On the decks above, cannon and musket fire do murderous jobs, but here in the cockpit everyone works to save lives, not to take them. For when battle rages, this cramped space just above the hold becomes an operating room. On a makeshift table the ship’s surgeon removes bullets and huge wooden splinters from the broken bodies of American sailors – and sometimes from their British foe, too. Brandy and poppy sap numb the pain, but patients are fully conscious – even as the surgeon saws off their smashed legs.
What kind of education was required to practice medicine for the United States Navy during the War of 1812? Were there universities and hospitals? What kind of education do you need now? How was Surgeon Amos Evans of Constitution trained? Using the resources below, have students research the early 19th century medical training of doctors and compare to today’s system.