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Quirky Civil War Medicine Stories to make you chuckle!

Updated: May 11, 2023

In this podcast, we are joined by historian Dr. Nicolas Hoffmann who recounts a slew of quirky Civil War medicine stories that will have you rolling in laughter.

Let’s go!

Over the last few months of this podcast, we’ve had the opportunity to learn about tiny pill-sized endoscopes that can be swallowed and controlled on their path through the digestive tract by the healthcare provider.

We’ve heard about the prospects for a universal flu vaccine whose chemistry would be consistent from one year to the next whose efficacy could be better than 90%.

A smaller, less expensive tool for targeted genetic sequencing.

And many other amazing innovations.

In other words, things are happening really fast.

But today, our thought is a little bit different. We’re going to try to juxtapose history with what is currently happening in an effort to demonstrate exactly what those changes are and how fast those changes are going to be.

About 160 years ago, America was embroiled in a civil war which, according to the American Battlefield Trust, accounted for 650,000 casualties. That’s more than in all other American wars combined up until the time of Vietnam. Of course, healthcare isn’t anything like what it is today or what it may be in five to 10 years. But I know that I, just like much of our audience, had no idea how primitive it really was.

Today our guest is Dr. Nicolas Hoffman. He is a teacher at the Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia.

We had a scintillating discussion about:

  • Prior to the Civil War, humoral theory was the basis for medical theory and germs weren’t even on the radar. Then the war came and necessity became the mother of invention. It was a change in mindset from a system based on tradition to one based upon evidence.

  • Anesthesia prompted the explosion in amputations during the Civil War. How did they achieve this, as well as the growth in prosthetics, on the scale they did?

  • Quirky Civil War facts: they had to reuse bandages, at Camp Letterman, they used to treat Confederate and Union soldiers side by side, etc.

  • The role that malaria played in the rise to power of General Grant.

  • The agonizing death of President Garfield.

But don’t just take our word for it – have a listen and enjoy the show!

About Dr. Nicolas Hoffmann

Dr. Nicolas Hoffmann has a PhD in United States History with an emphasis on the Medicine during the Civil War. He is a teacher at Marist School, teaching AP US History, the American Experiment, Podcasting, and a Social Studies Seminar in the Civil War. He is the 2022-23 MacGinnittie Award for Innovation winner. Listen to him twice a month on the Required Reading Podcast.


The information contained in this website and podcast are purely informational and not considered investment recommendations. Tim Dougherty’s participation in Biotech Insights is separate and apart from his role as an investment advisor representative. Nothing contained herein may be construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the companies discussed. Tim Dougherty has no financial affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this communication. Tim Dougherty makes no representation that the information conveyed in this material is accurate and is under no obligation to update this information as changes occur.

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