American Civil War Surgical Antiques

Research and Identification

Civil War Era Surgical Sets, Surgeon's Images

Civil War Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

Established 1995    .     Dr. Michael Echols Collection


As seen in:  Warman's Civil War Collectibles, Antique Week, Northeast Antiques, Antiques & Collecting publications, and various TV programs


Civil War Era Medical Text-Books

Purchased by the U. S. Army Medical Department

From the article by Miles on the creation of the Surgeon' General's Library

(The following are the personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

At the start of the Civil War, the Surgeon General's Office created a medical library and purchased various medical books to be distributed to the surgeon's and field hospitals.  The following is a list of some of the books ordered from various publishers for distribution to the Union surgeons.


                               Surgeon General's Office Library 1861            SGO's library years later in the Ford Theater                            


Surgeons in the Union Army at the beginning of the Civil War received the following text books:

Thomson's Conspectus,

William J. E. Wilson's Practical and Surgical Anatomy,

Thomas Watson's Practice of Physic,

Erichsen's Surgery.

Surgeons at Union hospitals and posts received the same as above, plus:

George Fowne's Elementary Chemistry,

The Dispensatory of the United States,

Robley Dunglison's Medical Dictionary,

Alfred S. Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence,

Ellis' Formulary.

Under the direction of the new surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, the library was expanded and the following texts listed below were ordered from publishers.  .

Barnes, who had been in the Army since 1840, was appointed Surgeon General on August 22, 1864. He retained, with few exceptions, the same standard medical books chosen by his predecessor for distribution.


The Surgeon General's Library, the collection that would in 1956 become the National Library of Medicine, was arguably the Medical Department's most valuable and lasting contribution to medical science developed in the decades immediately following the Civil War. As new developments in the world of medical science began to grow in number with great rapidity, the nation's best-educated physicians came increasingly to rely on medical libraries, particularly the Surgeon General's Library, for the information that kept them abreast of the work of their colleagues around the world. Much of the library's growth in size and fame resulted from the work of Billings. Working aggressively and imaginatively to increase the library's holdings, he made the most of the meager funds allotted that institution by astute buying and by trading copies of the departments various publications for the books, journals, reports, manuscripts, letters, pamphlets, and portraits he believed it should have. By 1875 the library had copies of about 75 percent of the available periodical literature and the largest collection of pamphlets in the country. To classify the collection, after some experimentation, Billings adopted a revised version of the system used by the Royal College of Physicians in London, employing a series of 5" by 7" cards to keep track of the library's holdings.


A large number of these medical texts were purchased during the war:


(The numbers are how many were ordered for distribution to the hospitals and surgeons during the War)   Click here information on the SGO Library by Wyndam Miles


7,317 copies of Bumstead onVenereal Diseases,

5,370 of Erichsen's Surgery,

4,850 of the Dispensatory of the United States,

3,895 Power's Surgical Anatomy,

3,442 Gray's Anatomy,

3,254 Watson's Practice of Medicine,

3,251 Stephen Smith's Principles of Surgery,

3,239 Woodward's Hospital Steward's Manual,

3,100 Parkes' Hygiene,  Parkes, Edmund,  A Manual of Practical Hygiene

2,671 Sargent's Minor Surgery,

1,905 Dunglison's Medical Dictionary,

1,640 Fowne's Chemistry,

1,542 Bennett s Practice of Medicine

1,412 Dalton's Physiology,

1,333 Parrish's Pharmacy.

1,237 Hartshorn's Principles of Medicine,

1,178 Longmore's Gunshot Wounds,

1,062 Beck's Jurisprudence,

1,024 Stille's Therapeutics,

and lesser quantities of: McLeod's Surgical Notes, Virchow's Pathology, Jones' Diseases of the Eye, Bedford's Mid-wifery, Toynbee's Diseases of the Ear, Wilson's Diseases of the Skin, and Guthrie's Commentaries

The above text books may or may not be marked for the Army Hospital Department or Medical Department

U.S. Army Medical Department

U.S. Army Hospital Department


U.S. Army Medical Department

U.S. Army Hospital Department


   Inventory of medical books from Ward "H" at N.Y. Conesus Centre Army Hospital 1865


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Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865

Medical Lecture Cards:

Medical Faculty and Authors:

1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Alphabetical index of all research and study pages:

Index Page One  |  Index Page Two  |  ARTICLES INDEXES

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques