Private George Ruoss, Co. G, 7th New York Volunteers

Reed Brockway Bontecou American

Not on view

According to the medical history on the verso of this photograph, "Private George Ruoss, Co. G, 7th New York Volunteers, aged twenty-seven years, was wounded at the South Side Railroad, near Petersburg, Virginia, on March 31st, 1865, by a conoidal musket ball, which struck the anterior and outer aspect of the right thigh...comminuting portions of the upper and middle thirds of the femur, and passed out posteriorly about the middle of the gluteal fold." Ruoss was taken to the corps hospital at City Point and after one week transferred to a general hospital in Washington. Two and one half years later Ruoss was still in "generally feeble condition," a patient at the Post Hospital.
Before the use of antiseptics infection was considered a normal part of the healing process. During the Civil War, however, five infections were recognized as abnormal: tetanus, hospital gangrene, pyemia, erysipelas, and osteo myelitis. While the first four had a fatality rate of over ninety percent, with death ocurring within weeks of infection, osteomyelitis, a chronic bone infection, lasted for years. Slowly eating away at the bones of the patient, the infection was responsible for the majority of amputations after the war. This photograph shows the ravages of osteomyelitis. Although his complete medical history is unavailable Private Ruoss, fortunate not to have contracted one of the four fatal hospital infections, apparently survived his extended hospital stay.

Private George Ruoss, Co. G, 7th New York Volunteers, Reed Brockway Bontecou (American, 1824–1907), Albumen silver print from glass negative

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