By Chris Hedges
Source: Read full article at Truthdig
GETTYSBURG, Pa.—Over 50,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing here in July 1863, many of them dying in terrible agony on the battlefield or carted off to improvised hospitals where arms and legs were swiftly amputated and tossed into large heaps on the floor. Abysmal hygiene—surgeons would nonchalantly wipe the blood from their bone saws on their pus-stained smocks and move on to the next victim—caused infection, blood poisoning and gangrene. To buy time, regiments such as the 1st Minnesota were ordered into battle against superior forces and as a result were decimated within minutes. Hundreds of African American men, women and children, many born free in the surrounding Pennsylvania towns, were abducted by invading Confederate forces led by Gen. Robert E. Lee and shipped south to be sold in the slave markets in Richmond, Va. Confederate and at times Union forces looted homes, farms and shops. For three days in the summer of 1863, there was an orgy of destruction, death and suffering on this ground.
An estimated 750,000 soldiers were killed by combat, accident, starvation and disease in the Civil War, more than in all other American…