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Federal (USV)


John Murtagh

(c. 1832 - ?)

Home State: New York

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 69th New York Infantry

Before Antietam

Age 30, he enlisted in New York City to serve three years, and mustered in as Private, Company D, 69th New York Infantry on 4 August 1862.

On the Campaign

He was wounded in the thigh in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862.

The rest of the War

He was treated at hospitals in Frederick, MD and West Philadelphia, PA then rejoined his Company. He was wounded again, by gunshot to the right elbow, in action at Fredricksburg, VA on 13 December 1862, after which Surgeon D. W. Bliss reported:

He was wounded at 1 P. M., while in the act of firing, the ball taking effect in the right arm. He laid on the field until dark, and then walked more than a mile, into Fredericksburg, where he remained until the next morning. He was carried in an ambulance to Aquia Landing, where his arm was bandaged, and he was placed on board of a transport for Washington.
December 14th, he was admitted to the Armory Square Hospital [Washington, DC] in the night, and no examination was attempted.
December 15th, the general condition of the patient is good. Examination showed that the ball entered a little above the external condyle and emerged a little below the internal, causing a compound comminuted fracture of the humerus. The operation of resection was decided upon, and performed at 2 P. M. ... The bone was found most terribly shattered. Both the condyles were removed, and the bone ... taken off with the chain saw. In all, about three inches of the lower end of the humerus was removed, and numerous spiculae of bone were taken out. The ulna and radius were uninjured, as were also the attachments of the extensors and flexors of the arm. The incision was closed by sutures ...
He recovered well and was transferred on 12 May 1863 to De Camp Hospital on Devil's Island, NY, where Surgeon J.W. Dickie determined he was largely healed, but his arm was useless, having no elbow joint. He was administratively transferred to Company B on 12 June 1863, then to Company G, 21st Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps at Fort Schuyler, NY, on 25 June. He was returned to the 69th on 20 February 1864 and was discharged for disability on 29 April 1864 near Stevensburg, VA.

After the War

By September 1865 his right arm was 1 and 1/2 inches shorter than his left. In 1873 a Jersey City, NJ pension examiner found his arm was "hanging useless by his side."

References & notes

Service information from the Roster,1 which also has him as Murtaugh and Murtha. Antietam hospital details from Nelson.2 The Fredericksburg quote and further details from Robert McLernon's Casualty list: 69th New York Volunteer Infantry at Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 13, 1862 (2012, pp. 9-10) [pdf]. McLernon cites the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1870).


c. 1832 in IRELAND


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1901, Ser. No. 28, pg. 262  [AotW citation 18173]

2   Nelson, John H., As Grain Falls Before the Reaper: The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam, Hagerstown: John H. Nelson, 2004, pg. 333  [AotW citation 18174]