The Tag Line

8 02 2007

You may have noticed that I’ve added a new piece of text above the “About” widget on the right.  “Dulce bellum inexpertis” is a Latin phrase which loosely translated means “War is delightful to those who have not experienced it”.  The quote has been variously attributed to Erasmus (1466 – 1536) and Pindaros (c520 BC – c440 BC).  This used to be my signature on several online bulletin board discussion groups back when I was an active participant on them.  I started using it when folks on these groups would ask “If you could be present at any event of the Battle of XYZ, which one would it be?”  The first time I saw this question all I could think of was Max California (Joaquin Phoenix) in the film 8 MM: There are some things that you see, and you can’t unsee them.  Know what I mean?

It’s easy to view the Civil War romantically.  The portraits, the clothes, the nostalgia for a simpler time.  To fight off such temptation, I keep The Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries within easy reach.  It fixes me right up.  Every time.


Rowland E. Ward, a 46 year old private in the 4th NY Heavy Artillery, was struck by a shell fragment during the fight at Reams’ Station on August 25, 1864.  The result was the complete destruction of the floor of his mouth.  The above is a photo taken before two surgeries to reconstruct – somewhat – his face.  That’s not a salt-and-pepper beard or a defect in the negative; it’s a gaping hole where the lower portion of Ward’s face once was.  By the standards of the day, the operations were successful.  See the Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries, pp. 150-151, 164.




5 responses

29 03 2009
Second Chance « Bull Runnings

[…] The Tag Line […]


23 11 2009
Charles Mills

Rowland Ward was my great great grandfather. Born in 1818 in Lincolnshire, England, he came to America as a young man and settled in Hunts Hollow, NY. This is just south of Letchworth State Park. He raised a family there. He enlisted in the NY 4th Heavy Artillery. Some of his early training took place on the Parade Grounds that still exist in the park. Assigned to Fort Ethan Allen, he helped man the heavy guns which protected Washington, DC. Grant reassigned many of these units to combat duty in the Spring of 1864. He was at the Battle of the Wilderness. After his massive injury at Reams Station, the Confererates initially captured him but gave him back to the Union medical people. He spent a year at Lincoln General Hospital before returning home. Remarkably, he lived until 1898 in Hunts Hollow. On a government pension, he outlived his first wife and remarried. Apparently he had some celebrity status in the area. We have photos of the reconstructive process. He grew a beard to cover the injury. I believe his food intake was limited to soft and liquid foods for the rest of his life. My grandfather had fond memories of him from his youth. He was able to verbally communicate to some extent. He had a lot of heart problems after the injury. He is buried in Hunts Hollow.


23 11 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Charles, thanks for stopping by. There are more photos of Ward’s surgical process in the Medical History, as well as in the Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries. With your permission, I’d like to post your comment separately, and add more of those photos. Are you OK with that?

Again, thanks for reading!


23 11 2009
Rowland Ward « Bull Runnings

[…] 23 11 2009 A while back I ran this article explaining my tag line to the right (Dulce Bellum Inexpertis).  Today I received a message from […]


1 09 2011
New Tag Line « Bull Runnings

[…] “Dulce Bellum Inexpetis” has been Bull Runnings’ tag line for four years now – you can find it at the top of the column over to the right. Basically it means “War is delightful to those who have never experienced it.” I explain why I use it in more detail here. […]


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