Soldier Life // Doctors
Hello everybody! So glad you popped by to see me today 😊 I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend wherever you reside 😊 Today, I have another post for you about Civil War History in my Soldier Life series. For those of you that are new, I have three other posts on this topic, Joining Up, Drummers and Cooking, so be sure and check those out! In this series I compile some of the knowledge I’ve had to hunt and peck for over the years. My hope is that I can save you some time in your research and that I can point in the right direction to lean more! So, without further ado, let’s jump in!
A Doctor's Responsibility
In my series, The Battle for Heritage Series, I have a doctor…his name is Seth Mason and when the story starts, he’s 16 and saving money for medical school. Obviously, he’s too young to be a doctor yet…he can’t get a certificate until he’s 21! And then the war happens…and he gets to put his medical know-how to good use in camp, assisting Dr. Jennings. The older, experienced doctor takes Seth under his wing and teaches him hands on doctoring. Later, Dr. Clement takes on the challenge and teaches Seth even more…amputations. By book 3, Seth is pretty much able to work on his own, even though he doesn’t have a license…it’s war, y’all.
So what exactly was the responsibility of a camp doctor? Well, there’s the obvious ones, like treating illnesses, injuries and wounds, but did you know that the doctor was also responsible for the general hygiene of the camp? It was up to the doctors to make sure the latrines were far enough out of camp (and if they weren’t they were the ones to report the infraction 😊), as well as making sure no one was pretending to be sick or hurt to get out of work 😉 Every army has them…
The main job of a camp doctor was to preform amputations. And…yeah…we won’t get too detailed here, but I’ll explain a little about the process, since, if you are writing about the Civil War, this will probably come up somewhere.
Now, take your doctoring and try to do it under fire…yeah, that’s basically it. Wrapping injuries, removing bullets (if possible), checking to see who is dead and who isn’t…everything shy of preforming amputations, all under the threat of rifle, cannon and saber. While Doctors were never to be targeted, because they were considered neutral, when the smoke of battle is in the air, you don’t know who’s gonna get hit. Again, hats off to these brave men…and to those who still do this today!
More Than a Doctor
Oh, the stories they could tell. Often there wasn’t enough time to call a chaplain, so it would be the doctor or nurse who would have to give the words of assurance or offer a quick prayer. Like a chaplain, the doctors often were the listening ear to many a heavy heart as soldiers lay dying or fearing death. They heard about the loved ones at home and gently reproved that recruit that lied about their age and finally confessed. Often, the doctor was looked at as a kindly grandfather…unless you had a man like Dr. Clement 😊 (Read my Battle for Heritage Series to find out what I mean 😉)
For more information on Doctors, at least of the Confederacy, I recommend you get a copy of A Manual of Medical Surgery for the use of Surgeons in the Confederate Army by Dr. J. Julian Chisolm. You can get a free pdf copy from the Duke University Digital Archives. (This is not a University endorsement. They just have an awesome archive library!) Please note: This book is a medical book…thus, it is for mature readers, meaning 18+ 😊
Well, that wraps up things for now! Have a blessed day!
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Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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