Imagine being shot in the head – right between the eyes, no less – and not only surviving, but carrying on with life as usual for three decades. For Civil War soldier Jacob Miller, a member of the 9th Indiana Infantry, that was his reality. Miller took a bullet to the head on September 19, 1863, and the wound was apparently bad, because his fellow soldiers left him for dead. He was shot at Brock Field at Chickmauga, a battle known as second in casualties only to the Battle of Gettysburg.
Miller gave the following statement regarding his battle wound: “I was left for dead when my company fell back from that position. I got up with the help of my gun as a staff, then went back some distance, then started parallel with the line of battle. I made up my mind as long as I could drag one foot after another I would not allow myself to be taken prisoner. I got a nurse to fill my canteen with water so I could make an effort in getting near safety as possible.”
He ended up with an open wound in his forehead, one that occasionally spit out chunks of lead. Thirty-one years would pass before pieces of the bullet would stop randomly oozing from the bullet hole, and through it all, Miller simply went about life as usual.
If you’re thinking that bullets – and ballistics – have changed significantly since the Civil War, you’re right. But that doesn’t mean the whole shot-in-the-head-and-survived thing hasn’t happened since. It’s happened more than once, with one example being an 18-year-old guy in Jefferson City, Missouri, who survived being shot in the head back in July of this year. Or, if you’re looking for another story with three decades attached, consider the story of Jim Saunders, a man living in the UK whose wife shot him in the head point-blank – while he slept. He not only lived to tell the tale but has spent over thirty years with the .25 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. It’s sitting in a spot too delicate to touch, although if it ever shifts, he’s bound to be in trouble.
It just goes to show, the key to self-defense may be shot placement, but sometimes even a round to the head fails to take someone down. Granted there does seem to be a trend in these bullet-to-the-head stories – most seem to be small caliber. While the survivors are fortunate the little bullets didn’t simply ricochet, scrambling everything in their path, they’re also fortunate a larger caliber wasn’t used since it seems far less likely they would have survived the damage created by a good-sized bullet.
Let the caliber versus wound cavity debate begin. And…go!