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Interesting Facts from the Civil War

Two for One: Chang and Eng Bunker, considered to be the first set of Siamese Twins, were popular attractions on the show circuit. Joined at the sternum, the brothers learned to make the best of the life that they had been given. They retired from the show circuit, moved to North Carolina, opened a successful farm, married sisters and had children. When Union General George Stoneman raided North Carolina he decided to draft locals, no matter which side they sympathized with. When he came upon the Bunker brothers he soon discovered that he had no recourse. Not only were the twins joined at the sternum but they also shared a liver. While Chang and Eng were not drafted, their sons would later enlist and fight for the Confederacy.

I ain’t Right: Stonewall Jackson had a reputation as one of the most fierce generals the Confederacy had. However, Jackson was also known by his compatriots as a raging hypochondriac. He would often say that he was “out of balance.” At times he would raise his arm above his head to help the blood flow into his body and help his balance. He refused to eat pepper in any form as it caused left leg weakness. His poor eyesight was treated in his own unique manner: He would dunk his head in cold water with his eyes open. Despite these quirks, he has been quoted as saying that he was as comfortable in battle as he was in bed.

Off with his Arm!: The most common surgery performed during the Civil War was amputation. A skilled surgeon could have a limb amputated within five minutes. Due to this skill, the surgeons were often nicknamed “sawbones” a name that has stuck with the profession. Some 60,000 amputations were performed during the Civil War.

Oh, you’re home: During the Civil War years the divorce rate for the entire country skyrocketed to 150%. Returning soldiers would often return home to find that their wives had long since moved on, fearing that their husbands were dead.

My feet are killing me: On an average day a soldier in the Civil War would march 15 to 20 miles. This constant wear caused a massive shortage of boots for the troops on both sides. Shoemakers in the North and the South worked constantly to keep up with the demand.

Stand Still, No Dodging: 1862 marked the first time that the National Draft was used in the United States. Besides the draft, churches and towns would hold recruiting rallies to help keep their side of the war flush with warm bodies for the war effort.

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