24th Annual Civil War Medicine Conference To Take Place Oct. 7-9 In Frederick

It’s sponsored by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

Frederick, Md (KM)  Historians, authors and medical professionals will be in Frederick this coming weekend, Oct. 7-9, for the 24th Annual Conference on Civil War Medicine.

It’s being hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Executive Director David Price says there will be several lectures throughout the conference, many connecting medical procedures and practices during the War Between the States with today’s medicine. “A lot of them have to do with PTSD, irritable heart, which was the Civil War term for PTSD,” Price says.

PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is where veterans have problems adjusting to civilian life after coming home from a war. Price says PTSD has been around since warfare. “It has to provide some sort of comfort to the modern day warrior to know that what they’re going through isn’t unique to themselves in this era,” he says.

In past years, PTSD was  called “shell shock.”

Price also says another lecture at the conference will be on how medical professionals back in the 1860’s dealt with a cholera outbreak. It will be delivered by Dr. Shauna Divine, whose a member of the Museum’s Board, and the author of a book entitled “Learning from the Wounded.”  “She’s going to be talking about cholera and the rise of public health practice, and really how medicine was forced to respond to an outbreak in 1866 and 1867.” Price says that’s relevant to today as doctors, nurses and other medical professionals deal with the Zika virus.

There will also be a lecture by Dr. Jon Willem on Z. Boyleston Adams, who was a surgeon, an infantry officer and a prisoner of war. He applied the process of getting the wounded off the battlefield as quickly as possible so they could be treated. “We talked about the Letterman Plan which is evacuation from the battlefield, and really what you see in the response to any mass casualty event, like a shooting, or any disaster relief like Katrina or Sandy, Z. Boyleston Adams was really one of the first people to institute the Letterman Plan and perform those tasks,”says Price.

“Boyleston Street in Boston was named after him, and that’s where the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. So you can see that the Letterman Plan play out on Boyleston Street and then drawing a direct line to the past to the gentlemen whose family it was named after was doing the same thing back in 1860,” Price says.

The Letterman Plan is named after Major Jonathan Letterman, whose considered the father of battlefield medicine.

But it’s all part of the mission of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, he says. “We love to draw the line from the past to the present. So a lot of these talks we try to focus, either though they’re Civil War oriented, we can draw the direct line from the past to today,” he says.

Anyone who wishes to attend the conference can call Joanna Jennings at the Museum at 301-695-1864, extension 1002 for more information. To register go on line to www.civilwarwarmed.org.

By Kevin McManus