Surgeon recreates battlefield medicine

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2004

Every year at the Battle of Selma re-enactment, Leonard Woodrum and his team of field surgeons have the job of making their audience squirm and grimace with just the thought of blood and gore.

In unabashed detail, Woodrum, along with his &uot;doctors&uot; Don Willis and Henry Bonner, use Civil War-era medical instruments to demonstrate exactly how limbs were sawed and cut apart from wounded soldiers’ bodies.

It’s part gross entertainment, part education about the hardships faced by American soldiers during the Civil War.

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In the world of Civil War re-enactment, Woodrum is the Surgeon General.

A real-life surgeon general during that period would have spent more time in a office than on the battlefield, Woodrum says, but &uot;if I did that, I wouldn’t get to be a part of the re-enactment.&uot;

So this surgeon general continues to participate in Civil War re-enactments as he has for the past 14 years.

Retired from the U.S. Air Force and a resident of Panama City, Fla., Woodrum likes to learn and teach about the life of a turn-of-the-century doctor as a hobby.

He became interested in medical history after visiting a battle site and reading a long list of names of the people who died there.

Woodrum now boasts an extensive collection of medical instruments, including an amputee kit used by a actual Civil War surgeon.

A majority of his collection was on display during the School Tours on Thursday and Friday.

Whenever Woodrum participates in battle re-enactments, usually traveling to those no more than a five hour drive from his home, it makes no difference what side he’s on.