Brother, Civil War, U. S. A. Medical Department
A rare authentic
Civil War Union Army Medical Department field surgical set manufactured by
Snowden and Brother of Philadelphia. The set is all original
instruments by Snowden, and only a couple of minor instruments are missing.
There are no substitutions by other makers or from a different time.
This is a guaranteed Civil War set such as would have been used in the field
temporary forward areas during the first year of the war. There
is a Snowden and Brother companion capital hospital set, also for sale,
which is the type that would have been used in the rear area better equipped
hospitals during the war.
Note: Field sets are smaller and less extensive than Capital sets.
sets would have been used in rear areas or hospitals. Field sets were used
closer to the front lines, thus the smaller size and narrow compliment of
instruments. This field set is also marked for the U. S. Army Medical
Department, which means it was most likely in existence prior to, or very early during
Snowden & Brother (George and Henry) were one of the major suppliers to the
U.S. Army before and during the Civil War. This three layer field set with
military latches is typical of military issue sets built just prior to the
War for the U.S. Army Medical Department and during the first
years of the War before the massive orders for surgical sets were specified
by U. S. Army Hospital Department contracts.
Department sets were purchased by the Regular Army prior to, during, and
after the Civil War. The differentiation of the sets is by the type of
instruments and of course the trade label when present. U. S. Army
Hospital Department sets were purchased for use by the hospitals and
regiments and are much more numerous than U. S. Army Medical Department
sets, which were purchased by and for a much smaller contingent of surgeons.
Very few of these extensive surgical sets survived after the war and those
which did survive, were discarded after the advent of sterilization.
The brass plate is engraved
for the U. S. Army Medical Department and held in place with two brass pins,
which is unusual. There is no maker label with an address, so accurately
dating the set is by configuration of the instruments and comparison to
other known sets. Compare this set to the much larger and more extensive
hospital capital set by the same maker.
incorporates a normal complement for an amputation set, plus several special
instruments usually only found in military sets: a Bucks trocar and male
urinary staves for draining the bladder, a curved gullet forceps for
removing objects from the esophagus, trepanning instruments for concussion
relief, amputation knives and saws, minor surgery knives, and most
The mahogany case has inlayed brass re-enforcing strips and castings on the
corners. The sliding latches are typical military issue. There is no key
as is typical for military issue. The size of the case is (4 x 6.5 x 16.5
inches). There is one removable tray.
There is blood staining of the amputation knives and other instruments
caused by 'rusting' from the salt in blood not being removed after use.
This is a set
that has been with the same family for many years and not on the antique
show circuit where substitutions or adulterations could occur. It is a
'field' find, not from a dealer or auction house. The value of such a
set is in that it is original and serves as a known standard against which one
can judge other similar sets.
This same set
will be featured in an upcoming book about the Civil War from 'National
Snowden & Bro. (George P. [1832-?] and Henry C. [1838-?] Snowden become
partners, July 1858; William Snowden [1840?] becomes partner , January 1866; Henry C. retires in May,
1872 and sells interest to George) surgical instrument makers (From Edmonson's book)
1858-64: 15 N. 5th
1864-72: 23 S. 8th