Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/174

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Virtual subordination of the physical or material senses to the nervous centers controlling the intellectual or spiritual faculties, and for an appreciable length of time, seems to be quite common in wounded men, even in the severest cases. It is easily conceivable that a thoroughly mad man might ignore an ordinary wound until his anger cooled a little; but that men wounded to the death should, even while actually dying, persist in their purposes as though nothing had happened, at first staggers belief. Yet such things do unquestionably occur. Every veteran of the field will recall instances, and history in one way or another records a great many. In the attack on the Ninth Corps lines at Petersburg, known as the battle of Fort Steadman, I noticed a mounted Confederate officer leading a body of men in a charge upon a cannon near which I stood. The last view I had of him and that was across the sight of a Springfield rifle showed him riding boldly forward, sword on high. Others saw him later and nearer, and his fearless action in riding a white horse under a storm of bullets, grape, and shells attracted much notice. Suddenly man and horse disappeared, and after the fight we found the bold rider lying dead about sixty to eighty yards from our parapet.[1] His form was prostrate, his sword-arm outstretched and grasping the weapon firmly, with its point toward the cannon he had aimed to capture. His face was partially upturned, as though he had struggled at the very last to see something or to speak. The horse had wheeled about and gone to the rear some distance, then had leaped at a breastwork and fallen dead across it. Whether this was after his rider had been hit or before couldn't be determined. In any case the Georgia major breathed his last with his face to the foe, evidently warlike and defiant in death. His wound was in the head.

An instance similar to the last was that of General Elon J. Farnsworth, at Gettysburg. At a crisis in a charge, Farnsworth raised his saber and rode toward the ranks of the Fifteenth

    Cook, now President of the Board of Police Surgeons in New York city, witnessed a similar instance in the Atlanta campaign, where he served as surgeon in the One Hundred and Fiftieth New York Volunteers. The doctor, with other officers of the medical corps, was riding rapidly across the range of a Confederate battery, which was shelling a column on the march. Hearing a "thud" behind, as a shell passed near him, he turned around and to his amazement saw that one of his companions, Surgeon H. S. Potter, of the One Hundred and Fifth Illinois, had been decapitated, and his horse was galloping on with a headless rider sitting perfectly erect and natural in the saddle. With a little steadying the body remained upright until shelter was reached, the pace being all the while a gallop.

  1. From conversation with the late Henry W. Grady, respecting his father, who lost his life in this attack, I believe this officer to have been Major Grady, of Georgia. I did not shoot him. After drawing bead on him perhaps half a dozen times, admiration for his unexampled daring got the better of me, and I lowered the weapon with the exclamation, "He is too brave—I can't do it."