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Friday, February 22, 2013

Why 'Lincoln' should win an Oscar for Best Picture...

...because there's a brief scene of General Daniel Sickles' leg on display at the Medical Museum. Sickles lost his leg at the battle of Gettysburg. The movie is inaccurate as it shows the leg still fully fleshed - which would have stunk amazingly as the flesh decayed off the bone. Instead Museum prepator Schafhirt would have cut and boiled the flesh off, and then wired the bones together so they looked like this picture.
Another scene of a pit of amputated limbs seems to have been influenced by RB Bontecou's photograph "Field Day." And here's the original label for Surgical Photograph 43, Sickle's "Right Tibia and Fibula comminuted by a Cannon Ball."

2 comments:

blastaar said...

Sickles stood on that missing leg for the rest of his life. His combat wound warded off any professional consequences for his Gettysburg screwup (who knows how an investigation into his at-best semi-authorized and in any case disastrous move of his III Corps to the Peach Orchard would have played out if he were unwounded and still on active service?). Sickles maintained that his action was not a screwup at all but that it actually saved the battle, and hence the Union. Chutzpah, thy name is Sickles.

Thomas Schaffhirt said...

The Schafhirt who prepared the specimen for the Army Medical Museum was Frederick Schafhirt (Friedrich Heinrich Gottlieb Schafhirt), who is born in 1814 in Göttingen Germany, come 1847 to Baltomore, worked for Dr. Joseph Leidy at Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Also called as a (co-)founder of the army medical museum in Washington he made 1862 a contract with surgeon general William Alexander Hammond. He worked also for the race theorists Samuel George Morton and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. Fred died 1880. Two sons followed his footsteps. Ernest Frederick Schafhirt prepared 1882 Charles J. Guiteau´s bones and Adolph Julian Schafhirt was a pharmacist in Washington DC.