Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:30 pm
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Location: England
Happy New Year everybody - and best wishes to all for a prosperous, peaceful and propitious one.

I'm attempting to clarify how a ship's surgeon would have treated a wound from a musket ball to the body, initally on presentation (which would have been on board ship during an action) and afterwards.

I imagine Nelson's injury at Trafalgar is one of the most detailed accounts, however, I would be interested to learn more in particular about the medical treatment provided.

How would cleaning and dressing have been approached? Which medicines, materials and equipment might have been used? Also any information on survival rates and infection risks for wounds to areas of the body that could not be amputated upon as a last resort.

Phew! That sounds such a lot, but any pointers (especially references to actual events and records) would be mightily appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:06 pm 
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Location: England
Happy New Year to you too, Mira, and to all others here.

There are others much better qualified to contribute to this thread, but I do remember coming across (in Google Books) two separate books entitled ‘A Treatise on Gun-shot Wounds’, one by Thomas Chevalier and the other by G J Guthrie. However, they are not specific to naval surgeons.

There is a useful article (with photos) on naval surgeons’ instruments (which they had to provide themselves) by J C Goddard here: The navy surgeon's chest: surgical instruments of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War. Given the absence of anaesthetics, the probing tools and bullet extracting forceps look frightening! I have also read that a finger was better for probing than instruments…

Here is the list of instruments from the article:
Quote:
List of surgical instruments which were to be included in the naval surgeon's chest (Supplied by Messrs Evans & Co, c. 1812)

Amputation
2 amputating knives
1 amputating saw with spare blade
1 metacarpal saw with spare blade
Pair of bullet forceps
2 catlins
Pair of artery forceps
2 dozen curved needles
2 tenaculums
6 Petit's screw tourniquets
Pair of bone nippers and turnscrew

Trephination
3 trephines
Saw for the head
Rugines (raspatories or files)
Pair of forceps
Elevator
Brush

Draining fluid
2 trocars
2 silver catheters
2 gum elastic catheters
Dentistry
Key tooth instrument
Gum lancet
2 pairs tooth forceps
Punch

Probing wounds and minor procedures
Pair of strong probe scissors
Curved bistoury with button (scalpel)
Long probe
Scoop for extracting balls
6 scalpels
1 small razor
2 probangs
1 lb ligature thread
1 paper of needles
Set of pocket instruments

Bleeding and cupping
6 lancets in a case
Cupping apparatus
2 seton needles

Miscellaneous
2 pint pewter clyster syringes
Apparatus for restoring suspended animation
Set of japanned iron splints for legs
12 flannel or linen rollers
12 flannel or linen rolled bandages
20 yards of cloth for tourniquets

Case for instruments, with liftout tray

Offhand I can’t think of any detailed descriptions of real cases, but how about the graphic scene in Master & Commander? – which emphasises the importance of extracting pieces of cloth as well as the ball.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:15 pm 
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Mira!
The classic on the subject which was in common use at the end of the 18th century was Naval Surgeon William Northcote’s ‘THE MARINE PRACTICE OF PHYSIC AND SURGERY WITH SOME BRIEF DIRECTIONS TO BE OBSERVED BY SEA-SURGEONS IN ENGAGEMENTS Including The NATURE and TREATMENT of GUN-SHOT WOUNDS BY JOHN RANBY, Esquire SURGEON GENERAL TO THE BRITISH ARMY.’
Fortunately, an derivative work (which prints the section on the treatment of gunshot wounds contained in pages 117-128) is available on the internet under the title ‘THE DlSEASES INCIDENT TO ARMIES, WITH THE METHOD of CURE. Translated from the ORIGI NAL of BARON VAN SWIETEN, Physician to their IMPERIAL MAJESTIES. To which are Added; The NATURE and TREATMENT of GUN-SHOT WOUNDS. BY JOHN RANBY Esquire; SURGEON CENERAL TO THE BRITISH ARMY. Likewise, SOME BRIEF DIRECTIONS, TO BE OBSERVED BY SEA SURGEONS IN ENGAGEMENTS. Also, PREVENTATIVES Of the SCURVY at SEA. BY WILLIAM NORTHCOTE, SURGEON, MANY YEARS IN THE SEA-SERVICE. Published, for the Use of Military, and Naval Surgeon IN A M E R I C A. PHILADELPHIA: Printed, and Sold, by R. BELL, in Third.Street. MDCCLXXVI.’

I am sure it will tell you all you need to know.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:15 pm 
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That's absolutely excellent, exactly what I need. Many thanks Brian and Tony for your advice.

Much reading to look forward to!

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Jacqui


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:03 pm 
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[color=#4040BF]Musket Ball Forceps i have a pair of these recently come into my possession after the death of my 96 year old barber friend. He believed them to be about 200 years old.[/color]


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:03 pm 
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[color=#4040BF]Musket Ball Forceps i have a pair of these recently come into my possession after the death of my 96 year old barber friend. He believed them to be about 200 years old.[/color]


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:27 pm 
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Mira,
In Nelson's case there wasn't alot that could be done for him except to make him comfortable but if you want an account of his death and the subsequent post mortem examination you might want to get hold of a small bookley 'The Death of Lord Nelson'. The authentic narrative by his surgeon William Beatty M.D.

Stan


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:53 pm 
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Thanks for the info, Stan. it's very much appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:17 pm 
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Location: Salmo, British Columbia, Canada
Another book available online is A Treatise on Gun-shot Wounds By Thomas Chevalier 1806

http://books.google.com/books?id=zVcOAA ... &q&f=false


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 Post subject: Re: Musket ball wounds
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:05 am 
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A very belated thanks for the link, Charles. Greatly appreciated.

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