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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William Holme Van Buren, M.D.

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See this set of lecture cards

Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A. from June 1840 to Jan. 1 1846

van Buren, WilliamDr. Van Buren was a native of the city of New York, and was born April 5, 1819. He came of a family of physicians, and his grandfather, Abraham Van Buren, was a son of Dr. John Van Buren, a pupil of Boerhaave and a graduate of the University of Leyden, who emigrated to New York in the year 17 from a place named Buren, near Amsterdam, Holland. Soon after his arrival there he was appointed physician to the almshouse, a position iu which his son, Beekman Van Buren, who died in 1812, succeeded him.


Dr. Van Buren was graduated from the Academic Department of Yale in 1838, and the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1840. In 1842 he married daughter of the late Dr. Valentine Mott, and went to Paris, where he devoted himself to the study of surgery in the hospitals for some lime, and subsequently entered the French army. In 1845 he resigned his commission and returned to New York, where, on the organization of the Bellevue Hospital, he was appointed attending surgeon to that institution. lu 1852 he succeeded Prof. G ranville Sharpe Pattison in the chair of anatomy in the University of the City of New York, and the same year was appointed surgeon to the New York Hospital.


It was under the inspiring influence of his illustrious father-in-law, Dr. Mott, who was about this time attracting universal attention in the medical world by the boldness and originality of his operations, and of whom he was an enthusiastic follower, that he acquired the deserved eminence as a surgeon, which he has ever since maintained. Later he was appointed, first, attending and then consulting surgeon to St. Vincent's Hospital und to Charity Hospital, Blackwell's Island, in the latter uf which he conducted for many years the most popular venereal clinics ever held in New York, and abo accepted the position of professor of the principles and practice of surgery in Bellevue Hospital Medical College, which he filled with distinguished ability up to the time of his last illness. He was elected vice president of the New York Academy of Medicine, and since then has been president of the Pathological Society, and occupied many other positions of trust and honor iu the profession. At the outbreak of the late war he took an active part in the formation of the Sanitary

Commission, and remained one of its executive committee until the close of hostilities.


The position of Surgeon-General of the United States was offered to Dr. Van Buren at the instance of Secretary Stanton, and it is said to have been through his influence that Dr. Hammond received his appointment to that position.

Although so busily occupied with the arduous duties of active practice and professional teaching, throughout his career he devoted much time to writing, and his contributions to medical literature have added no little to his substantial fame. Among his principal works are the English version of Morel's Histology, which he translated and edited iu 1854, his translation of Bernard and Hueter's Operative Surgery, which was furnished by the government to the army surgeons during the war, and his Contributions to Practical Surgery, published in 1865.


The most enduring monument of his ripe skill and learning, however, is the well-known and classic work on genito-urinary diseases, which he wrote iu connection with Dr. Keyes, and which embodied the results of his special experience and researches in a field in which for many years he stood facile princeps. The well-earned title of LL. D. was conferred upon him by his alma mater a few years ago in acknowledgment of the eminent distinction which he had won for himself as a teacher and writer.


The estimation in which Professor Van Buren was held in the community is shown by the fact that his funeral, which was held on the 28th of March at the new cathedral on Fifth Avenue, was probably the largest of any medical man ever known in New York. As many persons may, perhaps, have desired to attend that of the late Dr. James R. Wood, but the capacity of the church in which the services were conducted necessarily limited the number present. On the occasion of Dr. Van Buren's obsequies the whole of the vast cathedral, by far the largest church edifice in the city, was filled by his friends and mourners, and among them were many of the most distinguished men iu every department of life.  After the ceremonies the remains were interred in the family vault of the late Dr. Valentine Mott, in Greenwood Cemetery.

" RULES FOR PRESERVING THE HEALTH OF THE SOLDIER." by Wm. Van Buren, 1861, excerpt from:

As a rule, cuts, even when extensive, are less dangerous to life than they seem; the contrary is true of bayonet and bullet wounds.

Whenever blood is flowing freely from a wound by spirts or jets, there is immediate danger, and, if the wound is situated in one of the limbs, a stout handkerchief or band should be promptly tied loosely around it, between the wound and the heart; a drum-stick, bayonet, ramrod, or jack-knife is to be then inserted between the skin and the bandage, and twisted around until the strangulation of the limb stops the flow of blood, and it should be held thus until the surgeon arrives.

In a less urgent case, or where the wound is differently situated, pressure applied directly to its surface, and kept up steadily, will often save life.

Wounded men should always be handled with extreme care, especially if bones are broken. The medical assistants are always provided with spirits and anodynes.

It is by no means necessary that a bullet should always be extracted; they often remain in the body, and do little or no harm, much less, in fact, than might be done in attempts to remove them.

WASHINGTON, July 12, 1861.



From Bellevue Hospital:

1854 Van Buren,* William Holme, 1883.

A. B., Yale, 1838; A. M.,l864; M. D.,Univ. Penn., 1840; LL. D., 1879; Asst. Surg., U. S. A., 1840-46; Memb. Exec. Com. U. S. San. Com. during War; Prof. Anat., Univ. City N. Y., 1852-66; Prof. Surg., Bell. Hosp. Med. Coll., 1866-83; house staff, La Charite Hosp., Paris, under Velpeau ; Asst. Surg., N. Y. and St. Vincent's Hosps. Author of "Contributions to Practical Surgery," 1865; " Diseases of the Rectum," 1870 (2d ed., enlarged and revised, 1882);" Genito-Urinary Surgery" (with E. L. Keyes), 1874. Died in N. Y. City, 1883, aet. 64; cause, cerebral hemorrhage. Great-grandson of John Van Beuren (1736- 1765), and grandnephew of Beekman M. (1765-76).


Surgeon.—Born in Philadelphia, Pa., April 5, 1819.—A. B. Yale 1838 ; A. M., 1864. Univ. of Pa., 1840, M. D. LI,.D. there 1879.—Asst. Surg. U. S. A. 1840-46. Vis. Surgeon to N. Y. hosp., 1852-68. Surg. to Bell. Hosp. from 1847—. Vis. and Cons. Surg. to St. Vincent's Hosp. since its foundation. Con. Surg. to N. Y. Hosp. and to Bell. 1854-83, and Charity Hospitals.--Member Ex. Com. San. Com. during the war. —Prof. Anat. N. Y. U., 1852-66. Prof. Princ. of Surg., etc., in Bell. Hosp. Med. Coll.—Vice-Prest. N. Y. Acad. Med. Pres. Pathological Soc. N. Y.—Died in New York City, March 25th, 1883, aet. 64; of cerebral hemorrhage.

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


Medical Antiques Index

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques Index

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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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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016