NPR

Civil War Battlefield 'Limb Pit' Reveals Work Of Combat Surgeons

Scientists have been analyzing bones first uncovered by a utility crew digging at the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia. The remains provide insights into surgery during the Civil War.
The limbs had been evenly cut (left), and researchers were able to identify bullet holes (right). Source: Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Scientists have uncovered a pit of human bones at a Civil War battlefield in Virginia. The remains are the amputated limbs of wounded Union soldiers. It's the first "limb pit" from a Civil War battlefield to be excavated, and experts say it opens a new window on what is often overlooked in Civil War history: the aftermath of battle, the agony of survivors and the trials of early combat surgeons. The bones first surfaced in 2014 when a utility crew was digging at the . The National Park Service runs the site, and fortunately it had an archaeologist and Civil War expert on hand: Brandon Bies. Bies says at first they weren't sure what they had.

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