Civil War and Medicine

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The following is a letter found the the Civil War Pension records of William W. Tackwell, born Sept. 24, 1840 in DeKalb County, Tennesse. He enlisted in the Union Army and was wounded at Lovejoy, Georgia in 1864 and spent 7 months in military hospitals. His war injury never healed and caused him trouble the rest of his life. The following is a letter from William to the Commisioner of Pensions to obtain an increase in his pension. It tells much about his suffering. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

>>>>>>>>>>> Phillipsburg, Kansas March the 18th, 1905<<<<<<<<<

Mr. - Warner, Commissioner of Pensions. Dear Friend and Comrade --- --- as per your instructions I now write you in reference to increase. If you will bear with me and can spare the time to read statement I will give you a brief and honest statement of the condition of my wound from the time it was inflicted to the present time. I was wounded at Lovejoy Georgia on the 2nd of Sept. 1864, was sent from there to Decatur. From Decatur to Nashville, Tenn. and from Nashville to New Albany IND.. on the hospital boat on witch I got the gangrene. I stayed at New Albany 9 days and there was no effort made to check or do anything to stop it from spreading and so the flesh rotted and dropped off in chunks as big as the end of my thumb . On the day my brother came to me and the old Surgeon, a North Carolina Dr. was making a transfer of all that as he said "That was able to travel" and my brother went to the old Doctor and tried to get me sent to camp Butler, but the Dr. would not hear to his pleading, and positively refused to let me go and so the assistant Surgeon and my brother stole me out of that hospital uncured, and took me to the depot. Next morning got to Camp Butler when my brother taken me up in his arms and carried me up to the hospital. Old General Sturgis says "another man with gangrene." So the next morning Dr. Kinkead burned the gangrene out and when he put the Bromine on my leg he inhaled it and he had to run of doors to breathe, so it was left on too long. The meat on the front of my leg from the knee down about 8 inches fell off of the bone and the bone scaled off. After the gangrene was burned out I took Typhoid fever. When I got so I realized anything the Dr. Told me that I had been unconscious for 22 days. Mind the Ball was still buried in the bone of my leg. I lay there until the 25th of March 1865. When I was discharged. Just a few days before I got my discharge I asked Dr. Kinkead why he did not get the ball out of the bone of my leg and he said "I will be honest with you" said he "you can't get well and I don't want to punish you any more". So I got my discharge and went back to DeWitt County April 8th, 1865 and took up my abode at David Hurley a man that I worked for before the war and a member of my Company for 3 long years. I stayed there, could not get out of bed the most of the time without help. Dr. Goodbrake tended me those 8 years. Time and again he fetched his instrument and other Drs. with him to cut that leg off and I would not let him do it and he finally told me that I was a man of but --- little brains and said he should not come to see me any more and he quit on the 2nd of Feb. 1868. I told Hurley to go to Clinton and get Dr. Write Richards and Dr. Louis of DeWitt to come out there and dig the ball out of my leg. Said I maybe had money enough left to pay them. And if I die in the operation you can have my team of mares to bury me. I had saved up before the war and while out, 16 hundred dollars, and it was going. So on the 7th of Feb. 1868 the bullet was dug out of the bone of my leg. After laying --- in the home 3 years, 5 months and 5 days and that wound has never healed. Only last week there was a piece of bone worked out of it. Now, I ask, if I am not entitled to that increase of 1886 and from the day it went into effect in Gods name who is? I was a member of Co. F. 107th Ill. Inft. and my present certificate Numbers 76842 you will please find enclosed certificate of 2 of the most prominent Drs.of Phillipsburg now --- I shall be satisfied with you ---

Your uncured friend. W. W. Tackwell 


Kathy Welch Heidel