Civil War Surgeons and the Treatments of Ambroise Paré

Ambroise Paré (credit: Wellcome Collection)

Many surgeons in the Civil Wars used the methods of treating soldiers developed by famous surgeons like Ambroise Paré. Paré was a surgeon in the French army during the sixteenth century. In 1536, Paré had discovered that wounds healed better if treated with a soothing mixture of egg yolks, turpentine and rose oil, rather than by pouring boiling oil into the wound.  Paré also preferred to use ligatures to tie off blood vessels after an amputation, rather than pressing a hot iron on to a wound to stop the bleeding (‘cauterisation’). Using ligatures was less painful for the patient than cauterisation.

Click on the images to read about some surgeons in the Civil Wars who were influenced by Ambroise Paré

Answer these questions

  1. What did Ambroise Paré discover and why was this important?
  2. What was the problem with Paré's new discovery?
  3. How did the invention of printing help surgeons like James Cooke and Richard Wiseman learn about the work of Ambroise Paré?
  4. Why do you think warfare might be an important factor in developing medicine?
  5. Use the 'shot' button on the Injuries and Ailments page to find the names of three soldiers who received gunshot wounds in the Civil Wars. Describe how they received their injuries.