Marengo was the scenario of one of the most important battles of the Napoleonic age, where about 7,000 soldiers died, among whom the French General Desaix. However, the exploration of the Marengo ossuary revealed only a small sample of the dead soldiers and was represented in general by the long bones of the limbs. In fact, if we exclude the children and the bones of sure archeological derivation, the remains of the soldiers, males between 20 and 30 years of age, who certainly died in the battle, are about 250. Despite these limits, a number of traumatic lesions were diagnosed, which have been subdivided in chronic pathologies, prior to the battle, and acute pathologies, which took place during the battle. The chronic pathologies include a case of ossification due to a muscle trauma, nine cases of periostitis and three cases of recovered fractures. The ossification of an injury of the muscle took place along the linea aspera of the femur, connected with the insertion of the adductors and the pectineous, muscles which are particularly developed in horsemen. Three cases of periostitis, also observed along the linea aspera of the femur in connection with the insertion of the adductors, can also be ascribed to the heavy practice of horse-riding. Six cases of tibial periostitis connected with the insertion of the inferior tibialis can be considered "marching" lesions. The presence of these lesions, caused by the frequent marching practice in infantry detachments, is not surprising. The fractures, all well consolidated at the level of the medio-diaphysial tract, and for this reason referring to direct traumas, can be connected with the military profession or probably took place in previous combats. The first case is a medio-diaphysial fracture of the right radius (also called “defense” or “Parry’s” fracture), well consolidated “in axis”, with no deformation or shortening of the forearm; the fracture was probably very well treated by a good military surgeon. Interesting is the fracture of a right humerus, consolidated in angular deformity, with a 5 cm shortening of the bone. Finally there is the fracture of a right tibia, very badly healed, with a severe shortening of the inferior limb of about 6 cm. Very few – although significant – diagnoses of acute lesions have been made, certainly coinciding with a rapid death of the subject involved. There are also two lesions caused by a cutting blade, and another one caused by a fire-arm. A right humerus shows a thin cut, with sharp margins, 3.5 cm long, 2 mm wide, 3.5 cm deep, involving posteriorly the superior epiphysis. This almost perfect median cut has a vertical direction, involving the head, the anatomic and the surgical neck. The characteristics are those of the point of a “briquet”, the typical dagger of the French infantry. The wound was certainly produced from behind, and top-downwards, involving the right humerus through the deltoid. From this direction, it is likely that the blow was directed against a run-away or a falling soldier. Another lesion was caused by a cutting blade involving the left area of a frontal bone. The lesion consists in a triangular cut with superior apex, 11 mm long and a maximum of 3.2 mm wide, involving the frontal tuber in its medium tract; presumably, the wound was produced by the central part of a cutting blade, possibly a “briquet” in this case as well. The lesion caused by a fire-arm involves the right half of the squama of a frontal bone. It consists in a circular breach, with clear-cut margins, extending towards the interior and showing a clear inward beveling; it shows a trunk-conic profile, with an external diameter of 21.5 mm and an internal diameter of 27 mm. The defect was certainly produced by a penetrating projectile, and the external diameter of 21.5 mm well corresponds to the 20 mm caliber of the so-called “biscaillens”, the iron balls of the grape-shot cannons. It is evident that the exiguous number of lesions we have identified can only offer a glimpse of the traumatology of this important battle-field of the Napoleonic age. It is sufficient however to explain the scientific interest of the results obtained with this type of material. Only an accurate exploration of eventual military common graves or of an entire war cemetery with intact burials could offer a more global and realistic traumatological picture.
|Autori:||Lunardini A.; Rollo F.; Fornaciari G.|
|Titolo:||Bone lesions from the ossuary of the Napoleonic battle of Marengo, northern Italy (14th June 1800)|
|Anno del prodotto:||2002|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|