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Soldier Lead-carving, dug 2nd Corp Hospital site, Gettysburg


Product Description

This is another neat piece being offered, it is a soldier-carved lead disc made from melted bullets, measuring 2” x 1 ½”. I believe this was used for a poker chip. I do not see any denomination carved into it, so it was probably marked with a pencil or pen, or maybe even the size determined the value. This one is kind of heavy, weighing four ounces. It was recovered years ago at the Schwartz Farm, Gettysburg, which was the site of the 2nd Corp Field Hospital (see period photographs).

A "field" hospital was, as the name suggests, a place in the battlefield area, such as barns, shops, homes, schools, and churches, which were used to give immediate medical attention to the wounded and dying. While the battle lasted three days in July 1863, the pain and suffering of wounded in Gettysburg continued into October when the last field hospital was closed.

The Jacob Schwartz farm and vicinity, located about three miles south of Gettysburg near Rock Creek, was used as the Union Second Corps hospital. They treated both Union and Confederate wounded. As remembered by local citizens, rapid death was in many ways more merciful than waiting for infection or pneumonia to slowly take its toll.

Carving was a very popular pastime during the Civil War. In my book “The Civil War Soldier – His Personal Items”, I go into more detail on the subject and show similar examples (see pictures). I call this a poker chip, but no one knows for sure what the soldier had in mind while carving it. No one will ever know if the carver survived his wounds at the hospital, but his little “work of art” still remains. It comes in the glass top display case pictured.

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