Facts About Civil War Medicine

Civil War medicine did not keep up with weapon technology of the day. This led to a huge amount of casualties during the war.

The North had a small advantage over the South when it came to medical technology, but only slightly. They were both equally bad.

As a soldier you did not ever want to become sick or wounded. Treatments given by doctors to their patients would more often than note create more problems than they fixed.

There were a lot of bad treatments going around during the Civil War. One in particular was Mercury. This was seen as somewhat of a cure all and it was given to patients for virtually any problem they had. The reason this medicine was bad simply was because it was poisonous to people. It is known to cause brain damage, tooth loss, and digestive problems.

One of the few treatments used during the war that actually helped patients was Chloroform. It was simply an anesthetic that was used to put patients to sleep so that surgeons good do their dirty work without a screaming patient fighting them. Luckily for surgeons and their patients there was enough of it to go around on both sides of the line.

The bone saw was used extremely effective during the war. Amputations were so common that piles of arms and legs would often be simply thrown into a corner when casualties were high. This piece of technology must have been a frightening sight for a wounded solider. Getting wounded during the Civil War usually meant a date with the bone saw. It would usually cost you an arm and a leg.

While amputations were gruesome during the war, surgeons really had no other choice. They had no way of stopping infections that would usually lead to death. Simply cutting off the damaged limb was typically the best way to go.

Three quarters of all surgeries performed in the field were amputations.