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Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

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Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

Postby Owen » August 15th, 2017, 10:08 am

Apologies for being a little macabre, but I wonder if anyone of you can help. I have a Waterloo medal to a Corporal of the 1st/71st Highland Light Infantry who was wounded in action (gunshot wound to left arm) at Waterloo. He was discharged to a Chelsea pension 14 months after Waterloo, reason being that his wound was "exfoliating and unclosed". I understand the modern expression of exfoliating, but have been unable to discover what the early 19th Century surgeon meant by a wound that was (still) exfoliating some 14 months after receiving it.

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Interestingly, there is a description of just such a wound, that gives a sense of the suffering it would cause in the (out of copyright) "Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith, Baronet of Aliwal on the Sutlej, G.C.B.”. On Page 273, in the immediate aftermath of Waterloo, Sir Harry describes the wounds of his friend, Captain McCulloch of the 95th, including an earlier wound: “I found him lying in great agony, but very composed….the ball had dreadfully broken the elbow of the sound arm, and had passed right through the fleshy part of his back, while the broken bone of the arm previously shattered at Foz d'Aruz was still exfoliating, and very painful even after a lapse of years. I got hold of a surgeon, and his arm was immediately amputated. When dressed, he lay upon the stump, as this was less painful than the old exfoliating wound and on his back he could not lie”. Foz d’Aruz refers to the action at Foz d’Aronce, on 15 March 1811. So, he was still suffering considerably 4 years on.

I can guess what it might mean, but would rather not rely on guesswork. Any help gratefully received.

Thanks,

Owen

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Re: Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

Postby Josh&Historyland » August 16th, 2017, 11:00 am

I took the liberty of asking on the Napoleon Series as I know medical expert Michael Crumplin haunts those forums.

Michael says:
"Exfoliate means shedding layers of skin or other tissue from a surface or a wound. Colloquially, sometimes the term is used to mean a prolific tumour or wound shedding material. Michael."

Steven H Smith says:
"Exfoliate: removal of foreign matter and dead tissue from a wound.

So, a wound that still had dead tissue or foreign matter thereon... Indeed. Part of the healing process.

Doctor Steve"

Josh.
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Re: Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

Postby Owen » August 16th, 2017, 9:17 pm

Josh,

Very kind of you to take the time and trouble to do that. It also solves a mini mystery...This morning, I emailed Michael Crumplin and asked him directly (in doing so, I said that I had also asked the question on the Napoleonic Wars Forum) - he replied to say that he would s no me a detailed answer in due course, but in the mean time had responded briefly on the forum. I checked this forum and was confused to find no response from Michael! Now I know...he answered you over on the Napoleon Series forum!!

Phew, I can sleep tonight!

Thanks again...I think it's like a suppurating/ulcerated wound...to be still "exfoliating' 14 months after receiving it.

Best,

Owen
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Re: Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

Postby Owen » August 16th, 2017, 10:07 pm

Ah, ha...just been on the Napoleon Series forum and see that Mick has provided a more detailed answer. Perfect. Exactly what I was hoping for. Mick writes: "In the context of Napoleonic times, exfoliation was a state of incomplete and impaired healing with discharge of purulent material, serum, old blood and occasional sequestra. Michael."

Thanks again Josh.

Owen

Edited to add. 'Sequestra' are fragments of bone that have become necrotic, as a result of disease or injury (in Corporal Wilson's case, a gunshot wound) , and have become separated from the normal bone structure. So, I think I now have a pretty clear understanding of the nature of Wilsons wound and why it warranted his discharge from the 71st.
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Re: Waterloo Wounded - Exfoliating Wound?

Postby Owen » August 17th, 2017, 9:14 am

Josh, just sent you a PM which might be of interest...

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