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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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

Medical material requisitioned by the medical staff during the Civil War

 Research Notes of Dr. Echols

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

Union Medical Staff and Materia Chirugica (Surgery Material)

Source for this article:  "The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. (1861-65.)  Part III, Volume II, Chapter XIV.--The Medical Staff and Materia Chirugica"

This article is reproduced on this site to avoid loss of a link to the original and may have been annotated or greatly edited for research by Dr. Echols.

        Previous to the outbreak of the rebellion the regular army numbered one thousand one hundred and seventeen (1,117) commissioned officers and eleven thousand nine hundred and seven (11,907) enlisted men. The Medical Department was composed of one Surgeon General with the rank of Colonel; thirty Surgeons with the rank of Major, and eighty-four Assistant Surgeons holding for the first five years the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and subsequent to that period, until promotion to Surgeon, the rank of Captain. The officers of the Medical Department formed a portion of the General Staff of the army; were not permanently attached to any regiment or command, but were subject to duty wherever their services were needed. Experience had demonstrated this system to be the best for the necessities of an army widely scattered over an immense area of territory, serving in commands of less than regimental strength, while it possessed the advantage of increasing the efficiency and value of the medical force in a professional point of view.

        At the beginning of hostilities, in 1861, large forces of State troops, or militia, responded to the several proclamations of the President calling for aid in suppressing the rebellion. Each regiment was provided with a Surgeon and an Assistant Surgeon commissioned by the States in which the troops had been enlisted. These officers were borne on the muster-rolls and permanently attached to the regimental organization, being seldom detached except for urgent reasons.

        During the early military operations the administrative duties pertaining to the Medical Department were performed by officers of the regular medical staff, detailed for the purpose, or by volunteer Surgeons appointed as Medical Directors of Divisions, as allowed by the President's proclamation of May 3, 1861.
        On the 22d of July, 1861, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to raise a force of volunteers, not exceeding 500,000, and prescribing the organization of this levy into divisions of three or more brigades, and that "each brigade shall be composed of five or more regiments, and shall have one Brigadier General, two Aids-de-Camp, one Assistant Adjutant General with the rank of Captain; one Surgeon,' one Assistant Quartermaster, and one Commissary of Subsistence." The Surgeons authorized by this act were known as Brigade Surgeons, and were borne as such on the official army registers of September, 1861, and January, 1862; they held the rank of Major.

        The duties, prerogatives, and responsibilities of Brigade Surgeons being somewhat vaguely defined, the following bill was passed by Congress on July 2, 1862: "From and after the passage of this act Brigade Surgeons shall be known and designated as Surgeons of Volunteers, and shall be attached to the general medical staff under the direction of the Surgeon General; and hereafter such appointments for the medical service of the army shall be appointed Surgeons of Volunteers."

The Brigade Surgeons, or Surgeons of Volunteers as they were henceforth called, were assimilated to those of the regular staff, holding equal rank with the latter under commissions conferred by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They became eligible to all the duties and prerogatives pertaining to the medical officers of the army, whether in the field as Directors of Armies, Corps, or Departments, or in charge of hospitals, etc. From time to time, by acts of Congress, additions were made to the regular and volunteer corps, and such changes effected as were necessarily demanded. The act of April 16, 1862, was one of the most important of these acts, wherein the rank of Brigadier General was conferred upon the Surgeon General. Provisions were also made in this act for an Assistant Surgeon General and a Medical Inspector General, both with the rank, pay, and emoluments of Colonel of Cavalry, and for eight Medical Inspectors with the rank, pay, and emoluments of Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry, also for Medical Purveyors and Medical Cadets. 

The partial text of the order:

        SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That medical purveyors shall be charged, under the direction of the Surgeon General, with the selection and purchase of all medical supplies, including new standard preparations, and of all books, instruments, hospital stores, furniture, and other articles required for the sick and wounded of the army. In all cases of emergency they may pro. vide such additional accommodations for the sick and wounded of the army, and may transport. such medical supplies as circumstances may render necessary, under such regulations as may here. after be established, and shall make prompt and immediate issues upon all special requisitions made upon them under such circumstances by medical officers; and the special requisitions shall consist simply of a list of the articles required, the qualities required, dated, and signed by the medical officers requiring them.
      Approved April 16, 1862.

        Beside the medical officers of the regular and volunteer staff, and the medical officers of regiments, there was a class designated as Acting Assistant Surgeons, who were private physicians, uncommissioned, serving under contract to do duty with the forces in the field or in general hospitals. This class was very large and embraced in its number some of the most eminent surgeons and physicians of the country. The Medical Cadets were generally young men, students of medicine, who were assigned to duty in general hospitals as dressers and assistants. The Medical Department was still further increased by a number of Hospital Stewards, who were enlisted as needed, and who performed the duties of druggists, clerks, and storekeepers.

        During the years of the war the organization of the Regular Staff had been increased so as to number one Surgeon General, one Assistant Surgeon General, one Medical Inspector General, sixteen Medical Inspectors, and one hundred and seventy Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons; there had been appointed five hundred and forty-seven (547) Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons of Volunteers; there were mustered into service between April, 1861, and the close of the war, two thousand one hundred and nine (2,109) regimental Surgeons, three thousand eight hundred and eighty-two (3,882) regimental Assistant Surgeons. During the same period there were employed eighty-five (85) Acting Staff Surgeons and five thousand five hundred and thirty-two Acting Assistant Surgeons.(1)
The following record of casualties of the Regular and Volunteer Staff during the war shows well for the honor of those who are erroneously supposed to escape the dangers and chances of war: "Thirty-two (32) were killed in battle, or by guerillas or partizans, and nine (9) by accidents; eighty-three (83) were wounded in action, of whom ten (10) died; four (4) died in rebel prisons, seven (7) of yellow fever, three (3) of cholera, and two hundred and seventy-one (271) of other diseases, most of which were incidental to camp life or the result of exposure in the field.''(2)

(1) BROWN (H. E.), The Medical Department of the United States Army from 1775 to 1873, Washington, Surgeon General's Office, 1873, p. 245.
(2) BROWN (H. E.), (loc. cit.), p. 246.

        Of the amount of labor performed by the Medical Staff during the war some idea may be obtained when it is stated that 5,825,480 cases of wounds and disease occurred among the white troops and 629,354 cases among the colored troops.(1)

        "The cost of maintaining the Medical Department formed no small portion of the total expenses of the war, and it is a matter of just pride that it can be said that the medical disbursing officers performed their duties faithfully and honestly, and that the immense quantities of medical supplies distributed all over the country were almost without exception properly accounted for. The expenditures on behalf of the Medical Department to the close of each fiscal year, on the 30th of June, from 1861 to 1866, were as follows:

1861      $194,126.77


Making a total of $47,351,982.24 expended during the war (exclusive of salaries of commissioned officers) for the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers of the nation."(2)

After the organization of the forces raised for the suppression of the rebellion was perfected, the medical service in the field was based upon an independent hospital and ambulance establishment for each division of three brigades. The personnel of the division hospital consisted of a Surgeon in charge, with an Assistant Surgeon as executive officer and a second Assistant Surgeon as recorder, an operating staff of three Surgeons aided by three Assistant Surgeons, and the requisite number of nurses and attendants.

        The division ambulance train was commanded by a First Lieutenant of the line, assisted by a Second Lieutenant for each brigade. The enlisted men detailed for ambulance duty were a sergeant for each regiment, three privates for each ambulance, and one private for each wagon. The ambulance train consisted of from one to three ambulances for each regiment, squadron, or battery, a medicine wagon for each brigade, and two or more supply wagons. The hospital and ambulance train were under the control of the Surgeon-in-Chief of the Division. The division hospitals were usually located just out of range of artillery fire. Sometimes three or more division hospitals were consolidated under the orders of a Corps Medical Director, who was assisted by his Medical Inspector, Quartermaster, Commissary, and chief ambulance officer.

        The medical officers not employed at field hospitals accompanied their regiments and established temporary depots as near as practicable to the line of battle.   As soon as possible after every engagement the wounded were transferred from the division or corps hospitals to the base or general hospitals, which at one time numbered 205; these were under the charge and command of the Regular or Volunteer Staff, assisted by Acting Assistant Surgeons, Medical Cadets, and officers of the 2d Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps.

        The following extracts of reports are presented to show the system of the medical organization in one of the corps of the Army of the Potomac. The reports, which give in detail the specific duties of each class of officers, were made in accordance with the following circular letter of Surgeon T. A. McParlin, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac:

(1) BROWN (H. E.), The Medical Department of the United States Array from 1775 to 1873, Washington, Surgeon General's Office, 1873, p. 246.
(2) BROWN (H. E.), (loc. cit.), p. 246.

"September 28, 1864.

"Surgeon J. J. MILHAU, U. S. Army,
"Medical Director Fifth Army Corps.

"Duties of the Operating Surgeon: 1. The Operating Surgeon shall select steady and reliable attendants, give them clear and explicit instructions relative to their respective duties, and assign to each his proper place. 2. He shall see that all the necessary appliances be at hand required in performing operative surgery, that the instruments are in good order and in their proper places, and that a good and sufficient supply of lint, bandages, ligatures, sponges, plaster, etc., be conveniently placed and ready for use. 3. He should take charge of all patients that in the opinion of the Prescribing Surgeon require surgical attention, make a minute and thorough examination of each case and determine whether surgical aid is necessary; judge of the best manner of benefiting the patient, taking into consideration the relation of important organs, vessels, and nerves in proximity to the wound, what bearing they may have in the preservation or loss of the patient's life, and to use every preservative means within the reach of surgical science to save the life of the patient with as little impairment of all his functions as possible. 4. An operation being determined upon, he should have the patient properly placed upon the table and should judge of the practicability of administering anaesthetics, and if their use is found necessary should superintend the administration. 5. The patient being etherized, the Surgeon proceeds with the operation that the case requires in the most expeditious and scientific manner compatible with the nature of the injury, endeavoring to preserve the usefulness of the parts operated upon to the greatest extent--in operations on the extremities preserving as great a length of bone as possible and securing sufficient integument to give a liberal covering to the stump.

Materia Chirurgica  (Surgical Materials)

        At the beginning of the war each regimental Surgeon was furnished with  suitable equipment for his regiment for field service, consisting of medicines, stores, instruments, and dressings, in quantities regulated by the Standard Supply Table.(1) In action he was

(1) See Standard Supply Table for Field Service, in Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861, p. 304.

Left: Fig. 425  Hospital Knapsack of Wicker-Work, Covered With Enamelled Cloth.  Right: Fig. 426 Regulation Hospital Knapsack of 1862

accompanied by a hospital orderly, who carried a knapsack containing a limited supply of anaesthetics, styptics, stimulants, and anodynes, and material for primary dressings. This hospital knapsack had been recommended for adoption by an army board in 1859; it was made of light wood, 18 inches in height, 15 inches wide, and 7 inches deep, but subsequently wicker-work, covered with canvas or enamelled cloth, was substituted for the wood; its weight when filled was 18 pounds. This knapsack (FIG. 425) was in general use in the first year of the way and served an excellent purpose. In 1862 it was changed for what was known as the new regulation knapsack, in which the arrangement and character of the supplies were modified. The new pattern was 16 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 6 inches deep; the contents were packed in drawers, which were more accessible than in the old style and less liable to become disarranged or broken.(1) The weight when packed was nearly 20 pounds. (FIG. 426). Notwithstanding its convenience and general adaptability it was too heavy and cumbrous to be carried by the Surgeon himself, and, when entrusted to other hands, was liable, in the vicissitudes of battle, to be lost. In the early part of 1863 Medical Inspector R. H. Coolidge, U. S. A.. arranged a field case or companion(2) (FIG. 427) to take the place of the knapsack. It was something after the plan of the one used in the British service, and was intended to be carried by the Surgeon himself, if necessary.

Fig 427  Surgeon's Field Companion with corked bottles

        The "companion" is a leather case 13 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 7 inches deep; it is supported by a strap passing over the shoulder, and is provided with a waist strap to steady it when carried.  (One exactly like this is on display at the Smithsonian in D.C., 2009)

        The hospital medicine chest, mess-chest, and bulky hospital supplies were transported in wagons of the supply train and were often inaccessible when required. To obviate this

(1) The contents of the knapsack were: One piece of white wax, 8 oz. simple cerate, 12 oz. chloroform, 5 yds. adhesive plaster, 2 yds. isinglass plaster, 1 oz. persulphate of iron, 100 compound cathartic pills, 150 blue mass pills, 150 opium pills, 100 opium and camphor pills, 150 quinine pills, 8 oz. aromatic spirit of ammonia, 16 oz. brandy, 4 oz. laudanum, 10 bandages, 10 binder's boards, 4 oz. charpie, 2 medicine glasses, 1 (spirit) lamp, 12 oz. lint, 1 box matches, 1 paper of pins, 1 spool of surgeons' silk, 4 pieces of sponge, 4 (Dunton's) field tourniquets. 2 spiral tourniquets, 1 piece of tape, 1 spool of lead wire, 1 spool of silver wire, and 1 spatula.

(2) The contents of the Surgeon's Companion were; 6 oz. chloroform, 2 oz. fluid extract of ipecacuanha. 2 oz. fluid extract of ginger. 2 oz. solution of persulphate of iron, 24 oz. of whiskey, 2 oz. tincture of opium, 144 compound cathartic pills, 144 colocynth and ipecacuanha pills, 144 sulphate of quinine pills, 144 opium pills, 1 yard isinglass plaster, a medicine cup, scissors, teaspoon, pins, thread, 4 oz. lint, a towel, 2 doz. bandages, muslin, and corks.

Fig. 428  Medicine Pannier
inconvenience panniers were provided containing the most necessary medicines, dressings, and appliances; they were designed to be carried on the backs of pack-animals, but were found to be inconveniently heavy to be transported in this manner, and were more generally carried in one of the ambulance wagons and filled from the medicine chest as required. FIGS. 428, 429 represent the pannier arranged for army use by Dr. Squibb, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; it consists of a wooden box strongly bound with iron, 21 1/8 inches in length, 11 5/8 inches in breadth, and 11 3/8 inches in depth; it weighs, when filled, 88 pounds. The medicines are well packed in japanned tin bottles and boxes, and room is left for an adequate supply of dressing material. The pannier had two compartments.(1)
FIG. 429 Upper Tray of Medicine Pannier.

        In the early part of the war medical supplies and instruments had been carried in heavy army wagons. In March, 1862, a medicine wagon was constructed by E. Hayes & Co., of Wheeling, Virginia, in accordance with plans and instructions of Surgeon Jonathan Letterman, U.S.A. Details of the internal arrangement of this wagon, could not be obtained. A Board, consisting of Brigade Surgeon William Hayes and Assistant Surgeons Hammond and Dunster, U. S. A., on April 17, 1862, examined the wagon and reported as follows: "The merits of this dispensary wagon are so apparent, when compared with the old method of packing medicines and instruments in unwieldy boxes and transporting them in the heavy army wagons, that the Board unanimously approves of the same, and recommend that it at once be sent into the field where it can be practically tested. The adoption of a vehicle of this or some similar construction for the transporting of medicines, etc., in the field would be an actual saving in transportation over the present plan, as a three months' regimental supply can be carried with case in a single wagon dispensary. The advantage accruing from the prevention of loss by wastage and breakage, the convenience of having the whole together and unencumbered by other baggage, and the readiness of access to medicines, instruments, and dressings in case of an emergency, are so palpable that it is only a matter of surprise that some such plan has not been previously adopted."       

In November, 1862, Mr. J. Dunton proposed a medicine wagon, a drawing of which is shown in FIG. 430. It was examined by Medical Inspectors T. F. Perley and J. M. Cuyler and Surgeons J. Simpson and J. H. Brinton, who reported, on November 3, 1862, that it was questionable whether it would answer the purpose for which it was designed, as it was faulty in construction, and its capacity insufficient to accommodate the entire hospital

(1) The upper compartment contained 24 roller bandages, 1 yd. of isinglass plaster, 1 paper of pins, 2 yds. bleached muslin, and 1 pair of scissors. In the lower compartment were 6 oz. purified chloroform, 2 oz. fluid extract of ipecacuanha, 2 oz. fluid extract of ginger, 2 oz. liquor of persulphate of iron, 12 doz. compound cathartic pills, 12 doz. quinine pills (3 grs. each), 12 doz. opium pills, 12 doz. pills of compound extract colocynth (3 grains) and ipecacuanha ( grain), 24 oz. whiskey, 2 oz. tincture of opium, lb. patent lint, 1 medicine glass, 1 tinned iron teaspoon, 1 small piece fine sponge, oz. silk for ligatures, 1 towel, and 6 corks.

FIG. 430  "DUNTON'S" Regimental Medicine Wagon

supplies for a regiment for three months." The wagon could be elongated at both ends, or closed, as was desired, and was arranged so as to be opened on the side.(1) As the organization of the medical staff was perfected, the cumbrous regimental supplies were curtailed and the brigade supplies augmented. Each brigade was provided with a "medicine wagon," which was furnished not only with drugs but with ample provision of stores, dressings, furniture and appliances, an amputating table, and a limited amount of bedding. The contents of the medicine wagon were constantly replenished from the stores of the medical purveyors who accompanied each army. FIGURE 431 represents the medicine wagon of Perot.(2) While the internal fixtures and arrangements for transporting supplies in this wagon were excellent and convenient, the cost of furnishing it was very great, and on the recommendation of a Medical Board consisting of Surgeons C. H. Crane, R. O.

FIG. 431  "PEROT'S" Medicine Wagon

(1) This medicine wagon is erroneously designated by Professor T. LONGMORE (A Treatise on the Transport of Sick and Wounded Troops, London, 1869, page 386) as a United States Sick Transport Wagon with side and end openings.

(2) CONTENTS OF PEROT'S MEDICINE WAGON.--Drawer 1 contained an oval keg for 6 galls, of whiskey, with a cock on top and bottom, one to let in air, the other to draw from. This keg is on a skid and can be drawn out and filled at the bung. Drawer 2: Stronger ether for anaesthesia, 32 oz.; sweet spirit of nitre, 32 oz.; solution of ammonia, 32 oz.; turpentine, 1 qt.; castor oil, 4 qts.; brandy, 6 qts.; olive oil, 2 qts.; purified chloroform, 32 oz.; copaiba, 32 oz.; sulphate of quinia, 10 oz.; syrup of squill, 4 lbs. (part in Drawer 9). Drawer 3: 1 sponge-holder for throat, 12 probangs, 1 hinged tongue depressor, 4 single trusses, 2 bottles ink, 1 bottle mucilage, 1 U. S. Dispensatory, 1 portfolio (cap size), 2 quarto blank books, 1 order and letter book, 4 quires writing paper, 1 register of patients, 1 Gray's Anatomy, 1 Erichsen's Surgery, 1 Packard's Minor Surgery, 1 Longmore on Gunshot Wounds, 1 tooth-extracting case (army pattern), 1 8-oz. hard-rubber syringe, 1 self-injecting rubber syringe, 2 thumb lancets, 12 hair pencils, 2 scarificators. Drawer 4: Closet for 3 gall. can of alcohol, and a vacant drawer for any articles desired. Drawer 5: 1 set splints (6 forearm, 4 leg, 6 large coaptation, 4 small coaptation), 2 papers pill boxes (turned wood), 1 pair pliers, 1 gimlet, 1 tape measure, 8 pieces binder's board (4 x 17 inches), 8 pieces binder's board (2 x 12 inches), razor strop in case, 1 file, 6 glass penis syringes, 1 corkscrew, 1 set Aiken's tool pad, 8 oz twine ( coarse), 1 bone, 1 razor. Drawer 6: 2 quires wrapping paper (white and blue), 2 oz. ligature silk, 1 oz. linen thread (unbleached), 2 papers pins, 4 pieces cotton tape, case containing 25 needles, 1 spool cotton and thimble, 1 yard gray silk for shades, 8 field tourniquets, 2 screw tourniquets with pad, 12 cupping tins, 2 scissors (large and small), 1 pocket case, 1 box for sundries, 100 printed envelopes, 1 traveller's inkstand, 24 steel pens, 2 pen-holders, 6 lead-pencils No. 2, 1 stick sealing wax, 1 sheep-skin (dressed). Drawer 7, Dispensing Case: Wedgewood mortar 2 doz. vials (6 6-oz. 12 4-oz., 3 2-oz. 3 1-oz.) 1 pill tile (6x8 inches), 8 oz. fine sponge (small pieces), 1 tin funnel (pint), 5 yds. adhesive plaster, 4 lbs. patent lint, pestle for mortar, 4 yds. red flannel (all wool), 2 medicine measuring glasses, 2 yds. gutta-percha cloth, 5 yds. isinglass plaster, 8 doz. assorted corks, 1 glass graduated measure (4 oz.), 1 minim measure, 10 yds. bleached muslin, 2 cotton bats, 1 sheet cotton wadding, 1 set prescription scales and weights, 2 spatulas (3 and 6-inch), 2 glass urinals, 8 suspensory bandages, 2 lbs. scraped or picked lint, 2 yds. oiled silk, 2 yds. oiled muslin, 16 doz. roller bandages, assorted (2 doz. 1 inch by 1 yd., 4 doz. 2 ins. by 3 yds., 4 doz. 2 ins. by 3 yds., 2 doz. 3 ins. by 4 yds., 2 doz. 3 ins. by 5 yds., 1 doz. 4 ins by 6 yds., 1 doz. 4 ins. by 8 yds.), 10 lbs. pressed tow, 1 doz. towels, aromatic sulphuric acid, tannic acid, spirit of nitrous ether, stronger ether (for anaesthesia), strong alcohol, alum, aromatic spirit of ammonia, purified chloroform, Dover's powder, sulphate of morphia, olive oil, castor oil, laudanum, paregoric, acetate of lead, bicarbonate of potassa, creasote, fluid extract of colchi-cum seed, fluid extract of aconite root, fluid extract of ipecac, fluid extract of seneka, tincture of chloride of iron, solution subsulphate of iron, pure glycerin, chlorate of potassa, iodide of potassium, bicarbonate of soda, whiskey, syrup of squill, blue mass, citrine ointment, powdered squill, Hoffman's anodyne, carbonate of ammonia, solution of ammonia, camphor, collodion, copaiba, sulphate of copper, alcoholic extract of belladonna, fluid extract cinchona (aromatic), fluid extract ginger, mercury with chalk, oil of turpentine, croton oil, permanganate of potassa, Fowler's solution, chlorinated solution soda, solution chloride zinc, resin cerate, simple cerate, powdered gum arabic, nitrate of silver (crystals), fused nitrate silver, sulphate cinchona, citrate iron and quinia, powdered subsulphate iron, iodide of iron, powdered ipecac, powdered opium, pills of camphor (2 grains) and opium (1 grain), compound cathartic pills, opium pills, pills of sulphate of quinia (3 grains), sulphate of quinin, powdered Rochelle salts, sulphate zinc, blistering cerate, powdered compound extract colcoynth. Drawer 8: 8 oz. Fowler's solution, 8 oz. aromatic sulphuric acid, 8 oz. fluid extract ipecac, 8 oz. fluid extract seneka, 8 oz. tincture chloride of iron, 8 oz. pure glycerin, blue mass, empty bottles, 8 lbs. sulphate magnesia, 8 lbs. flaxseed meal, 10 lbs. farina, 12 lbs. white crushed sugar. Drawer 9: 16 oz. Hoffman's anodyne, 16 oz. fluid extract ginger, 16 oz. laudanum, 16 oz. paregoric, 16 oz. chlorinated solution of soda, 16 oz. solution chloride zinc, 4 lbs. syrup of squill (part in Drawer No. 2), 8 oz. powdered tartaric acid, 16 oz. subnitrate bismuth, 8 oz. ground cayenne pepper, 16 oz. powdered Rochelle salt, 8 oz. alum, 8 oz. mercury with chalk, 8 oz. powdered ipecac, 8 oz. Dover's powder, 8 oz. acetate lead, 8 oz. bicarbonate potassa, 8 oz. chlorate potassa, 8 oz. iodide polassium, 8 oz. bicarbonate soda, 8 oz. nutmegs, 8 oz. powdered gum arabic, 8 oz. carbonate ammonia, 8 oz. camphor, 8 oz. powdered opium, empty bottles, 8 lbs. castile soap. Drawer 10: 2 tin basins (small, for dressers), 3 wash-hand basins, 2 vacant boxes for sundries, 1 metal bed-pan. Drawer 11:3 lbs. simple cerate, 24 oz. sulphate cinchona, 16 oz. mercurial ointment, 1 smoothing plane, 1 saw, 1 hatchet, 1 nutmeg grater, 4 oz. white wax, 6 lbs. ground black mustard seed, 5 lbs. black tea, 1 box for sundries, 2 lbs. candles (half length). Drawer 12: 2 doz. planed splints, 20 gray blankets, 2 blanket cases (canvas), 8 gutta-percha bed-covers, 15 bed sacks, 15 pillow cases (white), 2 leather buckets, 1 coffee mill. The wagon also contained an amputating table, 3 box lanterns, and 2 camp stools, and four hand litters were attached outside.

        Abbott, and Charles Sutherland, U. S. A., in June, 1864, the Autenrieth pattern(1) (FIGS. 432, 433) was furnished to the army. An improved wagon, recommended by the Medical Department and constructed at the Government shops, was adopted during the last year of the war. Surgical instruments were furnished by the Government, each medical officer making requisition for his equipment, receipting for it, and becoming responsible for its condition while in his possession; no transfers wore allowed, and an annual return was required to be made to the Surgeon General. On leaving the service it was turned in to the nearest medical purveyor, who receipted for the same.

The instruments intended for surgeons and assistant surgeons of the regular and volunteer staff were comprised in three cases--one for capital operations, containing amputating, trephining, and resecting instruments;(1) one for general and minor operations,(2) composed of knives, forceps, catheters, etc.; and a pocket case.(3) For regimental surgeons and assistant surgeons the field case(4) was issued; this contained much the same assortment of instruments as those already mentioned, but were somewhat more closely packed and more easily transported. Teeth-extracting instruments and dissecting cases were also furnished to regimental and general hospitals. Great liberality was shown in providing special instruments and appliances, and every effort was made to render the surgical equipment as perfect as possible.

(1) CONTENTS OF THE AUTENRIETH MEDICINE WAGON.--First Case: Tannic acid, 1 oz.; aromatic sulphuric acid, 8 oz.; powdered gum arabic, 8 oz.; stronger ether, 2 lbs.; Hoffman's anodyne, 1 lb.; alcohol, 64 oz.; alum, 8 oz.; solution of ammonia, 32 oz.; carbonate of ammonia, 8 oz.; aromatic spirit of ammonia, 4 oz.; tartar emetic, 1 oz.; nitrate of silver, 1 oz.; fused nitrate of silver, 1 oz.; subcarbonate of bismuth, 4 oz.; camphor, 8 oz.; simple cerate, 2 lbs.; cerate of cantharides, 8 oz.; resin cerate, 1 lb.; pure chloroform, 32 oz.; collodion, 4 oz.; copaiba, 16 oz.; creasote, 4 oz.; sulphate of copper, 2 oz.; fluid extract of aconite root, 4 oz.; extract of belladonna, 1 oz.; fluid extract of cinchona, aromatic, 16 oz.; fluid extract of colchicum seed, 4 oz.; compound extract of colocynth, 8 oz.; fluid extract of ipecac, 8 oz.; fluid extract of ginger, 8 oz.; tincture of chloride of iron, 8 oz.; citrate of iron and quinine, 2 oz.; solution of persulphate of iron, 4 oz.; powdered subsulphate of iron, 2 oz.; glycerin, 8 oz.; calomel, 8 oz.; blue mass, 8 oz.; mercurial ointment, 16 oz.; citrine ointment, 4 oz.; Dover's powder, 8 oz.; flaxseed, 6 lbs.; flaxseed meal, 12 lbs.; morphia, oz.; olive oil, 2 qts.; castor oil, 4 qts.; oil of turpentine, 1 qt.; croton oil, 1 oz.; powdered opium, 8 oz.; tincture of opium, 16 oz.; paregoric, 16 oz.; pills of camphor (2 gr.) and opium (1 gr.), 12 doz.; compound cathartic pills, 16 doz.; pills of compound extract of colocynth (3 gr.) and ipecac ( gr.), 16 doz.; opium pills, 10 doz.; sulphate of quinine (3 gr.) pills, 12 doz.; chlorate of potassa, 8 oz.; acetate of lead, 8 oz.; bicarbonate of potassa, 8 oz.; permanganate of potassa, 32 oz.; iodide of potassium, 8 oz.; sulphate of quinine, 8 oz.; soap, 8 lbs.; syrup of squill, 3 lbs.; powdered black mustard, 9 lbs.; bicarbonate of soda, 8 oz.; solution of chlorinate of soda, 32 oz.; Rochelle salt, 16 oz.; sweet spirit of nitre, 2 lbs.; solution of chloride of zinc, 1 lb.; sulphate zinc, 1 oz.; sulphate cinchona, 2 oz.; arrow root, 10 lbs.; extract of beef, 16 lbs.; brandy, 6 qts.; farina, 10 lbs.; nutmegs, 4 oz.; sugar (white, crushed), 15 lbs.; extract of coffee; black tea, 10 lbs.: whiskey, 6 qts.; patent lint, 6 lbs.; scraped lint, 2 lbs.; roller bandages (assorted), 32 doz.; suspensory bandages, 8. The wagon also contained surgical instruments, books, and stationery, prescription furniture and utensils, bed-pans, urinals, tow, coffee mill, rubber buckets, tin basins, wash-hand basins, blankets, gutta percha bed-covers, lanterns, and a hatchet. The medicines were arranged in slides; the hospital stores, dressings, furniture, utensils, etc., were arranged in drawers or on shelves.

(1) The Capital Operating Case contained: 2 amputating knives (one long, one medium), 2 catlings (one long, one medium), 4 scalpels, 1 cartilage knife, 1 capital saw (long, bow, two blades), 1 metacarpal saw, 1 chain saw, 1 Hey's saw, 1 trephine (conical), 1 trephine (small crown), 1 bone forceps (Liston's long, sharp, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (broad edged, slightly carved, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (gnawing, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (sequestrum, spring handle), 1 artery forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, 1 tourniquet screw with pad, 1 tenaculum, 1 scissors, 1 chisel, 1 gouge, 1 mallet, 4 drills (with one handle), 2 retractors, 1 raspatory, 1 elevator, 1 brush, 12 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk. 1/8 oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pouch.

The Minor Operating Case contained: 1 amputating knife, 3 scalpels, 2 bistouries, 1 hernia knife, 1 finger knife, 1 artery forceps, 1 ball forceps, 1 gullet forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 dissection forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, 1 tenaculum, 2 scissors, 1 trocar and canula. 1 Belloc's canula, 1 bullet probe, 1 director, 1 cutting pliers (small), 6 steel bougies (silvered, double curve, Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12), 3 silver catheters (Nos. 3, 6, and 9), 6 gum-elastic catheters (Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11), 24 suture pins (silvered), 6 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, 1/8 oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pouch.

The Pocket Case contained: 1 scalpel, 3 bistouries, 1 tenotome, 1 gum lancet, 2 thumb lancets, 1 razor (small), 1 artery forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 artery needle, 6 surgeon's needles, 1 exploring needle, 1 tenaculum, 1 scissors, 1 director, 3 probes, 1 caustic holder, 1 silver catheter (compound), 6 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, 1/8 oz. wax, 1 Russia leather case.

The Field Case contained: 2 amputating knives (one long, one medium), 2 catlings (one long, one medium), 3 scalpels, 2 bistouries, 1 hernia knife, 1 finger knife, 1 capital saw (long, bow, two blades), 1 metacarpal saw, 1 Hey's saw, 1 trephine (conical), I bone forceps (broad edged, slightly curved, spring handle), 1 bone forceps (sequestrum, spring handle), 1 artery forceps, 1 ball forceps, 1 dressing forceps, 1 dissection forceps, 1 artery needle, 1 artery needle key, 12 surgeon's needles, I tourniquet screw with pad, 1 tenaculum, 2 scissors, 2 retractors, 1 trocar and canula, 1 raspatory, 1 elevator, 1 brush, 1 bullet probe, 1 director, 6 steel bougies, silvered, double curve (Nos. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12), 3 silver catheters (Nos. 3, 6, and 9), 6 gum-elastic catheters (Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11), 12 yards suture wire (iron), oz. ligature silk, oz. wax, 1 mahogany case (brass bound, slide catch), 1 leather pinch; pocket case the same as allowed to staff surgeons.


Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

Contact Dr. Arbittier or Dr. Echols



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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