This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Civil War Amputations

Today we visited the Chimbarazo Medical Museum and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.  The Medical Museum was small but very interesting, which I’m sure was due to the fact that Carol Ann and I are both pharmacists and I have worked for much of our careers in hospitals.  I am not going to bore you with any tedious descriptions as I have in my descriptions of battles in previous postings.  But, I do want to mention a few things that you should find quite interesting.

Of five Civil War surgical kits on display, there was one thing they all had in common. A bone saw.  As I mentioned yesterday, a soldier shot in the arm or leg with a .56 or .58 caliber bullet would probably require amputation.  The sooner the amputation was performed, the more likely was the patient to survive.   A good surgeon could amputate a limb in less than 10 minutes.  Survival rates were higher when the amputations were performed within 24 hours of the wound.  Amazingly, nearly 75% of amputees survived.

By the end of the war the Union had 11,000 physicians, the Confederacy about 4,000.  Most of them, North and South, had never even seen a bullet wound prior to the war.  They had to learn quickly as gunshots accounted for 94% of the recorded battle wounds.  Of wounds to the extremities, there were approximately 30,000 amputations in the Union army and almost the same number in the Confederate army. 

NOW.  On a lighter note.  As we were driving back to the RV park this afternoon we found ourselves the fifth or sixth car in line behind a large dump truck.  The road was curvy and we were forced to follow the truck for several miles.  From our position in the “parade” we could see an orange sign with black lettering on the back of the truck.  However, we were too far back to read it.  Finally, we came to a long straight section of highway and followed all of the cars in front of us around the truck.  As we passed the truck I read the sign.  It said, “WORKING VEHICLE.  DO NOT FOLLOW.” What are you supposed to do?

Tomorrow we are leaving the Richmond area for Lynchburg (VA, not TN) and Appomattox Court House, where Gen. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Gen. Grant.


Croft Randle said...

Is that like, "Slow Men Working"?

Bill said...

Gruesome surgical methods for the casualties of war.