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PTSD - Battlefields and Beyond

Discussion in 'Medical Care of the Civil War' started by amweiner, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Thanks @gunny, not at all!! I appreciate any feedback and certainly appreciate differing perspectives! I know that I get really fired up about the topic - having spent most of my career working with traumatized children, then adults who never got help as kids, I saw how trauma could, in the worst case, ruin a person. For many, as you indicated, death became a welcome escape. When it's recognized as something that touches everyone in a system, we tend to address it better and get better outcomes. Living in a community with a strong military presence, and seeing women and men in uniform daily, I can't help but think about how we can do better for soldiers and their families.

    Thank you for sharing the story about your gggrandfather - I am so grateful for those opportunities to put names to ideas and take them back into the realm of real people who suffered. One can only guess what this did to your ancestors, and the people who cared for them. While I was researching for the OP, I came across a fragment of a letter that I should've written down but didn't, and now I'm trying to find it, because it gave me the chills. The soldier simply said he'd been in battle but would not talk about what he had seen.

    Lots to think about. Thank you for sharing your ideas, my friend.
    Adam
     

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  3. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Thanks Gladys, please keep me posted! These days, I tend to forget my own name if it's not screamed at me all day long. Comes with being 144 years old.... :smile:

    As you can imagine, there are countless letters and diaries of men admitting to crying, both during and after battles. Soldiers, regardless of time period, are human beings with real emotions. They may be told not to shed tears, but seeing what they've seen would strain the emotions of anyone.

    Adam
     
  4. Cavalry Charger

    Cavalry Charger Sergeant Major

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    To be honest with you, the woman in the videos GGG'mother sounds like a bit of a 'black widow' to me! The husbands seemed to have managed to go on for several years after the war, and it was only after marrying her they were tipped over the edge...not to deny the reality of the veterans trauma, but her first husband didn't even come back to her!
     
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  5. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    I've shared this story before but it is also relevant here.

    In part of my family, three brothers will enlist during the war. The middle brother Andrew (19 years old in 1861) enlists in May 1861, joining the 16th New York Infantry. After 2 years service and a number of major engagements (the Peninsula, Seven Days, South Mountain, and Chancellorsville) and one minor wound, he goes home long enough to turn around and join the 13th New York Cavalry for the rest of the war.

    The youngest brother, Joseph (15 years old in 1861) enlists in late 1861 with the 93rd New York. The 93rd New York was made the army headquarters guard in the summer of 1862 and acts in this capacity until spring 1864. They are severely battered at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania (losing more than 300 men between the two battles). In the assault on the Salient at Spotsylvania, Joseph is shot through the thigh and is evacuated to Washington. He will die of his wound in July.

    The oldest brother, Patrick (30 years old in 1861) owned a small farm, was married and had 4 children of his own in 1861. He would enlist in late 1863, likely due to the bonus New York was paying out at the time. He would see heavy action during the Overland Campaign, Petersburg Campaign, and the Shenandoah Campaign before he goes home in July 1865.

    By 1867, Patrick and Andrew were in a bad place. Patrick had crawled into a bottle, was arrested on several occasions for abusing his wife leading to her leaving him. A few years later, he had remarried and would have six more children from 1872-1880. He was in and out of his family's life, leaving his wife in the poor house on at least one occasion. While his wife was pregnant with their last child, he disappears from the historical record but a man bearing his description was found dead in a ditch a few dozen miles away from his home.

    Andrew, after getting into a handful of scuffles in local bars, decides to leave New York and goes West to Montana in 1868. While there, he is described as living a solitary life and seems to have disliked crowds. In 1907, he's living in a soldier's home in Helena before deciding that it was time to come home. Over the next decade, he travels east, staying in soldier's homes along the way. He moves in with his older sister and her husband when he arrives in New York and will live out his life with them.

    IMO, it's pretty clear that the war left them as broken men. How much of that is what they experienced, guilt over the death of their younger brother (and James Sempier, a close friend of Andrew and whose sister would be Patrick's second wife, who was killed at Petersburg), or a combination of the two is the question.

    Ryan
     
  6. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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  7. ReadingThroughHistory

    ReadingThroughHistory Private

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    Thank you! This is certainly a floodgate. I LOVE this forum.
     
  8. Burning Billy

    Burning Billy Sergeant

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    "No words can depict the ghastly picture. The track of the great charge was marked by bodies of men in all possible positions, wounded, bleeding, dying, and dead. Near the line where the final struggle occurred, the men lay in heaps, the wounded wiggling and groaning under the weight of the dead among whom they were entangled. In my weak and exhausted condition I could not long endure the gory, ghastly spectacle. I found my head reeling, the tears flowing and my stomach sick at the sight.”

    ---Captain Benjamin W. Thompson of the 111th New York, describing the aftermath of Pickett's Charge. Thompson had been wounded in the second day's fighting at Gettysburg but had walked to Cemetery Ridge in the assault's aftermath.
     
  9. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Thank you for sharing such powerful reminiscences, @Burning Billy.
     

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