PTSD And The Civil War Soldier
A Civil War Soldier’s PTSD

Dr. William Chester Minor - Possible PTSD Sufferer

Civil War Dr. William Chester Minor - Possible PTSD Sufferer,   Surgeon And One Of The Largest Contributors Of Quotations To The Oxford English Dictionary 

Accepted by the Union Army as a surgeon and served at the Battle of The Wilderness in May 1864, which was notable for the terrible casualties suffered by both sides. Minor was also given the task of punishing an Irish soldier in the Union Army by branding him on the face with a D for “deserter” his nationality later playing a role in his delusions.  

After the Civil War, Minor saw duty in NY City. He devoted much of his off-duty time to going with prostitutes. By 1867, his behavior had come to the attention of the Army and he was transferred to a remote post in Florida. By 1868, his condition had progressed to the point that he was admitted to St Elizabeth’s Hospital a lunatic asylum in Washington DC. After eighteen months he showed no improvement.

He moved to the UK where he was haunted by paranoia. As a surgeon, Dr. Minor had seen the worst that war had to offer. He had experienced delusions and paranoid fits after the war and as a result Minor was diagnosed with “soldier’s heart,” an early form of PTSD. In 1872 Minor shot and killed a man in the streets of London. He claimed he had been experiencing a delusion where he was back on the battlefield and the man was an enemy soldier trying to kill him. Found not guilty by reason of insanity he was sent to Broadmoor Hospital, an insane asylum in Crownthrone. Arguably one the most intrusive symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, re-living the event allowing them to experience it all over again.  William Minor’s incident could have been a result of post-traumatic stress disorder from his combat experience.

Devoting most of the remainder of his life writing for the Oxford English Dictionary. He was visited quite often by the widow of the man he had killed. The compilers of the dictionary published lists of words for which they wanted examples of usage. Chester provided these. His condition deteriorated and in 1902 he cut off his own penis. His health failed and he was permitted to return to the US, he was subsequently diagnosed with “Dementia praecox “. He died in 1920 in New Haven Connecticut and wikipedia

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

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