American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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Henry M. Lilly


See a copy of Roberts Bartholow's text-book signed by Henry M. Lilly


Henry M. Lilly: attended college at  Beloit College, WI;  graduated from the University of Michigan, Medical Department, 1858; left the U.S. Army in1867 as Ass't Surgeon & Brevet Major U.S. Vols. citizens who were commissioned by the President in the U. S. Volunteer Service



Dr Henry M Lilly was horn January 4 1831 in Columbus Shenango County New York and died in Fond du Lac Wisconsin November 28 1870 being at the time of his death one month less than forty years of age.  His father was a successful and highly respected christian minister in western New York but in 1844 moved to this State of Wisconsin and became a pioneer missionary worker in the central part of the State.   he entered upon a preparation for college He displayed at a very early age a great deal of mental force which made a way lor itself in spite of the narrow circumstances in which he received his early training.  Under the guidance of a father's tuition such was his self reliance and energy that in the retirement and quiet of a poor missionary's home he fitted himself to enter with credit the junior class in Beloit College in the autumn of 1851 and graduated in 1856 with the honors of his class.  He soon afterwards entered upon the stndv of his chosen profession in Union Theological Seminary 24 New York.  At the close of his first year of study in the seminary he discovered such marked tendency to pulmonary disease and became so debilitated in general health that he reluctantly gave up his life purpose and in obedience to medical advice chose the profession of medicine as being likely to afford him more active and out door labor. 


He read medicine in the office of Dr Thomas Allen of Goreham Oneida county New York.  He attended lectures at Ann Arbor Michigan where he graduated in 1857 with the second honor in his class having for his only competitor one who had previously enjoyed greatly increased advantages for professional study.


In June 1857 he moved to Fond du Lac. Wisconsin and entered upon the practice of his profession. During the latter part of theCivil War he entered the service of the Government as a contract surgeon and was assigned to duty in Hospital No 13 Nashville Tennessee at that time under the charge of Surgeon Robert R Taylor.  In this position his real merit his trustworthiness and his untiring devotion to his duties soon attracted the attention of Surgeon Taylor and he was soon made the executive officer of the hospital.  Though less posted in red tape than others he was soon found head and shoulders above them in a knowledge of his profession.  When not occupied with his other duties he could very generally be found in the dead house where his researches were as patient as they were thorough. 


He remained in Nashville about a year and then returned home but such was the estimate of his character as a surgeon and a man that he was earnestly requested to return and take charge of Crittenden Hospital in Louisville Kentucky which proposition he accepted in the spring of 1865 It was while in this position that his friends advised him to present himself before the Board of Medical Examiners for United States Volunteers then in session in Cincinnati.  To this suggestion he hesitatingly assented.   The examinations at that time had become very thorough inasmuch as the corps was pretty full It was in this trial that his previous labors in the library and dead house showed their results for he was actually very near being rejected for standing too perfect in his examination the board thinking he had by some under handed means obtained the leading points arid questions.  It need not be remarked that the Doctor was hugely disgusted to have his honesty thus questioned although it complimented his professional ability.  At the close of the war he was retained in the service of the Freed man's Bureau and assigned to duty in the southwest with headquarters at Little Rock Arkansas. These years of service were years of most intense labor and study.  While he was noticeably faithful to the duties of his position he was not unmindful of the great opportunity for observation and study which was then open to him.  He studied the progress of disease modes of treatment simple and unique cases of surgery with the zeal ot an enthusiast The scalpel and the dissecting case were always in use.  From these opportunities of study improved to the extent of his physical ability he returned to his home and resumed his practice growing in the confidence and favor of the people until June 8 1870 when he was stricken down with pleuropneumonia from the sequelae of which he died in the November. 


Transactions of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin for the ..., Volumes 3-8 Volumes 3-8 By State Medical Society of Wisconsin




From the Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War


CASE 745.—Private W. J. Holmes, Co. G, 33d Mississippi, aged 18 years, was wounded in the left leg, at the engagement of Peachtree Creek, near Atlanta, July 20, 1864, and suffered amputation two days afterwards. About four months after losing his limb he was taken prisoner at Franklin, Tenn., whence he was conveyed to Nashville and sub-sequently to Louisville. Surgeon R. R. Taylor, U. S. V., who contributed two post-mortem specimens from the stump, reported the result of the case as follows: "The patient was admitted to Crittenden Hospital on December 9th. He was suffering from chronic diarrhœa, of which he died December 23, 1864. His left leg had been amputated by the circular method, at the lower third, in consequence of gunshot fracture of the lower portion of the tibia and fibula. In October a portion of the fibula came away, after which the stump healed rapidly. At the time of his death the stump was entirely well. The accompany-ing specimens are intended simply to illustrate the changes in the cut ends of the bones and nerves. The latter, consisting of the extremities of the posterior and anterior tibial and of the musculo-cutaneous nerves, are bulbous." The nerve portions constitute specimen 4244 of the Surgical Section of the Museum. A representation of the specimen of the bones of the stump (Spec. 4243, Surg. Sect., A. M. M.) appears in the wood-cut (FIG. 293). In the history of the specimen on page 400 of the Catalogue of The SurgicalSection of the U. S. A. Medical Museum, Washington, I860, it is remarked that "though the stump is said to have been entirely healed, * * the specimen shows the extremity and posterior surface of the tibia necrosed." In a letter dated December 18, 1867, Dr. H. M. Lilly, late Acting Assistant Surgeon, states that he prepared this specimen, and adds: "I can corroborate Surgeon R. R. Taylor's statement that the stump was entirely healed. In explanation of the necrosed appearance of the end and posterior portion of the tibia, I offer the following history of the preparation of the specimen as possibly giving it the appear ance of necrosis. Owing to the inconvenient arrangements of the hospital (the hospital not being finished at that date). I macer-ated the specimen in a tin can in my private room. Under such circumstances it was of course desirable to destroy completely all effluvium. To this end I supplied the water in the can liberally with the solution of permanganate salts furnished by the Medical Purveyor. May it not be that the chemical action of these salts has slightly damaged the specimen, giving it a partially necrosed appearance?"


Henry M. Lilly

Fond du Lac Wis.
June 3d 1869

Rev. A. L. Chapin
          Dear Sir
     In reply to a circular sent to me sometime ago, I beg leave to make the following correction in your list of soldiers
     My military rank and title when I left the U.S. service in 1867 was that of "Ass't Surgeon & Brevet Major U.S. Vols." I see, in the list, you have put me down "Surgeon F.B." a title which at first I could not comprehend, but it finally dawned upon my mind that "F.B." stood for "Freedmen's Bureau." I was detailed (as were many other army officers) for duty in that Bureau during the latter part of 1865, the whole of 1866 and a part of 1867, but I did not thereby either lose or change my position and rank in the army.
     you hold a note for tuition against me. I left college in debt and have been so unfortunate never to be free from debt since.
     I wish you would figure up the amount due (say to the 14th of June) and let me know. I will pay what I can now even if it is but little and will send you a new note for the unpaid balance, -- the old note to be returned to me upon reception of the new note payable in one year and will try hard to meet it.
                                Very Respectfully
                                    your obedient servant
                                          Henry M. Lilly

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Civil War Medical Collections 


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

Medical Faculty and Authors:


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

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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