Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/15
Progress of Medicine in the South.
History but repeats itself—like occasions produce like results. The patriot of to-day is but the reflex of the patriot of the past. In our late civil contest—if it be proper to call it so—for was it not rather two sovereignties waging war, the one against the other?—the men of the South once more displayed the same great qualities that had characterized their ancestors in the American Revolution.
Modern Europe stood aghast at the daring of a people they had been taught to regard as effeminate. They had expected that an ephemeral struggle would be made near akin to those which had frequently taken place among the mixed Spanish population to the south of us. Climate, temperature, the pernicious effects of slavery, were all believed to have had their influence, and to have produced a weak and vacillating people. Had luxury enervated them, had they become effeminate, had the increase of wealth and the impress of slavery rendered them physically and intellectually inferior to the men of the North? If any so believe, let the deeds of arms that have passed into history speak. Examine the details of the well-contested battlefields and see if such a declaration is true. Jackson, Lee, Johnson, Claiborne, Stuart and Forrest! What tender thoughts, what hallowed associations gather around the names of these bright stars in the Southern constellation! Does all history, does even the field of romance furnish heroes superior or patriots more noble? They were the leaders of an equally brave and noble people, who, when all save honor was lost, submitted to the inevitable with a dignity born only of true greatness.
And now of the Confederate surgeon let me say a word. How can I express, in adequate terms, my admiration for him! He possessed virtues peculiarly his own. Coming from civil life, it was wonderful to see how rapidly he adapted himself to the discipline of the army and conformed to the requirements of military life. The hardships he endured and the privations to which he was subjected soon transformed him from a novice to a veteran, and I can say, with truth, that before the war ended some of the best military surgeons in the world could be found in the Confederate army. His scanty supply of medicines and hospital stores made him fertile in expedients of every kind. I have seen him search field and forest for plants and flowers, whose medicinal virtues he understood and could use. The pliant bark of a tree made for him a good tourniquet; the juice of the green persimmon, a styptic; a knitting-needle, with itspoint sharply bent, a tenaculum, and a pen-knife in his hand, a scalpel and bistoury. I have seen him break off one prong of a common