The following story was sent to me by Chris K., Texas. He says:
I found this story quite interesting. It is one more amazing way that God works in mysterious ways through His creation for the benefit of man.
By the spring of 1862, a year into the American Civil War, Major General Ulysses S. Grant had pushed deep into Confederate territory along the Tennessee River. In early April, he was camped at Pittsburg Landing, near Shiloh, Tennessee, waiting for the forces of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s from the Ohio army to meet up with him.
On the morning of April 6, Confederate troops based out of nearby Corinth, Mississippi, launched a surprise offensive against Grant’s troops. They hoped to defeat Grant and his troops before the second army arrived. Grant’s men, augmented by the first arrivals from the Ohio army, managed to hold some ground, and a battle line anchored with artillery was established. Fighting continued until after dark. By the next morning, the full contingent of the Ohio troops had arrived. The Union forces now outnumbered the Confederates by more than 10,000.
The fighting at the Battle of Shiloh left more than 16,000 soldiers wounded and more than 3,000 dead. Neither the Union nor the Confederate medics were prepared for the carnage. They lacked the manpower and the supplies to provide treatment to all those that needed it.
The bullet and bayonet wounds were bad enough on their own; the soldiers were also prone to infections. Wounds contaminated by shrapnel or dirt became warm, moist growth sites for bacteria, which feasted on the damaged tissue. After months of marching and eating field rations on the battlefront, many soldiers’ immune systems were weakened, and they were not able to fight off infection on their own.
Even the army doctors couldn’t do much. Microorganisms weren’t well understood, and the germ theory of disease and antibiotics were still a few years away. It would be another seventy-five years before drugs like penicillin would be discovered. Many soldiers died from infections that modern medicine would have been able to nip in the bud.
Some of the Shiloh soldiers sat or laid in the mud for two rainy days and nights waiting for the medics to get around to them. As dusk fell the first night, something very strange happened. Their wounds were glowing, casting a faint light into the darkness of the battlefield. Even stranger, when the troops were eventually moved to field hospitals, those whose wounds glowed had a better survival rate and their wounds healed more quickly and cleanly than their unilluminated brothers-in-arms. The seemingly protective effect of the mysterious light earned it the nickname “Angel’s Glow.”
In 2001, almost one hundred and forty years after the battle, seventeen-year-old Bill Martin was visiting the Shiloh battlefield with his family. He was fascinatedwhen he heard about the glowing wounds. He and his friend, Jon Curtis, did some research and eventually discovered what they believe caused the glow.
They learned that Photorhabdus luminescens, a bacteria that glows, lives in the guts of parasitic worms called nematodes. The two share a strange lifecycle. Nematodes hunt down insect larvae in the soil or on plant surfaces, burrow into their bodies, and take up residence in their blood vessels.
There, the nematodes puke up the P. luminescens bacteria living inside them. Upon their release, the bacteria, which are bioluminescent and glow a soft blue, begin producing a number of chemicals that kill the insect host and suppress and kill all the other microorganisms already inside it. This leaves P. luminescens and their nematode partner to feed, grow and multiply without interruption.
As the worms and the bacteria eat, the insect corpse is hollowed out. The nematodes then eat the bacteria. The bacteria re-colonize the nematode’s guts so they can hitch a ride as it bursts forth from the corpse in search of a new host. Many scientists believe that many glowing bacteria attract other insects to the body and make the nematode’s transition to a new host much easier.
The weather and soil conditions at Shiloh were right for both P. luminescens and their nematode partners. The two boys’ lab experiments with the bacteria showed that the bacteria couldn't live at human body temperature. This made the soldiers’ wounds an environment that was inhospitable to the growth cycle.
However, nighttime temperatures in early April would have been low enough for the soldiers who were out there in the rain for two days to get hypothermia, lowering their body temperature and giving P. luminescens a good home.
Based on the evidence for the presence of P. luminescens at Shiloh and the reports of the strange glow, the boys concluded that the bacteria, along with the nematodes, got into the soldiers’ wounds from the soil. This not only turned their wounds into night lights, but may have saved their lives. The two boys felt the soldiers should have thanked the microorganisms rather than the “angels”.
On the other hand, I believe that everything was created by God, and in one of GOD’S OTHER WAYS©, He saved many soldiers to help give us the America we know.
Note: I have searched and cannot find another example in all human history where wounds glowed.
Soniak, Matt. "Why Some Civil War Soldiers Glowed in the Dark." Mental Floss, 05 Apr. 2012. Web. 01 May 2017. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/30380/why-some-civil-war-soldiers-glowed-dark>.