Miscellaneous Excavated Items - Dug Artifacts from Civil War Sites
Yes. It IS what you THINK it is. OUCH!
Item #: JMS-394
Yes. It IS what you THINK it is. OUCH! Yes. It IS what you THINK it is. OUCH! Yes. It IS what you THINK it is. OUCH! Yes. It IS what you THINK it is. OUCH!
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Excavated from a hut site in Fredericksburg, this is exactly what it looks like: A urethral syringe. It is made of hard rubber and is still functional. There are no maker-markings on this but it is definitely of Civil War vintage. No cracks or damage.

The urethral syringe was used to treat syphilis, gonorrhea and so forth. Mercury and sometimes even boric acid were introduced into...well...yeah. There.

Someone once said, "War is 9 tenths waiting". Boredom was certainly addressed with revival meetings, carving wood and lead, writing letters home, keeping diaries and playing games. But there was also no shortage of prostitution, especially in larger cities. (Though there certainly were camp followers as well!)

In the Union Army alone, more than 73-thousand soldiers had contracted syphilis during the war. More than 109 thousand cases of gonorrhea were reported. I am not sure if these figures include the Union Navy and Marine Corps, but I sorta doubt it. I have no figures for the Confederate forces.

So there you have it,. friends. A urethral syringe. I think I will go lie down for awhile.

(In case you really want to read more about this subject, Drs. Doug Arbittier and Michael Echols have written extensively on this topic, as well as other areas touching on the practice of medicine during the Late Unpleasantness.) Here is a link:


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