Reading about Private William West, Co. C, 51st Georgia Infantry …

He was just 17 years old when he was shot through the knee in action at Fox’s Gap on South Mountain on 14 September 1862. He was captured there and taken to a hospital in Frederick by the 17th. The surgeon reported:

The patient was told at an early stage that his limb ought to be amputated. But he expressed his certainty of recovering and begged off, declaring his readiness and willingness to incur all risks of that course. He was therefore not operated upon.

I can only image the state that young man must have been in, and certainly understand his concern about amputation – to lose a leg so young?

We can’t know if an amputation would have been successful, but this went badly. It looks like the surgeons did everything they could short of amputation, but William faded and died of infection and fever on 14 October.  A month after he was shot.

Details are in the surgeon’s case report from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (Volume 2, Part 3, pp. 382-383 ).

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