How Did The Civil War Impacted Medicine

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The Civil War was a vital event that occurred in America’s historical consciousness and in order to understand the medical aspect of the war, first defining exactly what the war was about is fundamental. According to Dixon, the Civil War transpired in 1861-1865 and it was essentially about the “uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.” Significant battles occurred in Chickamauga, Shiloh in Tennessee, Fredericksburg in Virginia, and Antietam in Maryland, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and Atlanta in Georgia. Moreover, how did the Civil War impacted medicine raised important points to be considered such as the disease-causing …show more content…

Some Vaccines were ineffective, Bollet wrote “in civilian life, children were first vaccinated with material taken directly from a lesion on the udder of a cow or a calf infected with cowpox, which was caused by a virus similar enough to smallpox to confer immunity” though this proved effective army soldiers would vaccinate each other but because they did not sterilize and used antiseptic methods this method would often be fatal due to blood poisoning. However, the knowledge the physicians gain from this experience helps to shape how patients are vaccinated …show more content…

According to Devine about 2,642 cases of gangrene were reported. During the Civil War the physicians believed that gangrene was caused by some strands of streptococci, after the war bacteria gangrene became known as ‘gas gangrene’ and soldiers needed to be isolated. Gangrene was contagious, they blamed this on poorly ventilated rooms and crowded hospitals. Bollet wrote that some “tents were well ventilated and few patients, thus decreasing the opportunity for erysipelas and hospital gangrene to spread.” Erysipelas was a skin infection similar to gangrene. The Civil war physicians that studied gangrene lesion used the microscope which revealed dead tissue blood vessels in the area occluded with “stagnant blood” and these microscopic organisms they observed was a result of infection. According to Adams “the gangrene patient might see a black spot the size of a dime, appear on his healing wound, and watch with horrified interest its rapid spread until his whole leg or arm was but a rotten, evil-smelling mass of dead flesh” Even though they did not establish bacteriology the physicians understood that the disease was destructive. This led to studies of the disease and there was a demand for cleanliness and the use of disinfectants in hospitals. This demonstrates a positive impact of the Civil War on medicine because physicians

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