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An unexpected visit to York

Sixteen-year-old Franklin Gilmore was a corporal in Company A of the 155th Pennsylvania, an infantry regiment raised in mid-August 1862 in the Pittsburgh region. He and his fellow recruits trained at Camp Howe, a place the writer deemed a “miserable squallid-looking place.” Frank saw his first combat action at Fredericksburg, and was assigned after the battle to assist the wounded in the field hospital. At Gettysburg, a Rebel accosted Gilmore near Devil’s Den and demanded his surrender. Gilmore ducked behind a rock, and later was able to seize the Confederate and escort him to the rear.

When Gilmore and his regiment marched into Virginia in pursuit of Lee’s retreating army, little did the teenager know what awaited him, including an expected emergency visit to York.

On May 8, 1864, at the Battle of Laurel Hill, Gilmore was duelling with a distant Rebel farther up a hillside. He took aim and fired, and, at the same time, a Minie ball clipped his right leg below his knee, cutting into the bone, He dropped his musket and rolled down the hill. He was taken to the rear, treated at a field hospital, and given an improvised crutch. However, gangrene set in and the corporal was taken by train to Philadelphia’s Satterlee Hospital for more advanced treatment to save his leg. It worked, and he eventually returned to his regiment after a few weeks in Pennsylvania.

Gilmore was again wounded, this time severely, at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run when a Minie ball passed through his right hip and entered his leg. His comrades helped him to the rear, where “a little German surgeon” extracted the bullet. After the operation, the doctor remarked, “Vell, I put dis minie pall in your plouse pocket. May be you vants to keep him.” Gilmore indeed kept the bullet as a souvenir. After follow-up treatment at several hospitals, the invalided Gilmore was ordered to travel to West Penn Hospital in his native Pittsburgh for long-term care.
En route home on the Northern Central Railway northward from Baltimore, Gilmore was suffering intense pain from his wound to the point where he could not continue.

The train stopped in York, and Gilmore was taken to the U.S. Army Hospital on Penn Commons for emergency surgery. Opening up Gilmore’s wound, surgeons discovered a piece of his army blouse that had been carried by the bullet into his leg. It had caused the wound to fester. The doctors (presumably A. G. Blair and Henry Palmer) extracted the cloth and cleansed the wound.

When the teenager had recovered sufficiently to resume his journey, he was taken to the train station and sent belatedly on his way to Pittsburgh. He stayed in West Penn Hospital for the rest of the war. Gilmore, nursed by the local Sisters of Mercy, eventually recovered and returned to his parents’ home.