Civil War Field Kit

Civil War Field Surgeon Kit

Image: Civil War Field Surgeon Kit; William H. Hannon Special Collections

This civil war era field surgeon kit reflects the medicinal understanding of professionals during the American civil war. Descriptions of the uses of the various tools pictured leads to a deeper understanding of the expectations of field surgeons and the impact of civil war era medicine.

 

One of the most important items within the surgical set is the amputating saw, pictured in the upper section of the tissue-lined display box. The item directly below the amputating saw appears to be a bullet forcep, which would have allowed surgeons to remove bullets that still resided within the flesh. The curved item directly below the forceps is a urinary stave, which was used to dilate the urinary tract in response to trauma, swelling, and infection. The item directly above the urinary stave is an ocular syringe, most commonly used with ocular operations. Directly below the urinary stave is a dissecting chain with matching hooks and the longer tool next to it appears to be a throat scarifier. In the bottom tray there is a large scalpel with a raspatory and a tenaculum forceps. While many of these tools appear crude by modern standards, they reflect the medicinal understanding and practice of the civil war period.  

 

Civil War Field Kit