Medical Treatments of the Revolutionary War. During the American Revolutionary War, more soldiers died from illness than from combat. What do you know about medicine during the 18 th and 19 th century that may have allowed for this?. Medicine in Colonial America.
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Medical Treatments of the Revolutionary War
During the American Revolutionary War, more soldiers died from illness than from combat.
What do you know about medicine during the 18th and 19th century that may have allowed for this?
If you were a member of the Continental Congress, what would you do to fix this problem of inadequate medical treatment?
What effect could these conditions have on their immune system?
Do you think these hospitals would have been very effective at treating wounded or injured soldiers?
What would have been some effective ways to lower the death rate in these hospitals?
Bloodletting was a common practice used in the 18th and 19th centuries. It involved removing considerable amounts of blood from a patient in order to cure diseases or illnesses. Bloodletting was often done prior to performing surgeries or treating burns.
Amputation, the removal of a limb, was a very common practice during the Revolutionary War. These surgeries were often performed with no anesthetic. Not only were extensively wounded limbs amputated, but also limbs with wounds that were highly infected.
Early in the War, as many soldiers left their homes for the first time, they were highly sensitive to diseases they had never before encountered, such as smallpox and typhus. As the war continued, soldiers began to naturally increase their immune systems and build-up a tolerance to some of the diseases that had earlier put the army in danger.
Burns were also a common wound on the battle field. Burns were treated with applications of wine or hog’s lard. Burns were often not covered, which led to severe infection.
If a bullet could not be easily located, surgeons were advised to let it remain in the patient. Most of these surgeries were performed while the patient was still awake!
Wounds containing “foreign matter” like dirt or small pieces of metal were left open so that the pus could bring the debris to the surface. Unfortunately, this also allowed more dirt to enter the wound. To stop bleeding, turpentine was used. Which also proved to be antibacterial. Wounds were also treated with rum or wine to prevent infection.
Simple fractures were usually set with simple slings. Compound fractures, however, were much harder to set. As with other serious wounds, surgeons often chose to amputate the arm or leg rather than risking infection
During the Revolutionary War, bullets were made out of lead. The owner of the gun made their own bullets using a bullet mold, molten lead, and gunpowder
A surgeon’s amputation and general surgery tool kit.
What were some of the health conditions at the time that increased the risk of infection, how could infection have been avoided?
Click to see the advancement of medical treatment through some of America’s Wars.