Feb. 1st, 2011

beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 These last few days I have spent many hours pouring over microform and microfiche, doing research for my thesis. I've looked at the Hospital Steward's Manual (essentially, how to run a military hospital, according to the Union army standards) and the first reel of at least two dozen that contain the United States Sanitary Commission records. That sounds dead boring. It really, really wasn't.

I thought that the U.S. Sanitary Commission records were going to be a republishing of documents regarding camp conditions, bureaucratic matters, and so on, like my favourite text of the era, The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. I was wrong. They're microformed versions of the ACTUAL, handwritten records, collected in person from military surgeons and soldiers and so on. Many of them have strange shadows on them; my dad assures me that they're probably not bloodstains but water damage. It doesn't always look that way. 

Anyway, I really enjoyed skimming through these records... which is good, for me, because if I find them interesting then I'll be able to work my way through at least a few more reels before giving up in disgust to rest my eyes. 

The super-neat thing about the microfilm readers in the Rutherford library is that they're brand-spanking new digital things, so I can create a real-time digital image on a giant computer screen, with a magnifying glass as well as the ability to create giant multi-page PDF files of copies of what I'm looking at, saved conveniently to my memory stick to peruse more closely from the comforts of my own home.

And in a continual effort to avoid doing homework while pretending to do just the opposite, as I was skimming over the stuff I looked at today I created a mini-collage of some of the lines that really jumped out at me from the page. Civil War surgeons had much nicer penmanship under duress than I ever will. 

In case you're having difficulty reading what some of the handwriting says...
Box on the left: On /Penetrating Wound/ of the Thorax/ Death. / Battle of Ruaca(?) / 1864

Flesh wounds of the forearm... Erysifielas(?? Latin medical word?)  Recovery
Lieut. G.G. Bickett, Co.G.46'' Ohio in the Battle of                                                        Pulse
Report of the Sick and Wounded                                No. of wounded admitted. 665
Died.                              Skull unusually thin.                     Death.                                      ???(illegible, blotted by water damage or rushe dpenmanship)
Wound of the back.   ???? Deaths.
nothing like gangrene
Ball extracted                              Pneumonia                             Gunshot injury           amputation
Post mortem examination            Amputation                                Everything progressing favorably
remaining 508
                                   Refuses amputation
             Received orders
                                                                The inflammation rapidly spread
               Died 2nd day                            left
Gangrene                        Death
                             From this time patient gradually rallied
                                             very cheerful
                                                                       U.S. Sanitary Commission (letterhead)


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