Friday, April 12, 2013

Battle Wounds In The Civil War


  There were an estimated 750,000 casualties in the Civil War. We will probably never know for sure because Confederate records were destroyed when Richmond was burned in 1865. This was out of a population, counting North and South, white, free black and slave of 31 million. We lost nearly 2% of the total population which in order for us to lose the same equivalent today we would have a casualty count of around 7 million. For every one soldier that died as a result of combat two died from disease. Ailments such as dysentery, chronic diarrhea, measles, typhoid, pneumonia, and infection. Of combat deaths and wounds 75% were caused by the .58 or .69 caliber minie ball. The remaining 25% were from mostly artillery shells and shrapnel.

 The minie ball was named after it's designer who was a French Army Captain named Claude Mini'e. Shrapnel was named after the designer of an explosive artillery shell named Lt. Henry Shrapnel, a British Army Officer. If you were shot in the head you had a 5% chance of living. In the chest or stomach maybe a 25% chance of making it. In the arm or leg it was 50%. The reason your odds were so low was because surgeons did not have the expertise to remove bullets and repair damage to the vital areas of the body. They operated with filthy hands. This was the big reason that your odds of dying were so great from amputation. They amputated arms and legs because the soft lead bullet was so destructive. The bone was shattered and damaged beyond repair. Modern doctors would have a difficult time saving limbs shattered by a minie ball. The Civil War helped revolutionize modern medicine. It caused medical schools to teach better methods of saving lives, especially in the area of doctors using clean instruments and antiseptic practices.
Alfred Lane/ Wounded at Hatchers Run Va./ April 1, 1865
Died 1 Month & A Half Later Of Gangrene 

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