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Gettysburg still inspires battlefield medicine with lessons for Afghanistan and other wars

Saturday - 6/22/2013, 1:10pm  ET

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- As gunshots ravaged the bodies of tens of thousands of soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg, military doctors responded with a method of treatment that is still the foundation of combat medicine today.

Union Army Maj. Dr. Jonathan Letterman is considered a pioneer of battlefield medicine for his Civil War innovations. He realized that organizing the medical corps was a key for any battle.

In 1862, he began to create an ambulance corps and three tiers of field hospitals.

Now, 150 years later, more than 5,500 military members and emergency responders have attended history courses run by the Museum of Civil War Medicine. The classes are designed to get people to think about how decisions get made in combat or crisis. Some are taught on battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam.


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