Friday, January 6, 2012

In Sore Need of a Furlough

This entry is from The Life of Johnny Reb, The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irvin Wiley.  This story originally comes from Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade by John J. O. Casler.  

A theatrical group from the Stonewall and Louisiana brigades wrote and presented a skit called the "Medical Board", satirizing the surgeons.

Te rise of the curtain revealed a group of doctors sitting about a table playing cards and drinking brandy. Presently inquiry is made as to how such good liquor is obtained in these hard times.

The immediate answer is,"Oh, this is some that was sent down from Augusta County for the sick soldiers, but the poor devils don't need it, so we'll drink it.

Then a courier comes in with the message that a badly wounded soldier is outside. "Bring him in!" says the chief surgeon.

After a casual examination, the patient is told that his arms must be amputated. He inquires if he can have a furlough after the operation.

"Oh, no," replies the surgeon, who shortly announces that a leg also must be cut off.

"Then can I have a furlough?" asks the soldier.

By no means,"answers the doctor, "for you can drive an ambulance when you get well."

The surgeons now go in consultation and decide that the wounded man's had must be amputated. "Then I know I can have a furlough," observes the patient.

"No, indeed," says the chief physician. "We are so scarce of men that your body will have to be set up in the breastworks to fool the enemy."

Dr. William Gibbs McNeill Whistler, a surgeon in the Confederate army. 
He was attached to Orr's Rifles, a South Carolina regiment.

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