Showing posts with label Bontecou. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bontecou. Show all posts

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 8 (1 of 2)

The life of a crack Civil War surgeon was less glamorous after the war.
Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 94


82 Fourth St.
Troy, N.Y.,
August 8, 1894

Surgeon General, U.S. Army.


Pardon the liberty taken in sending you by mail this day, a small package directed to Museum of Surgeon General’s Office, containing four small phials of a strange parasite, great numbers of which have been voided from the bowel of a young lady patient whom I was attending for injury to the spine. Bloody and slimy evacuations occurred, presumably from having much of berries. Oil and terebinthin was administered for some days; masses of transparent jelly was voided, and in a few days these bodies were voided with each evacuation, but more especially after taking turpentine and oil. The patient is about twenty years old, of small, slim stature, and light weight; there is no abdominal tumor, distention or pain, but a feeling of fullness and oppression in the left hypochondrium. The nervous system is much upset. Flushings alternated with cold clammy extremities and frequent paroxysms of voluntary respiration; for the past five days since some calomel and santonin was administered for a few nights no perfect specimens have been voided; but the jelly like substance with fragments of the spiders continue to be voided. When the objects were first voided before the administration of the santonin they were noticed to move, and the appendages which had for some time while in water a tremulous, vibrating movement.

If consistent please inform me what the animal is. I am unable to find in the books any description of them, and greatly oblige,

Your obedient servant,
R. B. Bontecou, M.D.

The original of the above letter was sent informally to Surgeon Walter Reed U.S.A. by Surgeon Charles Smart, U.S.A. by direction of the Surgeon General, with the request that an examination be made of the parasite.

J. F. Longhean

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Putting a face on it

I'm reviewing the first batch of Contributed Photographs to be uploaded to our database, and have started coming across photos of soldiers injured at Antietam and Gettysburg. It's not often we can put faces to the statistics of this war, but here's one example of a soldier injured at Gettysburg. This is what the record says:

Ludwig Kohn, private, Co. I, 214th Pa. Vols., aged 26, admitted to Harewood U.S.A. General Hospital, August 15, 1865, suffering from gunshot wound of chest, right side, ball fracturing third rib, transfixing chest, exit below scapulae same side. Wounded July 1, 1863, at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa. On admission to this Hospital, the parts had nearly healed; but patient states that the wound soon after the injury became gangrenous with considerable sloughing of soft parts; spit blood at time, and that the wound was so painful as to deprive him of his night’s rest; could not lie on his back, but was obliged to sit up day and night. There is still a slight fistulous opening, but otherwise parts entirely healed; is in very good constitutional state, and is now awaiting his discharge from U.S. service.

Contributed by R.B. Bontecou

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letter of the day, March 29

A day late - no internet access yesterday.
I wonder how likely it would be that Bontecou remembered the details from case to case.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington D.C.
March 29th 1866.


In your report of Hygeia Hospital the case of Chandler with excision of the elbow is detailed. From your letter of the 27th inst. I learn that there was another Chandler for whom you excised the head of the humerus.

Will you have the kindness to give me as nearly as you can recollect the occasion & date of the wound, and date and extent of the operation in the latter case, the nature of the after treatment and the date of the exchange.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General,
George A. Otis
Surgeon and Bv’t. Lt. Col. U.S.V.

Bv’t. Lt. Col.
R.B. Bontecou,
Surgeon, U.S. Volunteers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Burns Archive

We are very fortunate to have a generous friend to the archives: Stanley Burns, M.D., a New York ophthalmologist and proprietor of the Burns Archive. Several weeks ago Dr. Burns sent us several multi-volume sets dealing with dermatology, oncology, respiratory disease, and mental and mood disorders, and yesterday we received his newest publication, Deadly Intent: Crime and Punishment. He has written these books and many more using images from his own collection.

For the past thirty years, Dr. Burns has collected more than 700,000 photographs from the 19th century. Among these are 60,000 medical images that include dageurreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes from 1840-1860, but he also has strong collections in African-American photographs, wounded Civil War soldiers, Judaica, and war images from the Crimean to World War 2 (plus many other genres; check out his website).

Included in the box with Deadly Intent was a tiny paper packet from Dr. R.B. Bontecou, a Civil War physician and photographer who traveled to battlefields, documenting injuries with his camera. The packet was designed to hold an antiseptic bandage, which Bontecou called the Soldier's Packet for First Wound Dressing. That will go into our GMPI (General Medical Products Information) collection and the book, along with the others he has sent us, lives on a shelf in the archives.

Thank you, Stanley.