Tags: limb | pit | civil war | amputations | virginia

'Limb Pit' of Civil War Amputations Discovered in Virginia

'Limb Pit' of Civil War Amputations Discovered in Virginia
Cannons sit on Henry Hill at the battlefields of Manassas, or Bull Run as it was generally known in the North July 5, 2005, in Manassas, Virginia. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 June 2018 07:27 PM

The discovery of a Virginia battlefield’s “limb pit,” full of amputated legs and an arm from the Civil War, is further revealing the horror of 19th century warfare.

A utility crew working the area first discovered the bones at Manassas National Battlefield Park in 2014. At the time of the discovery, archeologist and Civil War historian Brandon Bies was at the park, NPR reported.

Bies said initially all they had to work on were “just pieces of bone.” As additional bones surfaced, they sent them to the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., to have them investigated by its forensic anthropologists.

One of those world-class anthropologists is Karin Bruwelheide. As she holds a bone fragment to the light, one thing becomes apparent — the bone has been cut. 

"This is a very even-cut surface," she told NPR. "There is no irregularity. You know, immediately we thought amputation. Possibly these remains were related to the Civil War." 

Although that may seem obvious at first, the battlefield didn’t become a national park immediately after the war.

Additional bones were unearthed, resulting in 11 limbs being discovered: 10 legs and one arm, NPR reported. Each showed evidence of amputations and severe wounds.

The team believes battlefield surgeons buried the limbs in the pit after performing amputations. Also discoved were complete skeletons, apparently of men who died in battle. They will be placed in caskets constructed of a felled tree on the battlefield and buried later this year at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bies said the bones were likely from Union troops killed or wounded when they made a charge up Deep Cut ridge, an area held by thousands of Confederate troops.

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The discovery of a Virginia battlefield's "limb pit," full of amputated legs and an arm from the Civil War, is further revealing the horror of 19th century warfare.
limb, pit, civil war, amputations, virginia
281
2018-27-20
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 07:27 PM
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