Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service

By H. H. Cunningham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
Conclusion

The contributions to subsequent medical development that stemmed from the war-torn Southern Confederacy should not be overlooked or minimized. First of all, a number of significant contributions was made with respect to hospitals and the treatment of patients therein. Whether or not the Confederate Surgeon General introduced the one story pavilion hospital the fact is clear that he considered it to be the best model for hospital construction, and the postwar adaptations of this type institution owed much to his influence. The remarkable mobility of certain of the general and field hospitals may be considered to have been another important contribution to the history of modern military medicine. In a very real sense Medical Director Samuel H. Stout's hospitals behind the Army of Tennessee along with the field infirmaries in the Army of Northern Virginia were forerunners of the highly mobile hospital units seen during the Second World War. The setting aside of separate wards and even entire hospitals for smallpox, eye difficulties, venereal disease, hernia, gangrene, and certain other ailments was also a forward- looking contribution made by Confederate medical officials.

Within Confederate hospitals it was discovered that good nursing was as important as proper medical attention, and the consensus of opinion, at least among the patients, appeared to be that the best nurses were women. Some women accepted full-time employment in the military hospitals despite the prevailing taboo against their doing so, and there was certainly some relationship between those self-sacrificing women and the rise of trained nursing as a profession. Women proved to be good morale builders, and it was learned that the mental outlook of the patient was a proper consideration of the hos-

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