the history nebraska blog

Gun or Packet, Which?

Who saw what? Who did what? These were the questions that filled the papers in 1907. The

controversial incident involved a doctor and a Nebraska National guardsman, both of whom

were attempting to render aid to a man struck by a street car in the capital city.



“Does a physician know a first aid packet from a revolver, and why was it a member of the

Nebraska national guard pulled on a physician who was caring for a man fatally wounded

Wednesday night? Did a man in uniform use unbecoming language when ordered to get out of

the way?



“Dr. Shoemaker said last night: ‘The facts in the case can be proven by a dozen who stood

within a foot and a half of the man. The soldier forced his way into the crowd where I was

working over the injured man. He shouted out “G__ d____ it, why don’t you get an ambulance

and take him to the hospital?” I told him the man was dead, but he repeated his words. “Say,

young man,” I said to him, “you better get out of here and stay out till you sober up.”



“‘With that he attempted to draw a gun but one of his comrades grabbed his arm and took the

weapon away from him. I called for an officer to arrest him, but they got him away from there.

When the police found him he had no gun on him.’



“Major Birkner, commanding the Lincoln hospital corps, said, ‘We don’t say that our men could

have saved the wounded man if they had been given a chance, but on thing is sure; they could

have stopped the hemorrhage in the wound in the side. Instead of doing that the doctor was

giving the dying man a hypodermic injection to stimulate the heart to pump the blood out of his

faster than it was already coming out. He was doing nothing to stop the flow of blood. My men

are instructed how to treat a case of that kind.'”



“The men at the Second regiment say that there was no gun drawn at all. They say that fact can

be proven by a commissioned officer who was a witness. One of the members of the hospital

corps, when he saw that nothing was being done to stop the flow of blood, pushed himself into

the man and said: “If you can’t stop the flow of blood, get a cloth and I’ll stop it.” As the solider

said this he reached around to get his first aid packet that was strapped on his belt and the

doctor, thinking that he was reaching for a gun, threw up his hands and cried, ‘Don’t point that

gun at me.’ A policeman was later called and searched the man but no gun was found. The first

aid packet is a small package in a cloth sack. Each hospital corpsman carries these with him,

and they do not resemble a revolver in form or color.”


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