Stark’s Library

Bibliography Monday! Everyone’s favorite day. Here’s where I let y’all in on some of the eccentric reading matter that helps me out with NUNSLINGER.

Today is the turn of a good friend and companion of mine. That’s right, it’s THE MEDICAL AND SURGICAL HISTORY OF THE WAR OF THE REBELLION PART II VOLUME III: A SURGICAL HISTORY!

Which is free to download and peruse from the wond’rous University of California Digital Library

Want to know how much beef tea to administer in the evenings? How many grains of opium to give to an amputee? This book has the answers along with illustrations, case studies and discussions of techniques.


On a more serious note, it’s also a sharp reminder of how much we take for granted in terms of modern medicine; these doctors performed their work with a very limited knowledge of bacterial infection, with rudimentary tools and resources due to scarcity (lint scraped from bed sheets to make dressings, ‘rhubarb pills’ (rhubarb, pepper and aloe) and ointments made from lard and wax.

Although new minie balls caused a great deal of damage and often resulted in amputations, the fatality rate from these in field hospitals was often lower when nuns were present in the hospital wing. Acting as nurses, the simple act performed by Catholic sisters of regularly cleaning, bathing and dressing wounds saved lives that otherwise would have been lost to gangrene, disease and neglect.

The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, United States Surgeon General’s Office: Joseph K. Barnes, Surgeon General. Washington: 1870

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