Wound ballistics circa 1808


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4v50 Gary
September 26, 2003, 04:30 PM
The following account from the Retreat to Corunna (Peninsula War during the Napoleonic Era) is from 52nd Regiment Capt. John Dobbs' Recollections of an Old Man:

"...Brigadier-General Paget was ordered up with the reserve in support, and the 52d ordered to relieve the rifle corps (their ammunition being expended and most of their swords out of order) which we did in extended order sending the colors to the rear. Sir Sidney Beckwith met us, calling out, 'Come here with your bayonets, come here with your bayonets.' Reynett's company, in which I was one of the first engaged, and the first man hit was close by me; he fell apparently dead by the ball, it having entered the forehead and passed out at the back of the head, so that I said nothing could be done for him; but what my surprise was afterwards to find that he was not killed, the ball having passed round the head under the skin. On recovering his senses he was taken by some passers by to the rear and re-embarked; he was recovering of the wound when he was attacked by fever and carried off..."

The "ball" he was likely struck with was the .69 caliber ball of a Charleville Musket. Goes to show, there is no such thing as a magic bullet and no guaranteed one shot stops.

As a sidenote for you Sharpe fans, the 52nd was one of the regiments brigaded with the 95th (the other was the 43rd) to form the Light Brigade (later Light Division) under Gen. Robert Crauford.

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Orthonym
September 28, 2003, 03:44 AM
I'm thinking of Alex Hamilton here. Shot through the tummy, died from (presumably) peritonitis a day or three later. Wish it had happened sooner, preferably before the Constitutional Convention. I believe he was the first courtier to whisper into a Prez's ear (George W's) "Sir, the Constitution grants you some implied powers!"

MeekandMild
September 28, 2003, 10:53 AM
How about Andy Jackson? Stayed up all night re-sewing the buttons on his vest so the next day when his dueling enemy shot at his second button the bullet missed his heart. Shot square in the chest and lived!

4v50 Gary
September 28, 2003, 11:47 AM
MeekandMild - you mean Old Hickory made a bullet-proof vest for himself? :D

Travis McGee
September 28, 2003, 01:18 PM
When antis use the "but modern weapons are so much more dangerous" arguement against the 2A, remind them that in the "good old days" almost any torso wound resulted in screaming agonizing death over hours or days, and any limb wound resulted in amputation at best.

Today, soldiers and criminals survive the vast majority of bullet wounds, with modern medical care.

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