The Civil War CollectionComments
Here’s some interesting newly available books on and about the Civil War from the 19th and early 20th centuries. They include Pain and Anaesthetics: An Essay, from 1862, by Valentine Mott. Of course, the piles off mangled bodies beyond taxed the limited medical facilities of the day and led to perhaps 100,000 or so deaths that would not have happened a few decades later. On what made anesthesia so great:
How often, when operating in some deep, dark wound, along the course of some great vein, with thin walls, alternately distended and flaccid with the vital current – how often have I dreaded that some unfortunate struggle of the patient would deviate the knife a little from its proper course, and that I, who fain would be the deliverer, should involuntarily become the executioner, seeing my patient perish in my hands by the most appalling form of death! Had he been insensible, I should have felt no alarm.
By the use of anesthetics, also, the shrieks and cries of the patient are prevented; so that the surgeon’s powers are not additionally taxed, either to nerve himself to a very unpleasant task, or to control and encourage the attendants.
More at the link.