Surgical Set

Description (Brief)
The original owner of this surgical set was Jacob S. Dungan, a surgeon in the U.S. Navy. The Navy Register of 1852 lists Dungan aboard the Steamer Vixon, in 1847, at which point he had been in the service for ten months in the Gulf of Mexico during the war with Mexico. Dungan subsequently served aboard numerous ships including the Sloop Portsmouth out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire during the American Civil War. In 1864 Dungan was assigned to the Naval Asylum in Philadelphia at which time he may have procured his surgical set. By 1869, he was a resident of the State of California. 1886-7 is the last time his name appears in the Navy Register.
The function of this surgical set is for the amputation of limbs. It contains Liston and Catlin knives, bone forceps, a tourniquet, several saws and a universal handle with four interchangeable bone drills. The case is made of rosewood and has brass fittings. The exterior lid has an inlaid rectangular brass plaque which reads "Jacob S. Dungan, U.S.N. 1864". Every instrument has its place in the molded interior which is lined in red velvet. The case has two main compartments and two instrument trays. The trays are also lined with red velvet and have leather tabs at each end of the tray. During the Civil War the United States Army contracted with several surgical instrument makers, including Jacob Gemrig to provide surgical sets for the Union troops.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surgical set
date made
Dungan, Jacob S.
Gemrig, Jacob H.
Physical Description
rosewood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
velvet (overall material)
leather (overall material)
ebony (overall material)
overall: 5 1/2 in x 17 in x 6 1/2 in; 13.97 cm x 43.18 cm x 16.51 cm
overall: 4 1/4 in x 16 3/4 in x 6 3/8 in; 10.795 cm x 42.545 cm x 16.1925 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Surgical instruments
Health & Medicine
Civil War Surgical Sets
Civil War
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Civil War Surgical Sets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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