View Full Version : Medical Impression

Redcoat Surgeon
11-30-2008, 12:15 PM
I am currently a RevWar re-enactor portraying a British Hospital Surgeon that was attached to General Burgoyne's Northern Campaign of 1777.

I am looking to see if there are any Civil War medical units in the Upstate NY area.

If anyone could provide me with info, it would be greatly appreciated.

John Ferrannini

"Doc" Nelson
11-30-2008, 12:27 PM
Hi John!
Is it just someone from upstate NY that you're looking for? I'm not sure what it is you're looking for (i.e. information, just to hook up, etc.)?

Redcoat Surgeon
11-30-2008, 01:27 PM
I am looking to see if there are any units in the Upstate NY area. Also, any info as far as reading material, clothing & equipment guides would also be helpful.

I have almost a complete medical kit for my RevWar impression, but I believe a lot of the instruements would have changed over the course of 90 years.

"Doc" Nelson
11-30-2008, 03:19 PM
As for units in upstate NY, I don't know of any? sorry :(

As for reading/reference material. Well, I'm sure you know from your experiences with RevWar reenacting that, there are tons of references out there. More so with ACW than RevWar (we have photos ;) ). If you browse through the Medical & Relief Society Impressions (http://www.cwreenactors.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=25) conference, you'll find many, many great posts by some knowledgeable individuals in this side of the hobby. If I may recommend them, here are some period manuals to get you started (you can download these in pdf format . . there is a tab towards the top right to download them to your computer):

A Manual for the Medical Officers of the Unites States Army (http://books.google.com/books?id=i7_2gG6NdVsC&pg=PA13&dq=A+Manual+for+the+Medical+Officers+of+the+US+Arm y#PPP1,M1)
A Manual of Military Surgery (http://books.google.com/books?id=w2o-AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=a+Manual+of+Military+Surgery), by SD Gross
A Manual of Military Surgery, Confederate (http://jdc.jefferson.edu/milsurgcsa/) (this manual is on Thomas Jefferson University's website, you can still download the full volume from here)
Handbook for the Military Surgeon (http://books.google.com/books?id=S3Y-AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Handbook+for+the+Military+Surgeon), by Charles S. Tripler and George C Blackman
Kautz' Customs of Service for Officers of the Army (http://books.google.com/books?id=KWgWAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=kautz+officer#PPA7,M1)
Kautz' Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers (http://books.google.com/books?id=jHgDAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=kautz+officer)
The Army Surgeon's Manual (http://books.google.com/books?id=W3mAwPB9ihIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Army+Surgeon%27s+Manual), by William Grace
The Hospital Stewards Manual (http://books.google.com/books?id=FBMCAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Hospital+Stewards+Manual), by Joseph Janvier Woodward M.D.
The Science and Art of Surgery (http://books.google.com/books?id=fgFuMsrstToC&pg=PR15&dq=The+Science+and+Art+of+Surgery,+by+john+erichse n+1854&lr=), by John Erichsen

These are just a few to get you started. But . . be warned . . prepare to read/study, allot . . MUAH HA HA HA HA HA!!!! (that's suppose to be my evil laugh).

Uniforms, I would recommend going as a typical or common medical corps member (be it a Hospital Steward, Orderly, Assistant Surgeon, Surgeon, etc.). Look to the US Army Regulations, 1861 (and there after) for info regarding the uniform. Here are a couple of links I would recommend:

US Army Regulations, 1861 (http://books.google.com/books?id=yQ1CAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA281&lpg=PA281&dq=ARTICLE+XLIV.+MEDICAL+DEPARTMENT&source=bl&ots=qLW7_gpvMP&sig=x_opK7SV3M196zR985szzEnAe3Y&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result) (Medical Department)

Do you have an idea of what type of impression you're looking to do? My guess is a Medical Officer (either Surgeon or Assistant Surgeon). May I recommend finding a unit (any unit that fits what you're looking for) close to you and see if they have a medical department. If not, then GREAT! It gives you the opportunity to setup your own medical impression. Some units want their specialty impressions to also pickup a musket and fall in from time to time, as most are small units and need all the fighting men as possible. I based the unit I joined on this. I can barely afford my impression, let alone 2 impressions. Besides, period medical impressions can be costly, depending on what you want to do.

Piggy backing off of my last sentence, depending on what it is you are looking to do, it will determine how much you're looking at possibly putting into it. per se. As for my impression, I portray a typical Union Assistant Surgeon (coming up through the ranks from Private, to Hospital Steward, to Assistant Surgeon). My impression is a light one. I use only what I carry on me. My medical kit, is an Ed Archer "Pocket Kit". Here is a pic of the kit I have, this is from Ed Archer's website (http://civilwarmedbooks.com/medical.idc):


Don't fret over trying to get everything now. If you can afford it, great!. If not, get what you can (piece it together if necessary).

With my particular impression, everything I use I carry on me (no camp furniture, campaign desk, etc.). I carry my pocket kit, medicine (usually opium, quinine, medicinal whisky, etc.), simple paperwork (hospital register, prescription book, etc.), a stethoscope, bandages (and lots of them), among a few other items. I travel lightly (my back thanks me from time to time :rolleyes: ). As an Assistant Surgeon, I wouldn't have had the time, nor the resources, nor manpower to really do much out on the battlefield. Which, fits in great with today's reenactments. Pretty much all I do is: administer meds, find the ball (bullet) or other foreign object and extract it, bandage up the patient and, get them off the field and headed to the field hospital. And if need be, conduct simple surgical procedures out on the field, if a life threatening wounds requires immediate surgery.

I hope this helps some?

12-01-2008, 07:37 AM
Hello, and welcome to the conference Medical section!

Annoying the ignorant with critical, evidence-supported and thoughtful answers since what, 2005, 6? Anyway, welcome to the section.

My first advice is read. Read, read, read. Since you sound like you are just starting out in CW medical I'd recommend the following before you work your way into the original manuals. The secondary sources tend to summarize things and help you get a grasp on the thinking of the time. Which makes sense, once you see it in context.

Civil War Medicine by Michael Schaat, MD. Thin paperback with illustrations and basic discussion of surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs by Alfred Bollet, MD. A heavier read in more detail of the same topic.

Civil War Pharmacy by Michael Flannery. You guessed it, it's about the pharmaceutical side, with emphasis on supply and demand on both sides.

Primary Sources:

Start off with Gunn's Domestic Medicine. It gives you a feel for the type of non-surgical treatment from 1840 to around the 1850s. He likes to shun complex wording and give it to the reader in plain English, and he clarifies technical details, which is why I recommend it. Short summary - purge the patient with cathartics, then tackle the other symptoms.

A Manual of Examinations by J.L. Ludlow is next on your reading list. It's written as though Ludlow is answering basic questions from med students. It starts with basic anatomy, then covers such things as organic and inorganic chemistry, basic procedures, and disease symptoms and treatments without all the philosophical pontificating..

Once you have those down then you can branch out into some of the more technical volumes Nelson provided above. Erichsen is over a thousand pages, so it's not light reading. But it's good to surf it and dip your toes in there from time to time. It's more sophisticated than one might think - I've been reading up on cancer, myself, but there are other sections as well.

All of these books kill the broad statement that "doctors didn't know anything about the human body".

12-01-2008, 05:34 PM
I am currently a RevWar re-enactor portraying a British Hospital Surgeon that was attached to General Burgoyne's Northern Campaign of 1777.

I am looking to see if there are any Civil War medical units in the Upstate NY area.

If anyone could provide me with info, it would be greatly appreciated.

John Ferrannini

As to Upstate Ny units try this unit...a fine group of fellows


I have just the opposite problem I am learning 18th century medicine after being involved in 19th century medicine for a number of years.

I would think one problem you may have at first is trying to forget 18th century practices that were not used in the 19th century.

If you could recommend any books etc on 18th century medicine it would be most appreciated.

Redcoat Surgeon
12-01-2008, 08:09 PM
Contact me offline and I'll get you the info that you need. Are you looking to study 18th C. medicine from the civilian, Continental or British Army side?