Title: Morse, William B.

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), 434.

Keywords:wounds and injuries of the spinegunshot wounds of the spinefractures of the dorsal vertebræposture simulating pleurosthotonoscontusion of one sideconcussion of spinal cordnumbness and tingling in arm, thigh, and legcurious limp in walking gaitdeficiency of power of extensor muscles to support the body

Civil War Washington ID: med.d1e18722

TEI/XML: med.d1e18722.xml

CASE.—Private William B. Morse, Co. A, 40th New York Volunteers, aged 20 years, was admitted to Stanton Hospital, Washington, June 15th, 1863, from the field hospital of the Army of the Potomac, at Potomac Creek. He said that he had been injured in the battle of Chancellorsville, May 3d, 1863, by the explosion of a shell; that he was lying on the ground on his right side, in line of battle, under a heavy artillery fire, when something hit him violently on the left side and knocked him senseless. When he came to, his mouth was filled with clotted blood. He spat blood for two days, with a cough which had not yet entirely left him. His left side was swelled up, and was tender from the armpit all the way down to the hip. He could not move the left leg at all, the thigh included, and had but partial use of the right one. Sensation also was nearly abolished in the left lower extremity. The motion and sensation of the left upper extremity were considerably impaired. He had not had any difficulty in holding or voiding his urine. He stated that the left side appeared to be badly bruised, but the skin was not broken. When admitted to hospital, the partial paralysis still continued and was most marked in the left lower extremity. He had dyspnœa and cough, but no expectoration. The left thorax was much shrunken and tender under pressure. The left shoulder had fallen down a good deal below the level of its fellow on the opposite side. There was lateral curvature of the spine, and his posture in bed bore a strong resemblance to that produced by pleurosthotonos of the left side. Nothing abnormal was detected by auscultation and percussion. There was no swelling or ecchymosis of the injured side, or evidence that the ribs had been fractured. He complained of much soreness in the walls of the left thorax and left side generally, and the motion of the left arm seemed to be much impaired on that account. His intellect was clear, and he presented no symptoms whatever diagnostic of a cerebral lesion. He was thin and rather pale; bowels constipated. He was manifestly suffering from the consequences of extensive contusion of the left side and concussion of the spinal cord. Dry cups were ordered to be applied daily over the spine and the bowels to be kept open with laxatives. He was allowed full diet. The dry cupping seemed to benefit him very much and the paralysis was rapidly disappearing. By August 15th, he was up and going about on crutches. The cups were discontinued, and acetate of strychnia prescribed in small doses. This remedy was discontinued at the end of a month, as it appeared to do him but little, if any, good. During the fall and winter he continued to improve slowly, and, by the middle of March, threw his crutches aside, preferring to walk with the aid of a cane only. April 10th, 1864: He stands erect; the falling down of the left shoulder, the shrinking of the left side, and the posture simulating pleurosthotonos have entirely disappeared. The left thigh is a trifle smaller and more flaccid than the right one. At times, he has a feeling of numbness and tingling in the left arm, but none in the right, and the same abnormal sensations in the left thigh and leg, but not in the right. He presents a curious limp in his gait in walking. His body sinks very low on placing its weight on the left limb, from deficiency in the power of the extensor muscles, as compared with that of the flexor muscles of the limb, to support the body at its proper height in walking, and thus a strange hobbling is produced like that in some cases of rupture of the ligamentum patellae. He was discharged from service on April 18th, 1864.