Civil War Image Shop

Rare Reed Bontecou Medical Carte View

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Item No. CV4841JR Categories , Tag


Very rare view by Surgeon Reed Bontecou of a wounded Federal soldier. Bontecou served as the the surgeon in charge of the Harewood U.S. Army General Hospital in Washington and was responsible for pioneering, and taking, the largest number of photographs of wounded soldiers during the Civil War. He was the single largest contributor of photographs and specimens to the Army Medical Museum and medical publications of the time. His close up images of surgery, anesthesia, and patients posing with their pathological specimens were unique to his time. Many photographs are of patients pre- and post- operation, views of patients showing the progression of specific treatments, or the various stages of diseases. After the war he organized his photographs into albums laying them out, anatomically from head to foot wounds, and loosely alphabetically by soldier’s name. Each subject would be photographed and posed in order to best display the wound. A slate board would generally be included in each photograph with the soldiers name, regiment and place where the wound occurred. While Bontecou recorded thousands of photographs, very few remain in circulation. The subject photographed here is William Wrightman of the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery. He, along with several other members of the 2nd New York would be wounded on March 31st, 1865 while engaged at Southside Railroad. One can clearly see the bullet entered just below the hip and exited out the side of the hip creating the ghastly wound. The wound must have become gangrenous as you can see the flesh has been cut away in an irregular pattern exposing the bare muscle tissue. I cannot even begin to imagine how painful this would have been for William. He would miraculously survive the wound and be discharged for a disability in August of that year. This does have the typical catalog number in red ink which was done by Bontecou. He has also noted on the front in black ink “right hip”. There is a slight stain on the front which appears to be glue. Exceptional and rare view..

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