chapter  41
American Civil War
Pages 8

The American Civil War was a gruesome and horrendous spectacle. While virtu­ ous and inevitable on a philosophical plane, it was universally devastating to the generation of Americans caught in this painful struggle. For four years, more than one million Americans sustained a continuous fight against each other.1'8 The na­ tion was divided into North and South, Union and Confederate, Federalist and NonFederalist. It was a war fought amongst brothers, friends and neighbors. Amidst this chaos, American medicine was presented new challenges in wound and trauma management, care of the injured, and transportation for the sick. It was a large and comprehensive laboratory of patients and maladies that the American physician/ surgeon was often ill-prepared to handle. Overwhelmed by overcrowding, infec­ tious disease, limited supplies and the sheer volume of traumatic injuries, Civil War surgeons reported high mortality rates throughout this conflict.1'26

This writing briefly reviews the medical history of the Civil War, from the medi­ cal statistics accumulated to the care of the injured and diseased soldiers. It also addresses the impact of the war on the practice of medicine, and the contributions made during this era.