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[292]
This Confederate hospital over fourteen hundred soldiers were nursed and received the best of attention.

Private hospitals became so numerous that a law was passed that they be discontinued, and no hospital was allowed except those in charge of a commissioned officer with a rank not lower than that of captain, that being the rank of an assistant surgeon. When this law was being executed and the ambulances were at the hospital door, Miss Sally remonstrated. The Secretary of War was consulted but said he was powerless and that President Davis was the only man that could annul the order. Her hospital register was shown the President. The death-rate was very small. The number of men returned to the army was very large; in fact, her hospital record of deaths was lower than, and her record of soldiers returned to their commands was greater than, that of any other hospital in Richmond. . . . On receipt of this information the President commissioned her captain.1

Though the germ theories of Lister and Pasteur had not yet been advanced, mention has already been made of some instances of accidental asepsis. From necessity or experience, surgeons in the hospitals sometimes adopted methods which prevented infection of wounds, so common in all surgery at that time. For example, Doctor C. H. Tebault says:

One blessing we enjoyed, due to the blockade, was the absence of sponges, clean rags being substituted for them with telling advantage. These rags could be thoroughly washed, as was done, and used over and over again. It is next to impossible, easily, if possible at all, to wash an infected sponge. This fact and the unstinted use of a plentiful supply of pure well or spring water, and the pure condition of the air of the hospitals, . . . were not without their wholesome effect.

On the other hand, Doctor J. J. Terrell, in connection with his service at General Hospital No. 1, Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1863, began to treat cases with dried-lint dressing to exclude air from the wound, ‘not upon a germ theory, which was then unknown, but upon the theory of oxygen and moisture causing decomposition.’

1 Southern practitioner, vol. XXXI, pp. 532-533.

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