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Civilwarmednewbie
02-24-2008, 02:33 AM
Can some one help me?
Tell me what I need to get started for a U.S Surgeon.
Thank You:confused: :confused:

TimKindred
02-24-2008, 10:44 AM
Get a cup of coffe, sit back, and read through the threads in this folder. That will give you a good place to start. I'd plan on buying a LOT of books and spending a LOT of your time reading and studying the theory and practice of 19th century medicine. After that, we can talk about the material culture. :)

Seriously, there really isn't an easy way to develop a CW period medical impression. The one course that might be useful is to put together a good enlistedman's kit (uniform and personal equipment, no weapon or accoutrements, etc) and to "join" an existing medical unit and learn by doing.

Respects,

hta1970
02-24-2008, 03:13 PM
I think John Novicki with the Field Hospital/Chesapeake Volunteer Guard has given some good estimates:

"Asst. Surgeon: This is an expensive impression in time and money. First, you need to have sufficient knowledge of 1861-1865 medicine to appear credible to most people, kit yourself out in an appropriate junior officer kit ($2,000+), acquire medical instruments, books, panniers, etc. as needed ($3000+), horse and furniture [surgeons were mounted officers . . .] ($1000 for furniture + whatever a horse will cost to buy/keep/train/lease/rent) and many other various and sundry items. You are an officer and will be expected to look, dress, act and eat like one. You should consider recruiting an orderly."

That is a pretty good estimate. For the uniforms alone you will spend a pretty penny to get it done right. Sure you can cheap out and get soemthing that from 200yds looks passable, but officers will have to spend more and federal surgeons were well supplied so look for lots of medical equipment, especiallyfor a surgeon and even for an assistant surgeon.

As Tim says, start reading medical texts from the period. There are several threads here on the subject and the books can be found for pdf downloads online.

Don't let the research discourage you. It just takes time....

David Meister
02-24-2008, 05:23 PM
All surgeons were mounted?

TimKindred
02-24-2008, 06:38 PM
David,

The surgeon was a part of the Regimental Staff, and, as such, is supposed to be mounted. I suspect many of the rank & file often thought he would be better stuffed & mounted, but that's for another thread. :)

Respects,

hta1970
02-24-2008, 07:50 PM
Yes, as Tim says they would be mounted, owning 2 horses usually. This is also true of medical officers serving in battalions. Though some surgeons would have been without one now and then (you can read this in various accounts such as "Doctor to the Front", they were authorized horses and if you pull compilied military service records for medical officers you will see many requisitions for forage for private horses in their records.

David Meister
02-24-2008, 08:27 PM
well I dont own a horse and could not afford one for a medical impression not to mention a period saddle or saddle bags

TimKindred
02-24-2008, 10:33 PM
Dave,

I don't own one either, but it's good to know what you are SIPPOSED to have :)

Respects,

NoahBriggs
02-25-2008, 06:18 AM
Reality check - I gotta pay for a house. House trumps horse any day, authenticity be screwed. Ergo, I am a first assistant surgeon, sans horse. C'est la vie. Read primary accounts of what historically was, not what was supposed to be. No offense, Verg.

TimKindred
02-25-2008, 07:20 AM
Heh,

What Noah said. Although hauling a horse from Maine to events might also get a tad but pricey..... :)

Jas. Cox
02-25-2008, 09:38 AM
• Find a university or apprentice with a doctor that only knows medicine of that time period and learn to become a mid nineteenth century doctor.
• Only have medical tools, books, etc., from that era, but not post 1865.
• Speak only in the vernacular of the region one is portraying.
• Make sure one only wears a uniform and accoutrements that wear made during this time. If not possible, then perhaps only wear a uniform that had its wool woven on a pre 1858 loom, dyed with blueberries crushed by the feet of 16 year old virgins. Then find a seamstress who knows exactly how it should be sewn and using only equipment and materials that are pre 1861 (or later if one is only portraying later parts of the war). Preferably this person has been handed down this information from generation to generation or is really, really old.
• Find other committed living historians willing to contract dysentery, smallpox, measles, malaria, hospital gangrene and/or willing to be shot with round balls or Miniι balls, bayoneted, stabbed, etc., and suffer amputation and death. There's nothing like hands on practice.
• One could never take a horse trailer to an event. One must ride one's horse, however many miles it may be to an event, and perhaps forage along the way. One might have other dedicated opposition forces take shots at one on one's journey.

Blah, blah, blah.

Or one could have a goal of being as authentic as possible as time, budget and ability allow and constantly try to learn and update. The willingness to learn being the key and knowing none of us will ever be 100% authentic, that we are portraying something that happened over 140 years ago and we will never really know what it was like no matter what we wear. Have fun, try not to say or do something that's inaccurate and if one learns something they have been doing is not correct, then attempt to change that inaccuracy if possible (not riding a horse and driving a van to an event might not be worth changing).

And those are my thoughts on the matter.

hanktrent
02-25-2008, 11:17 AM
Long ago, I portrayed an assistant surgeon with a horse, and honestly, unless you're doing campaign events, which were very rare then, there's not much purpose for a horse.

I gave up when I discovered my horse was basically set dressing. I'd tie it up, ride around for show in the areas outside of camp occasionally, retie it, and just be a petting zoo. Also, unless other staff was all mounted, events were dumbfounded if a medical officer had a horse and didn't know where to put it, so I usually got stuck camping with the cavalry, even though I was infantry staff.

Nowadays, there might be more use for a mounted surgeon at campaign events. A full-scale event, with an ambulance and a field hospital a half-mile or more from the battlefield would be perfect for a surgeon on horseback, but think how often you've seen that.

Until full-scale care of the wounded is the norm, there just won't be much incentive for surgeons to bear the cost of maintaining a horse for one event a year or less.
Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

hanktrent
02-25-2008, 11:40 AM
Or one could have a goal of being as authentic as possible as time, budget and ability allow and constantly try to learn and update. The willingness to learn being the key and knowing none of us will ever be 100% authentic, that we are portraying something that happened over 140 years ago and we will never really know what it was like no matter what we wear.

I can agree with that philosophy much more than the usual discouraging rant about we're all farbs because we don't use real bullets, etc.

The willingness to improve despite knowing we'll never be perfect is a much different attitude than using one inaccuracy to justify all others.

Otherwise, one could say that because we fire blanks, etc., inaccurate medical equipment and uniforms and knowledge don't matter either.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Doug Cooper
02-25-2008, 12:08 PM
Reality check - I gotta pay for a house. House trumps horse any day, authenticity be screwed. Ergo, I am a first assistant surgeon, sans horse. C'est la vie. Read primary accounts of what historically was, not what was supposed to be. No offense, Verg.

Unlike a cavalryman, battery commander or field grade infantry officer, the horse is not vital to a surgeon's work - in fact there is nothing quite so useless as a surgeon on a horse - pretty tough to operate from up there. There are some tremendous sources for this impression, beginning with the medical texts and extending through the personal reminicences.

Noah, Tim, et al - there is one book I vaguely recall written by surgeon in a Massachusetts regiment that is superb (a great account of Gettysburg, etc) - any idea the title?

NoahBriggs
02-25-2008, 12:45 PM
Getting back to the original question -

Starting out from scratch as an Army surgeon is difficult because it's a technical speciality which requires a lot of knowledge - not just surgical techniques, but you need to know the philosophies of health, the soul, how medicines work in the body, and so on. Plus the general cultural literacy needed in order to function intelligently in your role as a physician. Many physicians were respected members of the community precisely because they were well-educated. I started out with the usual surgical procedures and branched out to examine OB GYN, urology, general medicine, pharmacy and non-surgical practice. All of them are intertwined somehow, and just like in real life people will try to stump you by rattling off symptoms just to see if you are up to speed.

Example - this weekend I had a fellow show up at surgeons call, dancing around as though he needed to go to the bathroom real bad. His tone and short breath indicated he was in "severe pain" and bodily control was just barely there. He explained he had a bad case of the squirts, and actually left for a few minutes to "go to the sinks". He returned, still in agony, and explained he had had this problem for some time, and he tried using vinegar to remedy, it as vinegar was a "folk remedy in my family". (More on this in a minute.)

He provided me with a visual aid when I turned around - a tin basin filled with brown mush and red something-or-other smeared in with it. He said he had seen blood in his stools, and he even dipped his finger in the "feces", licked it, and said it was bitter. I guess I must have been somewhat surprised - not from gross out, but from professional curiosity on how to reproduce correct-looking dysentery. I peered at it, much as a real doctor would -after all, stool samples help tell the real tale. I gave him a couple of opium pills and instructions to be off his feet for the day. If he still felt bad by three pm, come back for a separate dose.

In reality he was hoping for actual vinegar. He had a very real allergy to vinegar which caused him to vomit violently, and he hoped to indulge in such dramatics to see what my reaction would be. Unfortunately, "Dr. Steinert" was an allopath and did not put much faith in folk remedies, and I myself in reality saw no reason to give him vinegar for the dysentery. Opium pills, however, have consistently demonstrated to tighten the bowels and help relieve and relax the rectal spasms consistent with severe diarrhea.

So - quite a lot of knowledge was passed back and forth for one patient at one surgeons call at one specific event - illness, symptomology, diagnosis, pharmaceutical dispensing, and the administration to write up the patient, treatment and prescription registers.

Of course I do not expect this level of knowledge from new folks, nor do I write this to discourage anybody from nineteenth century medicine. Merely to show what a technical subject medicine is and thus the first nine to twelve months should be evenly divided with item acquisition and read, read, read. Shoot, I've been doing this for years and I still must read, read, read.

And so I drone on . . .

hta1970
02-25-2008, 02:45 PM
I too do not own a horse, but I use this knowledge in preparing my personal kit. I am currently seeking out a valise for my personal gear. This is where my personal items would have been carried and without the horse, would still be the correct way for me to store my gear in camp rather than in a chest of some other storage device

It is important to remember that medical officers wore better quality uniforms (I'm talking wool weight and quality) that an enlisted uniform and they were privately purchased from a tailor. That means investing in a quality uniform, not an off the rack ill fitting uniform. Without making one yourself (and this might require some tailoring experience) you are looking at $500 easy for a frock coat. Yes you can find ones ready made or from mainstream vendors for less, but you will only end up with a costume, not a properly made and fitting uniform. The wool must be upgraded, the lining must be upgraded etc.... And beware of the buttons! There are quite a few vendors out there selling post war buttons just because someone wants something "like that button." Being a Maryland doctor, there are two types of buttons offered by one vendor. One costs a little bit more, it is the "muffin" style with the correct eagle over the state arms. The other "less expensive" option from the same vendor has a cornet rahter than an eagle and is a design that is 10-20 years post war and even though made by Waterbury is completely wrong. Interestingly, another vendor sells the correct "muffin" style button less than the farby button this very mainstream vendor offers.

My mentioning this is to prove that price is never a guding factor is what is correct or not. What one needs to do is research the details of the impression and not rush out to buy anything. Tlak to those who have been there and are here on this forum. Check out vendors recommended for the time and energy they spend making a authentic product. You will save money in the long run by not having to replace items because you bought the wrong thing.

Authentic Campaigner has a list of recommended vendors and they make great things. They are worth checking out, but be sure to shop around as prices vary from one to another, even though they all make great stuff. I personally have delt with 3 of them so far and have been very pleased. My new shoes arrived from one maker and they fit like a glove, only $40 more than mainstream shoes, but the quality and craftsmanship shows and is evident once you put them on your feet. you just need to be prepared to place your order and wait. (mine ordered last month took about 4 weeks)

FloridaConfederate
02-25-2008, 05:52 PM
He provided me with a visual aid when I turned around - a tin basin filled with brown mush and red something-or-other smeared in with it. He said he had seen blood in his stools, and he even dipped his finger in the "feces", licked it, and said it was bitter

Wow. Try getting that out of yer sky blue trousers.