A Breakthrough

Topics: Surgery, Death, Medicine Pages: 9 (1101 words) Published: October 15, 2014

Lydia Black
Mrs. Thompson
English 101
1 February 2013

During the Civil War, doctors were often forced to improvise with prescriptions, anesthesia, and amputations to save the lives of severely wounded soldiers. Even though medical decisions during the Civil war were gruesome and often pointless, and advanced our medical knowledge today. Civil war amputations, diseases, and disposal of the dead were some of the gruesome components of the time period, but it has advanced our medical knowledge today.

Many doctors, however were unprepared to treat terrible wounds,that resulted from amputations. The state of medical knowledge during the Civil war was extremely basic. Their experience mostly included pulling rotten teeth or lancing boils. Doctors did not understand infection or how easy it was to get one, and as a result they did little to prevent it. They did not recognize the lack of for cleanliness and sanitation as a cause of infection. Little was known about bacteria and germs. In fact, for the longest time during the Civil war, bandages were used over and over, on different people without being cleaned.1.

An amputation is a surgical procedure in which a doctor uses a sharp blade to remove a limb that has been severely wounded or has become infected. Military advances before and during the war meant more powerful, destructive weapons, and more devastating injuries.2. With so many patients, doctors did not have enough time to do tedious and time consuming surgical repairs, and many wounds became infected. Resulting, about three-fourths of the operations performed during the war were amputations.

Amputation kits were carried by doctors everywhere. These kits included instruments used to amputate limbs and perform other surgical procedures: two trephines, a variety of knifes, an amputation saw, bone nippers, a tourniquet, tweezers, scissors, and a time Hey saw.3.

This was a time before antiseptics; no antibiotics were available, and even minor wounds could become infected and lead to death. While the typical risk of being shot and killed in combat was very high, wounded soldiers faced an greater even larger risk of dying from infection or disease.4.

Afflictions such as diarrhea, malaria, smallpox, typhoid fever, pneumonia, and measles wiped out large numbers of men on both the Confederate and Union side.5. Deadly diseases swept through the ranks because of incredibly cramped conditions in camps. Limited knowledge of proper sanitation and safe hygienic practices, resulted in inadequate shelter, contaminated water supplies and, unhealthy diets Two of the most common infections and diseases associated with the civil war were, typhoid fever and dysentery. Typhoid fever was a very deadly disease that was caused by contaminated food and water.6. Dysentery was the second most common thing to worry about. Dysentery or better yet known as the extremely bad case of the runs involved an irritated colon and was caused by contaminated water.7. Severe cases of this would involve mucus and sometimes blood in a soldiers stool.

The most common drug used in the civil war was Chloroform.8. A medical procedure called a ligature was done by tying the ends of blood vessels in the body to stop excessive bleeding. Using a ligature was a very similar way to stop bleeding. A tourniquet is a sort of device, made of cloth of rubber tubing, that is wrapped around an arm or leg that has been shot to stop the bleeding.9.

In both the Union and the Confederate armies, soldiers attempted to provide some kind of burial for fallen or perished comrades, even if it meant lightly covering bodies with dirt, or placing the dead in common graves (ditches).10. In many cases those assigned to burial duty, where African Americans. They performed the burial ceremonies, many of which started with leaving the dead in uniform or blankets.11. Rarely a pine coffin was used for the dead in the early beginning of war.

Between the years...
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