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

 

William Neilson, Jr., 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: William Neilson, M.D. 

                                                             

Navy Yard

                                                    

Charlestown, Mass.  June 30/63

 

To W. W. Ruschenberger.

Surgeon, U.S. Navy

 

Sir:

                           

In answer to your request for a brief account of my birth and education, I would state that I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the fourth day of February 1840 consequently in less than a week I will be twenty-three years of age.

                         

With regard to my education, when it commenced I can hardly say for I was sent to a primary school when quite young.  After taking the first steps in learning at this school I was sent to the Acadian school in Halifax, under a Mr. Seldon as Principal, my parents not being able to send me to college, endeavored to give me a substantial education useful rather than ornamental.

              

When about sixteen years old my father who had been in the U.S. some years, sent for his family, he having purchased a dry store in connection with his practice as a Physician, wished me to enter as clerk in the hope of some day becoming the proprietor.  I rapidly acquired sufficient knowledge of the business to take a whole charge when necessary.  Trade falling off in Manchester, N.H. I went to Boston to seek employment While at the store of Mr. Howe, So. Boston I made the acquaintance of Dr. York and commenced the study of medicine under his direction, in a certificate I forwarded to the Department, he speaks very favorably of the progress I made during the two years I spent with him.

          

When this rebellion broke out I like many others, caught the war fever, and preferring the Navy went a cruise as Surgeons Steward with Dr. Smith in the Young Rover, I employed my spare time in study, and recited to him.  Since I returned I have been studying with my father, Dr. Wm. Neilson, who is now located in Salem, Mass.

      

If I have omitted anything of importance, I will be happy to rectify it. 

                                          

Very respectfully,

Your Obdt Servant,

William Nielsen, Jr.

 


Questions by the Board:

 

Dr. William Nielsen, jr. is requested to write answers to the following questions.

            1.  What is chemical affinity?

            2.  Name the officinal preparations of opium with the dose and therapeutic use for each? [sic]

            3.  What is chyle, and how was it formed?

            4.  What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia?

            5.  What is the origin, course and distribution of the left carotid artery?

            6.  Define the terms “specific gravity”, “latent heat” and “temperature”? [sic]

 


Answers by Neilson:

 

1.  The preference which certain bodies manifest for each other, combining sometimes in fixed proportions, in others according to the circumstance they are placed in, for instance, the fixed properties of nitrogen and oxygen in atmospheric air, are four to one  They have the chemical affinity to combine in those proportions.

 

2.  a Opium in powder, dose, 1 grain used to allay pain in various diseases, and also as an astringent in diarrhoea and dysentery, in combination with mercury to prevent its passing off too freely by the bowels _ also to procure sleep

b   Tr. Opii (Laudanum) dose, 25 drops – used for the same purpose as the above when a liquid form is preferred, externally as a ligament in neuralgia, sprains, etc.

c.  Tr. Opii camphorate, (Paregoric) dose ʓss to ij, used in diarrhoea; as in addition to cough

d   Acetum Opii (Black Drop) Dose, gtt xx. not used,

e.  The various preparations of Morphia of which the Sulphate is most used, 1/16 to 1/4 gr. as a narcotic; in cough mixtures; with calomel in dysentery; in delirium tremens to procure sleep, dose usually has to be increased, the range of this valuable remedy is very wide.

 

 

3.  Chyle is a nutritious milky substance, separated from the food by the lactic and other glands in the small intestines, after the food has been digested by the aid of gastric juice and pancreatic juice, from the receptaculum chyli, it is carried by the thoracic duct and mix with blood in the subclavian vein, thence to the right side of the heart.

 

4.  Where pneumonia runs its full course, it has three stages, 1 Congestion 2.  Inflamation [sic], 3.  Suppuration _

1 Commences with chill, then febrile reaction, pain in side or chest, dull or more or less acute, severe sharp pain indicates its being complicated with Pleuritis, Respiration difficult much hurried sometimes from 30 to 60 a minute  cough at first dry, soon with the characteristic reddish yellow or rusty sputa, so pathognomonic of this disease

  Ph. Signs.  Auscultation reveals the crepitant rale, palpation a little dullness,

2 stge – increase of difficulty a breathing and the other symptoms –

  Ph. Signs.  absence of crepitant rale and natural respiratory murmur Bronchial respiration, bronchophony –

  Ph. Signs do not reveal the transition from the 2nd to the third stage in the last to sputa is purulent.

 

5.  The left carotid artery arises from the left portion of the arch of the Aorta, continuing nearly straight up it runs parallel with the internal border of the sterno-mastoid muscle terminating in the external and internal carotid arteries the former supplying the face and scalp the latter the brain and membranes

 

6.  Specific gravity is the relative weight of any substance in comparison with, [sic]  e.g.   the sp. gravity of urine is 1019 water being 1000 –

 

Latent heat is that heat which exists in certain substances, not perceptible to the sense until evolve by chemical means or the addition of a third body –

 

Temperature is the actual degree of heat of any substance as shown by the thermometer– At the temperature of 39F water is in its smallest bulk, either way from this it expands.

                                                  

William Nielsen, Jr.

 


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:

INDEX

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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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