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Chapter III

Table of Contents




Before the encounter at Lexington the object of the various military preparations was simply to resist the enforcement of oppressive laws; after that encounter, sentiment rapidly crystallized into a determination to shut the British troops up in Boston, and then to drive them out. Gradually the forces in front of the town had grown and extended their lines until they reached from shore to shore, although they were too feeble and far-away to immediately threaten the place.1 But now, growing bolder, the colonists resolved to push in nearer and to fortify points that actually commanded the city and the ships in the roadsteads. One of these points was the peninsula of Charlestown, with its hills.

Early in May the Committee of Safety and the Council of War appointed a joint committee to reconnoitre the heights of Charlestown. On May 12th the committee reported, recommending several works about Prospect Hill, and “a strong work on Bunker Hill, provided with cannon to annoy the enemy, either going out by land or water.” This report was signed by Dr. Benjamin Church, chairman of the subcommittee, from the Committee of Safety; and William Henshaw, chairman of a committee of the Council of War. The Council of War adopted the report in part, but as to Bunker Hill there was a difference of opinion. Putnam and Prescott favored it, Dr. Warren and Ward opposed it. But when on June lath it was secretly learned that Gage intended to occupy Dorchester Heights on the 18th, matters were brought to a crisis. On the 15th the Committee of Safety ordered that Bunker Hill be occupied, and that the Council of War act as it saw fit regarding Dorchester Heights, the precise situation of which was unknown to the Committee. At this time no real fortifications had been constructed by the


Americans; some primitive breastworks had been thrown up at Cambridge and at the base of Prospect Hill, but no real redoubt or scientifically constructed forts.

Map of Bunker Hill

On the night of June 16th a body of troops was sent under the command of Col. William Prescott to seize and fortify Bunker Hill. This force, which was considerably reinforced before and during the battle which followed, consisted of a portion of three Massachusetts regiments, and a working party of 200 men from the Connecticut regiments:

        Col. Prescott's Regt., about 300 men.
        Col. Frye's Regt.,    “    300    “
        Col. Bridge's Regt.,    “    300    “

Capt. Knowlton commanded about 200 men from Putnam's and Spencer's Connecticut Regiments, and Capt. Richard Gridley led an artillery company of possibly 100 men. The whole amounted to 1200 or 1300 men.

This force did not stop at Bunker Hill, but went on to Breed's Hill, and by morning had a strong redoubt thrown up; a flag of defiance to the British, who made preparations for immediate attack. The officers at the redoubt, seeing they were to be attacked, sent Major Brooks to General Ward to ask for reinforcements. Ward sent the two New Hampshire regiments of Stark and Reed. Reed's regiment numbered 518 men for duty on the 14th, and Stark's was even larger. New Hampshire had fully a thousand men in the fight. Later in the day Ward sent part of Ward's and Patterson's regiments; also of Col. Thomas Gardiner's.

In addition to these it appears that parts of other regiments were in the battle and suffered losses. The following regiments had some companies or detachments engaged:

        Col. Moses Little's Regt., about 125 men.
        Col. Jonathan Brewer's Regt., about 70 men.
        Col. John Nixon's Regt., about 150 men, 3 companies.
        Col. Ephraim Doolittle's Regt., about 40 men.
        Capt. John Callender's Artillery Company.


        Col. Asa Whitcomb's Regt., 2 companies.
        Col. John Scamman's Maine Regt.
        Col. Samuel Garrish's Regt.
        Col. Woodbridge's Regt.

The first force sent amounted to some 1200 men; with Stark's New Hampshire troops there were 2200, and with the remaining troops at least 3000. The colonists also had six guns, which were all lost but one.
    The British forces engaged at Bunker Hill consisted of the following regiments and battalions.

        Ten companies of grenadiers, acting as a regiment.
        Ten companies of light infantry, acting as a regiment.
        5th Regiment of Foot.
        38th Regiment of Foot.
        43rd Regiment of Foot.
        52nd Regiment of Foot.
        47th Regiment of Foot.
        1st Battalion of Marines.

There were also six men-of-war in the river which aided the attack materially by their fire.

These troops (except the last two) were formed in three lines of two regiments each. The first two were in the first line, the second two in a second line, and the 43rd and 52nd in the third line. When this solid column moved to the attack, however, the six regiments did a grand left front into line by regiments, and came to the front of the American works in a single line, with the Light Infantry on the right, next the water, and the 52nd on the left, in front of the redoubt. The 47th and Marine Battalion landed farther to the left and marched in line to attack the right of the redoubt, but struck the American line so as to be in touch with left of the main line. Before the third assault they were joined by some 800 more marines.

British troops never faced more accurate and effective fire; losses were very heavy; fully one-fourth of the attacking force was either killed or wounded. British journals were long filled with letters of officers, commenting on this terrible mortality. Of no more than 4000 troops taking part in the attack, 226 were killed and 828 were wounded, a total of 1054. Many of the wounded died; the officers suffered even more than the men,


being picked off by bodies of riflemen. They had exposed themselves almost rashly in rallying and urging on their men. The most prominent was Major Pitcairn of the Royal Marines.

Dr. Joseph Warren

The Americans lost 140 killed, 271 wounded, and 30 prisoners: a total of 441. Their intrenchments had sheltered them from artillery fire, and the British infantry had relied mainly on the bayonet. It was believed that very few were hit during the attacks, but that most of the losses occurred while the men were retreating in disorder over Bunker Hill, under the fire of the British troops. It was here that Dr. Joseph Warren was killed, and his body was found on the reverse slope of the hill. He was known and respected by the British officers, as were Putnam and others in the Continental force.

“It was a sad Saturday night and Sunday following the Battle of Bunker Hill. The carrying of the wounded to their homes or to private houses or hospitals; and burying the dead, with all the scenes of private grief and public excitement, gave a mournful aspect to the day and to the religious exercises, which were well calculated to produce a profound impression on all who were capable of reflection. The private houses could no longer accommodate the sick and wounded, so that additional hospitals had to be improvised. The wounded during the battle were removed to the west side of Bunker Hill and from there to Cambridge. The army had no well disciplined corps, ready with convenient stretchers on which to convey the wounded from the field of action to the rear, or comfortable ambulances to take them from thence to the hospitals. The soldier's blanket, with muskets or poles, improvised a sort of cot, and the common wagon, cart, or sled was the precursor for the roomy and easy motioned ambulance, used in the army of the present day.” (1875).        
The losses by regiments were as follows:

    Regt.                                                      Killed and Wounded
    Col. Wm. Prescott's Regt. . . . . .70        Dr. John Hart, Surgeon.
    Col. Frye's Regt  . . . . . . . . . . . .46        Dr. Thos. Kittredge.
    Col. Bridge's Regt . . . . . . . . . . .44
    Col. John Stark's N. H. Regt. . . .60        Dr. Obadiah Wilson, Surg.
    Col. Reed's N. H. Regt  . . . . . . .26        Ezra Green.
    Col. Ward's Regt . . . . . . . . . . . .            Dr. Wm. Dexter, Mate.
    Col. Patterson's Regt . . . . . . . . .
    Col. Thos. Gardiner's Regt  . . . .13        Dr. Wm. Vinal, Mate.


    Col. Moses Little's Regt  . . . . . .30
    Col. Jonathan Brewer's Regt.
    Col. John Nixon's Regt  . . . . . . .13        Dr. Isaac Spofford.
    Col. Ephraim Doolittle's Regt. .    9         Dr. Elijah Adams, Mate.
    Col. Putnam's Conn. Regt.      } 37
    Col. Spencer's Conn. Regt.      
    Capt. Richard Gridley's Art. . . . 4
    Capt. John Callender's Art. . . . .0
    Col. Asa Whitcomb's Regt. . . . .13
    Col. John Scamman's Regt  . . . .2         Dr. Jacob Bacon, Mate.
    Col. Samuel Gerrish's Regt.  . . .5          Dr. David Jones, Surgeon.
    Col. Woodbridge's Regt. . . . . . .6
    Danielson's Regt . . . . . . . . . . . .            Dr. David Shepherd.

        Killed: 140.    Wounded: 271.    Prisoners: 30.

In addition to Dr. Warren, who was a Major General of militia, the Americans lost Col. Gardiner of Cambridge and Major Moore of Mt. Clancy.

All arrangements for the wounded were necessarily extemporized. They were at first taken to the west side of Bunker Hill, where they were hastily dressed, and then carried elsewhere. Many were taken by their friends to the barracks and tents, or to private houses. Those who needed more care were taken further away. It has already been seen that there were hospitals provided in the deserted houses of some loyalists at the forks of the road leading to Mt. Auburn. The house of Thomas Fayerweather was used for enlisted men; that of Thomas Oliver (James R. Lowell's in 1875) was used for officers. This house was also known as the Gerry estate. Many of the soldiers who there died of their wounds were buried in a field in front of this house. The house of the Reverend Samuel Cooke, at East Cambridge, was also used as a hospital. The prisoners taken by the British, wounded and all, were placed in the Boston jail. They were attended by Dr. Miles Whitworth, but many of them died.

The day of the battle was the hottest of the summer. The night after the battle, General Gage sent twenty barrels of quicklime to Charlestown, and the dead were thrown into a swampy hollow between the two hills. When this spot, east of the High School, was later excavated, a mass of bones, buckles and accoutrements was turned up.


Map of Boston, 1776

The wounded (British) during the whole night and next day were conveyed to Boston, where the streets were filled with groaning and lamentation. A letter of June 30 says:

“I have seen many from Boston who were eyewitnesses to the most melancholy scene ever beheld in this part of the world. The Saturday night and Sabbath were taken up in carrying over the dead and wounded,—and all the wood carts in town, it is said were employed,—chaises and coaches for the officers. They have taken the workhouse, almshouse, and manufacturing house for the wounded.”

The medical men of Boston rendered every assistance in their power. The procession of carriages was a melancholy sight to the many royalists and even to the whigs.

“In the first carriage,” writes Clarke, “was Major Williams, bleeding and dying, and three dead captains of the 52nd Regiment. In the second, four dead officers; then another wounded officer.” On Monday evening all the dead officers were decently buried in Boston in a private manner, in the different churchyards there. A large number of officers were killed. The American riflemen had been ordered to pick them off and had not failed in their aim. Lt. Col. Abercrombie was shot at the head of the Grenadiers and died on the 24th. Major Pitcairn of the Marines received four balls in the body as he was entering the redoubt, and died soon after being taken to Boston. Major Spendlove of the 43rd died of his wounds, after a service of forty years with this regiment.

The British distributed their wounded in various places in Boston,—schools, private houses, etc. Comfortable buildings were provided for officers. Their only hospital, so called, was a large wooden building opposite the Park Street Church, standing on what was then called “Long Acre”.

Following the battle there was great activity in the matter of hospitals for the Colonial troops. On June 19th the Provincial congress of Massachusetts appointed Dr. Hall, Dr. David Jones and Mr. Bigelow a committee to consider the expediency of establishing another hospital for the sick and wounded of the army. The committee reported “that the house belonging to Dr. Spring of Watertown may be had for that purpose,” whereupon the Congress resolved “that said committee be directed to inquire at what rate per month Dr. Spring will let the same.”


The same day it was resolved to hire the house of Mr. Hunt of Cambridge. The committee replied that Dr. Spring was willing to have his house in Watertown used as a hospital, but could not tell what the damages would be. He was, however, willing to have the matter adjusted by Congress hereafter. Mr. W. Hunt also made the same proposition, only asking compensation for any damages done.

On this date it was also resolved and ordered: “That Dr. Church,3 Dr. Taylor and Dr. Whiting be a committee to consider what method is proper to be taken to supply the hospitals with surgeons, and that the same gentlemen be a committee to provide medicines and other necessaries for hospitals.”

The Committee of Safety of Massachusetts Resolved: “That the house of the Rev. Samuel Cook of Menotemy, West Cambridge, be improved as a hospital for the Colonial Army and that Mr. William Eustis be, and is hereby appointed to the care of the sick and wounded in said hospital till the further order of the committee.

“Ordered: That Dr. Isaac Foster be and is hereby directed to take up and improve as hospitals, so many houses in Menotemy as he may find necessary for the safety of the sick and wounded of the army * * * and that further he take such precautions respecting the smallpox hospitals, as may be necessary for the prevention of the spreading of that epidemic disorder in the camp elsewhere.”

On June 27 Dr. Francis Kittredge was appointed by the Provincial Congress to attend this hospital.

On June 22nd the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts “Resolved: That the colonels in the Massachusetts army be and are hereby directed immediately to inform the committee appointed by Congress to examine the surgeons of said army, whom they recommend for surgeons and surgeon's mates of their respective regiments, and send them to said committee for examination without delay, except such as have been examined.” This was sent to General Artemas Ward, the Commander of the main army.

A private of the 43rd Foot

On June 22 the Provincial Congress directed that a hospital be established for the camp at Roxbury. “Ordered that a hospital be provided for the camp at Roxbury, and that Col. Davis,


Dr. Taylor and Dr. Whiting be a committee to provide one accordingly and supply the same.”

On June 23 the Committee replied, “That they have appointed the house belonging to Joshua Loring in said Roxbury, for a hospital and for the use of the camp.” The report was accepted.

Contagious diseases had already begun to appear, especially smallpox, which was sufficiently understood to be a dangerous contagious disease. A smallpox hospital was necessary.

On June 27th the Provincial Congress: “Ordered, that the committee to provide hospitals for the army, be directed to provide another hospital, to be appropriated solely for such of the army as may be taken with the smallpox, and to consider what measures may be taken to prevent the spreading of that distemper, and that Dr. Rand and Dr. Foster be added to the committee.”

In June it became apparent that the troops were either without shelter or too much crowded in buildings, and the Quartermaster General recommended that tents or barracks be provided. On June 13th a committee “earnestly recommended that the representation from the quartermaster general be taken into immediate consideration, especially as the committee, from their own knowledge, find the rooms too much crowded, and the health and lives of the soldiers thereby greatly exposed; and if tents cannot be immediately furnished, that some barracks be forth with erected.”

The insane were not neglected. On June 14th it being known that Doctor How of Andover was skilled in such disorders and prepared to receive insane patients, it was “Resolved that Daniel Adams, a lunatic now at Woburn, be carried to Andover and committeed to Doctor How . . . at the expense of the colony.”

While by long custom and the regulations of the British Army, each regiment was allowed one surgeon and one mate, there were no regulations governing the assignment of surgeons to hospitals. On June 24th the Provincial Congress considered this subject, and resolved “that there shall be two surgeons and two mates for each hospital, and commissioned accordingly.” The word “commissioned” here seems to imply that the mates


had the status of officers. They seem to have had a higher place in the Continental Army, where they were in some cases physicians, than in the British Army, where they were not always professional men, and had the status of warrant officers: holding warrants, not commissions. The surgeon in the British service was gradually given a status somewhat like that of an officer. In the British “Lists” of that date, the surgeon's name is at the bottom of the page of regimental officers, after all lieutenants, ensigns, chaplain, adjutant and quartermaster.

The pay of hospital surgeons was also taken up and appears to have been fixed at eight pounds per month, with four pounds ten shillings per month for mates. The pound appears to have been equal to three dollars.

“Ordered, that the committee * * * be desired etc., to report on establishment for the surgeons of hospitals.” The committee reported. “That it is their opinion that the establishment (pay) of the chief surgeon should be at the rate of eight pounds per month, and each mate, four pounds ten shillings per month.”

The question of whether men should be kept and treated in regimental hospitals, or sent to a general hospital, arose early and was a main source of trouble between surgeons throughout the war. During the latter part of June a committee of three, of which Dr. Taylor was chairman, was appointed by the Massachusetts Congress, to report on how the sick and wounded should be transferred to hospitals. The committee, with much confused language and mixing of persons and numbers, reported on July 1st. It seems that the hospital at Watertown, then the seat of provincial government, was to be a sort of general base hospital, for all other hospitals; as shown by the following

“In order that all the sick and wounded be provided for and taken care of, in the best way and manner possible, Resolved, and it is hereby Ordered. That when any person in the Army is so ill, either by wound or otherwise, that the surgeon of said regiment to which the sick or wounded man belongs, finds the sick or wounded aforesaid cannot be properly taken care of in the regiment to which he belongs, the said surgeon shall send the sick or wounded as above said, to the hospital provided for the use of the camps to which they belong, and a certificate of the names and the company and regiment to which he belongs; and in that case the surgeon of said hospital shall receive said wounded and sick under his care, and in case said hospital shall become


too full, in that case the surgeon of said hospital shall send such of his patients as may be with safety removed, to the hospital in Watertown, and a certificate setting forth the man's name, what company and regiment each belongs to, and in that case the surgeon of the Watertown Hospital shall receive said sick and wounded, under his care.”

The Second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia, and May 11th. the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts requested that the Continental Congress assume the control and direction of the forces assembled around Boston. The Congress did vote to take over these forces as the Continental Army, on June 10th, and then proceeded to the selection of a commander-in-chief.

John Adams, although the army was entirely a New England one, had with much political adroitness proposed George Washington of Virginia, and this choice, a very fortunate one, was approved. Washington immediately set out for Boston and arrived on July 2. Next day he assumed command of the army. He at once made an inspection of the works and camps, and a little later of the hospitals. He found an aggregation of men rather than an army, with a government more like a New England town meeting than that of the British Army, which was always Washington's model. His ideas of discipline were thought exceptionally stiff by the troops, though today they would probably be thought lax; excepting the whippings on the bare back, a common custom at that time. If Washington's ideas of discipline were a little beyond what was then possible, the ideas of most New Englanders were far below what was necessary, and between them they arrived at some sort of a working medium.

In Massachusetts, unlike Virginia, the gentry were loyal to the king; those with whom Washington had to consult were mainly farmers and mechanics, a class which hardly existed in Virginia. These men were obstinate, suspicious and jealous; they had lost their natural leaders; — the rich men, the royal councellors, the judges,—and had taken up with new and unproved guides,—lawyers like Adams, physicians like Church and Warren (Doctor-General Warren, as the British officers styled him ) ,or skilled mechanics like Paul Revere. The few men of property and consequence who stood by them, as Hancock and Prescott, were the exceptions. Their line officers,


taken at random, sometimes turned out admirably, sometimes shamefully. Washington cashiered a colonel and five captains for cowardice during the first summer.

The Continental Army as it first assembled at Cambridge was an aggregation of town meetings; and of town meetings from which all the accustomed leaders had been suddenly swept away. Many of these early soldiers chafed under the discipline of Washington, and in their secret souls would have preferred to be led by “Old Put”, who rode to battle in his shirt sleeves. It took time and such terrible slaughter as at Long Island to teach that something more than personal bravery was necessary in a leader of armies.

The men of this first army had no discipline. Washington, on the other hand, believed in that discipline which he had learned in the old British Army. He thought that officers -and men should be taken from different social classes, that officers should have almost absolute power, and that camp offenses should be punished with the lash.

The Congress also selected four major generals and an adjutant general. The major generals were Artemas Ward of Massachusetts, Philip Schuyler of New York, Israel Putnam of Connecticut, and Charles Lee, now from Virginia, but a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, then on half pay. Horatio Gates, made Adjutant General, had also been a major in the British Army, but had resigned. Both appear to have been recommended by Washington, on account of the military experience. Gates proved incompetent, and Lee treacherous.

The following were commissioned brigadier generals:

        Seth Pomeroy of Massachusetts.
        William Heath of Massachusetts.
        John Thomas of Massachusetts.
        David Wooster of Connecticut.
        Joseph Spencer of Connecticut.
        Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island.
        John Sullivan of New Hampshire.
        Richard Montgomery of New York.

The colonels and other officers in the camp before Boston were confirmed in their rank, and presently received Continental


commissions. The Continental Army was still entirely a New England army.

At this time the army had a line of works entirely around Boston. After the battle there were many alarms and much useless firing occurred. The British officers complained bitterly of sniping by American riflemen, who picked off sentries and soldiers venturing between the lines. After Washington's arrival unnecessary movements and useless firing were stopped. The warfare took on the character of a regular siege, and the rules of war were fairly well observed on both sides. There was never in the Northern armies that hanging of prisoners and other feudal and barbarous warfare that obtained in the far Southern colonies.

On July 9th the army numbered 16770, of which 14500 were set down as fit for duty. Of this number 11688 were from Massachusetts, 2333 from Connecticut, 1664 from New Hampshire, and 1085 from Rhode Island. No riflemen had as yet arrived from the south.

There was also a regiment of artillery under Colonel Richard Gridley, 489 men; and Major Trainor's Rhode Island artillery, 96 men.

At this time the sick numbered 1108 present and 490 absent, a total of 1598; which was about nine and one-half per cent of the command; rather ten per cent of those present, for a number were away on furlough. Dr. Isaac Foster was surgeon of the hospital at Cambridge; Dr. Isaac Rand of that at Roxbury, and Dr. John Warren of the one at Watertown. Dr. Warren was a brother of Joseph Warren and was selected for the Watertown hospital by the Committee of Safety on July 27th.

In July the Reverend William Emerson, grandfather of the poet and philosopher, wrote of the army and camp before Boston, giving an excellent picture of them.

“There is a great overturning in the camp as to order and regularity. New lords, new laws. The Generals Washington and Lee are upon the lines every day. New orders from his Excellency are read to the respective regiments every morning after prayers. The strictest government is taking place, and great distinction is made between officers and soldiers. Everyone is made to know his place and keep it, or be tied up, and receive


thirty or forty lashes, according to the crime.

“Thousands are at work every day from four till eleven o'clock in the morning. It is surprising how much work has been done. The lines are extended almost from Cambridge to Mystic River, so that very soon it will be morally impossible for the enemy to get between the works, except in one place, which is supposed to be left purposely unfortified, to entice the enemy out of their fortress. * * * My quarters are at the foot of the famous Prospect Hill.

 “It is very diverting to walk among the camps. They are as different in their form as the owners are in their dress; and every tent is a portrait of the temper and taste of the persons who camp in it. Some are made of boards, and some of sail cloth; some partly of one and partly of the other. Again, others are made of stone and turf, brick, or brush. Some are thrown up in a hurry; others curiously wrought, with doors and windows; some with wreaths and withes, in the manner of a basket. Some are our proper tents and marquees, looking like the regular camp of the enemy. In these are the Rhode Islanders, who are furnished with tent equipage, and everything in the most exact English style. However, I think the great variety is rather a beauty than a blemish.”

There were some additions to the army during July. New Hampshire sent an additional regiment,—Poore's; Rhode Island sent two; and Connecticut raised two in addition to the three already there, and sent still three others to the northern army, now forming for the invasion of Canada. Now also, for the first time, troops appeared from outside New England, some companies of riflemen from Pennsylvania and Virginia. As Washington rode down the lines one morning he looked with surprise at a new body of men, clothed in hunting dress of buckskin, and carrying long-barreled rifles. It was Daniel Morgan and his riflemen from the upper Potomac. Washington dismounted and greeted him with unusual emotion. These riflemen could do more accurate shooting at two hundred yards than the average man with a musket at one hundred. Thenceforth, bodies of riflemen figured as important parts of the army; though on account of the single calibre and use of a cartridge in loading, the smooth bore musket remained the principal weapon of the infantry. Morgan and his men soon left with Arnold's expedition against Quebec.


Considerable disorder occurred in the hospitals, and the need of a head was apparent. The Congress of Massachusetts had discussed the matter, and was about to select a medical director for the Massachusetts troops when Washington assumed command on July 3rd. The whole matter was referred to him. Although Congress had taken over the army, selected its commander-in-chief, adjutant general, quartermaster, major generals and brigadiers, no chief had been provided for the medical department, or hospital department as it was then called. There were only regimental surgeons and hospital surgeons, nothing higher. On July 3rd the Provincial Congress appointed a committee to prepare a letter to Washington, and inform him what provision had been made for the sick and wounded. On July 5th the committee reported the following letter

“To his Excellency, General Washington. The Congress ordered the enclosed resolutions (relating to the present conditions and proposed improvements of the hospitals) to be prepared and sent to Generals Ward and Thomas; but by the agreeable event of your Excellency's appointment to the chief command of the American Army, and arrived at camp (July 3), the propriety of that step ceases. We mean not to dictate to your Excellency, but presume, that to secure the health of the army, and to afford relief for the sick, will naturally engage your attention. Everything in the power of this Congress to enable you to discharge with ease the duties of your exalted and important station will be by us attended to with the greatest alacrity. If the enclosed resolution has that tendency, we attain the end intended by transmitting to you the same, and with respect your Excellency's most humble servants.”

The resolutions transmitted are supposed to have been those given in the preceding pages.

On taking command, Washington made an inspection of the fortifications and camps, and shortly after of the hospitals. The condition of the hospitals he made the subject of a special letter to Congress on July 21st.

“I have made inquiry into the establishment of the hospital and find it in a very unsettled condition. There is no principal director, or any subordinate among the surgeons; of consequence disputes and contentions have arisen, and must continue until it is reduced to some system. I could wish it were immediately taken into consideration, as the lives and health of both officers


and men so much depend upon due regulation of the department. I have been particularly attentive to the least symptoms of smallpox, and hitherto we have been so fortunate as to have every person removed so soon as not only to prevent any communication, but any alarm or apprehension it might give in the camp. We shall continue the utmost vigilance against this most dangerous enemy.”

Although this letter was written on July 21st, the Continental Congress had already acted. This, the first act of the Congress on the subject of a medical department for the army, is sufficiently important to warrant its being set down at this place in full. The act, or resolution, is sufficiently clear to require no explanation. The resolution was the production of a committee of three:-

        Mr. Francis Lewis of New York.
        Mr. Robert T. Paine of Massachusetts.
        Mr. Henry Middleton of South Carolina.

IN CONGRESS, Thursday, July 17, 1775.
RESOLVED, That for the establishment of an Hospital for our ARMY, consisting of 20,000 men, the following officers and other attendants be appointed, with the following allowance and pay.

    A Director-General and Chief Physician, his pay 4 Dollars, per day.

    4    Surgeons, per day, each, one and a third, do.
    1    Apothecary, one and a third, do.
    20    Mates, each per day, two thirds, do.
    1    Clerk, two thirds, do.
    2    Storekeepers, each, 4 Dollars per month.
    1    Nurse to every 10 sick, one fifteenth of a Dollar per day, or 2 Dollars per Month.
    Labourers occasionally.


Director and Chief Physician to furnish medicines, bedding and all other necessaries; to pay for the same; superintend the whole; and to make his report to and receive orders from the Commander-in-Chief.

Surgeons, Apothecaries and Mates to visit and attend the sick, and Mates to obey the orders of the Physician, Surgeons, and Apothecary.?? ??????????


    Matron, to superintend the Nurses, bedding, etc.
    Clerks, to belong to the Director and Storekeeper (one each).
    Storekeeper, to receive and deliver the bedding, and other necessaries, by order of the Director.

                    Extract from the Minutes,
                    Charles Thompson, Secretary.

RESOLVED, That the appointment of the four surgeons, and the apothecary, be left to the Director-General and Chief Physician. — That the Mates be appointed by the Surgeons; and that the number do not exceed twenty; and that the number be not kept in constant pay, unless the sick and wounded should be so numerous as to require the attendance of twenty, and to be dismissed as circumstances will admit; for which purpose the pay is fixed by the day, that they may only receive pay for actual service.

That the Clerk, Storekeeper and Nurses, be appointed by the Directors.

                    Extract from the Minutes,
                        Charles Thompson, Secretary.
                    By Order of CONGRESS,
                        John Hancock, President.

Neither in these resolutions nor in any others at this time was mention made of regimental surgeons or mates; although they had been taken into pay along with the various regiments. It will also be noted that while the resolution gave authority and some systems to the medical establishment, and bestowed some titles, it gave no military rank. It was a crude measure which required much amending, but it was the beginning of a medical department for the army.

The choice of medical director fell on Dr. Benjamin Church, a prominent practitioner and active patriot of Boston. Born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1734, he had graduated at Harvard in 1754. He studied medicine with Dr. Pynchon, and finished his medical education in London. Returning to Boston he became known as a skillful physician and surgeon. He was an enthusiastic patriot, and one of the committee selected to receive Washington on his arrival at Cambridge. He was a member of the Continental Congress in June 1775. He was a mem-


ber of the Committee of Public Safety and was active in all affairs, and enjoyed a high position both socially and professionally. He was an able and active patriot and perhaps stood fourth in that band of flaming characters which led Massachusetts, New England, and all the colonies into the Revolution. He entered upon the duties of his office with every prospect of success and the same measure of fame in his department which his compatriots gained in theirs. But he did not live up to that promise, which perhaps was founded more on brilliant speeches and showy actions than on solid qualities of character. His administration of the medical department, during the few months that he held it, was not marked by harmonious or successful management. His misunderstandings with the regimental surgeons led to frequent complaints, not to the improvement of the service.

It should be said in his behalf that the difficulties of his position were beyond the capacity of any ordinary man. His measures failed to give satisfaction; so did the quartermaster, commissary, and other officers of the staff. Even Washington was attacked, and but for his almost superhuman greatness of character would probably have been deposed. A careful and unbiased study of the times shows many failures, and many that it was humanly impossible to prevent.

The hospitals were necessarily unsatisfactory. They could not have been otherwise. The various regiments established hospitals of their own. The regimental surgeons claimed that they were not allowed sufficient supplies. The Director replied by declaring that these hospitals were more expensive than could be conceived of. The controversy became heated and disturbing. To settle the disturbance the General ordered that a Court of Inquiry sit in each Brigade, to summon the Director and the regimental surgeons, and report on the whole matter. The General also declared that, “When a soldier is so sick that it is no longer safe and proper for him to remain in camp, he should be sent to the general hospital. There is no need of regimental hospitals without the camp, when there is a General Hospital so near and so well supplied.” This dictum, probably suggested by Dr. Church, would meet our approval today.


The inquiry was begun in Sullivan's Brigade on September 14th, and later in Thomas's, Spencer's and other Brigades. On September 30th the inquiry in Spencer's Brigade was postponed, “on account of the indisposition of Dr. Church.” Dr. Church may well have been indisposed, for he was found to be holding correspondence with the enemy, and was placed in arrest. The Inquiry was interrupted, and nothing seems to have come of it.

During the latter part of September, Dr. Church was detected in sending a letter to the British Major Came in Boston. He intrusted the letter to a young woman, but it was taken from her by a Mr. Wormwood of Newport, and sent by Mr. Ward of Providence to General Washington. The letter was in cipher, but was afterwards deciphered. On October 5th Washington wrote the Congress

“I have now a painful though necessary duty to perform, respecting Dr. Church, Director General of the Hospital. About a week ago Mr. Ward of Providence sent up to me one Wormwood, an inhabitant of Newport, with a letter directed to Major Came in Boston, in occult characters; which he said had been left with Wormwood some time ago, by a woman who was kept by Dr. Church. She was trying to carry the letter to Boston. He suspected some improper correspondence, kept the letter, and some time after, opened it; but not being able to read it, laid it up, where it remained, till he received an obscure letter from the woman, expressing anxiety over the original letter. He then communicated the whole matter to Mr. Ward, who sent him up with the paper to me. I immediately secured the woman, but for a long time she was proof against every threat and persuasion to discover the author. However, at length she was brought to a confession, and named Dr. Church. I then immediately secured him and all his papers. Upon his first examination he readily acknowledged the letter, said it was designed for his brother Fleming, and, when deciphered would be found to contain nothing criminal. * * *. Having found a person capable of deciphering the letter, I, in the meantime, had all his papers searched, but found nothing criminal in them. But it appeared, on inquiry, that a confidant had been among his papers, before my messenger arrived. I then called the general officers together for their advice, the result of which you will find enclosed. The deciphered letter is also enclosed.” * * *.

The letter was deciphered by the Reverend Samuel West, and found to be mostly made up of a description of the forces of the Americans, but contained no disclosures of real importance,


and no expressions prejudicial to the country. But in those crucial days the slightest word was proof strong as holy writ, and fatal to its author. A council of war had been assembled on Oct. 3rd, with the General himself as president.4 Dr. Church's plea was, a device to draw information from the the enemy and a disclaimer of any treasonable designs. He was found to be guilty of holding criminal correspondence with the enemy; but by some roundabout procedure the Council referred the case to the Continental Congress. As Dr. Church was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress Court, he appeared before that Court on October 29th. His letter was read and he made a long and curious speech in his own behalf, but he failed to convince the Court. On November 2nd the Court voted that he be expelled from his seat. The case then went back to the Continental Congress which then convicted him. On November 6th Congress voted that he be dismissed from the army and, “That he should be confined in a jail in Connecticut, without the use of pen, ink or paper, and that no person be allowed to converse with him, except in the presence or hearing of a magistrate of the town, or the sheriff of the county where he should be confined, and in the English language.”5 He was imprisoned at Norwich, in accordance with this sentence. In the following May, on account of ill health, he was allowed to return to Massachusetts, under a bond of a thousand pounds. He returned, and in 1776 was given permission to visit the West Indies. He sailed for the West Indies and the vessel was never heard from. So ended miserably his brilliantly begun career.

At this day it is difficult to say what if any, was his degree of guilt. He was heavily in debt, and his position, looked forward to as of eminence and enjoyment, proved one of much trouble and little glory. It is possible that his character was not equal to the test; that his ambition was purely personal, and that he failed like Lee, Arnold, and a few others. Yet his letter may have been harmless. At that time, so high was party zeal and such the prejudice, that a torrent of indignation was sure to sweep away every guilty man—even every suspected man.

The Lowell House, Cambridge

On October 16th Congress elected Dr. John Morgan 6 of Pennsylvania to be Director General, to succeed Dr. Church. His competitors for the place were Dr. Isaac Foster of Massa-


chusetts, surgeon of the Cambridge Hospital, and Lieut. Col. Edward Hand of the Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. Colonel Hand though a physician was an officer of the line, who served with distinction throughout .the war, reaching the rank of brigadier, and in 1781 that of Adjutant General of the Army. He was Major General of the Army in 1798, and died in 1802.

Dr. John Morgan was a native of Pennsylvania, a graduate of the College of Philadelphia in 1757, and M.D. of Edinburgh in 1763. He studied with Hunter in London, and afterwards in Paris and Italy. Returning to Philadelphia, he was the principal founder of the first medical school in America, in 1765. He was the first professor of medicine there, and held that place until his death in 1789. He occupied a high position both socially and professionally; and brought to his new position marked ability, energy, and, above all, solid character. That he did not succeed was due much more to the insuperable difficulties of the place than to any want of either ability or industry on his part. Though in the end dismissed from the service, there was no question of turpitude or disloyalty on his part.

He at once set out for Cambridge, taking his wife with him, and she wrote that on their arrival she was called on by all the generals, including Washington. There was considerable social activity at that time, in which the Morgans took part, though not to the neglect of his duties, in which he was active.7 His own account of his activities on taking charge of his office tells its story better than could be done by anyone else. The following is an excerpt from his later memorial to General Washington :- The Director General found the hospitals about Boston crowded with sick, many of whom could have been treated in their quarters. The principal diseases were: autumnal remittents, typhoid, and dysentery; also a considerable amount of smallpox. He said:-

“On my first arrival at Cambridge I set about to establish rules for the General Hospital Surgeons. I had heard of many abuses being practiced by enormous drafts of expensive stores from the General Hospital to which * * * “. I put a stop, and limited the demands of regimental surgeons to such articles as Indian meal, oatmeal, rice, barley, molasses and the like; and required that such sick as wanted others should be sent to the


General Hospital, that these things might be delivered out under my own directions.

The next reformation I attempted was to call upon all the mates in the Hospital to undergo an examination of their abilities, in order to select from the number those that were best qualified for the service. This was followed by your Excellency's orders, to see that all the Regimental Surgeons and Mates should have a like examination. I began the task, but the movements of the Army, the aversion of Surgeons to undergo their examinations, from which they were often screened by their colonels, and by pretence of sickness, etc., and the increasing business on hand, prevented my proceeding far in it.

When the Army lay before Boston the smallpox frequently made its appearance in it, owing to the number of persons who came out of that city with the infection upon them, which endangered the spreading of the contagion among our troops. By the establishment of the Smallpox Hospital in a suitable place, with proper persons to take care of the sick, and the precaution of sending all infected persons to it, so soon as known to have the disease, and to cut off all communication between it and the troops, the Army was prevented from ever receiving any injury from it.”

When he entered on his duties he found that the General Hospital “was not well supplied with bandages, old linen, the implements of surgery and those that would be required in action.” He set himself to supply this want, with great labor but small expense. “I collected large quantities of old linnen, lint and sheets, made up 6000 bandages, and 600 tourniquets, for the use of the General Hospital, etc., which, though sufficient for a present emergency, I did not think more than might be wanted for six hospitals, which I managed at that time.”

He then called on the regimental surgeons in order to learn how they were prepared and how they could be depended on in the field. He says :- Except Mr. McGaw, surgeon of Col. Thompson's regiment, and a few others, they had scarcely the shadow of a supply. I gave in a report thereon, with a weekly return of the sick.”

This report on the regimental surgeon made them turn on the General Hospital for supplies. They wanted to draw from it whatever they might desire, and if they did not then find everything necessary they tried to fix the blame on Dr. Morgan.


He then “recommended the necessity of providing (not in the Army or General Hospital) but from Continental Druggists, 'a capital set of medicines, instruments, etc., as soon as possible,' and advised that portable chests be furnished for every regiment for a whole year; each chest to be provided with instruments and bandages.”

There was not a great amount of sickness in the army about Boston during the Fall and Winter. In October Dr. John Warren wrote to John Hancock:

“There are four houses here appropriated to the purpose of receiving the sick and wounded in Cambridge: by the names of Washington, Lee, Putnam, and Convalescent Hospitals; all of which contain at present about 350 patients; being all the sick of the army in Cambridge, excepting such as are slightly sick, as to be attended with convenience in camp. The number is rather upon the decrease, and but a small number have hitherto died. Three houses are improved for the same purpose at Roxbury. The number of sick and wounded there I cannot ascertain.”

There was little military system at this time; much dissension and controversy over rank. The rank of hospital surgeons was at first esteemed higher than that of regimental surgeons.

Thatcher said of the sick at that date:-

“Our hospitals are considerably crowded with sick soldiers from camp, the prevailing diseases are autumnal fevers and dysenteric complications, which have proved fatal in a considerable number of instances. It is highly gratifying to observe that these brave men, while in the service of their country, receive in sickness all the kind attention from physicians and nurses, which their circumstances require, they have the prayers and consolation of pious clergymen, and are destitute of nothing, but the presence of their dearest friends, to alleviate their sufferings.”

This account confirms Morgan's statement that the General Hospital was well appointed and generally satisfactory. The deficiencies and neglect were in the regimental hospitals; which the medical directors all tried to eliminate, but which the colonels and regimental surgeons, by private appeals to the Congress, were able to maintain almost throughout the war.

During the Fall it was seen that the Army must be reorganized. The terms of the Connecticut and Rhode Island regi-


ments were to expire in December. None of the troops were engaged beyond April. On October 15th a committee on reorganization from Congress visited the camp, and was in session from the 18th to the 22nd, in conference with Washington and committees from the New England colonies. A plan was agreed on and presently sanctioned by Congress. There was to be a Continental Army of twenty-six regiments, amounting to about 33,000 men, the colonies to furnish men as follows:

        Massachusetts, . . . . . . .16 regiments,—20,000     men.
        Connecticut,  . . . . . . . . .5 regiments,—    8,000    men.
        New Hampshire, . . . . . .3 regiments,—    3,000    men.
        Rhode Island,  . . . . . . . .2 regiments,—    1,500    men.

There were also to be battalions of riflemen, and artillery. Enlistments were to be for one year from the coming January 1st.

The command of the artillery was given to Henry Knox, a Boston bookseller. He brought guns from Ticonderoga, and with the powder and tools captured by Captain Manley from the brig “Nancy,” organized his artillery corps.

This was the principal army. In addition there was the Northern Army under Montgomery and Arnold, now on its way to Quebec. It was resolved that the Northern Army should consist of nine battalions (increased to eleven) ; two to be recruited in Canada, two from Pennsylvania, and one each from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island.

Besides these armies the Congress had taken into pay various other colonial forces :- South Carolina, three regiments, increased to five; Virginia, two regiments, increased later to nine; North Carolina, three regiments, increased to six. Delaware was called upon for a regiment; Pennsylvania for six, New Jersey for two, New York for four, and Georgia for one. Delaware and Virginia were called on for riflemen to make up one regiment. The southern regiments remained in their respective states until the next summer.

During the Fall months nothing of great importance happened to the army before Boston. Lord Howe replaced Gen. Gage in command of the British Army, but he attempted no move-


ments. In November there was a fortunate success for the colonists. Captain Manly captured the British ordnance brig “Nancy”, with 2000 muskets, 100,000 flints, 30 tons of musket shot, 30,000 round shot, eleven mortar beds, one thirteen-inch mortar, and a supply of tools. There was great joy over the capture of these much needed stores, which enabled Knox to fully equip his scant artillery train.

During the siege there had been a considerable waste of powder on both sides of the lines. Fotheringham says that from June 17th to December 31st the British fired 2000 shot and shell. The effect of this was to kill seven men on the Cambridge side, and six on the Roxbury side.

In December many men began to go home, especially those from Connecticut, and Congress was obliged to call in 3000 militiamen from Massachusetts and 2000 from New Hampshire. These men came in promptly and proved much more satisfactory than had been expected. On December 13th Washington wrote,

“The army is filling up. The barracks go on well. The soldiers are made comfortable and easy. Provisions and money are very plenty and the soldiers faithfully paid. Chaplains constantly attend the camps, morning and night; prayers are often offered for peace and reconciliation, and the soldiers are very attentive.”

On December 24th a general order directed the issue of rations :-
        Corned beef and pork four days in a week.
        Salt fish one day and fresh beef two days.
        Half a pint of rice, or a pint of meal a week.
        One quart of spruce beer per day, or nine gallons of molasses to one hundred men a week.
        Six pounds of candles to 100 men a week.
        Six ounces of butter, or one ounce of lard per week.
        Three pints of peas or beans per man per week, or vegetables equivalent.
        One pound of flour per man per day. Hard bread to be delt out one day in the week.

The army, however, suffered much for want of firewood and hay. Greene wrote that often they had to eat their rations raw for want of firewood, and that they suffered for tents, food and clothing.

Another writer at this time said :-


“I viewed the camps at Roxbury and Cambridge. The lines of both are impregnable; with forts (many of which are bombproof) and redoubts, supposing them to be in all directions, are about 20 miles; the breastworks of a proper height, and in many places seventeen feet in thickness; the trenches wide and deep in proportion; before which lay forked impediments; and many forts in every respect are perfectly ready for battle. The whole, in a word the admiration of every spectator; for really these forts appear to be the works of seven years, instead of about as many months. At these camps are about twenty thousand men. The generals and other Officers, in all their undertaking, solid, direct, and courageous, the men daily raving for action.”    *    *    *  .

“The army in good order, and very healthy, and about six weeks ago lodged in comfortable barracks.”

In January the army was weaker than at any other time during the siege. The old regiments were being disbanded and the new ones had not arrived. There was also much dissatisfaction, and the enthusiasm of many had waned. Washington issued an address to the troops urging on them the strictest discipline. “When everything dear to freemen was at stake,” he urged them to acquire the knowledge and conduct necessary to war. “An army without order, regularity or discipline is no better than a commissioned mob.”

At length the critical period was safely passed. As General Greene said, “We have just experienced the inconvenience of disbanding an army within cannon shot of the enemy and forming a new one, an instance never known before.”

At this time Washington received a resolution of Congress authorizing him to make an assault “in any manner he might think expedient, notwithstanding the town, and property in it, might be destroyed.” A council of war decided that an attack ought to be made before the British were reinforced in the Spring, but were of the opinion that the present force was inadequate. Congress was asked for thirteen regiments of militia, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, to be at Cambridge by February 1st and remain until the last of March.

Congress approved of this measure, but as news was received of the reverses in Canada, it was deemed expedient to send three of the new regiments to the aid of the forces there. Of these new regiments, seven were apportioned to Massachusetts,


four to Connecticut, and two to New Hampshire. In writing to the government of these states, Washington urgently solicited their attention to arms, ammunition, blankets, kettles, and clothing, as from the amazing deficiency in his camp he would not be able to supply them.

During January and February 1776, there was no fighting beyond occasional skirmishes of small parties. The army was still too weak to attack. On February 9th Washington reported that two thousand of his men were without firelocks and that he was obliged to conceal the state of the army, even from his own officers. On February 16th he stated to a council of officers that there were then in camp 8797 men fit for duty, besides 1405 that might be ordered to join; and that the new regiments when all in would give an addition of 7280. From the best intelligence he could obtain, the British in Boston numbered about 5000 men for duty. The British, however, were well organized and trained, had excellent officers, and artillery, was protected by a strong fleet, and had every advantage of position.

On January 2nd the General issued a “table of organizations” of which the following are the principal features

        Officers of a regiment of eight companies.
            Colonel                    Adjutant
            Lieut. Colonel          Quartermaster
            Major                      Surgeon
                                            Surgeon's mate.

            Captain                four sergeants
            First Lieut.           four corporals
            Second Lieut.      drummer and fifer
            Ensign                  76 privates.

    On January 24th the army was organized as follows:

Gen. Thomas's Brigade, Mass. Gen. Spencer's Brigade, Conn.
    Learned's Regt.                       Parson's Regt.
    Joseph Reed's Regt.                Huntington's Regt.
    Whitcomb's Regt.                   Webb's Regt.
    Ward's Regt.                          Wylly's Regt.
    Bailey's Regt.


Gen. Greene's Brigade, R. I.     Gen. Heath's Brigade, Mass.
    Varnum's Regt.                        Prescott's Regt.
    Hitchcock's Regt.                    Sergeant's Regt.
    Little's Regt.                            Phinney's Regt.
    Bond's Regt.                           Greaton's Regt.
                                                   Baldwin's Regt.

Gen. Sullivan's Brigade, N.H.  Gen. Glover's Brigade, Mass.
    James Reed's Regt.                Glover's Regt.
    Nixon's Regt.                         Patterson's Regt.
    Stark's Regt.                          Arnold's Regt.
    Poor's Regt.                           Hutchinson's Regt.

    The troops were quartered in barracks or buildings during the winter :-
        At Prospect Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3464
        At different places  . . . . . . . . . . .3460
        At Roxbury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3795
        Dorchester   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  814
        Sewall's Point  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   400
        Cambridge Barracks . . . . . . . . . . 640
        Winter Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3380
        In the College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640
        In the new College  . . . . . . . . . . . 640
        In the old College . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
        North Chapel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160

The question of regimental surgeons had not been considered by Congress before December. On the 8th it was “Resolved, that a surgeon be allowed to each regiment (in the service of the United Colonies); that the pay of a regimental surgeon be 25 dollars per (calendar) month. And on March 30th, “Resolved, that each regimental surgeon be allowed a mate; That the pay of a surgeon's mate be 18 dollars per month; That (suitable chirurgical) instruments be purchased with each medicine chest.”

On Jan. 5th the pay of regimental surgeons was increased to 33 1/3 dollars per month.

In this month the question of holding surgeons as prisoners of war came up and was treated in a most advanced and enlightened manner by a committee of Congress, of which Benjamin Franklin was the head, and wrote the report.


It appears that the case of a Dr. Huddleston, of the British Army, a prisoner of war, was considered by the Congress. The committee was of the opinion: “That he be immediately set at Liberty on the terms he mentions."

This report, with all its capitals, is in the writing of Benjamin Franklin. The advanced ideas are noteworthy.8

During February there were persistent rumors in the camp of a movement against the enemy. Thatcher wrote in his journal in February:-

“Dr. John Morgan of Philadelphia is appointed by Congress to be Director of our Hospital, instead of Dr. Church removed. Since his arrival here a new and systematic arrangement in the medical department has taken place; the number of surgeon's mates in the hospital is to be reduced, and vacancies in regiments supplied. I have been subjected to another examination by Dr. Morgan, and received from him the appointment of surgeon's mate to Dr. David Townsend, in the regiment commanded by Colonel Asa Whitcomb, stationed in the barracks on Prospect Hill.”

Feb. 22nd. “Order received for surgeons and surgeons' mates to prepare lint and bandages, to the amount of two thousand, for fractured limbs and other gunshot wounds. Some important event expected. Officers and men eager for a conflict with the enemy.” He says that in March at the time of the Dorchester Heights movement the ground was frozen eighteen inches deep.

By the end of February the new regiments had come in and Washington felt strong enough to end the period of inaction under which he had so long chafed. Colonel Knox had brought from Crown Point and Ticonderoga, over frozen lakes and deep snows, more than fifty cannon, mortars and howitzers; a supply of shells had been procured from New York and captured ships; even powder was at last plentiful. Ten new regiments had come in. It was resolved to seize and fortify Dorchester Heights; a measure which would compel the British either to come out and fight, or to give up the place. Discipline was tightened up and all directed to prepare for action. An order of February 26th recited that, “if any man in action shall presume to skulk, hide himself, or retreat from the enemy without orders of his com-


manding officer, he will be instantly shot down as an example of cowardice.”

On the night of March 4th, the attention of the enemy being distracted by bombardment in other quarters, General Thomas marched with two thousand men to take possession of Dorchester Heights. A covering party of eight hundred led the way; the carts with intrenching tools followed; then twelve hundred troops; and a train of three hundred carts, loaded with frames and hay, brought up the rear. The hay was to be placed on the roads that the carts might pass without noise. The movement was a complete success; by morning two forts were so well advanced as to afforded protection. The 5th, the anniversary of the Boston Massacre, was one of triumph for the Americans and of consternation for the British. The works commanded both harbor and town. Howe at first resolved to assault them, and mustered a force of twenty-four hundred men for the attempt. These preparations were known to Washington. Thomas was reinforced by two thousand men, and the works further strengthened. A picked command of four thousand men was ready at Cambridge for a counter attack on the lines near Boston. But a storm prevented either side from moving on that day and on the 7th Howe decided to evacuate the town. In order to get off in safety, he threatened to burn the place if attacked. As Washington desired only to drive the British out and to get possession, he was quite willing to allow them to go unmolested. He, however, went ahead with his preparations. The evacuation began on March 17th, and General Putnam entered with some regiments. On the 20th the main body of the army marched in.

An important part of the evacuation,—scarcely less so than the driving out of the British,—was the removal with it of more than a thousand British sympathizers. Many important personages, members of the Council, commissioners, custom house officers, clergymen, physicians and others of prominence, besides farmers, tradesmen and mechanics, left for Halifax, to return no more. The New England colonies were cleared of their disloyal element. Henceforth the population was united, without malcontents or spies in its midst. So strongly were the British authorities impressed with the union, vigor and efficiency of


these colonies that no attempt was again made to subdue them, during the whole war. They remained the backbone and main support of the Revolutionary cause. The driving out of the British from Boston was one of the most solid and durable achievements of the Continental Army. Succeeding undertakings were not so fortunate.

On March 9th, 1776, the strength of the army was 18,410, officers and men. Of this number there were sick present 2445, and sick absent 330; total 2775, or about fifteen per cent of the army. It seems that many of these men were not seriously ill, for Morgan says that when the army marched for New York, in March and April, only about three hundred sick were left behind. A considerable number of the less seriously ill were taken along.

During the siege the British had occupied various places as hospitals: churches, the workhouse, almshouse, and a large building known as the “Manufactory House.” The Americans on entering made use of the same buildings. Dr. John Warren found considerable stores of bedding, furniture and medicines which the enemy was unable to carry away. Morgan said :-

“By dint of assiduity, I collected a great number of blankets, beds and rugs which had been left by the British Army; in hospitals, barracks, and in the river. I had them washed and made fit for use. By the General's order I took possession of a large Druggist's shop, and a small one of a private practitioner, after they were gleaned of capital articles, as: camphor, rhubarb, bark (Peruvian), opium, etc. The General, concluding it would be a means of supplying the regiments as well as the General Hospital, ordered me to purchase such articles as were wanted, and as I could get, and make one chest for every regiment in the army which he commanded. This made it late before I could get to New York; and about half the mates were employed in packing and accompanying the medicines to New York.”

Dr. John Warren

Washington always took a personal interest in the surgeons, hospitals, and supplies.

The army did not tarry long in Boston. On the very day after the British evacuated the place, General Heath marched for New York with the regiments of Stark, Webb, Patterson, Greaton and Bond. On March 27th Sullivan's New Hampshire Brigade started, another brigade on April 1st, and Spencer's Brigade, accompanied by Washington, on April 4th. This left but five regiments to defend the place.


As there had been much smallpox in the city during the winter, and as the disease still continued, it was ordered that all the troops be inoculated. Thatcher says that he had himself inoculated in May by Dr. John Homan, and passed through the disease with only a few days' inconvenience. On July 3rd he wrote in his journal :-

“Order given to inoculate for the smallpox all the soldiers and inhabitants in the town, as a general infection of this terrible disease is apprehended. Dr. Townsend and myself are constantly engaged in this business.”

“Aug. 5th. Colonel Whitcomb's Regiment, of five hundred men, has now gone through the smallpox in this town, by inoculation, and all, except one, a negro, have recovered.”

The resolve to inoculate the troops with smallpox, as a preventive against a fatal epidemic during the vital movements of a campaign, illustrates the bold and courageous actions of the leaders of that day. Today, when many medical men believe it would be more advisable to allow measles to spread unhindered in camps (during warm weather), no one has the courage to practice or even to advocate such measures. In that day it was resolved to not only allow to spread, but even to spread purposely by inoculation, such a deadly disease as smallpox, which regularly destroyed fifteen per cent of its victims. The inoculation was, however, done at the recruit stage, or before the opening of a campaign, if possible.



1 As nearly as can now be made out, posed as follows :-

        Army at Cambridge, General War.
            Whitcomb's Regt  . . . . .  470   
            Frye's Regt.  . . . . . . . . .  493
            Brewer's Regt . . . . . . . . 318   
            Scammon's Regt.  . . . . . 396
            Nixon's Regt . . . . . . . . . 224   
            Prescott's Regt. . . . . . . .456
            Mansfield's Regt . . . . . . 345   
            Gerrish's Regt.    . . . . . . 421
            Gridley's Artillery . . . . .  370   
            Woodbridge's Regt. . . .  242
            Bridge's Regt  . . . . . . . . 315   
            Ward's Regt. . . . . . . . .  449
            Doolittle's Regt . . . . . . . 308   
            Gardner's Regt. . . . . . . .425
            Little's Conn. Regt  . . . . 400   
            Patterson's Regt. . . . . . .472
                       Miscellaneous. .1581

        At Charlestown Neck and elsewhere.
            Stark's N. H. Regt.   
            Putnam's Conn. Regt.
            Reed's N. H. Regt.   
            Spencer's Conn. Regt.

        At Roxbury, General Thomas.
            Thomas's Regt.       
            Walker's Regt.
            Learned's Regt.       
            Read's Regt.
            Fellow's Regt.         
            Danielson's Regt.
            Cotton's Regt.         
            Robinson's Regt.

    General total, . . . . 11,636


Dr. John Brooks

2 John Brooks was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1752. At the age of fourteen he began his medical apprenticeship of seven years. He began practice in Reading, Massachusetts, in 1773. The Commencement of the war saw him captain of a company of minute men, and he changed professions quickly. His company took part in the Lexington alarm, and his part led to a commission as major in Bridge's Regiment. He was at Bunker Hill, and was chosen to go to General Ward for reinforcements. He was made Lt. Col. of the 8th Massachusetts on November 1, 1776, and transferred to the 7th Massachusetts in November 11, 1778. At Saratoga he led his regiment in breaking the british line in the second battle. Later he was an aide to Steuben, the Inspector General of the Army. At Monmouth he was Acting Adjutant General. He became brigadier general of the United States Army in 1792 and was honorably discharged (there being no retirement then) in 1796.


He again took up the practice of medicine in Medford, and continued until elected Governor of the State in 1816. Harvard College conferred on him the degree of A.M. in 1787, and M.D. and LL.D. in 1816. He was prominent in all public movements until his death in 1825.


3 Dr. Benjamin Church was the great-grandson of Col. Benjamin Church, who distinguished himself in the Indian wars. He was born at Newport, Rhode Island, August 24, 1734; graduated at Harvard in 1754, studied medicine with Dr. Pynchon, and later in London. He became a prominent surgeon of Boston, and a leader in public affairs. He was a member of the provincial Congress, and one of half a dozen leading spirits in opposition to the measures of Great Britain. He was entrusted with important matters, and on July 27, 1775, was elected Director General and Physician-in-Chief of the Hospital Department. His downfall and death have been described.

4 At a Council of War, held at Head Quarters, Cambridge, October 3rd, 1775, present— His Excellency, General Washington; Major Generals Ward, Lee and Putnam; Brigadier Generals Spencer, Heath, Sullivan, Greene, Thomas; Adjutant General Gates.
The General communicated to this Board a discovery of a correspondence carried on with the enemy by Doctor Church, by letter in characters, which was deciphered by Rev'd. Mr. West, and laid the same letter before the members of the Council.

After considering and discussing the matter, it was determined to adjourn until tomorrow, and then, that Dr. Church be examined.

October 4th. Council of War met; present as before. Dr. Church being sent for, and shown the letter in characters, was asked whether the said letter was written by him, to which he answered, he believed so. He was shown the explanation of said letter as deciphered, and asked whether it was a true one, to which he answered in the affirmative. Dr. Church then explained his intentions in writing said letter, as calculated to impress the enemy with a strong idea of our strength, and situation, in order to prevent an attack, at a time when the Continental Army was in great want of ammunition, and in hopes of effecting the most speedy accommodation of the present dispute; and made solemn asservations of his innocence.

The General then asked the opinion of the Council severally, whether it did not appear, that Dr. Church had carried on a criminal correspondence with the enemy; to which they Immediately answered in the affirmative. The Question was then taken and discussed,—what were the proper steps to be taken with respect to him, and, after examining the articles of the Continental Army, and particularly the articles 28 and 51, it was determined from the enormity of the crime, and the very inadequate punishment pointed out, that it should be referred to the General Congress, for their special direction, and in the meantime, he be closely confined, and no person visit him but by special direction.”



5 That Dr. Church be close confined in some secure jail, in the Colony of Connecticut, without the use of pen, ink, and paper, and that no person be allowed to converse with him, except in the presence, and hearing, of a magistrate of the town, or the sheriff of the county where he shall be confined, and in the English language, until further orders from this or a future congress.


6 John Morgan was of Welsh descent, born in Philadelphia in 1735. The family was Quaker, like very many in Pennsylvania at that time. lie was educated in Reverend Linley's School at Nottingham, Chester County, and graduated at the College of Philadelphia in 1757: the first B.A. of that College. He began the study of medicine the same year, and continued it for four years with Dr. John Redman of Philadelphia.

On April 1, 1758, he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the army of General Forbes, marching against Fort DuQuesne. His principal duties were attending to the many sick. In 1760 he resigned from the army and crossed the ocean to study medicine in London, meeting there the leading medical men of the time, as well as Benjamin Franklin, who became his sincere friend. Next year he attended lectures at the University of Edinburgh, and received his medical degree there in 1763: from the then most famous medical school in the world. He then spent a year in travel and study, in France, Switzerland and Italy. Returning to London, he completed his plans for the new medical school which he proposed to establish in Philadelphia.

In 1765 he reached Philadelphia, and in the Fall of that year the first medical school in the Western Hemisphere began its career, fathered by John Morgan. He also entered on a lucrative practice, enjoying high standing in the circle of arts and letters, as well as in society; and, in short, was one of the leading men of his place and time.

In 1765 he was married to Mary Hopkinson. In 1772 he was one of the group of men founding the American Philosophical Society, and by a journey to the West Indies raised two thousand pounds for the medical school. When the war began he sided with the colonies, and in October 1775 was made Director General of the Medical Department of the Continental Army. His activities during the war will be recorded. In January 1777 he was dismissed by the Congress, which had taken direction of the army and was wavering in its support of Washington. Morgan asked for an investigation, which was refused for two years. Finally, in 1779, he was given a hearing. Washington, Rush and many others testified in his behalf and he was completely vindicated. Broken in spirit, he again took up private practice. Gradually he withdrew to a life of retirement, study and reflection. He died October 15, 1789.



                                    Boston, December 12, 1775.

7 In pursuance of your Excellency's command I have carefully inquired into the state of the General Hospital and of the sick in each house, and do find that the number set down in the last weekly return, made to me from the surgeons of the Hospital, amount to 676; but they have sometimes amounted to near 1500, of which the proportion at Roxbury is about one-third; and on an average their returns have proved to be nearly in that proportion. And, whereas, from the great number of troops stationed at Roxbury, and its being so remote from Cambridge, it is absolutely necessary to have houses there for the reception and care of the sick, and to have stores and proper offices for the same; and, on further consideration of the merits and services of William Aspenwall and Lemuel Hayward, in establishing houses for that purpose and their care, attention, and skill, manifested as surgeons ever since the Army has been established, as well as the expediency of retaining gentlemen of their abilities and good character in the Hospital, and the particular advantage of their being stationed at Roxbury, in case of action in that quarter, (the mates of the Hospital in general being not yet qualified for a trust of that importance without the direction of a superior; and the four surgeons already appointed by Dr. Chick, being fully employed, in times of prevailing sickness at Cambridge, and will all be wanted there in case of general action). I would beg leave to recommend that Mr. Aspenwahl and Mr. Hayward may still be kept in pay as additional surgeons in the General Hospital, so long as circumstances require, with liberty to draw on this hospital for the necessary instruments, medicines, etc.

And whereas, the smallpox hath made its appearance at several times in the Army, and a number of persons have lately been sent out of Boston, and landed at Point Shirley, with the smallpox in them, it is highly expedient to fix on a proper place for conveying such persons to, as may have tie smallpox, with suitable conveniences to prevent the spreading, and to have a surgeon and mate of experience take these constantly, whose sole business shall be restricted to the taking care of the soldiers, and other persons that may have the smallpox, and be sent thither to prevent its spreading. And, whereas, Dr. Isaac Rand has hitherto been employed as surgeon, and Mr. Lyne as his mate, to take care of the smallpox patients, who are willing to remain in that department, I do further recommend that they may be continued in pay, as surgeon and mate for this service, so long as occasion requires, with liberty to draw on the General Hospital for necessary supplies.

                                    JOHN MORGAN.


His Excellency General Washington.

Jan. 25th.


8 “That he be immediately set at Liberty on the Terms he mentions. And that a verbal Proposition be sent by him to General Carleton, to enter into a stipulation on both sides, not only to release all Physicians and Surgeons; but that if by the Fortunes of War, the Hospital of either Army should fall into the Power of the other, the same Subsistance and Supplies should be afforded to the Sick and Wounded as if Friends; and that neither they nor the Attendants of the Hospitals should be considered as detained as Prisoners. And it is farther the Opinion of the Committee, that if Govr. Carleton should not agree to the mutual Release of Surgeons, Dr. Huddleston is to be on Parole, to return immediately hither.”

This report in the handwriting of Benjamin Franklin is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 19, III, Folio 215.


Dr. William Eustis

9 William Eustis was born in Boston June 18, 1753. He entered Harvard at fourteen, and graduated in 1772. He then began the study of medicine with Dr. Joseph Warren, and was the assistant to whom Warren turned over his cases when he rode away toward Lexington. He was made surgeon of Gridley's Artillery, later Knox's, and served with it until December 1776, being with the army about New York and New Jersey. He was then offered a commission as lieutenant colonel of artillery, but declined and was appointed a hospital surgeon. He had charge of a hospital in Connecticut, and later at Robinson's House, near West Point; he was the surgeon there at the time of Arnold's treason. He served until March 1783, then retired to the practice of medicine in Boston. In 1786 he was a surgeon again, with the Massachusetts troops in an Indian campaign, and in Shay's Rebellion. In 1788 he was chosen a member of the General Court; in 1800 he became member of Congress; and served as Secretary of War from 1809 to 1813. In 1815 he was appointed minister to Holland; in 1821 was elected member of Congress again; served two terms; and still later was elected governor of Massachusetts. Truly this is a remarkable list of positions to have been filled by a physician, effectively refuting the oft-heard claim that a medical man has no ability outside his profession. Nor was Eustis alone in such preferment and success. There were many of similar character, though few so often chosen for high place. He died September 6, 1825.




To A. . . . . . . . . . .  B. . . . . . . . . . .    Greetings :-

Being informed of your skill in Surgery, and reposing special trust in your ability, and good conduct: we do by these presents, constitute and appoint you the said A. . . . . . . B. . . . . . to be Surgeon of the Regiment of foot, whereof . . . . . . . . . . is Colonel, raised by the Congress aforesaid, for the defense of said Colony. You are, therefore, carefully, and diligently, to discharge the duty of a Surgeon to the said regiment, in all things pertaining thereto, observing such orders, and instructions, as you shall from time to time receive, from the Colonel of said regiment, according to military rules and discipline, established by said Congress, or any your superior officers, for which, this shall be your sufficient warrant.

                    BY ORDER OF THE CONGRESS,

                                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President.

Dated at Watertown
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1775.