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Gibson Henry Michel Read

Medical and Death Report of W. J. Henry, 21st Mississippi Infantry. Wounded Petersburg, Virginia.

Ensign W. J. Henry, 21st Mississippi, aged 22 years, was wounded near Petersburg, on June 21, 1864, by a conoidal musket ball, which entered the upper third of the left thigh anteriorly and made its exit at the opposite side of the limb, having badly comminuted the femur, without injuring the principal vessels or nerves. The wounded man was conveyed to Richmond, and was admitted to hospital No. 4, on June 28th. The injured limb was suspended by Smith's anterior splint, the wound was dressed with water dressings, a nourishing diet was ordered, with an opiate at bed-time. Under this treatment the case progressed satisfactorily until August 2d, when the copious suppuration and wasting of the patient excited so much anxiety that a consultation was held, at which Surgeons C. B. Gibson, M. Michel, and J. B. Read assisted. After a careful exploration of the injury under chloroform, it was decided that an excision of the upper extremity of the femur was expedient, and the operation was at once performed by Surgeon J. B. Read, P. A. C. S. An incision seven inches in length was made, commencing above the troclmnter and carried downward in the axis of the thigh. The joint was opened and the head of the bone exarticulated. The shaft was sawn below the trochanter minor, about six inches of the bone being removed. The wound being thoroughly cleansed, was approximated and kept in position by sutures and adhesive strips. A long straight splint was then applied on the outside of the limb. An ounce of brandy and thirty drops of tincture of opium was ordered to be administered every hour until reaction should be fully established. August 3d, the patient had reacted and had passed a comfortable night. The pulse was at 136; there was no pain, except in the left knee, which was swollen, but without increased heat or redness. The appetite was poor but improving. A nourishing diet was directed, and half an ounce of brandy every two hours with a grain of opium every three hours. 4th, the patient had rested well, had a good appetite, the tongue was clean, the skin moist, the bowels had been moved naturally, the pulse was at 129, the countenance was cheerful. The treatment was continued with the addition of porter thrice daily. 5th, the pulse was stronger at 120, the countenance was cheerful; the treatment was continued. 6th, the patient was reported to have passed a bad night. He complained of acute pain in his left knee and in the right side of his chest. The pulse was 135 and weak. Incipient pneumonia was detected in the right lung. He had vomited the porter, and it was discontinued; the brandy and opium were continued as before. The wound was suppurating profusely. The sutures were clipped, and the wound was kept together by adhesive strips. The bowels were constipated. An enema of warm soap and water was administered, which procured a normal dejection in a few hours. Sinapisms were applied to the chest. 7th, he had rested tolerably well, but breathed badly. He was sweating profusely, and complained of much pain in the chest. The pulse was at 140, and was very weak. He was ordered an ounce of brandy every hour and a grain of opium every four hours. 8th, he was reported as having passed a very restless night. He was too weak to expectorate; the pulse was very feeble at 148. He was vidently sinking. He died at 3 o clock P. M., August 8, 1864, six days after the operation, and forty nine days from the reception of the injury. The report gives no account of the post-mortem appearances.

SOURCE: Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Volume 2, Part 3.

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