Physician's Book Describing Civil War Soldiers' Injuries and Medical Examinations

Twenty pages of handwritten notations describing the medical conditions and examinations of approximately 70 Civil War soldiers. Notes are appended to the end of the 1852 medical textbook titled "Index Rerum: Or Index of Subjects; Intended as a Manual, to Aid the Student and the Professional Man, In Preparing Himself for Usefulness." Book measures 8.25 x 10.5 in. 

While there is no owner identification within the book itself, the consignor relates that the book is believed to have belonged to Dr. John Wilson Wishart (1829-1902) of Washington County and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Wishart was the son of a physician. Following college he studied medicine under his father and at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1851. On 9/12/1862 Wishart enlisted and was commissioned into Field & Staff 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry where he served as an assistant surgeon. He was promoted to surgeon on 10/25/1862. The PA 140th served in the Eastern Theater consistently participating in major engagements including Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Cold Harbor. The regiment endured some of the highest losses of any regiment during the war. 

This record book, which spans 1863-1866, contains entries that are generally formatted in a consistent manner. The name of the soldier, rank, regiment, and nature of injury are always included, and sometimes additional information such as discharge date and location (if applicable), and date of the follow-up examination are listed as well. It appears that Wishart's examinations were conducted to ascertain the degree of disability for each soldier indicating it with notations such as "1/2," "3/4," "total," and/or "permanent." Many of the soldiers who are listed in the book are from the 140th, but other regiments are represented as well including the 1st VA Cavalry and the USCT. The exact hospital in which Wishart practiced is unclear. During the course of the war there were approximately two dozen General Hospitals operating in the Department of Washington, DC, yet Wishart's initial entry reads simply "Washington March 16th / 63." A typical entry reads as follows: [in the left margin] "Robert Birch/ Private in Comp / D. 140 Reg / Pa Vol / Gunshot Wound / Feb 11th 64 / 3/4 " then "Gunshot wounds at Gettysburg July 2nd 1863. Musket Ball between the metacarp bones of left hand carrying away the four finger ... / Musket ball in the right Tibia above the centre of the shaft, scaling off bone, and fragment of shell sticking over the spine in the lumbar region...Three fourths disabled." Records indicate that Wishart mustered out at Washington, DC on 5/31/1865 though his entries continue through November 2, 1866.


Book intact and good condition given age and wear. All text legible.

Estimate: $500 - $1,000
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