c. 1859 -1861 Hernstein Surgical Set

Owned by W. T. Jordan, MD  Confederate States Army

The maker, H. Hernstein of New York, was located at 393 Broadway (address on the capital saw) during the Civil War period 1862-1865.  Shown here is an extensive surgical set of the type which could have been used in the field during the Civil War.  It is a civilian surgical set, with center lock, but containing an early style bullet forceps, male urethral sounds, early Satterlee bone forceps, ivory handled scalpels, Galt style trephine,  which helps identify the possible use of the set.  The address on the instruments means the set was made between 1862 - 1865 and most likely was purchased by the owner during that time after he left the Confederate Army or as surplus after the War.  Hernstein was located at the following addresses according to Edmonson:

Hermann Hernstein surgical instruments, NY

1843: 3 Chambers

1844: Elizabeth cor. Hester

1845-48: 7 Hague

1850: no listing

1851-52: 68 Duane

1853-54: 81 Duane

1855-57: 81 Duane and 393 Broadway

1858: 81 Duane, 131 Mercer, and 393 Broadway

1859-61: 131 Mercer and 393 Broadway

Hermann Hernstein & Son (Hermann and Albert L. Hernstein) 1862-65: 131 Mercer and 393 Broadway


Hermann Hernstein & Son & Co. 1865: 2 Liberty and 393 Broadway


Hermann Hernstein & Co. 1866-67: 2 Liberty and 393 Broadway


The top of the case is crudely marked with the owner's name 'W.T.Jordan, M.D' Nansemond County VA, it is not engraved.

William Turner Jordan (1835-1922), went to and graduated from medical school prior to the Civil War, but is not listed as having served as a medical officer or surgeon during the War.  He attended the University of Virginia medical college from 1855-1856, then graduated from the University of New York, Medical Department in 1859 and was practicing in Driver, VA until 1890.  It is certain he enlisted in the Confederate Army, it is certain he served as an infantry officer and was a prisoner of war.  He would have been a practicing doctor during the early part of the War when this set was made.  He could have purchased it when the War started as it is possible this Hernstein configuration was made in the first years of the War.

Dr. Jordon was born on 13 Nov. 1835., Occupation: Physician.  His service record states: Enlisted as a lieutenant 2nd class on 21 of April 1861 in Hargroves Tavern, Va., Commission in Co. F, 3rd Inf. Va. on 21 April 1861.  Resigned on 17 Sept. 1861. Fought in 3 battles.  (It is unknown if he worked as a contract surgeon after resigning in Sept. 1861, but that is entirely possible.  Given the known dates of the manufacture of the set by Hernstein, it is highly likely the owner, W. T. Jordan owned this set prior to the Civil War unless he purchased it post-War as surplus when he went back into private practice.


Please go here for additional information on Jordan and a note sent to W. T. Jordan's children regarding his wartime where-abouts, which do not totally agree with the war service record cited above.  There is much confusion about Jordan's war record as he does not show up as having been in the areas he mentions in the note to his children. The account for Pryor's 3rd Brigade doesn't list any Lt. W. T. Jordan.  Then there is the odd situation of him serving in the signal service?  And, being a prisoner of war.   

It is generally believed a Confederate surgeon held the rank of Maj. or better, but The Confederate Medical Department states: "...there were a number of contract surgeons or acting assistant surgeons, with the pay of a second lieutenant of infantry, who were temporarily employed, nearly all of these, however, at some period....were commissioned or dropped from the Army rolls.  Click here for full text of this information on the Confederate Medical Department organization.

The large mahogany case measures 17 x 9 1/2 x 4 inches and is lined with red velvet.  There is one removable tray,  The set includes instruments for:  trepanning, eye surgery, amputation, urology, and oddly enough...ear surgery.   The set is civilian issue, but contains a bullet forceps, and urinary sounds, both of which would be found in military sets of the era.


See a comparison of two Civil War era surgical sets by Hernstein.

Click any photo to enlarge


Dr. W.T.Jordan, Nansemond County VA


Case open with divider and tray in place



Upper and lower sections with removable tray in place and removed



All instruments in the case

Typical war-time capital saw, with straight blade amputation knives, and ferrules formed in the blade


H. Hernstein name and address (393 Broadway)



Cross-checked ivory handles on scalpels, bullet forceps, upper right


Aneurism suturing needles with handle



Eye surgery instruments             Trocar and tracheotomy tube



Trepanning instruments, crown type trephine, c. late 1850's or early 1860's





Ear speculum with blued spring (marked Hernstein) made of German silver



Satterlee bone forceps, typical for the earliest years of the War



Early style bullet forceps


Urethral sounds for males are an early design and unmarked

Compare the instruments in the large Hernstein set (above) with those in a Hernstein U. S. A. Hosp. Dept.  marked minor surgery set below.  Curious how similar the instruments are from the two makers, Hernstein in New York, and Gemrig in Philadelphia...Hmmmm could it be the French influence?

Also see the partial set Gemrig minor surgery set. (below) for comparison.


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Civil War Medical Collections 


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