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Hancock Wound?

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by illreb, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. illreb

    illreb Private

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    I don't claim to be an expert on Gettysburg and could uses a bit of help. My History instructor has stated a few times now that Hancock's wound on the 3rd day of Gettysburg cost him his leg.I have read that although this wound was a life long problem for him that he didn't lose a leg from it. I have look through some of my books and have not found anything on the lose of the limb. Can anyone help here?
     

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  3. gary

    gary 1st Lieutenant

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    In Generals in Blue Erza Warner states "Hancock received a wound from which he never fully recovered (a bullet carried a nail and bits of wood from the pommel of his saddle into his thigh). Disabled by his wound, he did not return to duty until the end of the year, when he resumed command of the II Corps." Nothing said about amputation and I don't recall Hancock missing any limbs. It was said by some that his energy was not what it use to be before the wound.
     
  4. hoosier

    hoosier 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I've tried checking various sites on the Internet and looked through some encyclopedias at my local library. I can't find anything that indicates Hancock's leg ever had to be amputated.

    I did find a reference indicating that the leg gave Hancock enough trouble, especially when riding a horse, that he was forced to give up active command at Petersburg in 1864, and that it did bother him for the rest of his life.

    My source indicated that Hancock died in 1886 and the cause of death was an infected boil, though it did not specify where on his body the boil was located.

    I would note that Hancock ran for President in 1880, losing a fairly close election to fellow Civil War veteran Garfield. I haven't been able to access any books about the election, but it's my feeling that, if he had been an amputee, the Democrats would have probably done some fancy stepping to try to conceal the fact.

    We'd like to think that the electorate would be sophisticated enough not to hold a physical handicap against a candidate, but I can remember my mother telling me that, when Franklin Roosevelt was President, no one ever saw a picture of him in a wheelchair.
     
  5. illreb

    illreb Private

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    Thanks for the info, Gary.
     
  6. gary

    gary 1st Lieutenant

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    Photographers were more polite and there was an understanding among them not to show photos of FDR in his wheelchair. Today anything goes.[​IMG]
     
  7. illreb

    illreb Private

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    Thanks for the help guys.
     
  8. mfitz54

    mfitz54 Cadet

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    Hancock did not lose his leg, but the wound was troublesome for the rest of his life with debris from the wound working its way out of his groin for the remainder of his life.
    Hancock did suffer from diabetes and it resulted in a premature death. He also was a presidential candidate. I don't remember offhand which one.
     
  9. mrtacitus

    mrtacitus Cadet

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    This information may help, found from all-biographies.com

    When the Army of the Potomac, in October and November 1862, marched to Falmouth, Va., Hancock's column was on the extreme right, and in perfect order, and at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13th, his men crossed the river in open boats, under fire, scaled the banks, drove off the enemy, and formed the pontoon bridge, taking, also, conspicuous part in the subsequent heavy fighting of that disastrous day. On the 29th of November, on the nomination of General Burnside, he was appointed Major-General of Volunteers. In the battle of Chancellorsville, May 2d—4th, 1863, Hancock's skill turned the fortunes of the day ; and he was soon after appointed by President Lincoln to the command of the Second Army Corps.

    When the rebel advance into Pennsylvania was so suddenly checked at Gettysburg, July 1st—3d, 1863, Hancock was present with this gallant corps, near the centre of the Union lines; and, he was, at first, in command of the field. His dispositions and plans, made during the critical interval which elapsed before the arrival of Meade, were so admirable, that that gallant general, on his arrival, saw no reason to change them. On the third day of that great battle, Hancock was wounded severely, but would not be taken to the rear. He was obliged to go home to recover from his wound; was received at Norristown by his fellow-citizens, and borne to his home on a stretcher, on the shoulders of soldiers of the Invalid Corps. His recovery was gradual but sure—and the admiration felt for his patriotic services were manifested by numerous presentations, receptions, etc. His Norristown friends gave him a service of nine pieces of gold and silver plate ornamented with the trefoil badge of the Second Corps, and valued at $1600. When he had so far recovered as to be able to travel to West Point, he was honored with public receptions in his native county, at New York, West Point, and at St. Louis, where he went to see his family, and where, also, he received from the Western Sanitary Fair a superb sword.

    Ordered to Washington, December 15th, 1863, he promptly obeyed, although his wound was not yet healed, and was detailed to the important duty of increasing the ranks of the army by his personal presence and exertions. He undertook the raising of 50,000 men for his corps (headquarters at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) with good success—the great cities of New York, Albany, and Boston, offering him every public and private facility. At Philadelphia, a public reception was given him; resolutions were offered by the city government, and the rare honor was his of having Independence Hall thrown open to his use on the 22d of February he reviewed the volunteer troops of the city; in New York City, the Governor's Room in the City Hall was placed at his disposal; at Albany, the Legislature tendered an official testimonial of respect, as, also, did the Legislature of Massachusetts and the merchants of Boston. In March, 1864, he was again ordered to the front, and led his old corps, the second, again in the advance, under Grant, upon Culpeper Court House, Virginia, participating in the battles of the Wilderness. At Spottsylvania, the made a magnificent charge at the head of his whole corps, and proved himself the man of the day, which he closed with the following brief despatch to General Grant. "General, I have captured from thirty to forty guns. I have finished up Johnson, and am now going into Early."

    At Petersburg, Virginia, he personally rallied the Second Corps, and his force was always well in hand; no matter how much extended his lines were, they always responded promptly
    and perfectly to his orders, and he handled them with the precision, force and ease with which a single regiment is usually manoeuvred. For gallant conduct in the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in all the operations of the army under Grant, President Lincoln made him Brigadier-General of the United States Army, commission dated 12th August, 1864. From the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair he received a splendid sword; from the Great Central Sanitary Fair, at Philadelphia, a full set of horse equipments, value $500 ; a residence in Philadelphia, from some citizens; and $15,000 placed at his disposal by the Coal Exchange of the same city for the purpose of recruiting his corps, while St. Louis gave him an elegant sword. He remained in command of the Second Army Corps, though partially disabled by the repeated breaking out afresh of his old wound received at the battle of Gettysburg, until November 25th, 1864, when he was compelled to ask to be relieved, and for the next three months was at Washington organizing, as far as his infirm health would permit, the army corps of veterans. He was then put in command of the Department of West Virginia, and temporarily of the Middle Military Division, and of the Army of the Shenandoah, in which he continued till July 18th, 1865, when he was transferred to the Middle Department, and in August 1866, to the Department of the Missouri; in March, 1867, he took command of an expedition against the Indians of the plains.

    Meantime other promotions had come to General Hancock; on the 13th of March, 1865, he had been brevetted Major-General in the United States Army for gallant and meritorious conduct a, the battle of Spottsylvania; and on the 26th of July, 1866, had been commissioned Major-General in the army.

    While in command of the Department of the Missouri, his intercourse with both the President and General Grant had been very cordial; but in August, 1867, President Johnson determined to remove General Sheridan from the command of the Fifth Military District, which comprised Louisiana and Texas, and appointed General Hancock his successor. The latter could not immediately enter on his duties; but in November, 1867, he went to New Orleans and took command, revoking immediately several of General Sheridan's orders, and issued a special order, of which the second item (which we give below) was the most important portion.*

    [*Footnote: "Second. The General commanding is gratified to learn that peace and quiet reign in this department. It will be his purpose to preserve this condition of things. As a means to this great end, he regards the maintenance of the civil authorities in the faithful execution of the laws, as the most efficient under existing cir****tances, In war it is indispensable to repel force by force. and overthrow and destroy opposition to authority; but when insurrectionary force has been overthrown and peace established, and the civil authorities are ready and willing to perform their duties, the military power should cease to lead, and the civil administration resume its natural and rightful dominion. Solemnly impressed with these views, the General announces that the great principles of American liberty still are the lawful inheritance of this people, and ever should be. The right of trial by jury, the habeas corpus, the liberty of the press, the freedom of speech, and the natural rights of persons and the rights of properly must be preserved. Free institutions, while they are essential to the prosperity and happiness of the people, always furnish the strongest inducements to peace and order. Crimes and offences committed in the district must be referred to the consideration and judgment of the regular civil authorities, and these tribunals will be supported in their lawful jurisdiction. Should there be violations of existing laws, which are not inquired into by the civil magistrates, or should failures in the administration of justice by the courts be complained of, the cases will be reported to these headquarters, when such orders will be made as may be deemed necessary. While the General thus indicates his purpose to respect the liberties of the people, he wishes all to understand that armed insurrections and forcible resistance to laws will be instantly suppressed by arms."]Of the abstract truth and justice of the opinions here laid down, there can be no doubt. But as to their practical operation in this case there were two important questions, viz.: whether the people of Louisiana and Texas were at this time so far reduced to a peaceful condition that they might safely be left to the control of the civil authority alone, while the two conflicting elements of society were yet in open hostility to each other, and whether General Hancock, an entire stranger, was competent, at the very day of his coming among them, to decide a question of such importance.On these two questions there was a conflict of opinion between General Hancock and his superior officer, General Grant. President Johnson sanctioned General Hancock's course; but General Grant revoked his special orders, for carrying out sea the measures indicated above, and annulling the previous orders of General Sheridan and his own subordinate, General Mower.

    The controversy between General Hancock and General Grant continued for about two months; but finally terminated in General Hancock's asking to be relieved from his command in January, 1806. He was made commander of the new military department of Washington, including Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, by President Johnson. It is worthy of notice that early in the ensuing summer the States of Louisiana and Texas, as well as several other of the Southern States, were readmitted to the Union by Act of Congress, and placed under a strictly civil administration, as General Hancock had insisted should be done.

    General Hancock retained his new command until the inauguration of President Grant, when, by the new arrangement or military commands, he was assigned to the Military Department of Dakota, embracing that Territory and part of Montana. There was an unpleasant state of feeling between him and President Grant, growing out of the Louisiana troubles, and he regarded this assignment of command, as he well might, as a virtual banishment. Subsequent correspondence has made the matter no better. General Hancock is still commander of the Department of Dakota, and though senior Major-General in his Military Division, he was, during the late absence for nearly a year of Lieutenant-General Sheridan, put under the command of one of his own juniors.

    In personal appearance, General Hancock is decidedly one of the most dignified and imposing of our military officers of high rank. Of fine stature, and an intellectual, thoughtful face, a man evidently born to command, courteous, and gentlemanly in his manners, he possesses in a large degree that personal magnetism which enables him to exert a powerful influence over the men he leads. He is destined yet to exert a powerful influence in our national affairs. By the death of Generals Thomas and Halleck he stands next to the highest rank as a Major-General in the army of the United States.



    Source: Source: Men of Our Day; or Biographical Sketches of Patriots, Orators, Statesmen, Generals, Reformers, Financiers and Merchants, Now on the state of Action: Including Those Who in Military, Political, Business and Social Life, are the Prominent Leaders of the Time in This Country, by L. P. Brockett, M. D., Published by Ziegler and McCurdy, Philadelphia Penna; Springfield, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo., 1872


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Related Links:

    Pennsylvania Genealogy Data
    Pennsylvania Genealogy Lookups
    Hancock Surname Genealogy
     
  10. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Thanks, mrtacitus, for the thorough sketch of Hancock's career. It leaves little to question.

    Originally, this thread asked if Hancock lost a leg. I recall reading that the wood and nails carried into his body almost cost him something other than what another board member euphemistically called a thigh.

    Of course, recuperation was lenghty and doubtless painful.
    Ole
     
  11. owilliams

    owilliams Cadet

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    Hancock the Superb is an excellent biography of Hancock. He did not lose a leg, although he did suffer for the rest of his life. Various attempts to remove the debris were unsuccessful. I think he had a nail embedded, that came from his saddle and was carried into his leg by the bullet.
     
  12. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    I recall reading a note from Grant that stated that he believed Hancock the best Commander in the AoP and recomending him for a higher Command but his medical condition didn't allow it. Do any of you recall such a document?
     
  13. cwreader

    cwreader Cadet

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    After much suffering with his wound Hancock eventually found a doctor who was able to give him some relief. As I recall, the doctor had Hancock sit on a chair on a table in order to recreate his position as he was seated on his horse at the time of the Gettysburg wound. This enabled the doctor to probe on a more accurate trajectory for more of the fragments which were still in the wound.

    Also, the boil that eventually killed him was on the back of his neck.

    I believe I got this information from "Hancock at Gettysburg and Beyond" by A.M. Gambone - published by Butternut and Blue Press - Army of the Potomac Series or from the Glenn Tucker book. This is from my memory though- can't find any notes to corroborate.

    The Gambone book goes into excrutiatingly wonderful detail about the Hancock/Oliver O. Howard controversy regarding who was in charge of the field that afternoon of the first day.
     
  14. william42

    william42 First Sergeant

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    Wasn't it Dan Sickles who lost his leg at Gettysburg? Or took a really bad wound that caused it to be amputated shortly afterward. And I think he used to visit it at a museum on occasion. I recall reading about him being carried off the Gettysburg battlefield on a stretcher while smoking a cigar, trying to appear that the wound was no big deal, so as not to demoralize his men. I always thought that was pretty cool that he did that. It must've hurt like hell.

    Terry
     
  15. samgrant

    samgrant Captain Retired Moderator

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    In your 3rd to last paragraph, something seems out of whack: "The controversy between General Hancock and General Grant continued for about two months; but finally terminated in General Hancock's asking to be relieved from his command in January, 1806." Since Hancock wasn't born till 1824, this must have been one mystical controversy!

    By the way, at Grant's death in 1885, Hancock organized the funeral rites and led the funeral procession (which was 8 miles long!)
    Adam Badeau, formerly of Grant's staff and later cofidant and biographer paid tribute to Hancockin a newspaper interview: "With ... nobility he bore his part in the great funeral over his ancient chief and comrade. The majestic character of those rites that attracted the attention of the world was greatly due to the tender care and chivalrous punctilio of him who thought the dead chieftan had wounded him. These two soldiers have fought their last fight and ended every difference. Each at the last was full of soldierly and brotherly generousity to the other."
     
  16. samgrant

    samgrant Captain Retired Moderator

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    On Sickles leg .... From Stephen Sears 'Gettysburg': "An officer in the Second Corps ...expressed the sense of relief common within the Potomac Army's officer corps: 'The loss of his leg is a great gain to us, whatever it may be to him.' "
     
  17. FSPowers

    FSPowers Cadet

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    william42

    Sickles got hit by an artillery shell.

    I believe the leg is on display at the Armed Forces Medical Museum in Washington D.C.
     
  18. samgrant

    samgrant Captain Retired Moderator

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    It may have been the 'treatment' for the boil, rather than the boil itself, that put him away:

    "Hancock was .... given hypodermic injections of brandy, whisky, ether and carbonate of amonia, separately and combined, for the purpose as the newspapers naively explained, of "restoring the sufferer's health.""

    - from 'Hancock the Superb' by GlennTucker
     
  19. samgrant

    samgrant Captain Retired Moderator

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    "after Jubal Early had been driven back from his thrust toward Washington, he (Grant) recommended a unification of four scattered departments, the Susquehanna, Middle, West Virginia and Washington. Writing Lincoln from City Point July 25, 1864, Grant suggested that Meade be placed in command of this unified military division and added: "In this case I would suggest General Hancock for command of the Army of the Patomac, and General Gibbon for command of the Second Corps.""

    Eventually, Grant instead sent Sheridan to the Valley where he crushed Early.

    When Sheridan was ordered back to Petersburg , "Grant directed that Hancock take command of what had been desiginated as the Middle Department, with headquarters at Winchester, Virginia."

    Hancock arrived at Winchester on Feb. 26. The only major opposition there was Mosby and his Rangers. Soon after Lee's surrender, Mosby disbanded his command.

    Quotes from 'Hancock the Superb' by Glenn Tucker
     
  20. lrd89

    lrd89 Cadet

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    Um, yep, that would put somebody away.:eek:
     
  21. maryingettysburg

    maryingettysburg Cadet

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    Hey Mrtacitus,
    Since you hail from Orange County, NY, i guess that makes you an Orange Blossom.
     

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