Civil War Medicine

Civil War Medicine

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  • Hello what can I do for you?...Oh my are you okay solider?
  • Help me please..I'm hurt really bad. Do you have anything that can help me?
  • Yes I'll see what I can do. I'll go get the doctors and they will check you out.
  • Okay..Thank you so much. God bless you!
  • What seems to be the problem?
  • I was in a battle and I got shot in my leg..half of my men were killed so I ran off and walked all the way here.
  • I'll do everything I can. We are gonna have to cut off your leg because we don"t have the tools to get the bullet out.
  • During the Civil War, both sides were devastated by battle and disease. Nurses, surgeons, and physicians rose to the challenge of healing a nation and advanced medicine into the modern age.
  • Do what you need to do. I have to get home to my wife and kids.
  •  Medince made significant gains during the course of the war. However, it was the tragedy of the era that medical knowledge of the 1860s had not yet encompassed the use of sterile dressings, antiseptic surgery, and the recognition of the importance of sanitation and hygiene. As a result, thousands died from diseases such as typhoid or dysentery.
  • You are all done! We will be able to send you home in a month or two.
  • Thank you so much!! I will be able to learn to walk again with this wooden leg but with a little practice.
  • To halt disease, doctors used many cures. For bowel complaints, open bowels were treated with a plug of opium. Closed bowels were treated with the infamous "blue mass"... a mixture of mercury and chalk. For scurvy, doctors prescribed green vegetables. Respiratory problems, such as pneumonia and bronchitis were treated with dosing of opium or sometimes quinine and muster plasters. 
  • During the 1860s, doctors had yet to develop bacteriology and were generally ignorant of the causes of disease. Most Civil War surgeons had never treated a gun shot wound and many had never performed surgery.
  • Most Civil War surgeons had never treated a gun shot wound and many had never performed surgery. Medical boards admitted many "quacks," with little to no qualification. Yet, for the most part, the Civil War doctor did the best he could, muddling through the so-called "medical middle ages." 
  • The deadliest thing that faced the Civil War soldier was disease. For every soldier who died in battle, two died of disease. In particular, intestinal complaints such as dysentery and diarrhea claimed many lives. In fact, diarrhea and dysentery alone claimed more men than did battle wounds.
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