Long Reach of Wounds

This is an article publicizing a reenactor’s appearance, but unlike other notices of the sort, it is very fleshed-out (emphasis on flesh). The reenactment is of a Civil War doctor, and the writer makes a point of discussing the realities beyond the wound itself, such as how saving an arm could cost a relationship 20 years later.

Richard Covell Phillips of Prattsburgh (44th New York) fought on after being wounded on the second day at Gettysburg, then made his way to a field hospital. There a doctor saved his arm, but he lost the USE of that arm. Later he and other walking wounded were ordered to make their own way on foot several miles down to town, picking their way through the decaying corpses of thousands of men, mules, and horses. After a night on the floor of a church the wounded went by train to Baltimore, where the hospitals were full. Diverted to Philadelphia he finally had his blood-soaked uniform cut away, a week or so after being wounded.

Philips stayed in the army, even serving a year or so postwar. But his wound exacted a toll from his family for decades. His oldest son wanted badly to get an extensive education, but the father insisted that he leave school as a teenager and work on the farm, doing the jobs his father couldn’t… an insistence that engendered deep bitterness.

Dr. Babcock and Dr. Annabel — Civil War Medicine Then and Now – Blogs – The Leader.

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