“Angel’s Glow” Soldiers with Glowing Wounds at Shiloh-Wounded soldiers who had to remain at the battleground in the rain and mud for up to two days before medics could reach them noticed that their wounds were glowing in the dark.
P. luminescens’s presence at Shiloh and the reports of the strange glow- bacteria, along with nematodes, got into the soldiers’ wounds from the soil. This not only turned their wounds into night lights, but may have saved their lives.
Tennessee in the spring is green and cool. Nighttime temperatures in early April would have been low enough for the soldiers who were out there in the rain for two days to get hypothermia, lowering their body temperature and giving P. luminescens a good home. Based on the evidence for P. luminescens’s presence at Shiloh and the reports of the strange glow, bacteria, along with the nematodes, got into the soldiers’ wounds from the soil. This not only turned their wounds into night lights, but may have saved their lives. The chemical cocktail that P. luminescens uses to clear out its competition probably helped kill off other pathogens that might have infected the soldiers’ wounds. Since neither P. luminescens nor its associated nematode species are very infectious to humans, they would have soon been cleaned out by the immune system themselves.
Two high school students, Bill Martin and Jon Curtis from Bowie, MD won the Intel International Science Fair competition in 2001 with their research into the curious story of soldiers who survived being wounded at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War in the spring of 1862.