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Helpless wounded during the action at Spotsylvania Written on the back of this print the editors of the Photographic history found the words: ‘On the battlefield of Spotsylvania, in the rear during the action.’ The place has been identified by comparison with many other photographs as Marye's Heights. Much of the battlefield surgery during the war was, in all probability, not only unnecessary but harmful. The rate of mortality after operation, 14.2 per cent., though shocking to the present generation, was inevitable, owing to the defective knowledge at the time as to surgical cleanliness. While the same number of operations could probably be performed by modern military surgeons with a small fraction of the Civil War death-rates, it is now recognized that most gunshot cases do better under surgical cleanliness, antiseptic and expectant treatment than by operation. The advantage of this conservative procedure was well illustrated by the war in Manchuria of 1903, where it is claimed that one-third of the Japanese wounded were able to return to the firing-line within thirty days.

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