Archives & Special Collections Gallery Exhibit




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Creation Date

Spring 2015


Artifact label:

Shattered Limbs

Surgeon’s field kit owned by George Lane Taneyhill, M.D., 11th Regiment, Maryland Infantry, circa 1864-1865

Amputation saws, such as the one displayed, were used by Civil War surgeons to sever injured and infected limbs, ensuring the removal of shrapnel and shattered bones. While often described as butchers, these surgeons worked hard to save wounded patients in difficult situations. As reported in the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, they had an understanding of the internal damage inflicted on the soldier. Upon choosing to amputate, the surgeon made calculated incisions that allowed him to seal flaps of skin together for future drainage and, more importantly, prosthetic usage. Despite the high number of casualties during the Civil War, the surgeon’s choice to amputate allowed many soldiers to return home.

-Esteban Navarrete