Shots that should have killed them

NH Civil War Gal

1st Lieutenant
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Feb 5, 2017

One prisoner, who was captured at Vicksburg, had been shot in the eye during one of Grant's ill-fated assaults. The eye was gone, but otherwise the man was fine. "He walked about our room with a handkerchief tied around his head, smoking complacently," Richardson recalled, "apparently considering a bullet in the brain a very slight annoyance." The prisoners loved stories like that, freakish tales of men who had miraculously survived shots that should have killed them.

There was the story of a soldier who was lying in the dirt, firing his rifle, when a Rebel cannonball hit the ground beside him and plowed a tunnel about six inches under him before it popped up on his other side like some kind of round metal gopher. And the story of the lieutenant who shot in the mouth, which was open at the time, and the bullet knocked out three false teeth, which went flying into the thigh of the sergeant standing next to him--and both of them were barely scratched. And there were countless stories about men who found one, or two, or nine bullet holes in their clothes or their hats after a battle, but not a scratch on their bodies.

And stories of men saved when the bullet that hit them was deflected by something in their pockets--a silver half-dollar, or a plug of tobacco, or, for one soldier, a little book of risque' song lyrics.

"I'm sorry to say that I heard of no instance in which a life was saved by a Bible," Browne noted wryly, "and I'm bound to believe the fact is owing to the great scarcity of the sacred volume in the army, rather than to any want of preserving power in the Holy Book itself."

Edited to add: Source is from "Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy" by Peter Carlson
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Oct 13, 2019
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
I wish I had my old ACW issues so I could look up the exact name, but one story from Second Manassas has a soldier from I believe it's the Zouavees after his unit broke under the heavy attack of the Texas Brigade getting shot through his manhood, completing exposing the family jewels and he collapsed into a canal where he almost drowned. He was only saved because a Confederate soldier agreed to pull him out if he gave him his boots. So he pulls him out, takes his boots, and leaves him there.

James N.

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Annual Winner
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Feb 23, 2013
East Texas
Here's a link to a post I made concerning my favorite example, which happened to Confederate artillery Major Richard Snowden Andrews:


2nd Lieutenant
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Nov 27, 2018
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I have read numerous accounts where a bullet, after hitting the belt buckle or canteen, still hit with enough force to knock the soldier down and leave a bruise. That sudden impact had to have been horrific, and some while stunned, believed they had been shot through.

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