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


Samuel Foster Quimby, 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 Foster Quimby, M.D.


On the 16th day of May 1840, I was born in the city of Salem County of Essex in the state of Massachusetts.  My mother Mary Flint Quimby and father Elisha Quimby M.D. were, both, born in Salem, Mass. and have passed their lives in that place.  They have had six children three of whom are still living.  I am 22 years and 10 months of age.


I was educated in the public schools of my native city, passing through the limits of the course in the Latin + High Schools.  In September, 1857, I entered Brown University, Providence, R.I. and passed successfully the classical branches of the first two years.  In the month of July 1859, I took my honorary discharge and prepared under my father’s auspicies [sic, correction marks in pencil] to finish my medical education prescribed in my earlier days. 


I matriculated, the ensuing Fall, at Harvard Medical College, and attended the lectures of the entire course residing in Boston under instructions of Dr. Winslow Lewis, Consulting Surgeon of the Mass. Gen. Hospital and Ispector [sic] of Rainsford Island Hospital in Boston Harbor.  My father’s and Dr. Lewis’ name [sic] were registered at Harvard as “Instructor.” In May 1860 I received appointment as Assistant Surgeon in the Rainsford Island Hospital under Dr. Lemuel M. Barker, Superintendent, and in latter part of August 1861 I was discharged with honorable specifications of efficiency and talent by Dr. Fred Winsor who assumed the duties of that station, on the 1st of June 1861.  Dr. Barker, also gave me his certificate of satisfaction, etc.  Pursuing my studies through the thirteen months at Rainsford, I had onerous duties imposed, in the care of nearly one thousand and five hundred patients, of diseases to which the flesh of the poor and alien is heir, in connection with two fellow assistants, for the first ten months, and with one only, Dr. Robt. T. Edes Asst. Surgeon U.S.N.  – at present – for the three following months.  The care of the ‘Dispensary’ was entrusted to me for four months, with two wards in which I exercised my former ideas inculcated by my father in whose pharmacy I had, often, instructions.  The venereal of both sexes was alas attached to for the remainder of my sojourn there, with care of the “Lying in” Wards, and other miscellaneous diseases with which the Hospital was constantly filled, including the numerous cases of variola which raged in the Winter and Spring of 1860.


With the opening of the next winter course, I procured the tickets and attended until the 22d of February when I received an appointment as acting Asst. Surgeon in the United States Navy and thence, with permission of the Faculty of Harvard Med. College, reported for duty at New York.


On the 19th of March 1862 I sailed in the U.S. Steamer “Wamsutta” as the Medical Officer.  After our arrival blockaded the coast of Georgia and on the 18th of November 1862 arrived in New York.




In connection with the Hospital practices Surgery was, considerably, witnessed in its minor forms and occasionally a capital operation which we attended in treatment etc.


My knowledge of Natural History has not been obtained by special perusal, but in connection with my academic and medical studies, was alone derived.


German + French were each pursued scarcely be on the preliminary rudaments [sic, correction marks in pencil] of the grammars, my subsequent change in studies somewhat obtunding my knowledge of them.


On the 17th of January 1863 I was detached from the “Wamsutta” and considered “to be Waiting Orders.”


My official address in Salem, Mass.  Box 88.


Very Respectfully

Yr. obt. Servt.

Saml. F. Quimby

A.A.Surgeon, U.S.N.


To the Naval Board

of Examiners for the

Medical Department.

Naval Asylum,

Philadelphia, Pa.

March 11th 1863.


Questions by the Board:

Questions to be answered in writing, by, Saml F. Quimby.

1.  What is neuralgia, I its symptoms + causes?

2.  What are the symptoms + causes of Palsy?

3.  Describe the symptoms of Phlegmasia Dolens.

4.  What is meant by Zymotic diseases. [sic]

5.  In a physiological sense what is death?

6.  The different modes of death physiologically?

7.  What are the effects of Tobacco as Medicine and as a poison?

8.  What is Herpes?

9.  Write a prescription, without abbreviations for a Cough mixture suitable for a Case of Chronic Bronchitis.


Answers by Quimby:


1st  Neuralgia is not a disease of the nerves in particular but morbid sensibility under exalted or depress states of all the system.  It consists of local pain sharp twinging, lancinating sometimes, dull tender under pressure and paroxysmal in its nature, produced by anything sedative beyond reacting power of system, such as exposure to cold, diseased state of blood, [unclear], chlorosis + suspension of activity in different [unclear].


2nd.  Palsy, consist in numbness, or hyperaesthesia of some locality, sometimes general in its affects coming on sometimes sudden, or slowly, generally in the distal portions of extremities occurring and more frequently in the aged and infirm the result of cerebral disease, not yet, positively confirmed, though attributed to softening of encephalon generally to the side or hemisphere opposite to the side effected [sic, correction mark and “a” in pencil].  Sometimes Paralysis is a result of apoplectic engorgement of some centre of the brain likewise seated on the opposite division of the brain but not always – at present a mooted question.


3rd Phlegmasia Dolens Paralysis is often cause by the interruption of the nervous influence a nerve by pressure by tumour section by wounds, or ulcers, abscesses replicating nerves and destroying, the nerves are peculiarly innocuous under such circumstances as the latter.


3rd Phlegmasia Dolens is known by –


4th Zymotic diseases are the affections which occur in certain localities and rarely known to wander; attacking certain classes under certain conditions; in other words are endemic diseases.


5th Death, physiologically, is the permanent suspension of all vital functions.


6th Death occurs under various circumstances, by overstimulation, or extreme depression of vis vitae, by interruption of circulation of blood mechanically, as in asphyxiate by cerebral disease suspending nervous influence.


7th Tobacco produces upon the system sedative affects: is capable of relaxing the muscular tissue, of producing emesis of retching and prolonged nature with usual depressing the systemic effects, it is used to lull pain under its narcotic affects and reduce spasm.  As a poison, it produces prostration nervous forces attended with relaxation of perspiratory system, exciting peristaltic action of bowels mucous discharge with bilious flux, emesis of mucous and bilious contents of stomach causing increase of mucus in bronchial tubes which however is an object arrived at medicinally. [sic]

8th Herpes is disease the skin marked by vesicular irruptions and scaly desquamation combined with discharge of matured vesicles occurring on hands, forearm, in its complex varieties it attacks various portions of the body.

9th Cough Mixture for Chronic Bronchitis.



                       Tinctura Lobeliae Inflatae     drachmas duas

                       Syrupi Scillae                        unciam unam

                       Tinctura Sanguinariae           drachmas duas

                       Syrupi Simplicis                 unciam unam

                       Misce Bene et Signetur

                        Una drachma vel coclear ter in die sumatur.



Saml. F. Quimby


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 [sic]


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.



Saml. F. Quimby, A. A. Surgeon, U.S.N.

Candidate for the office  of Asst. Surgeon U.S


U.S. Naval Asylum,               



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