Home » Reference » Humanities » After the Battle of Shiloh – 1862, many Civil War soldiers’ lives were saved by a phenomenon called Angel’s Glow. The soldiers who laid in mud for two rainy days had wounds that glowed in the dark and healed unusually fast. In 2001, two teens discovered the reason – bioluminescent bacteria.

After the Battle of Shiloh – 1862, many Civil War soldiers’ lives were saved by a phenomenon called Angel’s Glow. The soldiers who laid in mud for two rainy days had wounds that glowed in the dark and healed unusually fast. In 2001, two teens discovered the reason – bioluminescent bacteria.

Angel’s Glow

During the two days of fighting at the Civil War battle of Shiloh (1862) the wounded numbered over 16,000. Many were immobilized in the mud of the rain-soaked fields situated between river and swamp. Their wounds were easily contaminated. And some of these wounds, by many accounts, began to glow.

Of the over 3500 dead at Shiloh a few were generals. Two surviving Union officers would become President of the United States (Grant and Garfield). A Lieutenant Ambrose Bierce was there, and later in life, by then a famous author, wrote of the battle that: “ God’s great angels stood invisible among the heroes in blue and the heroes in gray, sleeping their last sleep in the woods of Chickamauga.”

Angel’s Glow

These angels then got busy i… Continue Reading (3 minute read)

14 thoughts on “After the Battle of Shiloh – 1862, many Civil War soldiers’ lives were saved by a phenomenon called Angel’s Glow. The soldiers who laid in mud for two rainy days had wounds that glowed in the dark and healed unusually fast. In 2001, two teens discovered the reason – bioluminescent bacteria.”

  1. Just1morefix

    Here are some of the more salient points about this life saving bacterium:

    >>”The bacterium P. luminescens lives in the gut of entomopathogenic nematodes. Entomopathogenic nematodes are small ‘thread worms’ that lethally infect insect larvae. The lethality derives from its symbiotic partner, the bacterium that are expelled in vivo and in turn elaborate toxins and enzymes that kill and ‘nutrify’ the tissues the larvae. (One such toxin is produced by the gene called ‘mcf’—for ‘makes caterpillars floppy’).”

    >>”Furthermore, and here is the crux of the argument, P. luminescens produces in abundance an antibiotic, 3,5-dihydroxy-4-isopropylstilbene, which kills competing bacteria that would otherwise cause putrefaction.”

    >>And P. luminescens, true to its name, is bioluminescent.

  2. ariesandnotproud

    The bioluminescent bacteria grew on cold bodies of the soldiers which killed the bad bacteria that could have killed them.

  3. HaCo111

    Interestingly, the chemical secreted by the bacteria is both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It is currently being tested as a potential “magic bullet” treatment for plaque psoriasis

  4. ItAllDepends99

    My great great grandfather was wounded at the battle of Shiloh. He went back home to Illinois to recuperate, then rejoined William Tecumseh Sherman in time for the March to the Sea. Don’t know if he experienced the bioluminescent bacteria though.

  5. RaunakA_

    I miss the good old mystical days, when there was magic!

  6. Birdie121

    Of course this can’t be confirmed for sure, but it is the most popular hypothesis.

  7. AxMeAQuestion

    didn’t i literally just see this post here less than a week ago

  8. geedavey

    This also came up in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, in her book *Dragonfly in Amber.*

  9. RedSonGamble

    Wrong. It was God. /s

  10. spyddarnaut

    Not the only place in the world where this healing mud exists. There’s a place some where in the UK where the ‘re’-discovery of healing mud was published recently.

  11. Gradieus

    Just reading the second sentence the most logical conclusion would be bioluminescent bacteria. Don’t see what two teens have to do with anything that others couldn’t have explained in that 139 year span.

  12. NotRobStaley

    Don’t tell the religious people we’ve explained another one of there miracles they dialed their god for lol morons

  13. Billy_T_Wierd

    We can never really know if it was the bacteria or not. It conveniently fits the story, but does that make it true? Circumstantial evidence at best. Without a sample to test the truth is lost to history

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