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


Joseph Benson Parker, 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: Joseph Benson Parker, M.D.


I was born in Bloomfield Penn. am 22 years, 3 months, 15 days.  I am a graduate of “Dickinson College”, having taken a full course, including ancient and modern languages.  In July last I had conferred upon me the degree of A. M.


Immediately after completion of my College course (July 1860), I commenced the study of Medicine, with a Dr. Nichols then practicing in Carlisle Penn, with whom I remained some five months.  I then removed to Virginia and renewed my studies with Dr. Richard McSherry of Martinsburg, Berkley [sic] Co. – I attended one full course of lectures at the “Medical College of Virginia”, while there was selected “Resident student” to “Belevue Hospital”, and at the close of the course was examined and appointed Physician to the City “Alms House” – The threatening state of affairs at this period induced me to abandon Va. and I preceded to Baltimore City Md. where in the capacity of an Act. Medical Cadet, I served at the Convalescent [?] Hospital, and afterwards at the “Newton University Hospital” Lexington st. was here 3 months, and during that time compounded and dispensed medicines.


I then received permission to appear for examination in Washinton D.C. for appointment as Medical Cadet U.S.A. and being assigned was assigned to the “Campbell Hospital” near that city – after remaining in Washington four months, at my own request was ordered to the “Department of the West,” and was then assigned to the “Lawson Gen. Hospital” Saint Louis Mo. a hospital entirely Surgical.


I remained in St. Louis three months when I was granted permission by the Hon, Sec. of the Navy, to appear before Surgeon Grier at the Naval Hospital Mound City Ill. for examination for appointment as Act. Surgeon U.S. Navy, and being approved was ordered to the Mississippi Squadron where, in the latter capacity I have been since March last.


I am not a graduate, my service in the Army and Navy preventing, such is my intention when an opportunity offers


Address when at home

Carlisle, Cumberland Co. Penn.


Address in Philadelphia

912 Spruce st.


Respectfully Submitted


Joseph B. Parker,  A.  A. Surg.  U.S.N.



Examining Board

Naval Asylum



Questions by the Board:


Questions to be answered in writing by  Dr. J. B. Parker [pasted onto page]

1.  Give the coverings, + anatomical structure of the testis.

2.  What are the different forms of Erysipelas, symptoms + treatment?

3.  What are the morbid appearances of Bright’s disease?

4.  What a Sugar?  give the varieties, their composition in symbols, tests etc.

5.  What is rhubarb?  give the Source, + physical character of the commercial varieties, + the Medical Properties,  preparations + uses of the drug – Write a prescription without abbreviations –

6.  Define, coughing, vomiting, hiccup eructation + yawning and distinguish the difference of action producing them –

7.  Describe the operation of Laryngotomy

8.  Describe (succinctly) Dersault’s apparatus for fracture of the clavicles.

9.  What are the relations of the carotid artery?


Answers  by Parker:


1.  Coverings of Testis – Skin, Dartos, tunica vaginalis tunica albuginea, – Structure – composed of a number of tubes called tubuli Seminiferi which form the vasa deferentia – The proper substance is a pulpy mass, – The epididymitis is an appendix to the testicle


2.  Simple and Phlegmonous – The symptoms are heat and pain in the part, often constitutional – headache etc – redness disapear [sic, correction marks in pencil] under presure [sic, correction marks in pencil] but immediately appears – there may be œdema from obstruction to venous circulation.  Treatment supposed to be a disease of the blood and treated constitutionally and locally.  The Tincture Ferri chloridi, considered a specific and given three times daily, frequently applied externally, also the Tr.  Iodine, warm applications to part + the general condition of patient attended to


 3.  Bright’s disease is a granular degeneration of the kidney, and the morbid appearances are Sugar in Wine, albumin, which in severe case presents a milky appearance

   The usual symptoms of Nephritic disease are complex etc, deep seated pain – lumbago, pain shooting down the thigh.


4.  Sugar is an organic principle, abundant in nature it – two varieties, Cane Sugar C.12H.11O.11 + Glucose or Grape Sugar C.12H.14O14

  The most reliable test is Trommer’s, which consists in adding to the suspected urine Liq. Potassae, Solution of Cupri Sulp. untill [sic, correction marks in pencil] it give a slight blue appearance, Suboxide of copper is thrown down, but this does not interfere with the tests, as it is redisolved [sic, correction marks in pencil], heat is then applied when if Sugar be present a dark brown color will be the result.


 5.    Rhubarb is a product of the Rheum palmatum a tree growing in Turkey – appears is light brown – odor slight  taste bitter – imported in pieces of small size – is cathartic in doses of 20 or 30 gr.  Laxatives in 5 or 10 gr.


                               Quinia Sulphate  gr. xij

                               Ferri Persulphatis  gr. x

                               Morphia Sulphas   gr. ij

                               Misce et facit Pillulae  No. x

                               Signa – one ter die


6.  Coughing is produced by a contraction of the muscles of the thorax, with the aid of the diaphragm to expell [sic, correction marks in pencil] foreign matter from the Bronchia and Lungs.

Vomiting is caused by a contractions of the muscular coat of the stomach when any irritating substance is applied.

Hiccup is caused by a contraction (spasmodic) of the diaphragm.

Eructation, contractions of oesophagus.

Yawning, muscles of Pharynx


7.  An incision should be made about half an inch in length in the median line dividing the integument + Crycoid [sic, correction marks in pencil] membrane.  The sterno Thyroid and Sterno Hyoid muscles should be held aside, care should be taken to avoid wounding the Crico Thyroid artery – a perpendicular incision should then be made in the larynx.  If a vessels should be wounded care should be taken to prevent the passage of blood.  The incision is commenced at the Thyroid cartilage and terminates at the Cricoid – a crucial incision is also made.


8.  Consists of two rings which are passed around the shoulders, and a wedged shape pad in the axilla of the fractured side.  There is also a support for the forearm which is so arranged by buckling to a strap passed over the sound shoulder.


9.  Relations Carotid Artery – Sterno Mastoid, Sterno Thyroid, Sterno Hyoid – Jugular vein, Pneumogastric nerve 8th Descending noni nerve 9th pair – Stylo Hyoid, Stylo Glossus, Inferior and middle constrictor muscles of Pharynx – Orno Hyoid


Respectfully Submitted

Joseph B. Parker, A.  A.  Surg.  U.S.N.

Oct.  6th 1863.                                               



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 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


Joseph B. Parker


Candidate for the office of

Assistant 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

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