Archive for Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Re-enactors discuss medicine

October 24, 2001

History came to life at the October meeting of the Tonganoxie Historical Society.

In an educational skit, Topeka physicians Herschel and Jacque Stroud, Civil War re-enactors, took on the roles of a Civil War physician and nurse.

The Strouds' interest in the Civil War runs deep.

Herschel Stroud's family migrated to Peabody from St. Elmo, Ill., where his great-grandfather worked as a cabinetmaker. When Stroud's grandmother was a small child playing at the cabinet shop, she was punctured by the point of a wooden compass. One of her father's clients pulled out a handkerchief and stopped the bleeding. That man was Abraham Lincoln.

"That's why I became so interested in the Civil War," Herschel said.

Jacque Stroud is part of the Kendrick family that lived in Kendricktown, north of Carthage, Mo. Jacque grew up in the same house in which many generations of her family had lived. The house, which had been built by slaves, was near the site of the first Civil War battle in that area.

Before the Strouds explained their ties to the Civil War, fellow history buff Mike Seymour, Tonganoxie, who works at Fort Larned National Historic Site, stood guard near the couple's numerous Civil War era memorabilia.

The items in the Strouds' collection include medical equipment and weapons from the Civil War era.

The Strouds discussed the background of the Civil War period and eventually began playing the roles of Major Albert F. Huffman and Pamela Huffman, a Civil War physician and nurse.

As Huffman, Herschel discussed problems with diseases being spread from different regions in the nation by soldiers. Herschel said that of 620,000 soldiers who died, two out of three died from disease.

They talked about the continual battle of fighting disease amid unsanitary conditions, such as hospital rooms where flies freely entered through unscreened windows.

The Strouds talked about the importance of sanitation and hygiene in preventing infection, disease and death among troops in the field.

They informed the group about a system of managing mass casualties, including aid stations, field hospitals and general hospitals, that set up a pattern for managing the wounded. This system also also used through the Vietnam War.

Roughly 30,000 soldiers also had amputations, and the Strouds demonstrated an amputation below the right elbow, using George Cooper, Tonganoxie, as their patient.

The Strouds said that although medical products and procedures during the Civil War weren't always of the best quality, the era ultimately produced valuable advancements in medicine.

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