SCARCE MEDICAL STAFF CAPTAIN’S SHOULDER STRAPS

$2,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 142-74

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An original set of Civil War shoulder straps for a captain of the medical staff, which covered the surgeons and assistant surgeons attached to units in the field, serving under fire at front line medical stations and field hospitals, as well as general hospitals, etc. These are in good condition, with bullion embroidered borders and rank bars bordered with jaceron wire with “M.S.” in Old English on black background, the regulation color for the various branches of service falling under the general heading of “staff.”

This set is of typical Civil War construction with the sides folded under and sewn down, creating an open back that would be concealed when sewn to the uniform. The bullion has oxidized uniformly to a muted silver gray. There is only one small light mark on one of the captain’s bars and one small pencil point moth nip above the “S” on the other strap. The reverse shows the web underlay of the strap. The folded edges shows scattered moth damage, which is not visible from the top. The straps were clearly on a uniform at one point and worn in service.

The rank is scarce for medical staff. Assistant surgeons ranked as first lieutenants and surgeons as majors, both wearing the appropriate rank insignia with the Old English “MS” on their shoulder straps. During the Civil War a promotion from assistant surgeon to surgeon might come along rather quickly, but in the prewar regular army things moved slower and the army thus instituted a practice whereby assistant surgeons with five years of service would still be considered assistant surgeons, but would rank as captains until a vacancy opened up. Period photographs showing medical staff officers with captain’s bars are scarce, but indicate some states carried over the practice, allowing prewar militia service to count toward rank.

This is a very nice set of scarce shoulder straps that would enhance a medical display or Civil War insignia collection.  [SR]

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