Hospitals of the Civil War

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For every man killed in battle, two died of illness or disease. Bad drinking water and food, poor clothing and mosquitoes were a major cause of illness. Caring for the sick and wounded during the Civil War was a major problem.

Most doctors didn't understand the need to wash their hands to prevent infections. Often the injured died from infections, rather than from the wound itself. Medicine was also very primitive. The only treatment for a broken arm or leg was to amputate, or cut off the limb. Hospital care also left much to be desired. Hospital care varied from buildings, churches, barns and tents to wagons in the middle of a battle field.

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Caring for the Sick and Wounded

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Caring for the wounded
Caring for the Sick and Wounded
(Source: Library of Congress)
An ambulance wagon was often used in caring for, and transporting injured soldiers from the battlefield. This photo shows an ambulance crew after a battle, and it is demonstrating the removal of wounded soldiers from a battlefield.



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Hospital Tent
Tents of the General Hospital at City Point, Virginia
(Source: Library of Congress)
Portable hospitals were set up near battle fields to look after sick and injured soldiers. Tents were often used to set up portable hospitals. This picture shows tents of the General Hospital at City Point, Virginia.
Civil War hospital
Smith Barn in Keedysville, Maryland used as a Hospital
(Source: Library of Congress)
Armies also took over civilian homes and barns near a battle field to be used as a hospital. This photograph shows the Smith's Barn in Keedysville, Maryland, which was used as a hospital after the battle of Antietam.


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