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What Happened to Confederate Soldier, Willis Meadows’ War Wound?

One of the Vicksburg Battle survivors, Willis Meadows, was shot by Union Army soldier Peter Knapp. Meadows thought that his end was near. Thankfully, Meadows continued to live his years even though the bullet inside his body wasn’t immediately retrieved. 

The 78-year-old war veteran, Willis Meadows, coughed up and the 58-year-old bullet that was trapped within his body, serving as a reminder of his survival in the Vicksburg Battle. 

The Survival of Meadows and Knapp

The esteemed story of Willis Meadows coughing a bullet begins back in 1862. Willis Meadows, aged 19 at that time, joined the Company G of the 37th Alabama Volunteer Infantry with the company of his other relatives.

Willis Meadows heavily struggled when he was situated in the western area in the Mississippi River. Meadows and his allies suffered many losses in the continuous battles they faced. A year after his enlistment, Meadows had been transferred to Vicksburg City to protect the area from the Union army’s attacks.

When July 1 came, sharpshooter Meadows had already stationed his rifle through a peephole in a boilerplate to attack the Yanks when Union soldiers from Company H of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry arrived, including 21-year-old Peter Knapp. The Union soldiers came from the east.

Knapp spotted Meadows’ location and quickly aimed his rifle at the peephole in the boilerplate. Knapp’s shot hit Meadows directly in the eye, making him fall and bleed from his eye. With the assumption of Meadows’ death, the Union soldiers carried on.

The discovery of Meadows’ body led him to the hands of Union surgeons who refused to perform surgery on him as their lack of knowledge on the location of the bullet would make the operation extremely risky.

Meadows arrived at a Union Hospital through the transport of a Prisons-of-War Ship. When he was relocated to a Confederate Hospital, he remained there, sometimes serving as a nurse’s aid. When the war came to a stop, he married and came home to his farm located in the east of Georgia.

Meanwhile, Peter Knapp was captured after the Vicksburg battle. With his capturing, Knapp was detained in numerous Confederate prisons, including the infamous Andersonville. After the war, Knapp pursued farming and transferred to Kelso in 1887 with his wife.

Now a 78-year-old veteran, Meadows was experiencing a sudden inability to breathe. With that, he was grasping to breathe in air, and the thing that was choking him couldn’t escape his throat, consequentially leading to a violent spasm. During his spasm, Meadows coughed up a bullet. The same 1-ounce 58-year-old bullet that got his eye and would’ve potentially caused his death. (Source: History Daily

The Bullet Induced Reunion

Because of Meadows’ bizarre situation, Coughs Up Bullet became a national newspaper headline in 1921. It was not long when Peter Knapp, Meadows’ shooter, read the story and pieced back his memories of the familiar situation.

With Knapp’s sudden realization, he contacted Meadows and compared notes to validate the incident. With that, they spent the last of their remaining years as close friends. (Source: History Daily)

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