Medicine in the Civil War

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Medicine and Hospitals in the Civil War
The Civil War had more deaths than all previous wars combined. Most people think those soldiers in the Civil War died of wounds or amputations, but the truth is that most died from common diseases that they never had been exposed to. Twice as many soldiers died from diseases than those soldiers who died in battle.
Most people in the beginning of the war; thought it was only going to last a few weeks or months, so not much effort was put into recruiting doctors or surgeons. Even so, surgeons really didn’t have formal training in medicine. They did not know much about bacteriology and were ignorant of what caused diseases. Most Civil War surgeons also had never treated a gun shot wound or performed surgery, which led to the fact that they were not qualified at all. They would usually have 2 years of schooling, with only bookwork in the first year, and the second year would usually just be a repeat. However, doctors tried the best they could at treating the wounded and injured, and knowledge of medicine improved a little bit more each year.
Most qualified surgeons started off as litter bearer and would carry men off the battlefield. If any of them showed interest in the medical field, they could become a Steward. A Steward's job was to take care of patients with minor wounds such as, scratches, and bumps. The other duties of a Steward were to pull teeth and take care of medicines for the surgeons. The Steward would also guard the medicinal stores, because often soldiers would try to break into the medicinal stores where the morphine, opium, and whisky were stored. If a Steward completed these duties, then he might be allowed to assist a surgeon in an operation, which could lead to becoming an assistant surgeon. He could then later on become an experienced and qualified surgeon.
Soldiers faced diseases like measles, small pox, malaria, pneumonia, camp itch, mumps, typhoid and dysentery. However, diarrhea killed more soldiers than any other illness. There were many reasons that diseases were so common for the causes of death for soldiers. Reasons include the fact that there were poor physicals before entering the army, ignorance of medical information, lack of camp hygiene, insects that carried disease, lack of clothing and shoes, troops were crowded and in close quarters and inadequate food and water.

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