Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine

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Correcting the pervading myths of Civil War medicine perpetuated by Hollywood dramatizations, this exploration covers how the sick and wounded were treated on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Through detailed research, these essays show there were actually too few amputations, contrary to popular belief; there were many advances made in the understanding and treatment of diseases and wounds to the nervous system, and new surgical techniques were used to treat battlefield injuries once thought to be certainly fatal. These topics and more are treated by experts in their respective fields, including medical education, science, invention, neuroscience, and mental health.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association
Years of Change and Suffering is not oriented toward the medical professional but rather designed for readers interested in Civil War medical history. Such readers should find these essays informative and thought-provoking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781889020358
  • Publisher: Edinborough Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James Schmidt is a scientist with more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and the author of more than 50 articles on American history and Lincoln's Labels: America's Best Known Brands and the Civil War. Guy Hasegawa is the senior editor of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, a published expert on Confederate pharmacy and other aspects of Civil War medicine, and a board member of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Society of Civil War Surgeons.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Thomas P. Lowry ix

Introduction James M. Schmidt Guy R. Hasegawa 3

1 "Medical School for a Nation" The Medical College of Virginia, 1860-1865 Jodi L. Koste 13

2 "A Multiplicity of Ingenious Articles" Civil War Medicine and Scientific American Magazine James M. Schmidt 37

3 Amputations in the Civil War Alfred Jay Bollet 57

4 J. J. Chisolm, M.D. Confederate Medical and Surgical Innovator F. Terry Hambrecht 69

5 "The Privates Were Shot" Urological Wounds and Treatment in the Civil War Harry Herr 89

6 Southern Resources, Southern Medicines Guy R. Hasegawa 107

7 "The Firm" Mitchell, Morehouse, and Keen and Civil War Neurology D. J. Canale 127

8 "Haunted Minds" The Impact of Combat Exposure on the Mental and Physical Health of Civil War Veterans Judith Andersen 143

Bibliography 159

Index 171

About the Authors 179

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Challenge our assumptions

    We tend to look at 19th Century medical care as almost nonexistent. Drugs, treatments & equipment we take for granted are unavailable. Our most enduring image is an amputation on a screaming man being held down as the surgeon cuts away. A number of Civil War movies have used this image and burned it into our remembrance of the war. The problem is that people did not see medical care that way. These people live in a modern age with improved medical care that gave them a better chance of survival than their grandfathers had. The authors of these essays fully understand this and often challenge our assumptions while providing an entertaining learning experience.
    The eight essays range across the medical landscape of the Civil War. This variety of subjects provides an engrossing peek into the personalities, problems, procedures and developments during this time. The approximately 20-page essay gives a solid introduction without bogging the reader down in unwanted details.
    "Amputations in the Civil War" attacks our enduring image and changes it. The author shows how amputations were handled, why they were needed and looks a triage. This is a very well written essay, logical and informative that changed my views on battlefield medical care.
    "The Privates Were Shot" is a difficult read but a very well written interesting essay. This is the most graphic essay and discusses the damage and care of wounds to the groin. Again, an essay challenges the idea the doctors were unable to do little more than stand by and hope. We see a series of active and inactivate procedures used in these cases.
    "Southern Resources, Southern Medicines", "Medical School for a Nation" and "J.J. Chislom, M.D." give us a picture of the Confederacy response to the realities of war. Taken together, they give us a picture of the training of doctors, finding alternate medicines and one doctor responding to the challenges of war.
    "A Multiplicity of Ingenious Articles" looks at Scientific American magazine, patent laws and views on the correct "marketing" of medical inventions. Many inventors chose donation or patent.
    "The Firm" looks at the problems associated with nerve damage and the growing understanding of "ghost pain" in missing limbs. This essay shows how 19th Century medicine was growing and developing into what we know today.
    Combat soldiers in "good wars" do not suffer PTSD, CSR of ASD. These problems are associated with those who served in the not "good wars". As a Viet Nam veteran, I was very interested in the essay "Haunted Minds. We have very little about the problems of veterans of the Civil War, World War I and World War II had. This essay tells the story of one veteran and the problems he had after the war. It is an important introduction and badly needed look into this subject.
    This can be an unpleasant read. We are dealing with blood, pus, bone splinters and suffering. The authors do not dwell on this and avoid sensationalism by staying factual with the minimum of medicinal terminology necessary. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in medicine during the war or those needed an introduction.

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