I enjoyed the comments on Jolene Little's question about gun accuracy. How about this one?
In nearly every one of the 30's & 40's Western movies the hero was always wounded in the shoulder, the upper arm, or perhaps, off-center in the lower belly. Those .44 slugs would have done a lot more damage in those areas, damage that couldn't have been healed by a few days bed rest, wrapped up in a torn bed sheet, and tended by a beautiful, innocent and compassionate homesteader's daughter.
Will C. Knott, who was one of the original creators of Gunsmoke, once told me that it was a miracle Matt Dillon still had a left shoulder. He'd been shot in it so many times it should have been destroyed & his left arm amputated. Will also said when they sat down to develop Gunsmoke they made a list of all the B-Western cliches. They decided none of them would ever appear in Gunsmoke. That's why there were never any long horseback chases or anything of that sort in the show.
At least shows like Bananza, Virginian, Laredo, Big Valley, etc... had alternate cast members to take a bullet or arrow for them. Of course Chester, Festus, Newly, etc.., took their fair share of abuse too while taking a bullet for Matt or in his absence. lol
At the times depicted the .44s would have been made primarily of lead. There may have been some tin in them to harden them a bit, but there would have been no jacketed bullets. Therefore they probably would have hit the "target" at a size larger than .44 and expanded further on contact. If they hit a bone they would have taken a very serious chunk out of that bone.
During the Civil War most of the after battle work by surgeons was amputation. I can't remember the figures I've read a few times, but a very high percentage who made it off the field and to the knife died from shock. After that, a very high percentage (such a General Jackson) died from Pnemonia.
How very true about the damage. If that didn't kill them, and the bullet was not taken out, they would've died from lead poisoning.
Not necessarily. A lot of people carried bullets in their bodies until they were in their 80s. Andrew Jackson was one of 'em. In his famous duel his opponent lodged a slug w/in a half-inch of his heart. It was never removed. Jackson was well into his 70s when he died. That was 40+ years after he was shot. He had that slug in him at the Battle of New Orleans & it never slowed him down.