The one of bloodiest wars in American

The American Civil War is considered to be one of bloodiest wars in American history, the conflict of the Civil War pitted the Union against the Confederate States of America and resulted in the death of  nearly 400,000 men from on site fighting.  However during the four years of the war, more than 200,000 soldiers were killed by an enemy that was on  no side at that was disease he was a quick and silent killer.  The Civil War had more deaths than all previous wars combined.  Most people think that soldiers in the Civil War died of wounds or amputations.  But, the truth is that  disease was the biggest killer. Common diseases such as measles, smallpox, and malaria and also the fact that on the operating table inexperienced surgeons were performing unnecessary surgeries on soldiers.  The mortality rate was increased to about 50 percent in the war than it has been in previous wars.   All of these diseases and factors could have been prevented but due to poor physicals before entering the army, ignorance of medical information, lack of camp hygiene, insects that carried disease, lack of clothing and shoes, and troops were crowded and in close quarters and inadequate food and water.   Most people in the beginning of the war; thought it was only going to last a few weeks or months, so not much time and effort was put into drafting doctors or surgeons. Even so, surgeons really didn’t have formal training in medicine as we have today.  During the time of the Civil War in  order to become a qualified surgeon one would take  informal surgical training programs and special courses on treating gunshot wounds and other small things that would be useful if the doctor was needed on an on site case.  Due to the fact the informality of the programs many of the newly enlisted surgeons did not know much about bacteriology and were uneducated of what caused diseases. Most Civil War surgeons also had never treated a gunshot wound or performed surgery, which led to the fact that they were not qualified at all.  This caused several unnecessary surgeries to take place.  Since the courses were very informal for many of the ignorant surgeons the first instinct was to amputate.  During the war sixty (60%) percent of the surgeries done were amputations(National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Divided By Conflict, United by Compassion. National Museum of Civil War Medicine. February 25, 2005).  Even before the war the schooling for becoming was less grueling than it is today.  They would usually have two years of schooling, with only bookwork in the first year, and the second year would usually just be a repeat. However, doctors with the little schooling they had tried the best they could at treating the wounded and injured, and knowledge of medicine improved a little bit more each year.  Most qualified surgeons started off as litter bearer and would carry men off the battlefield. If any of them showed interest in the medical field, they could become a Steward. A Steward’s job was to take care of patients with minor wounds such as, scratches, and bumps. The other duties of a Steward were to pull teeth and take care of medicines for the surgeons. The Steward would also guard the pharmaceutical stores, because often soldiers would try to break into the medicinal stores where the morphine, opium, and whisky were stored. If a Steward completed these duties, then he might be allowed to assist a surgeon in an operation, which could lead to becoming an assistant surgeon. He could then later on become an experienced and qualified surgeon. This allowed the job rate growth to about 14,500 surgeons in total in the war that was a huge jump from the beginning of the war when there were only 4,000 surgeons.  But, still plenty of unnecessary surgeries that took place. Soldiers faced diseases like measles, smallpox, malaria, pneumonia, camp itch, mumps, typhoid and dysentery. However, diarrhea killed more soldiers than any other illness. There were many reasons that diseases were so common for the causes of death for soldiers. The cause for the disproportionate number of deaths was attributed to filthy living conditions in army camps, nonexistent surgical equipment, spoiled and poorly prepared foods, unwashed surgeon’s hands, and other poor health conditions. When surgeons would suggest or treat diseases and wounds, sometimes they would not only not help but they would make the wounds or disease worse. For example, doctors sometimes suggested that each man should soap his socks in water each day, to avoid sores to the feet. Not only did this not work, the soaps of that day were made of lye. Lye can gradually become destructive, and made the sores even worse.  During the war plenty due to the great casualties faced this caused an uproar in advancements. One of the medical advancements that was made was the use of anesthetics in a more efficient way. In 1863, Stonewall Jackson’s surgeon recommended the removal of his left arm, which had been badly damaged(A Surgeon’s Civil War: Letters and Diaries of Daniel M. Holt; edited by James M. Greiner, Janet L. Coryell, and James R. Smither, 1994).When a chloroform-soaked cloth was placed over his nose, the Confederate general, in great pain, muttered, “What an infinite blessing,” before going limp. But such blessings were in short supply. The Confederate Army had a tough time securing enough anesthesia because of the Northern blockade. The standard method of soaking a handkerchief with chloroform wasted the liquid as it evaporated. Dr. Julian John Chisolm solved the dilemma by inventing a 2.5-inch inhaler, the first of its type. Chloroform was dripped through a perforated circle on the side onto a sponge in the interior; as the patient inhaled through tubes, the vapors mixed with air. This new method required only one-eighth of an ounce of chloroform, compared to the old 2-ounce dose. So while Union surgeons knocked out their patients 80,000 times during the war, rebels treated nearly as many with a fraction of the supplies.  However before the invention of anesthetic had improved so much more of the years during the war.  In the beginning, the anesthetic was applied to a cloth and put over the nose or mouth until the patient became unconscious. A surgeon would usually then amputate a limb in about 10 minutes(Doctors in Blue, The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War; George W. Adams, 1985 ). The lack of water and time meant that surgeons did not wash their hands or instruments after performing a surgery, which led to bacteria being spread and causing more diseases. Because of this, one fourth of the people who had been amputated died. This was a factor, in the fact that the numbers of people whom died in the Civil War. Since the casualty rate was so high, many new general hospitals were built.And also several new innovations such as facial reconstructive surgeries which are now used today. Hospitals during the Civil War were very unhygienic and crowded.  Hospital care varied from buildings, churches, barns and tents to wagons in the middle of a battle field.  One hospital during the war that was significant to the Chimborazo Hospital,this hospital was one of the most booming hospitals ever during the Civil War with receiving up to 4000 patients a day. For most of the war the majority of the men receiving treatment were sick rather than wounded. Chimborazo was not a field hospital, but rather a recovery hospital. Most wounded soldiers arriving there from the battlefield had been injured several days earlier, had received emergency treatment soon thereafter, and then went to Chimborazo by railroad or ambulance.Because Richmond never endured a direct attack during the Civil War, Chimborazo operated safely until April 1865. Approximately 75,000 patients passed through its doors over the course of three and a half years. The precise number of deaths in the 5000 to 7000 range. Men who died at Chimborazo Hospital nearly always received burial in the Confederate section at Oakwood Cemetery, only one mile northeast of the hospital.  This hospital was one of the safest and cleanest the hospital was able to successfully house soldiers in need and bring their health up to their full potentials. In conclusion, due to the Civil War many new techniques were formed in order to save lives in the future.   Hospitals changed much over the years of the Civil War. Before surgeries were all done in one place and were in many different places like buildings,  tents, and wagons in the middle of battlefields. Hospitals improved after finding out that patients caught diseases from other people. The hospitals were then divided into separate building according to illnesses and diseases. Emergency care became used more frequently such ambulances and stretchers.  The Civil War caused many changes in medicine and hospitals. During the years of the war, knowledge of medicine improved greatly and hospitals became highly efficient, clean, and larger in size compared to what they used to be before the war.


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