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


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


Samuel Jeremiah Jones, M.D. 

U.S. Navy Assistant Surgeon Application


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

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: Samuel Jeremiah Jones, M.D. 


U.S. Naval Asylum


September 2nd 1863.


Surgeon James M. Greene, U.S. Navy

President of Naval Medical Board of Examiners




In observance to orders, from the Navy Department, I reported to Captain Hudson, U.S. Navy, Commanding the Navy Yard at Charlestown, Mass. on the 29th of April 1861, for duty, on board the Steamer Freighter Minnesota.  The vessel was put in Commission, on the 1st of May, following, at which time, I joined here.  We sailed, from their on the 8th of May 1861, the vessel bearing the flag of Flag-Officer S. H. Stringham, Commanding the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and Surgeon Edward Gilchrist being ordered as “Surgeon of the Fleet”.            We arrived in Hampton Roads, on the 13th day of May, and on the 28th of that month, we started for Charleston, S. C.  We arrived off the bar, on the first of June, and remained there, until the 12th of the month, when the Minnesota was relieved by the Wabash, and we went as far south as the mouth of the Savannah river, and then return to Hampton Roads, arriving there on the 20th of June.  When remained in Hampton Roads, until August 25th, when we sailed for Hatteras inlet, and participated in the engagements with, and capture of Forts “Henry” and “Hatteras”, on the 29th of August.  The prisoners captured were taken on board the Minnesota, and conveyed to New York.  We arrived there on the 2nd of September, and departed from there, on the 8th, for Hampton Roads, where we arrived on the 10th of September.  The ship remained there for several months, and, on the 15th of January 1862, I was temporarily detached from the Minnesota, and ordered to “report for duty on the Staff of Flag-Officer Goldsborough,” to accompany the Second Expedition to North Carolina.  I did so, and was present at the Engagements of Roanoke Island, and Newbern.  I was relieved of duty there on the 15th of July, and granted leave of absence, for one week, at the expiration of which, I rejoined the Minnesota, off Norfolk, Va.

On the 1st of November the Minnesota went to Boston, for repairs, and return to Hampton Roads, on the 8th of January 1863.  I was detached from the Minnesota on the 25th of April, in granted a leave of absence for one week.


Under orders from the Navy Department, I reported for duty at the Naval Rendezvous, in this city, on the 15th of May, and I am now on duty there.


Saml J. Jones

Assistant Surgeon, U.S.N.


Questions by the Board:


Questions to be answered in writing, by  Asst Surgn Saml J. Jones, U.S.N.

1.  What are the different positions of the vertex at the Superior Strait?

2.  Enumerate the prominent diseases of infancy + childhood.

3.  What are the symptoms + causes of Palsy?

4.  What are the muscles of the shoulder acting on the arm?

5.  What are the symptoms of Pneumonia?

6.  Enumerate the different forms of Idiopathic fever.

7.  Describe the preparation of chloroform – Give its composition + mode of use, and the degree of its action on the system.

8.  What the best disinfectants, and how are they used?

9.  Give a classification of the organic compounds which enter as the constituents of food.


Answers by Jones:


1.  Various classifications of the position of the vertex at the Superior Strait are given.  The one, ordinarily, adopted gives six, named 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th and 6th positions, They are divided into three occipito-anterior, and three occipito-posterior.  In the first position, the occiput presents at the acetabulum, of the left side, – the frontal bone looking towards the right sacro-iliac symphysis.    In the second position, the occiput appears at the acetabulum of the right side, and the frontal bone, at the left sacro-iliac symphysis.    In the third position, the occiput appears behind the symphysis Pubis – and the frontal bone, at the promontory of the sacrum.

In the occipito-posterior positions, the occiput appears – in the fourth position, at the right sacro-iliac symphysis – in the fifth position, at the left sacro-iliac symphysis, – and, the sixth position, at the promontory of the sacrum.


2.  Prominent, among the diseases of infancy and childhood, are Cholera infantum – Irritative fever – Croup – Pertussis – Scarlatina – Rubeola – Varicella – Parotitis – Diarrhoea – Dysentery – Plueritis, and Pneumonia.


3.  The symptoms of Palsy are – loss of power, in the affected part – impairment or absence of sensibility – change of position, as the distorted mouth, in hemiplegia – Impaired mental action, if the palsy be extensive, and dependent upon compression of the brain.    The causes of Palsy may be such as impair the function of the nerve-centre, from which the nerves supplying the part, emanate – or may be direct injury to the nerves themselves.


4.  The muscle of the shoulder, acting on the arm, are the Deltoid – the Supra-spinatus – the Infra-spinatus – the Teres major – the Teres minor – the Subscapularis, and the Coracobrachialis.       The Pectoralis major – the Latissimus dorsi, and the long head of the Biceps Flexor Cubit – although in immediate contact with the others – cannot be designated “muscles of the shoulder acting on the arm”.


5.  The symptoms of Pneumonia are – Difficulty of breathing, in affected part – Cough – “Rusty Sputa” – Headache – Flushed face – Absence of the sharp pain in the chest, as in case of Plueritis – Dullness on percussion – Absence of the respiratory sound, and, when the lung has become solidified, bronchophy [sic, should be bronchophony] and pectoriloquy will be audible.     The disease generally begins with decided rigors, followed by the febrile action.


6.  The different forms of idiopathic fever are – Intermittent fever – Remittent fever – Pernicious fever – Common Continued fever – Typhoid fever – Yellow fever


7.  Chloroform is prepared by distilling alcohol, with chlorinated lime.  It is a ter-chloride of Formyle.  It is used principally as anaesthetic, and administered by inhalation.  It is at first stimulating, and excites the system somewhat, but the sedative and anaesthetic effect soon follows.  Applied externally, uncombined, it is a local irritant.  Combined with oil it makes on anodyne liniment.  It is, used as the solvent of gutta-percha, in the preparation called Chloro-percha.


8.  The best disinfectants are nitrate of lead, in solution, and used by sprinkling on an evaporating surface.  Also, chloride of calcium, used by moistening and spreading, and exposing in an open vessel.

Nitric acid, also, acts as a good disinfectant, when boiled, by parting with a portion of its oxygen, which combines with the offending matter and destroys it by oxidation.


9.  The organic compounds which enter as the constituents of food, are divided into the nitrogenizd compounds, and non-nitrogenizd compounds.


Saml J. Jones

Assistant Surgeon



Phthisis Pulmonalis.  –

Asst Surgeon Saml J. Jones.


Phthisis Pulmonalis is a disease of the lungs, characterized by the deposit of a substance, called tubercle, in any part of the lungs.  The exact character of the tubercle, and its source, are not satisfactorily determined.  It is supposed to be perverted nutrition of the part.  The deposit may be either common [“cheesy” inserted in pencil] tubercle: miliary tubercle, or tuberculosis infiltration.  Having been deposited, there is induration of that part of the lung.  The organization of tubercle being of a lower order then healthy matter, decomposition soon begins.  It runs through the different stages of inflammation – suppuration, and discharges.  The latter is, generally, accomplished by being coughed up, and expectorated – the cough being cause by the irritation of the tubercle, in the bronchial tubes, acting as foreign matter.  The cavity left after the discharge of the tubercle, is called a vomica.  The predisposing cause, is, generally, hereditary taint.  Various exciting causes, as great and sudden exposure to cold – depressing passions – impoverish state of the general system, etc. may develop it earlier, or hastened its course, or even develop [“produce” above in pencil] the disease, without the hereditary tendency.

After the discharge of a portion of suppurated tubercle, the vomica may cicatrize, and considerable time may elapse, before furthering inconvenience be noticed, or, what is more generally the case, other [correction marks in pencil and “portions of the” inserted] tubercle [“le” crossed out in pencil “ulous mass” inserted], which has [“ve” added in pencil], also, been undergoing decomposition, follows [“s” crossed out and pencil] the course of the previous mass.  Thus each portion of the affected lung becomes destroyed.


The prognosis is always unfavorable, especially where there is decided hereditary taint, and when there is not good physical development.  Great care may often evert [correction mark in pencil, “a” inserted], or, at least, delay the progress of the disease.


The most frequent place of the first deposit of tubercle is supposed to be the upper part of the lung – by many the right lung is thought to be the first affected.


The physical signs are, the absence of respiratory sound, in the affected part: dullness on percussion + where the solidity of the lungs is great, bronchophony will exist.  In this suppurative stage, mucous rales are distinctly audible.


The rational signs are, cough – emaciation – pallor – loss of appetite – shortness of breath – debility – glassy appearance of the eyes, and, the later stages of the disease, curving of the fingernails: profuse night-sweats, and anasarca.  Hemorrhages from the lung, may occur at any stage a disease, after the deposit of the tubercle.

Of treatment, by far the most important it is prophylactic.  Where there is known predisposition to this disease, or where the chest is not ample – proportionate to the size of the individual, – regular physical exercise, in the open air, and on horse-back, will prove of great service.  Avoidance, as far as possible, of sedentary habits.  Nutritious diet.  Regular and temperate habits.  Cheerful society, and travel, in congenial climate, will all serve to guard against the development of the disease.


When the disease is once developed, a rich, supporting course of treatment is demanded.  Anodyne expectorants are requisite if the cough be great.  If hemorrhages, from the lungs be free, Opium and acetate of lead will be serviceable.  Where the night-sweats are copious, aromatic sulphuric acid, will benefit.

Cod liver oil is one of the most important remedies, in all stages of the disease, in consequence of its being very nutritious, and easily digested and appropriated to the system.


Saml  J. Jones

Assistant Surgeon



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

Please request permission before commercial use or publication of any content or photos on this site and credit any use with:  "American Civil War Surgical Antiques"   All content and all original photography on this Web Site is copyrighted 1995 - 2015 and may not be used on any other web site or in commercial print without the expressed e-mail permission from Dr. Arbittier:  Contact   All rights reserved. 


Students doing reports or projects are welcome to use the content of this site without permission, but credits would be appreciated.


Please note: information on this site may not be normally referenced as this is an active and long-term educational research project.  Personal notes may not be properly cited for publication.  Various articles are digitally reproduced under the 'fair-use act' of the copyright laws and are intended for educational purposes only.  Many citations are from Google digital 'books' and can be traced backwards via a search of a unique string in the citation.


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


Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016