’79 North Carolinians, their dead feet perfectly aligned’

“On July 1, 1863, Alfred Iverson ordered his brigade of North Carolinians across an open field [at Gettysburg]. The soldiers marched in tight formation until Union riflemen suddenly rose from behind a stone wall and opened fire. Five hundred rebels fell dead or wounded ‘on a line as straight as a dress parade,’ Iverson reported. ‘They nobly fought and died without a man running to the rear. No greater gallantry and heroism has been displayed during this war.’

“Soldiers told a different story: of being ‘sprayed by the brains’ of men shot in front of them, or hugging the ground and waving white kerchiefs. One survivor informed the mother of a comrade that her son was ‘shot between the Eye and ear’ while huddled in a muddy swale. Of others in their ruined unit he wrote: ‘left arm was cut off, I think he will die… his left thigh hit and it was cut off.’ An artilleryman described one row of 79 North Carolinians executed by a single volley, their dead feet perfectly aligned. ‘Great God! When will this horrid war stop?’ he wrote. The living rolled the dead into shallow trenches — hence the name ‘Iverson’s Pits,’ now a grassy expanse more visited by ghost-hunters than battlefield tourists.

“This and other scenes of unromantic slaughter aren’t likely to get much notice during the Gettysburg sesquicentennial, the high water mark of Civil War remembrance. Instead, we’ll hear a lot about Joshua Chamberlain’s heroism and Lincoln’s hallowing of the Union dead….”

— From “150 Years of Misunderstanding the Civil War” by Tony Horwitz in The Atlantic (June 19, 2013)


The sex lives of conjoined North Carolinians

“Typically, people who are close to conjoined twins come to adjust and see them as different but normal; they seem fairly untroubled by the idea of conjoined twins pursuing sex and romance. But those who are watching from afar cannot abide.

“The best example would probably be the story of Chang and Eng Bunker….  One April day in 1843, Chang married Adelaide Yates, while brother Eng married sister Sallie Yates. Based on the fact that Chang and Adelaide had 10 children, and Eng and Sallie 12, it’s fair to say the brothers had sex.

“At the autopsy of the Bunker twins, one of the anatomists opined that their active sex lives ‘shocked the moral sense of the community’ — even though the truth is that the Bunkers’ neighbors appeared to have just accepted the situation. A little known fact is that the Bunker wives’ father originally objected to his daughters marrying the twins not because they were conjoined, but because they were Asian. (This was, after all, the antebellum American South.)

“Yet in the 19th century, when doctors discussed whether the twins Millie and Christina McCoy could marry, one spoke for many: ‘Physically there are no serious objections … but morally there was a most decided one.’ When, in the 1930s, Violet Hilton sought to get a marriage license while conjoined to her sister Daisy, she was repeatedly refused.”

— From “The Sex Lives of Conjoined Twins” by Alice Dreger in The Atlantic

Yes, the Bunkers, the McCoys and the Hiltons all were either born or died in the Siamese Twin Capital of the World.