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Re: Anyone read the new Civil War medicine book?

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
      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 2 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002

        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 3 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
          >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 4 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
            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 5 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
              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 6 of 8 , Jun 2, 2002
                > 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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