Posted 7-21-01
Scenes Of A Field Hospital

I suppose the thought behind "Saving Private Ryan" was a sound one. War is ghastly alright! The Chaplain of the 15th New Jersey Infantry describes the Gettysburg Field Hospitals on the day after the battle (July 4th), like this:

"No description can portray the work of the surgeons at the amputating table. All the nights of the three days, they were busy with their dreadful work. Limbs were thrown in piles outside the hospital tents, and the sufferers were at first stretched in the open air, side by side. There were men with both legs gone; men shot through the lungs; men with bullets in their brain, still living; men with their torn bowels protruding. On the floor of a crowded barn sat a man in gray coat, swaying his body back and forth, with both eyes shot out, and his face all mangled. The tide of human misery around the little town of Gettysburg swelled high as never before, perhaps, in all our land. We saw the horrors of war, enough to make the heart ache and revolt at the inhumanity of man to man. Yet all these ghastly wounds were received from the hands of their own countrymen."

Chaplain Alanson A. Haines
15th New Jersey Infantry

© Dan Moran - 2001