It was the same dream every night.
He was back at Shiloh, on his horse. Saber out, trying to shout over the din to his troops. Then, a whistle in the air, a sudden roar and a searing pain, whiting-out his vision.
He awoke screaming every time.
The nightmares were so bad that he’d taken to sleeping in the guest room to give his wife respite from his horrors.
His days were spent in a exhausted daze from the lack of sleep and the morphine solution prescribed to dull the pain. But even the narcotic couldn’t cover up that incessant itch, just below the knee on a leg that was no longer there.
Once he’d tried to quit the morphine, convinced that it was at the root of his nightmares. He hadn’t made it through a day before the vomiting and fever had driven him back to the drug.
Which is why he viewed the small jar of off-white powder he held with some trepidation.
The doctor said it was just the thing to snap him out of his morphine dependency; that he was giving it to all the injured veterans.
Extract of Peruvian Coca, the label read.
The Civil War was the first war that lead to a marked increase of American drug abuse. Doctors gave heroin, opium and morphine to soldiers to dull the pain. Over-use of which lead to addiction. Addictions that had to be kept up upon returning home. Initially, cocaine was seen as a way to break opiate addictions, but was unfortunately just a replacement for them. Memphis wasn’t an exception to this rule, with drug abuse spiking dramatically in the last quarter of the 19th century.