This week on my History with Mark Bielski podcast, Dr. Kenneth Rettig joins me in a continuation of our discussion on medicine during the Civil War. We look into a comparison of medical techniques, remedies and emergency treatments then and now in the modern military.
Check out an earlier episode, “Civil War Medicine: Practices Then and Now,” for a deeper dive into a subject that has fascinated historians for decades.
Excerpt From a Medical Report After Antietam
Gross misrepresentations of the conduct of medical officers have been made and scattered broadcast over the country, causing deep and heart-rending anxiety to those who had friends or relatives in the army, who might at any moment require the services of a surgeon. It is not to be supposed that there were no incompetent surgeons in the army. It is certainly true that there were; but these sweeping denunciations against a class of men who will favorably compare with the military surgeons of any country, because of the incompetency and short-comings of a few, are wrong, and do injustice to a body of men who have labored faithfully and well. It is easy to magnify an existing evil until it is beyond the bounds of truth. It is equally easy to pass by the good that has been done on the other side. Some medical officers lost their lives in their devotion to duty in the battle of Antietam, and others sickened from excessive labor which they conscientiously and skillfully performed.
Dr. Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac