Wednesday, April 15, 2015



Medical supplies were transported to the battle areas as part of the general field train, and carried to the front lines in ambulances, or on pack mules, or on the shoulders of the regimental hospital stewards.

The major effective drugs in use were quinine and morphine. Whiskey was frequently administered to the wounded to induce "reaction", and as the solvent for quinine sometimes administered daily as a suppressant of malaria. Chloroform, sometimes mixed with small amounts of ether, served as an anaesthetic. Among other drugs used were opium, pepsin, various emetics and cathartics, iodine, and calomel.

Dysentery, one of the most important diseases from the viewpoint of both high morbidity and mortality, was treated with oil of turpentine, among many other substances, and ipecac was administered for enteritis; probably neither of these was very effective.

The paratyphoid fevers were not separately recognised and diagnosed; the term "typhomalarial fever" was used to describe debatable cases of prevalent remittent fever.

The lack of preventive measures and specific therapy for treatment of the various diseases became a major factor in the outcome of some battles, and at times, of entire campaigns.

Image: Replica of a circa 1864 army whiskey barrel


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