Thursday, 7 August 2014

Surgeons at War



Invasive operations – its accompanying pains and potential complications – gave early modern surgeons and surgery a somewhat negative reputation.  Surgeons belonged to an ignoble profession, one joke noted, because they made a living “by the hurts of other men.”[1]

Despite this characterization, surgeons – along with barbers and apothecaries – provided the bulk of day-to-day medical advice and treatment at this time.  Physicians were few and too expensive.[2] 

Surgeons were even more important and necessary on the battlefield.  Indeed, seventeenth-century soldiers and naval men were treated almost exclusively by surgeons rather than physicians.

The almost continuous warfare throughout the period provided surgical practitioners with numerous opportunities for state service and a plentiful supply of wounded men to treat.  War contributed significantly to surgery’s growth in terms of both organization and practical techniques. 

In addition to honing their skills, war encouraged surgeons’ creativity as they sought better ways to treat wounds rather than relying on older and accepted knowledge.

Ambroise Paré, for example, discovered the use of ligatures in amputations, researched amputation’s effects,
Paré's prosthetic
and even designed prosthetics.

As early as the 1530s, Paré admitted to searching actively for other methods to treat gunshot wounds, and moreover, that both himself and other surgeons knew to use suppuratives rather than boiling oil due to their wartime experience.[3] 

It was Paré, famously, who popularized the idea that gunshot wounds were not poisonous and that the wounds did not need to be cauterized.  He was, in particular, moved by the pain his patients suffered – those cauterized with hot oil suffered from fevers and “great pain” due to inflamed wounds.  Viewing them with horror Paré “resolved with my selfe, never to burn so cruelly the wounded Patients by Gunshot any more.”[4]

Though less painful for the patients, Paré’s new method of treating gunshot wounds horrifyingly required boiled puppies and worms in alcohol. 

The infamous boiled puppy recipe was given to Paré by a surgeon in Turin and required:

“two young whelpes, one pound of earth-wormes, two pounds of the oyle of Lillies, six ounces of the Terebinth of Venice, and one ounce of Aqua-vitae: and in my presence he boiled the whelpes alive in the saide Oyle, until the flesh departed from the bones. Afterward, he tooke the wormes (having before killed and purified them in white wine, to purge themselves of the earth which they have always in their bodies) being so prepared, he boyled them also in the said Oyle till they became dry, this he strained through a Napkin, without any great expressions, that done, he added thereto the Terebinth, and lastly, the Aqua-vitae, and called God to witnesse, that this was his Balme which is used in all wounds made by Gunshot.”[5]

Though Paré was well known and his work widely disseminated, it is unknown just how popular his puppy cure came to be. 

On 23 October 1642, at the Battle of Edgehill, a soldier named Christpher Wally was shot with a pistol just an inch above the clavicle on the right side of his neck.  The pistol ball traveled into his mouth, embedding broken teeth into his cheek and damaging significantly his jaw.  The damage was so severe that when Wally drank broth, it “come out at his wound in ye necke soe as when he dranke he put his fingers on the wound.  Incredibly, as surgeon Joseph Binns related, Wally survived after being bled, his wound dressed, and given numerous liquids to gargle.  Wally was recorded as cured on 20 December of the same year.

In 1662, English surgeons Joseph Binns, Thomas Hollier, and Thomas Arris treated the son of a fourth surgeon, one Mr. Dickson, who had been shot with a musket in the arm.  The musket ball traveled up the man’s arm and “fractured all the bone to peeces.”  The patient was dressed with various herbs including sage and wormwood, various infusions in alcohol, was bled, and given a glister.  He too survived. 

Roughly 130 years after Paré’s The Method of Curing, Richard Wiseman would repeat a similar puppy cure in his Several Chirurgical Treatises.[6]   

Wiseman was easily one of the most important English surgeons of the early modern period.  His mammoth treatises, years as a naval surgeon, and time at Charles’s side during the English Civil War make him an intriguing figure. 

Like Paré before him, Wiseman believed that a combination of experience and accepted knowledge was key to a successful surgical practice. 

Though his contributions to surgery do not compare to Paré’s innovations, Wiseman’s many publications included over 100 case studies in A Treatise of Wounds (1672) and roughly 600 case studies in Severall Chirurgical Treatises (1676). 

These case histories or observations were an important part of communicating surgical innovations and reflects neatly the new science’s emphasis on experiment and experience.  Cases such as these helped showcase surgical knowledge and disseminate it to other surgeons, physicians, and natural philosophers.

It was one of the many ways in which surgical practitioners could gain occupational and personal credit.

The Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions benefited from Wiseman’s dedication to printing detailed reports of his case observations.

As I’ve written about here, styptics – external medicines that staunched the flow of blood – were an integral part of the army surgeon’s chest and a matter of some debate in the seventeenth century.

Though he did not develop or test the so-called “Royal Stiptick Water” on the battlefield, Wiseman experimented with it and described its effects in the Phil. Trans. for the benefit of other army and naval surgeons.

Tales of the liquid styptic reached English shores through the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.  In 1673 Jean-Baptiste Denys, the personal physician to Louis XIV, wrote to the journal from Paris and related the experiments he made on dogs and men to test the styptic’s efficacy.[7]  Intrigued by the letter, Wiseman and Dr. Walter Needham requested samples of the liquid with which to perform their own experiments.

Combined, the men performed six separate experiments on dogs, calves, and, spontaneously, on one human.  Unlike Denys’ brief letter, Wiseman and Needham’s notes to the journal were quite extensive and included details of how and where incisions were made, how the styptic was applied, and the outcome of the process.[8]

The royal styptic was tested privately by Wiseman and Needham, before members of the Royal Society, and at Whitehall by the king’s command.  The repeated testing was not a sign that the men sought replicability of results.  Indeed, the initial private test was on a dog, the styptic’s use on a female patient was entirely unplanned, the experiment before the Royal Society was also on a dog, while the experiment before the king was made on two calves.[9] 

Indeed, Wiseman was not prepared to perform an experiment on humans at the time and he ended up lightly cauterizing the wound with a hot iron and using tight bandages in addition to using the styptic. 

These were not carefully the controlled experiments of modern science.  At no time did either Wiseman or Needham suggest that the tests’ parameters needed to be controlled or even comment that the slightly different results of each test was significant.  Rather, they noted that the styptic was effective because the dogs and calves were “still found alive and well” and “went away without any bandage.”[10] 

The experiments’ steps, it seemed, were recorded more to lend authority to the account rather than as a guide to further experimenters on what to expect.  Indeed, it seems more likely that the details were included to allow readers to become virtual witnesses. 

In the same way, Wiseman and Needham witnessed the experiments together, then with the Royal Society, and then it was again witnessed by the king and “several” of  his physicians and surgeons until “his Majesty himself declared publickly to be very well satisfied with it.”[11] 

Monarchical approval – from both sides of Channel – lent Denys’ styptic significant cachet.  Indeed, it was the royal stypic.  

Battle wounds, especially from gunshot, were exceptionally deadly and uncontrolled bloodless a major worry.  War forced early modern surgeons to experiment and innovate.  From puppies to liquid styptics, they sought less painful and more effective methods with which to treat their patients.

For more on early modern military surgery check out Jennifer Evans’ recent post Wounded at War (featuring more Wiseman!).

Let me know what you think here or on Twitter – I’m @medhistorian.


[1] Ashton, Humour Wit & Satire, 341.
[2] Mary Lindemann, Medicine and Society in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 216; Margaret Pelling and Charles Webster, “Medical Practitioners,” in ed. Charles Webster, Health, Medicine, and Mortality in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1979), 182.
[3] Ambroise Paré, The Method of Curing Wounds Made by Gun-shot, 8.
[4] Ibid., 4.
[5] Paré, The Method of Curing Wounds Made by Gun-shot, 5.  Also, please do not try to make this recipe.
[6] Wiseman, Severall Chirurgical Treatises (1676), 413.
[7] Jean-Baptiste Denys, “An Extract of  a Letter, Written to the Publisher by M. Denys from Paris,” Phil. Trans. 8 (1673), 6039.  For more on Denys see Holly Tucker, Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2011).
[8] Denis, “Experiments of a Present and Safe Way of Staunching,” Phil. Trans. 8 (1673), 6052-6059.
[9] Ibid., 6052-6054.  See also: Wiseman, Severall Chirurgicall Treatises, 273.
[10] Denis, “Experiments of a Present and Safe Way of Staunching,” 6053-6054.
[11] Ibid.

12 comments:

  1. Possible values would assist students regarding all those objects and meaning which must have been followed by the individual. university of miami hematology

    ReplyDelete
  2. After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don't believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: spiritualherbalisthealing@gmail.com or call him +2349055637784 you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

    ReplyDelete
  3. My purpose out here today is to share this article to the world about how Doctor Adoda helped me in getting back my EX-boyfriend that broke up with me 4 months ago. I tried all i can to make him see reasons with me so that we can continue our relationship but he denied me. Thank God for giving me the thought of going into the internet for help, i searched properly and i saw different reviews of Doctor Adoda and same time a video on youtube ( https://youtu.be/bct3VhtQhqI ) i insisted in giving it a try by contacting him via what's app on +2348112825421. He gave me reason to live again and he prepared a spell and told me that my Ex-boyfriend will come back to me within 28 hours. Can you believe it, my EX-boyfriend came back to me and our wedding will hold Soon. Contact him now!!! if you need any help. Email: adodalovespelltemple@gmail.com and he does a lot of spells website ( http://Adodalovespelltemple.site123.me )

    ReplyDelete
  4. This become in fact an appealing subject and i kinda tackle next to what you have got cited here! PAKISTANI ESCORTS

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you know that there is a great Herbal doctor who can cure any disease? Like Cancer, HIV, HPV, syphilis, diabetes, herpes, anthrax, madness, low sperm count, pregnancy And also bring back your Lover E.t.c. Well my main reason why i am writing this right now is to inform the whole world about the great deeds, DR. OTIS DARKO did for me. My name is Rose Udinonleo, I was diagnosed of HIV in the year 2012 ever since then I was taking my medications, until I met the great spell caster, though I never believed in spell. I saw many testimonies on how he cured deadly diseases. I contacted him through his Email: otisdarko60@yahoo.com I Emailed him, he asked me to send him my information, which I did. He told me that his going to require some items in which he will use in casting a curing spell on me. I don’t know where to find the items he required. He told me that the only alternative is for me to send him the money and he only demanded for just $390 dollars to get the materials and he helped me to get the itames for the herbal treatment. I promised myself to do anything to get cured. I sent him the money. He bought the items and casted a curing spell on me and also sent me a herbal portion, I used it as He instructed. 7 days later he asked me to go for check up, when I did the check up I was tested HIV Negative. I am so happy, I can not stop thanking Him, if you passing through hardship and you need a way out, kindly contact him via his email on:: otisdarko60@yahoo.com..............YOU CAN ALSO ADD HIM UP ON WHATSAPP USING THIS MOBILE NUMBER:+2348077526136

    ReplyDelete
  6. HOW I GET FREE FROM HERPES AFTER 8 DAYS

    My name is Paulson Hooker,i am from USA.I want to share my testimony on how i get cure of my HERPES GENITAL with the help of Doctor OTIS DARKO, I have being suffering for this disease for a very long time now and I have try several means to get rid of it, but there was no solution to it because my doctor told me at the hospital that herpes has no cure.I have being scam by several people on internet who claim that they have herpes cure.but I never gave up, until I saw a post,posted by JACK WILSON. when I saw her testimony I was happy because she make a statement that the herbal doctor medicine is for free. after reading the testimony,so I collect the herbal doctor email and mail him about my herpes that I need cure and 4 hours later he replied my mail, and told me to send him my details about my self and after that he told me that his herbal medicine is free and that the only thing that I need to do, is to provide money that he will use in getting the herbal medicine preparation done and I told him that he should give me 2/3 days to get the money amd we keep on sending mail to each other and using phone calls to communicate and three days later I got the money that he request for in getting the items and I send it to him he email me that he has purchase the items that he is about to prepare the herbal medicine and after the preparation he send the herbal medicine to me via fedex and he also give me the guide line on how to use the herbal medicine and after using it for 8 days as he told me, then I went for medical checkup at the hospital and I was so surprise that the doctor congratulate me that am now herpes negative and I was so happy because at last am free from herpes and also I want to thank WILSON for using doctor OTIS DARKO to cure my herpes and another testimony is that two of my friend who also have herpes that contacted doctor OTIS DARKO for their own cure have also been cured from herpes and now they are also herpes NEGATIVE like me and if you have herpes or any other disease and you want to get rid of it, DR OTIS DARKO is the best DR to cure it. If you want to be sharing the same testimony that am sharing with other who has being cure by him kindly contact doctor OTIS DARKO via this email: otisdarko60@yahoo.com .... DR OTIS GOT ALL CURE AND REMEDY TO ALL KIND OF SICKNESS YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN SUFFER FROM AND ALSO SPECIALISES IN THE FOLLOWING:

    (1) If you want your ex-back.
    (2) If you always have bad dreams.
    (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
    (5) If you want a child.
    (6) You want to be rich.
    (7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8) If you need financial assistance.
    (9) Herbal care
    (10) if you are unable to satisfy your wife sex desire due to low err action.
    (11) If your menstruation refuse to come out the day it suppose or over flows.
    (12) If your work refuse to pay you, people owing you.
    (13) Solve a land issue and get it back.
    (14) Did your family Denny you of your right?
    (15) Do you have a low sperm count?
    (16) Are you contesting for any political position in your country?
    (17) Case solves E.T.C

    You are free to contact him at ( otisdarko60@yahoo.com ) ..... CONTACT HIM NOW FOR ALL ANSWERS TO ANY KIND OF PROBLEMS: otisdarko60@yahoo.com...YOU CAN ALSO ADD HIM UP ON WHATSAPP USING THIS MOBILE NUMBER:+2348077526136

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tracey Wilson Says

    Am giving this testimony because am happy and I want you all to be 100% careful on who you contact online so you will never and never be scammed at all as I have held an experiences with some useless and jobless spell caster who ripped me off the total sum of $39,000.00 dollars and another one also scammed me out of the sum of just $10,000.00 while the last one I meet collected the sum of $12,000.00 dollars from me and all these happened to me because I was so desperate in getting my lover back to me and one faithful and wonderful after noon as I was surfing the net I came accross a testimony on how one Tracey Jackson got her EX back to her with the help of DR OTIS DARKO and I decided to give him a TRIAL because of all the testimony I read online about this man and at the end of it all it ended well as my ex came back to me at once and he has done all I asked of him to do for me and it did not only end up there this spell caster as did PREGNANCY SPELL for me and today am pregnant... His email address is : otisdarko60@yahoo.com...... YOU CAN ALSO ADD HIM UP ON WHATSAPP USING THIS MOBILE NUMBER:+2348077526136

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good Day Everyone,

    We are Christian Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help.So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email: slivinumarko@yahoo.com . For the Holy Bible says in the book of ” Luke 11:10 Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” .So do not let this opportunity pass you by because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please this is for serious minded people that actually needs financial help in this YEAR 2018 and not for UNSERIOUS PEOPLE and I promise you that you have ANSWER to your financial problems here and you will be happy that you contacted us.... ONCE AGAIN OUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS: slivinumarko@yahoo.com ..

    ReplyDelete
  9. $READ MY STORY ON HOW I BECAME DEBT FREE WITH TIPS OF DETECTING A LOAN SCAM ON-LINE !!$$$$$

    Attention To The World,

    If you need a genuine and reliable loan help,and don’t want to be a scam victim,I think this is for you.This is a testimony on how,I was ripped off by some idiot that calls themselves lenders,and how I finally got my financial freedom through a God sent helper that finally gave my life a meaning,with the least cheapest rates as to 2% interest and little TOKEN other requirements and they don’t give a damn to your credit score… For more info on how to reach this great man just email him now and tell him that Mark Shores testify about him on the internet his email address is: slivinumarko@yahoo.com ... CONTACT THIS GREAT LOAN LENDER TODAY VIA THIS EMAIL ADDRESS:slivinumarko@yahoo.com and my everyday prayer to this great man is that GOD WILL NEVER STOP BLESSING AND PROTECTING HIS FAMILY because he put an endless smile on my faces and am 100% DEBT FREE TODAY.......

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with two kids for one year, All effort to bring him back failed I thought I'm not going to see him again not until I met a lady called Jesse who told me about a spell caster called Dr.Oku, She gave me his email address and mobile number and I contacted him and he assured me that within 28 hours my husband will come back to me, In no less than 28hours my husband came back started begging for forgiveness saying it is the devils work, so I'm still surprise till now about this miracle,i couldn't conceive but as soon as the spell was cast,i became pregnant and gave birth to my third child(Michelle) if you need any assistance from him you can contact him via:email, okutemple@gmail.com , you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2347053113465 and tell him I referred you to him

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with two kids for one year, All effort to bring him back failed I thought I'm not going to see him again not until I met a lady called Jesse who told me about a spell caster called Dr.Oku, She gave me his email address and mobile number and I contacted him and he assured me that within 28 hours my husband will come back to me, In no less than 28hours my husband came back started begging for forgiveness saying it is the devils work, so I'm still surprise till now about this miracle,i couldn't conceive but as soon as the spell was cast,i became pregnant and gave birth to my third child(Michelle) if you need any assistance from him you can contact him via:email, okutemple@gmail.com , you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2347053113465 and tell him I referred you to him

    ReplyDelete