Surgical Set

Description (Brief)
This amputation set belonged to Lt. Col. William Irvin Wolfley, Surgeon in Chief of the 62nd Ohio Infantry. Dr. Wolfley was attached to DeRussey's Division of the Army of the Potomac, and was in charge of the convalescent camps along the Potomac from Chain Bridge to Alexandria, Virginia.
This set has sixty instruments, the majority of which were manufactured by Jacob H. Gemrig of Philadelphia. Twelve instruments made by Otto & Reynders whose shop was at 64 Chatham Street in New York City, and one by Codman and Shurtleff of Boston, Massachusetts. Sets containing different instruments from different manufacturers was common. If an instrument broke or was lost it was simply replaced.
The case is made of rosewood and has an oval brass medallion on the lid engraved “U.S.A./Medical Department” It comprises four compartments lined in red velvet, the first of which includes four large amputations knives, two retractors, artery forceps, tweezers and a tongue tie. The second tray has seven small knives, a hook, two pair of scissors, two saws, a straight trocar and cannula, a chisel, and bullet forceps. The third compartment holds a capitol saw, a trephine and wooden handle, two pair of bone forceps, silver and rubber ophthalmic probes and two thumb lancets with tortoise shell handles. The lower compartment contains graduated urethral sounds, a double-ended probe, one needle with an ebony handle, and catheters.
The surgical set was donated by Wolfley’s daughters through Mr. Thomas J. Shannon, a museum guard at the Smithsonian and son-in-law to Dr. Wolfley. Subsequent donations of material related to Dr. Wolfley included a copy of The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare,, a microscope, and a medical officer's green sash.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surgical set
Gemrig, Jacob H.
Physical Description
rosewood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
velvet (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 11.4 cm x 42.4 cm x 16.3 cm; 4 1/2 in x 16 11/16 in x 6 7/16 in
overall, open: 2 in x 16 3/4 in x 13 in; 5.11175 cm x 42.545 cm x 33.02 cm
overall, closed: 4 1/4 in x 16 3/4 in x 6 1/2 in; 10.795 cm x 42.545 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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
Credit Line
Mrs. Elizabeth Wolfley, Mrs. Eleanor Wolfley Bisell, Mrs. Caroline Wolfley Shannon and Mrs. Elizabeth Wolfley Harmen.

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