Minie DBQ: Civil War Medicine Part 1 Directions: Read the short excerpts from the following sources to answer the question: How would you describe medicine during the Civil War? Document #1: In Europe, four-year medical schools were fairly common, and students received a great deal of laboratory training. As a result, European physicians had a far better understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and infection. Students in American medical schools trained for less than two years and received almost no clinical experience and very little laboratory instruction. Amazingly, Harvard University didn't own a single stethoscope or microscope until after the war.
At the onset of the war, the Federal army had fewer than 100 medical officers, and the Confederacy had only twenty-four. By 1865, however, more than 13,000 Union doctors had served in the field and in hospitals. In the Confederacy, approximately 4,000 medical officers and a great many volunteers tended to the wounded.
What do you think were typical ailments that doctors had to treat before the war? How do you think this changed during the war? How do you think their lack of knowledge hurt the army?
What conclusions can you draw about how men died during the war? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Document #3: The medical director of the Army of the Potomac, Dr. Jonathan Letterman, wrote in his report after the battle of Antietam: The slow-moving minie bullet used during the American Civil War caused catastrophic injuries. The two minie bullets, for example, that struck John Bell Hood's leg at Chickamauga destroyed 5 inches of his upper thigh bone. This left surgeons no choice but to amputate shattered limbs. Hood's leg was removed only 4 and 1/2 inches away from his body. Hip amputations, like Hood's, had mortality rates of around 83%. The closer to the body the amputation was done, the greater the chance that the wound would be mortal. An upper arm amputation, as was done on Stonewall Jackson or General Oliver O. Howard (who lost his arm at Fair Oaks in 1862) had a mortality rate of about 24%.
What were the effects of better military technology like the minie bullet?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Documents #4: “An Episode of War” by Stephen Crane: “A busy surgeon was passing near the [injured] lieutenant. “Good morning,” he said, with a friendly smile. Then he caught sight of the lieutenant’s bandaged arm and his face at once changed.
“Well, let’s have a look at it.” He seemed possessed suddenly of a great contempt for the lieutenant. This wound evidently placed the latter on a very low social plane. The doctor cried out impatiently, “what mutton-head had tied it up anyhow?” The lieutenant answered, “Oh, a man.”
When the wound was disclosed, the doctor looked at it disdainfully, “Humph,” he said “You come along with me…I won’t amputate it. Come along. Don’t be a baby.”
And this is how the lieutenant lost his arm. When he reached home, his sisters, his mother, and his wife sobbed at the sight of the flat sleeve.
What was this doctor’s attitude toward the lieutenant’s injury? Why?
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Document #5:From Gettysburg.com: For the most part medical supplies were manufactured in the north. The Confederates found supplies harder to come by as they were typically either smuggled through the Union blockade, or captured Union supplies were utilized to treat troops. Quinine was widely used by both armies to treat high-fever, namely malaria. It was known that a camp near a swampy area would cause outbreaks of fever, chills, headache and the shakes and this drug that is derived from the South American Cinchona tree could effectively treat these symptoms. Whiskey was often used as anesthetic when nothing else was available and was utilized to treat wounds as well. It could be ingested prior to amputations to make the patient calmer in a tough situation and acted as a painkiller.
How did the primitive medicine of 1850 compare with the technology of the minie ball?
Document #6: Civil War Medical Tools:
Can you explain what some of these medical tools were used for? What is missing from this medical kit?