Former Harvard medical student Philon Currier Whidden, Private, Company B, 13th Massachusetts Infantry had an extraordinary experience at Antietam and afterward. On 17 September 1862 he was hit in the back of the leg by a piece of artillery shell.

The wound extended from just above the ankle joint about eight inches up the back of the leg, from which, within these bounds, the soft parts, integuments, tendons, muscles, both arteries, and the posterior tibial nerve were entirely carried away, exposing the bones through nearly the whole length of the wound …

He walked with great difficulty to the rear … a consultation as to the propriety of amputation was held, six surgeons being present. Four decided that amputation was necessary to preserve life; one assented to this under existing circumstances, but thought that under more favorable conditions there was a possibility of recovery without the operation; the other that amputation was uncalled for. The patient decided to retain the limb.

He recovered sufficiently to obtain a commission and serve as Acting Assistant Surgeon, USN aboard the gunboat USS Wando from December 1863 to October 1865. He then finished medical school at Harvard, practiced in Chicago for 30 years, and did eventually have the lower leg amputated, in 1891.

His picture here was hosted online by Brad Forbush on his 13th Massachusetts Volunteers website, from an original photograph in the Scott Hann Collection. His medical case history is from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1870).

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