Title: Sweeney, Patrick
Source text: The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. (1861-65.), Part 2, Volume 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1876), 47.
Civil War Washington ID: med.d2e31567
CASE 187.—Private Patrick Sweeney, 7th New York Cavalry, aged 21 years, was shot, in a quarrel at a brothel in Washington, about midnight, January 4, 1862. In a special report, February 2, 1866, Surgeon C. L. Hubbell, 7th New York Cavalry, states: "He stood with his side rather toward the man firing, and about ten feet distant. The pistol was a Colt's revolver, second size. The ball entered about an inch below the last rib, directly underneath the cardiac region, and, parsing through the stomach and liver, lodged just beneath the skin, at a point about four inches back of the crest of the ilium, near the outer border of the latissimus dorsi muscle. It was readily removed by a small incision. In about half an hour after the injury the man was brought to my regimental hospital, near where the Campbell Hospital was afterward located. He was vomiting blood profusely, and was almost pulseless. The first indication was to check the hæmorrhage; this, and the vomiting, also, was arrested entirely at the expiration of twenty-four hours, by the constant application of cloths, wet in ice-water, to the hypogastric region. No drink whatever and no nourishment were allowed, except a little cold crust-water, in quantities of a teaspoonful only about once in an hour, although the thirst was urgent. As it seemed to me that, in order to secure the union of the wound in the stomach, the organ must contract to its smallest possible size, and must rest, allowing only so much nutriment and drink as would sustain life and be easily absorbed. The dejections from the bowels were black and tar-like for several days, as in melæna. On the second day, peritonitis with great tenderness and considerable tympanitis supervened, but, by the exhibition of large doses of morphia and the continued application of cold cloths, it was entirely subdued, and at the end of one week it was evident that all danger in the case had passed. No solid food was allowed until about the tenth day, but beef tea and other nutritious drinks were given in small quantities at a time. At the end of the sixth week, he was able to walk about the hospital with a cane, and, at the time the regiment was disbanded, in March, appeared quite well and was able to eat and digest the army rations. I shall always attribute the recovery in this case to the faithful use of cold wet cloths, producing contraction of the stomach and arresting the hæmorrhage. I afterward saw, on different battle fields, several gunshot wounds of the abdomen, all of which resulted fatally in a few hours. In none of them was the stomach perforated."