Nathan C. Bradley
130th New York Infantry
July 18, 1863
Loudoun County, Virginia

The march was going badly for Nathan, and getting worse. It hurt to pee, and there was milky discharge. He tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away on its own. But then another thing bothered him a great deal: pain in his left testicle. Even so, he did not consult Surgeon Kneeland, but the third morning was different. All night, he'd had to keep getting up to go urinate, and each time it had gotten more painful, the worst pain being in the mornings. In the third morning, after a bad night, when there was enough light that he could see, he saw that the tip of his penis had a bloody encrustation on it. That's when he'd decided he'd better see the doctor.

(Right-click to view larger or download)

The Confederate army (red) marched southward through the Shenandoah Valley, west of the Blue Ridge, while the Federal army (blue) paralleled, moving east of the ridge through Loudoun County.

"Well, Sergeant, it appears that you have visited with a Cyprian."

"How's that?"

"A soiled dove. Perhaps you've been to a brothel."

Nathan avoided the doctor's eyes.

"Within the past week. Probably in Frederick."

Nathan blurted, "Washington."

"You experience a scalding sensation when passing water?"


"How severe is it?"

"Pretty painful."

"Can you imagine it hurting even worse?"

"I suppose I can."

"Hmm. No chancres. You have gonorrhea. Nurse, silver nitrate and a syringe, please."

"Here, sir." The male nurse already had them at hand; a glass stoppered bottle and a terrifyingly huge black rubber syringe.

"The glass syringe will do."

"Yes, doctor." The nurse hid his smirk when turning to replace the syringe. The sight of the large syringe made the glass syringe appear much less threatening, but the nurse still enjoyed watching the patients' eyes bug out when they beheld the rubber syringe.

"You are in the early stages of the disease. The treatment at this stage is to cause artificial inflammation by means of a caustic solution of nitrate of silver injected up the urethra and into the bladder. Have you urinated in the past half hour?"

Nathan was still absorbing the concept of this caustic solution that was going to be put into his you what? And now he had to switch mental gears, think of the answer to the question asked. "Yes, just before I came here."

"All right. Drop your trousers and underwear." Turning to the nurse, "It's best to use a slightly strong solution the first time. That tends to reduce the number of applications needed, but you will experience some discomfort." The doctor looked at Nathan's face, gesturing at Nathan's man thing. "I have no wish to handle your penis. Please retract the prepuce so that I may have access to the glans."

Nathan seemed uncertain what he was being asked to do. "Do what?"

"Pull back the foreskin, while pulling the shaft straight. There, that's the way." The doctor picked up a rag lying nearby and wiped the tip of Nathan's penis, drying it, then put the rag back for the next time it would be needed. The nurse had filled the syringe, and the doctor took it from him. Now the doctor had the syringe pointing directly at the tip of Nathan's penis.

"Now. The urethral opening is a vertical slit. You can open it for me by squeezing it in a vertical manner. That's right..."

The medical journals said that most men could tolerate the irrigation treatment without screaming. Nathan didn't have to be told this would hurt. It sure looked like it would. And he'd heard from others who'd had the treatment. Now Nathan found out for himself. He felt a whole new sensation as the nozzle of the syringe entered the urethra. His hand jerked; his penis tried to run and hide.

"Hold still, now. You can do it. Many others have. Pull your penis straight, now. Let the solution in to do its work."

Nathan stifled the urge to cry out as the doctor pushed the plunger and the syringe's voluminous contents shot up his urethra. "Ghhhhhhhhhh..."

"Nurse, a bedpan, please."

The nurse already had a bedpan. He knew the drill.

The doctor went on, "You squeezed in a vertical manner to create an opening. As I remove the syringe, squeeze in a horizontal manner to keep the solution in."


"Put thumb and forefinger to the sides now." Nathan did as instructed. The doctor removed the syringe and let the nurse position the bedpan.

Doctor Kneeland kept up a patter to soothe the patient. "Let it do its work for a moment... All right. You may allow the solution to flow."

Nathan released the finger and thumb pressure with mixed feelings. He wanted the solution out, but dreaded the sensation as it flowed. The solution had been clear when it went in, but now it was like weak whitewash, with a pinkish tinge. And Nathan's urethra hurt like all get-out.

The doctor proceeded to discuss some dietary precautions Nathan would have to take. Then he examined the fluid in the bedpan and instructed the nurse, "Prepare a second syringe."

* * *

© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.