The US Civil War was America’s bloodiest and most costly conflict. Although the battlefields were covered with death, the field hospitals were perhaps the most frightening places. From the echoing screams of men undergoing amputations to the inexperienced doctors and lack of medical knowledge, many believed it was better to die on the field than to face the surgeons. Infections were also a huge problem due to poor sanitation, disease, and the delay in care. At the Battle of Shiloh, some soldiers sat in the mud for two rainy days waiting for medics to get to them, as contaminated bullet and bayonet wounds became infected. As dusk fell the first night, some noticed something very strange: their wounds were glowing, casting a faint light into the darkness of the battlefield. Even stranger, when the troops were eventually moved to field hospitals, those whose wounds glowed had a better survival rate and had their wounds heal more quickly and cleanly than their unilluminated brothers-in-arms. The seemingly protective effect of the mysterious light earned it the nickname “Angel’s Glow.”
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