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Battlefield Medicine

A History of the Military Ambulance from the Napoleonic Wars Through World War 1

John S. Haller

Publication Year: 2011

This book is the first history of the techniques, systems, and technologies used to evacuate wounded from the battlefield.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Copyright Page

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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Unfortunately for the earth's fragile ecosystem, war remains the policy of choice among feuding nations and peoples, wreaking havoc not only on fellow human beings but on all living species. One of the few positive outcomes to emerge from this man-made trauma was the effort, begun by Dominique-Jean Larrey during the Napoleonic Wars, to bring organized medical support ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

During the course of writing this book, many colleagucs, librarians, archivists, and friends provided support, suggestions, criticism, and encouragement. In this regard, I am especially indebted to David L. Wilsoll, colleague in the Department of History; to Pascal James Imperato, M.D., at the Medical Society for the State of New York and editor ...

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pp. 1-4

The word ambulance, from the Latin ambulare meaning to move from place to place, was applied to the French h

Part One: Early History

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1. Beginnings of a System

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pp. 7-39

Although history burgeons with stories of battles fought, victories won, and warriors' triumphs, seldom does it follow the course of those who dropped out of battle with sickness or with wounds. Nevertheless, their story is worth telling for it represents the underside of war, explaining the grim lot of the sick or wounded soldier and an army's commitment—in victory or defeat—-to its fighting forces. ...

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2. Early Ambulance Technology

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pp. 40-58

Major Richard Delafield, reporting on his Crimean experiences, wrote: "The requisites for an ambulance should be such as to adapt to the battlefield, among the dead, wounded, and dying, —in ploughed fields, on hill-tops, mountain slopes, in siege batteries and trenches and a variety of places inaccessible to wheel-carriages, of which woods, thick brush, and rocky ground are frequently the localities most obstinately defended." ...

Part Two: Consolidation

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3. A World in Transition

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pp. 61-89

By the mid-nineteenth century, the order that Metternich had imposed on Europe seemed to prevail in all comers and capitals. Indeed, the map of Europe in 1850 was not much different from the one the victors had drawn at Vienna in 1815. Nevertheless, neither Europe nor America was quite the same. The success of nascent nationalism and the emergence of Italy and Germany as nations profoundly changed the characteristics ...

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4. Old and New Thinking

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pp. 90-142

Although strategists at the turn of the century predicted that armies would fight future wars with weapons too destructive to allow immediate relief for the wounded, most medical planners were unable to suggest support and evacuation systems other than aid "at the first practicable moment." Generally, military planners recognized that larger fighting forces would become embroiled in future wars; ...

Gallery of Images

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Part Three: The Great War

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5. New Challenges

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pp. 145-162

The Great War began as a war of movement, with German armies sweeping across Belgium in August 1914, sending shock waves through the capitals of Europe. By September, hwever, the German advance ground to an unexpected halt following the battle of the Marne (September 5-12). A race to the sea quickly followed, with the German and French armies attempting to outflank each other. ...

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6. Trials of Evacuation

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pp. 163-183

A lthough certain armchair critics doubted the reliability of motorized transport and persisted in advocating animal-drawn conveyances, motor vehicles quickly demonstrated their value in the movement of men, supplies, and ammunition in the Great War. The British Royal Expedi tionary Force, for example, began with 950 lorries and 250 motorcars; by armistice, it had 33,500 lorries, 1,400 tractors, 13,800 motorcars, and ...

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7. Lessons Learned

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pp. 184-201

Except for the ebullient Americans, who touted their short, intense, aggressive efforts as decisive for the Allies, victory came as a muted triumph for the governments and peoples who had joined the patriotic cause of August 1914. For these belligerents, rhe war became a labyrinth of manufactured horror and indecisiveness. Few nations remained un touched by the slaughter, and the stillness that hung ovcr Europe in its ...


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pp. 205-234

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 235-256


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pp. 257-269

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Medical Humanities Series Statement

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The Medical Humanities Series is devoted to publication of original or out-of print materials relating to perceptions the humanities bring to clinical practice and health care. In this way the series also serves to promote communication among Several titles in the series have been commissioned for areas in which little material is available. The following disciplines are represented in the series: ...

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Author Bio

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John S. Hallet; Jr., holds a dual appointment as professor of history at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and professor of medical humanities at the SIU School of Medicine. He is author of Outcasts from Evolution: Scientific Attitudes of Racial Inferiority, 1859-1900 (winner of the Anisfield-WolfPrizc in Race Relations); The Physician and Sexuality ...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809387878
E-ISBN-10: 0809387875
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330409
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330407

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 54 B/w halftones
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Transportation, Military -- History.
  • Transport of sick and wounded -- History.
  • Ambulances -- History.
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