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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Turpentine in Civil War Medicine

At the time of the Civil War, turpentine was routinely prescribed for oral and topical use in America and Europe. During the war, when quinine wasn't available to them, Confederate surgeons substituted turpentine.
 
After the war, Confederate surgeon Herbert M. Nash remembered:
 
"During the siege of Petersburg, in July and August, 1864, malarial fevers of every type attacked our men, so that scarcely enough of the whole number could be had to man the two mortar batteries in use upon the banks of the river. There was no quinine issued at that time, and the men were treated with decoctions internally and friction of turpentine to the spine and twenty drop doses internally. These cases all recovered."
 
IMAGE: Collecting turpentine in North Carolina

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