Medic's Corner

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James


Written by Mike Mescher

A Few Words About Medical Safety In the Field

At the risk of stating the obvious, every unit should have a relatively well-stocked first aid kit in their camp. To demonstrate that such an item is not necessarily as obvious as it sounds, when I first started, we had need of a band-aid for a minor cut and no one had one in the unit and neighboring camps were equally deficient in supplies.

To avoid it getting contaminated, we carry our kit in a plastic box with a lid. The whole thing can go in a cloth bag so it sits out in a clearly handy position but is not a 20th century intrusion. We make sure everyone knows where it is.

We have included a whole bunch of minor medicines including generic tylenol, disinfectant cream, and sunscreen. However, if anyone needs medication, we let them know what we have available but do not suggest anything (don't want to practice medicine). Also, on the recommendation of a first aid instructor years ago, an inexpensive bandage material consists of sanitary pads. They are individually wrapped, sterile, and highly absorbent. Ironically, with the exception of a few bandaids and tylenol, the only time the bandaging material has been needed was when a cavalryman needed to bandage his horse! We count ourselves lucky in that regard.


Member of the Texas Rifles and LSFS

An Effectual Cure for the Earache. Take a small piece of cotton batting or wool, make a depression in the center with the end of the finger, and fill it with as much pulverized black pepper as will rest on a half-dime. Gather it into a ball and tie it up; dip the ball into sweet oil,and insert it into the ear, covering the latter with cotton wool and use a bandage or cap to retain it in its place. A most instant relief will be experienced, and the application is so gentle that an infant will not be injured by it, but experience relief as well as adults.

Recipe for Dysentery and Flux.

We have the following from Mrs. E. C. Jennings, of Oxford. She is a highly intelligentlady--well known to us, and we place every confidence in her recommendation:

Take sweet gum bark and make a strong tea; to one quart add one gill of brandy and an ounce vial of laudanum, with a little sugar to make it palatable. Take a teaspoonful until the disease abates. I have known _one_ dose to effect an immediate cure of the worst case Iever saw, and I know it to be a _never_-failing remedy.

Soldiers' Health

Interesting Suggestions and Recommendations.

The following article, on "Soldiers' Health," is from Hall's New York Journal of Health. It contains much valuable information for both soldiers and civilians:

1. In an ordinary campaign sickness disables or destroys three times as many as the sword.

2. On a march, from April to November, the entire clothing should be a colored flannel shirt, with a loosely-buttoned collar, cotton drawers, woolen pantaloons, shoes and stockings, and a light colored felt hat, with broad brim to protect the eyes and face from the glare of the sun and from the rain, and a substantial but not heavy coat when off duty.

3. Sun-stroke is most effectually prevented by wearing a silk handkerchief in the crown of the hat.

4. Colored blankets are best, and if lined with brown drilling the warmth and durability are doubled, while the protection against dampness from lying on the ground is almost complete.

5. Never lie or sit down on the grass or bare earth for a moment, rather use your hat--a handkerchief, even, is a great protection. The warmer you are the greater need for this protection, as a damp vapor is immediately generated, to be absorbed by the clothing, and to cool you off too rapidly.

6. While marching, or on other duty, the more thirsty you are the more essential is it to safety of life itself, to rinse out the mouth two or three times, and then take a swallow of water at a time, with short intervals. A brave French general, on a forced march, fell dead on the instant, by drinking largely of cold water, when snow was on the ground.

7. Abundant sleep is essential to bodily efficiency, and to that alertness of mind, which is all important to an engagement; and few things more certainly and more effectually prevent sound sleep than eating heartily after sun-down, especially after a heavy march or desperate battle.

8. Nothing is more certain to secure endurance and capability of long-continued effort, than the avoidance of everything as a drink except cold water, NOT excluding coffee at breakfast. Drink as little as possible of even cold water.

9. After any sort of exhausting effort, a cup of coffee, hot or cold, is an admirable sustainer of the strength, until nature begins to recover herself.

10. Never eat heartily just before a great undertaking; because the nervous power is irresistibly drawn to the stomach to manage the food eaten, thus drawing off that supply which the brain and muscles so much need.

11. If persons will drink brandy, it is incomparably safer to do so after an effort than before; for it can give only a transient strength, lasting but a few minutes; but as it can never be known how long any given effort is to be kept in continuance, and if longer than the few minutes, the body becomes more feeble than it would have been without the stimulus, it is clear that its use before an effort is always hazardous, and is always unwise.

12. Never go to sleep, especially after a great effort, even in hot weather, without some covering over you.

13. Under all circumstances, rather than lie down on the ground, lie in the hollow of two logs placed together, or across several smaller pieces of wood, laid side by side; or sit on your hat, leaning against a tree. A nap of ten or fifteen minutes in that position will refresh you more than an hour on the bare earth; with the additional advantage of perfect safety.

14. A cut is less dangerous than a bullet wound, and heals more rapidly.

15. If from any wound the blood spurts out in jets, instead of a steady stream, you will die in a few minutes, unless it is remedied; because an artery has been divided, and that takes the blood direct from the fountain of life. To stop this instantly, tie a handkerchief or other cloth very loosely BETWEEN the wound and the heart; put a stick, bayonet, or ramrod between the skin and the handkerchief, and twist it around until the bleeding ceases, and keep it thus till the surgeon arrives.

16. If the blood flows in a slow, regular stream, a vein has been pierced, and the handkerchief must be on the other side of the wound from the heart; that is, below the wound.

17. A bullet through the abdomen (belly or stomach) is more certainly fatal than if aimed at the head or heart; for in the latter cases the ball is often glanced off by the bone, or follows around it under the skin; but when it enters the stomach or bowels, from any direction, death is inevitable under all conceivable circumstances, but is scarcely ever instantaneous. Generally the person lives a day or two with perfect clearness of intellect, often not suffering greatly. The practical bearing of this statement in reference to the great future is clear.

18. Let the whole beard grow, but no longer than some three inches. This strengthens and thickens its growth, and thus makes a more perfect protection for the lungs against dust, and of the throat against winds and cold in winter, while in summer a great perspiration of the skin is induced, with the increase of evaporation; hence, greater coolness of the parts on the outside, while the throat is less feverish, thirsty and dry.

19. Avoid fats and fat meat in summer and in all warm days.

20. Whenever possible take a plunge into any lake or running stream every morning as soon as you get up; if none at hand, endeavor to wash the body all over as soon as you leave your bed, for personal cleanliness acts like a charm against all diseases, always either warding them off altogether or greatly mitigating their severity and shortening their duration.

21. Keep the hair of the head closely cut, say within an inch and a half of the scalp in every part, repeated on the first of each month, and wash the whole scalp plentifully in cold water every morning.

22. Wear woolen stockings and moderately loose shoes, keeping the toe and fingernails always cut close.

23. It is more important to wash the feet well every night than to wash the face and hands of mornings, because it aids in keeping the skin and nails soft, and to prevent chaffings, blisters, and corns, all of which greatly interfere with a soldier's duty.

24. The most universally safe position after all stunnings, hurts and wounds, is that of being placed on the back, the head being elevated three or four inches only, aiding more than any one thing else can do, to equalize and restore the proper circulation of the blood.

25. The more weary you are after a march or other work, the more easily will you take cold, if you remain still after it is over, unless, the moment you cease motion, you throw a coat or blanket over your shoulders. This precaution should be taken in the warmest weather, especially if there is even a slight air stirring.

26. The greatest physical kindness you can show a severely wounded comrade is first to place him on his back, and then run with all your might for some water to drink; not a second ought to be lost. If no vessel is at hand, take your hat; if no hat, off with y our shirt, wring it out once, tie the arms in a knot, as also the lower end, thus making a bag, open at the neck only. A fleet person can convey a bucketful half a mile in this way. I've seen a dying man clutch at a single drop of water from the fingers' end, with the voraciousness of a famished tiger.

27. If wet to the skin by rain or by swimming rivers, keep in motion until the clothes are dried, no harm will result.

28. Whenever it is possible, do, by all means when you have to use water for cooking or drinking from ponds or sluggish streams, boil it well, and when cool, shake it, or stir it, so that the oxygen of the air shall get to it, which greatly improves it for drinking. This boiling arrests the process of fermentation which arises from the presence of organic and inorganic impurities, thus tending to prevent cholera and all bowel diseases. If there is no time for boiling, at least strain it through a cloth, even if you have to use a shirt or trouser leg.

29. Twelve men are hit in battle dressed in red where there are only five dressed in a bluish gray--a difference of more than two to one; green, seven; brown, six.

30. Water can be made almost ice cool in the hottest weather by closely enveloping a filled canteen, or other vessel, with woolen cloth, kept plentifully wetted and exposed.

31. While on a march lie down the moment you halt for a rest. Every minute spent in that position refreshes more than five minutes standing or loitering about.

32. A daily evacuation of the bowels is indispensable to bodily health, vigor and endurance; this is promoted in many cases by stirring a teaspoonful of corn (indian) meal in a glass of water, and drinking it on rising in the morning.

33. Loose bowels, namely, acting more than once a day, with a feeling of debility afterwards, is the first step towards cholera. The best remedy is instant and perfect quietude of body, eating nothing but boiled rice, with or without boiled milk; in more decided cases a woolen flannel, with two thicknesses in front, should be bound tightly around the abdomen, especially if marching is a necessity.

34. To 'have been in the wars' is a life long honor, increasing with advancing years, while to have died [rest illegible]


May 19, 1861, p. 1, c.2-3

There was a time when a person asked,"what in heck is asphidity?" and this is what she was told:


Gather around my camp fire.... And I will take you back to the old days in West Virginia.... The days when the 8th Virginia Cavalry fought and died and were captured and put in Camp Chase Prison; and the 16th cavalry got all the way to Gettysburg; the 36th under McClausland and the 22nd Infantry under Patton lived and died and froze in the mountains. These are some of the forgotten ones.... The Confederates of Western Virginia.

These are the "Home Town Boys." If any of them were still alive today, and you asked them what in gosh blazes is asphidity, they would say, "It is that little bag of herbs on a string around my neck that I wear to ward off the colds and the flu."

They would know all about gensing, and yellow root and what was good for this ailment and that ailment.

They would tell you that if all else failed, "My ma would put a poltice of onions on my chest and that would loosen up the membranous croop but I never could stand that blaim skunk oil."

They would also say that the best thing was the pure stuff that came from pa's still, mixed with rock candy, glycerine, and "balm of Gilead." (the buds from tulip poplar trees)

They would also tell you to "watch that popskull. Thet's thu stuff thet haint aged nuff."

They would also have said, "Burn some sulphur; it will drive off the vapors.."

Have I helped you all any?"

From a: Hillbilly from Western Virginia


(submitted by if you want to submit one, just click here


"Here's an interesting take on why we reenact, written by Bishop John Spong on an entirely different subject:"Objective events occur, but objectivity never endures. The moment the present fades into the past, objective reality becomes subjective memory.

The species Homo sapiens has always sought to counter this weak hold we have on objective reality. We have tried to freeze the past into vignettes that we can enter and through which we can touch something called our roots in order to determine that they are deep, stable, and unchanging." (Got That !! ???)


As good an explanation as any. I always think of the quote from
T.K. Whipple's "Study Out the Land":

"All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us.
Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside.
We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers.
What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream."
It may apply more to folks doing pioneer, or Mountain Men, or the like, but I think it also says a fair amount about us, too.
Above submitted by Steve Pelikan


Never underestimate the ability of people to develop strange interpretations of anything you write, say, or do. --Richard A. Moran



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