You can debate the grand question of whether war is an inescapable aspect of the human condition until the cows come home, but one point at least is inarguable: wars fought today result in exponentially fewer casualties than earlier conflicts. For those soldiers wounded in action, their chances of survival have skyrocketed upward too; the advanced state of contemporary medicine saves battlefield lives. This wasn't the case 150 years ago during the Civil War. If you were wounded in action at Shiloh or Antietam or Cold Harbor, odds were high disease and crude surgical techniques would kill you if the muskets and cannon fire didn't. To learn why and how, march to the Saint Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or www.slsc.org) and receive a free in-office visit with a Civil War Surgeon -- a Union Army surgeon, in fact, portrayed by Civil War historian Marc Kollbaum. Today at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Kollbaum discusses the treatments wounded soldiers received during the war between the states; he'll also talk about period medical equipment, survival rates and which factors actually caused the most fatalities during the conflict. Admission is free.
Sat., Aug. 20, 2011