Civil War hospital routines
Excerpts from the Indianapolis Daily Journal, dated July 22, 1864:
“The business of the day begins at five o’clock. At that hour the nurses busy themselves in cleaning the spittoons, washing the faces and arms of the patients, sweeping the wards and making everything tidy. Meanwhile the dressers are at work, cleaning and bandaging the wounds, causing intense pain by the necessary probings, pressures, plasterings, etc., and a great deal of comfort by their generally cheerful reports to the patient of the improvement perceptible.
“ … By seven o’clock everything is ready for breakfast, which is of three classes — regular, which is for the mass of the patients, well enough to eat heartily; special, which is for those whose wounds or health requires more delicate food; and extra for those (generally officers) who pay their dollar a day for subsistence. …
“After breakfast there is more sweeping, mopping, bed-changing, etc., and two or three times a week a general scrubbing. At regular intervals through the day there is a distribution of milk punch, beef-tea, stimulants of various kinds, medicines, etc., according to the directions of the day, placed at the head of each patient. Dinner at twelve, supper at six. …
“Throughout the night, at fixed hours, there is the distribution of medicines and stimulants, the wetting of the bandages, and such other attentions as are required for the comfort of the patients. And so wear away the long, weary hours of the night.”