The Perry ACW ambulance, based as a roadside pick-up of wounded confederates.
In preparation for our recent behemoth replay of Chancellorsville in 28mm, resulting in an unhistorical Union victory and neither Stonewall nor Hooker harmed, I painted some useful ACW “fluff” units, which helped set the right atmosphere on the gaming table.
The Union campsite - perfect for portraying the 11th Corps under Howard.
Both sets are from the excellent Perry Miniatures ACW collection, and especially the campsite setup came in handy as they would act as the slumbering and unprepared 11th US Corps under Howard, getting their coffee stuck in their throats as 20.000 Rebs under Stonewall came out of the woods next to their quiet camp.
Close up - some tobacco in the pipe and bacon in the frying pan,
not bad for camp life.
The ambulance was a larger project with many parts, and I decided to piece the whole thing together on a mini diorama, depicting a roadside pick-up of wounded confederates by the master surgeon and his assistants.
The Confederate Medical Service
Staged photo showing the principle service of the Ambulance Corps.
During battle, when casualties started to mount, it was custom for men to fall out of rank to help carry the wounded away to safety and medical attention. However, this “good deed” had many volunteers once the firing started, as it presented soldiers scared of the on-going battle with a pretext to leave the front line, depleting the ranks. To counter this development a regulated ambulance Corps was formed, containing men who was no longer fit for active combat.
The driver and old Jolly Jumper wait while loading is completed.
Build as a copy of the Federal system, each regiment had its own surgeon and assistant surgeon, who both held officer's ranks. The senior ranking surgeon could, based on either merits or simple inadequate manpower, be promoted to divisional surgeon with added tasks and adhering directly under the surgeon general.
Wounded await transport to the field hospital.
This system might look effective on paper, but in reality most of these surgeon, while sporting the best of intentions, were not up to par professionally to the great regret of their “clients”. The only treatment for complex bone-shattering musket ball wounds was amputation, or crude surgery, with non-sterilized tools and bandages.
An unlucky fellow gets loaded onboard - next stop the surgeon!
This meant, that the real fight for survival was not on the battlefield, but in the army hospitals, were infected wounds and unsuccessful amputation along with different camp diseases, would be the big killer.
William Blackford of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, on amputations in the field hospital: "Tables about breast high had been erected upon which screaming victims were having legs and arms cut off…the surgeons and their assistants, stripped to the waist and bespattered with blood, stood around, some holding the poor fellows while others, armed with long, bloody knives and saws, cut and sawed away with frightful rapidity, throwing the mangled limbs on a pile nearby as soon as removed…"
A Civil War surgeon kit - perhaps more fitting for home improvements
than precision surgery...
About 174.00 Union soldiers suffered extremity wounds during the Civil War. Of these, 30.000 resulted in amputation. If the amputation was preformed within the first 24 hrs, you had a 75% chance of survival. After 24 hrs complications like blood poisoning or bone infection could set in and your survival rate dropped to about 50%. (Source: Museum of the Confederacy)
ACW ambulance - in a somewhat impractical white color.
The uniform of the surgeon was similar to that of Confederate officer, while the index color on cuffs was black for this branch. The ambulance crew and helpers in the Ambulance Corps would wear a red hat-band to distinguish them from the men of the ranks.
Wounded soldiers wait in the cool shade of the tree.
A British observer following the war as part of the Army of Northern Virginia later reported that: “In the rear of each regiment were from twenty to thirty negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the ambulance corps – this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men from falling out on the pretense of taking wounded to the rear”.
Thank you very much for reading!