Image link: http://www.sil.si.edu/PAID/fullsize/picturingwords/SIL32-023-03.jpg

The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (MSHWR) was a six-volume publication detailing medical and surgical cases undertaken by doctors during the American Civil War. The publication includes hundreds of photographs, etchings, engravings, charts, and tables providing precise medical data on those wounded on both sides of the conflict. The Civil War was instrumental in the advancement of medical knowledge due simply to the sheer number of casualties. Firstly, doctors were given the chance to study wounds in great number that had rarely been seen before. Secondly, the amount of wounded and dead forced the medical field to expand and adapt. The Civil War would lead to what would eventually become the modern ambulance system, amputation techniques that were quicker and more survivable, improvements in anesthesia, better hospital organization, the beginnings of plastic surgery, better hygiene, and the introduction of female nurses.

The MSHWR represents a positive side of America’s bloodiest military engagement and the true cost of war. To see this piece of history you can visit Government Documents on the second floor of the Harwell Goodwin Davis Library or visit the links below for full digital versions.

Post author: Shaw Gibbons

We’ll be featuring more of these unique documents as Shaw discovers them in the stacks.

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