Essay on Military and Civil War Firsts

Submitted By lalajasmine
Words: 691
Pages: 3

Yasmin Gramajo December 9, 2012

The Civil War had many subjects that I was unaware of and learned about through presentations in US History. The long lists of Civil War firsts include the first use of quinine to treat malaria, America’s first military draft, and many others. During the Civil War, medical instruments used would most likely do you more harm than actually help you. No antibiotics were available, and minor wounds could easily become infected. One subject that I was able to learn about through a presentation presented by my classmate was the military draft during the Civil War. The draft was first instituted during the Civil War, in an effort to raise enough troops to fight the coming war in 1860.
The state of medical knowledge at the time of the Civil War was extremely primitive. Doctors did not understand infection, and did little to prevent it. While the typical soldier was at very high risk of being shot and killed in combat, he faced an even greater risk of dying from disease. Dysentery, measles, small pox, pneumonia, and malaria were the soldier's greatest enemy. The lack of adequate sanitation facilities, the cold and lack of shelter and suitable clothing, the poor quality of food and water, and the crowded condition of the camps made the camp a literal breeding ground for disease. For those who were shot in an extremity, the options were few; in fact one option commonly done was amputation. Surgeons would have learned the art of amputation from the book ”The Practice of Surgery”, by Samuel Cooper, with Notes by Dr. Alexander H. Stephens. Three out of four operations in field hospitals were amputations; it had to be done within 48 hours. Chloroform was used during the Civil War, when it was available. The Use of Chloroform as an anesthetic greatly reduced the torture and trauma of the procedure. The Chloroform was applied to a cloth and held over the soldier's nose and mouth until the man was unconscious. A few soldiers died of chloroform poisoning, rather than their wounds. Both the North and South used the draft, or more accurately, the threat of the draft, to “muster men” into the service. The draft was at times hated, scorned, but mostly feared. The draft clearly served its intended purpose to raise an adequate amount of men to fight in the Union army, mostly through volunteerism. The South instituted a draft in 1862, requiring three years of service for those selected between the ages of 18 and 35. Later, as the war prospects dimmed, the pool was enlarged by taking…