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Chapter II

Table of Contents





The Continental Army did not have its beginning in 1775, but, like everything else human, was the product of slow evolution. It began with the settlement of the colonies. When the first colony was planted at Jamestown, a considerable number of the one hundred and five men composing it were soldiers. Among the governing council was Captain John Smith, at once soldier and historian, the hero of many moving adventures by land and sea. Almost from the beginning the colony was threatened by Indians, and the heads of separate plantations were “commanders,” at once military commanders and civil magistrates. In 1622 a terrible Indian war, combined with sickness and famine, reduced the population of the colony from four thousand to twenty-five hundred. The war thus began lasted fourteen years. The first code of laws in 1624 provided for commanders, listing of the militia and keeping of ammunition, but not for regular training. A law of 1632 provided that the militia should be trained on holidays.
When the Pilgrims reached the “stern and rock-bound coast” of New England in 1620, before landing, a military organization was adopted, with Miles Standish, a soldier who had seen service in the Low Countries, as their captain. He proved more judicious and reliable even than John Smith. In 1621 he marched against Chief Corbitant's village with an army of twelve men, and was successful. In 1630 two captains, Patrick and Underhill, were employed to train the people of Massachusetts Bay Colony in arms, weekly, and in 1632 a fort was built in Boston. Two years later a fort was constructed to defend the harbor, later known as Castle William. A military commission


was constituted to have general charge of military affairs. In 1636 the powers of this commission were transferred to the “Standing Council for Life”. In this year and the next occurred the Pequot War. Massachusetts raised four companies of ninety men each. In 1637 the whole militia of the colony was organized in three regiments. But before the Massachusetts army finished its preparations Connecticut put its full force in the field,— ninety men,—and with the help of twenty men from Massachusetts and two hundred and sixty friendly Indians, broke the power of the Pequots in a battle on the Thames River. The whole tribe was destroyed; either killed or captured and made slaves. A law of 1642 required all towns to keep on hand a supply of ammunition.

    In 1643 the colonies of New England, for defense and protection, entered into a limited confederation, and in 1645 raised a joint force of three hundred men which cowed the threatening Narragansett Indians. In 1650 Boston alone had twenty-six companies of foot, besides a gallant troop of horse, drilled to arms eight days in the year.

    When the British took possession of New York in 1665, a law was promulgated providing that each town should have its military company. All males above sixteen years of age were to be instructed four times each year “in the comely handling and ready use of their arms in all postures of war.”

    The war of 1689-97 found the British sufficiently engaged at home, and the colonists were left to defend themselves against the French and Indians. Headed by New York, the colonies joined to raise an army for an expedition against Quebec. Massachusetts also fitted out an expedition of eight vessels and seven hundred men for an attack on Acadia; and Port Royal was actually captured. The expedition against Quebec was halted by smallpox and lack of provisions. In these enterprises Massachusetts alone furnished some two thousand men, and expended forty thousand pounds.

    The second Inter-Colonial war, 1704-13, again brought out considerable forces from the colonies. New England raised a force of six hundred men and offered a reward of sixty-six dollars for each Indian scalp. In 1707 New England sent an army of one thousand men against Port Royal, but without success.


In 1709 New York, New Jersey and Connecticut raised a force of fifteen hundred men, while Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire raised an independent force of twelve hundred men. These were to operate against Quebec, but as the British fleet failed to co-operate nothing was accomplished. In 1710 Massachusetts contributed two regiments, Connecticut and New Hampshire each one, for another attempt on Port Royal; and this time, aided by five hundred British marines, they were successful. In 1711 five veteran regiments of Marlborough's Army arrived in Boston for another expedition against Canada. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire raised 3500 men; Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, 1500. Massachusetts appropriated forty thousand pounds, New York ten thousand, and Pennsylvania two thousand. In the end, all this preparation came to nothing. In these undertakings the principal or only part was taken by the northern colonies. The people of Pennsylvania, from religious scruples, took no part in them, early conscientious objectors.

    In 1740 there was war between England and Spain. Admiral Vernon led a great fleet and army against Cartagena. The Colonies all contributed to an American contingent of 3600 men. The army was ruined by yellow fever, and the majority of the Americans never returned.

    In 1744 there was again war with France. In 1745 Massachusetts led an expedition against the great French fortress of Louisburg. All the Colonies as far south as Pennsylvania contributed money. Massachusetts contributed 3250 men and ten armed vessels, Connecticut 500 men, New Hampshire and Rhode Island 300 each. Some British vessels assisted. The garrison happened to be weak, and the great fortress was captured with 650 prisoners. Voltaire placed the Fall of Louisburg at the top of his list of great events of the age of Louis XIV.

    The colonists lost less than 150 men in taking the place, but ten times as many afterwards perished by disease.

    In 1746 another army was raised for the invasion of Canada. Massachusetts sent 3500 men, Connecticut 1000, New Hampshire 500, Rhode Island 300, New York 1600, New Jersey 500, Maryland 300, and Virginia 100. Pennsylvania voted money for enlisting 400 men. This grand expedition came to nothing, but the


Parliament reimbursed the Colonies to the amount of 235,000 pounds. Massachusetts was also reimbursed for the Louisburg Expedition, some 183,000 pounds. In 1748 the bootless war came to an end.

    The Seven Years War again brought troops into the field, and for year after year. In 1754 Virginia raised a regiment of six hundred men, and North Carolina added four hundred for the Ohio expedition. Nothing was accomplished except to give George Washington experience and publicity. In this year a plan was put forth for united action by all the colonies, under the direction of a grand council of forty-eight members; and a convention of delegates from New England, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland did meet at Albany, for the purpose of taking united action in the war. In 1755 occurred Braddock's ill fated expedition against Fort DuQuesne. Braddock's two British regiments were joined by about eight hundred Virginians. The end of the Expedition left the frontier of the Middle Colonies open to the Indians. Massachusetts raised 3200 men; the other New England colonies, nine hundred; New York 1200; New Jersey 500. All the colonies voted money except Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia.

    George Washington, Horatio Gates, Israel Putnam, Seth Pomeroy, Daniel Morgan, Dr. Hugh Mercer, Richard Gridley, Benjamin Franklin and other future officers of the Continental Army got a first taste of actual war in these colonial forces.

    In 1756 expeditions were planned against Fort DuQuesne, Niagara and Crown Point. Governor Shirley assembled seven thousand men, chiefly from New England, at Albany, where they were joined by some British regiments. This army suffered severely from sickness and was disbanded in the Fall. Philip Schuyler and William Alexander (Lord Stirling) took their first military lessons in this rather inefficient school.

    In 1757 the plans were limited to defense of the frontiers and one expedition—that against Louisburg. New England was called on for four thousand men; New York for two thousand. Washington had a small force of Virginians defending the frontier. The Louisburg expedition proved abortive. One could think that the colonists might well have become discouraged with these repeated failures; but not so. Each year a new force was


raised to take the place of that wasted by disease the previous year, and each year money was again appropriated.

    In 1758 Massachusetts voted 7600 men and advanced no less than one million dollars in money. Connecticut voted 5000; Rhode Island and New Hampshire each 500; New York, 2600; New Jersey 1000; Pennsylvania 2700, Virginia 2000. Altogether, 24,000 men were put in the field, and these were joined by no less than 22,000 regular troops from England. The total white population of Canada at that time was less than 20,000 and France could spare but 500 regular troops. Louisburg, Ticonderoga and Fort DuQuesne were all marked for capture. The assault on Ticonderoga met a bloody repulse. A force of three hundred men easily captured Fort Frontenac, but five hundred men were lost by disease. Forbes led seven thousand men against Fort DuQuesne, which fell without a struggle.

    In 1759 twenty thousand colonial troops were put in the field, and England sent over eight thousand regulars. The colonial troops were mismanaged and accomplished little. The British captured Quebec and decided the war. In 1760 the Colonies again raised a large force, Montreal was captured, and the war practically ended. Not only was France eliminated from the New World, but, as far as the Northern Colonies were concerned, the Indian wars which had ravaged their borders for a hundred years, came to an end.

    In 1761 the Colonies again contributed a considerable force to an expedition against the French West Indies. Horatio Gates and Richard Montgomery served as captains in the British army during this expedition. In 1763 the war finally came to a formal end. It had given to hundreds of officers and thousands of soldiers an actual experience in war which was to be of great service to the Colonies in their coming struggle for independence.

    These wars were not fought without heavy expense in men and money. Hildreth states that in the last intercolonial war the provincial troops “had lost thirty thousand men, by disease or by the sword ;“—chiefly by disease, no doubt. The colonies had expended no less than sixteen million dollars:—a vastly greater sum then than now:—of which only five million were reimbursed by Parliament. Massachusetts alone had kept from four to seven thousand men in the field, and had expended two and a half million dollars.


    The New England clergy complained that the morals of their parishioners had been corrupted by camp life; but, on the other hand, their ideas had been broadened and they had been inspired with the thought of a common interest and union. in the end, the Colonies were exhilarated by success and filled with a martial spirit. They were taught their own strength and resources in soldiers, and in co-operation. The contest which had driven out the French had shown the colonists their own power; that even the famed regular troops of Britain were not invincible. While they had learned much from that army; its equipment, and discipline and training; and especially its reliability under fire; they had at the same time learned that it was often stupidly led and could at such times be defeated. The Old French War provided the army of Bunker Hill. “No striplings now, but veterans they, who held the French in check. The drums, that beat at Louisburg and thundered on Quebec.”

    The war was to bring trouble to England in other ways. The public debt was tremendously increased, and it was necessary to look in every direction for increased taxes; hence Stamp Act, sugar taxes, and taxes on tea; hence resistance by the unrepresented colonies. Attempts to enforce these laws called for troops to be quartered on the colonies, with resulting friction and conflicts of arms.

Richard Brocklesby, Surgeon General, British Army

    When in 1774 the difficulties between the colonies and the mother country were seen to be approaching the point of armed conflict, although the colonists were without a professional body of officers, without a regular army, and without depots of supplies, they were by no means without valuable military resources. There were many of their number who, both as soldiers and as officers, had served with the regular British forces in the old Colonial Wars. They had observed and learned of the discipline and training of an army at least, equal, to any army in Europe, and in the art of light warfare they had learned from their continued fighting with the Indians, methods in advance of the always conservative army of England. That army, however, had been a great school for the colonists. In discipline, training, espirit de corps, and particularly in steadfast courage under fire, that army, even when stupidly led—as was too often the case—was worthy of admiration and was the model after which the


army of the Colonies was to be patterned and constructed.

    As to supplies and equipment, war was not then as technical as now and only the fundamentals,—food, clothing, arms and ammunition,—were needed. Of these, the first two were to be had. Small arms were also available, for almost every man then had his rifle, which was actually superior in many ways to the smooth-bore musket then in use by regular armies. Field pieces were lacking, and powder was generally insufficient. In one particular the colonies had superior resources; they had a comparatively unlimited number of active, eager, patriotic men; men who would and did fight without pay, generally without sufficient clothing, and often without food. It was this latter factor which enabled them, with the help of France, to win the war.

    The first clash occurred in Boston,——the so-called Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Blood was spilled, and from that time on the Colonies, and more especially Massachusetts, prepared for an armed conflict. Yet it was not the soldiers of the former wars who urged New England towards war; it was lawyer like the Adams, physicians like Warren and Church, or business men like Hancock.

    Thomas Gage arrived in Boston as Governor and Captain General on May 13th, 1774. He had served with credit in Braddock's Expedition, and married in New York, and was not unfavorably known throughout the Colonies. But he was at once handicapped by the Boston Port Bill, which it was his duty to enforce. As the attitude of the colonists was one of unyielding opposition, he foresaw trouble, and the very next day asked for additional troops. For a year there had been a garrison at Fort William. In 1768 some seven hundred men were added, and in November parts of the 64th and 65th regiments arrived and were quartered in the town. The conflict known as the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770, caused the removal of these troops to the castle.

    Gage's call for troops brought quick response. On June 14th, the 4th, 15th and 43rd Regiments of Foot landed at the Long Wharf and went into camp on Boston Common. On the 4th and 5th of July additional transports arrived, bearing the 5th and 38th Regiments. On the 6th of August the 59th Regi-


ment arrived from Halifax and encamped at Salem. In September General Gage began to fortify Boston Neck. More troops arrived, and by November there were eleven regiments in Boston, besides the artillery. In December five hundred marines were landed from the “Asia.” Barracks were built and all put under cover. The whole amounted to some 4000 men.

    On September 20 Gage issued writs convening the General Court (the legislative body of Massachusetts) at Salem on Oct. 5th, but dissolved it by proclamation of September 28th. The members elected to it, pursuant to the course agreed on, resolved themselves into a Provincial Congress. This was one of the decisive steps of the Revolution. This Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, with its children, the various committees of Safety, Supplies, Correspondence, etc., became the head and front of revolt against the king; the guide and leader of all New England, and finally of all the colonies.

    This body, on October 26th, adopted a plan for organizing the militia, maintaining it, and calling it out when necessary. It provided that one quarter of the number enrolled should be held in readiness to march at short notice. It created an executive authority—the Committee of Safety—clothed with large powers; and another, the Committee of Supplies. On October 27, Jedediah Preble (who did not accept), Artemus Ward and Seth Pomeroy were chosen general officers of the militia. John Hancock was placed at the head of the Committee of Safety. Twenty thousand pounds was appropriated for the purpose of securing military stores. The militia was called on to choose company and regimental officers and to perfect their organization.

    The Congress disavowed any intention to attack the British troops, but declared these measures necessary for defense. At the same time the Assembly of Connecticut gave orders to the towns to lay in a double supply of ammunition. The cannon at New London were to be mounted and the militia to be frequently trained. On November 23rd the Massachusetts Congress voted to enroll twelve thousand “minute men”, volunteers pledged to be ready for service at a minute's notice; and ordered negotiations with the other New England colonies to increase their force to twenty thousand. Dr. John Thomas of Plymouth County,


who had led a regiment in the last war, and William Heath, a Roxbury farmer, were commissioned generals. The Congress adjourned on December 10th and did not meet again until February 1st of the next year.

    On December 6th forty-four pieces of cannon were taken from the batteries at New Port and conveyed to Providence. When called upon by the British commander for an explanation, Gov. Wanton bluntly replied that the cannon had been taken away to prevent their falling into his hands. In New Hampshire, December 13th, John Sullivan, a leading lawyer of Portsmouth, led a large party into the fort at that place, and carried off a hundred barrels of powder, some cannon and small arms. In Maryland also, December 8th, the Convention assummed the powers of government, ordered the militia enrolled, and voted ten thousand pounds with which to procure arms. The other colonies appear to have done nothing towards an army during the year 1774.

    With the year 1775 progress towards an army went on rapidly, as the conflict became more inevitable and drew nearer. The Congress of Massachusetts took active measures for arming and drilling the militia, and especially for procuring powder. Magazines of provisions and stores were laid up at Concord, Worcester and other places. A conflict of arms was narrowly averted at Salem on February 26th. On April 8th the Congress voted to raise an army for the defense of the province, and sent committees to the other New England colonies to solicit their aid and concurrence.

    The Connecticut Assembly, though declining to enlist troops at once, commissioned Daniel Wooster as Major General, and Joseph Spencer and Israel Putnam as Brigadier Generals.

    One cannot but be impressed by the forethought and care with which the authorities of Massachusetts made preparation for the anticipated conflict. They not only wrote letters of protest, and addresses to the people; they laid in supplies of all kinds for a contest of arms. Medical supplies were by no means neglected. On February 21st the Provincial Congress “Voted, that Doctors Warren and Church be a committee to bring an inventory of what is necessary in the way of their profession, for


the above army to take the field.” And on February 24th “Voted, that Doctor Warren, Doctor Church, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Cheever, Colonel Orne and Mr. Devens make inquiry where fifteen doctors' chests can be got, and on what terms, and report next week.” On March 7th “Voted, that the committee of supplies be directed to make a draft on Henry Gardner, Esq., the receiver general, in favor of Dr. Joseph Warren and Dr. Benj[amin] Church, for five hundred pounds, to enable them to purchase such articles, for the provincial chests of medicine as can be got on credit, to be deducted from the provincial tax payable by the town of Boston”. On April 18th the Congress placed the chests: “Voted, that two medicinal chests still remain at Concord in different parts of the town, three of said chests at Sudbury, in different parts of the town; six do. at Groton, Mendon and Stow, two in each town; two ditto in Worcester, one in each part of the town; and two in Lancaster ditto; that sixteen hundred yards of Russian linen be deposited in seven parts, with the doctor's  chests; that the eleven hundred tents be deposited in equal parts in Worcester, Lancaster, Groton, Stow, Mendon, Leicester and Sudbury.” It is not recorded that the British found any medicinal stores in Concord next day.

    In April General Gage had about 4000 men in Boston. The colonists were steadily drilling and accumulating supplies. Gage resolved by a secret expedition to seize and destroy one of the principal depots, at Concord. A force of eight hundred men under Lieut. Colonel Francis Smith of the 10th Regiment, and Major John Pitcairn of the Marines, left Boston at ten o'clock on the night of April 18th, for this purpose. Dr. Warren learned at once of this expedition, and in less than two hours Paul Revere was riding from Charlestown and Ebenezer Dorr from Boston Neck to give the alarm. The destination of the column was shrewdly guessed. Revere arrived in Lexington by midnight, and Dorr soon afterwards. When but a few miles out Col. Smith learned that the alarm had been raised; sent Pitcairn ahead with six companies, and sent back to Gage for reinforcements. Pitcairn reached Lexington at daylight, where about seventy of the militia were assembled. The Americans seem to have been awed by the display of British power. The British fired, the Americans returned the fire weakly, and were soon scattered, with a loss of eight killed and ten wounded.


    Colonel Smith soon joined Pitcairn, and the whole force pushed on toward Concord. Revere and Dorr had left Lexington long before. Riding on together they overtook Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord, and the three continued until they were met by an advance party of British troops. Revere and Dorr were captured, but Dr. Prescott escaped and spread the alarm through Lincoln and Concord. When the British column arrived at Concord, about eight o'clock, some one hundred and fifty minute men had gathered. They, too, were somewhat awed by the display of force, and fell back a mile behind the town. The enemy remained in the town some two hours, destroying the stores but doing little other damage. Meanwhile, small companies of minute men kept arriving from the surrounding towns, and increased numbers gave increased courage. By nine o'clock there were between seven and eight hundred of them under the command of Colonel Barrett. At about ten they advanced to the North Bridge, where a conflict ensued. Here the colonials stood their ground and poured in such a fire that the British there broke and fled. They had two soldiers killed and thirteen wounded, of whom three were officers, who were made prisoners. One officer and one private died the next day. Two Americans were killed and four wounded. About noon the British officers assembled their troops and began the retreat. The colonists, still increasing in numbers, now attacked the retreating column from every house, fence and woods along the road. The column closed its ranks and marched doggedly on, only occasionally halting to fire. By the time Lexington was reached, the British troops, who had already marched twenty-five miles, were used up. Fortunately for them, Lord Percy met them with eighteen hundred fresh men and two guns; saving Smith's force from destruction. The combined column continued its march, followed and pelted with fire by the aroused colonists, as far as Prospect Hill.

    In these various encounters at Lexington, Concord, and more especially during the retreat, where the British column was almost helpless under the Indian tactics used against them, the loss amounted to seventy-three killed, one hundred and seventy-four wounded, and twenty-six missing. Eighteen British offi-


cers were killed or wounded; three were captured. Both Smith and Pitcairn were wounded, and the latter lost his horse. When they reached Charlestown at seven that evening the original force had marched thirty-six miles. The loss of the colonials was forty-nine men killed, thirty-six wounded, and five missing. They were greatly elated by the success of the first contest of arms; perhaps more elated than the facts warranted.

    The encounters at Lexington and Concord were unexpected, there were no organized troops, and the care of the wounded was accidental. A number of physicians shouldered their rifles and as minute men took part in the attack on the retreating British column. Dr. Joseph Warren as head of the Committee of Safety, sent Paul Revere on his ride to rouse Lexington and the surrounding countryside. Warren himself followed and was so active in encouraging the militia that he lost an “earlock”, carried away by a ball. Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord, when Revere and Dorr were captured, carried the word on, arousing Lincoln and Concord.

    Dr. Toner enumerates ten medical men as having had some part in the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord. Drs. John Cummings and Timothy Minot, physicians of Concord, were employed by British officers to dress some of their wounded. These afterwards attended Americans wounded at that place. Drs. Joseph Warren and Samuel Prescott have been mentioned as giving the alarm. Dr. William Dexter and Dr. Wm. Aspinwall assisted in caring for the wounded. Dr. Aspinwall carried off the body of Capt. Isaac Gardiner, pierced by twelve balls.

    Dr. John Brooks led a company of minute men. He was afterwards made major and lieutenant colonel, and a general after the war. Dr. Eliphalet Downer fought as a minute man and killed a soldier with the bayonet. Dr. William Dexter was also in the fight as a minute man.

    It appears that the British forces had made little provision for their wounded; probably they anticipated none. At Concord some of their wounded were treated by Drs. Minot and Cummings. Some serious cases were left there. Lieut. Hall, who was wounded and left behind, died next day. In order to carry off their less seriously wounded they confiscated a


chaise belonging to Reuben Brown, and another belonging to Dr. John Beaton. These vehicles were furnished with bedding taken from neighboring houses. Horses were also taken to draw the vehicles.

    The British captured some prisoners also. On June 6th there was an exchange of prisoners, the Americans giving over a major, two lieutenants and five privates in exchange for ten of their own men who had been captured.

    While military preparations were going on rather slowly, there suddenly came news of the conflict at Lexington and Concord, on April 19th. This stimulated every leader to renewed energy, and progress toward an army was rapid. The Massachusetts Committee of Public Safety took instant and energetic action in calling for men, and within a few weeks an army was being formed around Boston.

    The shot fired at Lexington kindled the fires of war. The colonists viewed the killing of their countrymen as a massacre, although they were there assembled and armed, presumably for the purpose of fighting. On April 20th Warren wrote a fervid appeal for men to enlist and form an army. Next day the Committee of Public Safety resolved to enlist an army of 8000 men. Heretofore there had been only “minute men,” ready to take arms and assemble at a minute's notice. Now there was to be a real army, insofar as one could be made from the material at hand. The Committee had then on hand for equipping and supplying an army the following stores:-

        21,549 firearms.            10,108 bayonets.    12 field pieces.            11,979 pouches.    17,441 lbs. powder.            144,699 flints.    22,191 lbs. ball.            170,000 lbs. salt fish.
        15,000 canteens.       
        30,000 lbs. rice.

There were also large quantities of beef, pork, etc. No mention is made of clothing, blankets, etc., and none were on hand.

    On April 23rd, the Congress of Massachusetts voted to raise 13,600 men, in twenty-seven regiments. The other New England colonies were called upon to make up the army to 30,000. Artemas Ward was commissioned Captain General, and John Thomas, Lieut. General. A regiment of artillery was authorized,


the command to be given to Richard Gridley, who was also appointed Chief Engineer. A captain's commission was promised to anyone who would enlist fifty-nine men. Any man who could raise ten companies would be made a colonel. This method brought many incompetent officers into the service. At the same time provincial notes were issued to the extent of one hundred thousand pounds.

    From all parts of New England volunteers marched at once, and within a few days a considerable but irregular army gathered around Boston. The other New England colonies had responded to the call without the slightest hesitation.

    The Rhode Island Assembly voted a force of 1500 men. A body of volunteers had already reached Cambridge, led by Nathaniel Greene, a young iron master. The Assembly named him as commander-in-chief of the Rhode Island army.

    The Connecticut Assembly voted to raise six regiments of a thousand men each, four of them to serve with the army before Boston. Wooster, Putnam and Spencer were each to have a regiment, the other three to be commanded by Hinman, Waterbury, and Parsons (Samuel H.). Putnam, though sixty years old, was already in the camp before Boston. Two more regiments were raised in July.

    During the period of the gathering, equipment and organization of the little army in front of Boston, its affairs were in the hands of two bodies,—the Committee of Public Safety of Massachusetts, and its parent body, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Of the former, Dr. Joseph Warren was President, and Dr. Benjamin Church, along with the two Adams and John Hancock, a most prominent member. The Provincial Congress of 1774-5 contained twenty-two physicians:-

        Joseph Batchelder of. . . Grafton.
        Wm. Bayliss   . . . . . . . . Dighton.
        Chauncey Brewer  . . . . .West Springfield.
        Alex. Campbell . . . . . . .Oxford.
        Benj. Church . . . . . . . . .Boston.
        Wm. Dinsmore  . . . . . . .Lancaster.
        David Cobb1 . . . . . . . . Taunton.
        John Corbett . . . . . . . . .Bellingham.
        Isaac Foster  . . . . . . . . .Charlestown.
        Ephraim Guiteau  . . . . . New Marlborough.


        Jeremiah Hall . . . . . . . . Plymouth.
        James Hawse  . . . . . . . Westborough.
        Samuel Holton2 . . . . . . Danvers.
        Wm. Jamieson . . . . . . .Meriden.
        David Jones . . . . . . . . .Abington.
        Moses Morse . . . . . . . Bridgewater.
        Charles Pynchon  . . . . .Springfield.
        Ebenezer Sawyer . . . . .Wells.
        John Taylor . . . . . . . . . Summersburg.
        Joseph Warren . . . . . . .Boston.
        Wm. Whiting . . . . . . . . Berkshire Co.

The majority of these served as surgeons during the war.

    In New Hampshire a special convention did not think it best to anticipate a Provincial Congress called for the 12th of May, but requested the several towns to send supplies to the volunteers who had already followed Stark to Boston. Meanwhile the Massachusetts Congress directed enlistments among the New Hampshire soldiers in camp.

    In Pennsylvania, at a great public meeting on April 24th, measures were taken to raise troops. John Dickenson accepted the command of a regiment, as did Thomas McKean and James Wilson, leading lawyers of Philadelphia. A Committee of Safety was formed, with Benjamin Franklin as Chairman.

    The Virginia Convention had voted to enroll a company of volunteers, on March 20th. In April Patrick Henry collected some companies of the new volunteers, during the strife with Lord Dunmore.

    Such were the beginnings of the army. As yet it was but separate collections of men in several of the colonies, chiefly New England; with the nucleus of a small army gathered before Boston. The forces of each colony were independent of those of the other colonies.

    By April 22 there were three thousand men before Boston, from Roxbury to the Mystic River. They were largely old militia regiments that had chosen their own officers. Colonels, and sometimes captains, exercised the power of appointment of surgeons and mates.

    In May the military power spread beyond the limits of New England. On May 22nd the Provincial Congress of New York took measures for the enlistment of four regiments for


the purpose of defending the Highlands. Meanwhile Colonel Wooster was invited, with his Connecticut regiment, to assist in protecting the city. Wooster marched accordingly and encamped at Harlem. The Congress also agreed to supply Colonel Hinman's Connecticut regiment, which had marched to Ticonderoga on the capture of that place. But the defense and offense of the colonies was in New England.

    Each regiment, of four hundred to five hundred men, had its surgeon and surgeon's mate. The Connecticut regiments, which came in later, had two mates each.

    The necessity for hospitals was soon perceived; even patriots would get sick. On April 29th the Committee of Safety voted “that Major Bigelow be applied to, to furnish a man and horse to attend the Surgeons and convey medicines, agreeable to their directions; that Dr. Isaac Foote be directed and empowered to remove all sick and wounded, whose circumstances will permit, into the hospital, and to supply proper beds and bedding, clothing, victuals, furniture, etc., and that this be sufficient order for him to draw on the Congress for supplies.” Previous to this time each regimental surgeon had cared for his own sick in private houses. Now, a general hospital, the first in the war, and in the army, was established. The houses chosen for this first hospital were; those of Lieut. Governor Oliver and Mr. Fayerweather in Cambridge and of Rev. Samuel Cook in West Cambridge. To these homes many of the wounded from Bunker Hill were removed after that battle. Some sort of a hospital had been opened in Charlestown directly after the affair of Lexington and Concord.

    As the surgeons of the first regiments were in some cases uneducated and unfit for their duties, the Provincial Congress, at the instance of the Committee of Safety, on May 8th designated a “Committee to examine the Surgeons of the Army.” The committee consisted of

        Dr. Benjamin Church        Dr. John Taylor
        Dr. Wm. Whiting              Dr. Wm. Dinsmore
        Dr. Wm. Bayless              Dr. Samuel Holten
        Dr. Jeremiah Hall              Dr. David Jones.


    The surgeons were to be appointed by the colonels of regiments, but only if found qualified.

    On May 13th the Committee of Safety voted “That General Thomas (Dr. John Thomas of Marshfield) be desired to deal out medicines, etc., for the use of the sick at Roxbury, until the surgeons of the respective regiments are supplied.” General Thomas was a physician from Marshfield. He had served in the Colonial Wars, led a regiment to Boston, and now commanded several regiments at Roxbury. He was made a major general on June 20th, and a brigadier in the Continental Army on June 22nd; became major general on March 6, 1776, and died of smallpox in Canada on June 2, 1776.

    On May 14th Mr. Andrew Craigie, who had been made commissary of medical stores, was directed to “impress beds, bedding, and other necessaries for the sick,. . . giving the owner a receipt for such articles as they may take,” etc. This was in order to fit up the houses in Cambridge. General Putnam then had about 2200 men at Cambridge, and General Thomas as many more at Roxbury. On May 25th Generals Howe, Clinton and Burgoyne arrived with considerable reinforcements for the British army in Boston. By this time the colonists had thrown up considerable works, and General Gage remarked that “the rebels added insult to outrage as with a preposterous parade of military arrangements they affected to hold the army besieged.”

    On June 9th the “Grand American Army” numbered 7644 men. It was not one army but the four armies of the four New England Colonies. Each little army had its own commander. General Artemus Ward commanded the Massachusetts troops which formed the bulk of the army; General Poor commanded the two regiments from New Hampshire; General Israel Putnam commanded the three regiments from Connecticut; and General Nathaniel Greene was in command of the regiment and some small units from Rhode Island.

    Medical supplies, as well as hospitals, were early a source of anxiety to the Committee of Safety and to the Provincial Congress. There were few medicines in the colonies, and still less of surgical instruments and appliances. On June 12th the Provincial Congress ordered “that Dr. Whiting, Dr. Taylor, and Mr. Parks be a committee to consider some method of supplying


the several surgeons of the army with medicines.” The committee reported “that, whereas it appears that there is not yet a sufficient number of medicine chests to furnish each regiment with a distinct chest. * * *  Resolved, that the Committee of Supplies be and is hereby directed immediately to furnish the surgeons of the first regiments of Roxbury, each of them with a medicine chest, for the present, and that all other surgeons in the army at Cambridge and Roxbury have free recourse to the said chests.” This report was read and accepted.

    Meanwhile an offensive campaign had been undertaken by the New England colonies; small, it is true, but an offensive, and not without real results. This was no less than an expedition against the great northern fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, fortresses which had cost tens of millions and for which armies had struggled in deadly combat. Benedict Arnold, a New Haven shipmaster, proposed to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety a scheme for their capture, and was authorized to raise men in Vermont for the enterprise. At about the same time an independent expedition was sent out from Connecticut.

    On April 28th some leading spirits of the Connecticut Assembly at Hartford authorized the Ticonderoga expedition, chiefly for the purpose of securing cannon for use in the siege of Boston. Capt. Edward Mott, Captain Noah Phelps and Mr. Bernard Romans were authorized to undertake the enterprise, and three hundred pounds were furnished to defray the expenses. The money was procured on the individual notes of Samuel Wyllys, Samuel Parsons, Silas Deane and some others. With this informal authority, Capts. Mott and Phelps and six or eight volunteers from Bradford proceeded to Salisbury, where the number was increased to sixteen. From this point they continued to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where Colonel James Easton, John Brown, Israel Dickinson and about fifty men were enlisted in the enterprise. In the New Hampshire grants—now Vermont–Colonel Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, both natives of Connecticut, and one hundred “Green Mountain Boys” were added to the little army.

    It appears that the enterprise was conducted somewhat on business principles, with Capt. Mott as chairman, and Epaphras Bull, Noah Phelps, and Col. Easton as members of the “Com-


mittee of War.” But, before the actual attack the command of the forces was entrusted by the committee to Col. Ethan Allen. volunteer. On May. 10th the fortress was surprised and taken without loss. It then became known that no great risks had been taken, since the two fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point had been held by Captain Delaplace of the 26th Regiment with but one company of sixty men. Seth Warner took Crown Point with equal ease. Arnold advanced as far as St. Johnsbury.

    It does not appear that any medical man accompanied the expedition from Connecticut, but Dr. James Fay3 of Bennington was paid for services and medicines, from May 3 to June 25. The colony of Connecticut also paid to Dr. Ledmarsh for treatment of sick prisoners, five pounds six shillings; to Dr. Daniel Butler “for doctoring Prisoners” four pounds nine shillings eight pence; and to Dr. Penuel Cheney for medicines for the army, ten pounds. Doctor E. Fish was also paid one pound twelve shillings for “doctoring Prisoners.” The total cost to Connecticut was 1511 pounds.

    The prize was of inestimable value to the colonists; two hundred guns and a large and precious supply of powder,—both almost unobtainable at that time but urgently needed for the siege of Boston.

    The army was then posted as follows:- General Thomas was at Roxbury, with about four thousand Massachusetts troops, three or four artillery companies with field pieces, and a few heavy guns. The Rhode Island troops, under Greene, were at Jamaica Plain, also Spencer's Connecticut Regiment. General Ward's headquarters were at Cambridge, where he had fifteen Massachusetts regiments, Gridley's battalion of artillery, and Putnam's Connecticut regiment. The left wing of the army was to the north-east; Gerrish's regiment at Chelsea, Stark's (N.H.) at Medford, and Reed's (N.H.) at Charlestown Neck, with sentries posted as far as Bunker Hill. The men were quartered in the colleges, churches, private houses, and in tents.

    On June 10th the army at Boston was officially adopted by Congress as the Continental Army. It was as yet composed entirely of New England troops, but provision was made for ten companies of riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. None of these arrived before the fight at Bunker Hill.


    The troops were without uniforms, armed chiefly with their own rifles, were poorly organized and almost wholly untrained. They were facing troops which in organization, equipment and training were the equals, at least, of any in the world. Yet the Continental troops were in no wise unready for the conflict. It is probable that the morale of the Continental army was never again as high as it was at that time. Stirred by what they believed to be their wrongs, strong in the old Puritan faith in the justice of their cause, encouraged by the case with which they had chased the British force from Concord back to Boston, they were now like Cromwell's men before Naseby, ready and eager for the contest of arms. Nor were the British loath, confined as they were in Boston by this mob of despised militia and civilians. There was no real occasion for a battle at this time, but with both sides eager for it the occasion was not long wanting.


1 Dr. David Cobb was born in Massachusetts in 1748, graduated from Harvard College in 1766, and studied medicine at Taunton. He practiced medicine there and was one of the first to volunteer, serving as Surgeon of Colonel Marshall's Regiment from May to December, 1775.

    He was made Lieut. Colonel of Henry Jackson's Regiment (one of the sixteen additional regiments) on January 12, 1777, and served with it for four years. In 1780 Jackson's Regiment was designated the 16th Massachusetts, and on January 1st, 1781, Lt. Col. Cobb was transferred to the 9th Massachusetts. On June 15th, 1781, he was made an aide to General Washington, serving as such to January 7, 1783. He then became Lieut. Colonel, commanding the 5th Massachusetts. On September 30th, 1783, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and was not discharged until the last British soldier had left the Colonies, in November, 1783. He survived until April 7th, 1830. Dr. Cobb was one of the many physicians who achieved actual success in the line of the Continental Army.

2 Dr. Samuel Holton was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1738. He studied medicine under Dr. Jonathan Prince of Danvers and began practice in his native town in 1757. In 1768 he was elected a member of the General Court, and from then on he took a prominent part in the political life of the Colony. In 1775 he gave up his practice to take a seat in the Provincial Congress at Watertown; was made a member of the Committee of


Safety, and a member of the board for examining medical candidates for the army. In 1776 he was made a judge of the Court of General Sessions; in 1777 he was a delegate and assisted in framing the Confederation. In 1778 he was chosen a delegate in Congress; was repeatedly re-elected; and was later elected president of that body. For more than a year he was the only medical member of Congress. He was still a member in 1783. He was a delegate to the constitutional convention. In 1793 he was elected a member of Congress and was twice a presidential elector. He served two terms in the Federal Congress, and in 1796 declined re-election on account of feeble health. He, however, accepted the appointment of Judge of Probate for Essex County, and held this office until 1815. He died in 1816 having served his native state and the country for forty-seven years.


    Jonas Fay was born in Hardwick, Vermont, on January 13, 1737. He received a good general education for those times, but of his professional education little is known. At the early age of eighteen he was in the French War at Fort Edward and Lake George, in a Massachusetts company. He holds a high place in the history of Vermont as one of the founders of the state. His father moved to Bennington in 1766 and kept the famous “Catamount Tavern,” in the stirring days of the “Green Mountain Boys.” The son was thus brought into close and intimate association with leading men; he early became clerk of the Committee of Safety and later was the author of Vermont's “declaration of independence.” He was made surgeon to Ethan Allen's expedition against Ticonderoga in 1775, and, later, surgeon to Warner's Vermont Regiment for the invasion of Canada in 1775-76. He was clerk of the Dorset Convention which petitioned the Congress for service in the cause of the country, and of the Westminster Convention which declared Vermont an independent state; in 1777 he was secretary of the convention which prepared the constitution of the state.

    During all these activities Dr. Fay continued the practice of medicine, first at Bennington, then in Charlotte, and still later in Pawlet, Vermont. Late in life he returned to Bennington and died there on March 6, 1718. In 1904 Senator Proctor of Vermont found in the Library of Congress at Washington manuscripts relating to the early Vermont conventions, all in Dr. Fay's handwriting.