View Full Version : Weather Instruments

Regular DOC
07-03-2008, 11:42 AM
I am looking around to get all the needed devices, thermometers barometers etc, to provide the required reports. However I am at a loss as to what to get that would be at least remotely close to period. Those who have them what did you use and where did you aquire them. Thanks

Brian Schwatka
3RD US Regulars Co. K

Robert A Mosher
07-03-2008, 08:24 PM
Brian -
Interesting question. I did find one possible source of information on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=0VsVAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA197&dq=weather,+instruments,+thermometer,+OR+barometer +date:1700-1866&lr=&as_brr=1#PPA3,M1

In case that link doesn't work (it may have gotten snipped) the book was compiled by Andrew Steinmetz and published in 1866 in London, its titled "A Manual of Weathercasts" it appears to discuss both the instruments that would be used and how to use them.

Robert A. Mosher

07-04-2008, 03:19 PM

Could you tell us a little more about the impression you are opuutting together? I know medical officers were resoponsible for weather reports and did so at some military installations prior to the war, but I have never seen this done by reenactors.

07-04-2008, 04:47 PM
Before he died the late Don Hubbard took readings with an itty bitty combo thermometer and barometer. don't know where he got it.

The regs say that the permanent hospitals were supposed to be gathering meteorological data, not necessarily field hospitals (since they are on the move and have constant changes in schedules).

Regular DOC
07-04-2008, 05:17 PM
Before he died the late Don Hubbard took readings with an itty bitty combo thermometer and barometer. don't know where he got it.

The regs say that the permanent hospitals were supposed to be gathering meteorological data, not necessarily field hospitals (since they are on the move and have constant changes in schedules).

I would be looking more for doing this at Living Histories especially where they are fixed facilities. Portraying a Regular Army Surgeon I think it might be on the lines of old habits. I have a LH coming up at City Point VA coming up that I would like to show this aspect of the job to the public. I have always found it neato .

07-04-2008, 05:46 PM
I'll save you the trouble of recording the weather.

Friday evening: Hot, humid, clear. Winds sort of blow, and when they do they bring with them the fragrance of a pulp mill.

Saturday: f'ing hot Highs close to triple digits. clear. Wicked humid.

Sunday: see above.

don't eat heavy then go into the heat.

Have fun.

07-08-2008, 11:39 PM
I'll look around at work tomorrow. We have a NOAA weather museum in the building and I'm sure they would know what period items they have. We store all the old existing weather records, so I'll dig up an example.

07-08-2008, 11:56 PM
Here's something I posted on Noah's Love & Laudanum medical group in answer to the question. Not really an answer, actually, but might be some starting clues:

On the topic of weather instruments, this ( il+war%22+surgeon&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us) page says "In 1843, Army field surgeons were provided thermometers manufactured by George Tagliabue, a New York City manufacturer of scientific instruments."

From a google search, looks like various first names are attached to Tagliabue, but the company was in business and still getting government contracts post-war, so they might have had a contract during the war as well, for the north of course. This page (http://www.monitorcenter.org/preserving/artifactofmonth/) shows a Tagliabue thermometer recovered from the U.S.S. Monitor.

A google search shows plenty of pictures of period thermometers and barometers, but they mostly seem to be naval ones, though I don't know if the same kinds were used on land. Surely there's an antique weather instrument collector's site that could tell more about what typical instruments would have looked like in the period, for land use.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net (hanktrent@voyager.net)

01-23-2011, 07:34 AM
I had meant to post this in connection with research I was doing for To Prevent The Effusion of Blood and also wanted to jump start this board since it's been quiet for some time . . .

If anyone is interested in learning more about the meterological reporting duties of U.S. medical officers, at least during the pre-war period, to get a sense of how/where/when it was done, I'd recommend the following resources:

A very good discussion of weather observations at Fort Marcy, including a description of the instruments in use:


The Surgeon's General Office published compliations of meteorlogical data in a series of registers. For example, here is the register for 1843-1854, which mentions the thermometer cited by Hank, above, and has a nice summary of the history of weather observations within the medical department, in additon to the raw data:


A good book, which discusses the history and evolution of the medical department is The Army Medical Department 1818-1865 by Mary Gillet.

And, of course, the Army Regulations, which describe the obligations of army surgeons posted to "military stations"; here are the regs from 1861:


By the way, one interesting fact encountered during my To Prevent the Effusion of Blood event, which is relevant to this thread, is that many of the regular army's surgeons were inquisitive, science-oriented men who were deeply interested in the natural sciences. At the time (pre-war), giving the medical department metereological responsibilities made sense. Some post surgeons stationed in the frontier acted as science officers when they accompanied expeditions in the field. (Read about Assistant Surgeon Crawford of Ft. Moultrie/Fort Sumter fame - he explored Mexico in the 1850s and ).

I haven't encountered much information about the extent to which U.S. medical officers continued to keep weather data as the war progressed. Noah is right that such record-keeping obligations fell to officers at "military stations" - it would be interesting to see what, reports, if any, were being sent to the Surgeon General's office from 1862-1865. Perhaps the Medical and Surgical History can shed some light.

I was going to incorporate weather data and location establishment into my portrayal of Crawford at To Prevent The Effusion of Blood but I coudn't find period correct instruments.

Hope this is all helpful as additonal background information. It's an interesting area but probably better suited to a pre-war/early war/frontier impression.


Thomas Federico
Atlanta, Georgia

01-23-2011, 01:34 PM
http://www.longcamp.com/baro.html This page discusses the Bunten siphon barometer and how impractical it is in the field.