Medical Practices of the Civil War

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Medical Practices of the Civil War

By | September 2010
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Medical Practices of the Civil War

The medical practices used during the Civil War era were not very advanced and took a big toll on the war itself. Many of the soldiers, both Union and Confederate, returned home with missing body parts, were shell shocked, or were psychologically traumatized. These medical practices during this time did not do much to help the lives of the soldiers other than doing the bare minimum to keep them alive, which in many cases, resulted in infection and disease. All of this consequented in the soldiers being affected both mentally and physically, as well as the lives of a tremendous amount of men were ruined.

Many of the field surgeons during the Civil War had little experience and knowledge. This is as a result of the demand of medical personnel in the battle field. According to historian Bryan Bock, “Many schools were all over during the Civil War period. Most of these were just diploma factories, providing very little real training” (Medical Technology). In fact, many of the medical personnel were only required to complete a short term of study in their area. Additionally, Bock explains, “The good medical schools were established in colleges, i.e. Princeton, Yale, etc. These schools’ programs were only 1 year programs, although 2 years was recommended.” (Medical Technology) This also caused physicians to be uneducated about a wide range of bacterial infections and disease. Another contribution to unnecessary soldier fatalities was the poor medical treatment given to soldiers by Civil War doctors. One situation explained by Bock - “After and operation, they thought it

good if pus formed. They called it ‘laudable pus,’ when really the pus was a sign of massive bacterial infection that could eventually kill the soldier” (Medical Technology) -and many others alike made for very traumatic experiences for soldiers.

In most instances, when an injured soldier had just returned from battle,...
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