The typical training for doctors at the beginning of the civil war
According to (civilwarhome.com, Medical care, battle wounds, and disease), medical training in the United States before the Civil War usually lasted for two years or less. During the training, the doctors-to–be would receive no practical clinical experience and no laboratory instructions.
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Disease as the greatest killer during the war
According to (civilwarhome.com, Medical care, battle wounds, and disease), disease, not bullets or other weaponry, killed the highest number of people during the war. The reason why the disease was prevalent among the army was partly because of the lax recruitment processes that admitted underage and overage men into the army. Consequently, a good percentage of those who succumbed to diseases on the battlefield was physically and medically unfit to have joined the army in the first place.
The hygienic conditions and the living conditions in the camps did not help matters either; the consumption of food and drinking of water contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria led to diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, and diarrhea. Exposure to communicable diseases led to the fast spread of diseases such as whooping cough, chickenpox, mumps, and measles among the men.
The Minnie ball as the weapon that most produced the most difficult injuries of the war
The Minnie ball, which is categorized as a small arms ammunition, produced the most difficult injuries during the civil war (Goellnitz). Specifically, the Minnie ball tore on the victims’ flesh on impact, thus creating enormous wounds. In most cases, injuries from the Minnie ball were fatal, and even when it did not kill on impact, it would shatter bones, and this led to the infamous amputations during the war. Wounds resulting from Minnie ball strikes would also become infected thus leading to death in some of the victims.
Amputation as the most common treatment during the war
The most common treatment during the Civil War was the amputations of limbs. Amputations were necessitated by the fact that Minnie Ball (which was the most common weapon), left gaping wounds, destroyed muscles, tissues, and arteries, and splintered bones beyond reasonable repair (Goellnitz). Even where resection of the limbs was an option, doctors did not have much time to perform such procedures due to the high number of people in the queue waiting to be amputated.
Amputations were also necessitated by the high prevalence of gangrene. According to (Paciorek 6), civil war doctors lacked an understanding of a gangrene infection and they usually used amputation as the best way of stemming the infection from spreading further. Pain during amputations was nabbed using chloroform, ether, or a combination of both.
More than 11,000 doctors attended to an estimated 10 million people during the war
At the start of the Civil War, the US Army medical staff was made up of a surgeon general, 30 surgeons, and 83 assistant surgeons (civilwarhome.com, Caring for the men). By the time the war ended, an excess of 11,000 doctors had attended to people on the battlefield. Many doctors had poor training if any, and a good percentage of them were political appointees. The Northern army had the largest number of surgeons, but most of them learned to perform surgeries for the first time on the battlefield. It is estimated that the doctors treated approximately 10 million people in just four years (civilwarhome.com, Medical car, battle wounds, and diseases).
The medical innovations and improvement developed during the war
Medical innovations and improvement that occurred during the civil war include the medical ambulance, the use of anesthesia during surgical operations, and the invention of new surgical procedures necessitated by the nature of the battlefield injuries. The development of pharmaceutical science was also brought about by the pressures of giving the injured men mass-produced medicine (Paciorek 7). Overall, the civil war spurred an improvement in medical care and medicine.
Civilwarhome.com. Caring for the Men: The History of Civil War Medicine. 2004. Web.
Civilwarhome.com. Medical Care, Battle Wounds, and Disease. 2002. Web.
Goellnitz, Jenny. Civil War Battlefield Surgery: A Description of Civil War Field Surgery. history Archive. 2011. Web.
Paciorek, Jessica. “Medicine and Its Practice during the American Civil War.” TCNJ Journal of Student Scholarship IX (2007): 1-12. Web.