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  Franz Mesmer and Magnetic Therapy - Paris 1778 

In 1774 magnets were being used by some European doctors to "draw out"  sickness in their patients.

In 1778 Franz Mesmer moved to Paris and established the 'Magnetic Institute'. There he treated "nervous disorders", using magnets. As the magnetic power flowed through his patients, Mesmer would place them in a deep trance by monotonously repeating words. His hypnotic suggestions apparently caused people to will themselves back to good health. Mesmer became a little to popular for his own good causing jealousy among his critics. 

King Louis XVI accused him of being a fake and instructed the Academy of Science to investigate his methods.  This group, which included Benjamin Franklin, concluded that magnetic therapy was a fraud, calling it a hocus pocus theory.  

Although the Institute was closed, Mesmer did show the value of self-suggestion in treating illness.

He also gave us a new word, "mesmerize", meaning: to hypnotize.

A Most Unusual Birth 

The November 7, 1874 issue of 'American Medical Weekly"  had a report by one Dr. T.G. Capers of Vicksburg.  Dr. Capers had a soldier friend that was hit in the scrotum by a bullet which carried away part of his left testicle.  This same bullet apparently continued on and penetrated the abdomen of a 17 year old girl in a nearby house.  The girl recovered shortly but 287 days after this event she gave birth to an 8 pound boy "to the surprise of herself and the mortification of her parents and friends."  Three weeks after the birth, Dr. Capers  operated on the baby and removed a  smashed miniball.

Dr. Capers concluded that this was the same bullet which had hit his friend's testicle and then penetrated the young lady's ovary  thus impregnating her.

The soldier and the young lady then met thru Dr. Capers, became friends and married. They had 3 more children. 

  Major Wilmer McLean had retired in 1854. He choose an estate along Bull Run, near Manassas Junction.  In May, 1861, Confederate troops camped on his southernmost acres and behind him the Yankees were raising earthworks.  On July 18, 1861, a Union shell went down his chimney and exploded in a kettle of stew. This action began the skirmish known as "The Battle of Bull Run" to the South and "The Battle of Manassas" by the North. 

McLean decided he had had enough of war and moved his family to a farm in isolated southern Virginia in the village of Appomattox Courthouse.

There the war came to him. On April 9, 1865, McLean was asked if his parlor might be used to conduct a meeting between Grant and Lee.  Here the surrender was signed.

Major McLean could easily say that the Civil War began in his front yard, and ended in his parlor.


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