Well. Tonight, going through books in the library, we came across a photocopied article tucked into a book of ethnographical studies of Mississippi. It recounted the fabulous story, related by a Confederate doctor, of a minie ball fired during a battle near Vicksburg, which passed through both an unfortunate soldier and a hapless young lady in such a fashion as to result, 278 days later, in a bouncing baby boy.
I leave the state of hilarity that ensued to your own fertile imaginations.
How common it is now-a-days, and how natural, too, for men to tell wonderful stories about "the war"; their desperate charges; hair-breadth escapes; numbers who have fallen victims to their feats of personal valor, etc., etc. Then every surgeon has performed any number of wonderful operations before unheard of in the annals of surgery!
Until the present moment, I have refrained from bringing before the public, and more particularly the Profession, any of my daring exploits or remarkable surgical procedures; and even now I feel a delicacy in offering the remarkable case, the relation of which is prompted only by a sense of duty to my professional brethren. Doubtless many will pronounce the facts to be presently related as unusual or impossible; to such I need only say, if not, why not?...
...Just two hundred and seventy-eight days from the date of the receipt of the wound by the minnie ball, I delivered this same young lady of a fine boy, weighing eight pounds. I was not very much surprised; but imagine the surprise and mortification of the young lady herself, her entire family. This can be better imagined than described. Although I found the hymen intact in my examination before delivery, I gave no credence to the earnest and oft-repeated assertions of the young lady of her innocence and virgin purity.
About three weeks from the date of this remarkable birth, I was called to see the child, the grandmother insisting there was "something wrong about the genitals." Examination revealed an enlarged, swollen, sensitive scrotum, containing on the right side a hard, roughened substance, evidently foreign. I decided upon operating for its removal at once, and in so doing, extracted from the scrotum a minnie ball, mashed and battered as if it had met in its flight some hard, unyielding substance.
To attempt to picture my astonishment would be impossible! What may already seem very plain to my readers, as they glance over this paper, was, to me, at the time, mysterious. It was only after several days and nights of sleepless reflection that a solution flashed before me, and ever since has appeared as clear as the noon-day sun!
"What is it?" The ball I took from the scrotum of the babe was the identical one which, on the 12th of May, shattered the tibia of my young friend, and in its mutilated condition, plunged through his testicle, carrying with it particles of semen and spermatozoa into the abdomen of the young lady, then through her left ovary, and into the uterus, in this manner impregnating her! There can be no other solution of the phenomenon! These convictions I expressed to the family, and, at their solicitations, visited my young soldier friend, laying the case before him in its proper light. At first, most naturally, he appeared skeptical, but concluded to visit the young mother. Whether convinced or not, he soon married her, ere the little boy had attained his fourth month.
As a matter of additional interest, I may mention having received a letter during the past year, reporting a happy married state and three children, but neither resembling, to the same marked degree, as the
first -- our hero -- Paterfamilias!
Snopes debunks it -- naturally -- and also links to the 1874 medical journal article that spawned the furor, as well as the journal's follow-up notice, published two weeks later, that the original piece had been a joke.