Monday, March 4, 2013

A Confederate Shortage of Splints

Southern doctors were particularly hard pressed to obtain sufficient medical supplies. They tried to procure reserves from Europe, but Union Naval blockades, prevalent later in the war, complicated the already desperate situation.
Dr. William H. Taylor recounted his experiences:
"Normally we were scant of medicines, and generally they were of the commoner kinds. At times, however, we were well supplied, and with excellent preparations. These times would be when captures had been made, or medicines of Northern or European manufacture had come through the blockade. The Confederate pharmaceutical laboratories worked industriously, but under great disadvantages, and their output was not surpassingly excellent.
"On the battlefield our stock of medical and surgical supplies was particularly condensed. Bandages were plentiful, but we seldom had splints. On one occasion I used a whole fence-rail for a broken arm, being unable to do any better. I had just finished making the rail secure when a turn in affairs forced us to take flight.
"My patient started to run with the rest, but the distal end of the heavy rail tilted downward, stuck in the ground, and jerked him up short at every step. I do not precisely know what became of him, but unless he had the sagacity to turn around and retreat backward I fear I was instrumental in delivering him into the hands of the enemy."
PHOTO: Civil War hinged splint


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