Treating War's Wounds: Innovations in Medicine from the Civil War

6th floor RCP, near elevator G


In many ways, the American Civil War pushed the boundary of what was technologically and socially possible during the latter part of the 19th Century. For example, the hypodermic syringe and needle had not been in wide use, and the formal inclusion of African Americans and women in war-time activities was uncommon in this country. A time of conflict and struggle, it was also a time of innovation and change.

This exhibit seeks to describe the scope and magnitude of medical burden the Civil War Surgeon faced, and to capture a sense of how he and others responded to such a need. Novel modes of treatment for battlefield wounds, widespread use of anesthetics, recruitment of female caregivers and a movement toward improved sanitation were among these responses.

The Black Soldier
Under what conditions did black soldiers work during the Civil War?

Private Driscoll
What did surgeons do when a bullet became lodged in a soldier's pelvic bone.

Dr. Mary Walker
Read about this surgeon's life in the Civil War.

Female Caregivers
How did women care for wounded soldiers? 

Bullet Removal
How were bullets removed from wounds during the Civil War?

Disease and Amputation
What instruments were 
used in amputation?

Pain Management and Embalming
What was used to ease a soldier's pain?

The Wound Dresser
Read Walt Whitman's interpretation of...