What an old timey bullet does to flesh and bone. (Graphic Content)

Cow humerus versus a 69 caliber flintlock pistol. This is a series of photograph titled “Experimental Archaeology – Bullet Wounds” by Geodkyt.  Photos by Nancy R.

69 caliber flintlock 01
Up close and personal (about 3 feet). Not a pretty sight. Notice the powder burns

 

69 caliber flintlock 02
Rick notes: “Dissecting. See the ball fragments? All sharp and will continue to cut if left behind.”

 

69 caliber flintlock 03
Flesh removed to show entrance wound on bone.

 

69 caliber flintlock 04
And the exit wound

 

 

69 caliber flintlock 05
Rick: “Another shot of the bone. We used a relatively short barreled .69 pistol. Smaller ball, and lower velocity compared to a 42″-46″ .75 musket, but given we were shooting up close (to make sure we got the bone), it roughly equals out.”

 

 

69 caliber flintlock 06
Rick: “Bone, after cleaning and gluing back together. This is the entrance hole. Notice the missing pieces?”

 

69 caliber flintlock 07
Rick: “Exit hole. Notice the long, splintery pieces missing, and the jagged edges of the ones we found to glue back in? All of those edges would be cutting tissue if left intact.”

 

And Rick finishes with an observation that makes all the sense in the world:

*This* is why amputation was the “go to” operation. No way to repair that damage without anesthesia, sterile instruments, x-rays, blood transfusion, bioneutral surgical glue, something to replace the missing bone, and antibiotics.

Let’s say he had me at “without anesthesia.”

 

4 Replies to “What an old timey bullet does to flesh and bone. (Graphic Content)”

  1. That’ll buff right out.
    The problem was that these wounds were inflicted before the 1899 invention of aspirin, so the doctor couldn’t just say, “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”
    Actually, just yesterday I read an article about John Bell Hood’s amputation after he was shot through the femur at Chickamauga. Just reading about it made me squirm. I’m glad I’m living in the third millennium.




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  2. Looking at the distribution of bone and bullet fragments and the bone fracture lines, the 18th Century amputation technique makes a lot of sense.

    Cut the tissue a handspan above the hole (and at least a handspan above the joint, if that’s within a handspan of the wound), and then retract the tissue as far as you can so you can cut the bone as high as possible.

    That gets you safely beyond the damage (particularly the long axis fractures) and foreign material contamination, and leaves tissue to cushion the end of the bone.

    3-5 minutes from the first cut until the limb hits the sawdust and you’ve ligatured the major blood vessels. Without anesthesia and blood transfusions, speed is life.




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