War Museum Features Medicine Used During the Civil War

War Museum Features Medicine Used During the Civil War

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, was established in 1990 by a doctor who collects medical instruments from the said era in U.S. history / Photo by: Harej via Wikimedia Commons

 

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, was established in 1990, and it began as a random hobby for Dr. Gordon E. Dammann, M.D., and his spouse, Karen. They started acquiring equipment, particularly medical instruments and apparatus, in 1971 and eventually, they wanted to share what they collected with the world, as well as the stories they learned from them. They dreamed of starting a museum.

According to www.civilwarmed.org, with the assistance of Sam Kirkpatrick, M.D., F. Terry Hambrecht M.D., Thomas Adrian Wheat M.D., John Olson, and the Reverend John Schildt, the dream of the Dammanns’ came true when the museum was launched in 1990.

The iconic city of Frederick in Maryland was selected to be the place of accommodation for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in 1993. It served as an ideal place because, throughout the course of the Civil War, the wounded soldiers were transported from the battlefields near the vicinity to recover in Frederick. The area then was turned into “one vast hospital” since its homes, buildings, and churches were converted into improvised hospitals. On top of the bond the war museum in Frederick has with Civil War period medicine which makes it the ideal location, it is also a quick drive from other historic places such as Antietam, Baltimore, Washington, and the museum in Gettysburg.

Having a Partnership with Blue and Gray Hospital Association

The Blue and Gray Hospital Association, an organization specializing in Civil War history which is distinctly devoted to keeping and sharing the history of medicine during the times of the Civil War, is based in Pennsylvania and has been collaborating with the Museum of Civil War Medicine for the past few years. The organization was established in 2012, and they return to the war museum in Frederick to feature unique presentations about the period of medical care for the people visiting the museum.

Mark Quattrock, one of the founders of the association, said, “I heard about the museum when they were holding one of their historical interpretations workshops and I came down and just fell in love with it. It’s been my home away from home ever since.”

The Blue and Gray Hospital Association, an organization specializing in Civil War history is distinctly devoted to keeping and sharing the history of medicine during that time / Photo by: Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

 

Last Sunday, several members of the association donned uniforms of the Confederate Army and also exhibited the army’s rare medical equipment. Almost a month before that, the hospital association paid a visit to the war museum donning Union uniforms and also brought with them medical equipment used by the Union military.

On the other hand, the museum management is pleased and excited to welcome Quattrock and his passionate group as frequent as they can, as stated by the executive director of the museum, David Price. He added that they are grateful for the collaboration with the association since they are as devoted, passionate, and earnest regarding the theme as the museum is. The special exhibit was assembled in the Delaplaine Randall Conference Room, which is located in the second floor of the museum.

The Significance of the Medical Museum

According to www.fredericknewspost.com, many of the visitors came and left during the day to observe and discuss with the actors in military uniforms the different medical equipment and other historical items which were exhibited. Some of the instruments on display were used to quantify various ingredients, such as how to pack and compress medicine pills during that period, in addition to the assorted glass vials utilized in transporting anesthetics and other medication.

Seeing the anesthetics in the array of medication was unexpected and amazing to the people who visited, like Patricia Dalton Byrne. She stated that she had no idea that those kinds of medicines were already provided and accessible during the period of the Civil War. In any case, she said she was also grateful to know that surgeons during that period had pain management medicine for the wounded soldiers.

Prior to the Civil War, ether was already being utilized as an anesthetic by army surgeons. However, they found out that using it also had disadvantages, like ether being highly flammable. They also discovered chloroform to be a lot more efficient.

Many of the visitors came and left during the day to observe and discuss with the actors in military uniforms the different medical equipment and other historical items which were exhibited / Photo by: Ron Cogswell via Flickr

 

Byrne visited the museum along with her husband, Patrick Byrne, with their friends Philip Pierce and his spouse Lauretta Grau. Since Patrick and Philip were classmates in medicine back in the 1970s, they were both highly interested in the medical museum.

After the activity last Sunday, Pierce went home with a lot more recognition and regard for the medical instruments he currently uses in contrast to the ones used by doctors long ago.

Pierce said reflectively, “It’s a wonderful way to ground us with the progress we’ve made in medicine over time. There was a statement made during the presentation saying, for example, [Civil War surgeons] couldn’t do abdominal surgery, meaning abdominal wounds had a very high mortality rate ... So you can see why life expectancy has shot up so far in the years since, I think by probably 30 to 40 years, thanks to advancements.”