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Bone damage from a minie ball

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by CSA Today, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    "Typical bone damage trauma caused by a Minie Ball, this shows one of the main reasons there were so many amputations conducted by Field Surgeons & Medics during the war, even today it would be difficult to repair this."
    296294_553881534651347_679360175_n.jpg
     

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  3. wilber6150

    wilber6150 Brigadier General Moderator

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    Ouch.. I'm reminded of that tv program where they showed period rifles tearing apart cinder blocks...
     
  4. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    LOTS of fracturing and spintering. Definitely leaves a mark...
     
  5. JerseyBart

    JerseyBart Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Ain't no fixin' that in the 1860s....and OUCH!!!
     
  6. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    After my last surgery I spoke to a direct descendent of a US ACW General, one of my surgeons @ the Mayo. We struck up a conversation about the effects of the minnie ball and his belief was that modern medicine would have had a similar approach to such damage believing amputation the only real answer. Having the number of breaks I had in my own leg and having been told that I would have lost my leg less than a decade before I can believe it.
     
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  7. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy 1st Lieutenant

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    There's probably no fixing that in the 2010s, either.

    R
     
  8. rhp6033

    rhp6033 Sergeant Major

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    It's impressive damage. Maybe metal splints (not available in the civil War) might hold the bone together, but the exposed bone marrow would be gone, eventually leading to the loss of the leg anyway.
     
  9. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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    I haven't been able to find much of anything about Bill Forrest's minie ball wound. At Day's Gap he bought one in the thigh and it shattered the bone. He was about to have the same type of amputation Hood had - way high and with the joint involved - but he elected to keep the leg and see what happened. He survived, and was able to use the leg later! I'd like to know a little more about who his doctor was - don't think it was Dr Cowan - and how the leg was saved.
     
  10. Scotsman

    Scotsman Corporal

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    Is this bone from the National Museum of Health and Medicine (formerly the Walter Reed Medical Museum)? They have an impressive collection of Civil War medical specimens, including bones showing damage from minie balls, cannon shell, and gangrene. As of last year, they had on display the skull of a 54th Massachusetts soldier showing the damage inflicted by a large Confederate round, possibly grape shot.

    Edit to add: Here is a webpage of the 54th Massachusetts soldier skull (it was canister shot): http://www.medicalmuseum.mil/index.cfm?p=exhibits.canistershotcivilwar.index
     
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  11. Robert Gray

    Robert Gray First Sergeant

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    This veteran survived. image_wrapper2.jpg
     
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  12. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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  13. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    I remember being informed by a surgeon at a medical museum that if one were shot by a mine ball today, that 90% of the time, even with all of our modern techniques and advanced surgical methods, most of today's doctors would amputate the limb due to the massive amount of damage done by such a round.

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue
     
  14. KeyserSoze

    KeyserSoze 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    A half inch lead slug that flattens when it hits is going to leave a mark.
     
  15. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Below is an example of what surgeons today do to deal w/ shattered bone. This X-ray was taken a year after the accident after it has healed as much as it will. The X-rays of that day show a puzzle box. The difference between this & a minnie ball is this was caused by an engine block. The medicine of the day just could not cope w/ such damage and unless removed gangrene would set in. Today there would be multiple surgeries and as I was informed keeping my leg was touch and go.

    xray leg.JPG
     
  16. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy 1st Lieutenant

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    Yikes.

    R
     
  17. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    Johan, an ancestor's battery mate was run over by one of the gun carriages during a pre-Chickamauga skirmish at Crawfish Springs, TN, and had his thigh broken. He died eleven days later.
     
  18. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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    Wow. I'm so glad you've got your leg. Have a hard time thinking about what these men did without arms and legs, especially when they were the bread winners. My sister's right arm is paralyzed - it amazes me what she can do and it also amazes me what she can't. Not only is she left-handed now in a right-handed world but one-handed in a two-handed world!
     
  19. JPWalton

    JPWalton Sergeant

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    I'm sure he is right. Modern rifle rounds -- the type that tumble in flight and have extremely high velocity -- don't so much smash bone as rip it to pieces. Even with modern medicine, in many instances amputation is still the only solution.

    I've read many doctors going back and forth on this issue, so there is some debate over the degree to which amputation would be necessary given modern surgical techniques, antibiotics, etc. However, it's obvious from what I've read and been told that a clear majority of all such cases would require amputation. Maybe not 9/10s, but well over 2/3s.

     
  20. rhp6033

    rhp6033 Sergeant Major

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    With modern devices, a lot of time it's easier for the patient to learn how to use an artificial limb than it is for them to try to recover from a severe injury. Of course, that wasn't the case back in the 1860's.
     
  21. frankconrad

    frankconrad Corporal

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    Fifty years ago when I worked near Eden SD the local auto repairman lost his hand at the wrist when he was about 5. He was a very good repairman and faster than most , just the stub. Starr, the man I was working for asked him what he would do if he had his hand back, he said he had no idea.
    A customers son now a Junior in High School lost his hand in about the same place about 5 years ago, he dosn't back away from anything.
    Attitude has more to do with getting along without a limb than anything, The worold is full of amputates who treat it as inconvent not a handicap.
     
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