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April 23, 1904

THE FIRST USE OF ETHER AS ANESTHETIC.AT THE BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS IN THE CIVIL WAR

JAMA. 1904;XLII(17):1068-1073. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.92490620010001c
Abstract

On previous occasions it had been my privilege to visit battlefields, and there to administer the pain-destroying agent which it pleased God to make me the human agent to introduce for the benefit of suffering humanity. How little did I think, however, when originally experimenting with the properties of sulphuric ether on my own person, that I should ever successfully administer it to hundreds in one day, and thus prevent an amount of agony fearful to contemplate.

When the news of the commencement of the Battle of the Wilderness reached Washington, the surgeon general at once said that there would be work for his corps, and for such volunteer surgeons as could be obtained. Previously notified that a requisition would be made for my professional services, I was a "minute man," and left with the first party, taking a steamer for the landing-place called Belle Plain. . . .

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