* OFFICIAL *
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
- Mar 15, 2013
Public Domain. Pl. No. 1 of Dr. Jones' papers : Hospital gangrene : Case of W.J. Black. No. VII. New York Public Library. Link
Confederate Army surgeon, Dr. Joseph Jones, is generally credited with providing the first modern description of "necrotizing fasciitis." Back then it was called hospital gangrene; in the 1990s, the media popularized the name "flesh eating bacteria." Regardless of what it's called, it is a very aggressive necrotizing soft tissue infection, characterized by a rapid and progressive course. The image above illustrates an unusual case with an unusual cause. Private Whitfield J. Black (Company F, 21st Georgia) enlisted July 9, 1861 and served with his regiment in Trimble's brigade, Ewell's division at all the battles in Virginia and Maryland. But Pvt. Black didn't contract gangrene from the wound of a minié ball or shell or following an amputation surgery - he was infected by a pin prick while serving as a nurse in a Macon, Georgia hospital in 1864.
According to Dr. Joseph Jones
Has been acting as a nurse in this hospital for the past two months, since the conversion of this institution into a gangrene hospital. During this time has been inoculated with hospital gangrene twice. The first attack caused by the prick of a pin on the side of the hand, received in dressing a gangrenous wound. The prick of the pin became painful almost immediately; and in the course of two days the injury commenced to inflame, and the surface around assumed a purplish and bluish color. The disease spread from the centre of infection, and the slough presented a grayish and greenish color. The inflamed and gangrenous parts were freely cauterized with strong nitric acid. By this means the gangrene was arrested before the ulcer had exceeded one quarter of an inch in diameter.
Whitfield Black returned to his nursing duties, dressing the gangrenous wounds of patients in the hospital. Unfortunately, the infection soon returned - this time much worse. It started as a blister, but soon caused such intense pain that Black complained that it "throbbed as if a bone was breaking loose." And it spread. Concentrated nitric acid was applied three times a day, but it did no good. Dr. Jones drew Black's gangrenous hand on October 3, 1864, just twelve days after the second attack commenced. It was decided that Black's recovery in the "poisoned atmosphere" of the hospital was unlikely and he was furloughed home to recover.
[Joseph Jones Records, Manuscripts Collection 172, Manuscripts Department, Special Collections, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.] FindAGrave Memorial
Dr. Joseph Jones (6 September 1833 - 17 February 1896) of Liberty County, GA, was a chemist, clinical researcher, and medical doctor. Before the war, he was professor of chemistry at the Savannah Medical College and chair of chemistry at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. He enlisted as a Private in the cavalry, but was soon tapped by the medical department and assigned to the Confederate Hospital at Augusta. His interest in the relationship between environment and disease led him to document his cases in great detail. He submitted a number of reports to the Confederate Surgeon General, including a dissertation on Hospital Gangrene, in which the unusual case of Whitfield J Black was reported.
"Investigations Upon the Nature, Causes, and Treatment of Hospital Gangrene, as it Prevailed in the Confederate Armies 1861-1865." Joseph Jones, M.D. Surgical Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion. New York, U.S. Sanitary Commission; 1870-71. Volume II, pp. 248-250. Link