Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rope Trick

Above Historical photograph of US Civil War General Henry A. Barnum (1833-1892), who received what should have been a mortal gunshot wound through the left hip at the Battle of Malvern Hill in 1862. Although he survived, the wound became infected and required that an oakum cord (shown here) be passed through the bullet hole several times daily, to enable it to drain. There is an account of this in the autobiography of S.J. Woolf, Here Am I. New York: Random House, 1941, p. 13—

Among his [father's] friends were many Civil War veterans. The one with whom he was most intimate was General Henry Barnum, who had been on Sherman's staff during the war. Barnum had been wounded at Malvern Hill. With a bullet through his hip, he had been left for dead on the battlefield. Someone noticed him moving and he was carried to the hospital. He eventually recovered, but the wound was not permitted to close and all his life he carried a rope through it, which he had to pull back and forth a certain number of times every day.