I have finally broken down and done a painting of my old backyard for a very good friend. (There you go chicken.) This is the Grand Canyon, located in several desolate southwestern states that are not California, and the water is that weird color because it’s full of calcium carbonate and brain-eating amoebas. It’s an ornery, brutal place that took a special kind of man to tame. Take a look at said guy’s portrait in the National Gallery and note the missing arm. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joh… And if you think his portrait painter did him wrong, take look at a photo: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joh….
John Wesley Powell, who we will call “Wes” like everyone else did, led the 1869 Geographic Expedition that mapped the Grand Canyon. He lost his arm during the Civil War to a minie ball, the kind that make your bones spiral fracture, and after having the thing hacked off with no anesthetic by field surgeons, he returned to the army sans arm fought for several more years and eventually ended up as a Union lieutenant colonel, which rank he didn’t like, so he insisted on being called ‘major’. Given the look on his face, I don’t think anyone objected.
His Grand Canyon expedition was merely one in a spree of expeditions, mountaineering, and discovery — something about ‘better than you are and with one arm tied behind my back’ — he took 10 men, of whom 4 deserted before the expedition was over, and he returned to Washington DC with maps, photos, and a plan for the development of the southwest. Either the government appointed him director of the USGS or he held them at bayonet point until they handed over the keys to the Smithsonian, no one knows for sure. He spent his dotage writing books about his exploits, left-handed.
One V. Xander is dutifully ashamed as everyone should be. Go forth and discover! Arrrgh where’s me grog!
Oh, I have several of those minie balls: one is a half-mushroom shape. The guy who sold it go me said he couldn't guarantee that it had hit a human being, but it does give you a good idea of what happened when one of those bullets hit somebody. It would have been devastating.