Peter Charles Remondino Autobiography (1846-1926)
Dr. P. C. Remondino, the subject of this sketch, is a native of Torino, Italy, an ancient Cisalpine-Gaulish stronghold. His father was a member of an old Lombard family of that name, while his mother came from the Ligurian-Gaulish stock, her family belonging to the Valdenses, a people which in the twelfth century was the earliest sect that seceeded from the papal church to form the Italian Presbyterian church. The reason given for this action being, that the papacy in assuming to exercise temporal powers was wilfully departing from and acting against Christian principles and teachings.
The earliest known Remondino is thus mentioned in the third volume of the Florence edition of 1844, of the Dizionario Biografico Universale, which translated into English is as follows:
“Mondino, abbreviation of Remondino, latinized as Mundinus, a celebrated anatomist, a native of Milan, according to some authorities, and of Florence according to others, towards the end of the thirteenth century, died in Bologna in 1326.”
Then follows a list of the several editions of his anatomical works which were several times re-edited aid republished by Italian and German publishers, the last edition mentioned being that printed in is Marburg in Germany in the year 1541, this being two hundred and fifteen years in which his Anatomy replaced that of Galen in the Italian and other European universities.
His work was the first European anatomy made from human dissections, to perform which he was obliged to go to Rome to obtain the Pope’s permission. Luckily the latter was a broadminded man, one given to a study of the sciences, something on the order of mind s possessed by Benedict XIII and the late Leo XIII. He and the then reigning pope were old friends so Remondino felt quite confident of obtaining the permit which enabled him to dissect two bodies in his Bologna amphitheatre, these being the first human dissections that had been performed in Europe.
There has been several members of the family who have since held the chair of anatomy in the University of Bologna who have retained the name of Mondino, the last one as far as records show being Carlo or Charles Mondino, who died in Bologna in the early part of the past century. Another Mindinus, of the same family, has occupied a similar professional chair in the University of Padua.
The paternal grand parents of our doctor Remondino left the Lombardo-Venetian states to escape the Austrian tyrannical and benighted domination by removing to Piedmont where there existed a constitutional enlightened and liberal form of government and educational freedom. It is thus that thru heredity he received thru this paternal Lombard ancestry and thru maternal Ligurian-Celtic stock the doctor is thoroughly wedded to republican principles and freedom from all dogmatic governmental as well as from all contentious, dogmatic and sectarian religious rules, not in accord with principles taught by the New Testament. Piedmont was at that time the only state in the whole of Italy living under tolerant laws governing religion and education, and the only state in the peninsula where schools were free to select their teaching methods and subjects for teaching, or permitted to adopt the system of Swiss education which had for some years been devised. From his heredity, studies, and observations, he believes in the greatest freedom and simplicity in education and looks upon all standardizing as mischievous departures from which only great injury to individualism can result.
The elder Remondino had a friend in Genoa who was a ship captain, who had just completed the construction and launching a brig of his own, with which he was about to sail to New York with a cargo of marble to be used in the capitol then in process of construction. Knowing that his friend was preparing to go to America, he invited him to be the first passenger to cross the Atlantic on his new vessel. The offer was gladly accepted and he and his young son, then a lad of eight years, embarked for the journey with the captain.
It was during this sea Journey that the doctor was made acquainted thru actual practical experience with some of the intricacies of physical geography of the Atlantic ocean which were never forgotten. Soon after leaving the Straits of Gibraltar, the captain, not altogether without reason, imagined that the brig was chased by a sloop which the captain believed must have been an Algerian pirate, which somehow managed to keep on the brig’s track, even when the latter sailed with all its lights extinguished during two successive nights after which the brig, succeeded in escaping. But in escaping, the ship went way out of its course to the southward which carried it into the calms of the Sargasso Sea where it remained becalmed for many days before it could make its exit from the calm and still waters and thru the heavy beds of cover the surface of that sea in mid-ocean. The doctor has very vivid recollections of that adventure, as all hands went armed to the teeth until the chasing sloop disappeared.
Emerging from the south limits of this still sea full of sea-weeds the brig was found to be nearing the Cuban coast where it accidentally drifted into another calm belt where it remained for some days with flopping sails, under a broiling sun and a great heat which nearly spoiled the drinking water, the containing casks of which were moored on supports on the brig’s deck. A sharp breeze from the southeast finally came to its rescue and bowled it along towards the Gulf Stream on the Florida coast from which it was hoped that in a few days it would be able to enter New York Harbor.
But when nearing the harbor entrance a violent southwest wind, which seemed to be having great sport at the skipper’s expense, bowled the brig back into the rapid current of the Gulf Stream, which with the violent wind blowing stiffly from the southwest carried it past the latitude of New York and sent it to the northeast at such a rapid rate that next morning on awakening, the brig was found to be escaping out of the Gulf Stream into heavy banks of fog to mark time on the shallow waters of the New Foundland banks. To the surprise of the officers and the crew, it was found that the very cold and foggy air on the Banks had completely done away with the foulness of the water, which had become undrinkable, but which now had suddenly turned into water as pure as the water of the best of mountain springs. Owing to adverse winds and the desire of the captain to avoid again falling into the Gulf Stream which with favoring winds might have landed the brig on the Norwegian coast, it took several days to work back to the latitude of New York where the brig finally came to anchor on a misty Sunday morning.
“I must say that thru this tedious voyage,” observed the doctor, “I received more or loss instruction while listening to our dinner table talk between my father and the captain and his first mate, who was also his brother, from which I formed a lasting interest in the study of physical geography whose basis of observation and study in my case, resided in those two extremes into which we had accidentally sailed, these being the Sargasso Sea with its clear tropical sky and burning sun, at one extreme, and the light green waters of the New Foundland bank with its great and enshrouding bank of thick and cold fog at the other.”
After some months spent in New York, Mr. Remondino and his son wended their way westward stopping at various places until they finally landed in Minnesota, where in all probabilities the doctor would have remained to this day but for the accidental occurrences which led him to emigrate to California in the fall of 1873. From 1857 to 1861 the subject of our biographic sketch followed up his studies in a typical territorial district schoolhouse of only one room with only one teacher, who, however, had been in his earlier life an educated Baptist minister, having retired from the clerical profession to take up that of teaching. He was a very industrious and busy man, as he alone taught the A, B, C class, and from that on up to the various readers, which then took the place of our present grades, up into the higher mathematics and philological branches, in the latter of which he had classes in Greek and Latin, the doctor being in the Latin class. Besides these he had a night school, which the doctor also attended, in which he taught German to a grown-up class, the doctor being the only small lad in the class.
A large part of the population of the county and town consisted of French Canadians along with the descendants of many of the early French government officials and the many French employees of the fur companies and store keepers, who had intermarried with the daughters of the Sioux chiefs, the results being that more than half of the population spoke French, which he soon learned to speak. Necessarily, the French there spoken contained many of the Breton and Normandy idioms of the Canadian French with not a few Sioux Indian words. Thru this and his daily contact with the Indians, he learned both the Sioux language and the mixed French vernacular there in use.
Luckily his father had brought with him quite a library of Italian and French works, among which was a complete edition of Balzac’s Comedie Humaine; an edition of Los Cases’ Memorial de Sainte-Helena, in two large quarto volumes, containing about three times the amount of text as is to be found in Ernest Bourdin’s edition of the same work, in two large octavo volumes; and General Mathieu Dumas’ History of the Napoleonic Campaigns-from 1799-1814 in nineteen volumes.
But the books from which he obtained most enlightenment, by this meaning an education in thinking and reasoning, that went far beyond the immediate texts contained in a work, consisted of a five of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary and a work by Millhousee entitled Grammatica Inglese, just then published in Milan containing Benjamin Franklin’s stories and sayings, a work intended to educate Italians in what, in the middle of the past century, was considered as being true Americanism in all senses.
One book that the doctor personally purchased for himself and from which he derived a broader view of the American nation was a two volume edition, beautifully illustrated, of Lossing’s Field-Book of the Revolution, which he later on supplemented with the two works of Weem’s, these being the life of Washington and that of Francis Marion. These works on the American Revolution he had completely mastered before finishing his twelfth year, after which he read Thackeray, Dickens, Warren, and Wilkie Collins.
From studying and digesting something from the above works, the doctor converted his Canadian and Sioux philologic combination that composed the French vernacular, then extensively spoken in the northwestern parts of what had been the province of Louisiana, into Parisian or literary French; while from the English works he greatly extended his knowledge and appreciation of differing British ideals, as were later on represented in earlier New England and Virginia, all of which added greatly to his English vocabulary.
It was in this territorial district school — which might truly have been termed a most decidedly early frontier American university of the period; divested, however, of its ancient New England doctrinal theology, but combining all the elements of a primary, elementary, grammar, and high, and college educational branches, all taught in one room, which might as well have been out of doors under a spreading elm or maple tree in imitation of the ancient Greeks, with only one teacher — that Dr. Remondino, as a small lad, began what may well be considered as being his American education.
In this school a student enjoyed the presence of all necessary opportunities for practically observing and studying different charactered youthful mental states, abilities, and receptivities. It was in this primitive Comenian order of an humble one-man taught school wherein individualism — instead of being smothered tend crushed down thru too much modern standardization and having its life pressed out of existence by over-weighty and over-charged curriculi — was encouraged, taught, and unconsciously cultivated, that as a lad, the future physician laid the foundation of his present ideas that education to be efficient should be freer and more sensible and lose pedantly constrained.
In the early spring months of 1861, before the outbreak of the civil War, the doctor entered the office of Dr. Francis H. Milligan, a Jefferson graduate, as a medical student. The doctor, as observed by young Remondino, was a most practical man in all senses, one of those who believed in teaching and doing the things themselves, in place of simply teaching and memorizing words and their — at times very misty and variable — meanings. To those ends and to start his student in the right and most profitable path at once, he advised the latter to call on Mr. Joseph Rogue and inquire whether be would have any objection to his securing the skeleton of an Indian whom Mr. Roque had shot dead some years before and who had been buried in a piece of marsh land at a little distance from his house which stood on an adjoining hill. Mr. Roque not only granted the student’s request but took him down the hill and pointed out the exact locality of the grave. This piece of land was yearly overflowed by the waters of the Mississippi in every spring freshet, remaining so for a month or more at a time.
The doctor next day accompanied his student who was quite enthusiastic at this practical initiation into the mysteries of medicine. Arriving at the place the preceptor became the director of operations and his student the interested laborer, conscious that he was then actually working his way into the medical profession. The spring overflow had receded about a month previously, leaving the ground soft to work, besides the, Indians buried their, dead either in very shallow graves not more than two feet in depth, or left them to mummified on high scaffolds enwrapped in their blanket, The several inundations had done away with all the soft parts or tissues, so that they found the bones clean and dry but of the color of browned ivory and otherwise all in a perfect state of preservation and not the smallest bone missing.
With the assistance of the preceptor the student wired the obtained skeleton very properly. This being done the doctor delivered a general lecture on the skeleton, but to make the subject more clear and comprehensible the student was advised, by whatever means he might choose to elect to procure as large and well developed Tommy cat as possible, which he would assist to dissect, so that through the dissection the student might obtain a working knowledge of the relation that exists between general anatomy and general physiology, thus giving him the reasons for the placing of the different organs and a general idea of the physiological functions of each organ and its relations to biology.
The student, as he expressed it, found this combination of studies most helpful, far more easy to learn by the constant relation in regard to the co-ordination of the parts and their functions, than if each had been studied separately. His form of coordinating anatomical and physiologic studies and its advantages is particularly noticeable in the study of the base of the skull where the conjoined studies should always include that of the base of the brain and the distribution of the cranial nerves.
It was the intention of the doctor’s preceptor that his pupil should possess a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and chemistry, as then taught, before he should enter a medical college. But it happened that after thoroughly initiating his young student into the study of these three branches of medicine he accepted a position in the volunteer medical corps of the army of his state being appointed to one of the Minnesota infantry regiments.
The departure of his preceptor for the army, however, did not interfere with the doctor’s studies at least not as far as his work with books and the study of comparative anatomy and physiology were concerned. The opportunities for the prosecution of the latter studies were simply unending, and the greater the scope of those opportunities, the better and clearer became his knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Thus it occurred that while he sadly missed his preceptors daily quizzes, as well as the daily clinics and accompanying practical explanations and short lectures on medical and surgical subjects as the opportunities for them had occurred, the absence of those instructive entertainment created a vacuum which was speedily refilled by an increased interest in the studies of natural history and physics, into which he entered with great enthusiasm.
Dr. Milligan, as said, was himself a most practical, systematic, scientific, and methodical student. With him this was an inheritance from his Scottish-Irish ancestry. While at the Jefferson college, his room-mate and study chum had been James Aitken Meigs who must at that period have been one of the hardest plodding and incessantly working students in his class who, at the solicitation of his old friend and room-mate, became young Remondino’s preceptorial guide and advisor during the entire term of his student days in Philadelphia. Dr. Meigs, as well known, was a devoted student of natural history; the study upon which he looked as the basis of all the sciences. He was also one of the most active members of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and probably, at that period, one of the most finished — and that also in a complete comparative sense — anatomical and physiological students in the city and well fit to be classed with Prof. Leidy who was also a devoted student of natural history and at the time occupied the Chair of Anatomy at the University. On the death of Prof. Robley Dunglison, such were the well known attainments and scientific standings of Dr. Meigs, that he was at once called to fill Dr. Dunglison’s chair in his own Alma Mater.
The intimate associations young Remondino formed at the time with Dr. Meigs were of the greatest benefit to the younger student as from his new preceptor, who was greatly pleased to find in his old college chum’s pupil such an earnest and advanced student of natural history, that the latter was afforded every opportunity for the further prosecution of these studies that Dr. Meigs connection with the Academy of Natural Sciences placed him in position to offer.
Dr. Milligan had thoroughly initiated his pupil into the habit that had been systematically and religiously followed by himself and Dr. Meigs when students. This being, after retiring for the night and extinguishing the lights; the student was, through a process of great mental rumination, to go over all that had been studied, learned or lectured upon during the day. Beginning with the rising hours and thence on to bedtime, every past hour of the day was to be sifted and searched for whatever advances had been made in any scientific line. This was to be subjected to a close scrutiny to make sure that it was all well understood and all its values fully appreciated. If any of these subjects were found to be only partly or obscurely understood, the student was to make a mental note of all that was imperfectly understood so that on the morrow a clearance study should be made, as opportunity afforded, and the subject not discharged from the mind until a clear understanding of it had been fully and satisfactorily obtained.
“The great advantage of this plan of having an established daily educational clearing house of the above order”, observed Dr. Remondino, “must be evident to any one who has enlisted himself for the rest of his life to follow a student’s career as it is only the determined, constant, loyal and devoted student of the Sciences that best can understand and fully appreciate the meaning of the old saying or adage that ‘art is long, life is short. He, above all others, possesses the most minute and conscientious appreciation of the value of time, and is the least disposed to waste any of it.”
It is therefore very plain that this nightly reviewing and analyzing of all the work accomplished during the day, is he greatest time savor imaginable, as by its nightly checking up of all its newly learned details, it doubly impresses a subject that has passed this secondary mental scrutiny upon the tablets of the casual memory, which is by all means the most analyzing reasoning, futurely the most available, practicable and retentive of all memories; while that which has been only half learned or understood and therefore in the end only become mental waste-basket material, will become, by its thorough reconsideration and immediate study, so much more available knowledge added to our stock, and for the subconscious but ever active memory to classify, label, and place away in its appropriate pigeon hale, of which it alone carries the keys.
During the first two years of the Civil War, a fear more or less pervaded the then frontier states of Iowa and Minnesota that that ubiquitous and enterprising Confederate, General Price, might make a raid on their western limits, so that home guards had been formed and armed by the state to be drilled into the manual of arms and military maneuvers by competent officers. E. W. Foster was the first captain of the Wabasha City Rifles, as the company was named. Young Remondino, as a matter of patriotic duty became one of its charter members and was drilled at first with such single barreled fouling-pieces as each member could procure.
The doctor’s arm was an old bored-out Indian rifle which he had used as a shot gun from boyhood in hunting. As in that region all boys became owners of a gun of some sort as soon as able to carry and load one, the company found no difficulty in being all well armed. The state, however, later on, sent down from St. Paul fifty Belgian regulation military muskets with their long bayonets and the United States regulation accoutrements, cross belts, cartridge boxes, and the buffalo skin lined cap boxes, wherewith to make the company into real soldiers. The uniform consisted of trousers of white drilling, a sky blue small coat or Eaton single breasted jacket with a liberal supply of bright eagle buttons, and a fatigue cap of the most approved French pattern.
The company served as a pepiniere, or nursery, for the production of well trained officers for the army as it distinguished itself by furnishing two colonels and any number of captains and lieutenants to the various Minnesota volunteer regiments. Thru some oversight in the report of the Adjutant General’s office, in which was a compilation of all the troops Minnesota furnished to the Union Army or in its own home defense during the Indian uprising of 1862, there are no mentions whatever made of the existence of this company. As its arms and accoutrement came from that office, there should certainly be some record of their shipment as well as of their return somewhere in the official archives. Senator Addison Foster, now of the state of Washington, who was a resident of Wabasha at the time, and a brother of the captain of the same name could easily furnish the present Adjutant General of Minnesota with all the desired information on this subject so as to rectify this omission in its report made after the close of the Civil War.
At the urgent solicitation of his many patients, Dr. Milligan reluctantly resigned his position in the army and returned to his private practice. Young Remondino had in the meanwhile studied assiduously to that extent that his preceptor found him prepared to enter the Medical college classes in Philadelphia for which he departed in the early fall months of 1863.
After his matriculation, he became a member of Dr. D. D. Richardson’s Quizz Class and one of the student staff at the northern Dispensary, then situated at the corner of 6th and Spring Garden streets and a regular attendant at the Pennsylvania hospital and the City Hospital clinics at Blockley. Thru his desire to avail himself of all opportunities to add to his practical education. He made friends of all the students holding positions in the many different military hospitals in Philadelphia as Acting Medical Cadets.
Thru these fellow-student acquaintances, the doctor was enabled to visit many of the hospitals and observe many details of military surgery, especially concerning the progress of repair in wounds and in operation. One that he visited most frequently was the Citizens Volunteer Hospital at Broad street, immediately opposite to the Baltimore & Ohio rail-road station. It was in this hospital that he watched the coarse of the first case of severe heart strain and partial rupture he had seen, occasioned in an infantry soldier of the army of the Potomac while attempting with many other soldiers to lift he wheels of a field cannon that, while being hurried to its position, had become helplessly embedded in the Virginia mud. He presented a very vivid and impressioning as well as an unforgettable picture as he struggled for breath. It is now many years ago since he saw this poor fellow, a large full bearded powerful man, being continually fanned, sitting propped in a reclining rheal chair. He died some two weeks after having been brought to the hospital in a chair from the station.
In the year 1863, a total of 626 small actions and battles had been fought throughout the South in which were included those of Chancellorsville with 9,518 wounded, and that of Gettysburg, with 13,709 wounded a total of 23,227 wounded that were mostly distributed between the hospitals at Washington D.C., Annapolis, and the many hospitals in Philadelphia. These took a small army of civil surgeons, medical students and volunteer nurses to assist the regular hospital staffs in their care. The wounded of the more severe cases or those who required complicated operation were often only dressed by the surgeon with the aid of one of the Acting Cadets, so that Philadelphia medical students found plenty hospital work without going out of their city.
These hospital visits, with their endless varieties of wounds and organic injuries, afforded a continuous and therefore a most instructive clinic, as among the attending physicians and surgeons were to be met the most distinguished men of Philadelphia. The government, at the suggestion of some of those men, had established special hospitals where all the cases of a certain class were sent for observation and treatment. It was in one of those special hospitals that Hartshorne established the presence of permanently lasting cardiac asthenia as a soldier’s disease, while in another special hospital were gathered cases of the results of injuries to the nervous system. It can well be said that, thru all these opportunities, one really devoted to the study of medicine could practically then learn more in six months, owing to the presence of the proper study material, than one could ordinarily observe and learn were he endowed with two or more long lives. In the order of instruction and study, they had the living subject before them, besides the many additional instructive details that resided in the autopsy examinations in the fatal cases, made to determine the true state of the involved pathologic states and the real or immediate death cause.
In the first three weeks of May of 1864, there occurred the series of terrific and costly chain of continuous battles, beginning on the 5th of May in the wilderness which lasted until the 18th, a period of thirteen days of crushing slaughter, finally ending in the neighborhood of Spottsylvania Court House, with a total of 9,774 killed and 41,150 wounded. This caused an urgent call from the medical departments throughout the eastern and middle states for volunteers among the civilian medical population to come to the aid of the military medical corps in caring for that great number of wounded, as the regularly organized medical staff was helplessly overwhelmed with such a mass of wounded on its hands.
Young Remondino was among he first to offer his services to the government and, on the suggestion and a personal recommendation of Prof. Ellerslie Wallace of the Jefferson faculty, immediately reported for duty to the U. S. Army Medical Director at Philadelphia and was sent on the same day to report to Surgeon Vanderkieft, in charge of the U. S. Gen. Hospital, Div. No. 1, at Annapolis Md. which occupied the Naval Academy grounds and buildings, the naval personnel having been sent to Newport R. I. He was, on arriving at that hospital, appointed to assist the surgeon in charge of Section 5, as a volunteer unsalaried Acting Medical Cadet.
This Section had many of the wounded from the many early May battle fields and wounds of every description. The doctor remembers particularly one man in whom a confederate bullet had plowed a deep furrow, four inches long through scalp and skull who lived and, by contrast, one whose right temple had been grazed by a bullet who died from the result of the wound fourteen days after receiving it, after having been about the ward until forty-eight hours before his death.
Dr. Vanderkieft was about the most perfect hospital administrator the doctor had the pleasure of serving under. In many of the military hospitals he had been in, the dressers, soldiers appointed to act as such, were, as a rule, given too much latitude in their manner of tending and dressing wounds, especially was this the ease wherein many of them were possessed of a perfect mania for the employment of sticks of lunar caustic, blue stone and alum, with which they were continually touching and irritating the surfaces or the edges of the wound at each dressing. Nothing of this kind was here permitted, nor wore sponges allowed to be used. Wounds were irrigated when required with sterilized water, and as little tampered with as possible. Complicated wounds had to be dressed by either the surgeon or by his cadet assistant.
“I have some very vivid recollections,” observed the Doctor, “of a young man, a perfect young giant, who in the Wilderness had been shot thru the wrist joint in a straight line from the palmar surface and out at the back of the wrist. The wound had become fly-blown on the long and tedious journey to the hospital and on his arrival was full of maggots. We were ordered not to use any maggot destroying washes, but one of us was to hold up the forearm and hand horizontally while the other picked them out of the wound with a pair of dressing forceps as these came to the surface, either in the back or front of the wound. The applied dressings in this hospital were made of finely picked oakum.”
In Minnesota, the doctor had often been present where the young Sioux squaws dressed either a gunshot or knife wound among their own people by making a tent or pencil out of chewed-up strips of slippery-elm bark so as to fit and fill the wound to its bottom, which produced far better results than was obtained with oakum, while the latter always, gave better results than the charpie with which wounds were dressed in many of the other hospitals.
“I well remember,” said Dr. Remondino, “when reading the symposium written by different surgeons upon the management of the President’s wound published in the Popular Science Monthly, some time after the death of President Garfield, the suggestion then came to my mind that, had the illustrious patient been attended by a couple of Sioux squaws with their little wooden chopping bowl in which they placed their chewed-up elm-bark preparatory to moulding it into pencils with which to carefully fill the wound, without any of the mischievous exploratory efforts to locate the bullet, that attended those multitudinous consultations without which he would have had far better chances for living. Poor President Garfield’s fate always reminded me of the death of Charles II, of England, who had something over a dozen consulting physicians — some chroniclers say he had twenty — whose different prescriptions were, in the order of precedence to which the prescriber was entitled, used in their regular but rapid succession so that it was a question, in the end, as to whose particular prescription the taking off of his majesty could be rightfully ascribed.
“I have always admired,” continued the doctor, “the good sense of Napoleon, when the somewhat flurried physician in attendance on the Empress Marie-Louisa, was worrying as to whether or not he should resort to an instrumental delivery, was told by the Emperor to forget, that he was attending an empress and to do whatever his good professional sense would suggest, were he in attendance on a common market woman of the faubourgs, and act accordingly.”
As soon as the pressing need for extra assistance was over in the Annapolis hospital, Dr. Remondino, being desirous of seeing more immediately active service, had himself transferred to the hospitals in the rear of our lines at Petersburg Va. , where he was detailed temporarily to the Cavalry Corps Hospital, a large collection of several hundreds of six-bed tents laid out in regular street order, located on a high level plateau at the mouth of the Appomatox river where it empties into the James with City Point on its eastern side. There he remained on duty until the time arrived for his return to Philadelphia to enter his class at college.
In this hospital, owing to its being in the immediate rear and not far from the center of the long fighting line and its greater accessibility, were brought many of the lightly wounded who could in a few days be returned to their ranks as well as the more grievously wounded for whom the frequent changes incident to the long transportation to the other hospitals would have been dangerous as well as the many cases of typhoid fever for whom also long transportation elsewhere was not advisable. These fever cases, which were generated in those long trenches during that summer, were a mixture of paratyphoid and malarial fever partly endemic to the region, partly aggravated by exposure and privation. As fast as these men could be discharged and sent back to their regiments, or some of the more grievously wounded had so far convalesced as to permit their removal to the extensive hospital at Hampton or to some of the other hospitals to the north, their removal was immediately effected so as to make room for the continued stream of other wounded and sick coming from the trenches and battle fields.
The season had been exceedingly hot and dry with a wondrously continuous high barometer which made the life of the soldiers in the trenches anything else but a picnic. Civilians can never realize what it meant to be in the Petersburg trenches, from the time of its investment to its ending with the result of the battle of Hatchers Run, a victory, which as hoped was immediately followed by the evacuation of Petersburg.
The doctor happened to be at City Point, where Gen. Grant had his headquarters, when the 6th Corps came thru from the extreme left, to board a large fleet of steamers which had been hurriedly sent down from every available source to immediately carry the whole corps to Washington, which was then being threatened by what was supposed to be a large Confederate force which had already laid siege and attacked Fort Stevens, one of the main Washington defenses. The Corps had come to City Point by marching along the main road leaving behind a trailing cloud of light dust, that rising some two hundred feet in the air, and in many places carried even higher in that dry air, marked the line of march as far as the eye could reach. The Corps had divested itself of everything possibe, not even carrying their blankets. The rubber cloth poncho, being worn as a bandoleer on the march, was all that served the soldiers as bed and. shelter during the night.
In common with all the rest of the soldiers in the Petersburg trenches, these 6th Corps men had not seen or tasted any fresh or dried vegetables since the beginning of Grant’s campaign on the Weldon railroad and at Petersburg. At some distance from the James river the Sanitary and Christian Commissions had distributed for their refreshments some hundreds of large forty gallon barrels of pickled sauerkraut and of pickled onions on both sides of the road over which the troops were coming, the barrel heads removed, so that as the soldiers marched along they would take a handful of kraut or of onions and munch them as they want along. Arriving at the river, many enjoyed the first opportunity they had had for several months to indulge in a real wash. The poor fellows wore tanned and brown as so many Indians and none had any superfluous coats of fat.
It is needless to say that by the time that the 6th Corps reached the outskirts of Washington, that the Confederacy practically had vanished, as far as any daagerous army was concerned. This order of tactics was one of the favorite moves of threatening Washington to alarm Congress, which was then a very easy thing to do which was always sure to cause the recall of a large and dependable army to insure its security.
From the cot at the camp hospital at the mouth of the Appomatax the doctor could on a still night clearly hear the shouts and firing, as parties on either side attempted raids on each others lines or entrenchments. Men shot in the picket half-moon single redoubts could not then be rescued except on very dark nights without danger to the rescuing parties. These picket outposts between the lines were anything but places of joy.
In the Union trenches at Petersburg, there was a Wisconsin regiment, the 36th Vol. Inf., in which there was a whole company of Indians from northern Wisconsin. Many of these poor fellows were attacked by the fever and not one of the attacked escaped alive, the Indians not being able to stand such fevers as well as the white soldiers, an under an attack they failed very rapidly and died.
On his return to Philadelphia he again took his old place in the northern dispensary and, in Dr. Richardson’s Quizz Class, as well as his favorite seat on the hard benches in the college lecture rooms. At the time of his graduation in the first weeks of March in 1865, the siege of Petersburg was still in progress and, there being at the time a demand for Acting Assistant surgeons, the doctor and a number of his fellow graduates had no difficulty in receiving appointments when recommended to some of these positions, from the U. S. Army Medical Directory at Philadelphia. He and four others of his class-mates being sent to the Hampton General hospital near Fortress Monroe, Va. The doctor, however, did not remain there long as he was soon after appointed surgeon to the military prison and Camp of Distribution of Camp Hamilton Va., situated on the peninsula between the large Hampton Seminary Building and the mouth of Hampton creek with orders to report to Capt. John L. Blake in command of the prison and of Battery F of the 3rd Penn. Heavy Artillery, which constituted the garrison of the camp and prison.
It was while surgeon of this prison that the doctor found his first experience in studying drug addicts. This occurred thru the fact that in this prison were confined all of the sailors of the crews and personnel of the blocade runners captured by the blocading squadrons from the north Atlantic and Gulf fleets, many of whom were helpless and veteran opium fiends.
It was while the doctor was in charge of that prison that an episode occurred, which, starting on its long voyage in the prison on Hampton Roads, was not finished until more than forty years later at Birmingham Alabama. The doctor has always been a collector of curios especially anything in the military line of relics. One morning he was called to the prison to see a drummer boy belonging to the 60th Georgia Infantry, who turned out to have an attack of double pneumonia and a congested liver. He was sent to the hospital where in time he made a perfect recovery. A few days later the doctor was called to see another boy, also a Confederate prisoner, who was troubled with some lung complaint. On going over to see him, it naturally became necessary to examine his chest to which he strenuously objected. The doctor, not seeing any valid reason for his objection, insisted on his removing the upper part of his shirt which he finally did, after asking the doctor to close the room door, altho with considerable hesitation and displeasure. “The cause of all this reluctance,” said the doctor as he related the occurrence “became evident when wound about him next to his skin there appeared a beautiful crimson silken officer’s sash with long silken tassels. It was, he explained, the sash of Colonel Troy of his regiment (which somehow I understood to be, or recollected, as being, the 60th Georgia, probably from having in mind the Georgia drummer boy) who had been killed at the battle of Hatchers Run. He had had just time enough to remove the sash from the body and secrete it as above described, when in the onrush of Sheridian’s cavalry he was captured and sent with other prisoners to the rear, from where he was sent to the prison of which I was surgeon. He had traken it for the purpose of returning it, when returning home, to the Colonel’s widow. He had been his commander’s orderly and was very much attached to him.
“The camp and prison sutler opened in both the prison yard and in the camp, so that realizing that sooner or later the sash would be stolen from him by some of the other prisoners, who would barter it for some tobacco or other luxury, I offered him one dollar for it which, on my urgent solicitation, he finally but very regretfully permitted himself to part with it, evidently feeling that he was doing a very dishonorable and disloyal thing to the Colonel in doing so. I told him I would return it to him if he were exchanged and sent home from our prison, so I became possessed of the sash permanently as he was sent with many others to Newport News where a new stockade for prisoners of war had been constructed.
“On leaving the army for my home in Minnesota, the sash and a varied assortment of war relics which I had collected, among which wore many things from the battle fields about Petersburg, gathered by myself after the surrender of General Lee, went with me.
“Somehow of all my war relics”, said the doctor, continuing the narrative, “the only one that accompanied me to California in 1873 was that sash. At the time that Pres, Cleveland proposed sending back to each of the old Confederate states their regimental and other colors that had been captured and sent to Washington, that sash reminded me of that Georgia family whose mind and wandering memories must often have pictured an unknown and forgotten grave into which was placed the body of the Colonel the day after the battle in-which that boy was captured and wondered what had become of them. The thought then occurred to me that if any member of the family were still living they should have the sash. Once started, this thought kept harassing me with the added suggestion that the thought ought to be literally carried out.
“With that idea, in view, I wrote to the Adjutant General of the State of Georgia asking him whether he could furnish me with any information as to the whereabouts of any member of the family of Col. Troy of the 60th Georgia Infantry of the Civil War period. To my great surprise and disappointment I received an answer to the effect that, after a careful search these old archives, no such name or officer had been found as having been in, command of any Georgia regiment. However, how mythical the Colonel may have been, there was the very material sash speaking for itself and I well remember the kiss that that poor boy prisoner gave that sash as he painfully parted with it, which affected me to the point that but for the assured fact that he would be robbed of it and that it would be safer in my hand, than with him, I would have returned it to him. As it was I had promised him that if ever I could find the whereabouts of the family I would send it to them.
“The misunderstandings and conflicting opinions aroused in Washington by the President’s highly moral and logical suggestion, awakened in me an unslumbering desire to have that family possess that sash that ever afterwards I never relaxed my search for them. The boy’s soul-earnest desire to return it to the family was so pronounced and real that I felt that there was no deception connected with it. There must, I felt, be some mistake somewhere, either in my mind or in the name of the Colonel, but I never could rid myself of the remembrance of 60th Georgia in connection with the dead Colonel, buried somewhere at Hatchers Run, and that sash.
“As observed the idea of returning it never slumbered. So it happened that one day while making a professional call on Mr. and Mrs. Thomas T. Hillman of Birmingham Ala., who were wont to pass their winters in San Diego where they owned a palatial home, I was introduced to a brother of Mrs. Hillman, who with his wife had arrived the evening before on a visit to the Hillman’s. In introducing me to her brother Mrs. Hillman suggested that, as I had been the surgeon of a military prison in Virginia during the Civil War, I might have had her brother in my care as he had been a Confederate officer and had been captured.
This introduction led to a conversation on that war in the course of which I related the story of that sash belonging formerly to Col. Troy of the 60th Georgia, the whereabouts of whose family I had never, been able to learn, altho I had made many endeavors in many directions. Mr. Hillman had been listening to the conversation, and, after I had finished the story of that sash, suggested that my failure to locate the family was owing to the fact that I must have made a mistake in the regiment. There was, he said, a Col. Troy of the 60th Alabama Infantry who had been shot on the battle field at Hatchers Run and left for dead by the retreating troops, but when the Federals came up he was found still living, taken prisoner, placed in a hospital where he finally recovered and then interned in Elmira military prison until sent home at the final readjustment and that he only died two years ago — this was in the middle of the first decade of the present century. The son of the colonel was a civil and mining engineer was then in Mr. Hillman’s employment in Birmingham, where his mother Mrs. Col. Troy also resided. Here was the suddenly arrived at conclusion as to the whole mystery.
“One can easily imagine the surprise it must have occasioned in the Troy family on receiving a letter from Mr. Hillman informing them that he would be in Birmingham in about two weeks, bringing with him the Colonel’s sash that his orderly had taken from his supposed dead body on the field of Hatchers Run, as a present to them from their family physician in San Diego, who had had it in his possession since the end of April in 1866, and had for many years been searching for the family to return it to them.
“The authenticity of its being, the actual sash represented by the boyish orderly, was further confirmed when it was placed in Mrs. Troy’s hands who recognized it at once, as it had all been made by her own hands, as that worn by her husband when he left with his troop at the breaking out of the war for the Florida coast to garrison one of the old established forts.”
In closing this interesting story, the doctor observed that his surmises that the chances of that sash ever being again seen by the Troy family would be far greater if it remained in his keeping than in the keeping of the boy, must at the time have been still under the age of twenty. The occurrence, as the doctor said, furnished, in its happy endings, one of the most pleasurable incidents in his long and adventurous life in both hemispheres. The doctor, as a recompence for his generous and thoughtful humane act, received a letter of thanks the Birmingham Post of the Daughters of the Confederacy which he greatly appreciated. The doctor, however, felt that he had simply carried out the wishes of the young orderly and performed a loyal duty to the Troy family. His only regret was that he made the blunder of mixing up the 60th Georgia for the 60th Alabama, but for this pardonable miscarriage of attention, the Colonel would have received his sash many years before his death. It is very doubtful if he ever, after his return home, expected to see that sash again after its disappearance from the field of Hatchers Run, or Five Forks, as it was known on our side.
The doctor remarked, as he finished the above relation, that he could easily write some volumes concerning his personal experience in that prison. Immediately after the battle above mentioned, a steamer fully loaded with Confederate wounded from that field, bound for some of the northern hospitals, stopped at the Fortress Monroe wharf where a large number of badly wounded Confederates were landed, preparations having been made for their care by the creation of a hospital consisting of a series of tents on the ground to the north of the Hampton Seminary which was placed in charge of Acting Assistant Surgeon, Andrew MacLaren, with whom Dr. Remondino associated on the most friendly terms.
The old Hampton Seminary to which Dr. MacLaren was attached had been transformed into an officer’s hospital for the Union army. The morning after the arrival of all those Confederate wounded, he sent a note to the doctor by his orderly asking him to come over to his section after his duties of the morning at the prison were performed as he had more than his hands full. On going over, Dr. Remondino found the doctor busily engaged in examining each case and in deciding upon the operation that each required. It appears that, during the voyage down the James river, the surgical staff had segregated and classified the wounded and this particular class sent out to Dr. MacLaren’s section were all gunshot wounds of the legs and the examination in each case showed that the wounds were all accompanied with fractures more or less comminuted.
The question resolved itself into one of simply locating the line where the amputation whould be performed. A more desperate and utterly unpromising lot of cases could not be conceived nor congregated except after a fierce and murderous battle. It Was not so much in the character of the wound, these were serious enough, but the danger lay in the terribly wrecked and broken down constitutions of the wounded. Had the men of Hatchers Run been better fed and conditioned Federals, at least four-fifths would have recovered but those poor half dead Confedereate wounded, were similarly to the Confederacy, in their death throes when wounded.
They were on and all in a fearful state of scorbutism, greatly emaciated from want of proper nourishment, and with nothing in their veins and arteries but scorbutic blood, which could not be counted on under the circumstances to maintain life in these poor fellows to say nothing about its inability to provide the proper or normally healthy plasma for the repair of the wounds made by sword, bayonet, or bullet, or those that would be made by the operations.
And still as miracles at times happen in surgery it was a reasonable conclusion to believe that a clean operating wound would give these poor wounded men better chances than to leave them alone to their comminuted bony wounds and their torn and ragged fleshy wound filled with more or loss dead bony debris, so we determined on amputation for the whole as being the safest procedure. In fact it would have been criminally neglectful to have let them all die without giving them this one slim chance to live.
The two doctors labored at those operations all of the forenoon, operating carefully but rapidly and quickly dressing the stump, but it was all in vain. Not one of those men had even a drop in their arteries of what could be called normal red blood and by the third day not a survivor remained.
Many of the Confederates that fell into our hands were so broken down that it seemed impossible to believe that such skeletons actually stood up in their ranks or were able to match in battle array and handle their muskets. Their rations for many past weeks had simply consisted of a small ration for the whole day consisting of a piece of cornbread not much larger than the hand which was made bulky and appeared nourishing by a process of grinding the corn with the husk into flour, all of which, while it might deceive the eye and stomach, could not deceive nature.
“I have a very distinct recollection,” observed the doctor, “of an example up to what low state of vitality some of these men were reduced and still determinately fighting on their outposts, when a whole, platoon of Confederates seeing the uselessness of further resistance and that only starvation awaited them, had come over to our lines and surrendered. These men were not considered as prisoners of war but as refugees and were, on arriving at Camp Hamilton, given room in the refugee quarters. They had been brought down from City Point by, steamer and marched on foot from Fortress Monroe to the camp and on their arrival I found one so physically weak and so utterly demoralized that I placed him in the ambulance, much to his disgust, and sent him over to the Hampton Hospital for a rest and proper care. It was only a distance of some two miles to reach the hospital, but on the return of the ambulance to the Post the driver reported that the man had actually died on the way.
“My experience in that military prison covered more educational ground in various sociologic as well as in many medical directions, than could have been obtained and gone over during a whole natural life-time in times of peace. After the establishment of the new prison stockade at Newport News the command to which I belonged was ordered to proceed by steamer from Fortress Monroe to Yorktown from whence we were to march to Williamsburg Va. which we were to garrison. Here again I had an occasion to add some more specialties to my medical experience. On my arrival at Williamsburg, I found the state Lunatic Asylum in charge of acting assistant surgeon Peter Wager, a very accomplished middle-aged gentleman, with whom I formed a very intimate friendship which resulted to our mutual good, as it was not long after my arrival that the doctor was suddenly prostrated with very severe attack of typho-malarial fever that laid him out helpless, on account of which, at his request, I not only took charge of the doctor but also the management of the whole asylum. “On the morning that I took charge of the establishment, I made the acquaintance of the first moral reformer that it was my fortune to meet in my long life. Like all others of his class, he was a most perfect and incurable monomaniac on his one subject. He was, however, striking at the very root of human immorality and vice among Christian nations. I was walking in the grounds of the asylum when I met a portly, benevolent looking and very polite and well preserved gentleman with a ring of large keys swinging in his hand, who introduced himself to me as Mr. Butler. From the big ring of keys in his hand I naturally took him to be one of the keepers of the asylum, especially as he undertook to show me over the grounds explaining the different buildings and their history, until on approaching one of the main buildings where I had met him as I was about to enter the administration building, he asked me if by any possibility I was likely to be in Richmond at the sitting of the next state legislature. I began to think that there must be something wrong about Mr. Butler, so I told him that I would undoubtedly be there in persons upon which he drew out from his pocket a closely written memorandum written in a fine clear hand that he had prepared for presentation to the legislature, with the proper introductory speech.
“By that time I had reached the administrative office and gone in with my memorandum. I then learned that my friend, the moral reformer, had been an inmate of the hospital for some ten years before the war. He had gone insane on his favorite subject–the radical purification of Virginia, which in his insane imagination was made to appear as fowl as the cities of the plain in the Valley of Sodom which he had proposed to treat and radically cure thru such extreme methods that he could find no followers. He had but one cause for all the moral, physical, physiologic and psychic ills as well as for all the social, industrial end financial ills, that his fervid imagination painted as existing in Virginia, to which all imagined civilized humanity was alike subject.
“His conceived methods, however, were unlike those of the present general reformers who do not pay any practical attention toward the suppression of the causes of the evils which they are attempting to cure. To the fanatical reformer causes have no existence, or are immaterial. To him, preventive medicine has no existence and looks upon the practice as a being a concession to diseases, a cowardly compromise with forces of evil.
“Mr. Butler had evidently carefully studied his subject and traced all of its evil roots to their initial cause. He had taken under his consideration all the principal causes of these degenerations and their consequence. It was all those rootlets and causes that he proposed to eradicate and destroy. With Mr. Butler there was to be no compromising with sins, of any kind. He would trail the serpent to its lair and slay it.
“Hence his suggestion to the Virginia Legislature that all males in the Commonwealth, regardless of social standing or family connection, when arriving at puberty, should be given every morning an active dose of purified Epsom salts. If this did not tend to produce the desired effects, the dose of salts was to be increased. If these failed — as they are very liable to fail thru possessing too animalistic, uncivilizable and rebellious natures — then the morally and unfailing persuasive but more severe methods of the Greek monk Origen were advised.
“The memorandum which he desired to have presented to the legislature was full of details as to the appointment of overseers and of the law enforcement officers. As in the enforcement of the Volstead Act, the churches, ministers, and all the good people were to be asked by the Department of Notice of Virginia to form into law enforcement bodies of all necessary spies, informers, private investigators and other whatnots, to see that the new law would be properly enforced.
Mr. Butler was apparently perfectly sane on all other subjects but he was so taken up with his specific mania that it tinged all his thoughts and his mental activities in all other directions. Besides, his mania was by no means a “pot-boiler.” It would not keep him from starving to death, nor furnish him with shelter or raiment, nor from continually annoying all his fellow citizens with his favorite subject so for his own protection and bodily comfort he was finally placed in the asylum where, having no home or shelter of his own, be had a free bed and his daily rations regularly given to him.
“The same asylum had another monomaniac, a kindly old gentleman, very industrious and good natured who, in his prime, had gone insane on the subject of perfecting a machine that would demonstrate the possibility of perpetual motion. The management had given him a large spare room whither he brought all his instruments and tools whereby to perfect his engine upon which he had been working for over twenty-five years. He never seemed discouraged, but on the contrary he was always cheerfully hopeful of succeeding. He was wont to assure me almost daily that,in a day or two more, a slight alteration made in his machine — which was as large as a small thrashing machine which it very much resembled — would undoubtedly start on its perpetual movements. This poor fellow also would have starved to death if left to work out his own salvation.”
Dr. Remondino had no idea that the army of the Potomac, or as it was afterwards known, the Army of the James, had such a number of insane, as this asylum contained a great number of them most of them coming from along the intrenchments before Petersburg, the Weldon Railroad, and in the surroundings of Richmond.
During his stay in Williamsburg, the doctor occupied a room in the Middleton Mansion on Palace Green. This mansion was located next to the church which had been built with bricks brought from England. The same mansion had been used by General Washington as a headquarters during the Revolution and also had been used as the army headquarters since the capture of Williamsburg.
One day he received a notification from the medical director’s office at Fortress Monroe informing him that the medical director had notified the chief officer in charge of the Freedman’s Bureau of the district, then located at Ft. Magruder on the road between Williamsburg and Yorktown, to call upon the doctor for any medical or surgical purposes required by any of the freedmen under his charge which he was to honor upon being called. This was no light task as the jurisdiction of this officer extended from the York to the James river and nearly from New Kent Court House on the Richmond road, down to the town of Hampton.
One afternoon there came an urgent cell for his services from the officer at Ft. Magruder, to repair to a certain point, which he named on the York river, where a fierce and bloody battle had been fought between a small fleet of oyster pirates composed of freedmen and the owners of the oyster beds planted in that neighborhood, also freedmen. The oyster pirates had been beaten off and had retreated badly punished further up the river from whence they came and, very naturally, not being anxious to be identified and be sent to prison for their actions, did not send for anyone to attend to their wounded, so that he only had the injured from the victorious owners of the oyster beds to attend.
In starting from Williamsburg, he was accompanied by his personal orderly and his hospital steward Chayles Herschel, a man of experience who formerly has been a hospital steward in the Prussian army and was a most intelligent assistant. On arriving at the place where the wounded were distributed in their different cabins it being then dark, the only lights that they had to work by were lighted pine knots. The battle had been fought on both sides with long ashen oars peculiar to that region, the sharp edge of which cut like a sword, so that most of the wounds were about their heads and shoulders while some few had broken ribs where the oar had been used like a lance. Those very black freedmen had wonderfully thick skulls, so that although many were nearly scalped there was not a fractured skull in the whole lot. It was past midnight before they were thru with the scalp repairing and dressing, although they worked rapidly and then started for home.
Although this part of Virginia is not swampy, it is nevertheless the home of a bloodthirsty giant mosquito. The road from those oyster beds at the head of the York river back to Williamsburg went thru alternate strips of clearings and belts of timber, the latter being alive with mosquitos which unceremoniously and impartially lit on both men and horses, especially after dark, to feast upon what providence had thrown in their way. Dr. Remondino alone, suffered from this night travel, as on the next day he was taken with a terrific congestive chill followed by a fever all of which struck him like a tornado.
Dr. Wager who was immediately sent for, advised taking him to the asylum where he would place a room at his disposal where he would have the advantage of trained nursing. It was well that this was done as from the chill he developed a congested spleen and liver and partly congested lung which kept him in bed for over three weeks, from which time, Dr. Wager had kindly attended to him like a brother, while he also undertook the care of the troops in Dr. Remondino’s charge. It was thru the seemingly unrecoverable results of this attack that the doctor eventually came to San Diego in an attempt to recover his health, leaving Minnesota for California in the latter months of 1873.
Similarly to the ravages made upon the heart such as that organ suffered when afflicted by Hartshorne’s cardiac asthenia, as experienced by many of the infantry soldiers in the old Army of the Potomac when they were wont to trudge along for weeks at a time in the sticky Virginia mud — a physically wrecked condition which in many soldiers adhered to them for the balance of their lives — was similarly the fate of many soldiers who had been broken down thru a severe attack of malarial fever thru mosquito malarial infection.
In many of the latter, the blood, already demoralized thru excessive fatigue and privations, became so affected as to develop a scorbutic state in which the casual scratch of a pin or a bruise, to say nothing of the far more serious effects of a gunshot wound, would often end in gangrene and its added toxemia, in many cases presaging a fatal ending. This was particularly the case when smallpox became more or less epidemic in the army and the troops had to be vaccinated against its spread, during which many of the vaccinations or resulting sores became gangrenous, placing the vaccinated soldier at times in very serious danger even for his life.
The doctor, considering that he always had enjoyed perfect health from his earliest childhood, had always been well nourished, and had not been worn out by any long vigils, privations or marchings, nor had hard study ever effected him unfavorably, totally misinterpreted the future potential enduring effects of the Virginia typho-malarial fever from which he had so grievously suffered. After his apparent recovery, he found he was liable to sudden chillings after any exposures to the bright and warm sunshine, or to a still more severe chilling if sitting in the cool shade.
He, nevertheless, hoped and believed that, on returning to the north he would fully recover his former robust health. As the term of service of the battery to which he was attached was about to expire, and realizing that his recovery was very doubtful if remaining in Virginia, he, therefore, determined to leave the service and, after accompanying the regiment to Pennsylvania, to immediately leave for his Minnesota home.
Soon after his arrival at his home, to his great disappointment, he found that, seemingly, that attack of fever had totally changed his constitution, as well as that in the past three years the Minnesota climate, from which he had expected so much, had greatly changed since his departure in 1863. There was an occurrence of chilling winter fogs in place of the former dry cold atmosphere of former days. The number of overcast dark days had also greatly increased. The Indian summer had lost its former mellow, steady charm and was often replaced by autumn fogs. Even the Northern Lights which had been wont to make a grand display, seem to have lost most of their former splendor and brilliancy.
The dry open winters which had made of the Minnesota winter climate a seasonal heaven for consumptive and other invalids — similarly to the famed Swiss above-the-snow-line winter resorts wherein the extremely dry cold air is the main beneficient medical climatic feature — seemingly had departed forever. The great ploughing up of the prairie-lands, was what had brought about that great and unpleasant change. So again here was another evidence of the erosions that civilization in one way brings on the health of a people thru the cultivation of the land. To raise huge crops of wheat Minnesota had bartered away the beauties of its Northern Lights, its dreamy Indian Summer, and the comforts and health consequent on its dry open winters.
The disappointment of the doctor when he fully realized the position in which he was left thru that Good Samaritan errand of mercy to do up the wounds of those oyster-men at the head of the York river in Virginia, no pen can describe. While he enjoyed frequent encouraging spells wherein his Virginia malarial enemy would seem to lessen its hold upon his constitution and permit him to recover, he suffered the reverse when he received an unwelcomed set-back. Nevertheless, fatigue, weather exposure, or the unavoidable worries and anxieties that accompanied professional life, would soon and very uncomfortably remind him that the effects of that malaria was still upon him.
Thus he lingered partly enjoying what seemed to be spells of perfect health interspersed with spells of discouraging physical depression, return of the fever, and the attending depression of spirits and morale, until the capture of Napoleon III at Sedan in 1870 which brought about the opportunity of France to declare its third Republic, which eventually took him to France and in the French army, where for the time being his Virginia malarial tormentor left him in peace — until his return to America in the late summer of 1871.
It was then that he realized how he wished that he was well enough to start for France and offer his services to the newly established Republic; especially when considering that about the whole of the regular staff had been taken prisoner, except those who were still being besieged in Metz, a condition which would necessarily create a great demand for surgeons to thoroughly equip the new armies that the republic would call to its colors. In talking these matters over with Dr. Milligan, whose partner he then was, the elder doctor suggested that by going over to Europe and the thorough change of climate he would undergo might effectually alter the miasmatic state from which the doctor was still suffering.
Dr. Remondino, seeing the medical logic residing in the doctor’s suggestion, at once decided upon his departure for the seat of war. The Minnesota legislature happened then to be in cession in St. Paul. The doctor journeyed thither and thru Mr. T. S. Vandyke, who then represented his county in the legislature but who now resides A Dagget, California, who introduced him to the governor from whom he obtained a certificate relating to his professional and civil standing in the state and of his medical services in the armies during the Civil War under the seal of the state of Minnesota. On departing for Washington, the doctor was furnished letters of recommendation by General Babcock, who was Secretary of War under President Grant, to Mr. Washburn our minister in France, and to his personal friend General Ruggles who was then also in France. With these recommendations he sailed for Brest, France from the port of New York.
The ship that carried him overseas was Saint Laurent. It carried some five hundred volunteers for the French army and was heavily laden with ammunition and some seventy-five thousand stands of arms which included about every form of repeating rifle manufactured in the United States, besides several complete batteries of small field pieces of the latest pattern for the Republic. On arriving at Brest, we were landed and started for Tours, but one of the doctor’s recurring attacks of miasmatic fever compelled him to leave the train at Rennes in Brittany, where he remained for some days before being able to resume his journey. This city was at the time reeking with smallpox. The unsettled political condition of France having placed the imperial government of Napoleon in such a position that it did not dare to do anything which might arouse any contention or opposition, so that the people had for some decades gone unprotected by vaccination.
As soon as he was able to resume his journey, the doctor left Rennes and its smallpox stricken population for the city of Tours which was then the temporary seat of the French government. With this recurring of the fever at Rennes, he was free from the affection until his return to Minnesota in the late summer months of 1871. The American Legation,of which Mr. Washburn was the head, had remained in Paris, but was represented in Tours by Mr. Stephen Lee of Baltimore MD. to whom the doctor presented his credentials. Mr. Lee introduced him to Mr. Gambetta and Clais-Bizoin, the representatives of the French government, by whom he was kindly received and thanked for his republican sympathies in coming over to France to offer that country his services in its hour of need.
A few evenings later, the doctor had the pleasure of being introduced to M. Thiers the statesman and historian and M. Cremieux, who had arrived that morning from Paris by balloon. They were members of the French Republican government of National Defence, for whom a reception was given that evening by the members of the lodge of the Scottish Rite Masons of Tours to which he was invited by Mr. Glais-Bizoin.
A few days later, Mr. Glais-Bizoin obtained an appointment for the doctor as surgeon of a regiment which was then being formed in Lille in the extreme north of France, for which city the doctor started to join the regiment. Later on when that regiment of volunteers was disbanded, along with all other troops of the same order, the doctor was appointed as surgeon to the Second Battery of artillery of the Seine Inferieure which was then garrisoning Ft. St. Addresse. The doctor in his first appointment was continually on outpost duty facing the enemy lines and was present or rather engaged in a number of battles and a great many skirmishes.
He has the honor of being the only American citizen who was commissioned by the French government as a surgeon in its army with a rank of captain. He was accorded the military medal as a volunteer of the war of 1870-71 with the certificate of the Secretary of war entitling him to wear it.
In regard to, some of the early experiences in France before reaching his regiment, the doctor related how on two occasions he came very near ending his knight errant career to assist France in the days of her miseries thru his being mistaken for a Prussian spy. The police saved him from a mob on the evening of his arrival in Tours, and a tactfully broad-minded and intelligent Englishman saved him one day on the coast of Brittany as he was journeying northward by stage to go to his regiment. Anyone who has ever read Les Chouans, by Balzac will remember how those Bretons are frantically set in their loyalty. As an historian observed, they were the last in France to be converted to Catholicism and to royalty, as they were the last to accept the republic as founded by the Revolution. They are very conservative and men of few words and quick actions and the doctor feels a never to be forgotten debt of gratitude to that ready witted and full of initiative great hearted Englishman who extricated him out of what might have been for him a quick and sudden ending.
Such accidents were then occurring more or less all over France. The people had just learned how Russia had honeycombed and permeated France with trained governmental spies. Their sudden awakening to this discovery had made them too ready to believe that every presenting strange person accidentally supposed by some visionarily inclined and hot-headed individual to be a spy to really be one and they had lost all sense of consideration, tolerance, of analyzing, and of proportion, so that all that then was required to precipitate a tragedy was the activities of some hot-headed haranguer.
How inconsiderately over hasty the people had become maybe imagined by the following episode which took place on the day in which occurred the terrible arctic blizzard that caused the death of some hundreds of youthful French soldiers on that fearful night at Pont Audemer.
The movements or whereabouts of the army were unknown. That they were disorganized, starving, without ammunition, and in rapid retreat were all things at that moment unknown. Even at Rouen and at Buchy the army was believed to be driving back the Prussians somewhere in the north near Amiens. But that poor army was then a demoralized mass moving westward. The stablest, best equipped, and most reliable corps in that army had been chosen by Admiral Monchez, who had planned the retreat, to be the vanguard as there existed a very probable possibility that the Prussians might send some light batteries and a sufficient force of light cavalry on each of our flanks, close in on our front, and suddenly cut off our retreat. The chosen corps was Col. Moquard’s Eclaireurs de la Seine, a French regiment composed of determined, inured to battle, extra intelligent, and cool-headed old veterans of the Crimean, Italian, Mexican and Algerian wars, all men who never fired at random but all deliberately patient sharpshooters and fully habituated and initiative skirmishers, well versed in all the tricks of individual fighting who could be relied upon to a man, not only to open up the blocked way, if that should occur, but to tactfully and thoroughly exterminate their opponents, without themselves suffering any great loss.
The Colonel realizing what the changed and rapidly increasing colder weather would do to those starved, famished, over-fatigued, poorly dressed, and poorly protected, uninjured young soldiers, had, on crossing to the south bank of the Seine at Rouen, sent Surgeon Xavier Raspail, his assistant, and the regimental chaplain in a hack, to travel rapidly ahead as far as Bourg-Achard to notify the authorities of that burg to hastily prepare all the immediately available prepared food, as a starved-out army was fast approaching, that was in the most imperative need of food as well as of whatever old blankets or man coverings that could be spared.
This delegation started at once on their humane and patriotic mission and as fast as their horse could trot; but at the entry of the town which was their destination, they were met by a sentry, who had probably been ruminating over night on Prussian spies and was on the lookout for something sinister to turn up in that line, when the trio arrived. Two of them were garbed in what was to the Guards Nationale sentry a strange uniform, the regiment having adopted dark blue pantaloons and dark blue caps as being best suited for their manner of warfare, in lieu of the flashy red pants and capa of the regular French regiments of the line. Seeing here nothing more or less than a bevy of spies silly enough to think they could fool him, this sentry tactfully prepared an unexpected and surprising reception for that delegation, and that without heeding what they said about their mission, by suggesting that he would have to escort them to the mayor to whom they could make their request known.
As this was in line with their wishes, they properly followed the elated sentry who took them to the town hill where he asked them to enter a room and as soon as they entered the delegation heard the door slammed shut and the key turning in the lock. He had put them in the prison where he stood guard over them with his loaded musket ready to kill the trio if they attempted to escape. Meanwhile the guard felt like a hero as he informed the assembling other members of the Guarde and the mob of rapidly collecting citizens that he had single handed captured three Prussian spies which the mayor, whom he had sent for, would soon examine and properly deal with.
Meanwhile, the crowd was gaining in numbers and increasing in turbulence looking in upon the surprised and caged envoys thru the iron bars at the windows. The mayor, apprised of the capture, immediately summoned his two legal counsellors and the trio repaired to the jail to interrogate and decide upon the fate of the spies. It must not be overlooked that the mayor and his counselors, as well as all the inhabitants of Pours-Achard, were in the most complete ignorance that the Prussians would that very afternoon march into Rouen, and that all the army that France had in that region would in a couple of hours be rapidly marching on the highway passing thru their town toward the distant seaport of Honfleur on the shores of the Channel.
The three caged envoys were patiently awaiting the arrival of the mayor with not the least doubts in their minds, but that as soon as he saw their papers that they would not only be set free; but that he would get busy and collect the food which the retreating column needed so badly. When the town authorities entered the room and saw the dark blue uniforms with which they were unacquainted and knowing nothing of the approaching rapidly retreating army, they all felt sure that they had in their hands three vicious spies and proceeded to examine them, Surgeon Raspail, was the son of the celebrated Dr. Raspail who was well known throughout the whole of France, but neither that, nor his commission, or his card, as well as those of the other two men, testifying them as entitled to wear the insignia of the French Red Cross badge then on their arms counted for anything. One of the counselors, who was scrutinizing the official seals on the commission, on the cards, and on the badges, ventured the not comforting suggestions as to express his surprise as to how the spies of that period could procure such really deceptive forgeries with which to deceive and assist them in carrying out their nefarious pursuits. The mayor argued with the Councillor that times and methods had sadly changed in the last decade and that there was no telling where all this would end. A couple of hours were thus spent in attempting to arrive at some definite conclusions, when all of a sudden the load and shrill but clear and silvery but stirring sounds of a regimental bugle corps sounding a rapid march rang out in the distance coming nearer and nearer. When the bugle stopped and the sharp tread of marching soldiers broke in upon their ears, all the examining proceedings stopped, especially when Col. Moquard and his staff brushing away the guard at the prison as if they had been so many flies, and entering asked the three town officials where the provisions were that surgeon Raspail had ordered. What was the meaning of his finding his three envoys in prison undergoing an examination? Here were some thousand of men perishing for want of food and here were those who should have seen to the collection of that food amusing themselves playing at holding a court.
The time had been all misspent and could not be replaced, especially as there was no time to be lost but they must go on and the troops suffer all the unavoidable consequences of this uncalled for foolishness. The bugle sounded the assembly and away went the regiment followed by the rest of the corps with their empty haversacks and empty stomachs. The doctor realized the danger they had run into thru the stupidity of that sentry and that stupid town counselor and the trio congratulated each other on the opportune arrival of the regiment, as things were looking badly for the three arrested men.
“That same night of the day in which Dr. Raspail and his companions were temporarily jailed as Prussian spies at Bourg-Archard, there took place a tragedy on the same order — a mistake — ending in the horrible death of a poor demented person, which must have occurred when those volleys were being fired in the night as the affair took place not far from the stable in which I had found a, shelter,” observed the doctor, as I was told as we trudged along in the morning, by an eyewitness to a part of the scene. But he had, however, only seen the shooting of the supposed spy, as he was marching along on the other side of the road in search of some shelter.
“Some years later on, to my surprise, I found the relation of the reigning spirit and mental and physical state of the whole series of episodes as they had occurred during that day followed in the night by the atrocious murder of the unfortunate person as related in the fifth volume of a set of Guy do Manpassant’s works, under the title of L’ Horrible.
“In that story he also vividly detailed what in general happened on that day and on that fearful night to some hundreds of poor worn-out French youths, who must still be lying in their improvised and nameless or unmarked graves somewhere about Pont-Audmer, youths of whose maker of death or cause of disappearance many parents never will know. That retreat and its many calamities made one feel, how, at times, an individual life may seem of so little value and how easily and quickly dissolved may be the partnership between the eternal soul and its frail human body and how ingloriously it can be suddenly and unconsciously snuffed out.
“Maupassant places the story in the mouth of a general who, some years later on, was heard disserting on the horrors of an obscure and unexpected violent death, one which may be classed as being horrible, as compared to some deaths which may be shocking or only momentarily frightful. He very evidently had seen both, the frightful on the battle field and the horrible where there was no battle, and was well able to delicately discriminate between the two. I had seen the horrible on that morning, soon after the break of day, when a soldier brained that demented young guarde-mobile in the suburb of Rouen, made demented by exposure to limitless privation, cold, and fatigue, and fully realized what fearful depression of spirits that boy must have suffered both mentally and physically, before his mind finally gave way and became unhinged. Maupassant’s relation of those phases and episodes, as they appear in the St. Dunstan Society edition of his works is as follows:
“Now, here are two personal examples, which have shown me what is the meaning of horror:
“It was during the war of 1870. We were retreating toward Pont Audmer, after having passed through Rouen. The army, consisting of about twenty thousand men, twenty thousand men in disorder, disbanded, demoralized, exhausted, was going to reform at Havre.
“The earth was covered with snow. The night was falling. They had not eaten, anything since the day before, and were flying rapidly, the Prussians not far off. The Norman country, livid, dotted with the shadows of the trees surrounding the farms, stretched away under a heavy and sinister black sky.
“Nothing else could be heard in the wan twilight save the confused sound, soft and undefined, of a marching throng, an endless tramping, mingled with the vague clink of canteens or sabers. The men, bent, round-shouldered, dirty, in many cases even in rags, dragged themselves along, hurrying through the snow, with a long broken-backed stride.
“The skin of their hands stuck to the steel of their muskets’ butt-ends, for it was freezing dreadfully that night. I frequently saw a little soldier take off his shoes, in order to walk barefooted, so much did his footgear bruise him; and with every step he left a track of blood. Then, after some time, he sat down in a field for a few minutes rest and never got up again. Every man who sat down died.
“Should we have left behind us those poor exhausted soldiers, who fondly counted on being able to start afresh as soon as they had somewhat refreshed their stiffened legs? Now, scarcely had they ceased to move, and to make their almost frozen blood circulate in their veins, than an unconquerable torpor congealed them, nailed them to the ground, closed their eyes, and in one second the overworked human mechanism collapsed. They gradually sank down, their heads falling toward their knees — without, however, quite tumbling over, for their loins and their limbs lost the capacity for moving, and became as hard as wood, impossible to bend or straighten.
“The rest of us, more robust, kept still straggling on, chilled to the marrow of our bones, advancing by dint of forced movement through that cold and deadly country, crushed by pain, by defeat, by despair, above all overcome by the abominable sensation of abandonment, of death, of nothingness.”
“As I read the balance,” continued Dr. Remondino, “of the story of that night of horrors — that had followed a day that had begun by the braining of that demented soldier, and attended by a number of suddenly occurring deaths, the pathos which they awakened being somewhat dulled, however, by sense of expected danger under which we were all more or less laboring with the added sense that we knew absolutely nothing of the victims of these accidents — and finally reached the story of that brutal murder, it brought to my mind how often my French with its inevitable and undeniable English accent, easily mistaken for a German accent, might have brought me to a similar fate. If Dr. Raspail and his companions, undeniably French in all senses, ran the risks of experiencing a similar fate at Bourg-Achard, what would have been my chances at the hands of as frantic and as obsessed a nob? The episode as related by he general was as follows:
L.C. I saw two gendarmes holding by the arm a curious looking little man, old, beardless, of truly surprising aspect.
They were looking out for an officer, believing that they had caught a spy. The word “Spy” at once spread through the midst of the stragglers, and they gathered in a group round the prisoner. A voice exclaimed: “He must be shot!” And all those soldiers who were falling from utter prostration, only holding themselves on their feet by leaning on their guns, felt of a sudden that thrill of furious and bestial anger, which urges on a mob to massacre.
I wanted to speak! I was at that time in command of a battalion; but they no longer recognized the authority of their commanding officers; they would have shot me.
One of the gendarmes said: “He has been following us for the last three days. He has been asking Information from everyone about the artillery.”
I took it on myself to question this person: “What are you doing? What do you want? Why are you accompanying the army?”
He stammered out some words in some unintelligible dialect. He was, indeed, a strange being, with narrow shoulders, a sly look, and such an agitated air in my presence that I had no longer any real doubt that he was a spy. He seemed very aged and feeble. He kept staring at me from under his eyes with a humble, stupid, and crafty air.
The men all around to exclaimed: “To the wall! to the wall!”
I said to the gendarmes: “Do you answer for the prisoner?”
I had not ceased speaking when a terrible push threw me on my back, and in a second I saw the man seized by the furious soldiers, thrown down, struck, dragged along the side of the road, and flung against a tree. He fell in the snow, nearly dead already.
And immediately they shot him. The soldiers fired at him, reloaded their guns, fired again with the desperate energy of brutes. They fought with each other to have a shot at him, filed off in front of the corpse, and kept firing at him, just as people at a funeral keep sprinkling holy water in front of a coffin.
But suddenly a cry arose of “The Prussians! the Prussians!” and all along the horizon I heard the great noise of this panic-stricken army in full flight.
The panic, generated by these shots fired at this vagabond, had filled his very executioners with terror; and, without realizing that they were themselves the originators of the scare, they rushed away and disappeared in the darkness.
I remained alone in front of the corpse with the two gendarmes whom duty had compelled to stay with me.
They lifted up this riddled piece of flesh, bruised and bleeding.
“He must be examined,” said I to them.
And I handed them a box of vestas which I had in my pocket. One of the soldiers had another box. I was standing between the two.
The gendarme, who was feeling the body, called out: “Clothed in a blue blouse, trousers, and a pair of shoes.”
The first match went out; we lighted a second. The man went on, as he turned out the pockets: “A horn knife, check handkerchief, a snuffbox, a bit of packthread, a piece of bread.”
The second match went out; we lighted a third. The gendarme, after having handled the corpse for a long time, said: “That is all”
I said: “Strip him. We shall perhaps find something near the skin.”
And, in order that the two soldiers might help each other in this task, I stood between them to give them light. I saw them, by the rapid and speedily extinguished flash of the match, take off the garments one by one, and expose to view that bleeding bundle of flesh still warm though lifeless.
And suddenly one of them exclaimed: “Good God, Colonel, it is a woman!”
I cannot describe to you the strange and poignant sensation of pain that moved my heart. I could not believe it, and I kneeled down in the snow before this shapeless pulp of flesh to see for myself: it was a woman.
The two gendarmes, speechless and stunned, waited for me to give my opinion on the matter. But I did not know what to think, what theory to adopt.
Then the brigadier slowly drawled out: “Perhaps she came to look for a son of hers in the artillery, whom she had not heard from.”
And the other chimed in: “Perhaps indeed that is so.” And I, who had seen some terrible things in my time, began to weep. I felt, in the presence of this corpse, in that icy cold night, the midst of that gloomy plain, at the sight of this mystery, at the sight of this murdered stranger, the meaning of that word “horror.”
After the close of the war, the doctor made a journey into the south of Switzerland and thru Italy visiting the universities and hospitals in those countries and later on visited Spain from whence he returned to France, from where after a short sojourn he departed for England, where he spent some months visiting the various hospitals, Col. Elphinstone, the Head Chief of the British Red-Cross in Tours, having furnished him with letters of introduction to a number of the leading hospital surgeons in London. When thru with his London visit the doctor returned to New York and from thence went back to his home in Minnesota.
It was not long after his return to Minnesota before his old Virginia begotten typho-malarial fever again seized upon him as its victim, only more fiercely than before, until the doctor was reduced to a mere shadow of his former self. Under these circumstances, his mind naturally became very much interested in medical climatology which he studied with a great deal of selfish interest. Thru these studies he became well acquainted with the climate of San Diego and that of Southern California where malarial fevers seemed to be entirely absent, so in the last months of 1873 he started for San Diego which he reached by steamer after some weeks stay in San Francisco. His weight was then 120 pounds — now it is 196 pounds.
On arriving at San Diego he found an old classmate of his from the Jefferson Medical College, who had come to San Diego some years before on account of his health, this being Dr. Robert J, Gregg. Doctor Remondino since coming to San Diego has filled many important professional positions, he was appointed city physician in 1876, being the first president of the city board of health, a position that he occupied, off and on, since then, his last term of office in that capacity for four consecutive years having only expired within the past year, in 1921. He was a surgeon of the California Southern Railroad Company, now the Santa Fe Company, and the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, and for many years was the surgeon of the U. S. Marine Hospital Service at this port. For eight consecutive years he was the county physician and for twenty-five years physician and surgeon to St. Joseph’s Hospital in San Diego conducted by the Sisters of Mercy.
The doctor has been vice-president of the State Medical Society, president of the Southern California Medical Society, and president of The San Diego County Medical Society, while he served two terms, eight years in all, as a member of the State Board of Health, and for thirty-five years was a member of the Board of the U. S. Pension Examiners. For twelve years he occupied the Chair of the History of Medicine and of Medical Bibliography in the Medical Department of the University of Southern California, in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in Los Angeles.
The doctor has been a member of the local Masonic Lodge by a demit from his lodge in Minnesota and a charter member in most of the lodges of the higher degrees, including the 32nd degree and that of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Knights of Pythias. The doctor was the editor of the National Popular Review; a journal of Preventive Medicine and Applied Sociology which was published in Chicago, the doctor editing it from San Diego. He had taken that editorship at the solicitation of Prof. N. S. Davis and Prof. Hollister of Chicago. Besides those labors, he was a liberal contributor to many medical journals.
He has written a number of books which have enjoyed a large circulation among them being a work entitled A History of Circumcision, The Mediterranean Shores of America, and The Modern Climatological Treatment of Consumption. He is now engaged, in writing among other projected works a history of medicine which will make several volumes, a History of the Portable Arms of the U. S. Army and Navy, which will be illustrated by photogravures of over two hundred specimens in the doctor’s arms collections, A History of Medical Education and A History of the Celtic Language and Some of Its People, and An Illustrated History of the Life of Mary Magdalene which will be illustrated with photogravures of over six hundred paintings and statuary of his subject, a number of which are in the doctor’s collection of paintings and statuary gleaned from the galleries of Europe.
The doctor besides his direct medical associations and affiliations is a member of the National Geographical Society; of the Californian Writers’ Club; and of the New York Medico-Legal Society to whose Journal he is a frequent contributor; and an Honorary member of the National Illustrated News Syndicate.
In 1877 the doctor was married to Sophia Ann Earle, a niece of the Bishop of Marlborough of London, the late Honorable Alfred Earle. There were four children born to them, Caroline Katherine, Frederic Earle, Louisa Remondino, and Charles Henry Earle. Caroline K. Franklin, the wife of Dr. B. V. Franklin, a practicing physician and surgeon of San Diego, is a member of the San Diego Woman’s Press Club, of the California Writers’ Club, and The Poetry Society; Frederic E. Remondino is a medical student, Mrs. Louisa Remondino Stahel is the president of the San Diego Woman’s Press Club and President of the San Diego Chapter of the Poetry Society of America; Charles H. E. Remondino is a practicing physician and surgeon in San Diego.
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