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 Major Robert Hackett's medical reports

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:40 pm

An amazing Journey.

"SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2011

Robert Hackett - the medical reports
I would like to thank Professor Longmore, who was the world expert in gunshot wounds at the time when he was Robert Hackett's doctor at Netley. Professor Longmore was also obviously very diligent in his recording and safe-keeping of medical reports as can be born out by the fact that these reports were originally written in 1879

I would also like to thank Phillip Hoare, the author of Spike Island. He wrote about these reports in his book, which by the way is a great read for anybody interested in this hospital and some of the people that worked there or were patients there


Robert Hackett was wounded on 29th Mar 1879 at the Battle of Kambulla Hill where the Zulu's were defeated with 2,000 dead in comparison to 28 British dead

Robert was shot through the head from a range of about thirty yards. The bullet passed clean through one temple and out of the other. No one who witnessed it could have have expected the wound to be anything other than instantly fatal. Amazingly Major Hackett was still alive

The officer was rushed to a field hospital where the Surgeon-Major of the 'Flying Column' reported on what must have seemed little short of a miracle

''the projectile. a spherical bullet entered the right temporal fossa, passed through both orbits, causing protrusion of the eyeballs causing complete loss of sight and was extracted from the left temporal fossa''

On the 7th April 1879 Major Hacket was transferred to the Base Field Hospital at Utrecht. When patients were transferred from one hospital to another, the Medical Officer in Charge would ensure

the sick man received a hot meal before starting and was supplied with cooked rations for two days, together with enough preserved meat and vegetables for the rest of the journey. They would also be supplied with sufficient tent accommodation and cooking utensils, water, medicines, medical comports as well as their own arms and ammunition
a Non-Commisioned Officer (NCO) or private of the Army Hospital Corps, if available, or a non-commissioned officer or private of some other regular corps will invariably accompany the ambulance
a nominal roll (in duplicate) of the sick, showing their diseases or injuries, date of admission, treatment, date of departure and date of probable arrival at the next hospital is made out. One copy is forwarded without delay with the usual medical certificate to the Medical Officer to whom the sick man is about to be sent. The other copy to be given to the NCO or Private or Dresser accompanying the sick man
soldiers coming to hospital must bring with them a sick report in duplicate, containing information on regiment, name and number with a space for the Surgeon's Remarks in which the Medical Officer will write either 'admitted', 'detained for day', 'medicine and duty' or 'duty' as he may decide. One of these reports will be taken back to the camp by the NCO or private who marched the sick man to hospital, in order that the man's rations for that day may be supplied from the regiment

It was reported at the Base Field Hospital, Utrecht recieving Major Hackett that:

''Slight discharge issued from both temporal wounds. Both sclerotics were freely incised to relieve tension and subsequently both eyeballs were extirpated as fully as the injured and disorganised mass would allow. The right lower lid which was drooping was drawn up towards the upper by means of islinglass plaster and the eyes touched with oil to prevent adhesion. Small spicula of bone came away from time to time from the wounds in the temporal fossa and several pieces could be felt grating along a probe passed in the direction of the wound

There is no symptom indicating any injury to the brain except that the memory seems much impaired and a total indifference to everything seems to exist

Major Hackett does not appear to suffer constitutionally as much as might be expected from such a grave injury. The bodily functions are comparatively speaking normal and on most days of late he is able to engage in conversation with his friends for a short time. He seems however, to have no recollection of the battle in which he sustained this severe wound. I recommend that he be sent Pietermaritzburg with a view of being invalided to England and that his soldier servant be allowed to accompany him to England''

On the revers of the above report was a second report, which noted that Hackett had been brought before an invaliding board at Pietermaritzberg and was:

''recommended to proceed to England on six months leave of absence''

The idea of 'leave of absence' for a man who had received a bullet through his head appeared to encourage the casualty - who seemed to have little real idea of what had actually happened to him - in the notion that his wound was not so serious. It was a cruel deception!

On the 5th Jul Hackett left the officers hospital for Durban where he embarked on H.M.S. Euphrates transferring to H.M.S. Jumna at Simons Bay at the Cape on 21st Jul. Dudley, the surgeon on board contributed the next report

'' During the voyage to England he improved in general health, gaining weight and strength. On the morning of the 18th August, he was most suddenly seized with a fit, closely resembling epilepsy. His breathing during the fit was stertorous and very laboured. The fit lasted for ten minutes. He remembered nothing of it. His servant, who has been with him fifteen years, says he never had a fit before. Slight discharge if pus from the wound and between the eyelids all through the voyage. There is stiffness of the lower jaw preventing the opening of his mouth farther apart than to admit the tip of his little finger



Meanwhile back in Netley, Professor Longmore was alerted to the arrival of his notable patient by a friend serving at a military camp on the Kent coast:

Shorncliffe
28 July 1879

Dear Mr Longmore

Major Hackett, 90th regiment is on his way home, badly wounded and deprived of sight, to go to Netley, to be under your kind care and able treatment

His sisters who are friends of ours wish to be near him while at Netley and will take apartments in the village

I told them that they might be sure of receiving from you every consideration. I am persuaded that you will say I am right in telling them this from all that I know of your kindness and true sympathy

I hope that you and Mrs Longmore and the children are well. I have a lingering affection for Netley but there have been many changes since my time

Yours sincerely
W. Ponsford

P.S. One of Major Hackett's sisters is married to a chaplain: Mr Crooke, now at Cork

At the end of his long journey up the African coast to Southampton Water, Hackett arrived at Netley in early August, where armed with his case reports, Professor Longmore finally met his new patient and was able to make his own deductions

The Professor's observations exhibit his sympathy for his patients injuries and the tragedy that accompanied them. He realised to his dismay that his patient had been cruelly deceived:

''The nature of the injury inflicted on the two eyes excludes all possibility of any degree of visual power whatever being recovered. Unfortunately this does not appear to have been made clear to the patient, so that on his arrival at Netley he still had a hope that he might recover the sight of one eye. It has been explained to Major Hackett how baseless this hope is and he has received the information, which it has been difficult to to communicate to him, with composure

The sense of smell is much impaired. The sense of hearing remains perfect on both sides as does that of taste. Nor does there appear to be any degree of paralysis of sensation or motion

Major Hackett does not suffer from headaches or giddiness No mental faculty appears to be impaired except memory and only as regards circumstances that have occurred since the date of the wound

I was in the same regiment with Major Hackett in India in 1857 and 1858 and every incident of that time Major Hackett remembers perfectly, more minutely, indeed, than I do myself. He remembered about the fight in which he was engaged up to the time he was wounded. He neither remembers receiving the wound, nor anything that occurred subsequently until he was in hospital in Maritzburg. His recollections of this period are very imperfect, neither does his memory appear to be very tenacious of circumstances which are now occurring from day to day

Fortunately Major Hackett's general health and spirits are good and conversation pleases him. Two of his brothers, Col. Hackett formerly of the 23rd regiment and Captain Hackett of the 5th fusiliers are at present staying with him

Thomas Longmore, Surgeon General ''

Additional Sources

Army Medical Department, Report on Zulu War 1879"
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:13 pm

God only knows how he survived that incident. Still trying to work out he survived. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:31 pm

He lucky it was a musket ball, and not a MH round.
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90th

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PostSubject: Major Robert Hackett's Medical Reports    Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:41 am

Hi Littlehand .
Great post , I've often wondered how Hackett survived the wound let alone his transportation back to England !.
Would be interesting to see what would be done and what level of sight if any could be restored by todays medical standards . Do we have any Doctors or surgeons on board ? who may be able to shed some info on Hacketts wound if it was to happen in todays world ? .
Cheers 90th. Salute
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 9:14 pm

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Evening Express. Wednesday January 3rd 1894
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 10:10 pm

Littlehand,

There are a couple more Zulu War players on that site as well: http://www.royalvictoriamilitaryhospital.net/2011_12_01_archive.html

Vacy Ash & Mrs Deeble are worth a look.

John Y.
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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 10:46 pm

Thanks John. I don't suppose you have a photo of Hackett in your collection. Been searching for hours with no luck, I'm starting to think there isn't one.
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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 10:54 pm

theres a great one in the windsor archive posted
by Rusteze, all photos are of great definition and
downloadable.
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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 10:56 pm

Is this the one!

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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 11:06 pm

Littlehand,

I've got him in this group:

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90th Light Infantry, Dover 1874, the then Captain Robert Hackett, standing third from the left.
John Young Collection.

John Y.
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PostSubject: Re: Major Robert Hackett's medical reports   Mon May 19, 2014 11:43 pm

sorry LH, yep thats it.
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