Original Civil War surgeon’s amputation field kit attributed to Dr. Abraham Stout of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The kit consists of a handsome wooden 14.75 x 4.25 x 3 case with inlaid brass, containing seven instruments inside including an amputation saw, bone nippers, surgical scalpel, surgical tenaculum, and three different types of knives, plus a tourniquet. All instruments feature ebony handles and have maker’s marks from Gemrig of Philadelphia, a major supplier of surgical sets and instruments to the US Army during the Civil War. Also includes a Civil War bullet with teeth marks, as they were used when anesthesia was not available; hence the modern term ‘bite the bullet.’ In overall fine, well-used condition. Accompanied by a large packet of research material on Dr. Stout.
The kit was originally obtained from a Dr. Johnson of Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, who began practicing medicine in Pen Argyl in the 1870s and had then received the kit ‘from the doctor who served in our county Civil War regiment.’ The only all-Northampton County Civil War regiment was the 153rd PVI, a 9–month unit that fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Of the three surgeons that served in the regiment, Dr. Abraham Stout is apparently the only individual that could have given the kit to Johnson, as the other two died prior to 1870.
Dr. Stout was taken prisoner by Confederate troops at Gettysburg and was put in charge of a makeshift battlefield hospital set up at the German Reformed Church, where he treated both Union and Confederate soldiers. There Dr. Stout witnessed the brutality of war first hand. Of this church a wounded man, Reuben Ruch, wrote, ‘I found the church full...I should call it a slaughter house. There must have been 10 to 12 amputation tables in one room...The doctors had their sleeves rolled up...and were covered with blood.’ Overall this is a superb example of a Civil War surgeon’s field kit considerably enhanced by its association with a significant Gettysburg doctor.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.