From _The Book of Lists 2_ by Irving Wallace, David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, and Sylvia
From _The Book of Lists 2_ by Irving Wallace, David Wallechinsky, Amy
Wallace, and Sylvia Wallace: William Morrow & Co., 1980.
Reprinted without permission.
p. 260, "11 Unusual Births"
11. THE MOST UNUSUAL BIRTH OF ALL
The November 7, 1874, issue of the _American Medical Weekly_
related a bizarre episode which began during the Battle of Raymond in
Mississippi on May 12, 1863. According to Dr. T.G. Capers of Vicksburg,
a soldier friend of his was hit in the scrotum by a bullet, which carried
away his left testicle. The same bullet apparently penetrated the left
side of the abdomen of a 17-year-old girl in a nearby house. Two hundred
and seventy-eight days later, the young lady gave birth to a healthy 8-lb.
boy "to the surprise of herself and the mortification of her parents and
friends." Three weeks later Dr. Caper operated on the infant and removed
a smashed miniball. He concluded that this was the same ball that had
carried away the testicle of his young friend; it had then penetrated the
ovary of the young lady and--with some spermatozoa upon it--impregnated her.
With this conviction he approached the young man and told him the
circumstances; the soldier appeared skeptical at first, but consented
to visit the young mother; a friendship ensued which soon ripened into
a happy marriage. The couple had three more children, none of whom
resembled their father as closely as the first.
Jan Harold Brunvand, _The Choking Doberman and Other "New" Urban
Legends_ (1984, W.W. Norton), pp. 134-138, discusses this. Brunvand
traces the chain backwards: "Dear Abby," November 6, 1982, citing
_American Heritage_, December 1971, citing _The American Medical Weekly_,
November 7, 1874, which does not contain any such story. Another
account cites _The Lancet_ for 1875, which also allegedly gets its
information from _The American Medical Weekly_, but Brunvand was unable
to find the story in _The Lancet_ for 1875, either. The earliest
source Brunvand found was George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle, _Anomalies
and Curiosities of Medicine_, first published in 1896, pp. 44-45. Gould
and Pyle claim they found it in _The Lancet_, which in turn cited _The
American Medical Weekly_. Brunvand points out that Gould and Pyle's
account states that the young man involved in the alleged incident was
"a gallant and noble young friend of the narrator"--a common sign of
Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank