The Challenges of Treating Infections in Civil War Medicine
Infections were a major problem during the Civil War, and many soldiers died as a result of preventable diseases like dysentery, typhoid fever, and pneumonia. The lack of basic sanitation, including clean water and proper waste disposal, contributed to the spread of infections, and the use of unsanitary surgical instruments only made matters worse. Despite these challenges, some medical professionals, such as Dr. William Hammond, made efforts to improve the conditions for soldiers. Dr. Hammond, for example, established strict sanitation protocols for military hospitals and introduced the use of antiseptics to reduce the risk of infection. While these efforts helped to reduce the spread of infections, the lack of antibiotics meant that many soldiers still died from preventable diseases. It wasn’t until the discovery of penicillin after the war that infections became treatable, and the mortality rates from infections greatly decreased.