CHARLES B. JOHNSON, M.D.
The post of surgeon in the field armies during the Civil War could hardly be considered an enviable one. Even then, modern warfare was capable of wounding men in most horrible ways while the art of healing had not advanced to provide much supplication for those wounded in combat. A surgeon in the Union ranks at Vicksburg, Charles B. Johnson related tales of horror and humor in his reminiscences entitled Muskets and Medicine.
At 2 P.M., May 19, an assault was made on the Confederate works at Vicksburg. This assault was unsuccessful, so far as capturing the stronghold was concerned, but resulted in giving the Federals an advanced position, which position was made secure by the use of the spade the succeeding night. Believing that the Confederates would not hold out against another determined assault, a second one was ordered at 10 A.M., May 22. This was opened by a terrific cannonade from all the Federal batteries; following this was an incessant rattle of musketry.
It was known at the hospital this charge was to be made, and the constant boom of cannon and continual roll of musketry firing after 10 in the forenoon all knew would soon bring in a frightful harvest of mangled and wounded. The slain would, of course, for the time at least, be left on the field. About 2 P.M. through the trees was seen a long train of ambulances approaching, all heavily loaded with mangled humanity. Upon reaching the hospital grounds two or three ambulances were backed up at once, and the wounded lifted or assisted out. One of the first that I assisted in taking from the ambulance was a tall, slender man, who had received a terrible wound in the top of his head; a minnie ball had, so to speak, plowed its way through the skull, making a ragged, gaping wound, exposing the brain for three or four inches. He lived but a moment after removal from the ambulance.