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

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  • Aurelie1999@aol.com
    In a message dated 6/2/02 11:04:27 AM Central Daylight Time, dan_cone@hotmail.com writes:
    Message 1 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 2 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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