Samuel Sharp of Cheselden, England was Osborn’s “literary master” in surgery during his apprenticeship and subsequent practicum years. His most important book for Osborn was Treatise on the Operations of Surgery published in London in 1739. Samuel Sharp is known for developing an operation used to open the cornea. He makes metnion of the use of Gum Arabic as a styptic used to stop bleeding after certain surgical procedures.
Osborn’s reference to Sharp supports the conclusion that Osborn most likely learned surgery. By familiarizing himself with Sharp’s writings or through his apprenticeship and post-apprenticeship experience, we have better insight into how and why he was able to serve in the Revolutionary War as a “Surgeon”. This was not a easy position for Osborn to be eligible for, which he had to pass an oral test of his skills for directed by one of the most important local medical leaders for this time, Samuel Bard. Osborn’s subsequent inclusion in the Revolutionary War hospital staff by Samuel Bard suggests that Bard felt that Osborn was trained enough in surgery and medicine to serve in the local military hospital setting. Even though there is limited evidence for Osborn’s ability to practice surgery or given many instructions on such a skill in his vade mecum, we know that he had at least the basic knowledge and experience required of a field surgeon. His experience was somewhat limited perhaps, but enough to be recruited for such a task.
An important contribution to this biographical information was provided by colleague Margaret DeLacy of Portland, Oregon, around 1990.
Samuel Sharp’s book can be accessed at: http://maass.nyu.edu/resources/r1/lesson_plans/health.html