Naval Surgeon is the colorful private journal of Samuel Pellman Boyer who in 1862, at the age of twenty-three, entered the Navy as a volunteer officer shortly after his graduation from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. His story stands almost alone as a firsthand description of life in the fleet during the Civil War.
Acting Assistant Surgeon Boyer had only a limited view of the Civil War. He wrote for the most part not of the great flow of events but of the things he did, the cases he treated (including some very valuable observations on naval medicine of the time), the places he saw, the people he met, the books and articles he read, the letters and papers he received, and the food he ate. The rich details of his journal provide a wealth of information about the management and supply of the blockading squadrons, the life of the officers and men, their political opinions, treatment of contrabands, and a host of other items. Valuable background data to the diary is furnished by the editors, who also provide extensive notes.