Dr. Rose saved great-grandfather’s leg

with special thanks to Jim Schmidt for his guidance in matters of Civil War medicine and avoiding the caricatures of Army surgeons. See his blog on Civil War medicine: http://www.civilwarmed.blogspot.com.

Dr. Francis M. Rose, surgeon of the 43rd OVI, saved my great-grandfather Edwin Lybarger’s leg, if not his life, after he was shot by a minie ball at the Battle of Corinth on Oct. 4, 1862.

Dr. Rose was assistant surgeon to the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry from late 1861. By April 1862, two months after the regiment left Ohio to fight in Missouri, he became the head surgeon, and served in that capacity for the duration of the war. He mustered out with the 43rd on July 13, 1865. After the war, my great-grandfather included Dr. Rose’s photograph in his album.

The 43rd OVI and three other regiments of the Ohio Brigade defended Battery Robinet at the (2nd) Battle of Corinth. Edwin was shot in the knee at 11:00 a.m. on Oct. 4, 1862. His diary records that he was soon taken from the field to an Army hospital in Corinth. The immediate attention of Dr. Rose helped to save Edwin’s leg from amputation. Spared any deadly infections, Edwin spent two months in a Paducah, Kentucky hospital convalescing and rejoined his regiment in early 1863. Although my great-grandfather’s life was spared, the other 8 Company K men wounded at Corinth all eventually died of their wounds.

The Western Army’s medical department, under the direction of Dr. A. B. Campbell, Surgeon, USV, Medication Director of the Army of the Mississippi was well-organized in advance of the battle for treating wounded soldiers as soon and as efficiently as possible near the battlefront. Robert E. Denney’s 1995 Civil War Medicine: Care & Comfort of the Wounded, includes excerpts of Dr. Campbell’s reports:

“In anticipation of an engagement with the enemy on October 3d . . . I selected the large building recently constructed for a commissary department, as the place best protected by the nature of the ground and the safest for hospital purposes. The men furnished by the quartermaster worked expeditiously, and everything was prepared, medicines, instruments, costs and buckets of water were ready before the first wounded man was brought in.

Oct. 3, 1862: It became evident, in a short time, that the building, although a very large one, would be altogether too small for their accommodation. I then took possession of the Tishomingo Hotel and of the Corinth House . . . All of the surgeons worked diligently . . . and by six o’clock the wounded were all comfortably disposed of and their wounds dressed.

Oct. 4, 1862: At three o’clock in the morning I was ordered to remove all the wounded to Camp Corral, and by six o’clock a.m. they were all collected into the new hospital. The ambulances then went to the scene of the action to bring off those recently fallen . . . I found upon the railroad platform a large number of tents, which I took and used. The battle ceased just before noon, and by night all the wounded were under shelter, provided with cots, and their wounds dressed.”

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