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Port Gibson in Claiborne County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Field Surgery on the Porch

 
 
Field Surgery on the Porch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, November 30, 2019
1. Field Surgery on the Porch Marker
Inscription.  During the battle, and for weeks afterward, the Shaifer home served as a field hospital where amputations took place on benches and tables on the porches around the house. It was here that Charles Dana, a former journalist who was observing the army for U.S. Secretary of War Stanton, first confronted such a bloody scene.

On June 13, weeks after the battle ended, neighbor Spooner Forbes wrote in his diary, "Loaned Mrs. Shaifer buggy to go to Jefferson after her children.” Perhaps the women of the household had spent the intervening weeks cleaning and making the house habitable again for their families.

"About four miles from Port Gibson we came upon the first signs of the battle...The little white house had been taken as a field hospital, and the first thing my eyes fell upon as I walked into the yard was a heap of arms and legs which had been amputated and thrown into a pile outside. I had seen men shot and dead men plenty, but this pile of legs and arms gave me a vivid sense of war such as I had not before experienced."
Charles A. Dana, "Recollections of the Civil War"

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Trauma and Memory

It is stories like this that keep the Civil War alive for some southerners. Caring for small children in the face of a battle and its aftermath was especially traumatic at the Shaifer home, where the story of amputations lingered for generations.

Photo Caption
The military surgeon's kit was used for battlefield surgery. The relatively crude surgery and a high rate of infections caused many post-battle deaths.
The technology for killing had far outpaced the technology for healing at the time of the Civil War.

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Science & MedicineWar, US Civil.
 
Location. 31° 56.889′ N, 91° 2.16′ W. Marker is in Port Gibson, Mississippi, in Claiborne County. Marker can be reached from Shaifer Road, 1˝ miles west of Bessie Weathers Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Port Gibson MS 39150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. At the Center of the Battle (here, next to this marker); The Quandary of Freedom (here, next to this marker); Reconciliation and Reunions (a few steps from this marker); The Shaifer Farmstead (a few steps from this marker); From This Site (within shouting

Field Surgery on the Porch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, November 30, 2019
2. Field Surgery on the Porch Marker
distance of this marker); Battle of Port Gibson (within shouting distance of this marker); A Fight at Midnight (within shouting distance of this marker); Magnolia Church and the Battle along the Rodney Road (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Gibson.
 
More about this marker. Located on the grounds of the A.K. Shaifer House, Mississippi State historic site.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 31, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 31, 2019, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 31, 2019, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.

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Mar. 5, 2024