Pension Increase Request of Charles H. Doerflinger


Statement of Charles H. Doerflinger.

[1909?]

1. - The medical description of my condition is given in the accompanying statements made by Dr. Pfister M. D., Dr, Albert J. Herschman, Dr. Herman Reineking M.D. and three of Milwaukee, and by Dr. Eulitz of Dresden, Germany.

2. - Dr. A, Naumann of Milwaukee, immediately after my return from the hospital, on or about Jan. first 1864 emphatically advised re-amputation. In 1887 I was advised by three surgeons to have a reamputation performed while two other surgeons were undecided. Dr. F. Pfister in 1898 also advised a reamputation.

3. - Since my left leg was amputated on June 27th, 1863, at Washington, I have been subject to frequent attacks of very severe stump pain, resulting, as I understand, principally from the partial failure of the circular amputation in the region of the lower third of the thigh, the end of the bone not being covered by muscular tissue and therefore exposed to many atmospheric influences and mechanical pressures strain, and disorders. The bandages and main arteries had burst shortly after the amputation, while the surgeons had left me on the operating table in charge of a nurse or steward; owing to great contraction of muscle the surgeon after having been re-called, notwithstanding late mechanical efforts to draw the soft parts over the bone again did not succeed; the same painful operation was tried every morning for five successive days without success, and the stump was then left to heal with out any bandage. The bone soon protruded over one inch beyond the muscles, which was protrusion in the course of months increased to about two inches to two and one half inches. I was not strong enough to be allowed to go home to Milwaukee until the end of December 1863. In the intervals between those excruciating attacks of stump pain of long duration, there was always more or less painful sensation and irritation near the end of the stump so that it was frequently impossible for me to wear an artificial leg. The spasms of pain occurred at intervals of a few seconds or minutes, thus continuing whole days or nights and increasing in length and severity in the course of these forty five years to more than twenty six hours during the last year even to fifty eight hours before relief finally came after the application of opiates or similar remedies, either by injection or internally. Long periods of trouble connected with inflammation occurred from time to time, as for instance during one and one half years from 1886 to 87 and again during several months in 1898 until Dr. F. Pfister of Milwaukee was able to remove two loose fragments of bone in August 1898; several similar periods of sequestration connected with suppuration and inflammation during the time from 1899 to1908, were treated by several surgeons, among them Dr. Albert J, Herschman M. D.

4.- I suffered frequently from severe nerve disorders in consequence of irritating conditions of the stump, incapacitating me more or less for brain work during such periods.

5.- I also suffered from lameness of the knee and, part of the time of the ankle joint of the right (not amputated) leg, resulting from over exertion of the sound leg principally in 1895 while attempting to make a living as an insurance agent. I was laid up entirely for one month with knee tendons contracted and for over a year thereafter was not allowed by my attending physician Dr. Reinhardt M. D. to walk more than a few blocks.

6.- Neuraligac and neurasthenic troubles manifested themselves in my stomach and other parts of the body during many years; at least that was the explanation given me by my physicians.

7. - Great irregularity of digestion was added to my troubles such as is said usually to distress nervous persons especially if their opportunities for are restricted. For many years T suffered from palpitation of the heart and irregulations of the circulation of the blood.

8. - Fearing that a collapse might possibly occurring consequence of anesthesia during re-amputation, and left in uncertainty by the difference of opinion among the many surgeons consulted I deferred the reamputation for many years.

9.- As a first lieutenant of the 26th regiment volunteers, infantry, I received my honorable discharge while on sick (wounded) then furlough at Milwaukee on special order no. 21, Feb. 25, 1864, when the end of the thigh was still only covered by a circular film and over one inch in diameter, of frequently bleeding and suppurating granulations.

10. - Aside from the intermittent attacks of fearful internal stump pain which I believe resulted from the want of protection by a good covering of a muscular tissue and probably effected the sciatic nerves, which were always kept in a morbidly sensitive condition: I also endured almost constant pain or irritation these forty five years thru the strain exerted upon the tender neuromata, muscle-fibers, skin and cuticle which were improperly attached to all sides of the thigh bone near its end, so that every step hurt me (unnecessarily). The 160 lbs. of my weight pressing upon the bone of the stump every time I raised my living foot to take a step forward, had a tendency to propel it downward thru the flesh held tightly on all sides, by the walls of the wooden socket, a tendency to tear those thin and tender parts mentioned away from the side of the bone.

        One hours walking requires about 2000 to 3000 steps or 10,000 in four hours, by the artificial foot alone. During the forty five years I have always tried to maintain and improve my condition by temperate living and strenuous practice when the pain was not too severe. I believe I have used the artificial leg in the house or office and outside from 0 hour (when in pain or sick) to 8 hours out of 16 between 6 A. M. when I usually arise and 10 P. M., or an average of 4 hours a day, that means 10,000 more or less painful strains per day on the irritable parts 3,000,000 per year, or 135,000.00 during these forty five years. No wonder that I rarely have a waking hour without some (more or less) nervous irritation or nerve twitching seemingly even at the extremity of the nonexistent toes, or soreness in those tender parts near the protruding thigh bone.
        During that whole period I have made every effort to obtain the best advice from the most renowned surgeons in every country visited. I needed constant medical advice and treatment these forty five years, always from first class professionals. They were usually compelled to take recourse to opiates or other naesthetics and narcotics (sometimes three or four doses); Every new remedy discovered was probably used, also external treatment by hot poultices, hot and cold bath, massage, electricity etc.
        My expenditures for medical advice, remedies and travel connected with my search for best medical and surgical authorities, have amounted to from $50 to$100 a year and sometimes more; taking the average, at $75 a year for forty five year the total amount would be $3375. By nature and education I was always disposed and impelled to do at least my duty under all circumstances and as far as possible my ability to work was more or less impaired during the larger part of such periods by the above named morbid conditions and intense suffering. The resultant over-exertion in connection with the nerve irritation, attacks of stump pain and dosing with opium etc. caused five or six periods of very serious and prolonged nervous prostration, requiring at least as many years of treatment and recuperation. At the rate of the moderate salary of a lieutenant the loss to me on those accounts would amount to 5or 6 times $1500 equal to ….. $9000.
        The Pension Department under a literal definition of certain divisions of the pension laws gave me $120 per year less than was allowed to those who had a stump not more than one half of the thigh bone.
        If I had been so fortunate as to have a good normal, sound stump of only one half the length of my thigh bone, my natural energy would probably made me one of the best walkers among the invalids with thigh amputations; I would have been saved forty five years of almost continuous tortures; I would not have been subjected to those periods of nervous prostration and the consequent loss of many working hours.
        To deprive me of $125 a year for forty five years, or $5400 because three surgeons on June 27, 1863 did not make a flat amputation three inches farther above, where there was plenty of sound muscle to produce a first class painless, sound stump, seems to me to have been an unintentional, but nevertheless stupendous injustice inflicted by the letter of a [? law?] written by persons who knew little or nothing of the signs art of construction and use of artificial limbs.
        During the last years and more especially in1907-8 the attacks of pain in my stump increased to such a degree in duration and severity that they became unbearable not withstanding numerous doses of opiates etc., applied. Thus I was gradually driven to decide to have my thigh re-amputated. My regular attending physician Dr. Albert Herschman and Dr. Reinekin, surgical specialist, performed the operation on Apr.8, 1908, which to all appearances has been a marked success, I have now seemingly a good stump, with a sufficient covering of the bone. During the two months since the amputation was performed, I have had some sleight nervous twitching, uneasiness and the old toe-sensation, but not a single attack of the old long continued tormenting stump pain.
        Being 65 years of age now, I may hope to enjoy a degree of comfort during the few years I may have to live, such as many comrades. With good normal amputations have enjoyed ever since the war, and which I might have enjoyed these forty five years if the amputation performed upon my limb on June 27, 1863 had been a perfect one.
        My life was that of a hard and willing worker; my mode of living is always temperate, I believe that no one could justly, call me a spend thrift; yet, I have not been able to provide a home of my own for my family nor to lay up a moderate competence.
        I feel that the cause must be sought mainly in the breakdowns of my nerves and my general physique resulting from the debilitating effects of the condition of my amputated thigh.
        Military Record of Charles H. Doerflinger as rendered by P. P. Chapman of the State of Wisconsin, under date of July first, 1894.
        This is to certify that the records of this office show that Charles H. Doerflinger late a first lieutenant in Company K, of the 26th regiment of Wisconsin infantry volunteers, enlisted at Milwaukee, Wis., on the 15 day of Aug. 1862, for the term of three years, was mustered into the military service of the United States at Milwaukee, Wis. on the 17 day of Sept., 1862 as first sergeant company B, same regiment, was a commissioned second lieutenant of company B, Dec,. 29, 1862 to rank from Dec. 20, 1862 and was mustered in as such at Stafford Court House Va., Dec. 20, (Sic) by Major Carmichael; was commissioned first lieutenant and transferred to company K March 23, 1863, to rank from March 15, 1863 and was mustered in as such at Stafford Virginia, March 15, 1863, (Sic) by Major Carmichael. and was honorably discharged on special order No. 21 Feb, 25, 1864.The records further show that said soldier, when enlisted, was 19 years of age, and single.
        Not finding it advisable on account of my physical condition to continue the architectural career I had chosen after leaving school, I began teaching school in1864, but being frequently obliged to go from class to class ascending and descending stairways, I found it so tiresome and dangerous and nerve exhausting, that I gave up teaching at school and also later giving of private lessons.
        It is my recollection, that more than a year elapsed after I began wearing the artificial leg before the sinus over the end of the bone had completely healed.

Addition to the Military Record.

        I was in command of the center of the line of 100 sharpshooter of the 26th regiment Wis. Vol., who were deployed as skirmishers in the timber west of the Hawkins field during the first day of the “Battle of Chancellorsville” on May 2, 1863, which line covered the three regiments of Gen. Krzyzanowski’s Brigade and two regiments somewhat further to the rear formed the only line of battle and front that opposed and stopped for about 30,min. The advance toward the center and left wing of Stonewall Jackson’s army. Our skirmish line after some effective firing was ordered to retreat before the enemy who advanced in column by Brigades and joined the regiment. When I reached my Company K, its Captain, Schuler and many others had been shot and carried to the rear. Being the ranking officer, I immediately took command of the company, which stood splendidly and without wavering under a hail-storm of lead until General Krzyzanowski gave the command to retreat.
        Thus I was Acting Captain during that battle, on May 2, 1863. I received my honorable discharge by special order on Feb. 25, 1864, considerably more than one year before the original sinus over the end of the bone had healed up.
        It seems to me that I ought not to have been discharged until the sinus over the end of the amputated thigh bone, resulting direct from a very serious failure of the amputation performed by the surgeons then in the service of the United States had healed perfectly. My salary during that period would have amounted to about $1800.
        I have always, during these forty five years, at home and abroad done everything recommended by the surgeon consulted, including some of the most noted in the world, to obtain relief from the terrible stump pain. Among those surgeons were former surgeon General
        Dr. Hammond at New York (whose charge for one consultation by the way, was $20); Surgeon General Dr. Ernst von Bergman in Berlin, Germany, the same who treated Emperor Frederich, Dr. Bodo Vogt in Dresden Court Surgeon, on whose advice I had Dr. Eulitz take the accompanying x-ray photographs of my stump which shown, some of the causes of my tortures, Surgeon Gen. Shwabe, in Weimar, Germany, surgeons considered the most noted at Frankfurt -on-the-Maine and at Freiburg whose names I do not recollect. It was the most noted surgeon in France Dr. Doyen, who gave me a card of introduction to the genial Dr. Bergman.
        Summing up the above, I believe I have a just and fair claim upon the United States Government for from ……. $15,700 to $18,300 and a raise of my pension to the amount paid those whose stump is not more than one half of the length of the thigh bone, because the condition of my stump during all these forty five years was a great deal worse than a sound stump of less than half the length of the thigh would have been.
        The educated elements among the old settles of Milwaukee know that during good health I have always devoted a considerable portion of my business time and most of my leisure time for uncompensated work done as a member or officer of 30 or more associations founded for the promotion of education or other cultural and patriotic movements in the interest of public welfare. During the last three years I have given practically all my time in solid work in connection with the elaboration of a comprehensive project for the thorough betterment of the American Public School System without any income from or remuneration for it. It was work of a high grade and special quality which comparatively few writers could have done. $10,000 would be considered a moderate estimate of its pecuniary value.
        I mention this as an indication that I have not been greedy, but altruistic in such matters.

        Schedule of exhibits to be returned to

1. -That part of thigh bone and surrounding tissues including about two and one quarter inch of bone amputated on Apr. 8, 1908, preserved in glass jar with alcohol and formalinx.

2. -A Roentegen photograph of my stump made in 1900 by Dr. Eulitz, who had been recommended by my consulting physician Prof. Bodo Vogt in Dresden, Germany. It shows some bony protuberances near the end of the stump which probably contributed to the causes of pain.

3. - A letter of Dr. Eulitz and two drawings made by him of the end of the stump at Dresden in 1900.

4. - A Photograph made of my new stump since the recent amputation of Apr. 9, 1908.

Author/Creator: Wisconsin History Commission.
Title: Papers, 1861-1865, 1884-1918.
Quantity: 1.6 c.f. (5 archives boxes)