The cruel reality.

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The cruel reality.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 03 Jul 2016 21:37

Was reading some Crimean material in connection with Mary Seacole. You know when something sort of just hits you and for an instant you are transported... Sadly this bit of time travel got me to the Battle of the Tchernaya the moment a volley hit a Russian column and the aftermath. But this is the bonus of reading as much as you can.

"I derived no little gratification from being able to dress the wounds of several Russians; indeed, they were as kindly treated as the others. One of them was badly shot in the lower jaw, and was beyond my or any human skill. Incautiously I inserted my finger into his mouth to feel where the ball had lodged, and his teeth closed upon it, in the agonies of death, so tightly that I had to call to those around to release it, which was not done until it had been bitten so deeply that I shall carry the scar with me to my grave. Poor fellow, he meant me no harm, for, as the near approach of death softened his features, a smile spread over his rough inexpressive face, and so he died.”

[Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands]

'Seacole describes the ground "thickly numbered with the wounded, some of them calm and resigned, others impatient and restless, a few filling the air with their cries of pain - all wanting water and all grateful to those who administered it". Thomas Buzzard a British doctor with the Turkish army was struck by how most of the dead "lay on their faces, literally, to use the Homeric phrase "biting the dust"' in contrast to the way they were usually depicted on their backs in classical paintings of battles (most of the Russians had been shot from the front while advancing up the hill had fallen forwards naturally)"

[Orlando Figes: Crimea. Referencing Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole, With the Turkish Army in the Crimea & Seaton respectively]

Putting the two together I suddenly got a Saving Private Ryan moment, seeing the crest of the hill, the side of a Russian column and French or Sardinians aiming down at them. Obviously even if you fire low (and you must) the shots will likely hit the upper torso and head. Hence perhaps the poor Russian who scarred Mrs. Seacole's finger, fitting in nicely with Seaton and Dr.Buzzard.

We all read about troops firing volleys and men going down, but how, dare I say prosaic is it to note the angle of a volley, yet then peice it together with the necessity of adjusting aim for ground and then seeing the result, or reading it, men being hit high and falling forwards. Similar must have been seen at Inkerman.

Josh.
Adventure's In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
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Re: The cruel reality.

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 13 Jul 2016 02:49

Most battlefield deaths from a standing/advancing posture are going to go down front body first. Google "images of battlefields" and the vast majority are on their face or side. When you pass out from too much booze, you go down face or side first. We are genietically evolved to go down that way. Going down backwards exposes our tail bone, spine and back of the head to impact damage. Fall front, and you got a gut, flexible rib cage and bony forehead for protection. Most battle casualties start with a wound. You are naturally going to go down knees-torso-head and even hands and arms.
After the battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan, a small ravine between two small hills or rises in the ground was explored, it was full of dozens of dead Ansar who walked or crawled there for protection. They had died of their wounds and all looked as they were sleeping on their side.
The pictures of "cleaned" battlefields after an engagement, have soldiers who are stripped of field gear and guns, and turned skyward to check for I.D. or papers.
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Re: The cruel reality.

Postby jf42 » 13 Jul 2016 09:53

ED, in Los Angeles wrote:
The pictures of "cleaned" battlefields after an engagement, have soldiers who are stripped of field gear and guns, and turned skyward to check for I.D. or papers.


This explains why photos often show men with their legs crossed at the ankle.
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