The medical facilities during the Eighth Frontier War (1850-53) were every bit as primitive as were those during the Crimean War only three years afterwards, and these have been well covered in the literature.
Let me describe one incident in the battle of the Boma Pass on 24 December 1850:
"[Major Bissett] spurred his horse but at that moment he was hit by a musket ball which entered low down on the outside of his left thigh, the ball passing upwards and, narrowly missing vital parts, coming out just below his right hip. The shock was like a blow from a sledgehammer and even his horse staggered."
Bissett describes the initial treatment for a wound which had breached his femoral artery:
"I managed to sit my horse until I reached the cavalry; but as I approached a knot of dismounted brother officers I felt so faint that I should have fallen from my horse had I not been caught by one or two of them. The blood had been continually pouring from my wounds, and I should have bled to death before a doctor arrived had it not been for Carey, who had a tourniquet round his body, which he at once took off and applied to my thigh, and so partially stopped the bleeding."
When the doctor arrived, Bissett described what then happened:
"Dr. Fraser, one of the finest officers in the service, who was the second medical officer, soon arrived on the spot; but the excitement and anguish of mind had been too much for him, and as he kneeled down to examine my wounds he fainted—grand, fine fellow ! It was not from the sight of my wounds that he did this, but from the knowledge that he had to leave the dead and dying in the pass to the merciless tortures and mutilations of the savage enemy. I always carried a flask of cold tea with me in the field, which I managed to take off, and offered it to Fraser. The cool beverage soon recovered him, and his first exclamation was, Oh, my God! I was obliged to leave Stewart." [Dr Stuart had been severly wounded in the chest and then shot through the head - his brains still spattered Bissett's jacket.]
"This has taken me some time to tell, but all this time Dr. Fraser was dressing my wounds; that is to say, he was plugging up the holes and adjusting the tourniquet. Before he had finished, however, a man ran up to say that Captain Catty was badly wounded and dying; so I told the Doctor to go at once; but he soon returned, saying he could not help Catty, and from indications he thought nothing could save him–three balls appeared to have entered his right side and passed into the intestines." [Catty actually survived, his intestines not beingdamaged.]
Bissett's next trauma came when he was transported from the battle site, several kilometres to a place of relative safety.
"We had now to push on for two or three miles through a comparatively open country to the Keiskam[m]a Hoek, where we formed a camp for the night—I say camp; but as there was nothing but soldiers without tents, it was a queer sort of camp. What we did was to form a square, with the soldiers lying down with their muskets facing outwards. The Doctor then attended to the wounded. My mode of conveyance from where I was lifted from my horse to the camp was far from a pleasant one. It was in this wise: a man got me by each arm, with his elbow well into my armpits; my face was towards the ground, every now and then scratching over mimosa bush, brambles, and long grass; whilst a third man was between my legs, well up into the fork, with one of my thighs tucked under each of his arms. I don't wish my worst enemy to be in the same position."
I hope that this will give you some idea of the agonies suffered on a Victorian battlefield. The quotations are taken from John Jarvis Bisset, Sport and War: or Recollections of Fighting and Hunting in South Africa from the Years 1834 to 1867
, John Murray: London, 1875.
Gail, after all that I have just realised that you were referring to the Ninth Frontier War 1897-98. Rather than go through it again, may I respectfully recommend my own book, The Wedding Feast War
, which will give you more current information. It is available from the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales at http://www.rrw.org.uk/