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Was Civil War the last war in which severely wounded men could still fight?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by NH Civil War Gal, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant

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    I've read different historical fiction and non-fiction of the late 1700s British Navy and a lot now of CW history.

    It seems like officers and some able-rated seamen could keep on a vessel and keep working. Obviously you can't climb rigging with a peg leg or only one arm so your job would be limited.

    Then you get to the CW and find that there are all sorts of soldiers on either side with missing arms or legs still active. I seriously don't know how Hood continued on with missing a leg and arm. Over the last couple of weeks, while riding my horse, I was really trying to figure out how Hood could even stay balanced on a horse while missing a leg - in action. I don't mean a quiet trail ride but sudden swift turns, jerks, gallops.

    Then by WW1, I don't read anymore of the services, British or US, accepting soldiers with missing limbs OR retaining them once an amputation happened.

    So when did the rules change? And I guess, why did the services change their thinking?
     

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  3. mofederal

    mofederal 2nd Lieutenant Member of the Month

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    There was at least one officer in the British Army during the Zulu Wars. Colonel Anthony Durnford. He was stabbed in the left underarm by an assegai paralyzing it, He was killed at the battle of Isandlwana in 1879. I read the other day about An AAF sergeant who damaged his left arm in the CBI bailing out of a plane. In a POW camp they amputated his arm, and after the war he was allowed to stay in the AF until he retired. Captain Douglas Bader lost both of his legs in an accident in 1931. At the outbreak of WWII he was allowed to rejoin the RAF. He was an ace and his final tally was 22 victories, and he was shot down. He tried to escape numerous and was moved to Colditz Castle. After the war he wrote a book Reach For The Sky, later a movie. Commander Frank "Spig" Wead, saw active combat on a carrier during the war. He had a spinal injury, fractured neck. I am sure there are other that might have served in WWI. it would take some research.
     
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  4. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Sergeant

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    John Ford, a friend of Wead, made a movie about Wead, The Wings of Eagles, in which John Wayne performs sans toupee. Depressing little movie that brings on the manly tear.

    7FEDD7F1-E71D-4BA1-A237-F722BCB714A5.JPG
     
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  5. rhettbutler1865

    rhettbutler1865 Colonel, CSA Cavalry Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    When someone is passionate about a "cause," a wound (even an amputation) is not enough to stop them from continuing fighting. Not the CW, not any war. I'm curious--why does this astound you? (not to be mean). "Honor, purpose, a feeling that I must go on, etc." is a soldier's credo. I don't think they, the tough, WANTED to quit. I have a friend (had) who went back to war, only to be killed. I think he thought "This is my destiny."
     
  6. jackt62

    jackt62 Sergeant Major

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    I would also wonder just how many severely wounded officers or men actually rejoined the fighting in the Civil War. Yes, there are well known cases as cited above, but in the overall context of the hundreds of thousands wounded, how many actually retook to the field?
     
  7. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    To be fair, Hood regained almost regular use of his arm.

    Ryan
     
  8. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant

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    I'm not astounded, except by Hood, but I am surprised that phantom limb pain and/or open wounds or wounds reopening didn't stop them. I have nothing but admiration, either side, for men that could push through all that. I'm just surprised that so many officers allowed them back in to the ranks (or above) and didn't think they would slow them down.

    Did the CSA use a McClellan saddle? I have an original one from the latter part of the 1800s (with original hair girth). I have ridden in it a number of times and it is not comfortable. I can't imagine someone with a leg amputation being able to just put up with it for hour after hour, especially if it was a high leg amputation - never mind the balancing.
     
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  9. WJC

    WJC 1st Lieutenant

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    Severely injured soldiers- including amputees- have served and continue to serve in the United States military.
    The severity of the limb loss, as well as the nature and extent of associated injuries, has a dramatic impact on the amputee’s ability to return to active military duty. A study by Kishbaugh (1995) found that only 11 of 469 (2.3 percent) U.S. amputee soldiers returned to duty in the 1980s with amputation levels that included partial-foot, partial-hand and transtibial (below-knee). Injured while serving as junior officers in Vietnam, Gen. (Ret.) Eric Shinseki (a partial-foot amputee) and Gen. (Ret.) Frederick Franks (a transtibial amputee) are examples of soldiers with significant limb loss who recently retired after full, active-duty careers and who reached the highest positions of leadership in the U.S. Army. More recently, injured service members from Afghanistan and Iraq with higher levels of amputations, including transfemoral (above-knee) and transradial (below elbow) levels of amputation, have remained on active duty and continue to serve successfully.​
    https://www.amputee-coalition.org/military-instep/returning-to-duty.html
    In 2012, an article in US News and World Report reported that "According to the Army, at least 167 soldiers who have had a major limb amputation (complete loss of an arm, leg, hand, or foot) have remained on active duty since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, with some returning to battle. Many others have returned overseas to work in support roles behind the lines."
    <https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/05/25/new-prosthetics-keep-amputee-soldiers-on-active-duty>
    The main requirement is that the servicemember must be able to perform his/her assigned tasks.
    For some interesting stories on severely wounded men and women still serving, see http://www.military.com/topics/amputees
     
  10. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt First Sergeant

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    I've read of many men who were wounded several times. Yesterday, I was reading about a Southern officer who was wounded seven times and it was not noted as being terribly unusual.
     
  11. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    This thread on disabled soldiers and commanders in the ACW was posted not long ago: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/disabled-soldiers-and-commanders.138719/

    There were officers and enlisted men who lost a limb and rejoined their unit or were discharged and later reenlisted. Many could only serve in support roles, however. Also many instances where one suffered a severe wound but without the loss of a limb and yet continued to serve as a combatant.
     
  12. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant

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    @WJC - Thank you for posting this. I had no idea that service members could stay in the service after such injuries. It is good to learn something new.
     
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  13. jackt62

    jackt62 Sergeant Major

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    Thanks for the information!
     
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  14. rhettbutler1865

    rhettbutler1865 Colonel, CSA Cavalry Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    And Joshua Chamberlain?
     
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  15. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    The rules changed when there were minimal health criteria for enlistment/volunteering/conscription/draft etc. were established.

    During the ACW there were not. They needed bodies, and not necessary healthy ones.
     
  16. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    This is interesting indeed and the modern medicine (and Army, where you can perform active military duties from a desk) has changed that. "Active duty" meant different things in the 1860s and now.

    However, if they wanted, all the above could have been honorably recharged with full pension...
     
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  17. WJC

    WJC 1st Lieutenant

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    Thanks for your response.
    As you can see from the sample sources, there are some truly inspiring stories- virtually unheralded- of men and women unwilling to give in to their injuries.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  18. chucksr

    chucksr Corporal

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    I believe that John B Gordon was wounded seven times at the sunken road during the battle of Antietam. He was so badly shot up his wife, arriving on the scene one day later did not recognize him. He recovered and went on to serve with distinction the rest of the war.
     
  19. WJC

    WJC 1st Lieutenant

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    Thanks for your response.
    I don't know that the meaning has changed that much over the years. And in all the history of our military there have been combat and non-combat roles. Just because a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman - is not being shot at does not make his/her service less important or worthy.
    What is interesting is that so many are going back into combat- into the very environment where they were wounded- and fearlessly serving in spite of what some might call their 'disability'.
    So much of this is due to advancements in combat medicine- the immediate availability of care, quick transport to fully equipped hospitals, miraculous surgical procedures and equally miraculous prosthetics. It is so very different than actions even just a few years ago- let alone a century and a half ago....
     
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  20. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    Agreed, but I am afraid if we go down the slippery slope of discussing the professional salaried soldiers of today, we will get into modern politics really quickly...
     
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  21. WJC

    WJC 1st Lieutenant

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    Thanks for your response.
     
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