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In Their Own Words

August 22, 1864

Letter on Leg Amputation

After the Civil War, the Georgia General Assembly was called on to provide artificial limbs to the many Georgians who had an arm or leg amputated because of wounds received in battle. One such Georgian was Milton Clark, as he reports in a letter to his brother from Reed’s Hospital in Lynchburg, Va.:

“I received your letter making inquiry whether I could come home with the assistance of one man. You have doubtless received my letter to you stating that my leg was to be cut off and one to Anne that it had been amputated. Well, that settles the question about my coming home at all at present. After amputating my leg that night, one of the arteries broke out to bleeding but the surgeon being loose by, stopped the blood by placing his thumb over the artery. The sewing had to be torn loose and taken up and tied, which was very painful to me. A few days after another artery came loose, and the surgeon was unable to take it up until putting me under the effects of chloroform and sawing off a piece of the bone and cutting up higher in the flesh, before he could get hold of the artery, which was almost equal to a second amputation. The surgeon says that the wound is doing well now… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 331.