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The Civil War was fought claimed the Union army surgeon general at the end of the medical Middle Ages Little was known about what caused disease how to stop it from spreading or how to cure it Surgical techniques ranged from the barbaric to the barely competent A Civil War soldiers chances of not surviving the war was about one in four These fallen men were cared for by a woefully underqualifled understaffed and undersupplied medical corps Working against incredible odds however the medical corps increased in size improved its techniques and gained a greater understanding of medicine and disease every year the war was fought During the period just before the Civil War a physician received minimal training Nearly all the older doctors served as apprentices in lieu of formal education Even those who had attended one of the few medical schools were poorly trained In Europe four-year medical schools were common laboratory training was widespread and a greater understanding of disease and infection existed The average medical student in the United States on the other hand trained for two years or less received practically no clinical experience and was given virtually no laboratory instruction Harvard University for instance did not own a single stethoscope or microscope until after the war When the war began the Federal army had a total of about 98 medical officers the Confederacy just 24 By 1865 some 13000 Union doctors had served in the field and in the hospitals in the Confederacy about 4000 medical officers and an unknown number of volunteers treated war casualties in both the North and South these men were assisted by thousands of women who donated their time and energy to help the wounded It is estimated that more than 4000 women served as nurses in Union hospitals Confederate women contributed much to the effort as well Although Civil War doctors were commonly referred to as butchers by their
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