Amputation without anesthesia?

That’s what the film 127 Hours mentioned in the OP refers to.

The worst standard infantry weapon in all of history to be shot with was the Civil War era musket. The mid 1800s Minie Ball (which despite the name was bullet shaped, not round) made more horrific wounds than the round balls that came before it and more horrific wounds than the cartridge weapons that came later.

Minie Balls (typically .58 cal during Civil War):

This is what a Minie Ball would do to the thickest bone in your body (femur).

This is what it would do to your skull.

A Civil War era surgeon’s kit looks a lot more like modern carpentry tools than modern surgical kits.

Saving badly damaged limbs was well beyond the ability of medical knowledge at the time. Basically, if you got shot in the arm, they would cut off the arm. If you got shot in the leg, they would cut off the leg. If you got shot in the head you probably didn’t make it back to the aid station anyway, but if you did they would just set you aside and hope for the best. If you got shot in the torso, they’d give you some morphine (if they had any, they often ran out) and set you aside, and again would just hope for the best.

Amputations were done quickly, partly because they often did not have enough morphine on hand for proper surgery and partly because they had a huge line of soldiers that they needed to treat quickly before they bled to death.

Soldiers on both sides feared the Minie Ball, with good reason. They knew that if they got shot, they were royally screwed.

Nightmare fuel indeed.

Thus the nickname for doctors during that era: “Sawbones”. :flushed: