|Private George Warner of the 20th Connecticut lost both his arms to friendly fire at Gettysburg.|
(Photo courtesy Mary Falvey via Connecticut State Library George Washburn Collection)
Empty sleeves of his coat dangling by his side, a forlorn George Washington Warner posed for this photograph several years after he was discharged from the Union army because of disability on Oct. 17, 1863.
The carte de visite image, taken in Henry Peck's studio in New Haven, is compelling, disturbing, shocking -- and a sad reminder of a civil war that not only killed at least 620,000 Americans but also maimed thousands of others. Warner's inspiring story has been told often over the years, including here, here, here and most recently here. But until Connecticut Civil War researcher Mary Falvey, a friend of the blog, e-mailed me the photograph of Warner, I knew nothing about the double-amputee from Bethany, Conn.
|Colonel William Wooster|
According to the 20th Connecticut regimental history, Warner was unaware that he had lost both arms until he came under the care of a Surgeon J. Wadsworth Terry. "Why, surgeon, I've lost my right arm too," he said. "I thought I had only lost my left!"
A report in Warner's pension file nearly a month after the battle provides interesting details:
July 29th: General condition good. Walks about the grounds. Patient was wounded July 3. Was sitting at the time by a tree when a shell burst directly over him. One fragment struck the right arm a few inches below the shoulder -- entirely severing it from the body and carrying it several feet from him.The shell was from a Federal Battery. Another fragment struck the left unit and forearm lacerating the soft parts badly and breaking the bones. Amputation made an hour after receipt of injury. The wounds at this date quite open and discharging freely.
|20th Connecticut monument dedication at Gettysburg on July 3, 1885. Can you find|
George Warner? CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE. (Photo courtesy Bob O'Brien)
|George Warner, sitting on rock, in close-up of photo of 20th Connecticut monument|
dedication. (Photo courtesy Bob O'Brien.)
Married with five children before the war, Warner fathered three more children after he was discharged from the army. After his death at age 92 on Oct. 12, 1923, the New Haven Sunday Register ran a front-page story under a large headline and photo of the old soldier.
"On account of the loss of his arms and the handicap that he suffered, the government allowed him a pension of sufficient amount to enable him to have such service and comforts and conveniences that his crippled condition demanded," the newspaper obituary noted. "He was a man of soldierly appearance and was a familiar figure for many years since the civil war days in Memorial Day parades ..."
|This front-page headline in the New Haven Sunday Register noted Warner's death in 1923.|