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"Shell" shock and the War of 1812

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  • Anna Snipes
    I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there
    Message 1 of 25 , Nov 29, 2009
      I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after the War of 1812?  Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others.  Logic would suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812.  Are there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that could be explained by what was actually PTSD?  Any examples in literature of the time?
       
      Thanks,
      Anna

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Craig Williams
      Hello Anna, I m not an expert, but shell shock and PTSD are two different things. PTSD is, as the name insinuates, after the event-- while shell shock is
      Message 2 of 25 , Nov 29, 2009
        Hello Anna,

        I'm not an expert, but shell shock and PTSD are two different things.
        PTSD is, as the name insinuates, after the event-- while shell shock
        is during and after.

        Shell shock is marked by a slowing of reflexes, an inability to
        prioritize, disconnection from one's surroundings and is normally
        short-lived. It can have extreme physical manifestations like nervous
        ticks, crying and even hysterical blindness. These symptoms for the
        most part go away, but can sometimes be long term .

        PTSD usually stays forever and can be extreme, coloring every
        reaction of the sufferer day or night-- or becomes an underlying
        condition that shifts the sufferer's perception. There are those that
        believe that everyone who has been in combat suffers some form of
        PTSD, mild or not.

        In the early 19th century, there was a condition known as "wind of
        the ball" which occurred when a cannon ball passed close to an
        individual-- the passing of which could cause dizziness,
        disorientation or even death.

        I haven't done any kind of study on this specifically, but there are
        a couple of factors which may make it a harder thing to get clear
        period information on. There was no study of psychiatry back then.

        Incidentally, battle fatigue-- or shell shock-- was first recognized
        as something other than cowardice by the medical corps of the
        Canadian Army in WW1.

        Hope this helps,

        Craig Williams



        On 29-Nov-09, at 4:43 PM, Anna Snipes wrote:

        > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks
        > of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I
        > wondered recently� were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior
        > during and after the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to
        > be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically,
        > by war than others. Logic would suggest that there must have been
        > some such cases in the War of 1812. Are there reports of
        > "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that
        > could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in
        > literature of the time?
        >
        > Thanks,
        > Anna
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Anna Snipes
        Thanks for the clarification, Craig.  I guess shell shock would be what the DSM IV refers to as acute stress disorder.   What got me thinking about it
        Message 3 of 25 , Nov 29, 2009
          Thanks for the clarification, Craig.  I guess "shell shock" would be what the DSM IV refers to as "acute stress disorder."
           
          What got me thinking about it was reading the number of WWI newspaper reports that openly report "so and so is in hospital suffering shellshock," or "so and so has returned home and is suffering from a nervous disorder."
           
          There must have been 1812 men who suffered from similar symptoms.  But how was it perceived? 

          --- On Mon, 11/30/09, Craig Williams <sgtwarner@...> wrote:


          From: Craig Williams <sgtwarner@...>
          Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
          To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Monday, November 30, 2009, 12:08 AM


          Hello Anna,

          I'm not an expert, but shell shock and PTSD are two different things.
          PTSD is, as the name insinuates, after the event-- while shell shock 
          is during and after.

          Shell shock is marked by a slowing of reflexes, an inability to 
          prioritize, disconnection from one's surroundings and is normally 
          short-lived. It can have extreme physical manifestations like nervous 
          ticks, crying and even hysterical blindness. These symptoms for the 
          most part go away, but can sometimes be long term .

          PTSD usually stays forever and can be extreme, coloring every 
          reaction of the sufferer day or night-- or becomes an underlying 
          condition that shifts the sufferer's perception. There are those that 
          believe that everyone who has been in combat suffers some form of 
          PTSD, mild or not.

          In the early 19th century, there was a condition known as "wind of 
          the ball" which occurred when a cannon ball passed close to an 
          individual-- the passing of which could cause dizziness, 
          disorientation or even death.

          I haven't done any kind of study on this specifically, but there are 
          a couple of factors which may make it a harder thing to get clear 
          period information on. There was no study of psychiatry back  then.

          Incidentally, battle fatigue-- or shell shock-- was first recognized 
          as something other than cowardice by the medical corps of the 
          Canadian Army in WW1.

          Hope this helps,

          Craig Williams



          On 29-Nov-09, at 4:43 PM, Anna Snipes wrote:

          > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks 
          > of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I 
          > wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior 
          > during and after the War of 1812?  Throughout history, it seems to 
          > be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, 
          > by war than others.  Logic would suggest that there must have been 
          > some such cases in the War of 1812.  Are there reports of 
          > "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that 
          > could be explained by what was actually PTSD?  Any examples in 
          > literature of the time?
          >
          > Thanks,
          > Anna
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Ray Hobbs
          Anna: There is an excellent book by Terry Copp and Bill McAndrew, Battle Exhaustion: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Canadian Army 1939 to 1945 McGill and
          Message 4 of 25 , Nov 29, 2009
            Anna:
            There is an excellent book by Terry Copp and Bill McAndrew, "Battle Exhaustion: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Canadian Army 1939 to 1945" McGill and Queens University Press, 1990. It is a comprehensive treatment of the condition of "battle exhaustion" in recent warfare. It does not apply directly to the War of 1812, but provides a lot of research, and has an excellent bibliography which will give you a profile of the condition.
            Of course one of the most serious problems with researching this subject relative to the War of 1812 is the lack of sources. A large proportion of soldiers were illiterate, so left no record. Diaries and journals in which the writer does reveal past experiences need to be sifted for relevant information. For example, George Ferguson's journal (ch. 2) which speaks of his war experiences subsumes everything under a belief in providence, and regards psychiatric problems (such as his perpetual doubt) as spiritual, not psychiatric problems.
            Cultural notions of manhood also played a role, and it was not "honourable" to show any form of fear in the face of the enemy or during engagements. This too is a fruitful avenue of research. Adam Nicholson's "Men of Honour" (2005), also published as "Seize the Fire", give an entry into this subject from the perspective of Nelson's navy.
            But, this would mean that men would rarely show their true feelings, nor would they write about them in detail. It would bring shame on the family name - especially if one was an officer.
            Because looking for psychiatric treatises in the early 19th century would be meaningless since they had neither the language, nor the medical categories to work with, one is left with the task of projection into the past of modern concepts - always a dodgy practice for historians.
            Yrs etc.
            Ray Hobbs

            To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
            From: annasnipes@...
            Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2009 16:23:37 -0800
            Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812




























            Thanks for the clarification, Craig. I guess "shell shock" would be what the DSM IV refers to as "acute stress disorder."



            What got me thinking about it was reading the number of WWI newspaper reports that openly report "so and so is in hospital suffering shellshock," or "so and so has returned home and is suffering from a nervous disorder."



            There must have been 1812 men who suffered from similar symptoms. But how was it perceived?



            --- On Mon, 11/30/09, Craig Williams <sgtwarner@...> wrote:



            From: Craig Williams <sgtwarner@...>

            Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812

            To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com

            Date: Monday, November 30, 2009, 12:08 AM



            Hello Anna,



            I'm not an expert, but shell shock and PTSD are two different things.

            PTSD is, as the name insinuates, after the event-- while shell shock

            is during and after.



            Shell shock is marked by a slowing of reflexes, an inability to

            prioritize, disconnection from one's surroundings and is normally

            short-lived. It can have extreme physical manifestations like nervous

            ticks, crying and even hysterical blindness. These symptoms for the

            most part go away, but can sometimes be long term .



            PTSD usually stays forever and can be extreme, coloring every

            reaction of the sufferer day or night-- or becomes an underlying

            condition that shifts the sufferer's perception. There are those that

            believe that everyone who has been in combat suffers some form of

            PTSD, mild or not.



            In the early 19th century, there was a condition known as "wind of

            the ball" which occurred when a cannon ball passed close to an

            individual-- the passing of which could cause dizziness,

            disorientation or even death.



            I haven't done any kind of study on this specifically, but there are

            a couple of factors which may make it a harder thing to get clear

            period information on. There was no study of psychiatry back then.



            Incidentally, battle fatigue-- or shell shock-- was first recognized

            as something other than cowardice by the medical corps of the

            Canadian Army in WW1.



            Hope this helps,



            Craig Williams



            On 29-Nov-09, at 4:43 PM, Anna Snipes wrote:



            > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks

            > of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I

            > wondered recently� were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior

            > during and after the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to

            > be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically,

            > by war than others. Logic would suggest that there must have been

            > some such cases in the War of 1812. Are there reports of

            > "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that

            > could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in

            > literature of the time?

            >

            > Thanks,

            > Anna

            >

            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

            >

            >

            >



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



            ------------------------------------



            War of 1812 Living History:

            A wide-ranging information exchange

            for all participants and supporters



            Unit Contact information for North America:

            Crown Forces Unit Listing:

            http://1812crownforces.tripod.com

            American Forces Unit Listing

            http://usforces1812.tripod.com



            WAR OF 1812 EVENTS LIST:

            http://royal.scots.tripod.com/warof1812eventslistYahoo! Groups Links



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



















            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • petemonahan
            Sadly, Dr Hobbs is correct about the reluctance of soldiers to admit to fear and trauma and the refusal of their leaders to allow them to address it. During
            Message 5 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
              Sadly, Dr Hobbs is correct about the reluctance of soldiers to admit to fear and trauma and the refusal of their leaders to allow them to address it. During the Second World War the RAF's Bomber Command lost 80,000 men, yet air crew who tried to get off flying duties due to stress and mental breakdowns were deemed - and identified in their records - as showing "LMF" (lack of moral fibre).

              Today, some of the men and women in our Armed Forces coming back from missions in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan and pretty clearly suffering from PTS are still being told to "suck it up" by some of the more senior members of the Forces. Happily, I believe that our senior commanders are aware of and addressing the problem.
            • BritcomHMP@aol.com
              The classic case would be Marshal Ney who was severely shell shocked by his experiences commanding the rearguard of the retreat from Moscow. At Waterloo Neys
              Message 6 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                The classic case would be Marshal Ney who was severely shell shocked by his
                experiences commanding the rearguard of the retreat from Moscow.
                At Waterloo Neys actions screamed his condition swinging wildly between
                lethargy and frenetic activity, I can't say that any specific war of 1812
                examples come to mind but I suspect that Lt. Col. Mullins who messed up the
                attack at New Orleans was suffering from it too.

                Cheers

                Tim


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Charlie Quesenberry
                I will research my sources also. To my memory (always a chancy affair), there s little reference to such conduct, usually its the brave lads did their duty
                Message 7 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                  I will research my sources also. To my memory (always a chancy affair),
                  there's little reference to such conduct, usually its "the brave lads did
                  their duty" and such..

                  Thanks for piquing my interest though, interesting perspective to look into.

                  Charlie Q

                  On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:26 PM, <BritcomHMP@...> wrote:

                  >
                  >
                  > The classic case would be Marshal Ney who was severely shell shocked by his
                  >
                  > experiences commanding the rearguard of the retreat from Moscow.
                  > At Waterloo Neys actions screamed his condition swinging wildly between
                  > lethargy and frenetic activity, I can't say that any specific war of 1812
                  > examples come to mind but I suspect that Lt. Col. Mullins who messed up the
                  >
                  > attack at New Orleans was suffering from it too.
                  >
                  > Cheers
                  >
                  > Tim
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Victor Suthren
                  The question is hard to answer because the society of the 1812 era was, in our terms, appallingly brutal and inured to (and even fond of) violence and cruelty.
                  Message 8 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                    The question is hard to answer because the society of the 1812 era was, in our terms, appallingly brutal and inured to (and even fond of) violence and cruelty. Entertainment frequently involved the agonized torture and mistreatment of animals, and it was within living memory at the time that the condemned were executed, often in shrieking agony, as a public entertainment for all including children. The executions by guillotine in France were not objected to because they were public---they were actually viewed as using a 'humane" device---but because they were executing victims without some due process of law, as the English perceived of law. Physical blows and the striking of others was far more common than we realize, and pell-mell mob riots charactized by bloody and deadly fighting unrestrained by police were a common feature of street life. Violence, pain, cruelty and suffering were a familar part of life from birth in 1812, and if Shadrack Byfield seemingly was less affected by what he experienced than a Canadian lad up against the Taliban, it was in part because of the brutal, vicious and relatively heartless world of Pre-Dickensian horror that swirled just outside the Regency ballrooms with their gentle Austenesque coquetteries....

                    Vic Suthren
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: Anna Snipes
                    To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009 4:43 PM
                    Subject: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812



                    I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others. Logic would suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812. Are there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in literature of the time?

                    Thanks,
                    Anna

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Charlie Quesenberry
                    Sir, it is something that the US Dept of Defense takes quite seriously, and an adjunct to that is how the Dept. of Veterans Affairs is doing the same thing, to
                    Message 9 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                      Sir, it is something that the US Dept of Defense takes quite seriously, and
                      an adjunct to that is how the Dept. of Veterans Affairs is doing the same
                      thing, to its maximum ability. The topic is one of the top issues being
                      addressed.

                      I follow it with great interest, as a veteran, father of an active duty
                      paratrooper, and professionally.

                      Keep up the discussion, its good stuff!

                      Charlie Q


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • John-Paul Johnson
                      ... From: petemonahan To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com Sent: Mon, November 30, 2009 11:51:53 AM Subject: 1812 Re: Shell shock and
                      Message 10 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                        ----- Original Message ----
                        From: petemonahan <petemonahan@...>
                        To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Mon, November 30, 2009 11:51:53 AM
                        Subject: 1812 Re: "Shell" shock and soldiers

                        Sadly, Dr Hobbs is correct about the reluctance of soldiers to admit to fear and trauma and the refusal of their leaders to allow them to address it.  During the Second World War the RAF's Bomber Command lost 80,000 men, yet air crew who tried to get off flying duties due to stress and mental breakdowns were deemed - and identified in their records - as showing "LMF" (lack of moral fibre).

                        Today, some of the men and women in our Armed Forces coming back from missions in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan and pretty clearly suffering from PTS are still being told to "suck it up" by some of the more senior members of the Forces.  Happily, I believe that our senior commanders are aware of and addressing the problem.

                        -----------

                        I would be very surprised if anyone coming back from Afghanistan with even suspected PTSD would be told to "suck it up" without it being a "career limiting move" for that senior (or any) member.  The CF has gone through great pains to attenuate - if not alleviate - the worst effects of PTSD.  Sub-units - if not whole units rotate out together and go through several "decompressions" of rest and recuperation before finally arriving in Canada.  Once they are here the units are kept together for a time to allow even more decompression and reintegration.  In the past they'd be returned to their home units right away and they'd have no one to talk to that went through what they did and could understand what they went through.

                        In away, its the wounded that may suffer the most - and not just from their physical injuries.  They are jerked out of Theatre without benefit of that decompression and without the support and presence of the rest of their unit. 

                        I'm not naive enough to say it can't happen or it hasn't happened that a "senior member" would act thusly but I doubt that behaviour would be tolerated given the sheer number of people who have rotated through and those who have been on multiple tours. 
                      • Charlie Quesenberry
                        Returning from theatre has been vastly different since the 60 s; when rapid transit facilitated going from the bush to the world in
                        Message 11 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                          Returning from theatre has been vastly different since the 60's; when rapid
                          transit facilitated going from "the bush" to "the world" in < 24 hours.

                          I wonder if there have been any studies indicating the difference in
                          'decompression' experiences & outcomes contrasting those differences. My
                          son told me they'll have a month of so of half-days' duty while they
                          readjust to being back in the States, and he'll get two weeks' R&R also.
                          One unique difference is the mid-deployment break many (I don't know if
                          everyone gets it) are enjoying, he got two weeks home more or less at the
                          halfway point which was a huge break psychologically, stress-wise, etc...
                          And the military flew him not only from Afghanistan to the States, but then
                          to the closest airport to his home; and then back again, all he had to do
                          was show up at the airport when his time was up; all expenses were covered.
                          Heckuva difference from the dark ages when I was active duty.

                          All we can hope for is the best and to be there for those who need us. I
                          can't imagine how some of these returning veterans do that don't have family
                          or some support system.

                          Well, apologies for the soapbox, its an issue near & dear to say the least.


                          I will begin searching the clinical literature for the aforementioned
                          information though, it will surely expand my own knowledge and round out my
                          role as a ships surgeon even more, and in ways I never would have
                          anticipated, so for that thanks very much and I will endeavour to keep the
                          group apprised.

                          Charlie Q
                          (Airborne)!


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Anna Snipes
                          Not to go too far off topic, but yes, that is the case.  My step-father is a psychiatrist in the VA.  Psych is receiving massive increases in funding and
                          Message 12 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                            Not to go too far off topic, but yes, that is the case.  My step-father is a psychiatrist in the VA.  Psych is receiving massive increases in funding and positions.
                             

                            --- On Mon, 11/30/09, Charlie Quesenberry <charliequ2@...> wrote:


                            From: Charlie Quesenberry <charliequ2@...>
                            Subject: Re: 1812 Re: "Shell" shock and soldiers
                            To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                            Date: Monday, November 30, 2009, 5:45 PM


                             



                            Sir, it is something that the US Dept of Defense takes quite seriously, and
                            an adjunct to that is how the Dept. of Veterans Affairs is doing the same
                            thing, to its maximum ability. The topic is one of the top issues being
                            addressed.

                            I follow it with great interest, as a veteran, father of an active duty
                            paratrooper, and professionally.

                            Keep up the discussion, its good stuff!

                            Charlie Q

                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]








                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Charlie Quesenberry
                            True true, beaucoup dollars heading towards the behavioural health disciplines. (30+ years with VA) ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            Message 13 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                              True true, beaucoup dollars heading towards the behavioural health
                              disciplines.

                              (30+ years with VA)

                              :-)


                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Anna Snipes
                              Thanks, Victor.  That puts it in perspective. ... From: Victor Suthren Subject: Re: Shell shock and the War of 1812 To:
                              Message 14 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                                Thanks, Victor.  That puts it in perspective.

                                --- On Mon, 11/30/09, Victor Suthren <suthren@...> wrote:


                                From: Victor Suthren <suthren@...>
                                Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
                                To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                                Date: Monday, November 30, 2009, 5:43 PM


                                 



                                The question is hard to answer because the society of the 1812 era was, in our terms, appallingly brutal and inured to (and even fond of) violence and cruelty. Entertainment frequently involved the agonized torture and mistreatment of animals, and it was within living memory at the time that the condemned were executed, often in shrieking agony, as a public entertainment for all including children. The executions by guillotine in France were not objected to because they were public---they were actually viewed as using a 'humane" device---but because they were executing victims without some due process of law, as the English perceived of law. Physical blows and the striking of others was far more common than we realize, and pell-mell mob riots charactized by bloody and deadly fighting unrestrained by police were a common feature of street life. Violence, pain, cruelty and suffering were a familar part of life from birth in 1812, and if Shadrack Byfield
                                seemingly was less affected by what he experienced than a Canadian lad up against the Taliban, it was in part because of the brutal, vicious and relatively heartless world of Pre-Dickensian horror that swirled just outside the Regency ballrooms with their gentle Austenesque coquetteries. ...

                                Vic Suthren
                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: Anna Snipes
                                To: WarOf1812@yahoogrou ps.com
                                Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009 4:43 PM
                                Subject: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812

                                I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others. Logic would suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812. Are there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in literature of the time?

                                Thanks,
                                Anna

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]








                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • a10rca
                                Tough folks to be sure. Not totally heartless. Certainly Byfield s mum suffered from extreme stress. Byfield was affected by the cries of a young wounded
                                Message 15 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                                  Tough folks to be sure. Not totally heartless.
                                  Certainly Byfield's mum suffered from extreme stress. Byfield was affected by the cries of a young wounded lad. Le Couteur certainly speaks of the emotional breakdown of his entire company, or what's left of it. McMullen, the Pennsylvania Volunteer, speaks of the horrors of war and the loss of friends.

                                  I think Mercer's account of Waterloo has some heartfelt moments.

                                  A question: any ideas on the term 'worn out' as the reason for the release of seasoned soldiers? Indicates their physical condition. Any sense it could relate to their mental state or ability to carry on?

                                  Interesting discussion.
                                  Jim


                                  --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Victor Suthren" <suthren@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > The question is hard to answer because the society of the 1812 era was, in our terms, appallingly brutal and inured to (and even fond of) violence and cruelty. Entertainment frequently involved the agonized torture and mistreatment of animals, and it was within living memory at the time that the condemned were executed, often in shrieking agony, as a public entertainment for all including children. The executions by guillotine in France were not objected to because they were public---they were actually viewed as using a 'humane" device---but because they were executing victims without some due process of law, as the English perceived of law. Physical blows and the striking of others was far more common than we realize, and pell-mell mob riots charactized by bloody and deadly fighting unrestrained by police were a common feature of street life. Violence, pain, cruelty and suffering were a familar part of life from birth in 1812, and if Shadrack Byfield seemingly was less affected by what he experienced than a Canadian lad up against the Taliban, it was in part because of the brutal, vicious and relatively heartless world of Pre-Dickensian horror that swirled just outside the Regency ballrooms with their gentle Austenesque coquetteries....
                                  >
                                  > Vic Suthren
                                  > ----- Original Message -----
                                  > From: Anna Snipes
                                  > To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009 4:43 PM
                                  > Subject: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others. Logic would suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812. Are there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in literature of the time?
                                  >
                                  > Thanks,
                                  > Anna
                                  >
                                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  >
                                • John Ogden
                                  All, I have to agree that, judging from the records we have, the average person of the period would probably be considered to be desensitized to violence by
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                                    All,

                                    I have to agree that, judging from the records we have, the average
                                    person of the period would probably be considered to be desensitized to
                                    violence by our modern view of things. Keep in mind that in the
                                    then-relatively recent past (1782) that the last hanging, drawing and
                                    quartering was carried out in Britain and that in theory it was still on the
                                    books as the penalty for high treason until 1814 when an act of Parliament
                                    dictated that the drawing section of the penalty (emasculation and removal
                                    of the bowels through a slit in the abdomen) be carried out after the
                                    condemned had been hanged until deceased (yes, prior to that date the
                                    condemned was cut down from his hanging while still alive, revived and then
                                    mutilated while entirely conscious: see the 1995 film *Braveheart* for an
                                    effective but not terribly graphic depiction). The sentence was imposed as
                                    late as 1803 (Robert Emmet, leader of the Irish rebellion of 1798), although
                                    in all fairness, the decapitation and mutilation occurred post-mortem in his
                                    case. Similarly, the US was still conducting public hangings as late as
                                    1936.
                                    Beyond that, I am also intrigued by the possibility that the
                                    description "worn out" on a Redcoat's discharge papers could refer to
                                    psychological incapacity as well as physical. If this were so, it would
                                    offer a glimpse at a more forward-thinking ("modern") analysis of the
                                    realities of combat than we have hithertofore granted our forebears. I can
                                    see a suitable topic for someone's doctoral dissetation here...


                                    On 11/30/09, a10rca <jhill@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > Tough folks to be sure. Not totally heartless.
                                    > Certainly Byfield's mum suffered from extreme stress. Byfield was affected
                                    > by the cries of a young wounded lad. Le Couteur certainly speaks of the
                                    > emotional breakdown of his entire company, or what's left of it. McMullen,
                                    > the Pennsylvania Volunteer, speaks of the horrors of war and the loss of
                                    > friends.
                                    >
                                    > I think Mercer's account of Waterloo has some heartfelt moments.
                                    >
                                    > A question: any ideas on the term 'worn out' as the reason for the release
                                    > of seasoned soldiers? Indicates their physical condition. Any sense it could
                                    > relate to their mental state or ability to carry on?
                                    >
                                    > Interesting discussion.
                                    > Jim
                                    >
                                    > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com <WarOf1812%40yahoogroups.com>, "Victor
                                    > Suthren" <suthren@...> wrote:
                                    > >
                                    > > The question is hard to answer because the society of the 1812 era was,
                                    > in our terms, appallingly brutal and inured to (and even fond of) violence
                                    > and cruelty. Entertainment frequently involved the agonized torture and
                                    > mistreatment of animals, and it was within living memory at the time that
                                    > the condemned were executed, often in shrieking agony, as a public
                                    > entertainment for all including children. The executions by guillotine in
                                    > France were not objected to because they were public---they were actually
                                    > viewed as using a 'humane" device---but because they were executing victims
                                    > without some due process of law, as the English perceived of law. Physical
                                    > blows and the striking of others was far more common than we realize, and
                                    > pell-mell mob riots charactized by bloody and deadly fighting unrestrained
                                    > by police were a common feature of street life. Violence, pain, cruelty and
                                    > suffering were a familar part of life from birth in 1812, and if Shadrack
                                    > Byfield seemingly was less affected by what he experienced than a Canadian
                                    > lad up against the Taliban, it was in part because of the brutal, vicious
                                    > and relatively heartless world of Pre-Dickensian horror that swirled just
                                    > outside the Regency ballrooms with their gentle Austenesque coquetteries....
                                    > >
                                    > > Vic Suthren
                                    > > ----- Original Message -----
                                    > > From: Anna Snipes
                                    > > To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com <WarOf1812%40yahoogroups.com>
                                    > > Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009 4:43 PM
                                    > > Subject: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of
                                    > modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered
                                    > recently��� were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after
                                    > the War of 1812? Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are
                                    > more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others. Logic would
                                    > suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812. Are
                                    > there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity,"
                                    > that could be explained by what was actually PTSD? Any examples in
                                    > literature of the time?
                                    > >
                                    > > Thanks,
                                    > > Anna
                                    > >
                                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    > >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >



                                    --
                                    John J. Ogden


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Ed Seufert
                                    Mullins was cited by Brooke s in his dispatch as deserved every approbation for his leadership of the right brigade at North Point. However, returns for the
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Nov 30, 2009
                                      Mullins was cited by Brooke's in his dispatch as "deserved every approbation" for his leadership of the right brigade at North Point. However, returns for the army showed that the 44th suffered the heaviest casualties at the battle with 100 killed and wounded. Among the wounded were six officers! For a regiment to lose approximately 1/6th of its strength, it had to have weighed heavily on Mullins in particular and the 44th in general.

                                      Cheers,

                                      Ed Seufert, Cpl
                                      1812 Royal Marines

                                      BTW does anybody know where I can find a list of officers for the 1st/44th as of Aug 1814? I'm trying to prove a theory.

                                      ----- Original Message -----
                                      From: BritcomHMP@...
                                      To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                                      Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 12:26 PM
                                      Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812


                                      I can't say that any specific war of 1812 examples come to mind but I suspect
                                      that Lt. Col. Mullins who messed up the attack at New Orleans was suffering
                                      from it too.

                                      Cheers

                                      Tim



                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • ekwardle
                                      Over a year ago, Gareth Newfield wrote an interesting article on the Independent Company of Foreigners. In it, he devoted a good portion of the work analyzing
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Dec 1, 2009
                                        Over a year ago, Gareth Newfield wrote an interesting article on the Independent Company of Foreigners. In it, he devoted a good portion of the work analyzing the possible psychological trauma that these soldiers experienced during their service in the French army fighting the brutal guerrilla war in Spain. He most certainly did not attempt to justify their later actions in Virginia, but did try to explain the circumstances that led to their atrocities beyond the traditional explanation of "they were Frenchmen."

                                        To read his article, and a rebuttal paper by Donald E. Graves, see the links below:

                                        http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/Warof1812/2008/Issue10/c_Foreigners.html

                                        http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/Warof1812/2009/Issue11/c_hampton.html

                                        Ewan
                                      • nappingcrow
                                        Hello, I m also not an expert on this (not by any means) but there are two books I d like to pass along for consideration. Neither of them pertain directly to
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
                                          Hello,

                                          I'm also not an expert on this (not by any means) but there are two books I'd like to pass along for consideration. Neither of them pertain directly to the War of 1812, but they may offer some insight into the question at hand.

                                          For an interesting general take on the psychology of killing and the toll it takes on the military, I'd recommend "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by David Grossman, who is if IRC a psychologist and a former Lt. Colonel in the US Rangers. He feels that much of what we call "shell shock" or PTSD (I believe he lumps them together) is due not merely to the stress of being subject to imminent violence, but also to the stress of having to be ready to COMMIT violent acts. He backs up his thesis with a fair amount of historical research, though none pertaining directly to the War of 1812.

                                          For a study closer to our period of interest I still want to read "Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War" by Eric T. Dean Jr. "Digging through the pension records of Civil War vets, Dean documents the great number who, suffering from severe psychological problems triggered by intense combat experience, were dutifully provided with disability pensions by the U.S. government."

                                          Casual brutality of daily existance aside, I do believe that we have much in common with our forebears psychologically. If we believe that they were unmoved (or much less moved) by violence, then we run the risk of turning them into something 'other', instead of coming to the understanding that we are basically the same, only with more technology today. I do not believe human nature has changed that much, and when I try to talk with people about history I usually try to show them parallels rather than differences.

                                          Regards,
                                          Brian Smith
                                        • idasr4us
                                          I realize that posting beyond our 1812 era takes us past the scope of our group postings but this item is interesting as it does seem give direction of how
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
                                            I realize that posting beyond our "1812" era takes us past the scope of our group postings but this item is interesting as it does seem give direction of how the face of war has changed from our smooth bores to mechanized warefare.

                                            A recent publication by a good friend, "This Carnival of Hell
                                            German Combat Experience on the Somme 1916" (Rick Baumgartner, Blue Acorn Press) who has examined excerpts from German WW1 accounts. Its a fascinating example of first hand descriptions of the trauma of the western front.

                                            One such survivor, a Bavarian non-commissioned officer, offered this epithetical summation of his comrades' ordeals: "As long as those of us who fought on the Somme live, our days there cannot be forgotten. Smeared with mud and armed with rifle, gas mask, steel helmet and hand grenades, the frontline soldier faced difficult, super-human tasks. It mattered little what duty he performed: ammunition, supply or food carrier, telephonist, runner, guide, medic, stretcher bearer, doctor, fighter, commander, utilizing all sorts of weapons -- none was spared the battle's horrors. Relentless bad weather, hunger and thirst, viscous mud, water contaminated by gas and corpses, iron hail, the nerve-deadening noise of combat. Death grinned at him with a thousand faces."

                                            CFisher
                                            1st Regt.
                                            Vols
                                            US





                                            --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "petemonahan" <petemonahan@...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > Sadly, Dr Hobbs is correct about the reluctance of soldiers to admit to fear and trauma and the refusal of their leaders to allow them to address it. During the Second World War the RAF's Bomber Command lost 80,000 men, yet air crew who tried to get off flying duties due to stress and mental breakdowns were deemed - and identified in their records - as showing "LMF" (lack of moral fibre).
                                            >
                                            > Today, some of the men and women in our Armed Forces coming back from missions in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan and pretty clearly suffering from PTS are still being told to "suck it up" by some of the more senior members of the Forces. Happily, I believe that our senior commanders are aware of and addressing the problem.
                                            >
                                          • Victor Suthren
                                            For 1812 what moves me most is the thought of lines of young men---British, American, Canadian---approaching one another in formations so close they could see
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
                                              For 1812 what moves me most is the thought of lines of young men---British, American, Canadian---approaching one another in formations so close they could see each other's features; young men who would have enjoyed a beer together or laughed over a common joke. Approaching one another and inflicting death, dismemberment, mutilation and agony on each other; being splattered wiuth the blood and brains of comrades or knocked down by flying severed limbs---all the horror of it all. Its choreography is fascinating, but the war's ultimate reality of appalling conflict between men who should have been unshakeable friends (as they are now) is so tragic. Hard, sometimes, to think of much honor/honour in it all, actually....

                                              Vic Suthren
                                              ----- Original Message -----
                                              From: nappingcrow
                                              To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                                              Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 9:36 AM
                                              Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812





                                              Hello,

                                              I'm also not an expert on this (not by any means) but there are two books I'd like to pass along for consideration. Neither of them pertain directly to the War of 1812, but they may offer some insight into the question at hand.

                                              For an interesting general take on the psychology of killing and the toll it takes on the military, I'd recommend "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by David Grossman, who is if IRC a psychologist and a former Lt. Colonel in the US Rangers. He feels that much of what we call "shell shock" or PTSD (I believe he lumps them together) is due not merely to the stress of being subject to imminent violence, but also to the stress of having to be ready to COMMIT violent acts. He backs up his thesis with a fair amount of historical research, though none pertaining directly to the War of 1812.

                                              For a study closer to our period of interest I still want to read "Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War" by Eric T. Dean Jr. "Digging through the pension records of Civil War vets, Dean documents the great number who, suffering from severe psychological problems triggered by intense combat experience, were dutifully provided with disability pensions by the U.S. government."

                                              Casual brutality of daily existance aside, I do believe that we have much in common with our forebears psychologically. If we believe that they were unmoved (or much less moved) by violence, then we run the risk of turning them into something 'other', instead of coming to the understanding that we are basically the same, only with more technology today. I do not believe human nature has changed that much, and when I try to talk with people about history I usually try to show them parallels rather than differences.

                                              Regards,
                                              Brian Smith





                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • John Ogden
                                              In thinking of the horrors of war (and there are plenty), the best image I have comes to me from the music of *The Pogues* in their song A Pair of Brown
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
                                                In thinking of the horrors of war (and there are plenty), the best image I
                                                have comes to me from the music of *The Pogues* in their song "A Pair of
                                                Brown Eyes". There are essentially two narrators, sitting in a pub each
                                                dealing with his own demons in the traditional Celtic fashion. One of them
                                                an old man, perhaps, considering when the song was written and the preceding
                                                inspirational incident, a veteran of World War One who is recalling
                                                standing/lying on a battlefield:

                                                *"...In blood and death 'neath a screaming sky
                                                I lay down on the ground
                                                And the arms and legs of other men
                                                Were scattered all around
                                                Some cursed, some prayed, some prayed then cursed
                                                Then prayed and bled some more
                                                And the only thing that I could see
                                                Was a pair of brown eyes that was looking at me
                                                But when we got back, labeled parts one to three
                                                There was no pair of brown eyes waiting for me... "
                                                *
                                                Here we have a man who came home from the bloodletting physically
                                                intact and still living some sixty-odd years on, but still unable to ever
                                                let go of the trauma. Alternatively, Eric Bogle wrote his masterpiece "And
                                                the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" as his effort to make the point, in clear
                                                and unambiguous terms, that war is a dirty, nasty business. I sometimes
                                                wonder if we, as reenactors, don't sometimes do the public a disservice in
                                                our portrayal of war, specifically in regards to the brutality of the
                                                experience. I'm not advocating that we should give up this alternative
                                                lifestyle, but I sometimes think that a few more well-executed post-battle
                                                scenarios and displays of the surgeon's art wouldn't be amiss in conveying a
                                                full picture.

                                                Incidentally, one of the reasons that it will be a few years yet before
                                                I bring my son (age 3) with me to events (aside from the immediate safety
                                                issues such as abundant campfires, sharp objects and the ability to wander
                                                off while Dad is playing soldier) is that I want to be sure that he
                                                understands that we're just pretending and that in the real world people
                                                don't stand up, march off and become friends again all around after getting
                                                shot.

                                                My apologies if I have strayed too far from the intended subject
                                                matter.

                                                On 12/2/09, Victor Suthren <suthren@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > For 1812 what moves me most is the thought of lines of young men---British,
                                                > American, Canadian---approaching one another in formations so close they
                                                > could see each other's features; young men who would have enjoyed a beer
                                                > together or laughed over a common joke. Approaching one another and
                                                > inflicting death, dismemberment, mutilation and agony on each other; being
                                                > splattered wiuth the blood and brains of comrades or knocked down by flying
                                                > severed limbs---all the horror of it all. Its choreography is fascinating,
                                                > but the war's ultimate reality of appalling conflict between men who should
                                                > have been unshakeable friends (as they are now) is so tragic. Hard,
                                                > sometimes, to think of much honor/honour in it all, actually....
                                                >
                                                > Vic Suthren
                                                > ----- Original Message -----
                                                > From: nappingcrow
                                                > To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com <WarOf1812%40yahoogroups.com>
                                                > Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 9:36 AM
                                                > Subject: Re: "Shell" shock and the War of 1812
                                                >
                                                > Hello,
                                                >
                                                > I'm also not an expert on this (not by any means) but there are two books
                                                > I'd like to pass along for consideration. Neither of them pertain directly
                                                > to the War of 1812, but they may offer some insight into the question at
                                                > hand.
                                                >
                                                > For an interesting general take on the psychology of killing and the toll
                                                > it takes on the military, I'd recommend "On Killing: The Psychological Cost
                                                > of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by David Grossman, who is if IRC a
                                                > psychologist and a former Lt. Colonel in the US Rangers. He feels that much
                                                > of what we call "shell shock" or PTSD (I believe he lumps them together) is
                                                > due not merely to the stress of being subject to imminent violence, but also
                                                > to the stress of having to be ready to COMMIT violent acts. He backs up his
                                                > thesis with a fair amount of historical research, though none pertaining
                                                > directly to the War of 1812.
                                                >
                                                > For a study closer to our period of interest I still want to read "Shook
                                                > over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War" by Eric T.
                                                > Dean Jr. "Digging through the pension records of Civil War vets, Dean
                                                > documents the great number who, suffering from severe psychological problems
                                                > triggered by intense combat experience, were dutifully provided with
                                                > disability pensions by the U.S. government."
                                                >
                                                > Casual brutality of daily existance aside, I do believe that we have much
                                                > in common with our forebears psychologically. If we believe that they were
                                                > unmoved (or much less moved) by violence, then we run the risk of turning
                                                > them into something 'other', instead of coming to the understanding that we
                                                > are basically the same, only with more technology today. I do not believe
                                                > human nature has changed that much, and when I try to talk with people about
                                                > history I usually try to show them parallels rather than differences.
                                                >
                                                > Regards,
                                                > Brian Smith
                                                >
                                                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >



                                                --
                                                John J. Ogden


                                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                              • lenthecooper
                                                Hello Anna, I ve been looking through a number of old medical texts and cannot find a mention of anything close to worry or stress related diseases other than
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Dec 4, 2009
                                                  Hello Anna,
                                                  I've been looking through a number of old medical texts and cannot find a mention of anything close to worry or stress related diseases other than the overuse of alcohol and occassional suicide.
                                                  John Douglas, Asst Surgeon of the Kings Regt in 'Medical Topograhy of Upper Canada' (1819) writes about a number of diseases; cholera morbis, venereal, catarrh etc but nothing which sounds to me as an upset or excited mind. The one fear he mentions is of the lancet by some individuals.
                                                  Dr John Davy Inspector General of Army Hospitals in 'Diseases of the Army'(1862) makes no mention of excited or disturbed minds except in cases of suicide or as part of a disease.
                                                  Perhaps if you go through pension applications and punishment reports you might be able to find more information.
                                                  Cheers,
                                                  Len

                                                  --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Anna Snipes <annasnipes@...> wrote:
                                                  >
                                                  > I know that it is getting into murky territory whenever one speaks of modern medical conditions in a historical context, but I wondered recently… were there any reports of PTSD-like behavior during and after the War of 1812?  Throughout history, it seems to be that some people are more effected, emotionally and physically, by war than others.  Logic would suggest that there must have been some such cases in the War of 1812.  Are there reports of "insubordination" or "cowardice", or just plain "insanity," that could be explained by what was actually PTSD?  Any examples in literature of the time?
                                                  >  
                                                  > Thanks,
                                                  > Anna
                                                  >
                                                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  >
                                                • Charlie Quesenberry
                                                  I have been searching the literature also. There s an anecdotal reference here and there about a soldier verbally chastising another occasionally (one fellow
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Dec 4, 2009
                                                    I have been searching the literature also. There's an anecdotal reference
                                                    here and there about a soldier verbally chastising another occasionally (one
                                                    fellow who had a limb removed do so stoically and was admonishing another
                                                    for crying out and threatening him to bear up like a man or he'd beat him),
                                                    but so far I haven't found anything remotely resembling a clinical diagnosis
                                                    for shell shock, battle fatigue or PTSD (even if not named for it).

                                                    In my limited understanding, I believe the lack of such documentation is
                                                    reflective of the culture of the times and a general lack of understanding
                                                    pursuant to psychology/psychiatry. Even internal medicine didn't exist as a
                                                    discrete discipline, and most treatments were superficial (as well as
                                                    largely ineffective).

                                                    Respectfully submitted for consideration,

                                                    Charlie Q
                                                    Surgeon,
                                                    Ships Company


                                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  • MasterAtArms
                                                    Of course, when a British soldier was declared worn out , it might also mean that his dental state had finally deteriorated to where he no longer had an upper
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Dec 4, 2009
                                                      Of course, when a British soldier was declared "worn out", it might also mean that his dental state had finally deteriorated to where he no longer had an upper and lower tooth that would meet to tear open his cartridges anymore.....

                                                      IMHO, we need to be EXTREMELY careful in attempting to decipher the quasi-medical vernacular of the period. Not all "medical" judgements in the military would have been made by qualified medical personnel, but often by superior officers or perhaps even NCOs! And, even when we strive not to allow it, our modern knowledge of PTSD and other combat-related psychological disorders will colour our perspective and understanding of what we read. An interesting discussion, to be certain... but one in which we must be very cautious with regard to our assumptions.

                                                      Dale
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