Nathan Mayer, Assistant Surgeon of the 11th Connecticut Infantry treated wounded soldiers under fire at Antietam on 17 September 1862. Here he is after being promoted to Surgeon and Major, and transferring to the 16th Connecticut in January 1863 to fill the vacancy left when Surgeon Abner Warner resigned.

Thanks to Chris Van Blargen for sharing that photograph.

Dr Mayer had two observations on his experience at Antietam. The first was that even untrained men could be trusted to use chloroform safely. The second

… that all the wounded came in, exalted in spirit, full of patriotic fire, anxious for the battle, the defeat of the rebs, and complaining hardly of their own injury. This was quite remarkable on that day. Whether the whiskey which was given to the wounded man at once — and needed in the collapse of serious gunshot wounds – contributed to this exaltation I know not. But I have still in mind some badly wounded boys that fiercely demanded the fate of the battle before they cared about themselves, and the beautiful resignation with which others awaited their certain death.

This is not romance. I saw it and it is realism.

Doctor Mayer had a long and distinguished medical career and was in addition a poet, novelist, and critic of some note. Here he is in about 1890. This picture is in the collection of the Hartford Medical Society, of which he was President in 1906. It was published by Janice Mathews to accompany a piece about him in the Spring 2007 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine.

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