explores the experiences of disabled veterans and their role as symbols of
the fractured nation.”
This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine,
National Institutes of Health.
The accompanying exhibit on the third floor and library blog was prepared by
Sue London, MLS and Colleen Method
The American Civil War (aka: War Between the States, etc.) lasted from
April 12, 1861-May 9, 1865.
Over three million soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict. More than 500,000 of those soldiers died, although many more were victims of diseases such as smallpox, yellow fever, diarrhea and malaria than died from battlefield wounds.
A number of soldiers nearly equal to the number of deaths were wounded. Many suffered severe lasting effects or ended up with permanent disabilities from war wounds or lifesaving surgery, including amputations, yet managed to beat the odds and survived.
Civil War medicine is often thought of as backward and even brutal. One common myth is that wounded soldiers, especially those undergoing amputations, were held down and operated on without anesthesia. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine refutes that image, reporting that in the estimated 80,000 Union surgeries, anesthesia (chloroform or, less often, ether due to its flammability) was used approximately 95% of the time ,with only 254 reported cases where none was used. The museum further explains that this perception probably arose from a misunderstanding, by non-medical witnesses to battlefield surgery, of why the wounded were thrashing around and moaning. The anesthesia itself, used lightly for these quick surgeries, caused the movements. This meant the patients sometimes had to be held down, but not because of a reaction to pain or lack of anesthetic.
Warning: Some photographs included in the display and the resources in the bibliography are graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.
Items from our History of Medicine Collection in the 3rd Floor Display Case
(not all linked items are available for viewing by the general public):
Civil War Surgeon’s Tool Kit
Field hospital sketch
Example of personal journals, diaries and letters
William H. Wishard – Some Personal Army Experiences. Indiana Medical Journal. 1905-6:338-342. History of Medicine Serials (Bloomington may have online access
Bodenhamer, D.J., R.G. Barrows, and D.G. Vanderstel, The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. 1994, Indiana University Press: Bloomington.
Blaisdell, F.W., Civil War vascular injuries. World Journal of Surgery, 2005. 29 Suppl 1: p. S21-4.
Bonnan-White, J., J. Yep, and M.D. Hetzel-Riggin, Voices from the past: Mental and physical outcomes described by American Civil War amputees. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 2016. 17(1): p. 13-34.
Boyer, S.P., Naval surgeon; the diary of Dr. Samuel Pellman Boyer, E. Barnes and J.A. Barnes, Editors. 1963, Indiana University Press: Bloomington.
Bradford, C., The Detmold Knife and the Empty Sleeve. Military Medicine, 2016. 181(4): p. 395-6.
Brinton, J.H., Personal memoirs of John H. Brinton: Civil War surgeon, 1861-1865: Civil War surgeon, 1861-1865. 1996, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale.
Bynum, B. and H. Bynum, Chisholm chloroform inhaler. Lancet, 2016. 387(10035): p. 2281.
Chisolm, J.J., A manual of military surgery: for the use of the surgeons in the Confederate States Army: with an appendix of the rules and regulations of the Medical Department of the Confederate Army. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1989, San Francisco. Norman Pub.
Clarke, T., Jr. Sickles’ leg and the Army Medical Museum. Military Medicine, 2014. 179, 1051 DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00182.
Coco, G.A., A vast sea of misery: a history and guide to the Union and Confederate field hospitals at Gettysburg, July 1-November 20, 1863. 1988, Thomas Publications: Gettysburg, PA.
Commission, W.S., Report to the Western Sanitary Commission: on the general military hospitals of St. Louis, Mo, S. Pollack, Editor. 1862, E. P. Studley and Co., Printers: St. Louis.
Cropley, T.G., Dermatology and skin disease in the American Civil War. Dermatology Nursing, 2008. 20(1): p. 29-33.
Cunningham, H.H., Doctors in gray; the Confederate medical service. 1958, Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge.
Cutter, L. and T. Clarke, Jr., Anesthesia advances during the Civil War. Military Medicine, 2014. 179(12): p. 1503.
Dammann, G., Pictorial encyclopedia of Civil War medical instruments and equipment. 1983, Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.: Missoula, MT.
Dammann, G., Images of Civil War medicine: a photographic history: containing numerous previously unpublished photographs of surgeons, nurses, hospitals, and other facilities used during the Civil War, A.J. Bollet, Editor. 2008, Demos: New York.
Denney, R.E., Civil War medicine: care & comfort of the wounded. 1994, Sterling Pub.: New York.
Dike, W.L., U.S.S. red rover: civil war hospital ship. 2004: PublishAmerica.
Dodson, C.M., Yellow flag: the Civil War journal of surgeon’s steward C. Marion Dodson, C.A. Earp, Editor. 2002, Maryland Historical Society: Baltimore.
Eckerman, N.P., Indiana in the Civil War: doctors, hospitals, and medical care. 2001, Arcadia Pub. The Civil War history series: Chicago, IL.
Evans, B.A., A primer of Civil War medicine: non-surgical medical practice during the Civil War years. 1998, Bohemian Brigade Bookshop and Publishers: Knoxville, TN.
Flannery, M.A., Civil War pharmacy: a history of drugs, drug supply and provision, and therapeutics for the Union and Confederacy. 2004, Pharmaceutical Products Press, Pharmaceutical heritage: New York.
Formento, F., Notes and observations on army surgery. American Civil War surgery series, ed. M. Schuppert and I.M. Rutkow. 1990, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Freemon, F.R., [Thesis] Medical care during the American Civil War. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1992.
Greenleaf, C.R., A manual for the medical officers of the United States Army, I.M. Rutkow, Editor. 1992, Norman Pub.: San Francisco.
Gross, S.D., A manual of military surgery, or, Hints on the emergencies of field, camp, and hospital practice. Repr. with a biographical introd. / ed. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1988, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Guthrie, G.J., Directions to army surgeons on the field of battle. 1861: [New York.
Hall, P.L., Madison General Hospital (old), Madison General Hospital (new): the Civil War, 1862-1865. https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/946944, W.R. Rucker, Editor. 1995, [S.l.: s.n.].
Hamilton, F.H., A practical treatise on military surgery. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1989, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Hawk, A.J., ArtiFacts: Richard Satterlee’s Bone Saw. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research, 2017. 475(9): p. 2191-2193.
Herr, H.W. and J.W. McAninch, Urethral injuries in the Civil War. Journal of Urology, 2005. 173(4): p. 1090-3.
Indiana Adjutant General’s Office, Indiana in the War of the Rebellion; report of the Adjutant General, W.H.H. Terrell, Editor. 1960, Indiana Historical Society: [Indianapolis].
Johnson, R.S., D.A. Sippo, and K.G. Swan. The flexible chain saw during the American Civil War. Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, 2010. 69(2): p. 455-8.
Kemper, G.W.H., The surgeons of the Civil War. Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association, 1918: p. 367-369.
Kuz, J.E., Orthopaedic injuries of the Civil War: an atlas of orthopaedic injuries and treatment during the Civil War, B.P. Bengtson, Editor. 1996, Kennesaw Mountain Press in association with Medical Staff Press: Kennesaw, GA.
Kuz, J.E., The ABJS presidential lecture, June 2004: our orthopaedic heritage: the American Civil War. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research, 2004(429): p. 306-15.
Kuz, J.E. and G.A. Otis, eds. Photographic atlas of civil war injuries: photographs of surgical cases and specimens. Otis historical archives. 1st ed. ed. 1996, Medical Staff Press, in association with: Grand Rapids, MI.
Lanska, D.J., Seasonal variation in night blindness incidence among Union soldiers in the US Civil War. Neurology, 2014. 83(11): p. 1025-8.
Lanska, D.J., Vitamin A-Deficiency Eye Disease Among Soldiers in the U.S. Civil War: Spectrum of Clinical Disease. Military Medicine, 2015. 180(7): p. 774-9.
Leary, E., Indianapolis: the story of a city. 1971, Bobbs-Merrill: Indianapolis. p. 99.
Locke, E.W., Three years in camp and hospital. 1870, Geo. D. Russell & co.: Boston.
Mathiasen, H., Bugs and battles during the American Civil War. American Journal of Medicine, 2012. 125(1): p. 111.
Mitchell, S.W., Gunshot wounds and other injuries of nerves, IN: American Civil War surgery series, G.R. Morehouse, W.W. Keen, and I.M. Rutkow, Editors. 1989, Norman Pub.: San Francisco.
Moore, S.P., A manual of military surgery. American Civil War surgery series, ed. S.P. Moore and I.M. Rutkow. 1988, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Packard, J.H., A manual of minor surgery. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1990, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Patterson, G.A., Debris of battle: the wounded of Gettysburg. 1997, Stackpole Books: Mechanicsburg, PA.
Perry, J.G., Letters from a surgeon of the Civil War, M.D. Perry, Editor. 1906, Little, Brown: Boston.
Pizarro, J., R.C. Silver, and J. Prause, Physical and mental health costs of traumatic war experiences among Civil War veterans. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2006. 63(2): p. 193-200.
Protas, M., et al., Treatment of Gunshot Wounds to Spine During Late 19th Century. World Neurosurgery, 2018. 115: p. 285-287.
Schroeder-Lein, G.R., The encyclopedia of Civil War medicine. 2008, M.E. Sharpe, Inc.: Armonk, NY.
Sewell, R.K., et al., Hearing loss in Union Army veterans from 1862 to 1920. Laryngoscope, 2004. 114(12): p. 2147-53.
Shaw, M.F., Stonewall Jackson’s surgeon, Hunter Holmes McGuire: a biography. 1993, H.E. Howard, Inc., The Virginia Civil War battles and leaders series: Lynchburg, VA.
Sloan, F.A., D.W. Belsky, and I.A. Boly, Prevalence of major eye diseases among US Civil War veterans, 1890-1910. Archives of Ophthalmology, 2008. 126(2): p. 246-50.
Smith, S., Hand-book of surgical operations. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1990, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Stephens-Borg, K., Surgical dressings and turbulent years of cotton industry. Journal of Perioperative Practice, 2008. 18(7): p. 305-6.
Thornbrough, E.L., Indiana in the Civil War era, 1850-1880. 1965, Indiana Historical Bureau; The History of Indiana: Indianapolis.
Tripler, C.S., Hand-book for the military surgery. American Civil War surgery series, ed. G.C. Blackman and I.M. Rutkow. 1989, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Turner, R.J., 3rd, Tourniquet use in the Civil War. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 2006. 203(5): p. 784-5.
Underhill, J.W., Helena to Vicksburg: a Civil War odyssey: the personal diary of Joshua Whittington Underhill, surgeon, 46th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry 23 October 1862-21 July 1863, C. Morss, Editor. 2000, Heritage House: Lincoln Center, MA.
United States Surgeon General’s Office, The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion. (1861-65), J.K. Barnes, et al., Editors. 1870, Gov’t Print. Off.: Washington.
United States. Department of the Army. Office of the Surgeon General, The Medical and surgical history of the Civil War, J.K. Barnes, et al., Editors. 1990, Broadfoot Publishing Co.: Wilmington, NC.
Wafer, F.M., A surgeon in the Army of the Potomac, C.A. Wells, Editor. 2008, McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montréal.
Warren, E., An epitome of practical surgery for field and hospital. Repr. with a biographical introd. / ed. American Civil War surgery series, ed. I.M. Rutkow. 1989, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Weist, J.R., The Medical Department in the war: a paper read before the Ohio Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, October 6, 1886. 1886, H.C. Sherick & Co.: Cincinnati.
Wells, J.W., An alphabetical list of the battles of the War of the Rebellion. https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/540293. American Civil War surgery series, ed. N.A. Straitand I.M. Rutkow. 1990, San Francisco: Norman Pub.
Western Sanitary Commission, Report of the Western Sanitary Commission for the year ending June 1st, 1863. 1863, Western Sanitary Commission Rooms: St. Louis, MO.
Wilbur, C.K., Civil War medicine, 1861-1865. 1998, Globe Pequot Press: Old Saybrook, CT.
Wishard, W.H., Some personal army experiences. Indiana Medical Journal, 1905-6: p. 338-342. (Bloomington may have online access.)
Woodward, J.J., Outlines of the chief camp diseases of the United States armies: as observed during the present war, I.M. Rutkow, Editor. 1992, Norman Pub.: San Francisco.
Wormeley, K.P., The other side of war on the hospital transports with the Army of the Potomac: letters from the headquarters of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia in 1862. 1998, Corner House Historical Publications: Ganesevoort, NY.