Fighting in the Civil Wars was a dangerous business. Some soldiers were cut by swords and others were shot by muskets. The introduction of gunpowder during the Renaissance led to the development of large cannon that caused catastrophic injuries. Accidents frequently occurred, whilst diseases quickly spread through the cramped conditions in military camps. Many of these injuries and illness are described in the petitions from wounded soldiers.
The petitions also show that many soldiers survived horrific wounds and describe some of the complex treatments that were available to them. Civil War surgeons followed the methods of leading Renaissance surgeons like Ambroise Paré and some even invented new methods of their own. Leading doctors who had served in the Civil Wars went on to help develop new scientific ideas based on the principles of experimentation and observation.