Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Excised Knee Joint. A Round Musket Ball in the Inner Condyle of the Right Femur [Gardiner Lewis, Company B, Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers]

Artist:
William Bell (American (born England) Liverpool 1831–1910 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Date:
1866–67
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
19 x 15.3cm (7 1/2 x 6in.) Mount: 35.4 x 27.6cm (13 15/16 x 10 7/8in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.1197
Not on view
Presented like fragments of an ancient sculpture, this set of bones was the right knee of Union Private Gardiner Lewis, who was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg by a round musket ball. It is specimen number 1956 in the collection of the Army Medical Museum. Established in 1862 by order of President Lincoln, the Army Medical Museum—now the National Museum of Health and Medicine—is one of the most important scientific legacies of the Civil War. Its primary mandate was the collection of specimens for research in military medicine and surgery. During and after the war, museum curators solicited contributions from Union doctors—mostly in the form of photographs and patient histories such as those made by Reed Brockway Bontecou. The museum also employed its own photographers to record wounded soldiers, the effect of gunshot wounds and amputations, and its own growing collection of “morbid anatomy . . . together with projectiles and foreign bodies removed.”
Inscription: Printed on label attached to mount, verso: "Surgeon General's Office, ARMY MEDICAL MUSEUM, PHOTOGRAPH SERIES No. 104 -- Excised knee-joint. A Round Musket Ball in the Inner Condyle of the Right Femur. Private Gardiner Lewis, Co.13, 19th Indiana Vols., aged twenty-two, was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, 1863, by a round musket ball, which lodged in the internal condyle of the right femur. On November 27th, 1863, he was admitted into Jarvis U.S.A. General Hospital, Baltimore, Md., the knee being disorganized and discharging a foetid pus. On December 1st, Acting Assistant Surgeon F. Hinkle, U.S.A., excised the articular ends of the tibia and femur, sawing off an inch of the head of the tibia. An H incision was employed. At the time of the operation the patient was feverish, anxious, without appetite, and sleepless from intense pain. He did well until several days after the operation, when he had a chill. Chills recurred each alternate day, and other symptoms of purulent infection were manifested. On December 23rd, the case terminated fatally. The autopsy revealed metastic foci in the lungs, and six ounces of pus in the left pleural cavity. The incisions were healed, and the ends of the bones were found in apposition, but no union had occured. The excised portions of the femur and tibia are preserved in the Army Medical Museum, as specimen No. 1956, and the history of the case is recorded in the Surgical Records, S.G.O., Excisions, Vol VI., p.122. Photographed at the Army Medical Museum by ORDER OF THE SURGEON GENERAL: GEORGE A. OTIS, But. Lt. Col. and Surg., U.S.V., Curator, A.M.M"
Paul Katz

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