Friday, February 17, 2012

Bentonville Battlefield's Medical Program Compares 19th Century

FOUR OAKS - Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site will present a weekend program, March 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., demonstrating the trauma of wartime injury. The free program entitled "War So Terrible" will offer numerous medical care comparisons of the death and injury surrounding the Civil War to what is now experienced on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Modern day military representatives will be on hand throughout the weekend, along with with numerous historic site staff and Civil War re-enactors, to answer questions and showcase the advances in combat medicine. Sailors and marines from the 2nd Medical Battalion of Camp Lejeune, airmen from the 43rd Aero-medical Evacuation Squadron, and soldiers from the 3274th U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Bragg will be available .

An additional program on the evening of March 17, 7-10 p.m., will graphically reflect the hospital care one might experience during the Civil War era. Discretion is advised for younger guests, and the cost to attend is $5.

During the 1860s, the Civil War happened as weaponry was becoming more accurate and deadly. Unfortunately, the advancement of medical care was not as successful. A dose of chloroform, a shot of whisky, and a likely amputation were standard treatment for the wounded. In fact, during the Civil War limbs were frequently shattered by bullets and artillery projectiles, resulting in 75% of all surgeries being amputations.

To further present the hardships of a Civil War amputee, research historian Ansley Wegner will give a Saturday presentation based on her book,"Phantom Pain" The book examines in detail North Carolina's implementation of an artificial limb program, the first in the South. Visitors will be able to view a Civil War era wooden leg on permanent display at the Bentonville Battlefield Visitor Center.

The Battle of Bentonville was fought March 19-21, 1865 and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. During the three day seize, 80,000 combatants fought across 6,000 acres. Approximately 4,200 casualties resulted.

In addition to the battlefield, the home of John and Amy Harper was converted into a field hospital by the Union Army. The home stands today and is furnished as a Civil War field hospital. The site also includes a reconstructed kitchen and slave quarters.

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