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 Surgical Antiques

Research and Identification

Civil War Era Surgical Sets, Surgeon's Images

Civil War Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

Established 1995    .     Dr. Michael Echols Collection


As seen in:  Warman's Civil War Collectibles, Antique Week, Northeast Antiques, Antiques & Collecting publications, and various TV programs

 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.


Navy examiner's questions

George Snow's biography


George Snow's exam answers





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.

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