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The Pelvic Wound of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Discussion in 'Medical Care of the Civil War' started by Littlestown, Apr 5, 2013.

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  1. JerseyBart

    JerseyBart Captain Forum Host

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    He was a h#lluva soldier, but also didn't mind telling you about it either and because he was highly educated and intelligent his version of events seemed to be taken as gospel, even if he stretched the truth a bit.
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  3. diane

    diane Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    I can't even put up an avatar! :nah disagree: Need a scanner - they were in a medical journal dealing with pelvic injuries. I found them at the university. I'll see if I can relocate them and maybe the folks at the library there can link them up. Don't hold me to it, though - might not be able to get back there for a while. They are very interesting and really should be on this thread. Somewhere on the internet is a very basic one showing the trajectory of the bullet but not all the stuff it went through.
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  4. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Thanks for sharing. He was a very brave man and must have had a huge pain tolerance. Littlestown you are doing a wonderful job with your forum.
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  5. Littlestown

    Littlestown 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I was going to ask Diane the same thing! I haven't been able to find a way to post the individual pictures, so, thanks to Andy Hall for providing the following link to the entire medical journal article that I quoted in part above...
    http://deadconfederates.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/lion-of-the-union.pdf
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  6. diane

    diane Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Thanks! That is the photo I was mentioning - showing the trajectory. What I had been reading in the library was detailed with the organs involved and so forth. I will make an extra effort to get back there and get it up but don't nobody hold their breath! :frantic:
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  7. JerseyBart

    JerseyBart Captain Forum Host

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    Everyone here is awesome!!! Much love!!!
  8. JerseyBart

    JerseyBart Captain Forum Host

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    After reading the h#ll Chamberlain went through from 1864 through the rest of his life, I'd be a little protective of my legacy too. "I should be dead and it would have been for you. I'll tell me story any darn way that I please."

    Talking about groundbreaking...these doctors rewired a man's bowels and excretory circuit board with sticks, picks and tricks...and he lived!!! Wow!!!
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  9. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    GRAPHIC

    Medical/Surgical History--Part II, Volume II
    Chapter VII.--Injuries Of The Pelvis.
    Section III.--On Injuries Of The Genital Organs.

    CASE 1056.--Colonel Joshua L. C----, 20th Maine, was wounded at Petersburg, June 17, 1864, and taken to the hospital of the 1st division, Fifth Corps. Surgeon W. R. DeWitt, jr., U. S. V., reported that "a conoidal ball penetrated both hips, and was extracted," and that Surgeon M. N. Townsend, 44th New York, was detailed to accompany the patient to City Point, when, by direction of Surgeon E. B. Dalton, U. S. V., he was placed on the hospital transport Connecticut and conveyed to Annapolis, and promoted Brigadier-General of Volunteers and Brevet Major-General. Surgeon B. A. Vauderkieft, U. S. V., reported that he "reached the hospital at that place very comfortably on June 20, 1864, with a shot wound involving both buttocks and the urethra." The progress and treatment does not appear on the hospital case-books, but in a letter to Surgeon J. H. Brinton, U'. S. V., September 4, 1864, Dr. Vanderkieft states: "I send you a catheter used by Brigadier-General J. L. C ., U. S.V. As you will perceive, it is covered by a calculous deposit. This catheter was but five days in the bladder, and was repeatedly covered in the same way. I think it a very important specimen, illustrating the necessity of often renewing cathethers when they are to be used à demeurc. The history you shall get when the patient is discharged." The specimen referred to is accurately represented, of half size in the wood-cut (FIG. 256). The patient was furloughed September 20, 1864, and mustered out January 15, 1866, and pensioned. The promised report of the case was not received. From Pension Examiner O. Mitchell's report, September 18, 1873. it appears that "the ball entered the right hip in front of and a little below the right trochanter major, passed diagonally backward, and made exit above and posteriorly to the left great trochanter. The bladder was involved in the wound at some portion, as the subsequent history of escape of urine from the track of the wound and its extravasation testified. He very often suffers severe pain in the pelvic region. The chief disability resulting indirectly from the wound is the existence of a fistulous opening of the urethra, half :m inch or more in length, just anterior to the scrotum; this often becomes inflamed. The greater part of the urine is voided through the fistula, the fistula itself resulting from the too long or too continuous wearing of a catheter. No change has resulted since the last examination; disability total." This invalid was paid to June 4, 1873, at $30 a month.


    M. E. Wolf
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  10. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Ewwwwwwwww.
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  11. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

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    :rofl:

    NathanB1, ma'am--at least we don't have 'said' wound to contend with. :smile coffee: General Chamberlain suffered to his dying day of that wound.

    M. E. Wolf
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  12. Littlestown

    Littlestown 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Wow, and, I don't imagine the $30/month pension did much to ease the "very often severe pain in the pelvic region", did it? I admit I have a new found admiration for General Chamberlain and what he endured.
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  13. Lee

    Lee 1st Lieutenant

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    Yes it was a terrible wound and Chamberlain carried and dealt with the pain and discomfort long after the war ended. Chamberlain was a brave educated man but not a West Pointer. I thought it was very fitting that Gordon and Chamberlain were present for the formal surrender of the ANV in April. Neither man was a West Pointer but both were very accomplished effective officers who saw plenty of combat and both were wounded.
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  14. bankerpapaw

    bankerpapaw First Sergeant

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    So all the doctors were not "saw bonds." Some actually had medical expertise, not just adapt at sawing off limbs.
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  15. TinCan

    TinCan 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I only had to wear a catheter for 3 weeks and I thought I was in hell. To endure that kind of misery for 50 years, my respect for General Chamberlain has increased ten fold.
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  16. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Horseback, no less. :unsure:
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  17. suzenatale

    suzenatale First Sergeant Forum Host

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    Sorry for being the newbie who bumps up old threads.:unsure:
    There is a drawing of the catheter in the book quoted above.
    http://www.joshualawrencechamberlain.com/medicalhistory.php
    I also created the Wiki for Dr Shaw and included a picture of a similar one.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abner_O._Shaw
    I can't be sure that he wore the catheter his whole life, the one mentioned above was made out of metal.
    They did start making rubber ones that could be hooked to a
    urinal, it is possible he used that at some point. Some historians have said he used absorbent cloth.
    I haven't found a document that would prove that one way or another.
    But, either way, as a doctor who treated him said,
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  18. FrazierC

    FrazierC First Sergeant

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    I can't recall where I heard this, but I heard that when the surgeons asked if they should continue the surgery, Chamberlain begged them to shoot him. They refused, and, ultimately, the surgery was successful.
  19. suzenatale

    suzenatale First Sergeant Forum Host

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    Can't say I ever heard that he asked them to shoot him. I have heard people say that he begged them to continue when they stopped. However I haven't found proof of that. The 44th New York, Dr. Townsend's regiment recounts,

    Chamberlain in his own account remembers Dr Townsend saying, "Its is of no use, Doctor; he cannot be saved. I have done all possible for man. Let us go, and not torture him longer." to which Dr. Shaw of the 20th Maine replied, "Just once more, Doctor, let me try just this once more, and I will give it up."

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