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Dr. Mick Bedard and Civil War Medicine


   Dr. Robert "Mick" 
   Bedard lives a double
   life. In today’s world he
   is a physician and
   partner in the 
   Connecticut Asthma &
   Allergy Center of West
   Hartford, but in his

“other life,” it is 1861 and he is Lt.  Brigham Hadley, a regimental surgeon with the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment. In a recent presentation at Loomis Chaffee, Dr. Bedard portrayed both roles as he explained the realities of disease, injuries, and death that a small town doctor faced    when he was called to serve his country during the war and how those experiences have lead to many advances in modern medicine.

“The majority of surgeons in the Civil War did the best they could with the knowledge they had,” explained Dr. Bedard. “Most of the deaths during the war were due to disease,” he added. “It was not the bullet but the bug.” The deaths from disease ranged from “simple” childhood illnesses such as measles and chicken pox to dreaded diseases like smallpox and typhoid fever. “Many of these diseases are almost unknown in today’s medical world thanks to modern vaccines and antibiotics,” he stated.

“Much was learned in the Civil War that advanced modern medicine,” he said. The care of the wounded from impact to rehabilitation as the roots of the modern ambulance corps began during the Civil War; women played a large role in serving as nurses and caregivers; and improved sanitation, experience in wound care and surgery, and rehabilitation became the basis for many modern medical advances he concluded.

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