Pember Yates' diary
        as a
        > definitive work on civil war medicine. While I have no doubt that
        the
        > memoirs and diaries of those who were there are accurate, I also
        know these
        > works do not tell the broader story that uses a wider lens for
        seeing the
        > amazement rather than the horror of CW medical practice.
        >
        > My one comment or criticism is that the book is weak when
        presenting the
        > Southern story of the medicine. I had the feeling that it was just
        easier to
        > research the northern efforts and the south got short changed.
        > Connie
      • David Kowalski
        Amen Connie. The results at the main Confederate hospital in Richmond were the best of the war. Aurelie1999@aol.com wrote: I found the book easily understood
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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          Amen Connie.  The results at the main Confederate hospital in Richmond were the best of the war. 

            Aurelie1999@... wrote:

          I found the book easily understood and my knowledge of medicine is confined
          to Flintstone band aids and the miracle of Excedrin.  I will, however,
          confess that I did not sit down and read every word particularly the tables
          etc.  It is, however, an excellent reference.

          I was also knocked over by the dismantling of myths. "In their desperation,
          they developed novel approaches to abdominal, chest, eye, plastic and
          orthopedic surgery, as well as surgery for head woods, later termed
          neurosurgery."  So many of have been so mesmerized by contemporary anecdotal
          evidence that we are ready to consider Phoebe Pember Yates' diary as a
          definitive work on civil war medicine.  While I have no doubt that the
          memoirs and diaries of those who were there are accurate, I also know these
          works do not tell the broader story that uses a wider lens for seeing the
          amazement rather than the horror of CW medical practice. 

          My one comment or criticism is that the book is weak when presenting the
          Southern story of the medicine.  I had the feeling that it was just easier to
          research the northern efforts and the south got short changed. 
          Connie


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        • Dan Cone
          ... I have read somewhere (don t ask me where, can t remember) that despite all the stories of Southern inefficiency with medicine, 1) wound for wound, the
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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            >My one comment or criticism is that the book is weak when presenting the
            >Southern story of the medicine. I had the feeling that it was just easier
            >to
            >research the northern efforts and the south got short changed.
            >Connie

            I have read somewhere (don't ask me where, can't remember) that despite all
            the stories of Southern inefficiency with medicine, 1) wound for wound, the
            Confederate hospitals were better equipped because they were stuffed to the
            gills with COTTON (which, having helped to start the war, finally made
            itself useful for a change) to use as gauze, and 2) Southern doctors and
            orderlies were generally better about sterilizing this gauze by heating it
            in ovens before application (although it is said that they weren't aware of
            what they were doing).

            Dan

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          • Aurelie1999@aol.com
            In a message dated 6/2/02 11:02:41 AM Central Daylight Time, kywddavid@yahoo.com writes:
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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              In a message dated 6/2/02 11:02:41 AM Central Daylight Time,
              kywddavid@... writes:

              << Amen Connie. The results at the main Confederate hospital in Richmond
              were the best of the war. >>

              By the end of the war Chimborazo Hospital perched on a Richmond hill was the
              largest facility of its kind in the world. Seems Chimborazo merits a good
              book that would add much to our store of knowledge on the subject of CW
              medicine.

              For me, however, I would love to know more about the Union hospital ships
              that plied the Mississippi and were exceptionally successful in ferrying the
              wounded from the western battle scene. From what I have been able to pick
              up, the idea of outfitting river boats as floating hospitals was born in the
              West and expanded there under the under early Sanitary Commission efforts and
              through the encouragement of the army command. "Assistant Surgeon W.D.
              Turner served aboard the U.S. hospital steamer "Memphis" during the sieges of
              Fts Henry and Donelson and the battle of Shiloh. . ." According to Turner's
              report, of the 7,221 patients carried on the Memphis only 125 died on board.
              The whole effort seems remarkable particularly since it was an innovation
              unique to this war where the civilian population became deeply involved.
              "The Western Sanitary Association gave us, in cost of articles, $3,500. The
              ice box of the steamer holds 800 tons. She has bathrooms, laundry, elevator
              for the sick from the lower to the upper deck, amputating room, nine
              different water-closets, gauze blinds to the windows to keep the cinders and
              smoke from annoying the sick, two separate kitchens for sick and well, a
              regular corps of nurses, and two water-closets on every deck." George D.
              Wise, Captain Red Rover, 1862.

              Civil War Medicine is expertly annotated with chapter notes, offers valuable
              appendices, provides an extensive bibliography and its final chapters on
              reevaluation puts much of the negative comments into context and removes many
              of the myths.
              Connie
            • Aurelie1999@aol.com
              In a message dated 6/2/02 11:04:27 AM Central Daylight Time, dan_cone@hotmail.com writes:
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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                In a message dated 6/2/02 11:04:27 AM Central Daylight Time,
                dan_cone@... writes:

                << I have read somewhere (don't ask me where, can't remember) that despite
                all
                the stories of Southern inefficiency with medicine, 1) wound for wound, the
                Confederate hospitals were better equipped because they were stuffed to the
                gills with COTTON (which, having helped to start the war, finally made
                itself useful for a change) to use as gauze, and 2) Southern doctors and
                orderlies were generally better about sterilizing this gauze by heating it
                in ovens before application (although it is said that they weren't aware of
                what they were doing).

                Dan >>

                I would question "better equipped" as accurate, since the CSA was
                persistently short of all supplies. According to my reading it is true that
                lint scrapings were often used in the South in lieu of poorly washed
                bandages. Since lint cannot be reused, the result was less infection.
                Shortages (chronic in the South and sporadic up North) produced innovation
                and experimental techniques that drove medicine forward in leaps and bounds.

                To my mind not only is the topic of CW medicine interesting in and of itself,
                but the care of the wounded consistently impacted logistics and tactics
                around the field of battle. I think an effective General had to factor it in
                when planning a campaign or preparing a battle plan.

                For instance, hospital steamers clogged up the Mississippi transportation
                system both on the river and in port during western movements. Or, when
                Grant crossed the big muddy to go behind VB, he still had to figure out a way
                to care for the wounded even though he determined to live off the land.
                Surgeons and nursing staff had to be accommodated near the battlefield and in
                the camp environment and supplies had to be earmarked for their care. In
                other words, CW medicine was intricately woven into all aspects of the war.

                Connie
              • WmHiram
                ... despite all the stories of Southern inefficiency with medicine, 1) wound for wound, the Confederate hospitals were better equipped because they were
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
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                  > I have read somewhere (don't ask me where, can't remember) that
                  despite all > the stories of Southern inefficiency with medicine, 1)
                  wound for wound, the > Confederate hospitals were better equipped
                  because they were stuffed to the > gills with COTTON (which, having
                  helped to start the war, finally made > itself useful for a change)
                  to use as gauze, and 2) Southern doctors and > orderlies were
                  generally better about sterilizing this gauze by heating it
                  > in ovens before application (although it is said that they weren't
                  aware of > what they were doing).
                  >
                  > Dan

                  It's a nice theory, but heating cotton in an oven won't sterilize it
                  any more than washing it in warm water will. I'm surprised that
                  nobody has trotted out the old horse tail chestnut as well! :) Even
                  if any type of dressing or instrument were "sterilized" by
                  boiling/baking/washing, it still would be picked up by nonsterile
                  hands, placed back in a nonsterile field, and stored in a nonsterile
                  manner.

                  Another point that Dr. Bollet made is that even today we have killer
                  germs which no antibiotics or antisepsis can fight. The "flesh-
                  eating bacterium" (a virulent Strep-B which causes necrotizing
                  fasciitis) is a prime example.

                  Huzzah, let's keep up the thread, finally something that I can talk
                  with authority about!

                  Billie
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