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


Jacob Jontz Smith, 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:  Jacob Jontz Smith, M.D. 


To the Board of Medical Examiners

of the U.S. Navy. 


I was born on the 9th day of February 1839 in Middletown State of Pennsylvania.  My parents moved to the State of Michigan when I was six years old   I there attended the common district schools untill [sic] the 17th year of my age   I was then sent to the Wesleyan Seminary located at Albion Michigan.  Where I studied English Grammar also Latin Grammar and Geography, Astronomy, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Book keeping.  Have not studied Natural History.  Am also unacquainted with any of the modern languages except German.

I commenced the study of Medicine at South Bend Indiana with J. M. Stover M.D..  I attended lectures in the Medical Department of the University of Michigan for one full term and am now attending a course – with the view of graduating – in the Jefferson Medical College of this city


All the opportunities it I have had in making myself acquainted with the Physical properties of drugs in the practice of pharmacy is what I have seen and done in my preceptors office.  At the same place I observe the practice of Medicine and Surgery


My address in Philadelphia is Jefferson College and when at home South Bend Indiana.




Jacob J. Smith

 December 24th 1863


Questions by the Board:


Questions to be answered in writing, by Mr. Jacob J. Smith.

1.  What is the difference between Scarlatina + Rubeola?

2.  Describe the course of whooping cough.

3.  Write a prescription without symbols or abbreviations, for a mixture in Gonorrhœa.

4.  What is the general distribution of the Sympathetic Nervous System and what its function [sic]?

5.  What is the chemical constitution of olive oil?

6.  Give an account of Ipecacuanha, its source varieties, properties, preparations + uses.

7.  Describe the thoracic duct and its function.

8.  What is the course of the crural hernia and its coverings?

9.  What are the Stages of syphilis and their treatment?


Answers by Smith:


1st Ans. x  The forming stages are so nearly allied as not to be easily distinguished with certainty.  Generally in scarlatina the skin is hot to the touch and the pulse runs high and quick and as the disease advances the throat is complained off [sic, correction marks in pencil].  In rubeola the fever is less severe accompied [sic] as time progresses with more or less cough and pectoral difficulty.  In scarlatina the eruption appears generally on the third or fourth date and then at first in a glow over the body in diffused patches shortly the eruption appears.  In rubeola eruption seldoms [sic] appear before the fifth or sixth day and is always in circumscribed and raised on the surface with hardened bases.  They first appear on the face then on the chest and body subsequently on the extremities I [sic] scarlatina as the disease advances the pulse continues to be quick and runs from 130 to 160 per minute in bad cases the throat inflames and swells dreadfully and on account breathing is accomplished with difficulty

In rubeola the pulse is not so high and skin comparatively in good condition.  we have always in severe cases pectoral difficulties.  In several cases of Scarlatina we may have a metastasis of the inflamation [sic] in the throat to the membranes of the brain  Coma and delirium then puts an end to the suffering patient.  In rubeola the mucous lining of the air tubes may be close [sic] by an accumulation of phlegm cause by inflamation [sic, correction marks in pencil] of the same causing death by asphyxia


2nd Ans.   Whooping cough may occur sporadical or epidemical.  It begins with more or less indisposition, the cough occurs spasmodical [sic, correction marks in pencil] and at spells with great severity causing vomiting and gasping for breath face often livid and veins congested about the face and head.  the coughed it is generally held to be caused by the spasmotic [sic, correction marks in pencil] contraction of the diaphragm  The termination is favorable in most cases.  seldom does the cough excite inflamation [sic, correction marks in pencil] in the bronci [sic, correction mark in pencil] and produce bronchisis [sic correction marks in pencil] or other pulmonary diseases.


3rd Ans.

 Recerpt [sic] for Gonorrhœa

                             Balsam Copoebia [sic]  one ounce

                             Sweet Spirit of Niter  half an ounce

                             Gum Arabic  half an ounce

                              White Sugar  half an ounce

                            Tincture of Opium  four drachms

                             Cinnamon water  sixteen ounces

Titurate [sic, correction mark in pencil] the Copoebia [sic] well with the arabic and sugar after which add the other ingredients and direct 4 teaspoons 4 times a day


4th Ans.

        It is distributed to all the cranial and spinal nerves as they make their way exit from the various foramina, and accompany the arteries in their various ramications [sic, correction mark in pencil].  its function is mostly that of reflex action


5th Ans.  It is composed of Carbon and Hydrogen


6th Ans.  Ipecacuanha its principle [sic, correction marks in pencil] source is from Brazil There are numerous varieties a dozen or more dont [sic] know the precise numbers.  Is a plant the root of which is used in medicine Preparations are the wine, Tincture syrup and Dovers powder

Used as an emetic, expectorant and as an altrtive [sic, correction marks in pencil]


7th  It is composed of the various lymphatic tubes which converge and unite to form the thoracic duct oposite [sic, correction marks in pencil] the second lumbar vertrabae [sic, correction marks in pencil].  it ascends along the spinal column and empties into the Subclavian vein in the angle formed by the internal jugular vein, its uses to convey the lymph to the vein.


8th   Cural [sic, correction mark in pencil] Hernia escapes through the crual [sic] ring its course is first downward then forward then upward.  its coverings are first from without inward 1 skin 2 Superficial facia [sic] 3 cribiform [sic, correction marks in pencil] facia [sic].  4 Facia [sic] propia [sic, correction marks in pencil] 5 Septum curale [sic, correction marks in pencil].  6 peritoneum.


9th Ans.  The stages of syphilis are three.  1 primary 2 secondary 3 tertiary.  In the first place cauterise [sic] the sore if the patient presents himself within five days from his exposure then treated as any other sore

if the secondary symptoms present as buboes and eruptions on the skin. for buboes we poltice [sic, correction marks in pencil] or foment with warm water and aply [sic, correction marks in pencil] an ointment of Nitrate of mercury diluted and internally a mixture of Iodide of Potash and bichoride [sic, correction marks in pencil] of Mercury.  In the third stage we support the system by nourishing food and give medicine to eliminate the poison.



Jacob J. Smith

December 28th 1863


Certificate of Physical Capacity.


I declare on honor that my health is at this time 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.


Jacob J Smith

Candidate for the office of

Assistant Surgeon in the Navy of the United States


U.S. Naval Asylum Philada }

December 24, 1863  }


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