Shot in the Head at Gettysburg
My great-grandfather, John Bowden Hood, joined the Confederate army in Sampson County on Sept. 9, 1861. He was sent to the coast defense at Fort Fisher. Later, he was transferred to Stonewall Jackson’s brigade and became part of Jackson’s famous “foot cavalry.” As a member of Company H, 120th Regiment, he was with Lee at Gettysburg. John was an infantryman armed with a musket. At nightfall of the first day, his barrel was too hot for cleaning. After letting it cool, he swabbed the barrel, ate supper, and spent the night with his musket by his side and the enemy just over the hill. At dawn the fighting resumed. Fire from the enemy’s line was incessant. John would load his piece, take quick aim over the stone wall and fire, then reload. By noon Minie balls were flying everywhere. One struck the fence near enough to burn his face and almost blind his eye with stone fragments. When the order to advance came, he moved in a crouch along a rock fence, loading and firing. A round struck his left cheekbone, shattering it. The ball exited near the angle of the jawbone, under the ear. He fell, and lay in an open field under the July sun with blood flowing and fever rising until night fell and the litter-bearers came. He spent several days in a hospital. Each morning doctors and orderlies would force water through the hole in his face and an orderly would catch it in a basin as it dripped out. The next soldier down the line would get a bath from the same basin, rag and towel. Gangrene was prevalent. Eventually, he returned to his command. He was wounded again at Spottsylvania Courthouse, and was captured at Fisher’s Hill, Va. in September, 1864. He spent half a year as a POW at Point Lookout, Md. Transferred to Boulware’s Wharf, James River, Virginia on March 19, 1865, he was exchanged for a Union soldier. He trudged back to Johnston County and spent the remainder of the year helping to recondition a community destroyed by Sherman’s invasion.