Skip to comments.Gettysburg offers lessons on battlefield medicine
Posted on 06/23/2013 6:15:39 AM PDT by Kartographer
As gunshots ravaged the bodies of tens of thousands of soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg, military doctors responded with a method of treatment that is still the foundation of combat medicine today.
Union Army Maj. Dr. Jonathan Letterman is remembered as the father of battlefield medicine for his Civil War innovations. He realized that organizing the medical corps was a key for any battle.
"For military medicine, in particular, the lessons that Letterman gave us are as true today as they were then," said retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Ray Blanck, the former surgeon general for the U.S. Army.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Also here’s neat link to story about Ted Hughes who owns and operates the Chalklevel Carriage and Buggy Works in Piney River who make replica of the Rucker Ambulances used during the Civil War.
Every single war...over the past thousand years...has offered an introduction of medical improvements.
Eventually, we will have an army of robot drones, which have a medical corps of repairmen and technicians....who suffer PTSD effects because their favorite drone (Hulk-602) was severely disabled and may not ever return to battle. A battlefield graveyard will be established where Hulk-602 can be laid to rest, and gallant stories will be told of his heroic last minutes.
Fred Saberhagen wrote about such back in 1968 in his books ‘Empire of the East’ they were called ‘Valkyries’ automatic drone ambulances.
If you are ever in Frederick, Maryland, there is a Civil War Medical Museum there. Stop in - it’s a small museum but very well done - and a decent book shop, too!
One of the thing I really disliked about the PBS series on the Civil a was that they never wen into many of the really important innovations and discoveries of Civil War medicine. Instead they spent their time with winey fiddles and showing people who had been shot up.
A few medical lessons learned other than evac.
1) For the first time, head and brain injuries survived long enough for trial and error experiments. Typically a bullet would tear off a chunk of skull, leaving exposed the brain of a still living soldier, who might survive for days just that way. With treatment, perhaps much longer. Doctors learned by experiment how to treat head and brain injuries.
This was the biggest advance in brain surgery since 1559, when king Henry II of France received a lance injury to the head during a jousting tournament, yet survived because of the radical idea of removing the lance tip from his head. Though he later died of infection.
2) Union soldiers whose deep injuries but in otherwise clean infirmaries still died at greater numbers than Confederate soldiers with similar deep wounds, and worse conditions. This was because the Confederate soldiers wounds were infected with fly maggots, that consumed (only) dead tissue where gangrene would occur. Ironically a Confederate officer, George H. Tichenor, innovated the use of alcohol as an antiseptic.
3) Both armies soon realized that putting casualties in stables often resulted in 100% mortality due to tetanus. The lesson learned? Don’t put wounded in stables.
4) Open windows were better when there were communicable pulmonary epidemics. Only recently do we know why. With closed windows, the bad air accumulates. Air conditioning, even if it purifies the air, takes much longer to recirculate fresh air than open windows.