Friday, May 3, 2013

Drugs in the Field

By Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.

Writing more than 50 years after the war, Charles Beneulyn Johnson, hospital steward of the 130th Illinois Volunteers, remembered the items supplied to regimental surgeons in the field:

"During a campaign our stock of medicines was necessarily limited to standard remedies, among which could be named opium, morphine, Dover's powder, quinine, rhubarb, Rochelle salts, castor oil, sugar of lead, tannin, sulphate of copper, sulphate of zinc, camphor, tincture of opium, tincture of iron, tincture opic, camphorata, syrup of squills, simple syrup, alcohol, whiskey, brandy, port wine, sherry wine, etc. . . Practically all the medicines were administered in powdered form or liquid state and pills were far from being as plentiful as they are today,. The result was the most powders were stirred in water and swallowed. . .The dose, thus prepared, was a bitter one. The bromides, sulfonal, trional, and similar soporifics had not yet come into use, and asafetida, valeriaum and opium and its derivatives were about all the Civil War surgeon had to relieve nervousness and induce sleep."

FROM: Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs


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