At the beginning of the 20th century, American journalists, without any irony, called the old man Jacob Miller one of the most prominent soldiers of the Civil War. At the same time, Miller was not a general and did not perform unthinkable feats - he, like hundreds of thousands of other soldiers, managed to return home after the war, but he was the only one who continued to live with a bullet in his head.
A gaping wound in his forehead, from which even tens of years after the injury, a lost piece of lead could fall out, worried Jacob pretty much, but despite this, he did not complain about his fate and even boasted of a good pension.
"I was left to die"
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Jacob Miller was barely 20 years old - he quickly joined the Republicans and joined the ranks of the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment. In September 1863, Miller was unlucky enough to be in the Battle of Chickamauga: this battle was one of the bloodiest - the second after Gettysburg - in the history of the Civil War, and in this confrontation, the Confederates won perhaps their most important victory. In this battle, about 16 thousand northerners died. Among this mountain of corpses, Jacob Miller was to be found, to whom a bullet, aptly fired from a musket, hit right in the head.
By a lucky coincidence, the bullet stopped literally a few millimeters from the brain. “After I was hit, my company withdrew from its positions, and I was left to die. After a while, I came to my senses and found that I was in the rear of the Confederates, ”- said Jacob Miller himself in an interview with The Joilet Daily News.
However, the gallant soldier of the Republican army was not going to surrender: Jacob, leaning on his gun like a staff, hobbled parallel to the battle line, trying to get out of the battlefield. According to him, he was covered in blood so badly that the soldiers who got in his way could not distinguish which army he belonged to.
Road to Chattanooga
Miller wandered, unable to find his fellow soldiers. The resulting wound, of course, made itself felt: Jacob's head was so swollen that he could not open his eyes on his own - he had to lift his eyelids with his hands. Completely exhausted, the wounded soldier simply collapsed on the side of the road, leaving his fate to chance.
Jacob was very lucky: Republican orderlies passed by, put him on a stretcher and carried him to the hospital. However, the surgeons who examined Miller's wound concluded that it was completely pointless to operate on him: they considered that the soldier would soon die anyway, and decided not to cause him unnecessary suffering by removing the bullet from his head.
The next morning, the wounded were taken to Chattanooga. After consulting, the doctors decided not to even take the dying Miller there, since his injury was considered hopeless. He was offered to surrender at the mercy of the victors and wait for his fate, but Jacob has already demonstrated that he is not going to surrender. Gathering his last strength, he decided to drag one leg after the other towards Chattanooga. The last strength left Miller: he fell, hit his head and could no longer get up, remaining once again lying on the side of the road.
A charioteer of an ambulance van passing by noticed a body near the road. Since one of his injured passengers had died on the way, he suggested that Miller take him to the hospital. So a Republican with an unbreakable will and a bullet in his head still ended up in Chattanooga.
“I woke up inside a long building, where hundreds of other wounded were lying on the floor: some of them were delirious, and some were moaning. I got up, sat down, took out a flask and moistened my head. At that moment, I heard the voices of soldiers from my company. They couldn't believe it was me, because they left me to die on the battlefield, ”said Miller.
Lead in my head
Soon, all the wounded who could still walk were ordered to cross the river on a pontoon bridge and head to the hospital, from where the victims were to be sent to Nashville. Miller's comrades helped him get to the hospital, where he was able to eat for the first time in two days. Having spread the blankets, the wounded were finally able to rest for a while, while the charioteers constantly moistened their wounds with water from a nearby source.
In the hospital, Jacob received medical care for the first time, and even then it was very modest - the surgeon only bandaged his wound. Together with the other wounded, Jacob was supposed to get into an army van and head to the Bridgeport train station, but his head ached so badly that he could not endure the constant shaking: he had to leave the transport and walk. By that time, Miller had already learned through strength to keep his eyes open: in four days he covered about 60 miles and caught a train to Nashville. During this time, Jacob was so tired that he simply fainted on the train - he woke up in a real hospital.
Miller was transferred from one hospital to another for several months, but not a single surgeon agreed to carry out the most complex operation to remove a bullet from the head. It took him almost a year to return home and find a suitable doctor. A musket bullet was nevertheless taken out of his head, after that Miller never returned to the front - until the end of the war he was in different hospitals.
Subsequently, Jacob told reporters that the fragments in his head still remained even after the operation. “17 years after my injury, a piece of buckshot fell out of the wound on my head. And after 31 years, two pieces of lead fell out. Sometimes I am asked how I can describe in such detail my injury and departure from the battlefield after so many years. My answer is this: I have a daily reminder of this - a deep wound and constant pain in the head that only subside during sleep. This story is imprinted in my brain like an engraving, ”he said.
Despite all the hardships, Jacob did not think to complain about his life. He enthusiastically told that the government treats him well, it even awarded him a pension: every month he received $ 40. After being wounded, Jacob Miller lived for more than half a century. He died at his home in Indiana at the age of 78.