Title: Bemis, Edson D.
Source text: The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. (1861-65.), Part 1, Volume 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1870), 162.
Civil War Washington ID: med.d1e400101
CASE.—Private Edson D. Bemis, Co. K, 12th Massachusetts Volunteers, was wounded at Antietam by a musket ball which fractured the shaft of his left humerus. The fracture united kindly, with very slight angular displacement and quarter of an inch shortening. Promoted to be corporal, Bemis received May 6th, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness a wound from a musket ball in the right iliac fossa. He was treated in the Chester Hospital, near Philadelphia. There was extensive sloughing about the wound, but it ultimately healed entirely, leaving a large cicatrix, parallel with Poupart's ligament. Eight months after the injury, Bemis returned to duty with his regiment. On February 5th, 1865, Corporal Bemis was again severely wounded at the engagement at Hatcher's Run, near Petersburg, Virginia. Surgeon A. Vanderveer, 66th New York Volunteers, reports that the ball entered a little outside of the left frontal protuberance, and passing backward and upward, removed a piece of the squamous portion of the temporal bone, with brain substance and membranes. When the patient entered the hospital of the 1st division of the Second Corps, brain matter was oozing from the wound. There was considerable hæmorrhage, but not from any important vessel. Respiration was slow; the pulse 40; the right side was paralyzed and there was total insensibility. On February 8th, the missile was removed from the substance of the left hemisphere, by Surgeon Vanderveer. It was a conoidal musket ball, badly battered. The patient's condition at once improved. He told the surgeon his name, and seemed conscious of all that was going on about him. Water dressings were applied, and an ingeniously arranged sponge absorbed the discharge from the wound. He was kept on very light diet and remained very quiet for ten days, answering direct questions, but indisposed to continue a conversation. He had no convulsions and his sleep was not disturbed by delirium. About February 18th, a marked improvement was manifest. The patient conversed freely, and the wound was rapidly cicatrizing, and the hemiplegia had entirely disappeared. On February 23th he was able to walk about the ward. On March 18th the wound was nearly healed. The patient was sent northward on a hospital transport to Fort Richmond, New York Harbor. He recovered perfectly, and in May was furloughed, and on May 18th he wrote to Dr. Vanderveer, that he was doing well at his home in Huntington, Massachusetts, suffering only slight dizziness in going out in the hot sun. In July he went to Washington to apply for a pension, and entered Campbell Hospital. He was discharged on July 13th, 1865, on surgeon's certificate of disability. At this date he was photographed at the Army Medical Museum. The wound in the head was then nearly healed. There was a slight discharge of healthy pus from one point. The pulsations of the brain could be felt through the integument. The mental and sensory faculties were unimpaired. The corporal had been discharged from service and recommended for a pension. The plate opposite is a very accurate copy of the photograph, which is numbered 58 of the surgical series, A. M. M. Mr. Bemis was pensioned at eight dollars per month. On October 30th, 1870, he wrote to the editor of the surgical history from his home in Suffield, Connecticut, as follows: 'I am still in the land of the living. My health is very good considering what I have passed through at Hatcher's Run. * * * My head aches some of the time. I am married and have one child, a little girl born last Christmas. My memory is affected, and I cannot hear as well as I could before I was wounded.'