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


 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


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


 Charles Sturtevant, 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:  Charles Sturtevant, M.D.


Brooklyn    June 1, 1861  (First Application)


The undersigned begs respectfully to submit the following answers to the questions contained in the Circular.


My certificates of moral character from the Governor of Massachusetts and also from the Dean of the Medical Faculty of Harvard College, have been deposited with the presiding officer of the Board.  My age is twenty-one and ten months; having my place of birth at Wrentham, Norfolk Co.  Mass.


My educational advantages are as follows – At seven years of age I commenced school at the private academy of Rev. F. A. Fiske in Fall River Mass, and continued with the same preceptor, though at different institutions, until the year 1857 one at the age of eighteen I was examined for admission to Yale College, New Haven, Conn. and was about to enter, when pecuniary embarrassments, so restricted my father’s means, as to render it impossible for him, at that time to defray my collegiate expenses, and therefore I abandon the idea of commencing my college education then; but I immediately engaged a position as sub-master in Rochester Academy; Rochester Mass. where I taught Latin and Greek for one year nearly, when at the suggestion of D. H. Stover M.D. of Boston,


I entered upon my professional studies at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, of which Dr. Stover is Dean.  At that institution I’ve continued until within three weeks of this date making the time of my medical studies Three years and two months.   I’ve passed my examination at Cambridge Ms. and shall received my diploma with my class in March next.  I have permission to refer to the Professors of the School.


I have constantly attended the cliniques – medical and surgical, at the Mass Gen Hospital, and the surgical manipulations – at which I have often assisted, during the course of my studies.  During my academic education I studied Latin five years and Greek three.  My post office address is that Newton Middlesex Co Massachusetts.


All of which is respectfully submit


Charles Sturtevant


To the Medical Board U.S.N.


Brooklyn June 10, 1861

Questions by the Board with answers by Sturtevant


Question:  Describe the blood vessels of the arm, fore arm and hands.

Answers:  The bloodvessels [sic] of the arm +c are divided as usual into arteries and veins.  The arteries are as follows: First the axillary, which is again divided into the brachial and another which passes down the posterior surface of the arms the name of which I do not at present recall.  The brachial artery is divided at the flexure of the elbow into the ulnar and radial, and the superior profunda artery which is the artery of the posterior part of the arm is divided into the branches which answer to the ulnar and radial on the anterior surface.  At the carpus the radial divides into smaller arteries and capillary vessels, which extend to the palmar and dorsal surfaces of the hand and also to the fingers.  The ulnar is also distributed to the palmar + dorsal surfaces and to the thumb and index finger.  The veins follow very nearly the course of the arteries, and are as follows   first the basic [sic, correction mark in pencil] vein which divides at the elbow into two others which correspond to the ulnar and radial arteries, the names of which although perfectly familiar to me I cannot at this moment I remember.  I could trace them with ease on a cadaver.


Question:  “What operations are performed on the arteries of the upper extremity?”

Answer:   The only operations performed on these arteries are ligation, and in aneurism [sic], injection of the aneurismal sac.


Commencing with the innominate artery this has been ligatured in several instances but never, in the course of my surgical education have I seen or read of a successful case.  Ligature of the common carotid has been practiced, with of are but little success.  The subclavian has also been tide of a very large percentage of fatal his shoes in its employment.

The further the ligation is placed from the vital center, the greater are the chances of success, and when we reach the axillary, the brachial and the arteries of the forearm and hand we find them often ligatured with success in case of injury below and also in aneurism.  Arteries are composed of three coats – the inner or mucous [correction and ? marks in pencil] the intermediate or muscular coat composed of unstriped muscular fiber and consequently involuntary and thirdly of the external or serous coat.  In an aneurism the inner or mucous coat becomes first softened then ruptured or absorbed the intermediate and serous or external become greatly enlarged and attenuated and, if not [unclear] by surgical manipulation they finally burst and life is lost, but in many cases the artery may be tide or the aneurismal sac, if small and conveniently situated may be reduced by steady pressure or by the injection of some slightly astringent and irritant solution into the sac itself to provoke a low stage of inflammation and induce cohesion of its enlarge surfaces and thus obliterate the sac.  The substances used are a solution of peroxide of iron, sesquichloride of iron, tincture of iodine or of galls.


Question:  “What is the composition of biliary calculi?”

Answer:   The glyko-cholate of soda –phosphate of lime oxalate of lime, and coloring substance of secretion.  When sawn through these calculi exhibit a series of concentric rings each oftentimes composed of one salt alone while its nearest rings on either side may consist of another salt or be compounded of many.


Question:   What is secretion?

Answer:   Secretion may mean either a process or a product.  In the first instance secretion is a subtle and but little understood process by which the various emunctories of the human economy eliminate from the animal fluids the substance and chemical constituents peculiar to themselves.  Thus the Liver, the largest gland in the body, secretes from the portal circulation the peculiar fluid called bile which it collects for use in the gall-bladder and pours into the duodenum to be mingled with the chyme or digested food.

Secretion considered as a product is the result of the process above described.


Question:   What are the symptoms and pathology of Bright’s disease?

Answer:   The disease above mentioned is more technically expressed by the term suprarenal cachaxia [(?) in pencil] and its symptoms and pathology are as follows.  In its earlier stages this disease simulates very nearly the common bilious remittent fever, in addition to which as the affection progresses pain in the sacro-lumbar region is complained of, and the very important diagnostic symptom of the presence of albumin in large quantity in the urine is detected by subjecting that fluid to gentle heat in a test-tube when the albumin will be coagulated and sink to the bottom of the tube.  As the disease progresses the blood becomes loaded with urea; anasarca of the lower extremities ensues, ulcers form on the legs which are almost proof against efforts to heal them; the breath and perspiratory secretion, becomes very fetid and the patient dies comatose.  Autopsy reveals the seat of the disease in the kidney and capsule [(?) in pencil] and oftentimes the affected organ will have so degenerated as to leave nothing but its fibrous envelope.  This disease is at present considered by most pathologists as incurable.


Question:   What are Cathartics and their modes of operation.  [sic]

Answer:   Cathartics may be divided into three classes, viz: Laxatives, Purges and Drastics.  Laxatives are those milder medicines and articles of food which act by rendering the feces of a softer consistency and also by a moderate degree of stimulant power on the peristaltic movements.  Purges are more active and must consequently be given with greater caution, as they are capable by their irritant properties of exciting extensive and severe inflammation.  Drastics are the most severe of Cathartics and act by direct irritation of the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal.  Cathartics are given sometimes with direct reference to some particular portion of the intestines thus Senna for the ileum and Alou for the rectum.  They operate either mechanically or by being absorbed into the blood.


Question:   State the causes of obstructed labor?

Answer:   This delay or obstruction of labor may be dependent 1st on some deviation from the normal proportions of the maternal pelvis, 2nd on the position of the fetus, 3rd on the unnatural size of the foetal head as in hydrocephalus, 4th upon the state of the soft parts such as great himefaction or engorgement, and 5th upon the weakened or enfeebled condition of the mother from whatever cause, and the consequent irregular and powerless uterine contractions.


Question:   What are the different races of man and how does the skeleton of the negro differ from that of the Caucasian?

Answer:   The races of men are five the number Caucasian Malay Negro American and Mongolian or Asiatic.

The skeleton of the negro differs from that of the Caucasian + European in the greater obtuseness [(?) in pencil] of the facial angle, and the higher malar bones, in the broad flat jaw and in the flatness of the vomer and nasal cartilages.  Also in greater prominence of the sacrum + coccyx and the length of the “os calcis”.


Respectfully submitted

Charles Sturtevant



Sept. 3, 1863.  (Re-submission after graduation at Harvard in 1862)


Charles Sturtevant, was born in Wrentham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, on the twenty eighth day of July, eighteen hundred and thirty-nine.


From my earliest school education until I was twelve years of age, I was a student at Day’s Academy in my native place; at that age I went to its Rochester Mass., where I completed my school education, and became one of the preceptors of that institution.  At nineteen I entered the medical department of Harvard University at Boston, and graduated at that institution on the seventh of March 1862, since which time I have practiced my profession in the city of New Bedford Mass.


Charles Sturtevant.

Boston Navy Yard

Sept. 3, 1863.


                [Board comment in pencil]: Dr. Sturtevant is better qualified to have medical charge of a small ship’s company than a very large one.  He is quick, but inaccurate and realize rather too much on intuitive genius.  At times go, is tolerably save –


Questions by the Board:


Dr. Charles Sturtevant is requested to write answers to the following questions?  [sic]

              1.  Name the officinal preparations of opium and the dose of each? [sic]

              2.  What changes are produced in atmospheric air by respiration?

              3.  How was pneumonia to be distinguished from bronchitis?

              4.  How was retention to be distinguished from suppression of urine?

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

              6.  What substances enter into the composition of atmospheric air?


Answers by Sturtevant:


1st.  Tincture of Opium or Laudanum: dose twenty-five drops.  Camphorated Tincture of Opium or Elixir Paregoric, dose fʓ.  Sulphate of Morphia gr. 1/16 to ╝.  Acetate of Morphia gr. 1/16 to ╝.  Linimentum Saponis et Opii, ad libitum. Pulvis Opii – gr I    Pulvis Opii et Ipecacuanhae dose X grs.


2.  The absorption of oxygen and evolution of carbonic acid.


3.  By the following diagnostic signs –

1st In bronchitis there is first a dry bronchial rhoncus, then a mucous rÓle and subcrepitant, in the capillary bronchi.  Pneumonia is distinguished by being a congestion or inflammation of the parenchyma or substance of the lung and affords the following physical signs – in the first stage crepitant rÓle over the whole congested portion.

second stage bronchial respiration bronchophony, and neither healthy murmur nor crepitation – dulness [sic] on percussion sputa extremely vicid and streaked with brownish stains.

In the third stage or grey hepatization difficulty of breathing, turbid sputa mucus gurgling rÓle, carcinous [?, unclear] respiration.


4th   Retention of urine is to be distinguished from suppression of urine by the great fullness and tension of the bladder in retention which may not be present in suppression from the fact that retention may be only from spasm of the neck of the bladder – The symptoms a suppression are more general – anxiety, restlessness pain in the kidneys, urinous smell


5th  The left common carotid artery arises from the innominata and divides near the intersection of the omo-hyoid muscle with the sterno-cleido-mastoid muscle, into the internal and external carotids, the external is distributed to the external muscles and tissues of the head, forming the temporal artery, and other external arteries – the internal is distributed to the inside of the head and the brain.


6th.  Oxygen and hydrogen, and nitrogen form atmospheric air –



         Copaibae                                   ii

         Cubebae Tinct                           iii

         Krino Tinct                               ʓi

         Spts Nit dulce.                          ʓss  

          Mucilage acaiae                                iii

          M ft misturae.  S. sumendus cochleariae magnum ter die –


Charles Sturtevant.

Navy Yard

Boston Sept. 3, 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