Charles Oleson surgical kit, ca. 1863


Charles W. Oleson of Portland was 20 years old when he enlisted in the 1st Maine Mounted Artillery in 1862 as a private. He was promoted to hospital steward, and in 1863 became an assistant surgeon in the 14th U.S. Colored Troops.

He was the battlefield surgeon at the Battle of Chattanooga in November 1863 -- where he used this surgical kit. After the war, Oleson went to Harvard Medical School.

The case holds five knives, a double-edged knife, a surgical saw, scalpels, tweezers, scissors, and other small instruments.

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