New studies on the history of anesthesiology--(7). What anesthetics were given to soldiers of the fifth regiment rescued from death march on Mount Hakkoda?
Matsuki A.
Department of Anesthesiology,
Hirosaki University,
School of Medicine,
Hirosaki 036-8563.
Masui. 2001 Apr;50(4):441-7.


Two hundred and ten soldiers belonging to the fifth regiment of the Japanese Imperial Army started their march on Mount Hakkoda in the early morning of January 23rd, 1902. In the afternoon, they unfortunately met with a bad weather of violent gale, heavy snowfall and biting coldness to lose their way to proceed to a small village Tashiro. In the following several days, many soldiers were frozen to death and only seventeen were rescued. They were brought to the Aomori Military Hospital for admission. Among them the First Lieutenant Kuraishi and two officers were almost free from frost bite but the Major Yamaguchi died next day and a soldier died two days after his admission without any surgical treatment. The remaining eleven underwent amputation of their frostbitten extremities under general anesthesia by open drop method with a mixture of chloroform and ether, because chloroform anesthesia per se was considered much more injurious than ether to patients with poor physical status. The Military Hospital announced that the Major Yamaguchi had died due to sudden cardiac arrest, but a lay view that he had committed suicide with his gun has widely prevailed, particularly since Jiro Nitta, a novelist, referred to it in his novel "Death March on Mount Hakkoda" in 1971. According to newly discovered manuscripts written by a military surgeon Ki-ichi Murakami who served in the rescue services, both hands of the Major Yamaguchi were heavily frostbitten and his fingers were strongly flexed unable to move the trigger of his gun. Considering situations including the dates of Sadae Nakahara's visit to Aomori who was a military surgeon of the Yamagata Military Hospital, the mysterious content of a telegram to Gentaro Kodama, the War Minister, from the General Shobun Tachimi, the 8th division commander and the sudden closure of the Hospital on February 2nd, when the Major Yamaguchi died, there is a possibility that high concentrations of chloroform vapour might have been compulsorily administered to the Major Yamaguchi to cause him cardiac arrest, which the executive members of the Japanese Imperial Army would have secretly expected.
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