Gruesome Civil War surgeon’s kit takes center stage at re-enactment

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CMWinkler

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When being wounded could be a fate worse than death: Gruesome Civil War surgeon’s kit takes center stage at re-enactment

  • Saws, scalpels and flesh hooks hint at the horrors of field hospitals
  • Amputation rates were high as surgeons struggled to treat 51,000 soldiers
By Jessica Jerreat
PUBLISHED: 00:04 EST, 29 May 2013 | UPDATED: 00:31 EST, 29 May 2013
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As the nation prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the grisly contents of a surgeon's took kit have acted as a reminder of the realities of the war.
With 51,000 casualties to tend to over three days of fierce fighting, the civil war surgeon's weapon of choice was often an amputation saw.
A large saw, knives and hooks to pull back tissue were on show at the site of the historic battle, as was a tourniquet to help stem bleeding.

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Under the knife: Dave Morris, dressed as an army surgeon, displays a Civil War surgeon's toolkit
The contents of the surgeon's toolkit could be mistaken for instruments of torture, but they were actually very effective.
Despite a lack of sterilization, antibiotics and the sheer scale of casualties, 75 per cent of injured soldiers who went under the surgeon's saw survived.
Fortunately, the soldiers did have access to anesthetic, which had been introduced in the 1840s. An inhaler had also been developed by the war, taking over from when soldiers were offered a chloroform-soaked rag.
About 51,000 soldiers were wounded in the battle in July 1863, and about 7,500 people died in what is considered a major turning point in the war after Northern forces repelled a Confederate advance.

For the rest: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2332508/Gruesome-Civil-War-surgeon-s-kit-takes-center-stage-10-day-Gettysburg-enactment.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
 

AndyHall

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"The contents of the surgeon's toolkit could be mistaken for instruments of torture. . . ."

Meh. Not too different from surgeons' instruments today. Form follows function.
 

1863surgeon

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at least today they are all metal and can be sterilized. The only true improvements between now and then is the better anesthetics, antibiotics and sterilization of instruments....oh and of course Doctors do wash up between patients.
 
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