Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Madman/Union Officer-part 3

This is St. Elizabeth's Hospital, an Insane Asylum near the Anacostia in D.C. One reader wanted to know what this series had to do with Elmer Ellsworth. The answer is, probably very little--both were in the Union Army, and Camp Lincoln, the first camp created for the 75,000 volunteers in 1861, which included the Fire Zouaves, was in the fields surrounding the hospital. This is the same hospital Lincoln pointed out to Mary Lincoln when she was getting emotionally out of hand.

In 1866, Doctor Minor was still a Union Army doctor, stationed in New York City. He worked very hard, and was brevetted a captain for his efforts. But--all was not well. He began to be noticed for doing a couple of things that were . . . odd. He began, illegally, to carry his Colt .38 service revolver with him wherever he went. When asked about this, he claimed he was afraid of being killed by Irish muggers and ruffians when he came home very late at night through Lower Manhattan.

And what was he doing there? He had begun to visit bars and brothels. I don't mean just visit them. Apparently every cent he had was "invested" in procuring sex--as much as he could get, wherever he could get it. Nightly, all night, every night. Then he would drag himself in the dawning hours by rowboat to Governor's Island and Fort Jay Hospital. He began to avail himself of very regular treatments for STDs at Fort Jay.

Things got so bad that the Army decided to move him out of New York altogether. He was sent to Fort Barrancas, Florida. Things only got worse. He began to accuse fellow officers of breaking into his room at night and making him do unspeakable things, although there was no evidence of this happening. The officers soon found him to be difficult to work with, and Minor began to stop showing up for duty. Within a short amount of time he was diagnosed with "monomania," and sent back to DC to St. Elizabeth's Insane Asylum. Things got very bad. He became completely delusional, and when he was not masturbating, he was looking for Irishmen under the floorboards and rafters of his room.

After a long, sad trial in 1871, he was retired from the Army, with benefits. He then decided to leave the country, and sailed to England--with his gun.

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