Dr Martin Howard
all the colourful uniforms and moments of glory in the Napoleonic
Wars, we tend to forget the troubles of men wounded at a time
when antibiotics and anaesthetics were unheard of.
soldiers often suffered appallingly and even reasonably enlightened
commanders such as Wellington placed the needs of the wounded
behind those of being able to fight the next battle.
were basic, transportation to medical care was crude and often
agonisingly slow, there were too few medical staff to look after
casualties and if a man had to lose a limb - and many did - then
the best that could be offered was a pint of rum to help dull
you want to have a detailed and fascinating look at the British
medical scene during the Napoleonic Wars then Dr Martin Howard's
Wellington's Doctors is just the ticket.
is a highly readable overview of how the British army's doctors
fitted in with the military and adds in wonderful depth of colour
and detail through personal accounts from those who were unfortunate
enough to be wounded in battle.
of the tales are horrendous - such as Sgt Thomas Jackson of the
Coldstream Guards who had to endure half an hour of agony as a
surgeon tried to cut through his thigh bone with a blunt saw -
and the descriptions of conditions in the carts carrying wounded
men and then the hospitals themselves will make your hair curl.
has broken his book up into seven major areas of focus and these
are The Army Doctor, In Battle, Transport,
Hospitals, Surgery, Disease and On Campaign.
In addition, there are seven excellent appendices that have terrific
detail on things such as regimental medical chest contents, surgical
instruments, hospital stores, surgical facts and figures and causes
of death in British army hospitals.
also looks at the determined fight of the head of the medical
department, Dr James McGrigor, to improving the lot of wounded
soldiers. This often brought McGrigor into conflict with the Duke
of Welliongton who, despite his narkiness at the surgeon's persistence,
admired and held him in high esteem.
has also included some rare - and pretty graphic - watercolours
from Sir Charles Bell that depict wounds suffered at Waterloo.
Doctor's is a must-have for anyone serious about study of
the Peninsular War as it offers us a really good reminder that
those on the casualty lists of battles had far more to get through
than just surviving the clash of arms.