Tomorrow: living history with a spark.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Here's some more interesting living history from this past weekend's Voices of the Land festival. This replica of a Civil War hospital tent includes some of the actual surgical instruments used on the battlefield in the 1860s. The good doctor is explaining why so many limbs had to be amputated: the bullets used at the time would shatter bones, and the primitive medical facilities could not mend them. Amputation was the only solution, or the soldier would risk a gangrenous infection that would most likely kill him. I won't go into the details of how the amputations were done - it doesn't make very pleasant breakfast reading. Soldiers were given laudanum, an opium-based painkiller. After the war, many Civil War veterans had what was known as the "good soldier's disease," a euphemism for opium addiction.