View Full Version : Improvements to your impression

01-24-2007, 06:24 AM
I am borrowing this topic from the military forum. what sort of projects are you working on this winter? This is my response from that thread.
Currently reading both primary and secondary sources to compile a medical reenactor's pharmaceutical manual. It will have descriptions of the substances, what they were used for, sample prescriptions, how to make a non-lethal reproduction which looks (and sometimes tastes) like the real thing and has a picture of the item properly packaged.

There is more to treating diarrhea than just blue mass.

I now have a wooden box to hold my bottles. Now it's a matter of getting to an event and not get pulled over by a zealous cop who thinks my meds in a box are the ingredients for a meth lab. There are almost a hundred pharma items in a surgeon's pannier. This will obviously be an ongoing project.

I have also taken pictures of my surgical instruments. It's my intention in the future to work on a reenactor's surgical manual.

In the meantime I have been liquidating my old stuff to bring in money to get better-quality stuff.

01-24-2007, 09:30 AM

I've been restocking my medical supplies through purchase and fabrication. Although it's not terribly expensive, it's still labour-intensive to produce bandages, tourniquets and sponges. Currently, I have about 6doz each of 1" & 2" roller bandages, and about 8doz sponges. I am awaiting the material for the tourniquest straps, but should be able to produce 3 doz disposable field tourniquests.

Then, of course, their is wrapping and labeling them. I am trying to acquire some blank prescription forms, diet order sheets, etc, so as to see about producing a proper surgeon's order book.

I'm also adjusting the various medical containers to reflect issue Federal items as well as CS manufactured and issued items, plus commercially available. That means different lists, labels, and containers depending upon the scenario and theatre.

Lastly, producing appropriate labels and packaging for sutures and other disposal material.

Personally, I am trying to regain my health. I've had a very long bout of pneumonia this winter, and although it's finally been beaten, my system is still recovering. The positive side is that it has jump started my weight-loss program. sigh.......

Additionally, trying to pare down stuff while retaining the maximum amount of impression flexibility. Always a challenge.

And of course, I'm still trying to convince SWMBO that the tax refund could be spent on a period ambulance....... at least a pannier, and a couple of proper litters, if nothing else.


01-25-2007, 10:13 AM
Tim old friend please take care of your health.

Once I get relocated in the spring I too plan to expand my medical displays etc. This old soldier enjoys the medical aspect and also as in the past sharing times with you and also Noah who has come a long way since I first met him. Glad to see a younger person with such an interest in the medical aspects of the war.

01-25-2007, 07:08 PM
Marc, Comrade,

Thanks for the kind words. The past three years have been a long drawn out series of issues that, hopefully, are resolved sufficient to allow more participation in the coming years. We shall see, but I am an eternal optimist, and have set several events upon my calendar.

As to our dear friend Noah, it is wonderful to see his interests and enthusiasm for the subject, and he is quite well-informed and an excellent presenter. I should also mention Hank Trent, who is always well prepared and a cut above most of the rest of us. I feel that things will be well represented in the future.

I look forward to seeing you again. It's been far too long. Please accept my warmest regards, and I remain.


"Doc" Nelson
01-31-2007, 10:05 PM
Hello Folks,
I apologize that I haven't been on here much. Just becoming a little tired of the same ol' "us vs. them" testosterone being thrown around. Besides, I've been quite busy over the past 2 months.

Now, as far as "improvements". I've been working on creating my medicine supplies and "studying" a couple of different books/manuals. I picked up "Doctor to the Front: The Recollections of Confederate Surgeon Thomas Fanning Wood, 1861-1865". It has been pretty good, so far. It has a very good "first person" view from that of a Field Surgeon (well, an Assistant Surgeon). The book is his personal recollections of his time in the Army, during the war. It doesn't just start with his enlistment into service. It begins with him as a youth and, pursuing his dream of studying medicine. His recollections give a very good view on, well, just about every aspect in the daily life of a Field Surgeon. The other books, well, they are actually manuals. One is "A Manual of Military Surgery, by SD Gross, MD 1861". The other is "A Manual of Military Surgeon, (Confederate States Army), 1863".

I've also been working on "upgrading" my gear, uniform, equipment and such. So, hopefully, I'll feel refreshed once I hit the field again.

02-01-2007, 08:32 AM

Good for you. I look forward to meeting up with you in the field this coming year. I do apologise for being tardy in my responses to your emails. it's not for a lack of interest in the subjects, i assure you. Just a forgetful mind and a full plate. If you like, you are alwasy welcome to phone me and we can discourse to your heart's content.


"Doc" Nelson
02-01-2007, 10:16 AM
Good for you.
Thank you ;) .

I look forward to meeting up with you in the field this coming year.
I hope so. Both, Noah and yourself, have been ever so helpful in my study of period medicine.

I do apologise for being tardy in my responses to your emails. it's not for a lack of interest in the subjects, i assure you. Just a forgetful mind and a full plate. If you like, you are alwasy welcome to phone me and we can discourse to your heart's content.
Please, there is no need for an apology. And, I thank you, so incredibly much, for your responses. You have given me so much insight into this field. And, I am indebted to you for that. Again, thank you.

02-07-2007, 03:53 PM
I have been working on a Squibb pannier, just got the metal work pieces in and am now trying to find the perfect bottles.

I have also been attempting to reproduce my own medical tins but I'm having a tough time making a good sand cast for the pewter spouts.

I have also started to make a new backback using a wicker frame and tin drawers. I was able to go to the Horse Soldier and check out the original they have. Im hoping to have it ready by mid season.

Other then that reading reading reading and some more reading ;)

02-07-2007, 05:36 PM

Have you considered using an 2-peice RTV rubber mold rather than the sand cast? It would mean filing the seam, but that's easily enough done.

I've been trying to obtain an original tin in order to copy the spout, but no luck as yet.

Do let us know how the pannier is working out.


02-12-2007, 12:49 PM

I have not, I had been going with sand as it all I had to work with but the results are certainly less then desireable. I did find a few sources this weekend for making rubber casts through some toy solider supply sites. Should I get a good one together Ill post up the results!

Take care,

02-12-2007, 02:22 PM
Comrade Sean,

If I may be of any assistance in the matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. I used to cast toy soldiers with RTV molds, both commercially-made and from my own masters. Micro-Mark sells some RTV casting materials, and you can usually find the stuff at any good hardware store.


03-07-2007, 07:03 PM
after being out of the country for 22 months and then out of commission last season with an ankle injury. I've been taking advantage of down time to catch up on reading. Since I've also lost quite a bit of weight I also need to alter or make some new clothing.

Fortunately, hubby's career has brought us to the DC area so I'll be able to take advantage of research trips to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Smithsonian Museum of American History (when renovations are completed and it reopens next year), National Archives and Library of Congress

04-08-2009, 09:53 AM
Hey Sean,
Did you ever get the Squibb lid label I sent to you?

04-09-2009, 04:43 PM
I wonder how many viisitors we get that really look at all our stuff and ponder the troubles we go through to keep period correct. Im convinced most visitor (general public) come for the gore factor and if we dont show it no matter how correct or knowledgeable we are they will walk by

Am i out of line here or have others noticed the same . I do agree however we improve, strictly for ourselves.
this year I am trying something new by allowing kids or adults to participate in role playing. (sorry no sharp knives, saws or meds) Does anyone else have an idea to get away from the gore factor? People do love it though.

Funny story here------ Noah (after your post)
last year me and several brother officers got to explore several homes in our city, built in the 1800s that were slated to be demolished . We came upon a slew of old medicine bottles and home lab equipment. Make a long story short they loaded it in my car, waited til i drove away and then called some friends on duty that a rolling meth lab was comming their way. Good thing when the B&W's pulled me over they were in on it. Sheesh and i was in my K-9 car too (unmarked)
they got me good
I have yet to repay them

"Doc" Nelson
04-09-2009, 08:11 PM
Hey Bill!
Well honestly, in the past 3 and a half years in my impression of an Assistant Surgeon, I have yet, to use any kind of gore ;) .

I usually just display my surgical kit, medicines and whatever else I have . . . then the spectators (not to mention other reenactors) come over and begin the "oohing & aahing". And boy-o-boy, do the questions start. But above all, the spectators eat up being able to interact with my display, being able to handle the instruments and, asking me to explain what each one is and what it used for. Not to mention the meds, bandages, packing lint, etc.

Think about this, when you go to museums and such, wouldn't you love to pickup the various items on display? Personally, I would :mrgreen: . So, allowing folks to stop by, check things out and, pick items up . . they will eat it up.

I know some will probably go bonkers for me posting this but, I usually bring along books and such (I will pretty much always have Gordon Dammann's 3 volume-set: "Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment" with me). I find people thumbing through them for quite some time, asking more questions. Now, they have photos to put with some of the instruments and, explanations (though not all . . but some).

As for the "troubles" we go through, per se. I do it, not only for others but, mostly for me. I want to gain knowledge through what I learn. That is why I put so much stock in reading period manuals, personal memoirs, official records, etc., to gain that knowledge. I love taking what I learn and, be able to bring that to others through my costumed impression. I hope to be able to understand what my GGG Grandfather "may have" faced as a Surgeon during the War Between the States.

04-09-2009, 09:57 PM
yea i wish i could do the same here Jim but round here they would use them on u to rob u blind the hood up here is a tough bunch give u an example in the past week we had 9 shootings just in my district alone. Id hardly allow anyone to handle sharp or semi sharp instruments it is a shame then again its the times we live in
and yea id love to handle musem atrifacts but they make you leave them there
although i am in the process of procuring sets of old books the city where i live (jersey city) was ont of the largest camps for new recruits and disembarkment the libary has no room for such books i will keep all posted here if they decide to sell all or some
when ever i do a school lecture i have to keep a sharp eye as well as have two school security guards present over the tabe to ensure nothing grows legs


"Doc" Nelson
04-09-2009, 10:29 PM
That's a shame. Yesterday, we had a multiple shooting (http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090409/NEWS01/904090361/1008). A guy shot 3 people, including a police officer (with her own gun). So, I know what you mean. Louisville's crime rate (which I think its the same everywhere else), is beginning to sky rocket.

As for people handling my instruments. The good thing I like is, they're not sharp (other than the points). I do keep my instruments directly in front of me so, I can keep a very close eye on them as people handle them. Same goes for everything else I have. I usually display them on my folding camp table (its a small 2 feet x 3 feet table), as I sit right behind it.

04-10-2009, 09:01 AM
It is terrible times, we live in. I have an antique scale (weight) id love to display and i wonder since Philly PA is so close whom this event will attract. Anyone involved in drugs would love this. Its a shame you have to watch your items so close. I wonder if perhaps each regiment/ assoc. should purchase additional insurance to cover a loss. Then again all this liability, and stealing is probably the reason like other hobbies, it eventually leads to its death bell. I also belong to a model car club we host the worlds largest model car show of the year. We have signs and try to discourge touching the models but somehow people have to touch and steal. I know im ranting but thanks to the American Civil Liberteys lawyers the criminals and false pretenders indeed have more rights then us. Come to my city in NJ and see all the bars on the doors and windows its like living in a jail just to protect yourself. I wonder if we did have an event here I could imagine the risk of having weapons on display.

And i do hear you about the shootings as of lately there has been so many rashes of group shooting hope it is not a sign.

"Doc" Nelson
04-10-2009, 09:16 AM
As far as watching my medical equipment closely, I have never had any problems with theft. Even in my almost 20 years in the hobby, I have never had any problems when I portrayed Infantry.

I keep an eye on them becasue, I really don't want little Johnny to stab his brother or another with one of my instruments. Not to mention my meds. I really don't have anything that's not consumable . . other than my recreated calomel. Most everything else I have are spices or something else that is consumable. But still, I don't want folks to come up and start popping them like candy.

04-24-2009, 07:06 AM
I have secured a source for period-correct-looking ceramic pots (http://www.marylandchina.com/apps/product?id=2594&categoryId=22&subCategoryId=34)appropriate for ungnets and toothpowders. Like pizzas, they come in small, medium and extra large. I need to whip up a label for my icthimmol ointment.

I still do occasional face-to-face presentations. I rarely, if ever, do battle reenactments. This past March I engaged visitors at Harpers Ferry discussing patent remedies in the Dry Goods Store. I made a couple of joke label patent remedies and let the visitors take a whiff, and discussed the real reasons why they were high-octane alcohol. I believe the display was well-received. This is a public link to my Facebook album of this very thing (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=386648&l=5f21430d1d&id=1255224882).

I'd like to let the spectators handle my stuff, but I have an original kit. So ix-nay on that. I offer a compromise in the form letting them sniff my repro medicines. (And a lot of visitors inadvertently reveal how old they are when they recognize the evil licorice smell of paregoric from their childhood.) Lot of fun dicussing an otherwise technical and intimidating topic.

I have also been working on recreating an actual mustard plaster - as in a cloth with dried medicine on it which can be wetted and applied to the chest for those annoying congestive moments. I have three cylindrical tins I nromally use to transport my phials, but I think I will "sacrifice" one to become a mustard plaster tin.

As you may have noticed from my past few posts I have been researching advanced conditions - wherever the manual's index will take me. The downside is that people mistake me for a real physician. The upside is a better understanding of the medical mind back then, not to mention the ability to make a complete lie out of the arrogant teeny-bopper's statement "They didn't know anything about the body back then."

If anybody cares to drop by I will be at the New Market, Virginia event from May 16-18. Hint - don't look for me in the military camps. I'll be happy to talk shop - as long as you stand behind me. (I don't want to practice amputation procedures with the scythe.) Those two clues should steer you in the correct direction if you are determined to locate me.

See you in the field. And remember to research period correct treatments for various spring allergies. You never know when you will be "mystery-shopped" by someone in the know. Cheers!