battlefield surgery

Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842)

Bell was the son of a clergyman, born in Edinburgh where he studied medicine and became F.R.C.S. Ed in 1799. Bell came to London in 1804 and in 1813 became Surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital and later Professor of Surgery at University College.

He was a great anatomist and by the age of 28 years had authored his important two-volume A System of Dissections (1799-1801), which became the most used anatomical manual in the British Isles after the turn of the century. Bell's career was distinguished by his magnificent artistic abilities, which were highlighted in the illustrations he himself made for his many textbooks. The illustration of the leg (below) is taken from Sir Charles Bell - A system of dissections, explaining the anatomy of the human body, the manner of the parts, and their variety in disease. 2nd edition. Edinburgh, 1799.

Bell was the son of a clergyman, born in Edinburgh where he studied medicine and became F.R.C.S. Ed in 1799. Bell came to London in 1804 and in 1813 became Surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital and later Professor of Surgery at University College.

Bell was present at the Battle of Waterloo, which gave him unique opportunities for treating gunshot wounds: "It is impossible to convey to you the picture of human misery continually before my eye... While I amputated one man's thigh, there lay at one time thirteen, all beseeching to be taken next.... It was a strange thing to feel my clothes stiff with blood, and my arms powerless with the exertion of using the knife"

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