MEDICAL DIRECTOR JOHN COCHRAN
Toward the end of the year 1780 Congress became
satisfied that further improvements could be made in the organization
of the Hospital Department, and instructed the Medical Committee to-
“revise the several resolutions passed respecting
the Hospital Department, and to digest and arrange them, with such
amendments, as may make the whole consistent with, and conformable to
the alterations made by Congress in the original system; and to report
the same to Congress.”
The committee reported on September 30th. The
resolutions passed on October 6, 1780, presumably the work largely of
Dr. John Cochran,1 are voluminous and cover the whole field
of action of the medical department. The departments were abolished,
with their separate hierarchies, and all authority concentrated in one
medical director, with three assistants who could be assigned to any
army or place. The principal officials under this act were:-
1 Director of the Military Hospitals; stationed at
1 Chief Physician and Surgeon of the Army.
3 Chief Physician and Surgeon of the Hospitals, at
1 Purveyor, and assistants, with clerks.
1 Apothecary and five assistants.
15 Hospital physicians and surgeons.
Returns were to be made to Congress each month. A
clause giving half pay to medical officers, at the end of the war, as
to all other officers, was stricken out.
The principal hospitals at this time were at the
New Windsor huts, near West
Point, now Newburg.
Robinson’s House, across Hudson,
from West Point.
West Point Barracks.
Morristown, New Jersey.
Albany, N. Y.
Yellow Springs, southwest of
Valley Forge, Pa.
Trenton, Now Jersey.
A “flying hospital,” i. e., a field hospital, was to accompany the
army. As Dr. Shippen had generally found comfortable quarters in some
city, the director was required to remain with the army, as was his
The department having been reorganized, a new set of
officers was in order. On September 19th General Washington had written
a letter to a member of Congress, giving his estimate of a number of
the medical officers of the army.
“Headquarters, Bergen County,
September 9th, 1780.
I have heard that a new arrangement is about to take
place in the medical department; and that it is likely to be a good
deal curtailed, in respect to many of its present appointments. Who
will be the persons generally employed, I do not know, nor do I wish to
know. However, I will mention to you, that I think Doctor Cochran and
Doctor Craik for their services, abilities, experience and close
attention, have the greatest claim to their country’s notice, and are
among the first officers in the establishment. Doctors Latimer, Tilton,
Hagan and Townshend, who are now senior surgeons, are also gentlemen of
great merit, and have a just claim to be continued, from their
abilities, attention, and other considerations. They are all single
men, and therefore, being otherwise well qualified, are the most
eligible. I have received also the most favorable reports, of the
merits and attention of Doctor Jenifer, a junior surgeon, who is in the
same situation. Dr. Craigie, the present Apothecary General, a
gentleman not personally known to me, has been reported as very
deserving of the appointment. The several gentlemen I have
mentioned, as I have observed, appear to me to have the greatest
pretensions to the public esteem; and if they are honored with proper
places, I am satisfied the public will be greatly benefitted by their
services. The reason of my mentioning these particularly, proceeds from
a hint given me, that the new arrangement might be influenced by a
spirit of party out of doors, which would not operate in their favor.”
The election of officers took place on October 6th,
with the following choice of aspirants:
Director General—Dr. William Shippen, Pa.
Chief Physician and Surgeon—Dr. John Cochran, N. J.1
Chief Hospital physicians—Dr. James Craik, Md.2 ; Dr. James Treat, N. Y.; Dr. Charles McKnight, N. Y.3
Purveyor—Thomas Bond, Jr., Pa.
Asst. Purveyor—Isaac Ledyard, N. Y.
Apothecary—Dr. Andrew Craigie, Mass,
Hospital physician and surgeon—
Dr. James Tilton, Del.
Samuel Adams, Mass.
David Townshend. Mass.
Henry Latimer, Mass.
Francis Hagan, N. Y.
Philip Turner, Mass.
William Burnet, N. J.
John Warren, Mass.
Moses Scott, N. J.
David Jackson, Pa.
Bodo Otto, Pa.
Moses Bloomfield, N. J.
William Eustis, Mass.
George Draner, N. J.
Barnabas Binney, Mass.
Dr. James Craik
Some heretofore prominent names are missing from
this list: Dr. Jonathan Potts, who had been deputy director in two
departments; Dr. Isaac Foster,4 a surgeon since Lexington;
Dr. Ammi R. Cutter, Dr. Josiah Bartlett,5 and others of less
renown. Dr. William Rickman, who had been medical director in Virginia,
was also informed that he had been left out of the new organization.
On January 3, 1781, Dr. Shippen asked leave to
resign, and his resignation was accepted. On January 11th Congress
proceeded to the election of his successor. The following were
Dr. J. Cochran—by J. M. Varnum.
Doctor Brown—by Joseph Montgomery.
Doctor James Craik—by Abraham
On Jan. 13,
Doctor J. Morgan—by George Walton.
On January 17th the matter came to a vote, and Dr.
Cochran was elected. Soon afterwards (March 3) Dr. James Craik was
elected to succeed Cochran, and on March 5th Dr. William Burnet,
nominated by John Witherspoon, was elected to succeed Dr. Craik as
chief hospital physician.
As the new hospital plan made no provision for
officers of the department after leaving the service, and as all other
officers had been provided for, they were at length conceded by
Congress to have a just claim; and on January 17th it was
RESOLVED: That all officers in the hospital department, and medical
staff hereinafter mentioned, who shall continue in service to the end
of the war, or be reduced before that time as supernumaries, shall be
entitled to, and receive, during life, in lieu of half pay, the
following allowance, viz.
The director of the hospital, equal to the half pay
of a lieutenant colonel. Chief P. & S. of the army and hospitals
[each equal to the half pay of a major] and hospital physicians and
surgeons, purveyor, apothecary, and regimental surgeons, each equal to
the half pay of a captain: [and regimental mates each equal to the half
pay of a lieutenant.]
That there be allowed to the purveyor, apothecary,
and assistant purveyors, each, forage for one horse.
* * *
* * * *
That the Director, Chief Physicians of the Army and
hospitals, and other Physicians and officers in the hospital
department, as well as those lately dismissed from the service, or
those reappointed in the last arrangement who were in office between
the first day of September, 1777, and the 30th day of September last,
shall have the depreciation of money made good to them on their pay for
such part of the above mentioned time as they were actually employed in
the public service.
This belated act of justice tended in some slight
degree to establish the fact that medical officers had the rights of
certain rank even if they did not have the rank itself. It was a step
On March 27th, 1781, Congress extended the
provisions of the medical act so as to include the southern colonies;
ed a deputy director to have general charge of the hospitals there. The
South Carolina delegation made efforts to have a separate establishment
of their own, but failed by a vote of twenty-two to three. The officers
elected under this resolution were:
Deputy Director—Dr. David
Oliphant, S. C.
Deputy Purveyor—Dr. N. Brownson,
Chief Hospital Physician—Dr.
Peter Fasseux, France.
Chief Physician of the Army—Dr.
James Brown, S.C.
Hospital Physicians—Dr. Robert
Johnson, S. C.
Dr. William Reed, S. C.
Dr. Thomas T. Tucker.
Dr. Joseph Vickars.
The Medical Committee of Congress, which hitherto
had had charge of all medical matters in that body, went out of
existence on May 28, 1780, its functions being taken over by the Board
Dr. John Cochran, the last and most fortunate of the
four medical directors of the army during the American Revolution, was
of Scottish descent, born in Pennsylvania, but a citizen of New Jersey
at the time. He had studied medicine under Dr. Thompson of Lancaster,
and was practicing at Brunswick, New Jersey, when the war began. He was
assistant director of the Flying Camp in 1776, surgeon general of the
Middle Department in 1777, the chief physician and surgeon of the army
in 1780, and became medical director on the resignation of Dr. Shippen,
January 3, 1781. The last appointment was due to the letter of
Washington and as a recognition of his marked abilities and faithful
service. He had military experience even before the Revolution, having
served as a surgeon's mate in the British army during the old French
Despite the fate of his three predecessors, all
dismissed or forced to resign, he entered upon the duties of his office
under happy auspices, and served with satisfaction to the end of the
war. He was especially fortunate in having for his second in rank, not
a scheming self seeker, but a fellow countryman of his own, a friend of
sterling character whom he had recommended to Congress for the first
place; a loyal and patriotic gentleman, Dr. James Craik. Both were
Scots, both highly esteemed and
recommended by Washington, both of the first ability, and both above
suspicion of profiting or self seeking.
The standing of Dr. Cochran with the General may be
understood by a little known letter of Washington, written to Dr.
Cochran in 1779. As the home of the Doctor in Brunswick had been burned
by the British troops, Mrs. Cochran spent much of her time either with
her husband at Headquarters, or at Livingston Manor, (near Tivoli) the
house of her daughter Cornelia (by her first husband), wife of Walter
Livingston. Washington, in spite of his preference for single men in
the army, liked to have ladies in the camp, and had invited Mrs.
Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to partake of his fare at Headquarters in
the camp near West Point. To Dr. Cochran he wrote the following letter,
which lets us see him in a character somewhat different from the
supernaturally grave and stately one in which he is almost without
West Point, August 16, 1779.
I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to
dine with us tomorrow, but ought I not to apprise you of their fare? As
I hate deception, even when imagination is concerned, I will.
It is needless to promise that my table is large
enough to hold the ladies. Of this they had ocular demonstration
yesterday. To say how it is usually covered is rather more essential,
and this shall be the purport of my letter.
Since my arrival at this happy spot, we have had a
ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon to grace the head of the table. A
piece of roast beef adorns the foot, and a small dish of green
beans—almost imperceptible—decorates the center. When the cook has a
mind to cut a figure, and this I presume he will attempt tomorrow, we
have two beefsteak pies, or dishes of crabs in addition, one on each
side of the center dish, dividing the space, and reducing the distance
between dish and dish to about six feet, which without them would be
nearly twelve apart. Of late he has had the surprising luck to discover
that apples will make pies; and it is a question if, amidst the
violence of his efforts, we do not get one of apples, instead of having
both of beef.
If the ladies can put up with such entertainment,
and submit to partake of it on plates once tin, but now iron, not
become so by the labours of scouring, I shall be happy to see them.
Dear Sir, Yours
To return to more strictly military affairs. The
main army was now inactive in the camps about West Point. Hospitals
were in general better supplied and maintained than previously, but
money was still scarce and of little purchasing power. Dr. Cochran had
been at the terrible camps at Valley Forge and Morristown and knew how
to profit by his experience. He preferred to spend the greater part of
his time in the field, but visited Congress occasionally to state his
views to the Board of War. Extracts from some of his letters will make
clear his mental attitude in dealing with the many difficulties of
On March 16th he wrote to Dr. George Campbell:
“whether my present station will contribute to my
future happiness time only may discover. But if I have no better
success than my predecessor, my lot must be unfortunate indeed. A
determined resolution to conform to the rules of right, and the support
which I have now some reason to expect from every gentleman of the
department, will, I hope, protect me against the malevolence of my
enemies, if I have any. I say if I have any, for sure I am that I never
put a thorn in any honest man's breast.”
His first and main difficulties were not with men
but in securing money and supplies for the hospitals. On February 28th
he wrote to Dr. Thomas W. Morris, from New Windsor:
“The want of necessary stores for our hospitals
offers a gloomy prospect.” On the same day he wrote to Abram Clark,
chairman of the Medical Committee of Congress: “We have few deaths yet.
The poor fellows suffer for want of necessary supplies, which I hope
soon well be afforded them. Otherwise there will be little
encouragement for physicians and surgeons.”
While Congress had appropriated money for the
medical department rather freely a few years earlier, it had now grown
more economical. During the whole year of 1780, $431,900 had been
allotted to that department. But the principal part of this sum,
$376,900, had been expended by Dr. Jonathan Potts and Dr. Isaac Foster
early in the year. The new administration had received but little. The
only appropriations I can find for this period were four thousand on
November 6th and fifteen thousand on December 8th, 1780. On February
24th, 1781 forty
thousand dollars was allotted for part pay of medical officers; and on
April 12th and 13th, twenty-five thousand to the Southern Department;
then no money until July 11th. Vastly greater sums were expended in
1779 and 1780.
A letter of 1780 pictures his earlier difficulties.
Morristown, N. J. March 18, 1780.
To Dr. Jonathan Potts.
Dear Sir: I received your favor by Dr. Bond, and am
extremely sorry for the present situation of the hospital finances. Our
stores have all been expended for two weeks past, and not less than 600
regimental sick and lame, most of whom require some assistance, which
being withheld, are languishing and must suffer.
I flatter myself you have no blame in this matter,
but curse on him by whom this evil is produced. The vengance of an
offended Deity must overtake the miscreants, sooner or later. It
grieves my soul to see the poor, worthy fellows pine away for want of a
few comforts, which they have dearly earned.
I shall wait on his Excellency, the Commander in
Chief, and represent our situation, but am persuaded it can have little
effect, for what can he do? He may refer the matter to Congress, they
to the Medical Committee, who will probably powwow over it awhile, and
no more is heard of it. The few stores sent on by Dr. Bond in your
absence are not yet arrived, I suppose owing to the badness of the
roads. If they come they will give us some relief for a few weeks.
Compliments to all friends, and believe me, Dear
Sir, yours very sincerely,
Next year affairs were in a better state.
On March 25th, 1781 Dr. Cochran wrote to Dr. Thomas
Bond, the army purveyor, at Philadelphia:
“I was favored with yours of the 20th February,
about fifteen days ago, on my way to Albany, which accounts for my not
answering you until now—as I only returned last night. I am sorry to
inform you that I found that hospital entirely destitute of all kinds
of stores, except a little vinegar, which was good for nothing—and
frequently without bread or beef for many days— so that the doctor,
under these circumstances, was obliged to permit such of the patients
as could walk into town to beg provisions among the inhabitants. * * *
* * * * * * * I pity your distressed condition on the score of money,
and unless a sufficiency can be procured at the opening of the
campaign, we are undone.”
The spectacle of patients begging food on the
streets is a sad one. Bandages and dressings were obtained in the same
manner. On July 26th he wrote from Dobb’s Ferry to Dr. Bond at Norwich:
“Could you not, by advertisement, be able to procure
a quantity of old linen from the good ladies of your city—I was obliged
after the last skirmish, when fifty men were wounded, to give every
sheet I had in the world, but two, to make lint.”
On April 30th he wrote from New Windsor to Abram
“I have not the originals (hospital returns), not
having paper enough to transcribe them into form. Several of the
Hospital physicians have not paper sufficient to make out the necessary
Hospital returns; therefore are obliged to omit them.”
On April 20 he had written again to Abram Clark:
“I have from all quarters the most melancholy
complaints of the sufferings of the sick in the hospitals, for want of
stores and necessaries, that you can conceive, and unless more speedy
remedy is applied the consequences must be very fatal. Dr. Warren, who
has charge of the Boston hospital, represents his situation in a very
distressed condition, and prays most earnestly for relief.”
These letters apparently were of no avail, for on
May 24th he wrote more urgently, and this time addressed the President
of Congress, Samuel Huntington:
“The hospitals are in the utmost distress for want
of the necessaries for the sick. In some of them we have no stores, and
in others the supplies are so trifling and insignificant as to be of
little or no service. I am sensible of the difficulties and
Embarassments of Congress, but also am sensible that unless some speedy
and effective measures are taken to relieve the sick, a number of the
valuable soldiers of the American Army will perish through want of the
necessaries, who would soon be serving their country in the field,
could they be well supplied. The surgeon who has the care of the
Hospital at Boston (Dr. John Warren) writes me that his sick are in
great want, and that he is not in a situation to procure any relief. At
Albany the only article of stores is about sixty gallons of vinegar,
and the sick suffer extremely at times for want of provisions. The
other hospitals are in a similar condition.”
On May 25th Congress considered either this letter
or an earlier one that he had written, and voted to refer it to three
part relating to hospital supplies, to a Medical Committee:
part relating to depreciation of pay, to Board of War.
part relating to postage of letters, to Committee on Post Offices.
No action was taken for months. Finally, on July 11th, the Board of War
reported on the director's letter, and the following sums were
$ 8500 for supplies for the sick.
$16116 for three months pay for officers.
$ 4200 allotted to the stewards of the various
hospitals, to purchase milk, vegetables, &c.
But life was not all troubles in the camps on the
Hudson. On March 26th Cochran wrote to his friend Dr. Craik:
“I am just returned from an eighteen day trip up the
North River to attend Mrs. Washington. We had an agreeable jaunt,
excepting the badness of the roads. But we met with so much hospitality
wherever we went, that compensation was made for the difficulty of
This agreeable jaunt was probably to Livingston
Manor, near Tivoli the seat of Walter Livingston, husband of Dr.
Cochran’s step-daughter Cornelia. At this time Mrs. Washington was also
entertained at Livingston Manor and the ladies there became acquainted.
The entertainment of Mrs. Cochran and daughter by the General has been
The following letter to Abram Clark explains his
difficulty with Dr. Isaac Foster, who had recently resigned.
“I have a letter from Dr. Craigie, our chief
apothecary, now at Boston, informing me that Dr. Foster, the former
Deputy Director to the Eastward, has absolutely refused giving up the
medicines, instruments, & purchased by him for public use, which
deranges us much. There is a quantity of Hospital stores at Windsor and
Danbury in Connecticut, in the same circumstances, which he has refused
also. I have taken a short cut, and by stealing a march on him, may
probably obtain part, if not the whole. It appears very extraordinary
that a public officer, purchasing stores & on public credit, shall,
when out of office, retain large quantities of those articles in his
hands, in pretense that
his accounts are not settled, when perhaps the public owe him nothing,
and the sick are perishing for want of these very stores.”
His “short cut” was to send Dr. Ledyard, assistant
purveyor at Fishkill, to Danbury with instructions to bring away the
stores. But Dr. Ledyard was unable to go—from lack of funds. To use his
own words, he could not raise as much as would “put a hoop on a cask,
or a board in a box if wanting.” On receiving this letter Dr. Cochran
offered himself to be responsible for the expense, and was soon able to
announce that the stores from Danbury had arrived.
The question of filling vacancies in the department,
and of promotions came up at this time. Several physicians and surgeons
had resigned: Doctors Francis Hagan, Moses Scott, David Jackson and
others. On May 24th Dr. Cochran wrote Samuel Huntington:
“There are several vacancies for Hospital Physicians
and Surgeons, occasioned by resignations, and in case we should have an
active campaign the department may suffer for want of a proper number
of assistants. The eldest mates are qualified to fill these places, and
if they could be appointed by Congress with propriety, it would have a
tendency to promote the good of the service.”
By July 4 the number of resignations had increased,
and Dr. Cochran wrote to the Board of War, saying these vacancies
“leave us only eight Hospital physicians and surgeons, out of the
fifteen established by Congress.” As three of these were at Boston,
Philadelphia and Yellow Springs, there remained but five for the whole
army,—a totally inadequate number. He went on to say, “The four eldest
mates, whom I recommended to Congress, are very uneasy, and unless
promoted I have much reason to believe will leave the service soon; and
this together with other mates, who have resigned since my arrival in
camp, will deprive us of a great part of our medical aid.” These
letters do not appear to have received the desired action.
While Dr. Tilton was at this time advocating a
general plan of promotion by seniority, Dr. Cochran said that he did
not favor it.
“I am altogether averse to any regular succession of
promotion of physicians and surgeons in the Hospital Department: for
the situation of the medical gentlemen in our service is very different
from other services. The medical officers in the former (ours) have
been pushed up as occasion required, many of them were not the least
qualified; and I would further observe, particularly in the British
Service, there is no regular succession, but such are generally
promoted in the Hospital Department as are more capable and attentive,
whether from the Regimental Surgeons or Hospital Mates.”
As there was still no action on August 24th, he
again wrote to the Board of War:
“Dr. Marshall (Thomas Marshall of Virginia), one of
our most valuable mates, has resigned within a few days, which will be
followed by several others who have been long in service, and acted
some years in a superior capacity under the old arrangement, and
accepted of mates’ stations with an expectation of promotion. A
favorable opportunity offered to retain these gentlemen in service by
promoting them to the present vacancies, but it appears as if Congress
had forgotten that either Hospitals, sick or wounded had any existence.”
Meanwhile Dr. Tilton was pressing his plan for
promotion by seniority, before the Medical Committee until it passed
out of existence, and then before the War Board. Finally the increasing
number of resignations brought about the adoption of a resolution, on
September 20th, providing for promotions as Tilton recommended.-
That the present vacancies of hospital physicians
and surgeons, be filled up by the senior surgeons of the hospitals
lately deranged, by eldest hospital mates, or regimental surgeons, as
shall be recommended by the director, and chief physician and surgeon
of the army.
That all future vacancies of hospital physicians and
surgeons, be filled by the eldest regimental surgeons and hospital
mates—who shall be reckoned of equal grades—who shall upon examination
be found qualified; and obtain a certificate of recommendation from the
director, and chief physician and surgeon of the army, or of the deputy
director, and chief physician in a separate department.
That the persons requisite to fill the highest
grades in the medical and hospital department, be appointed from time
to time by Congress, according to merit and abilities.
That all surgeons to regiments or corps, not
belonging to the line of any particular state, be nominated by the
director of the hospitals, and the chief physician and surgeon of the
army, subject to the approval of the Commander in Chief; and shall be
equally entitled to promotion to hospital physicians and surgeons with
the regimental surgeons of state lines.”
A curious feature of these resolutions is that
placing hospital surgeons above regimental surgeons in rank, and making
the latter of the same rank as hospital mates. Early in the next year
the regimental surgeons were given a rank below that of hospital
surgeons, but above that of hospital mates. Under the resolution of
September 20th, former mates Goodwin Wilson, Daniel Jenifer, Samuel
Edmondson, and George Campbell were appointed hospital surgeons. Dr.
Joseph Young, a hospital surgeon who had been omitted in the late
reorganization, was restored to his former place.
A small but not negligible difficulty of Dr.
Cochran, and of many officers of the army at that time, was an actual
lack of personal funds. Congress could vote appropriations but had no
power to raise money. Men in the camps were often penniless and their
families in a state of actual want. Indigence extended to all classes.
Soldiers begged for bread, officers for clothing for the sick, who
frequently when recovered could not rejoin their commands because of
lack of clothing in which to travel.
Dr. Cochran wrote to Abram Clark on February 28th:-
“I hope some pay is ordered to be advanced to the
officers of the department, without which it cannot much longer exist.
Many of us have not received a shilling in near two years, nor can we
procure public clothing (from the army supplies).”
On March 26th he wrote to Dr. Craik:
“We are so squeezed for paper that I can only afford
you half a sheet for cover and all.”
On March 25th he wrote to Dr. Peter Luns at Norwich:-
“Several of the Hospital physicians and surgeons
have resigned since the new management took place, owing I believe
principally to their not being able to subsist themselves in the
service, for it is upwards of two years since many of us have re-
ceived a shilling from the continent, and there is as little prospect
now of pay as there was two years ago.”
In order to secure money and stores for his
department, Dr. Cochran made trips to Philadelphia until he was
scarcely able to pay his way there. In a letter he says of a trip urged
on him by Dr. Wilson
“I only wait for the arrival of Dr. Craik to set
out, but I wish my presence could be dispensed with, for I am most
heartily tired of “shuling” my way so often to that place without one
shilling in my pocket.”6
Failure to pay the army was not only worrying
Congress, it was depleting the forces and lowering the morale of both
army and citizens; it was also encouraging news to the British. At
length it was arranged that Congress should draw its warrant, for the
depreciation, on the credit of the state where each officer served.
This brought new complications. The rank and status as officers of the
medical men were not completely recognized. The Legislature of New York
made this aggravating distinction between officers of the line and the
hospital department, and refused to pay the latter. Of this matter Dr.
Cochran wrote to Dr. Bond on July 5th.-
‘The State of New York has refused the warrant in
your favor drawn by Congress, and have refused to comply with the
requisition of Congress for making up the depreciation to the officers
of the medical line. They are most certainly an execrable set of
—. A new Assembly is called, which may probably think better of
the matter, and do justice.”
On July 26th he wrote to Robert Morris from Dobb’s
“For God's sake, help us as soon as you can. Most of our officers have
not received a shilling of pay for upwards of two years.”
When Congress at length issued warrants for the pay
of the army they were of no more value than the continental currency,
and furnished little relief. From Dobb's Ferry Dr. Cochran again wrote
to Dr. Bond the purveyor:
“Am very sorry there is no probability of our
receiving money on the warrants obtained for the use of our department,
the want of which, you may reasonably suppost, has a bad effect, both
with respect to the officers, and the poor, suffering soldiers. who
deserve a better fate.”
Relief came at last when real money—gold—arrived
from France. On September 1st Dr. Cochran wrote to Dr. Bond, from
Headquarters, east side of the Hudson:
“Colonel Lawrence, [Laurens] who passed through camp
last night, on his way to Philadelphia, has put us in good spirits from
the supply of money and everything else requisite, arrived in Boston
from our good and generous ally, in consequence of which I hope we
shall soon be in high Blast.”
While the army was in the Highlands during the
spring there was again a general inoculation for small pox. This took
place immediately after the return from winter quarters. Thatcher has
recorded the story of his regiment (Jackson’s Massachusetts), revealing
that the army at that time was followed by women and children, as are
Mexican armies today. He says
“April 20th. All the soldiers, with the women and
children, who have not had smallpox, are now under inoculation. Of our
regiment one hundred and eighty seven were subjects of the disease. The
old practice, of previous preparation by a course of mercury and low
diet, has not been adopted on this occasion; a single dose of jalap and
calomel, or the extract of butternut, is in general administered,
previous to the appearance of the symptoms. * * * . Some instances have
occurred of putrid fever supervening, either at the first onset, or
near the approach of the secondary stage, and a few cases have
terminated fatally. Many of our patients were improper subjects for the
disease, but we were under the necessity of inoculating all, without
exception. Of five hundred who have been inoculated, four only have
died; but in other instances the proportion of deaths is much more
The following returns made by Dr. Cochran on July
23, 1781, give the various officers of his department, and their
location on that date. A list of the officers of the Southern
Return of the Medical Department.
July 23rd, 1781.
James Craik, Chief P. & S. of Army
with the Army
Malachy Treat, Chief P. & S. of the Hosp.
Charles McKnight, Chief P. & S. of the Hosp New
Windsor huts (Newburg).
William Burnet, Chief P. & S. of the Hosp.
The Robinson House, West Point.
Thomas Bond, Purveyor
Andrew Craigie, Apothecary
J. Ledyard, Asst. Purveyor
— Johnonott, Apothecary
Josiah Root, Asst. mate
Francis Wainwright Asst. mate Fishkill
James Tilton, Hosp. P. & S.
en route to army
Samuel Adams, Hosp. P. & S. New Windsor
David Townsend, Hosp. P. & S. Albany hosp.
Henry Latimer, Hosp. P. & S. Flying
hosp. with the army
Francis Hagan, Hosp. P. & S. Resigned
Philip Turner, Hosp. P. & S.
Wm. Burnet, Hosp. P. & S.
Promoted to Chief P. & S.
John Warren, Hosp. P. & S.
Moses Scott, Hosp. P. & S.
David Jackson, Hosp. P. & S. Resigned
Bodo Otto, Hosp. P. & S.
Yellow Springs, hosp. Pa.
Moses Bloomfield, Hosp. P. & S. Resigned
Wm. Eustis, Hosp. P. & S.
Robinson House Hosp. N. Y.
Geo Draper, Hosp. P. & S.
Flying Hosp. with the army
Barnabas Binney, Hosp. P. & S. Philadelphia
Goodwin Watson, Mate
Samuel Edminston, Mate
Daniel Jenifer, Mate
Geo. Campbell, Mate
John Cowel, Mate
Frederick Otto, Mate
Yellow Springs Hosp. Pa.
Jonathan Morris, Mate
Ebenezer Stockton, Mate New
Windsor huts, Newbury
John Duffield, Mate
Smallpox Hosp., West Point
Henry Moore, Mate
Robinson House Hosp., near West Point
John Wright, Mate
New Windsor huts
Joseph Bartlett, Mate
William Vinal, Mate
Wm. P. Smith, Mate
John Coventry, Mate
New Windsor huts
Daniel Shute, Mate
Flying Hosp. at camp
Jacob Egberts, Mate
Samuel Woodruff, Mate Albany Hosp.
George Stevenson, Mate New Windsor
Abijah Cheever, Mate
Thomas Waring, Mate
New Windsor huts
Thomas Marshal, Mate
Jonathan Porter, Mate
Stephen Graham, Mate New
Michael Detrick, Mate
Wm. Cogswell, Mate
Robinson House Hosp.
Andrew Caldwell, Mate Philadelphia
Thomas Pindan, Mate
There were also employed:
7 ward masters.
about 30 nurses.
a number of orderly men.
This return is signed by Dr. John Cochran.
David Gephart Deputy Director General
Peter Fayssoux Chief Physician of the Hospital
James Browne Chief Physician of the Hospital
Robert Johnston Hospital Physician
William Reed Hospital Physician
1 DR. JOHN COCHRAN.
John Cochran was descended from a long line of
Scottish ancestors of the Clan Dundonald. His immediate family crossed
from Paisley to the north of Ireland in 1570, and came to Pennsylvania
about 1700. He was educated at the Grammar School of Dr. Francis
Allison, and studied medicine with Dr. Thompson of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the French Colonial War he entered
the military service, and served with the Northern Army until the end
of the war. He was with Major Schuyler (afterwards General Schuyler) in
the campaign against Fort Frontenac in 1758. In 1760, he married Mrs.
Gertrude Schuyler, sister of Major Philip Schuyler,
and soon afterwards removed to New Brunswick, New Jersey, practicing
his profession there until 1776. He was one of the founders of the New
Jersey Medical Society in 1766, and in 1769 became its president. In
1776 Washington recommended him for the Hospital Department, and plans
for hospitals (modelled after those of the British Army) prepared by
him and Dr. Shippen were adopted April 11, 1777. Dr. Cochran was
selected as Physician and Surgeon General of the Middle Department at
the same time. While in this position he often saw the wretched
condition of the hospitals, which he was largely powerless to improve.
In January, 1781, he was made Director General of
the Medical Department of the Army. lie wrote letter after letter
reporting the insufficiency of the supplies of food and medicines, with
meager results. Congress could not even procure pay for officers and
men. On April 2, 1781 Cochran wrote that he had had no pay for 23
months. He served as chief medical officer of the army, apparently
without the quarrels which had marred previous administrations, until
the final treaty, when the army practically disappeared. In 1790 he was
appointed Commissioner of Loans for New York City. He died April 6,
1807, aged 76.
2 Dr James Craik was another of that band of Scotch
physicians who gave their services to the American colonies in the
Revolution. He was born in Scotland in 1730 and received his medical
education there. Joining the British Army as a surgeon, he came to
America with the army, took part in the ill-fated Braddock campaign
against Fort DuQuesne, he was also with and attended the general until
his death. He met Washington on his first expedition and became
acquainted with a number of future officers of the Revolution. After
the French War, Dr. Craik practiced his profession at Norfolk and
Winchester in Virginia, and then settled at Port Tobacco, Maryland.
On the reorganization of the Medical Department in
1781, Dr. Craik was elected chief physician and surgeon of the army
(not medical director, the then highest medical officer, but second in
rank). He appears to have been present at Yorktown; served until the
end of the war and then returned to his practice, but was induced by
Washington to make his home at Alexandria. It is well known that he
assisted at the last sickness of that great man.
In 1798, when war with France seemed threatening, he
was made Physician-General of the army, hut soon returned to his home
in Alexandria. He died there February 6, 1814.
3 DR. CHARLES McKNIGHT
Charles McKnight was born at Cranberry, New Jersey,
October 10, 1750. He entered Princeton College and received the degree
A.B. 1771. He then began the study of medicine under Dr. Shippen of
Philadelphia, but before
he had completed his studies the war began, and he entered the army. He
was made senior surgeon of the Flying Hospital in the Middle Department
in 1777, and on February 21, 1778, succeeded Dr. Wm. Brown as Surgeon
General of the Middle Department. On the reorganization of the medical
department in 1780 he was elected chief hospital physician.
At the close of the war he removed to New York and
married Mrs. Litchfield, only daughter of the Hon. John Scott. Here he
engaged in an active practice, and also delivered lectures on anatomy
and surgery. He was suddenly attacked by pneumonia in 1791, and died
after a short illness at the age of forty-one.
4 Dr. Isaac Foster was a physician of high standing in
Charlestown, Massachusetts, where the war began. He immediately
abandoned his practice and reported to the army at Cambridge. He was
soon made hospital surgeon and assigned to the hospital at Cambridge.
Later he was a surgeon in the New York Hospital, and he continued in
service until near the end of the war. On April ii, 1777, he was
elected Deputy Director General of Hospitals in the Eastern Department.
He retired October 6, 1780. His death occurred February 27, 1782.
5 Josiah Bartlett was born at Newbury, Massachusetts,
November 1729. He finished the academic course, including Greek and
Latin, at sixteen years of age, then commenced the study of medicine
under Dr. Ordury and pursued it for five years. He began the practice
of medicine at Kingston, New Hampshire, and continued it with marked
success. He also held both civil and military positions under the
Royalist Governor, Wentworth. In 1765 he was elected to the legislature
of New Hampshire, where he soon became prominent. In 1774 he was
elected to the first Continental Congress at Philadelphia and also
appointed to the command of a regiment of troops. In 1776 he was again
elected to the Congress. At the vote on the Declaration of Independence
Dr. Bartlett’s was the first name called.- He responded, “Yes and
amen.” His name appears on the roll next after that of John Hancock. He
suffered in health later but was able to take his seat in Congress in
1778, continuing a member until 1781. He then filled several civil
offices in New Hampshire. In 1789 he was chosen senator from New
Hampshire, and in 1793 was elected the first governor of the State. He
died on January 27, 1797.
6 Headquarters, Bergen County,
Dr. Cochran, Physician and Surgeon General of the
Army in the Medical Department, will have the honor of presenting this
to your Excellency and of reporting to you the distressed situation of
the Hospital for necessary stores, even at this time, when the number
of sick are exceedingly few.
From present prospects of the operations of this campaign we must
expect to have a considerable number of wounded in Hospital, and when
we reflect upon the composition of the Army which will be almost
entirely made up of recruits and militia, both unused to a military
mode of life, and consequently subject to the disorders of camp; we
must count upon being much encumbered with sick, tho accommodated with
the best regulated and best provided Hospitals. But should we
unfortunately enter upon the Campaign without an ample supply of those
necessaries and comforts which ought to be introduced in aid to
medicine, and without which medicine is of little avail, I plainly
perceive that we shall again experience the same Calamities and
miseries which prevailed in 1776, and which destroyed many hundred men.
This is a matter of so much importance, that I beg
leave to solicit the immediate attention of Congress to the point. With
every exertion the Stores can scarcely be brought in time to the proper
places of deposit. Dr. Cochran will remain in Philadelphia as long as
his business with the Army will possibly admit, and will give every
possible assistance in procuring the necessaries.
I have the honor to be
with the greatest respect
Your Excellency's most obdt
and humble Sevt