Wednesday, November 23, 2022



 - the medicine and surgery of yesteryear

By Keith Souter aka CLAY MORE

During the Civil War surgeons had to deal with a huge array of wounds. According to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine the vast majority of documented wounds were caused by the MiniĆ© ball, while the rest were caused by grapeshot, canister or other exploding shells. Few men were treated for sabre or bayonet wounds and even fewer for cannon ball wounds.

More documentation of cases seems to have been recorded by the Union Army than the Confederate States Army. 

When one thinks of hand to hand fighting the sabre and the bayonet come very much to mind, but the following figures of cases recorded during the American Civil War 1861-1865 put things into perspective.


522 cases  

488 recovered

26 fatal


400 cases

357 recovered

30 fatal


245,790 cases 

201,962 recovered 

31,922 fatal

Of the sabre wounds the most common site of injuries were the head, followed by the upper limbs.

Of the bayonet wounds the most common site of injuries were the abdomen.

Of shot wounds the most common site of injuries was the chest, followed by the limbs.

So, let us look at the treatment of sabre and bayonet wounds by looking at one of the major textbooks of surgery written for surgeons during the Civil War. It was written by one of the great medical and surgical innovators of the era, Dr JJ Chisolm. You will, if you care to delve back in the blog find that I have written many articles referencing him. 

Dr Julian John Chisolm (1830-1903)
Julian John Chisolm, often referred to as john Julian Chisolm or as J.J. Chisolm was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1830. He obtained his MD medical degree from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1850 then travelled to Europe to study medicine and surgery in Paris and London.

He returned to Charleston in 1860 and took up the post of Professor of Surgery at the Medical College. He  kept the position throughout the War and in 1861 published the first edition of his textbook A Manual of Military Surgery for the Use of Surgeons in the Confederate States Army.

He was one of the few competent surgeons at the start of the War (it was the steepest of learning curves for surgeons on both sides), but his book gave detailed instructions. His experience was based on personal observations of many wounds  treated in both civilian and military hospitals admitted form the battlefields of Europe. The book was updated twice during the War.

I quote from the book.

PUNCTURED WOUNDS, MADE BY THE BAYONET OR SABRE, require similar treatment to gunshot wounds. If the history and appearances clearly indicate the character of the wound, there will be no need of probing for imaginary foreign bodies. Such wounds usually bleed more freely than gunshot wounds, but the haemorrhage is susceptible of control by similar means - pressure being preferred to ligation of arteries. The treatment should be cold water dressings - irrigation preferred. Protect the wound from air, if possible, by covering it with adhesive plaster or collodion, and dress it a seldom as possible, compatible with cleanliness. Once, probing such a wound should satisfy the curiosity of any surgeon. A frequent repetition of this meddlesome surgery, besides the needless pain inflicted upon the wounded man, must end in mischief. 

Simple incised wounds, as sabre cuts, will be closed by adhesive plaster (or sutures, which are preferable, should there be any tendency to gaping), to be followed by the cold water dressing. Should the wound be not of a serious character, it may be left even without after-dressing - the little oozing from its edges, when drawn together by straps or sutures, dries into a scab along the line of the wound, and excludes air with its pernicious influences. This permits of the remodelling process and cicatrisation is effected without suppuration. 

Should a bayonet or sabre wound transfix one of the natural cavities, the internal injury may be rapidly fatal from hemorrhage , or the injury inflicted upon the contained organs may, sooner or later, lead to the destruction of the patient by visceral inflammation. Under ordinary conditions, when such wounds exist in the extremities, where no large vessels are implicated, they require no special treatment. It is a class of wounds not as frequently met with in military surgery as one would suppose. The sabre-bayonet, when plunged into the body among the viscera, leaves but little work for the surgeon. Such cases seldom leave the battlefield alive.

When the ordinary bayonet has buried itself deeply in a limb, suppuration may appear in the course of the wound. Should pus b suspected, and fears exist that it may be pent up under a fascia, it would be necessary to dilate the wound t permit of its free escape. Under no other condition should a punctured wound , made by either a sword or bayonet, be dilated, except to remove foreign bodies or to control serious haemorrhage, where it is necessary to ligate the open mouths of the bleeding vessel. 

[It should, of course, be noted that the book was written before Lord Lister developed the practice of aseptic surgery in the 1870s]

John Sith Pemberton (1831-1888) and the creation of  Coca Cola
We come now to another Confederate veteran, the pharmacist John Sith Pemberton.

Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Georgia and qualified as a pharmacist at the Reform Medical College of Georgia. He eventually set up a drug store in Columbus. 

Doing the Civil War he served in the Third Cavalry Battalion of the Georgia State Guard, part of the Confederate Army. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. 

During the Battle of Columbus he sustained a sabre wound to the chest and survived. He was, however, left with chronic pain and became addicted to morphine.  As a pharmacist he experimented with various ingredients as a substitute for the opiate. 

At first this medicine he came up with contained coca, from which cocaine is derived. He produced Pemberton's French Wine Coca. When a temperance act was imposed the alcohol content had to be removed and so he developed another formula for his medicine. This was in the form of a syrup, which after experimentation he mixed with soda which he sold as a fountain drink rather than a medicine.  This eventually became Coca Cola.

Sadly, due to ill health and the threat of bankruptcy he sold the complete rights to his drink for  what would nowadays be considered a paltry sum. The drink is now iconic around the world. 


My latest novel, written under my crime and historical writing name of Keith Moray is an historical crime novel. It is entitled DEATH OF A POET and  is the first in the Ancient Egypt  Murder Mysteries series set in Alexandria in the Ptolemaic era. It introduces Overseer Hanufer of Crocodilopolis 

And for more medicine and surgery of yesteryear, The Doctor's Bag published by Sundown Press.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Collaboration -Invaluable


Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

McAllister House
Photo Property of the Author

Preservation and presentation of history is a vital foundation for civilization. While we think of history as something solid from the past, it is fluid. Its very fluidity adds to the richness that has come before. Much like the story of the early women doctors in Colorado that I myself have been researching for the past ten-plus years, this additional information, and fluidity if you will create a story that people can connect to. These connections we can find by sharing information will continue to give us a solid foundation upon which to grow our future.

As an example, the common story is that William J. Palmer founded Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is true, to a point. The city was his dream. The truth, he needed help to make that dream a reality. The collaboration he received was invaluable to creating the dream. Originally "The Fountain Colony" was a 'membership organization that one joined to purchase real estate during the city's formative years'.

Some of the people who helped Palmer realize his ambition to create a town at the base of Pike's Peak might have been lost to time had they not left legacies of their own.

Dr. William Bell had been part of the original survey party in which Palmer first saw the region. Dr. Bell was born in Ireland, studied at Cambridge University, and had a practice at St. George's Hospital in London. Dr. Bell was in the United States to continue studying homeopathy when he became part of Palmer's party. He continued with Palmer as the two along with others created the resort town of Colorado Springs and the health mecca Manitou Springs.

Pikes Peak
Photo Property of the Author

Henry McAllister, Also a Quaker who was also from Pennsylvania and a member of General Palmer's 15th Pennsylvania Calvary during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major. McAllister had a job as the secretary of the American iron and steel Association when he accepted Palmer's invitation to be a part of the founding company of Colorado Springs.

William Sharpless Jackson, also a Quaker from Pennsylvania, was part of Palmer's founding organization. He was working for a railroad in the Midwest when tapped by Palmer. It was Jackson who spent years in banking, was a Denver and Rio Grande railroad executive and like McAllister and Bell along with Palmer had a part in the creation of Colorado College.

Both Jackson's and McAllister's sons continued the legacy started by their fathers but their story is for another time.

As you can see, one person can have an idea, but in order to realize that idea it takes collaboration, it takes people willing to become part of something bigger. It is through the work of these men, their families, and researchers/historians that we understand how invaluable collaboration is. The more we know the richer our history becomes.

Perhaps you have a project you're working on, collaboration, asking for help, is invaluable. Growing this organization, and keeping it vital, takes more than just one person. Keep up the good work, we're on our way and with everyone's help will make it to the top.

For those who would like to know more here is a YouTube video from the director of "The McAllister House Museum" on 'The Development of the Fountain Colony...' Fountain Colony

Until next time.

Doris McCraw

Thursday, November 10, 2022

On This Day in the Old West: November 11

 On November 11, 1889, Washington became the 42nd State of the USA. After a thirteen-year hiatus where no new states were admitted to the Union, the US Congress passed an act that would allow Washington, Montana, and North and South Dakota to petition to become states. In order for this to happen, however, each territory must write and pass a state constitution. Washington duly convened a constitutional convention in Olympia, the territorial capital, on July 4. It was swelteringly hot that day, and the convention was crowded with delegates and onlookers.

Inauguration of the first governor


The delegates were chosen according to a formula Congress came up with, which required the governor and chief justice of the Supreme Court to divide the territory into twenty-five voting districts of approximately equal populations. Three delegates represented each district—two from the majority party and one from the minority, thus ensuring the dominance of the Republican Party.


“Seventy-five men elected to the State Constitutional Convention included 21 lawyers, 13 farmers, 6 merchants, 6 doctors, 5 bankers, 4 cattlemen, 3 teachers, 2 real-estate agents, 2 editors, 2 hop farmers, 2 loggers, 2 lumbermen, 1 minister, 1 surveyor, 1 fisherman, and 1 mining engineer.” (HistoryLink)


Washington Territory was formed in 1852 when Congress split what is now Washington State, northern Idaho, and western Montana from Oregon Territory, which had been created five years earlier. Washington was reduced to its current boundaries in 1863, when Idaho Territory was created. By the time it achieved statehood, Washington would have spent 36 years as a territory, longer than any of the 41 states admitted before it and more than three times as long as neighboring Oregon. There are many reasons for this length of time (only five other states exceeded the 36-year tenure as a territory), including little interest by the territory’s citizens in the politics of statehood. At least four times during the late 1860s and early 1870s, voters rejected proposals to call a convention to adopt a state constitution. 


The biggest obstacle to statehood, however, was geographical. Historian Robert Ficken notes, “The complete lack of communications over the Cascades prevented unity, in politics and economics.” During most of the territory’s existence, there were not even wagon roads, let alone railways across the mountains. The growing settlements on either side of the mountains could not communicate or trade with one another. Those in Western Washington did business mostly with California by sea, while Easterners shipped to and from Portland, Oregon along the Columbia River, by boat or rail. 

Governor Miles C. Moore


This changed dramatically in 1887 with the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s line from Eastern Washington over the Cascades via Stampede Pass to Tacoma. Direct trade between the regions boosted the economies on both sides of the mountains and brought in many more immigrants from the eastern US. With the territory economically unified and booming, local regional rivalries were put aside, at least temporarily, and calls for statehood increased.


The new constitution ended up a patchwork made from the constitutions of other states, and a document drawn up in Walla Walla at an earlier convention, as well as resolutions and ideas submitted by citizens’ groups. It reflected the concerns of its day: restrictions placed on the legislature, the many statewide elected officials that split the responsibilities of governance, and the complex amending formula (Avery, Mary W. Government of Washington State. University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1966).  Some of the hottest topics under discussion involved the disposition of school and state lands, the regulation of railroads (delegates debated the corrupting influences of free railroad passes for elected officials and prohibited them yet failed to create a strong elected commission to regulate the rates railroads would charge, an issue of vital importance to farmers and other citizens). 


Despite its flaws, the citizens of Washington Territory voted 40,152 to 11,879 to ratify the new constitution in an election called by territorial governor Miles C. More on October 1, 1889. Certain perennial issues could not be agreed upon, such as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and the location of a state capital. These issues would be discussed all through the first few decades of statehood. 


Not all sectors of the population approved of the new constitution. Many farmers, especially in eastern Washington, were uneasy with the new document. They felt the new constitution provided for too many state offices with too high salaries, which would result in “an office-seeking class, the most worthless class that can exist. It will also foster machine politics of the most corrupt and offensive character” (Crawford, Harriet Ann. The Washington State Grange. Binfords and Mort, Publishers, Portland, 1940).

President Benjamin Harrison


On November 11, US President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation declaring Washington’s admission into the Union was complete. This news was immediately telegraphed to Olympia, setting off celebrations in the new state’s capital. "There was a moment of dead silence, followed by a roar which shook the ancient wooden capitol. Jubilation spread from the senate to the house and then down Main street to the town. The cannon, which had been charged for days awaiting the great event, fired unceasing salvos and the male populace rushed to the town's 14 saloons" (Gordon R. Newell, Rogues, Buffoons & Statesmen (Seattle: Hangman Press, 1975).


J.E.S. Hays