Indianapolis Monthly Magazine - Indianapolis Restaurants, Shopping, Concerts, Events and more. EXTRA: Historical Medical Tools at IMHM - Amputation Kit, circa 1853–1870: The saying "War is good for medicine" certainly proved true for the Civil War. Until that time, gangrene was the leading cause of death for anyone who was shot. "Physicians discovered that if they didn't get a limb off right away, the person could be dead by nightfall." says Nottage. "So amputation became a highly honed skill." Most doctors carried their tools rolled up in leather or cloth, but a prestigious few had wood-encased kits like this one. Thanks to the gruesome beauty of their contents, the kits remain highly collectible today.