Then & Now
Healing Black Soldiers
Not only was the combat performance of black soldiers scrutinized on the battlefield, but the Union Army monitored their health performance. How did physicians understand similarities and differences between black male bodies and white ones?
Trying to Cure Cowardice
A cowardly soldier disgraced himself, his family, and his comrades, but what made him a coward—fear? How was cowardly behavior a medical problem, and how did combat stress or homesickness contribute to it?
"Please Don't Cut Off My Leg?"
Amputating arms and legs was sometimes a life-saving but severe necessity in the case of gunshot wounds. How would you amputate a limb, what tools would you need, and how would you know that you made the right decision?
Bodies Broken By Bullets
Rifles that fired lead bullets called Minnie or Minié balls killed and maimed more soldiers at greater distances than in any past war. When bullets tear bone and tissue, how do you locate and remove them and try to prevent infection?
Recruiting Healthy Bodies
New recruits must be examined for fitness to be soldiers. What did fitness for duty mean during the Civil War, and how would you examine soldiers and for what problems?
Evacuating the Wounded
During the first battles of the war, the Union Army did not have a reliable way to recover wounded soldiers from the battlefield and get them to hospital. Why was the ambulance created and how was it used?
Navigating the Medical World of Men
The war created a social revolution for women: for the first time, they worked as professionals alongside doctors in hospitals doing work that had been unthinkable for women only a few years before. What did women do in military hospitals and how successful were they?
Creating a Healthy Camp
Soldiers came from urban and rural backgrounds, from all social classes, and in the crowded conditions of camps they shared everything, including disease. What steps would you take to reduce infections and eliminate diseases from typhus to smallpox?
Early every morning, the regimental doctor held sick call: soldiers lined up to be examined for illness and be removed from duty, if necessary. As a doctor, how would you determine illness from the soldiers’ complaints, and can you tell if they are faking it?
Preserving the Horse Power of the Army
The war killed about a million horses. Horses and mules were essential to the movement of armies and supplies, so how do you control a disease outbreak among them, or feed them when your own soldiers do not receive sufficient rations to stay healthy?