Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/180

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been recorded by spectators, there is a general agreement that symptoms do not at all correspond in kind or severity to the injury.[1] Hence phenomena appearing at first thought remarkable may be accepted as not uncommon, considering the unrecorded instances.

I class as remarkable the cases of Nolan, Hooker, Farnsworth, the Georgia major, the beheaded sergeant, the wounded prisoner, and the man skylarking in bayonet practice, and will add that of General Albert Sidney Johnston, killed at Shiloh; and it is proper to state that this collection sprang originally from an effort to bring together the same order of phenomena without reference to antecedent causes. Further investigation proved that, of these cases, Nolan, Hooker, Farnsworth, the Georgia major, and Johnston certainly, and presumably the Massachusetts sergeant, had the highest order of emotional stimulation at work before closing into the heat of action.

It was Nolan's first chance in real war. He had served on routine headquarters duty until that day, and being sent to the front in a crisis, he galloped his horse down a rocky steep where no hoof had ever before trodden. On delivering an order to the division commander, words ensued as to its meaning, and Nolan's excitement was increased. When at last the Light Brigade started and went wrong, he kept the intended course alone, saying, with all the powers of voice and gesture he could command: "This way, this way! For Heaven's sake, not that way!" While so engaged he was hit in the most vital spot in the body, yet warlike action was persistent to an almost supranatural extent.

Hooker had just received command of a corps; there was rivalry between him and others; he was honored with the lead in the most important attack; the enemy's resistance was unexpectedly stubborn, the carnage frightful above all experience on any American battle-field, and on him rested the responsibility of success that would glorify the whole army and the nation.

Farnsworth, on being asked to lead a cavalry charge over a field strewed with bowlders and swept with cannon, demurred, and his chief said to him tauntingly, "If you will not lead your brigade in, I will." "Where my brigade goes, I will lead," was the answer, and he sounded the charge. He found a slaughter-pen as he had expected, was hemmed in, and with fifty followers started to cut his way through a double line of Confederate infantry.

  1. The small missiles which inflict the majority of war wounds strike fewer nerves of pain than do the instruments of injury in ordinary collisions, where large areas of skin surface are bruised or lacerated; their execution is also more rapid. The instantaneous collapse following violent symptoms of warlike vigor is also a peculiarity of battle-field life. Violent mental and muscular actions have swiftly depleted the reserve forces, and, where collapse would be slow under normal strains, it is swift in abnormal cases.