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


Alfred S. Laubach, 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: Alfred S. Laubach, M.D.


In reply to the question given the I can reply as follows: I was born June 20, 1837 in Bath Northampton Co. Pa.  I have never attended a literary College.  My education being derived from the Public School of our borough.  The course of studies there persued [sic, correction marks in pencil] included Geography, English Grammar, Arithmetic, Mensuration and Surveying.   To the Classics I have never been able to devote any time.  As regards the Sciences outside of those connected with Medicine, I have studied Natural Philosophy.


In January 1859 I first commenced to study Medicine at Bath Northampton Co. Pa.  with Dr. G. P. Kern, and graduated in the University Medical College of New York City.


Respecting pharmacy, I have a practical knowledge, as I have been accustomed to fill my own prescriptions as they have occurred in my practice during the last 16 months; besides my own practice, I have attended a summer course of lectures in New York City and visited the hospitals daily in the year 1861.  I am well acquainted with the German language.


In regard to testimonials of moral character etc, I cannot present any at the present time, but can safely state that my health is without blemish.


Address in Philadelphia is Bald Eagle Hotel North 3rd St. and Post Office at my home in Bath Northampton Co. Pa.


Alfred S Laubach

Naval Asylum, Philad.           

Sept 25th 1863.


Question by the Board:


Questions to be answered in writing, by Dr Alfred S Laubach.

1.  Describe the best mode of vaccination.

2.  What is aneurism, and how is it divided by Surgeons?

3.  What is the diagnosis of amaurosis?

4.  Describe the process for detecting Arsenic in cases of poisoning.

5.  What is electromagnetism?

6.  What is secretion?  describe its nature + the agency’s by which it is effected.7.  Describe the heart  anatomically.

8.  What is Pertussis?  its symptoms + treatment?

9.  Enumerate the several diseases of the skin; How are they classified?


 Answers by Laubach:


1st  Vaccination is best performed to my knowledge by making slight incisions through the epidermis of the skin, not sufficiently deep to cause the blood to exude, the incisions to cross each other at right angles, and to be the size of half a dime or more, the upper extremity at the point of the insertion of the Deltoid is the part to be selected to perform the operation by preference; the matter to be applied with the lancet where the scab is used, or, with quills etc.


2nd  Aneurism is a pulsating tumor situated in the course of a bloodvessel, and contains blood or some of its ingredients, in consequence of its communicating with it where it exists, it may be of small size or be increased to the size of a man’s head.  Is divided into, true, false, diffused, aneurism by anastimosis [sic] + aneurismal varix.


3rd  Diagnosis of Amaurosis from Cataract may be known by the time it has made its appearance + how vision is first affected, dimness of vision frequently coming on more suddenly, while in cataract partial loss of sight comes on gradually until it finally becomes complete, vision being always improved by a bright light, the patient in walking across a room invariably looks upward, while in amaurosis he looks down and vision is improved in the dark, in the shade, and towards evening, the patient making his way groping along as he walks; the external appearance of the pupil in cataract from its natural color is changed into pale blue, is most conspicuous anteriorly, while in amaurosis the pupil generally retains as natural color.


4th  The process for detecting arsenic in cases of poisoning, may consist in mixing a solution of the suspected material containing arsenic with ammoniated nitrate of silver, it changes it into yellow canary color; or by mixing a solution of arsenic with ammoniated Sulphate of copper which produces a beautiful green called Scheele’s green.  Or Marsh’s test which consists in mixing a solution of arsenic with the ingredients for generating hydrogen gas and holding over the flame of it a cold plate of glass when there will be deposited upon it a dark grayish metallic arsenic ring, which may be evaporated by heat.


5th  Electro Magnetism is magnetism produced by an Electro Magnetic battery, it consists in stimulating the nervous system to excitement, throughout the whole body.


6th  Secretion is the process by which materials are eliminated from the blood in different parts the body for the purpose of nourishment to which is necessary for its existence, the secretion is peculiar to the organ in which it takes place, the agencies by which it is affected is a disputed question, the nervous system undoubtedly controls its action, with perhaps the affinity which the material has for the structure of the organ in which it takes place.


7th  The heart is a hollow muscular organ divided into two halves by a muscular septum, which again is divided into two parts called respectfully right auricle + ventricle, and left auricle + ventricle, the right auricle communicates with its ventricle by a valve called tricuspid, left auricle communicates with its ventricle by a valve named Mitral.  The opening into the right auricle of an adult consist in an opening for the superior + inferior vena cava + one leading into the right ventricle; into the right ventricle is one from the right auricle + one leading into the pulmonary artery; into left auricle two from pulmonary veins + one into the left ventricle; the left ventricle has one opening from the left auricle + one into aorta.  The vessels attached to it are the Superior + inferior vena cava the pulmonary artery + two veins with the aortic artery.  The heart is situated in the chest between the lungs on the diaphragm, the leading more to the left side than the right, it is bounded above by a line drawn horizontally across the third costal cartilage in front, and below by a line drawn horizontally across the ensiform cartilage extending to the right 1 inch to the middle of the sternum + 2 inches to the left side of the chest from the middle line of the sternum.  Its apex reaches to a point by a line drawn perpendicular one + a half inches to the left of sternum between the 5th + 6th ribs.  Its structure is composed of muscular + fibrous tissue; its size about 3 inches broad, to 6 long; weight about 33 ounces.


8th  Pertussis or Whooping Cough is characterized by a cough of a peculiar shrill whooping noise, symptoms at first coryza, slight fever dyspnoea + cough in about ten days is increased to spasmodic respiration, with a spasmodic cough of a shrill + hoarse character sometimes continues for two or three months. Treatment is  Opium + its preperations [sic, correction marks in pencil] Belladona [sic, correction marks in pencil], Ipecacuanha, hydrocyanic acid in syrups etc, the functions to be stimulated to perform their duties, warm baths, etc the skin to be well covered by flannels etc at neck chest etc.


9th   The diseases of the skin may be classified into the Exanthamatous [sic], Papular, Squamous, Pustular, Tubercular + Maculae.    Under the head of Exanthematous may be classed Erythema, Erysipelas, Urticaria + Roseala [sic, correction marks in pencil]; under the head of Papular, Exema, Herpes, Pomphigus, Rubio, Scabies; under Pustular, Acne, Impetigo, Sycosis etc; under Squamous Pityriasis, Psoriasis Lepra + Icthyosis; under Tubercular, Elephantiasis etc; under Macula, Freckles, Bronze hue etc.


Alfred S Laubach

Naval Asylum

Philada Sept 25th 1863.


Certificate of Physical     Capacity


I declare on honor that my health at this time is good and robust; and that, 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, or 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.


Alfred S Laubach

Candidate for the office of

Assist. Surgeon in the Navy of the United States

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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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