Losing sight of the glory: five centuries of combat surgery

Historian article

By Michael Crumplin, published 17th April 2020

Michael Crumplin traces developments in surgery that can be directly attributed to changes in the conduct of war.

Little doubt exists that war accelerates and innovates medical care. Today, our armed services can rely upon sound medical treatment if they are sick or wounded, with survival rates of above 90%. This was rarely the case until there was much publicity during the Crimean campaigns in the war against Russia (1853–56). For the first time, during the Franco-Prussian conflict (1870–71), industrialised warfare killed more men than disease, deprivation and climate. This article focuses on some key moments of surgical innovation, or acceleration, over five centuries of warfare...  

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