Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Battle of Gettysburg

Reed Brockway Bontecou (1824-1907) was an American surgeon from Troy, New York, who in 1846 made a trip up the Amazon river to collect flora and fauna for the local natural history museum, and whose surgical feats include the first successful ligation of a traumatic aneurysm of the axillary artery in America (1857) and the first successful operation for typhoidal perforation (after 1866). In 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army, carried out operations on the battlefield, and between 1863 and 1866 was in charge of the largest Union Army hospital, where his extensive photographic experience helped determine the degree of injury and the post-war pension payments. In this photograph he illustrates the path of a bullet through private Ludwig Kohn’s body. The wound was initially received in 1863 during the battle of Gettysburg, but it was not until 1865 that it began to ache, hurting so much “as to deprive him of his night’s rest,” and prevent him from lying on his back.

Photograph of Private Ludwig Kohn with hand drawn indicator line
Ludwig Kohn by Reed B. Bontecou. 1865. The National Library of Medicine.



Fall 2019  |  Sections  |  War & Veterans

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