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 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

2011 - "The sesqui-centennial of the Civil War" -  2015

The 150th Year Celebration


 Home page  |   Feedback & Contact Dr. Echols  |  SEARCH this site   |  Article Indexes   |   Medical Faculty & Authors

 Civil War Medical Books  |  Medicine Containers   |   1800's & Civil War Surgery Set Displays

Medical College Index - Lecture Cards  |  Civil War Medical Book Author-Title Index

Wanted to Purchase: Items like those on this website, including Civil War surgeon uniforms, medical books, CDV's, surgeon images, diaries, and related medical items ... Contact

Dr. Echols' partial list of Google books for Civil War Surgeon Research


 Lemuel J. Draper, M. D.

U.S. Navy Assistant Surgeon Application


By Norman L. Herman, M.D., PhD.

The following is a dictated translation of the hand-written application to the U. S. Navy Examination Board during the Civil War by a civilian physician/surgeon for a position as a medical officer in the Federal Navy or for promotion to Assistant Surgeon by an Acting Assistant Surgeon.  The actual applications are in the possession of the author and presented to enlighten the general public and other researchers as to the education process before and during the Civil War, the personal history of the applicants, as well as to show their personal level of medical knowledge in answering the questions asked by the Navy Board of Examiners.  (Some applicants failed to pass and did not serve or served in the Union Army.)

This written presentation was first of a part of a two-part exam consisting of a written exam and an oral exam.   Many of these applications are rich with highly detailed medical content offering an interesting perspective on the medical knowledge and practices of the period.  A broad sampling of these exams is presented to give you a 'picture' of the type of applicant being examined and admitted to or rejected by the Federal Navy in 1863.   Much more detail on the individuals and their personal and naval history will be presented in a forth-coming book by Dr. Herman.

(The actual written exam photos are available, but not presented on these pages due to the size of the files.  An example of a hand-written exam is on the 'List of all Applicants' page)

If you have additional information or images for any of these doctors, please contact us.

A list with links to all applicants in this survey of U.S. Navy Applicants for 1863

Example of a handwritten exam given by the Navy Examination Board


Applicant: Lemuel J. Draper, M.D.


                                                         U.S. Naval Asylum

                                                                 Philada March 3, 1863.



I was born in the town of Milford, Kent County, Del. on the 14th day of May 1834.  At the age of five I was sent to the public school in that place, and was there instructed in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, English Grammar, etc.  In my thirteenth year I was sent to the Milford Academy where I studied Latin, Greek, Antiquities, Moral and Intellectual Philosophy, Ancient and Modern History, Rhetoric, Composition, the elements of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, and Mathematics.  In my seventeenth year I entered the office of Dr. Jas. R. Mitchell of my native place, with whom I read Medicine until the winter of 1851, when I went to Philadelphia to attend lectures.  Having attended three courses of lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, the intervening time being spent in the office of my preceptor, I graduated at that institution in the spring of 1854. 


Being rather young to commenced the practice of Medicine, I subsequently engaged in the drug business in Wilmington, Del. and there acquire practical knowledge of Pharmacy, and the physical properties of drugs.  At the same time I attended to a considerable amount of office, in some out-door practice.  In the fall of 1858 I relinquished the drug business, and accepted a situation in Washington D. C. as teacher of the Seminary attached to St. Matthew’s Church.  In October 1860, I was married, returned to Wilmington, and resumed the practice of Medicine.  In March 1862, I received an appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy and was ordered to the Gunboat “Somerset” Earl English Lt. Comndg., where I remained till December last.  Hearing that my wife was lying at the point of death, I obtained leave of absence from Acting Rear-Admiral Bailey, and returned home to find that she had been buried two weeks.  I then determine to obtain, if possible, a permanent appointment in the Navy, and, upon making application to the Chief of the Bureau, was granted a permit to appear before the next board of Surgeons, and put on leave till the board should convene.  Since I returned home I have spent the whole of my time, after visiting my family, in the hospitals of Washington, in order to obtain as much practical experience in Surgery as possible.


I have studied Botany and Geology, but have only a superficial knowledge of either at present.  I am also somewhat familiar with French and German, and can read both languages with considerable accuracy of pronunciation.


With the greatest respect I have the honor to be,


Your most obedient servant,

L. J. Draper


To: Surgeons Greene, Lansdale, and Sherman

U.S. Naval Asylum



Questions by the Board:

Questions to be answered in writing, by,  Dr.  Lemuel J. Draper.

1.  What is the number of infantile teeth, + order of their appearance?

2.  What is syphilis, + how do Surgeons clarify the symptoms?

3.  Write a formula for an Oleaginous mixture, without the use of symbols, or abbreviations.  (Latin)

4.  What is the “atomic theory”

5.  What is an elementary substance and how many of these substances are there in nature.

6.  What are the components of the human body. [sic]

7.  What is Iodine?  What preparations of it are used in Medicine?

8.  What is the diagnosis of Pleurisy, as distinguished from Pneumonia?

9.  What are the symptoms and treatment of Corrosive Sublimate in poisonous doses?


Answers by Draper:


1.  There are twenty infantile or deciduous teeth, viz: eight incisors, four bicuspids, and eight molars, which make their appearance in the order mentioned.


2.  Syphilis is a disease arising from impure sexual intercourse, generating a specific virus by which it is communicated from one to another, and affecting primarily the glans penis.  The symptoms are classified as primary, secondary, and tertiary, though some writers ignore the latter class, or included it in the secondary.  Primary Syphilis is characterized by a peculiar ulcer, termed chancre, which appears usually upon the prepuce, behind the corona glandis, sometimes upon the glans itself, and upon the labia of the female.  This, if not arrested, is followed in the course of two weeks by an enlargement of the lymphatic glans in the groin, termed bubo.  Secondary symptoms follow the primary in from four to six weeks and consist of an eruption upon the skin resembling Herpes, Rupia, Psoriasis or Lepra, and a peculiar ulceration of the fauces, known as syphilitic sore-throat.  In the secondary form it is not communicable by contagion, but maybe transmitted from parent to child.  The tertiary form is displayed in caries of the bones of the nose and face, nodes on the tibia or os frontis, falling of the hair, loss of appetite, neuralgic pains, and complete disorganization of the whole system.


3. Recipe

              Olei Ricini                     uncias duas fluidas

              Olei Terebinthina            drachmam unam fluidam

              Olei Mentha Piperita            guttas octo

              Pulveris Acacię, sl

              Pulveris Sacchari Albi           ana drachmas duas

              Aqua Destillalis                    unicas sex fluidas

              Fiat mixture et signa, uncia    una fluida     quaque duo hora sumenda


4.  The “atomic theory” is the hypothesis that all matter is composed of infinitely small particles incapable of subdivision, and that when two bodies unite chemically to form a third, it is by the union of a definite number of the atoms of the one, with a definite number of the other.  This number is called a chemical equivalent.


5.  An elementary substance is one that is not composed of any other substances, and is consequently incapable of being resolved into component parts.  The number is variously estimated, but is now stated to be about sixty five, to the best of my recollection.


6.  The human body, anatomically, is composed of bones, muscles, cartilages, ligaments, arteries, veins, nerves, lymphatics, epithelial tissues, blood, brain, heart, lungs, alimentary canal, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, generative organs, and organs of special sense.


7.    Iodine is a mineral found in sea-weed, sponge, and other plants of a dark red color, changing to blue when mixed with starch in solution.  It derives its name from the Greek Iodes, or violet.  The preparations used in medicine are Tinctura Iodinii, Tr. Iodin. Comp. Unguentum Iodinii, Ung. Iodin. Comp.  Potassii Iodidum, Hydrargi Protiodidum et Dentiodidum, Sulphuris Iodidum, Plumbi Iodidum, Liquor Hydrarg. et Arsenici Iodide, and various combinations of these substances, such as Lugolis Solutions, etc.


8.     Pleurisy is distinguished from Pneumonia first by the more acute character of the pain in the former disease, an inability to lie on the side affected; by the absence of the rusty color sputa found in Pneumonia; but chiefly by the difference in the physical signs.  Pleurisy is characterized by dullness upon percussion over the lower part of a lung, while the upper portion is clear, when the patient is sitting up.  Upon lying down the latter becomes dull, and the former more resonant, owing to the change in position of the liquid effused within the pleural cavity.  There is usually also bulging of the intercostal spaces, and sometimes displacement of the heart.  The latter stage is characterized by the friction sound, cause by the rubbing together of the roughened surfaces of the pleural sac.  A peculiar sound termed Ęgophony is also frequently heard, owing to the layer of liquid interposed between the lung and the ear; this is superseded by the friction sound, as the liquid becomes absorbed.  Pneumonia, on the contrary, is known by the crepitant sound in the first stage, followed by bronchial respiration, bronchophony and complete flatness upon percussion over the whole side affected as the lung becomes consolidated.  These in the third stage are followed by the mucous and sub-mucous rales, cavernous respiration, and pectoriloquy, as the tissue of the lung becomes broken down, and suppuration takes place.  Should the disease not precede to the third stage, the bronchial respiration and bronchophony are superseded by the returning crepetus and finally by the healthy vesicular murmur.


9.  Corrosive Sublimate, when taken in poisonous doses, produces violent gastritis, attended with acute pain and great irritability of the stomach.  If allowed to remain disorganization of the mucous coat of the stomach takes place, the pulse sinks rapidly, the skin becomes cold, and covered with a clammy perspiration, the intellect wanders, complete collapse of the vital power ensues, and death closes the scene.  When a stomach pump is at hand it should be used at once, the poison removed, and the stomach washed out with large quantities of tepid water.  The white of eggs should then be given freely to decompose any particles that may remain.  If no pump can be at once obtained, a teaspoonful of ground mustard will produce almost immediate evacuation of the stomach.  After the removal of the poison any irritability that may remain should be relieved by a full dose of one of the preparations of Morphia, and if there be much prostration of the system it may be necessary to resort to stimulants.


L. J. Draper


U.S. Naval Asylum

Phila March 3rd 1863


Certificate of Physical Capacity


I declare on honor that my health at this time is good and robust, and to the best of my knowledge and belief I am free from any accidental or constitutional defects, and without any predisposition to Epilepsy, Phthisis, Gout, Apoplexy, or chronic disease of any kind.


I am not at present affected with varicocele, disease of the urinary organs, hernia, hemorrhoids; nor am I aware that there is anything hereditary in my constitution, which would hereafter be likely to incapacitate me for the arduous duties of a Medical Officer of the Navy.


All my organs of sense are without imperfection.


L. J. Draper

Candidate for the office of Assistant Surgeon in the Navy of the United States


U.S. Naval Asylum           


March 2nd 1863.

A list with links to all applicants in this survey of U.S. Navy Applicants for 1863

Example of a handwritten exam given by the Navy Examination Board

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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 Arbittier Museum of Medical History Tour:   1 | 2 | 3


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016