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Sometime ago I wrote a section for a book dealing with the impact of the Civil War on medicine. It was pretty largely negative. The reason for this empty span, this vacuum, was that the Civil War was fought between the discovery of anesthesia and the discovery and putting into practice of antisepsis and asepsis. It was the only large scale war fought in this awful period. An incalculable amount of carnage was produced by the surgeon. He could operate without causing much pain and then meditate on the savagery of nature as almost always infection came round. It caused ligatures to give way, gangrene to appear, and death to ensue. The magnificent contribution of Lord Lister enabled surgeons and physicians the world over to understand the nature of wound infection and to recognize the unpraiseworthy nature of what had been called laudable pus. The importance of cleanliness, short of
Bean WB. Lord Lister.. Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(2):303-304. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870020143027