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The Civil War started as a picnic and ended in compassion but in between were four hideous years of twisted flesh burning fevers rampant pus and oozing raw stumps Never before had America faced even a hint of such agony and the way it responded to the occasion is fascinating history In a very real sense the War Between the States brought forth a medical revolution and perhaps above all an awareness of public health The terrible swift scalpel became less terrible and the dank dirty dingy pesthouse evolved into a pavilion of hope Nursing dentistry and pharmacy also experienced a renaissance and the art and science of military medicine was projected into the future The man of medicine who served in the Civil War was whether he liked it or not first and foremost a surgeon and always referred to as such Though his first knife may well have been government issued he learned the tricks of the trade in due course and sometimes became quite an expert Do your best was the general idea and most surgeons did or at least tried Nearly all the older doctors had received their education on an apprenticeship basis but the younger men those who made up the bulk of the army surgeons usually held a medical school diploma along with an office internship Little attention was paid to clinical instruction and in most cases the laboratory was all but forgotten Further stethoscopes thermometers syringes and the like were widely used in Europe while many doctors here at home had never seen them let alone used them In regard to ability and competence there is no reason to believe the doctors in the North and the South differed in any significant way While the North was home to more prestigious medical institutions the South was learning to become less dependent on the North in this area at the outbreak of the war A number of schools became
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