Medical Conditions Throughout The Civil War: Male And Female Roles

3331 words - 14 pages

Although some people believe that the Civil War hospitals were usually clean and safe places, in reality they were dirty and unsafe, often as dangerous as the front lines themselves; despite the male and female attempts and hard work to improve these conditions.
Northern citizens, mostly women, volunteered and formed the Sanitary Commission (Orange). The Sanitary Commission volunteers prowled Union camps and hospitals, in demand that the hospitals and camps be cleaned up (Orange). Not only did they demand cleanliness, but they also insisted on better food and that blankets, shoes, medicines, and packages from home were distributed evenly (Orange). The Sanitary Commission also organized a system of supply wagons for battlefield relief (Orange). This system made the biggest difference after Antietam when thousands of supplies were given for the care of 10,000 men (Orange). Some the things given were shirts, towels, pillows, linens, bandages, chloroform and surgical instruments (Orange). Other things were more food related, such as oat cereal, condensed milk, beef stock, wine, fruit, crackers, tea and sugar (Orange). The main system that the Sanitary Commission organized was private relief for the soldiers (Orange). They also saw to it that rampant diseases did not spread (Orange). Some of the women in the Sanitary Commission assisted the Union in organizing the first modern ambulance corps (Purple and Green). This was a great improvement from the beginning of the war, when there was no system for carrying wounded soldiers from the battlefield (Blue and Orange). Although some limped off the battlefield with help from the comrades or were carried by stretchers, the Union greatly needed an ambulance system (Blue and Orange). This was a huge need for the men that were not assisted off and remained on the field for hours, or sometimes days, suffering or even dying from lack of care (Blue and Orange). Even when men made it off the field, they had to be taken to the hospital for their regiment, which could have meant a 30 minute trip or a 3 day trip (Black and Grey). Eventually on July 4, 1862 a new field hospital system was organized that focused on division, which meant that soldiers were taken to the nearest available hospital (Black and Grey). Although some soldiers were not any better off in the hospitals, which mostly consisted of a series of tents, because the operating room was usually a random open space, and the table, a door (Black and Grey).
Medical officers throughout the Civil War were very dedicated to their jobs, and often worked around the clock (Pink). Surgeons proved very useful, but were not allowed to carry weapons, and were often under fire while trying to treat patients (Brown). While surgeons were often under dangerous conditions, and without proper supplies, it caused many deaths and injuries (Brown). A total of 32 surgeons died from battle wounds, 83 were wounded and survived, and 281 surgeons died from over...

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