Confederate Medicine in the Civil War

Essay by diavola8College, UndergraduateA, December 2002

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When the southern states of the United States of America seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States, it led to the Civil War. This war was devastating to the nation, largely because so many men died from wounds received during battle and from disease. Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain is a fictional account of several people living in the Confederate States during the time of the Civil War. The book begins with the story of one of the main characters, a man named Inman. Inman is in a military hospital due to a gunshot wound he received in battle. During the book, he spends a short time in the hospital. Within the few passages about his stay in the hospital, it became obvious that the care of the sick and wounded soldiers was of poor quality along with the knowledge of medicine at that time. The Civil War took place in a time when doctors did not know about bacteriology, antiseptics, or sanitation.

This ignorance resulted in the death of many sick and wounded soldiers from diseases and injuries (Goellnitz).

The Confederate States especially had problems in dealing with their sick and wounded soldiers that resulted from this war. There were several causes for the medical problems in the south. Medical schools were substandard, hospitals were overcrowded and doctors overworked, the Union placed a blockade on the imports and exports of the Confederacy. The introduction of new gun technology, rifling and the Minie Ball, which changed the severity of gunshot wounds, this left doctors unsure of what to do to remedy the resulting injuries. A Confederate doctor estimated that 600,000 men fought for the Confederate states and each one of these men was wounded or diseased about six times during the war. Then in addition to their...