Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Care for the Wounded at Antietam

In my last posting I mentioned the farms which were affected by the battle.  It was at the Joseph Poffenberger farm where Clara Barton gave assistance to the wounded and dying.  She had heard reports that there were inadequate relief supplies at the battle sites.  Following the sounds of gunfire she arrived at this farmhouse with bandages and lanterns. 
For three days Barton and her staff of thirty men offered water and gruel to the wounded and dying where they had fallen in the battlefield.  She was a forty year old teacher and patent clerk, yet reportedly she dug a bullet out of the cheek of a soldier with a pocketknife.  Story also has it that one time when she was tending a soldier a bullet when through her dress sleeve and killed the soldier. Antietam was not the only battlefield during the Civil War at which she gave her assistance.
Pictured above is a memorial to Barton at Antietam, notice the red cross at the base.  Clara Barton established the Red Cross in 1881, and was the first president of the organization.
Our last stop of the day at Antietam was the Pry house where General McClellan had his headquarters.  President Lincoln visited this home in early October to see one of his generals who was recovering there from a wound received during the Antietam battle.  Presently there are many exhibits in this house regarding the medical care which the wounded received during the Civil War.
Above is a recreation of a typical operating theater.  The family's furniture were pushed aside and an operating table was made using a door and packing boxes.  The Civil War saw the development of plastic and neurosurgery.  Doctor Jonathan Letterman, Director of the Army of the Potomac became known as the "Father of Emergency Medicine".  He developed the system of triage (which prioritizes casualties on the seriousness of their wounds) and established the ambulance corps- to name only a couple of his accomplishments.  One final note here, there were 12 African American doctors who served as Union surgeons or contract surgeons during the Civil War.

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