Dr. George Snow Navy Medical Exam
By Michael Echols
Applications for the Navy were made by civilian physicians who, during the application process were required to provide a biography and responses to a variety of medical related questions in order for the Naval Board to determine qualifications for the position. Many of these applications are rich with highly detailed medical content offering an interesting perspective on the medical knowledge and practices of the period. After the early years of the War, a vetting process was carried on by the various state militia boards in both the Union and Confederacy with oral exams to determine varying levels of competency as well as by the Federal Army Medical Department. (See additional information on the Federal Navy Medical Department.)
Because of the loss of medical officers to the Confederacy and the rapid build-up of the Navy during 1861, the Federal Navy quickly recruited civilian physicians into service. During the course of the war, three ranks existed for naval medical officers; assistant surgeon, passed assistant surgeon, and surgeon. The prospective surgeons made application in writing to the Navy and then were vetted by a board or individual as to their ability to serve and their medical experience. An example of one of those application is shown below.
George W. Snow. Newburyport, Mass., Assistant Surgeon. Chelsea, 24, physician; comm. 9/30/1861; captured 8/30/1862 at Second Bull Run, Va., exchanged, date not shown; promoted to Surgeon, 35th Mass. Inf. on 3/13/1863, (Snow enlisted on September 30, 1861, was captured at Second Bull Run and, following his exchange, was ultimately mustered out in June of 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.) U.S. Examining Surgeon for Pension Office.)
There are three parts: The Navy examiner's questions; George Snow's biography' Snow's answers to the exams. Ultimately, Snow joined the Union Army, not the Navy.
George Snow's exam answers
TWENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT INFANTRY 1861
William Montieth, Colonel, November 25, 1861, New York City
Maclelland Moore, Lt. Colonel, November 25, 1862, Boston
George W. Cartwright, Major, October 8, 1861, Boston
Patrick A. O’Connell, Surgeon, Oct. 25, 1861, Worcester
George W. Snow, Asst. Surgeon, September 30, 1861, Rutland
Nicholas O’Brien, Chaplain, January 7, 1862, Brookline
From the Medical and Surgical History, citation for Surgeon George W. Snow:
CASE 212.--Lieutenant John A. McGuire, Co. I, 148th Pennsylvania, was wounded on May 12, 1864, at Spottsylvania, by a musket ball, which smashed the trochanters and neck of the right femur. He was carried to the hospital of the 3d division of the Ninth Corps, where, after an exploration of the wound under chloroform and a consultation of the senior surgeons of the division, it was determined to excise the injured bone. The head, neck, and trochanters were accordingly removed through a longitudinal incision by Surgeon George W. Snow, 35th Massachusetts. The patient died on May 15, 1864.
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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016