U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

ACCESS TO CARE External Link, Opens in New Window














Appendix A

Table of Contents


Head Quarters, PEEKS-KILL [1777?]

For the ARMY under the Command of Brigadier General M'Dougall.

The Rank and File of each Company will be equally divided among the Serjeants; who are to take a Roll of their Division or Squad, and be answerable that the Arms and Clothes of the respective Men given to them in Charge, he kept clean and in good Order.

A Copy of the Roll, with the Serjeant's Name, who has Charge of the Men, will be delivered to the Captains, or Commanding Officers of the Companies; and they are to furnish the Field Officers of their Regiments with another Copy of the Roll of the Company, in the Order they receive it from the Serjeants.

The Troops will be regularly messed, Six in each Tent, and the Roll of Duty taken for each Regiment, by beginning with one Man out of each Tent of a Company, then a Second, and a Third, &c. till the Men in each Tent and Company are enrolled in this Order, which will always take them nearly equal out of each Tent, or Mess for Duty, and leave some of their Comrades to take Care of their Clothes, cook their Victuals, and prevent either from being stolen, as well as leave sufficient Room for each Mess, in every Tent.

The Colonel, or Commanding Officer of each Regiment, will order a Copy of this Roll to be delivered to him; the Men paraded by Messes, opposite to their Tents, and cause the Roll of each Company to be called in his Presence, that he maybe certain of these Orders being carried into Execution, which are so advancive of the Service, and the Comfort of the Troops. He shall answer for the Execution of these Orders in his Corps; for no Excuse will be admitted.



INSTRUCTIONS for SOLDIERS in the Service of the

UNITED STATES, concerning the Means of preserving HEALTH


It is extremely difficult to persuade Soldiers that Cleanliness is absolutely necessary to the Health of an Army. They can hardly believe that in a military State it becomes one of the Necessaries of Life. They are either too careless to pay Attention to this Subject, or they deceive themselves by reasoning from Cases, that are by no Means similar. Hitherto they have enjoyed a good State of Health, tho' they paid little or no Attention to such Punctilios; hence they conclude, that, tho' in the Army, they shall continue to enjoy an equal Degree of Health, under the like Degree of Negligence: Such reasoning has proved fatal to thousands. They do not consider the prodigious Difference there is in the Circumstances of five or six People, who live by themselves on a Farm, and of thirty or forty thousand Men, who live together in a Camp. The former chiefly subsist on vegetable Food; they lodge warm and dry, and they breathe in pure Air, which is not contaminated by noxious Vapours: The latter in general subsist too much on animal Food; they sleep frequently on cold and damp Beds, and they breathe foul Air, that is constantly injured by the very Breath of a Multitude; and is frequently rendered much more dangerous by the Stench and Exhalations that arise from putrid Bodies. The Air is injured, as I have just said by the Breath of a Multitude and the perspirable Matter that comes through the Pores of the Skin helps to extend the Disorder. But the Blood and Offals of Cattle that are killed near the Camp, with the different animal Substances that are daily thrown there by the Soldiers themselves, must soon fill the Air with a pestilential Smell, unless they are immediately removed or covered sufficiently deep. When the Soldier pours out Water, in which Flesh has been boiled; when in a peevish Mood he throws away Part of his Ration, because it is too much roasted, or because it is not roasted enough; or even when he throws away Bones that are not well picked; he seldom considers that such Things must soon become putrid, and that be is sowing the Seeds of Disease and Death for himself or his Companions. The Soldier should burn his Meat rather than throw it away: History informs us that great Armies have followed this Rule. Soldiers are not supposed to be acquainted with the Art of preserving Health; they are little versed in Books; but, to the Honour of American Soldiers, it is allowed that no men in Christendom of the same Occupation are so well acquainted with their Bibles: Let them, once more, read the History and Travels of the Children of Israel while they continued in the Wilderness, under the Conduct of Moses; and let



them consider at the same Time that they are reading the History of a great Army, that continued forty Years in their different Camps under the Guidance and Regulations of the wisest General that ever lived, for he was inspired. In the History of these People, the Soldier must admire the singular Attention that was paid to the Rules of Cleanliness. They were obliged to wash their Hands two or three Times a Day. Foul Garments were counted abominable; every Thing that was polluted or dirty was absolutely forbidden; and such Persons as had Sores or Diseases in their Skin were turned out of the Camp*. The utmost Pains were taken to Keep the Air in which they breathed, free from Infection. They were commanded, to have a Place without the Camp, whither they should go, and have a Paddle with which they should dig, so that when they went abroad to ease themselves, they might turn back and cover that which came from them**.

Besides these general Regulations, it is also necessary for the Preservation of Health, that every Soldier be particularly attentive to his own Person. The Straw on which he sleeps should be frequently dried; and he should never spread it on damp Ground, when he can get Hurdles, Bark, Boards, Leaves, or any other dry Substance to put under it. A Soldier should change his Shirt and Stockings once every two or three Days: Though his Stock of Linen is small, a Shirt is soon washed. Little Attention is due to the Colour, provided it be clean. Women are never wanting in a Camp for such Offices. A Man is seldom aware of the Quantity of noxious Matter that comes through his own Skin and is deposited on his Shirt; but if he takes up a Shirt that has been worn a few Days by another Person, he is frequently offended by the disagreeable Smell.

These are some of the reasons why CLEANLINESS of every kind is necessary towards preserving Health in an Army: They are Reasons which every Soldier may understand; but should he neglect to regulate himself accordingly, the Regimental Surgeon will doubtless attend to the Neglect, and his Officers will see that he does his Duty. For every Soldier by his Neglect not only endangers his own Life, but the Lives of his Companions. Nature, or the God of Nature, has commanded, that men who live in Camps should be cleanly: Whoever proves too obstinate, or too slothful to obey this Command, may expect to be punished with Death, or suffer under some dangerous Disease.


       *Numb. 5. i.                                                                             **Deut. 23 xii.