Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine

The following extraordinary incident of accidental impregnation, quoted from the American Medical Weekly1 by the Lancet,2 is given in brief, not because it bears any semblance of possibility, but as a curious example from the realms of imagination in medicine.

L. G. Capers of Vicksburg, Miss., relates an incident during the late Civil War, as follows:   A matron and her two daughters, aged fifteen and seventeen years, filled with the enthusiasm of patriotism, stood ready to minister to the wounds of their countrymen in their fine residence near the scene of the battle of R______, May 12, 1863, between a portion of Grant's army and some Confederates. During the fray a gallant and noble young friend of the narrator staggered and fell to the earth; at the same time a piercing cry was heard in the house near by. Examination of the wounded soldier showed that a bullet had passed through the scrotum and carried away the left testicle. The same bullet had apparently penetrated the left side of the abdomen of the elder young lady, midway between the umbilicus and the anterior superior spinous process of the ilium, and had become lost in the abdomen. This daughter suffered an attack of peritonitis, but recovered in two months under the treatment administered.

Marvelous to relate, just two hundred and seventy-eight days after the reception of the minnie-ball, she was delivered of a fine boy, weighing 8 pounds, to the surprise of herself and the mortification of her parents and friends. The hymen was intact, and the young mother strenuously insisted on her virginity and innocence. About three weeks after this remarkable birth Dr. Capers was called to see the infant, and the grandmother insisted that there was something wrong with the child's genitals. Examination showed a rough, swollen and sensitive scrotum, containing some hard substance. He operated, and extracted a smashed and battered minie-ball. The doctor, after some meditation, theorized in this manner:   He concluded that this was the same ball that had carried away the testicle of his young friend, that had penetrated the ovary of the young lady, and, with some spermatozoa upon it, had impregnated her. With this conviction he approached the young man and told him the circumstances; the soldier appeared skeptical at first, but consented to visit the young mother; a friendship ensued which soon ripened into a happy marriage, and the pair had three children, none resembling, in the same degree as the first, the heroic pater familias.

    1131, Nov. 7, 1874.       2476, 1875, i., 35.