Lot 357

Superb Confederate Surgical Kit for Staff Surgeon, Rutledge’s 4th Regiment Cavalry, Likely Battle-Used

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Superb Confederate Surgical Kit for Staff Surgeon, Rutledge’s 4th Regiment Cavalry, Likely Battle-Used

Estimate: $6,000 - $7,000

Starting Bid: $2,000

(0 Bids)

June 26, 2024 10:00 AM EDT
Live Auction
Wilton, CT, US


Thomas S. Hemingway
n.p., n.d.
Superb Confederate Surgical Kit for Staff Surgeon, Rutledge's 4th Regiment Cavalry, Likely Battle-Used
An incredible rarity! A nearly-intact Confederate surgical kit owned by and very likely used on the field by Thomas Stark Hemingway (1835-1910), staff surgeon in the 4th Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry. Hemingway's division saw the heaviest casualties of all of the eight South Carolina cavalry units, with 260 men wounded and killed in action. In fact, the unit contained less than 200 men when it surrendered with the Army of the Tennessee at the end of the war. It is thus highly likely that Hemingway would have treated his men on the field with this very kit!

This high-quality set was made by the renowned manufacturer H. Windler of Berlin, one of the most respected medical equipment makers during the 19th century. It consists of over 60 steel instruments, most with ebony handles, including all types of saws, scalpels, retractors, clamps, tubes, probes, a trepanning saw, tweezers, and syringes. It even contains a 1" ball of period woolen felt! The incredibly high-quality implements are housed in a 21" x 11.5" x 4" tall black linen-bound, fitted case with brass corner protectors, lined with purple felt and bearing Hemingway's brass plaque on the cover. The kit is remarkably complete, with just a few minor items missing. The case is cleverly fitted in the interior with a velvet-lined hinged cover with button lock, which prevents instruments from falling out when the case is opened. It is fitted with a lock (no key present) and closes with two hooks, one of which is missing. A brass plate affixed to the top lid reads: "T. S. Hemingway Surgeon". Overall very good to fine condition with less than five tools missing.

Thomas S. Hemingway (1835-1910) hailed from the Williamsburg District of South Carolina. Following his graduation from The Citadel, he attended the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, Charleston. On May 6, 1861, Hemingway mustered into service as Surgeon and First Lieutenant, 4 Squadron SC Cavalry, SC Vols. company "B," also known as the "Williamsburg Light Dragoons." It was designated initially as the 12th SC Battalion Cavalry and consolidated with the 10th South Carolina Battalion on December 16, 1862; then redesignated as the 4th Squadron South Carolina Cavalry in January, 1863.

When formed, the 4th was commanded by Col. B. Huber Rutledge, and served in the 1st Military District of South Carolina under P. G. T. Beauregard. The 4th was then attached to General Matthew Butler's Brigade, which served under General Wade Hampton's division of cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia. It saw heavy action at Haw's Shop, Matadequin Creek and Trevillion Station. In 1865, the 4th SC Cavalry and all of Hampton's Division were detached from the Army of Northern Virginia and transferred south to the Department of Tennessee and Georgia under General William J. Hardee and was under the Cavalry Command of Lieutenant General Hampton. Following the fall of Columbia, South Carolina, the unit, along with the entire Cavalry Command, were transferred to the Army of Tennessee under General Joseph Johnston, where they fought in the final actions in the Carolinas Campaign the spring of 1865, surrendering with the Army of the Tennessee with less than 200 men.

The H. Windler surgical equipment company of Berlin, was established in 1819, thus was active during the Civil War. Surgical kits this extensive, especially when associated with a Confederate surgeon whose unit saw heavy action, almost never come to market.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


  • 21" x 11.5"
  • Artist Name:
  • Thomas S. Hemingway
  • Medium:
  • Relic

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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000