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What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

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What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby vaindioux » April 22nd, 2017, 2:06 pm

Hi

Pretty new to Napoleonic wars. What would happened to injured soldiers in the battle field. Especially injured of the losing side.
Would they help them or leave them to die?

Thxs

Pat
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby Digby » April 22nd, 2017, 6:01 pm

I thought Napoleon introduced the flying ambulance.
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby vaindioux » April 22nd, 2017, 10:25 pm

Hi

Thanks for your answer. Is that for real a "Flying ambulance"? What was it exactly?

Pat
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby Digby » April 23rd, 2017, 8:16 am

Its not my area of expertice, but here is a quick link.

https://www.acep.org/About-Us/The-Revol ... s-Surgeon/
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » April 23rd, 2017, 9:38 am

From what I've read, primarily about the Peninsular War, it depended on where the battle was fought. And whether the army had to move off quickly, when the wounded had to be left to their fate.

If the battle were fought near a village, the wounded might by aided by the villagers or fleeced for things the villagers could use. I remember reading an account of a soldier who recovered and found his boots missing. Wellington was accompanied by a Surgeon.

There was a British hospital in Elvas to which the wounded of the Battle of Talavera were repatriated. Those too weak to travel were left in the care of the French. Convents could also offer nursing.

Josh published this a while back: If the wound was caused by a musket ball, and the limb was not totally carried away by a cannon ball, he'd have either made his way back himself, or with the help of comrades or bandsmen, from the line to where the surgeon had set up a dressing station to the rear of the battalion's position. There due to the severity of the wound he'd have probably been sent farther back to wherever the surgeon general and designated a hospital. There he'd have had to wait in turn for amputation. For Napoleonic surgery in the British army see the works of Michael Crumplin.

Mick Crumplin donated his considerable collection of Napoleonic medical instruments to the new Field Hospital Museum near Waterloo, at Mont-Saint-Jean farm. viewtopic.php?f=25&t=3432

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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby PaulD » April 23rd, 2017, 4:48 pm

Another important factor is who the enemy were - for example French emigres captured by the Republicans could expect to be massacred and similarly Spanish irregulars captured by the French in the Peninsula or vice versa could expect no mercy. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples in the Revolutionary wars (with which I am most familiar) of wounded enemy prisoners being well treated.

Also, don't forget that men on campaign were more likely to die of disease than battlefield injuries and medical care was not usually good, even for an army's own troops. The French were generally ahead of the game in this.
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby unclearthur » April 23rd, 2017, 6:53 pm

If you're looking for reading material, Wellington's Doctors and Napoleon's Doctors by Dr Martin Howard are full of info. The main problem with major pitched battles of the period seems to be that the number of wounded often overwhelmed the limited facilities set up to treat and/or rehabilitate them. Eyewitnesses report that at Talavera, Albuera and Waterloo, to name but three, wounded men and animals were left on the field for days because the defeated moved off and the victors were either too exhausted to help all of them or left to pursue the enemy.

Both sides seem to have been prepared to treat enemy wounded humanely, provided they wore uniform. Wellesley sent money to Talavera after British wounded were abandoned in the hospitals there when the Spanish left the town, though there appears some dispute over whether the medical staff who had stayed with them were allowed to leave or sent back to France as prisoners.
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby vaindioux » April 23rd, 2017, 9:09 pm

Wow lots of good answers. It's very fascinating .
Thxs so much for the answers, links and book recommendations.

Pat
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby Senarmont198 » April 23rd, 2017, 11:48 pm

'After the battle of Talavera...our wounded were put up as well as we thought they could be, in some large buildings in the town, and laid upon the ground in their blankets. They were necessarily left to the mercy of the enemy...When the French entered, a general officer visited the hospital and said the accommodation was not at all sufficient for de braves soldats; and, before evening, the town was ransacked for mattresses, and the condition of these poor patients was greatly ameliorated in every respect.'-Sir John Fox Burgoyne, one of Wellington's senior engineer officers.

The French senior medical officers Baron Larrey and Pierre Percy, were diligent, innovative, and greatly improved the medical care of the French. It was Baron Larrey who developed the two-wheeled 'flying ambulance' and he also developed a two-litter device in Egypt that was carried by camels.
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Re: What happened to injured soldiers in napoleonic wars?

Postby Josh&Historyland » April 24th, 2017, 11:42 am

So long as the enemy were considered combatants not rebels or if one of the parties were partisans. In these cases mercy was only extended to wounded that were worth something.

In the aftermath of a general action between regular forces efforts were always made to treat all the wounded but due to the scale of casualties (always more wounded than dead) usually enemy wounded would have to wait until friendly cases were treated. Moore had to leave behind wounded troops before moving into the mountains on the retreat to Corunna and they were well cared for. As were Wellington's wounded which he had to leave behind after the victory at Talavera. At Waterloo French wounded captured by the allies were taken to Brussels, some of the officers were if I remember correctly treated alongside allied casualties. The Prussians were not so merciful and certainly tried to execute Dr. Larrey.

In the British service wounded were conducted to the rear by bandsmen & sometimes comrades (though this was against regulations) to battalion dressing stations were the regimental surgeon and his assistants either treated the case instantly or moved them on to a general hospital set up by the chief or corps/division medical officer. For this reason the collection of enemy wounded was something left until after the battle.

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