No. 5 Field Case Surgical Set

No. 5 Field Case Surgical Set

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The case is made of rosewood with brass trim, and has two sliding brass closures. The interior is lined with purple velvet material. It has four molded sections including two trays which lift out of the case for the 44 instruments.
The case contains the typical assortment of surgical instruments, mainly knives and bone forceps for the amputation of limbs, fingers and toes. The instruments include: four large amputation knives, seven smaller knives and a hook, a trocar and cannula, a trephine and handle a tourniquet, artery forceps and two retractors. The tray at the top contains two saws, bone forceps, tweezers, a chisel and a bullet forceps. The long graduated curved instruments in the bottom tray are urethral sounds for the detection of bladder and kidney stones.
Damage from a minnie ball to an arm or a leg could be extensive, creating gaping holes, shattering bones, and tearing muscles. Over 250,000 wounds from bullets and almost 30,000 amputations were recorded during four years of war. It was often more prudent to amputate the limb before infection set in.
Interestingly the case also contains eleven rare admittance cards from the Medical College of Ohio. They are made out to John B. Cline of Bentonville, Indiana for the years 1850-1851 and 1852-1853. At this time medical school was only a two year program. Students wishing to become doctors would purchase admittance cards directly from each member of the faculty. Also included in the case is a hand-written letter dated February 26th, 1853 to J. B. Cline from L. M. Lawson, dean of the Medical School informing him of the successful completion of his medical studies. Medical courses at the time included lectures on chemistry and pharmacy, obstetrics, and the Diseases of Women and Children. The Medical College of Ohio was established about 1819, and eventually is absorbed by the University of Cincinnati in 1896.
According to the donor the set came into the possession of his father, Dr. George Osler of Cincinnati, Ohio about 1946 when he bought up the practice of a Dr. Perrin. John B. Cline was born in France September 8, 1826 and died December 4, 1899 in Perin’s Mills, Ohio. He was married to Martha Ann Perin (1832-1912). Thus the connection to the Dr. Perrin whose practice was sold to the donor’s father. The Records of the Association of Acting Surgeons of the United States Army 1891, notes that Dr. Cline was appointed acting assistant surgeon in 1862, and served on the hospital staff in Dennison and Cumberland General Hospitals. He mustered out May 31, 1864.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surgical set
Other Terms
surgical set; Surgical Set
date made
associated dates
issuing authority
United States Army
company owner
Tiemann, George
George Tiemann & Company
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
gold (overall color)
rosewood (overall material)
velvet (overall material)
ebony (overall material)
steel (overall material)
purple (overall color)
black (overall color)
red (overall color)
container: 10.6 cm x 42.8 cm x 18.2 cm; 4 3/16 in x 16 7/8 in x 7 3/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
George E. and Leora M. Osler
Civil War
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Government, Politics, and Reform
Civil War Surgical Sets
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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