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Thomas Antisell, Jr., M.D. 

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THOMAS ANTISELL, M. D., Surgeon U. S. V., Professor of Physiology and Military

Surgery in the Medical Department of Georgetown College, D. C.


Thomas, Jr. Antisell
Death date: Jun 14, 1893
Place of death: Washington, DC
Birth date: Jun 14, 1893
Place of birth: Ireland
Type of practice: Allopath
Hospital affiliations: Washington, DC
Medical school(s): Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, 1881, (G), IREL-09 Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 1839, (G)
Professorship: Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, chemistry
Journal of the American Medical Association Citation: 21:58-98

Thomas Antisell was born in Dublin Ireland in 1817, where he was educated as a physician and a chemist. He immigrated to New York City in November, 1848 and opened a medical office and a chemistry laboratory. While living in New York, he often left to lecture at Berkshire Medical Institution and Vermont Medical College. In 1854 he entered the government as a geologist on Lieutenant John G. Parke's Pacific railroad survey and made a reconnaissance of parts of California and Arizona. Tracings, notes and clippings in the collection relating to California and Sierra Nevada may be from this period of Antisell's career. When the survey was completed, Antisell moved to Washington, D.C. where he was chief examiner in the U.S. Patent Office and had the sole charge of chemical inventions.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Thomas Antisell entered the Union army as a Brigade Surgeon. He not only served in the field, but was surgeon in charge at Harewood, a large Civil War Hospital. After the war, Antisell went to the Department of Agriculture, where he analyzed agricultural specimens and minerals, investigated cancellation inks for the Post Office Department and building stone for the Treasury Department.

At this period the Japanese were developing the resources and industries of their country and their government asked Secreatry of Agriculture Horace Capron to provide technical assistance. In 1871 Capron went to Japan taking with him Antisell, whowas involved in the development of inks for paper currency, dextrin for the post office and other matters. He left Japan only reluctantly because his wife's health was failing. Antisell returned to Washington, D.C. and reentered the Patent Office as examiner until his retirement in 1891. Thomas Antisell dies in 1893, age 76, and was buried in Congressional Cemetery.

In addition to acting as chemist for the Department of Agriculture and the Patent Office, Antisell taught at Georgetown University from 1858 to 1869 and 1880 to 1882. He handled a variety of subjects including hygiene, military surgery, physiology, pathology, chemistry (1858-63, 1880-82), and physiological chemistry (1866-69). He also taugh chemistry at the University of Maryland from 1869 to 1870. He was offered the presidency of Franklin & Marshall in the mid-1860's and the University of Cairo in the mid-1870's.

From the Medical and Surgical History:  Examples from multiple citations:

CASE.--Private George Messenger, Co. K, 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, aged 34 years, was wounded at Chancellorsville, May 3d, 1863, by a conoidal ball, which entered the right side of the lower jaw, opposite the canine tooth, passed around, and emerged opposite the left canine, fracturing the alveolar process, He was taken to the hospital of the 1st division, Third Corps, and, on May 9th, sent to Harewood Hospital, Washington. On May 10th, Surgeon Thomas Antisell, U. S. V., brought the edges of the wound together by hare-lip suture, He was afterward transferred to the 24th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps. On October 19th, 1864, he was admitted to Ricord Hospital, Washington, with a view of being operated upon to relieve the deformity which still existed, but his system was too low to warrant it. The wound had entirely healed. The angle of the mouth at right side was drawn down, and there was also great loss of substance. He was returned to duty on May 27th, 1865.

CASE.--Sergeant Henry Alic, Co. A, 12th United States Infantry, was admitted to Harewood Hospital, Washington, May 6th, 1863, with a contused wound of the left side of the chest, received at the battle of Chancellorsville, on May 3d. A cannon ball of spent force struck the chest, between the fifth and twelfth ribs, discoloring the whole side of the chest. The patient expectorated a large amount of blood, and suffered greatly from dyspnœa and other symptoms of injured lung. He gradually improved, and was returned to duty on July 28th, 1863. Not a pensioner. Surgeon Thomas Antisell, U. S. V., reported the case.

CASE.--Private Andrew G----, Co. I, 5th Michigan Volunteers, aged 21 years, was wounded at Fredericksburg, December 13th, 1862, by a missile, which fractured the clavicle, passed through the apex of the right lung, and emerged near the eighth dorsal vertebra. He was admitted to Harewood Hospital, Washington, on December 17th, suffering from traumatic pneumonia, the more formidable symptoms of which appeared to be relieved utter venesection, and the administration of tartar-emetic and morphia. On January 1st, irritative fever, chills, profuse sweating, and vomiting set in, attended with haemorrhage and fœtid suppuration from the wound to the amount of four ounces. A compress and bandages were applied; stimulants and tonics administered. This hectic condition continued, with brief periods of amendment, till January 7th, 1863, when death occurred. The case is reported by Surgeon Thomas Antisell, U. S. V.

CASE.--Private Ambrose Burgess, Co. E, 16th Maine Volunteers, was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 13th, 1862, by a conoidal musket ball, which fractured the fourth rib and penetrated the lung; the missile entered the left side about the angle of the seventh rib, taking an upward direction, and emerging at the nipple, between the third and fourth ribs. He was received into the First Corps hospital, and, on December 23d, admitted to Harewood Hospital, Washington. When received he was exceedingly weak; the wound was dressed, and brandy and milk punch freely administered; he continued, however, to sink, and died December 26th, 1862. Necropsy showed that the ball in its course had opened the pericardium and penetrated the lower lobe of the lung. The case is reported by Surgeon Thomas Antisell, U. S. V.

In the next case, the attempt to tie the vessel was unsuccessful, though undertaken by an experienced medical officer, Surgeon T. Antisell, U. S. V.:
CASE.--Private Alfred McClay, Co. E, 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, aged 17 years, was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 13th, 1862, by a conoidal ball, which entered the right side at the costal cartilage, and emerged at the angle of the ninth rib, fracturing the rib between the point of entrance and exit. He was treated in the field, and, on December 17th, was sent to Harewood Hospital. When admitted, he suffered from traumatic pneumonia, which was treated by venesection and the administration of morphia and antimony. He recovered sufficiently to be able to move about the ward. The wound healed kindly. On January 11th, a profuse haemorrhage occurred from the wound, probably from intercostal artery, which continued in spite of compression. An unsuccessful attempt was made to ligate the artery. Tee haemorrhage was finally suppressed, after an alarming loss of blood, by tight bandaging and styptics. The stoppage of the haemorrhage was immediately followed by pain on both sides, cough, and expectoration. Pyaemia set in, and death occurred on January 24th, 1863. Necropsy: No opening had been made into the cavities, either by the missile or ulceration. Eight abscesses, from the size of a pea to that of an orange, were found in the lower lobe of the left lung, which was also in a very congested condition.

I can learn of but five instances of venesection after chest wounds, practiced during the war, four observed in the Union and one in the Confederate hospitals.(3) Twice bleeding was practiced, by direction of Surgeon T. Antisell, U. S. V., in cases of traumatic pneumonia, that terminated fatally (cases of A. G----, p. 483, and McClay, p. 550) . Three patients, all of whom recovered, were bled for the arrest of primary profuse haemoptysis. The cases of Kuhn and Oglesby(4) have been recorded (pp. 479, 484) .

CASE 992.--Captain E. E. Brashcr, Co. I, 14th Indiana, was wounded at Antietam, September 17, 1862, and was treated in a Second Corps hospital, and subsequently at the Avenue House, Washington, Surgeon T. Antisell, U. S. V., reporting the case as a "gunshot wound through the left iliac region, in consequence of which he is unable to perform the duties of an officer. He has done no duty since he was wounded. There is partial loss of motion and sensation of the left lower extremity, which on account of the injury to the nerve, is likely to be permanent" This officer was discharged from service December 19, 1862, but re-entered the Army as captain in the 120th Indiana Volunteers, and was promoted to the rank of major, and subsequently killed in action at Franklin, November 30, 1864

Cases for Surgeon Antisell go on and on in the Medical and Surgical History during the Civil War....

Medical/Surgical History--Part I, Volume I
XCVII. Extracts from a Narrative of his Services in the
Medical Staff during the Summer of 1862.
Surgeon THOMAS ANTISELL, U. S. Volunteers.

On July 4, 1862, I left the headquarters of the Department of the Shenandoah, stationed near Middletown, Virginia, in order to visit the various hospitals of the command at Winchester, Harper's Ferry, Hagerstown and Frederick, with orders from Major General Banks to empty the hospitals in Virginia, if possible, and mass the sick, as far as practicable, at Frederick, Maryland. In fulfilling my instructions, I visited these various points, and found considerable difficulty in separating the sick of the department from those of Generals Frémont and Sigel, then temporarily stationed in the valley. Owing to the large number of sick with the wounded of the department, it had been necessary, a few months previous, to establish hospitals in Winchester at the Union Hotel, the York Academy and the Seminary. In June, I issued instructions to Doctor Leland, of the °d Massachusetts Volunteers, then in charge of Union Hotel hospital, to empty it as early as possible. This was ordered, as well to diminish the number of separate hospitals as to prevent the confusion arising from the mingling of soldiers of different commands in one building. At the visit in July, I directed the removal of all patients, who could safely be moved, from Winchester to Harper's Ferry and Frederick. Assistant Surgeon Adolphus, U. S. A., was charged with the transfer.

While I was absent on this duty, General Banks received orders to march his command across the Blue Ridge, to effect a junction with General McDowell's troops, then moving from Fredericksburg to join General Pope's command. I rejoined the command (now the Second Corps of the army of Virginia) between Sperryville and Little Washington. A few days afterwards, <ms_p1v1a_120>July 18th, it camped on Hedgeman's river, Fauquier county. Here, according to instructions from Surgeon McParlin, medical director of the army of Virginia, I had requisitions for hospital tents for all the regiments of the command forwarded, and had the sick removed to Alexandria via Warrenton, where they were received by Surgeon Ranch, who had been placed on detached duty for that purpose.

During the stay of the troops in the Shenandoah valley in June, and since their arrival here, I was impressed with the wide-spread desire, both of officers and men, to escape from service by discharge, under guise of disability. It appeared to me that company officers and the medical staff of the regiments either openly favored discharging men without adequate disability, or, overcome by importunities which they were unable to resist, too readily, and without examination, accepted the statements of complaining officers and men. Believing that this practice, if not checked, would tell injuriously on the strength of the corps, I addressed a letter to the medical director of the army, suggesting a remedy.

On the 23d, the Second Corps moved close to Little Washington, where it remained until the 1st of August. During the march of the corps from Middletown toward Sperryville, some sick had been necessarily left behind at Middletown, Front Royal and at Washington. On the 29th of July, I instructed Surgeon Marshall, of the 3d Delaware, to proceed to these places and gather up all of our sick, and return them to the command. About the 1st of August, these men were forwarded to Warrenton Station, for transport to Alexandria. In this encampment, the Second Corps was placed along a swell of land, which gently sloped both north and south. There was but little heavy timber on the ground; the water was pure and abundant, and the soil porous and dry. The days were very warm, and the nights unusually cool, owing, I suppose, to the altitude and the proximity to the mountains. Every circumstance indicated a favorable position for an army corps encampment. Yet, during the stay here, the corps was unusually sickly, a large number applying daily at the morning call. This was more observable in the 2d division. On personal inspection of the regimental camps, I thought I ascertained the exciting cause to be their too close proximity. The regiments lay so close alongside that the sinks of one regiment were not farther than thirty feet from the company tents of another. The shelter-tents were placed alongside each other in close proximity, and the streets in front were not more than four feet wide. In a few companies, the tents were dos à dos, thus allowing no ventilation on three sides of each. The offal, and other remains of the cattle slaughtered by regiments, lay unburied and decomposing on the grass in the rear of each, and thus two fertile sources of disease were apparent.

The 60th New York Volunteers suffered most severely. During the last week of July, one-half of the regiment lay in hospital, or in their shelter-tents, unable to move. The disease, as far as I could ascertain by close examination, was a true typhus mitior; that is, a continued fever without any symptom of malarious origin, and, generally, without complication of cavities. It affected officers equally with men, and the medical officers, in turn, were attacked. Viewing this disease as one of ochletic origin solely, I advised the immediate removal of this regiment to the rear. It was sent to Sulphur Springs, where I afterwards saw it, slowly improving. It was difficult to assign any reason why this regiment should suffer so much more, both in the number and severity of the cases, than others in the division. Their camp was not so much crowded together as others, nor the decomposing animal matter so close to the tents. The only explanation I could imagine to be in any degree true, was as follows: The regiment was raised but a few months before, and had been but a few weeks in the command, having joined it at Harper's Ferry, after the second retreat from Winchester. It was composed, in a large degree, of men from the shore of the St. Lawrence river, many of them lumbermen, and none of them dwellers in cities. St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties furnished a great number. Brought rapidly down to a warmer climate, placed on the banks of a river, and afterwards subjected to continuous marching for ten days, ending in a crowded encampment for ten days more, perhaps it was thus exposed to all the circumstances which would produce fever arising from crowd poison. I called the attention of Medical Inspector Vollum, then inspecting, to the case of this regiment. In order to prevent a continuance or recurrence of this pernicious mode of encampment, I recommended the adoption of the more rational mode of camping, which was embodied in Order No. 16 of Major General Banks.

On the 4th of August, the corps left the vicinity of Little Washington and moved towards Culpepper, where it encamped on the north side of the town on the 7th. On the 9th, at an early hour in the morning, it passed through the town of Culpeper and moved up the road to Calvin's tavern and halted for a short time at Cedar Run. Here the enemy was first observed moving toward the corps in force. Major General Banks advanced his men to about a mile south of the run by noon, and the engagement was soon after commenced by the artillery of the enemy posted on Slaughter Mountain. The battle of Slaughter Mountain, improperly termed Cedar Mountain, from the name of the small stream in front of which the command lay, was fought upon rolling land, the ridges running northwest and southeast, one of the eastern terminations rising to a swell of perhaps four hundred feet high, named after a former proprietor, Mr. Slaughter. The ground on the east of the turnpike was more open, being in great part meadow, with patches of wood. Here the 2d division of the corps, commanded by General Augur, was placed, the regiments arranged along the northern slope of the swell, and lying down where the slight slope of the ground required their concealment.

On the west of the turnpike road lay the 1st division, under General Williams, the 1st brigade of which, commanded by General Crawford, lay next the road. General Gordon's brigade was planted on the right, close behind a thick belt of timber, which crowned one of the ridges. Large cornfields and a wheat patch occupied most of the ground in front of General Williams. Artillery fire commenced early in the afternoon, chiefly on the left, and by three o'clock the cannonading on both sides was constant, the enemy appearing to push our left. About noon, I had ridden over the ground in the rear, seeking positions for field hospitals, the medical director of the division having been indisposed for some days previous. I selected a house on a ridge-slope north of the belt of woods alluded to. In the evening, this being found too close, the hospital had to be moved further back to the valley behind the ridge. The acting medical director of the 2d division, Dr. Ball, surgeon of the 5th Ohio Volunteers, selected a protected situation behind the division, in a grove. The medical care of this division devolved on this officer, Dr. Rauch, its medical director, having been detached by order of the medical director of the army. His arrangements were judicious and deserving of commendation.

At two P. M., I rode along the line in the rear, to see that the regiments were supplied with one assistant surgeon each, the surgeons having been instructed to report to the medical directors of divisions at the field hospitals. With few exceptions, I <ms_p1v1a_121>found the medical officers in their places. By three o'clock, the action had so progressed as to engage the whole 2d division. The wounded were brought to the rear rapidly, and after being dressed and furnished with stimulants, were sent to Culpeper, in accordance with instructions received from the medical director of the army. As late as half past five P.M., I was of the opinion that the establishment of two hospital depots was superfluous, no wounded having been received at 1st division depot until six o'clock, when the enemy suddenly appeared in the corn and wheat-fields in front, and pushed toward the thick timber. The struggle for the woods was very bitter, the sound of the rifles never ceasing for two hours, when our troops were ordered to fall back. The distance from the edge of the woods to the 1st division hospital was not more than seven or eight hundred yards; and from six to eight o'clock, the stream of wounded was continuous. Ambulances were dispatched back as soon as they unloaded, and at seven o'clock, as many as 400 wounded were spread along the grass in front of the dwelling, house. As soon as they were dressed and fed, those not requiring immediate attention were moved into the house, and urgent operations were performed. A number of those wounded in the chest and abdomen died during the night. The engagement having been so close, in some places hand to hand, the wounds were very grave, and an unusual proportion of trunk wounds were remarked on the hospital grounds. For the same reason, the number of staff and regimental officers wounded was large.

Several operations were performed here on the 10th, and on the 11th the wounded were slowly removed to the hospitals established by the medical director of the army at Culpeper. The removal of the wounded from 2d division hospital took place from the outset, so that fewer operations were performed on the fold in that hospital. It was fully emptied on the next day, while that of the 1st division was not wholly removed until the close of' the next week. As the enemy occupied the field, but little was done in burying the dead or removing the wounded on the day after the battle. This was accomplished under the special direction of the medical director of the army. Having left the hospital in charge of the division directors, I left the front at eight o'clock, anti rejoined the staff of General Banks, whom I found in a wood, a mile to the rear, with General Pope and his staff. Here, also, was the division of General Ricketts, and next in the rear, the corps of General McDowell. In a few minutes after my arrival, the enemy commenced shelling the woods, which broke up the meeting there. In the confusion, General Banks met with a severe contusion of the hip, which, for several days, was so painful as to incapacitate him from moving actively about. He still, however, remained in command, General Williams performing the more active duties. The heat of the day had been intense, and although the bright moonlight of the night was favorable to our outdoor hospital duties, yet, during the night, it became cool, an atmospheric change which acted unfavorably on the wounded, many of whom had to remain through the night exposed on the grass around the 1st division hospital. Although during the engagement of the 9th, artillery had been principally employed early in the afternoon, yet the number of shell or round-shot wounds brought off the field was very small, compared with the number wounded by minié balls later in the day. No resections were performed in the field hospitals; a few were made in Culpeper. Subsequently, the order for early removal from the field to the station near the railway led to the performance of amputations preferably.

On the 11th, General Banks moved his headquarters to Culpeper, where he remained until the 18th. During lids interval, I spent a large portion of each day in the various hospitals of the town, which were filled up for several days with the wounded brought from the field and the let division hospital as fast as they were being removed from the town by rail. Several amputations and a few resections were performed here, and those who suffered but little shock were sent toward Alexandria, so that when the troops were moved but two public buildings were occupied as hospitals. The more seriously wounded in these were left behind when the army evacuated the place, and fell into the hands of the Confederates. A few of them were carried to Richmond, but the greater number remained at Culpeper, attended by our surgeons, who had been left behind to care for them.

On the 18th, General Banks moved his headquarters from Culpeper to Sulphur Springs, and thence, on the 19th, to Rappahannock Station. While at the Springs, I visited the 60th New York, which occupied the large hotel, the two large lower rooms being used as a hospital, in which a large number of the men still remained, suffering from the fever mentioned in the early part of this report. One hundred and thirty-nine patients were on the morning report of the hospital, and one hundred and seventy-two sick in quarters; malting, with a few musicians, a total of threw hundred and fifteen men of the regiment noneffective. On account of the persistent sickness of this regiment, I recommended that it should be rent to the rear, outside of the command, and ventured to suggest Fort Schuyler, New York harbor, or some ether northern point. I believe this regiment was scat to Harper's Ferry, where it subsequently joined the command. On reaching Rappahannock Station, orders were sent back to remove the troops from the Springs, on account of the approach of the enemy.

On the 28th, the corps passed Catlett's Station, in its retreat; the roads were blocked up with teams moving down. We passed Porter's Corps in the morning, and went into camp at Kettle Run at five o'clock P. M. On the 29th, the bridge at the Run not being fully repaired, the corps was stationary. During the forenoon, I visited a train of cars with wounded close by; about five hundred and fifty wounded and sick were aboard. On the 30th, the corps tuovcd close to Manassas, and thence back to Broad Run, where it halted. Finding a large number of sick lying at two houses in the vicinity, I seized all the empty wagons I could find, and placing the men in them, sent them on towards Alexandria. They were about two hundred in number. On the 31st, we reached Bristoe Station. I found forty sick at the station house, and placed them in wagons. We left by way of Brentsville, and thence to Centreville. When the corps left Bristoe Station, the train of cars left behind with quartermasters' and other stores, one of them with purveyor's property, was set on fire. On the 2d of September, I left Blackburn Ford, en route for Alexandria, with such sick as could be forwarded to that point, and rejoined the corps on the 3d, near Fort Albany. September 4th, the corps moved through Georgetown, and encamped at Tenallytown.


Antisell, Thomas U. S. V. (Surgeon) Operated on Sergeant-Major L.C. Sears   December 13, 1862  
Antisell, Thomas U. S. V. (Surgeon) Reported on Private W.A. Currier's case   December 17, 1862  
Antisell, Thomas U. S. V. (Surgeon) Reported on Private W.J.D. Parks's case   December 18, 1862 (

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