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... 

Medical Museum Resources

Contact Information

Medical Museum
UI Hospitals and Clinics
200 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-356-7106
Adrienne Drapkin, Director

Museum Hours

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
1 to 4 p.m.
The Medical Museum is also open most holidays (please call in advance.)
Free admission

Museum Location

Patient and Visitor Activities Center
Colloton Pavilion
Elevator F, Level 8