New weapons, old medicine

August 29, 2018

From Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman:

Here was an inescapable irony of the Civil War, not known in any conflict between men before or since: the fact that this was a war fought with new and highly effective weapons, machines for the mowing down of men—and yet at a time when an era of poor and primitive medicine was just coming to an end. It was fought with the mortar and the musket and the miniĆ© ball, but not yet quite with anesthesia or with sulphonamides and penicillin. The common soldier was thus in a poorer position than at any time before: he could be monstrously ill-treated by all the new weaponry, and yet only moderately well-treated with all the old medicine.

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