Chapter 6 - Lethality and Casualties
Conclusion
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It has been only 350 years since the early prototypes of the modern gunpowder armies of the present day first emerged on the battlefields of the Thirty Years War. In that time the destructive power of weapons and the organizational sophistication of military forces have proceeded at a developmental pace that has no historical precedent. Both of these elements, in turn, are the products of larger social and technological forces that have truly revolutionized the manner in which man lives out his life. For more than 5,500 years of man's existence in organized human societies, since early Sumer, the means and methods by which men destroyed each other in war changed only little. In the last 350 years they have changed so drastically as to be quite literally beyond the imagination of the soldiers and commanders who have gone before us. In this sense the advent of modern weapons can only be seen being among man's most ingenious innovations.

What has not changed one iota, of course, is the death and the pain. Regardless of weaponry, the wounded soldier still bleeds, still endures pain, and still fears that he will not survive his wounds. The psyche which rests at the core of man's very humanity still must endure terrifying fear, and the fear of death and maiming which drove the ancient soldier to psychiatric collapse seem not to have been abated at all by his modernity, nor driven from his consciousness once shot and shell begin to fly. And for most men in combat the risk of being driven mad by those fears remains as real as it was for those who stood at Marathon, Pydna, or Arbela. Regardless of his social and technological progress, man remains as fragile a creature as ever in his bones and in his heart. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the hospital and surgical wards of the military surgeons who, since earliest times, have attempted to stem the tide of death.

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