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


John Paul Quinn, 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:  John Paul Quinn, M.D.


U.S. Naval Asylum

Philadelphia Pa

Sept. 17th 1863.




My first duty, as an Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy, was performed at the U.S. Naval Rendezvous in this City during a portion of the month of May '61.  My official connection with that Station terminated, on the receipt of orders from the Department, dated 4th June 1861, directing me to Report for Duty on board the U.S. Frigate St. Lawrence, Capt. H. Y. Purivance U.S.N. Commanding.  The Vessel sailed from the Navy Yard at this Port; June 29th of the same year.  Her Cruising was confined to are own Coast during a few months I remained attached to her.  Surgeon Robert Woodworth, U.S.N. was her [unclear] Medical Officer on board, and favored me with a written testimonial, which I have already placed in the hands of the Board.


My next Order detached me from the St. Lawrence and directed me to “Report to Capt. Pearson, U.S.N., Comman'g Navy Yard, Portsmouth N.H., for Duty on board the U.S. Gunboat Sebago.” I remained attached to the Sebado from Feb'y 20th 1862, until July 22nd 1863 – The date of her return to New York.  I was then ordered to the Receiving Ship North Carolina, and subsequently, at my own request, I was transferred to the Naval Hospital, N. Y.


The Cases I met with on board Ships, were generally devoid of interest.  On two or three occasions, it was my good fortune to be in position where I could render Surgical aid to the Army, and in that way I was enabled to see some peculiarly interesting cases among our wounded Soldiers.


I have the honor to remain Gentlemen,


Very respectfully,

Your Ob't Serv'tJno.

Paul QuinnAsst. Surgeon,  U.S.N.


To the Naval Medical Board,                             

Naval Asylum                                          



Questions of the Board:    


Asst Surgn Jno Paul Quinn

1. Describe the operation of the vena section at the bend of the arm.

2. What are the diameters of the fœtal head?

3. The symptoms of dislocation of the thigh into the Ischiatic notch, and the mode of reduction?

4. Give some account of the nature of the human voice; the mechanism + action of the organs involved _

5. Write without abbreviations a composite prescription for chronic bronchitis in a debilitated person.

6. Give the mode in which alcohol is derived from Starch.

7. Give the reflexions of the Peritoneum.

8. What are the physical signs of Pleuritis?

9. What are the tests for sugar (grape)?


Answers by Quinn:


A.I.  Apply a small bandage about two inches above the end of the arm + tight moderately.  Place thumb of left hand half an inch below the point selected for incision, on medien-cephalic [sic] vein or median-basilic, if the former; make an incision, obliquely to the axis of the vein – small, or large, according to the impression you wish to make on the system – taking care to avoid the artery, by previously feeling for its pulsations.  The external cutaneous nerve is apt to be wounded in this neighborhood.  When sufficient blood has been abstracted, place the thumb (removed from the vein immediately after its puncture), over the bleeding orifice; remove bandage; put a compress on the wounded vein and retain its there for three or four turns of a 3-inch bandage.  The bandage and compress should remain about 48 hours.


A.II.   Diameters of the fœtal head – Anterio-posterior 4 ½ inches.  Bi-parietal 3 ¾.  Occipito-mental 5 inches.  Circumference 14 inches.  The size, and consequently measurements, of the fœtal head are variable, and smaller in the female than in the male head.


A.III.  Pain; head of the bone felt in the ischiatic notch; thigh inclined to sound side; foot inverted; shortening of the leg.

Modes of reduction: – by manipulation; – flex thigh on abdomen, leg on thigh; rotate the limb and carried upwards and across the sound side, downwards and outwards etc. repeating the movements until the head of the bones slips into the Acetabulum.  By extension and counter-extension make the extending force in direction of displacement.


A.IIII.  The vocal apparatus is sometimes compared to an instrument.  Voice is caused by the vibration of air on the vocal cords during expiration, its pitch and tone depending upon the force of the expiration.  The vocal apparatus is composed of the crycoid [sic], thyroid, two aretynoid and two semi-lunar cartilages; muscles, nerves, blood-vessels etc.  Speech is formed by the aid of the tongue, lips + teeth etc.


A.V.  Recipe – Decoti Senegae Octarius

                         Misturae Acaciae Unciam

                          Syrupi Toulitani [sic, unknown] Unciam semess

                       Misce. Signa, Unciam ter in die.


A.VI.  First convert into dextren [sic] by an acid + then by the presence of an animal substance, at the temperature of 70 Fahr. [sic] dextren [sic] is converted into Alcohol and Carbonic Acid.


A.VII.  From the umbilicus to the under surface of the diaphragm from thence it is reflected in the upper surface of the liver, part of its under surface, then crosses the stomach, forming the gastro-hepatic omentum – down over the intestines forming one layer of the mesentery – to under portion of colon – [unclear, a correction was made here] anterior portion of bladder, and so on to the place of starting, in males it is a shut sac.  Near the posterior portion of the gallbladder is the foramen of Winslow.


A.VIII.  Dry friction sounds soon followed by dullness on percussion and ęgophony.


A.IX. Frommer's test.  Add to a solution containing grape sugar a few drops of a solution of Sulph. Copper – merely enough to give a light blue collar – then add caustic Potassa in excess and heat the mixture.  A yellowish precipitate will be thrown down – The sub-oxide of copper.

Moore’s test.  The suspect liquid changes to a brown color on the addition of caustic Potassa.

The fermentation test.  Mix the sugar was some putrifying substance and maintain the mixture at a temperature of 70° Fahr.  There will be an escape of bubbles – Carbonic Acid.


Very respectfully Yours

Your Obt Servt

Jno. Paul Quinn,  Asst Surgn


To the Naval Medical Board

Naval Asylum



Pneumonia  by Dr. Quinn


An Inflammation of the parenchymatous and cellular structure of the lungs.  Most often met with in Winter and Spring; attacks all ages; exposure to cold, moisture and alterations of temperature of the direct causes.


Symptoms –.  If the disease is generally ushered in by a slight chill; followed by a febrile symptoms; pain in one or both sides; cough and dyspnoea, uneasiness etc.; increased pain on inspiration; flushed face, furred tongue, and full hard pulse, soon attended with, hacking cough; expectoration of mucus which is sometimes streaked with blood.  In the second stage the sputum is sometimes colored brown, like brick-dust, iron-rust, or even prime-juice.  Progressively this is changed to, or mixed with, a frothy, creamy matter, muco- or sero-purulent.


In the worst case it grows thin sero-sanguinolent, dark and highly offensive.  The pulse becomes small, weak, and very frequent; skin cold and clammy; livid and shrunken countenance; lips and tongue bluish or purple; there is a low muttering delirium; cessation of cough and expectoration and, death.


Physical signs – Impairment and final loss of respiratory murmur, with the crepitant rȃle; absence of resonance over the affected part, which is generally the lower lobe of the right lung.  When the expectoration becomes free, an open mucus rȃle and bronchophony can be heard, with great vibration when the patient speaks.


Diagnosis.  – Distinguished from pleurisy by the early absence of respiratory murmur; frottement [underlined by board, a friction rub, not commonly heard in pneumonia] and dullness on percussion.  From bronchitis by the prune-juice sputa and dullness.


Prognosis.  – In young or very old subjects, or if the constitution be in fault, unfavorable.

     Autopsy.  – In the first, or congestive stage, the lung is marked a deep red color, crepitates under pressure, retains the pits, exudes frosty serum, floats on water.  In the second, or inflammatory stage, the lung is marked by deep red, a reddish-brown, or grayish-red; absence of crepitation; sinks in water, cohesion very much diminished.  Third, or suppurative stage, fisted conditions, grey hepatization an abscesses.


Treatment.  – Venesection in the first stage to an extent that relieves the breathing and decreases the pulse (?) [sic]; cups and leeches, followed emollient poultices; a saline cathartic with a diaphoretic; nifus seneca [sic] and salts, or pulv. Doveri with hydrarg. Chlo. Mite aa [“ana” abbreviation, ‘of each ingredient’] grs x, at night. Nit. of potassa with mercury, or seneca with ipecacuanha, or tartar emetic with paregoric.  Blisters over the seat of injury after the first stage has passed – palliate the cough with an anodyne expectorant. Tinct. tolu., tinct. Sanguinarię, and benzoin.


Chronic Pneumonia

Sometimes follows pleuro-pneumonia, catarrhal fever, gun-shot and other wounds of the lungs; asthma, gastric and hepatic derangements; some of the exanthemata.  An abscess forming in the lung is attended with fixed, heavy pain, pulsating, or at times lancinating; dyspnoea, increased by exercise or lying down, or rest on the sound side; cough severe, and it first without expectoration.  The abscess sometimes discharges throug [sic] small openings, but more frequently bursts and discharges freely, pus being coughed up in great quantities.  Expectoration continues abundant for some time and consists of pus mingled with mucus and serum.  Recovery may take place at this point, but more frequently hectic sets in, with a long train of symptoms.  Digestion sometimes remains good up to the last stages, diarrhœa then coming on, with redness and ulceration of the lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue.


Prognosis – unfavorable; duration varied.


Diagnosis – Attended with more pain than bronchitis or phthisis.


Treatment – Small bleeding in the first stage, repeated, if not contra-indicated; cups to the affected side, followed by protracted blistering.  Large warm fomenting poultices are useful – Dovers powder before and after expectoration etc. etc. [sic]


The treatment in both forms of this disease is subject to great variety.  The plan of treatment adopted by Dr. Hughes Bennett seems to [unclear] which many eminent physicians.  The mortality being diminished in his practice.  Their other varieties of pneumonia which my limited space must exclude.


Very respectfully

Your Obt. Serv't

Jno. Paul Quinn

Asst. Surgeon U.S.N.

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