by James M. Schmidt
The Civil War News – “Medical Department” – August 2006
The main screen of the program shows the inside of the tent of a Civil War surgeon. By selecting objects in the tent, the user can explore a number of areas, including a surgical set, a medicine chest, and pocket tool and field medical kits. Especially interesting are examples of the paperwork that were the bane of already-overworked Civil War surgeons, including daily and monthly reports. The illustrations and animations are clear and smooth. There are some recorded narrations.
The information presented in the program is either from 19th-century primary sources, from the viewpoint of a physician of the time, or modern viewpoints on the medicine or procedure. I found the different points-of-view somewhat confusing, but in fairness, Bruce tries to avoid this by providing a “Modern Comment” button where appropriate. Hyperlinks in the text can be selected for more information. I especially liked Bruce’s “glossary” feature which provides definitions and additional information in pop-up windows. This avoids having to leave the screen you are on and lose your place in the process.