Title: Dearing, A. L.
Source text: The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. (1861-65.), Part 3, Volume 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883), 760-761.
Civil War Washington ID: med.d2e29235
CASE 1104.—Captain A. L. Dearing, Co. H, 5th Maine, aged 28 years, was wounded at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863. He was admitted into Seminary Hospital, Georgetown, on May 8th. Surgeon H. W. Ducachet, U. S. V., reported: "Gunshot wound of left thigh bone." The following account of the case was furnished by the patient: "I was wounded," says this officer, "on Sunday, May 3d, by a round musket ball in my left thigh, very near the hip joint, the enemy being fifty or sixty yards distant. The sensation produced when the ball struck me was as though a ball of glass had been thrown with irresistible force and shivered to atoms against the bone of my thigh. This sensation was very distinct, and no other was felt for the instant. I have no recollection of falling; but found myself lying on my left side, with a strange feeling of numbness rushing through the entire leg. This lasted but a few moments; the blood flowing freely, this active numbness soon died away. I believed myself mortally wounded, as I had no doubt the bone was shattered to the hip joint. Dreading to fall into the hands of the enemy I dragged myself from the battle-field about two hundred yards, when some of our men carried me to a place of safety. Taken to the hospital at Falmouth on the 4th, my wound was probed by Surgeon N. S. Barnes, 27th New York, on the morning of the 5th. The probe struck the bone and followed the wound a short distance around it on the inside, without feeling the ball. Surgeon Barnes decided that the ball struck the bone, and, without injuring it, glanced to the right, passing around to the opposite side from which it entered, and probably lay deep in the groin; but my thigh was so much swollen that the ball could not be found. On May 8th I reached Seminary Hospital, Georgetown. At length, after the swelling had subsided considerably, the ball was found near the groin and near the surface. It was extracted by Surgeon Ducachet on May 18th, but this ragged, misshapen piece of lead was so light that doubts were expressed as to its being a whole ball. The wound seemed to be doing well; there was considerable yet no very severe pain, the severest and most continuous being in that region where the ball entered and struck the bone. On May 27th a small piece of bone was discharged from the wound, indicating that the bone was more or less injured. On May 28th I was attacked with a most intense pain on the inside of the thigh, midway between the wound and the opening where the ball had been extracted. This pain brought on fever and a severe headache. Chloroform liniment was freely applied and alleviated the pain. On May 31st a piece of lead made its appearance at the opening where the ball had entered, and was extracted by Dr. Miller, and proved to be very nearly as large as that extracted on the 18th. This second piece of lead is very ragged, and holds a portion of the cloth which it had carried into the wound. About the first of June the nerves of my left foot, mostly in the toes, commenced troubling me, causing many sleepless nights and restless days for two weeks. It was like a continuous nervous toothache. A powerful chloroform liniment was freely applied, but it proved less effectual than cold water in easing the pain. This pain was not constant, but would burn my toes as with boiling water for ten or fifteen minutes, then ease away somewhat for a few minutes, and then return in full force. On June 12th a course of vigorous rubbing with a coarse towel was commenced on the foot and leg to the knee. On the third day the pain began to yield, and has now, June 24, 1863, almost ceased. My leg remains as yet almost perfectly helpless. It cannot support its own weight. My general health is very good." The patient was discharged from service September 15, 1863, and pensioned. The Hartford examining board reported, August 7, 1872: "Ball entered at middle of left nates and passed forward; part of the ball was removed at the junction of the upper and middle thirds of the left thigh at the outer border of the sartorius muscle. In its passage the ball struck the inner side of the femur, and in consequence of which portions of bone, with the remainder of the ball, were discharged through the point of entrance in the nates. The knee becomes swollen and painful from slight use."