Dr. M’Burney Suspects the Bullet Had Been Poisoned
He Shows That Chemists Will Have Difficulty Examining
of the Wound Seems Unprecedented on Other Theories.
Special Telegram to Commercial Gazette.
Sept. 15.—Dr. Charles McBurney this afternoon was asked to comment
upon the cry that the bullet which killed President McKinley was
“It looks suspicious,” he said. “In
my experience I have never seen a wound in such a condition as described
in the autopsy made by an ordinary bullet.”
Dr. McBurney had just returned to
his summer home from Buffalo.
“I am not prepared to state positively,”
continued Dr. McBurney, “that the bullet was poisoned; and until
a chemical analysis is made we shall not know. A bullet wound may
be received in the thigh, for instance, and provided it does not
cut an artery or shatter a bone it will quickly heal under ordinary
“In a wound like the president’s,
where many tissues were perforated, the suspicious thing is that,
according to the reports, the gangrene followed the entire path
of the bullet. In cutting the tissue of the stomach, for example,
an ordinary wound might develop gangrene to some extent where the
bullet went in; but if I understand the reports of the autopsy correctly
the gangrene was just as great in extent at the end of the wound
as at its beginning. This is something that no one can understand,
assuming that the bullet was an ordinary one”
“Supposing the presence of gangrene
had been discovered before the condition of the president assumed
such a serious phase, could his life have been saved?”
“One way to trea[t] cases like this,”
replied Dr. McBurney, “would be to lay open the whole wound and
cut out the diseased tissue. A wound like the president’s, involving
so many different tissues, could hardly be treated in this way,
for after cutting away a part of the stomach, a part of the abdomen
and a part of the other tissues involved, what would have been left?
You cannot apply chemical agents to wounds like that.”
Dr. McBurney said that the people
must wait for the chemical analysis [of?] the bullets re[m]aining
in the assassin’s revolver, for it will take time to examine them.
He thinks that if poison was used it was a small quantity, and the
chemists who analyze them will have the handicap of not knowing
exactly what sort of poison they are looking for.
Dr. McBurney stated that the utmost
harmony existed among the surgeons and physicians at work in Buffalo.
Before he was called in consultation to Buffalo, he said, the newspaper
accounts showed that the surgeons who operated on the president
had done a most successful piece of work.
“When I reached Buffalo,” he said,
“I found this was so. The operation was perfectly and beautifullly
[sic] done. The physicians showed a clearness of decision
that was admirable. The gravity and responsibilities of the situation
brought out the best in every man. The surgical operation was well
done. The autopsy showed that.”
It was suggested to Dr. McBurney that
it was though[t] strange that the physicians should have issued
bulletins of such an encouraging nature in view of the sudden change
and subsequent death of the distinguished patient. He explained
this by saying that there were so many favorable conditions up to
the [time] of his collapse that his hope beat high. The rapid action
of the pulse was really the only unfavorable symptom up to a certain
point, and in all other ways the president appeared to be doing
well. Dr. McBurney is convinced that all that modern surgical and
medical skill could do was done to save the president’s life.