Page images





It was a matter of great importance to introduce European medical arrangements into the force of disciplined Chinese which Colonel Gordon commanded. The Imperial

army was not less defective in that respect than it was as regards drill or the use of arms; and medical science among

the Chinese is still in a very rudimentary state. Surgery especially may be said to be almust entirely unknown amongst them in all its branches, owing. to their prejudice against dissection of the dead; and their ideas as to the interior of the human body are of the most fanciful kind. It is also not usual for Chinese armies to trouble themselves much about soldiers who are seriously disabled; and the story goes that when, after the Convention of Peking, the Mandarins were offered back the wounded prisoners who had been taken by our troops, they showed a disposition to refuse the



offer, saying in effect, “ Keep them; what should we do with them?”

In setting to the Chinese an example in regard to this important matter, the commander of the Ever-Victorious Army found an able and zealous coadjutor in Mr A. Moffitt, an assistant-surgeon of H.M. 67th Regiment, who was made his principal medical officer. In noticing the services of this gentleman, the 'Lancet' of the 11th August 1866 said that “it is impossible to over-estimate the good done by Dr Moffitt, not only to the force in which he served with so much distinction, but to the reputation of his profession and country.” Colonel Gordon also has always been ready to testify that the confidence felt by all ranks of his force in the surgical skill of the principal medical officer was of signal service in nerving their minds for any enterprise, however bazardous. One result of Mr Moffitt's fame as an operator was that he was called in to treat Yang, a Ti-Tu or native general, who was wounded in the chest, and given up for lost by his own countrymen; and his success in this case being brought to the notice of the Governor of the province, was specially reported to the Imperial Government, and Lí himself immediately sought to obtain the medical services of Dr Wong Fung, a Chinese who had taken a medical degree in the University of Edinburgh. It may also be noted that, besides having frequently to be under fire, Mr Moffitt did good service on some occasions in leading the troops. He has reported so fully on the medical aspects of the force in which he served, that I have little more to do than to condense bis remarks.

As the Chinese would be less expensive, and not less efficient, than English soldiers for service in India, it is of importance to note their physical characteristics. The



old notion is pretty well got rid of, that they are at all a cowardly people when properly paid and efficiently led ; while the regularity and order of their habits, which dispose them to peace in ordinary times, give place to a daring bordering upon recklessness in time of war. Their intelligence and capacity for remembering facts make them well fitted for use in modern warfare, as do also the coolness and calmness of their disposition. Physically they are on an average not so strong as Europeans, but considerably more so than most of the other races of the East; and on a cheap diet of rice, vegetables, salt fish, and pork, they can go through a vast amount of fatigue, whether in a temperate climate or in a tropical one, where Europeans are ill-fitted for exertion. Their wants are few; they have no caste prejudices, and hardly any appetite for intoxicating liquors. Being of a lymphatic or lymphatic-bilious temperament, they enjoy a remarkable immunity from inflammatory disease, and the tubercular diathesis is little known amongst them. The portion of Kiangsoo in which Colonel Gordon's force operated is rather malarious, being a flat which would now be a vast swamp and marsh, growing reeds and aquatic plants, were it not for the labours of a most thrifty people, who have rendered it capable of supporting a dense population. Through the summer months a vast evaporating surface is exposed to the sun, and the consequent decomposition of vegetable matter becomes a fertile source of miasmatic disease. Mr Moffitt seems to think that the houses of Kiangnan, being situated on the plain, and having dark unventilated rooms with low ground-floors, are peculiarly unsuited for a malarious district; but this view I am disposed to question. The miasma from the paddy-fields, which is so destructive to human life, rolls upwards, but never descends, and the Chinese guard themselves against it by having their houses on the same level as the ricefields, or, if higher up, carefully protected by walls, trees, and bamboos. During hot weather the European in China naturally prefers the highest and most airy position he can find to sleep in ; but, while thus avoiding the discomfort of stewing in a close apartment below, he is borne on a poisonous air into the other world, or awakes to find his constitution impaired for life.

At the time of Colonel Gordon's taking command of the disciplined Chinese, the medical department was scarcely entitled to that name, and Mr Moffitt, assisted by two other medical officers, proceeded to organise a stationary hospital and a field establishment. The former was first placed in Sungkiang; but on the capture of Quinsan, was transferred to and retained there, being placed in a situation where the wounded could be conveyed to it by boats. Bed-frames found in the city, with bottoms worked of cocoa-nut fibre, were found sufficient for the invalids without the use of mattresses, and the staff of attendants was managed by a young Chinaman who had received a European education. of this ward-master Mr Moffitt remarks, curiously enough, “From his knowledge of the Classics he soon became a most expert compounder of medicines, in which capacity he was invaluable." The field establishment consisted of one Chinese non-commissioned officer and six coolie orderlies, who had to attend to the medical officers on the field, together with one commissioned officer and eight men from each regiment, whose sole duty was to carry back: the wounded of their respective regiments to the hospital tent or boatan arrangement which caused a kind of rivalry to spring up between the different corps, it being considered dis


honourable if the wounded of a regiment were not quickly carried back. Two large covered boats usually constituted the field hospital, and from these the wounded were sent easily and comfortably to Quinsan in Chinese gunboats from thirty to forty feet long, and covered with a canvass awning. Thus they were landed very quickly at the stationary hospital, nothing the worse of the journey, so that, suppuration not having had time to set in, the first dressing did not require removal until the patients were quiet and settled in their beds.

The annual average strength of the force was 3090 Chinese and 120 Foreigners. Among the former the admissions from all diseases and from wounds not received in action were 4166, and the deaths 87, for the year commencing 1st April 1863, as the following table shows :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

From this and other tables it appears that six-sevenths of the whole admissions, and over eleven-twelfths of the whole deaths, arose froin miasmatic diseases; while the immunity from tuberculous and hepatic, with other constitutional and local affections, was greater than is usual in any other country. Intermittent and remittent fevers were by far the most fatal diseases ; but it is remarkable that in the crowded cities of China, where

« PreviousContinue »