Title: Welker, Peter

Source text: Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, United States Army, The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. (1861–65.), Part 1, Volume 2 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1870), 500.

Keywords:wounds and injuries of the chestgunshot wounds of the chestpenetrating gunshot wounds of the chesttreatment by hermetically sealingball entered above nipple between fourth and fifth ribs, emerged at border of scapulaball passed through lungfractured sixth rib

Civil War Washington ID: med.d1e19532

TEI/XML: med.d1e19532.xml

CASE.—Corporal Peter Welker, Co. A., 1st United States Sharp-shooters, was wounded at Manassas Gap, July 23d, 1863, by a conoidal musket ball, which entered above the right nipple, between the fourth and fifth ribs; passed through the lung and emerged at the inferior border of the scapula, fracturing at the same time the sixth rib. The wounds were hermetically sealed on the field by Assistant Surgeon B. Howard, U. S. A. The patient was sent to Washington, and admitted into Mount Pleasant Hospital, July 30th, suffering from pain in the right lung and some dyspnœa, otherwise doing well. The dyspnœa, attended with pain, increased almost to suffocation; pulse becoming greatly accelerated until the night of July 31st, when the posterior dressing burst open, and a profuse discharge of clotted blood and purulent matter took place; a similar collection, amounting to nearly a pint, gushed from the anterior wound, upon the removal of its dressings, the following morning. Immediate relief was obtained and general improvement commenced; the respiratory murmur, which had been absent in the lower portion of the lung, returned and was perceptible everywhere, except in the immediate vicinity of the wound. The purulent discharge continued profuse, until about the first of October, but, by the 13th of this month, it had, in a great measure, ceased, and the patient was allowed a furlough. He returned on December 13th, 1863, greatly improved. The anterior opening had closed and the posterior nearly; from the latter, necrosed bone was subsequently removed. Opiates and stimulants were administered throughout the treatment, according to the requirements of the case. On February 29th, 1864, crepitant râles were heard only in the region of the wound, and some pain felt about the shoulders. This man was discharged from service on March 29th, 1864, and was subsequently pensioned. Pension Examiner S. A. Fisk reports, July 20th, 1867, "the pensioner suffers from an inward soreness and spitting of blood; can only do light work, and has pains in the head." The case is reported by Assistant Surgeon C. A. McCall, U. S. A.⃰

⃰The history of this case, up to the date of that publication, was inserted in the surgical report in Circular No. 6, S. G. O., 1865, and introduced with the observation that: The histories of the cases, in which, this plan (of hermetically sealing) was adopted, have been traced, in most instances, to their rapidly fatal conclusion. The following case is the only recorded exception." This statement was exact at that date; but, as is seen, many other instances of favorable terminations have since been traced. I believe the evidence still fully sustains the "unqualified condemnation of the practice," then expressed.—COMPILER.