The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

PTSD in the Civil War-- Part 9: Corp. John Hildt, Co. K, 1st Michigan

They returned to a society without a Veterans Administration, a G.I. Bill or modern pharmaceuticals.

PTSD didn't enter the language until 1980, but Civil War soldiers certainly were afflicted with it.  They had flashbacks, panic attacks, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.

Historian Eric Dean has examined the records of 291 veterans admitted to the Indiana Hospital for the Insane and found cases like Elijah Boswell who "Sobbed & cried & imagined that someone was going to kill him" and that "the rebels was after him."

Another one, who survived a horrific artillery bombardment, would shout at his wife, "Don't you hear them bombarding?"  Another one considered suicidal and sleepless was convinced he was "bleeding to death from imaginary wounds."

The brother of John Hildt, the Union soldier described in the first post after losing his arm in the Seven days Battle, wrote a letter in his native German in hopes "he will recognize anything I say to him.  He is John Hildt Corporal Co K 1st Michigan Vol."

Hildt's family also sought a pension for both his physical and mental disability.  The latter was denied, the pension office wrote, due to "lack of proof" that Hildt became insane due to his wartime service and wounding.

--Old Secesh

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