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Chapter IV

Table of Contents



1775 - 1776

Map of Canada

While the Continental Army was besieging Boston the Congress, on the recommendation of Washington, resolved on a bold and daring offensive movement, which had no less objective than the invasion of Canada, the capture of its strong places, and the wresting of that extensive colony from the British crown. It was believed that the many French inhabitants would welcome the invaders and gladly join them in the contest. This attempt, undertaken as it was by forces poorly equipped, practically without artillery, with few tents, with scanty clothing, through vast roadless wildernesses, and at the beginning of an Arctic winter, was one requiring such courage, resolution, and heroism as yet today to astonish the mind and seem like one of the legendary exploits of antiquity. Its leaders exhibited an indomitable fortitude, a courage under all misfortunes, a heroism which neither cold, starvation, sickness, nor failure could quench. And all these things were the men of this expedition to endure. For the first measure of success was but an elusive ignis fatuus that lured them on deeper into the frozen and snow-covered wilderness, where they were to meet defeat after defeat, and then be compelled to withdraw, dying at every step by disease more fatal than the bullets of the enemy.

After the capture of Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen in May 1775, a small force of Connecticut troops (Hinman's Regiment) had remained at that place to guard the colonies against an invasion from Canada. Benedict Arnold had proposed this expedition early in the Spring, but it was not undertaken until Fall. In August General Schuyler assembled his little army, consisting of four small regiments, from New York and two from Connecticut, possibly 1500 men in all. This weak force moved down the Lakes, and on September 6th entered the Sorel


River. Having failed in an attack on St. Johns, Schuyler went back to hurry up reinforcements and supplies. He was sick and did not return. Already disease was dogging the footsteps of the little army.

This force was so widely separated from the main army at Boston, and was at such a remote point in the wilderness that great suffering from the want of medical supplies, and even of surgeons, attended it from the beginning. It was entirely outside the sphere of a medical establishment that had been organized for a single army. As early as August 6th Schuyler wrote to the Congress:-

“Out of five hundred men that are here, near a hundred are sick, and I have not any kind of hospital stores, although I had not forgot to order them, immediately after my appointment. The little wine I had for my own table I have delivered to the regimental surgeons.1 That being expended, I shall no longer bear the distress of the sick. * * *. I shall take the liberty immediately to order a physician from Albany, to join me with such stores as are indispensably necessary.”

He went on to say that if Congress would not compensate this surgeon he would do so himself. He sent for and employed Dr. Samuel Stringer2 of Albany. Dr. Stringer was a native of Maryland who had studied medicine in Philadelphia, later served as surgeon in the British Army, and was supposed to be familiar with the duties of a medical director: to which position he was elected by Congress on September 14th. A separate department, the Northern Dept., was created, with Schuyler as Commander-in-Chief and Stringer as Medical Director.3  He was authorized to employ four surgeons̓ mates to assist him. The headquarters of the Department seem to have been at Fort George, as was also the General Hospital. On October 25th Stringer wrote from Fort George, pointing out the necessities for the service of his department, and asking for additional surgeons and mates. The only medical officers with the expedition, excepting himself, were the surgeons of the several regiments; and their mates, who in some cases might be called doctors.

Although Schuyler was unable to return to the army, he sent forward recruits to the New York regiments; Wooster's Connecticut Regiment came on from Albany; also Seth Warner's


Green Mountain Boys, and some New Hampshire Rangers. Livingstone also raised a small regiment of Canadians, and the expedition amounted to perhaps 2000 men. It was destitute of almost everything necessary to an army, and was advancing into the northern wilderness, at the beginning of winter, scourged by sickness, including the dread smallpox. But there were heroic souls in that little army, and the new leader, Richard Montgomery, a former British officer of many years service, pushed resolutely on. Chambly was taken on September 24th, and St. John's on November 3rd. Two British regiments were made prisoners; among the officers, a Swiss Lieutenant John Andre, Quartermaster. Montgomery then marched swiftly to Montreal, which fell on November 12th. At this place a most welcome supply of woolen was found for the thinly clad soldiers. But sickness, desertions, and expiration of terms of enlistment had reduced the army to five hundred men. The Connecticut regiments were discharged, or remained to garrison Montreal. The 4th New York was left at St. John's.

With the remaining New York troops, about three hundred in all, Montgomery, who learned of Arnold's success, advanced on the great fortress of Quebec. He had seen Wolfe win fame there, and was of no less heroic mold.

While Montgomery was marching down the old line of the lakes, so often trodden by armies, Benedict Arnold led an independent force through the unknown Maine wilderness, directly on Quebec. If Montgomery's march was heroic, what shall be said of that of Arnold and his devoted followers? Yet today the story reads like an account of the achievements of some supermen of the legendary heroic age.

Chateau de Ramezay, Montreal

The little band assembled at Cambridge early in September. It consisted of ten companies of musketeers, volunteers from the New England regiments, two companies of riflemen from Thompson's Pennsylvania Regiment, and Daniel Morgan's company of Virginia riflemen.4  There were two lieutenant colonels, two majors, the usual captains, lieutenants and ensigns, and about eight-five men to each company. The total was 1050, or possibly 1100 men. In Maine they were joined by a certain Captain Coburn with a small company of artificers, about twenty in number.


The surgeon was Dr. Isaac Senter5 of Rhode Island. He had a mate named Green, and two assistants Barr and Jackson. There was also a Dr. Irvin, or Irvine, serving as ensign in Morgan's Company. Still another medical man appears to have been with the expedition, Dr. Coates, who has been mentioned as surgeon of the Pennsylvania contingent. Captain Henry Dearborn,6 of the New Hampshire Co., was a physician who had exchanged the scalpel for the sword. He served through the entire war and lived to be Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Dr. Isaac Senter

The expedition was ordered by Washington to be ready on September 6th, but, although every day's delay added to the difficulty of the undertaking, all was not ready until September 11th. The little army marched to Newburyport, and embarked from that place in a flotilla of vessels on September 19th, entered the Kennebec safely and landed at Fort Western, now Augusta, on September 23rd. From this place Arnold was to ascend the Kennebec and its chief western branch, cross the Height of Land, and descend the River Chaudiere to Quebec, by a route supposed to exist, but known to no one of the party. Beyond a short distance above Fort Western there were neither inhabitants, roads, nor any possible supplies, until the French settlements on the Chaudiere should be reached; a distance of 175 miles; made twice as great by swamps, rapid rivers, mountains and tangled forests, and rain, with cold weather and snow. As no supply train could possibly be taken, a fleet of bateaux, about one hundred in number, had been prepared, to carry the fifty tons of ammunition and supplies. Each company had about seven of these boats, and one was apportioned to the doctor to carry his instruments, medicines and other supplies. About five hundred men moved up the river in the boats; the remaining six hundred marched along the banks.

But the rivers were a succession of rapids and falls, each of which necessitated “carrying” both boats and cargo a distance of from a few hundred yards to a few miles; and at the Great Divide, some twelve miles. The men on shore had a succession of tributary streams and swamps to wade, at times four feet deep or more, and in October fringed with ice. Dysentery began early, and it seems a miracle that all did not perish from rheumatism and pneumonia. But they were famine proof and disease proof; remarkably few actually died.


The advance up the Kennebec began on September 25th, the four divisions marching on successive days. Norridgewock was reached, October 2 - 4, and the “Great Carrying Place,” where the river was left on October 7th - 11th. Here all human habitants were left behind, and the little army plunged into what Dr. Senter called “a direful, howling wilderness, not describable.” The doctor appears to have been ordered to march with the rear division, that of Lieut. Col. Enos.

Leaving the river, Arnold moved northwest by a chain of lakes to strike Dead River near Mount Bigelow. By the 20th all had reached this river and were ready to ascend it to the Great Divide. So far all had been well. Now the weather grew bad, with much rain, and more sickness appeared. The men who were daily wading icy rivers, thoroughly subjected to the most exhausting labors at the portages, began to weaken. Exposure and fatigue began to tell. Of their own motion the men of the first division threw together a “brush hut” for the sick, at the second portage after leaving the river, but that was inadequate. Arnold ordered the construction of a “log hospital.” The soldiers christened it “Arnold Hospital.” Dr. Irvine, who had been serving as an ensign in Morgan's company, was left there with some eight or ten sick men.7

On October 16th, before all the column was up, Arnold pushed ahead on Dead River. His force had been reduced by sickness, desertion and straggling to about 950 effective men. Dr. Senter says that from this time on the sickness increased, but the amount does not seem to have been great. There was some rheumatism and a moderate amount of camp diarrhoea; but no camp fever and no smallpox. Arnold reported that there was now twenty-five days rations, but the ration was cut to three-fourths of a pound each of flour and salt pork per man. Much of the bread they had brought along was damaged by water, and it was soon necessary to put all on half rations. On the 17th Major Bigelow was sent back to the rear division for supplies, and the army halted in the neighborhood of Mount Bigelow, until the 22nd. As he returned with practically nothing, the little army again took up the advance, or, rather, the first three divisions did, on the 22nd. The rains began again and the weather was colder. The men were almost continually wading,


and thoroughly drenched. The rivers were out of the banks and full of floating debris. The lowlands became swamps. The 4th Division, still in camp at Camp Green (now Flagstaff) lost courage.

On October 23rd Arnold held a council of war, the affair being desperate. Capt. Hanchett was sent forward with fifty men to try to reach the Chaudiere River. Twenty-six sick men were sent back. Greene and Enos, still in the rear, were ordered to come on with their best men and to send back all the rest. On the 24th there was rain and then snow. Morgan was still advancing and the others following. Greene sent back forty-eight sick men from his division.8 Next day Enos gave up and decided to return. He turned over two and a half barrels of flour to Greene, and then with the three companies of Williams, McCobb and Scott, and a number of stragglers, about three hundred in all, marched to the rear. He returned to Massachusetts, where he was at once tried by court martial. But as all the witnesses against him were with Arnold, and only his weak-kneed subordinates were present to testify, the court acquitted him. His course was the more despicable because of the fact that the advance divisions had by far the greater hardships; the troubles of the rear were comparatively light. It does not appear that he was a traitor, only not of the mold required for such a desperate venture.

Arnold's Hospital

he other divisions pushed ahead, and all crossed the divide on October 26th and 27th. There were now no more than seven hundred men remaining, if so many. The weather was cold, with several inches of snow. Since leaving the Kennebec there had been no trail, but only a succession of rushing streams, lakes, swamps, rocks, and forests everywhere. They were eventually at a loss as to which direction to take, and their provisions were now nearly gone, Morgan's men alone carried all their boats—seven in number—over the great portage of the divide. The other companies brought one boat each. On the 28th all were united on the further side and started down stream to Lake Megantic. Hanchett's company, with Arnold, was now in the lead. All the supplies had been pooled at this camp and then reissued. They amounted to four or five pints of flour per man, and little or no


meat. Arnold was pushing ahead, and promised them supplies in three days. The men were becoming weak, bitter and discouraged. On the 29th and 30th they were struggling through the swamps above Lake Megantic. Discipline was disappearing and companies tending to go to pieces.

By the 31st the Chaudiere was reached by the scattered divisions, with practically no food left. All united again, and then those who were able pushed on. Arnold had reached the settlements and was already sending back supplies. At this desperate stage he saved the lives of most of the army by his rapid and determined action. Senter describes the situation as desperate, with discipline gone, the supplies and the weak left behind, the strong pushing on towards food and life.9

Nearly all the remaining food was lost by wrecking of the boats. Some had a little flour, others ate shaving soap, pomaturn, roots; a dog was a luxury. At the Chaudiere the first man was lost by drowning, and the third by accident or injury in the whole expedition. Senter says a few may have been lost in the last forlorn marches.

The whole force was now scattered along the river: the well pressing forward and the weak left behind. Goodrich's company was broken up. Ward's company was lost. Both were eating dog meat. No military order obtained. But Hanchett's company had pushed on to the French settlement, and Arnold hurried back the life-saving food. On November 2nd the relief party met Dearborn's and Smith's companies; next day Ward's, Hendrick's and Topham's, and on the 4th Meigs, with Thayer, Morgan, Goodrich and Hubbard. The stragglers were gathered up, and all reached the settlement, some six miles below the mouth of the DuLoup River. It is not known how many perished or how many reached this point. Probably six hundred reached the DuLoup River and but very few died. All were soon restored by food, but they were still greatly lacking in clothing. One woman, the wife of Sergt. Grier of Hendrick's company, had accompanied the expedition, and Aaron Burr true to type appears to have been followed by a halfbreed girl known as Jacataqua.

The remaining sixty miles was accomplished without difficulty. Arnold had supplies of beef and potatoes placed every


ten miles. There were even butter, milk and eggs. On November 5th the little army passed St. Mary's Chapel, and on the 8th the advance reached the St. Lawrence, opposite Quebec.

On the 9th Arnold's little army was gathered near Point Levi, but the sight was more pitiable than formidable. The men looked like half starved savages; their clothing torn to rags, hung in strings; some had no hats, many were without shoes. They were on the banks of a great river, with British war vessels between them and Quebec, the Gibraltar of the new world. But neither Arnold nor his captains was daunted. Boats were secured, and in the night of November 13-14 five hundred men crossed and landed at Wolfe's Cove. Next night the remainder was brought over, except Hanchett with sixty men, left as a guard at Point Levi. The impossible had been achieved, and Arnold stood on the Plains of Abraham. Had his force been large enough, even two thousand men, Canada would have become a part of the United States.

Map of Quebec

The little army assumed a bold front, tried to send in a flag; captured provisions, and endeavored to bluff the British General Carleton. But there was no artillery, and Carleton maintained a firm front. He had few soldiers but some officers of hammered steel. Senter says there was some sickness from “free eating”, also “peripneumonias”, “anginas”, etc., “which may well be believed, as the men were poorly clad and the country deep in snow. It might be thought a poor field for surgery, but Senter recorded on November 16: “Wounded, one Sergeant Dixon, that his leg was amputated.” It is not surprising to learn that the sergeant did not survive. He is said to have died of tetanus.

The army was unable to retain its position, and on November 18 Arnold retired to Point aux Trembles. On December 1st Montgomery arrived af. that point. He brought with him what remained of the New York Battalions (about three hundred men) and Captain John Lamb's company of artillery; Livingstone's Canadians, say two hundred, came on later. Montgomery also brought supplies; and, most welcome of all to Arnold's men, the extra clothing of the British regiments captured at St. John's and Montreal: clothing of the 7th and 26th regiments. There were now a few guns, small and totally inadequate, yet the siege was begun. Arnold's return showed a total


of 675 men. There were then fit for duty not exceeding eight hundred Continentals in the whole force. Livingston had two hundred Canadians, and there were from one to two hundred Canadians additional, and Indians, but these could not be relied on. The ground was covered with snow and was frozen so deep that no earthworks were constructed. The batteries were protected by parapets of snow and ice.

Senter tells us that a hospital wads made ready in a convent on the St. Charles River, half a mile from the St. Roque's Gate. It had been used as a hospital before and Montcalm died .there. He prepared it for the sick and wounded, but did not at first live there, as it was too near the enemy's guns. He says :-

“Had now orders to take possession of the Hospital for the reception of sick and wounded. This was an elegant building (a convent) situated upon St. Charles River, half a mile from St. Roque's Gate. A chapel, Nunnery, and hospital were all under one roof. The building was in every way fit for the purpose, a fine, spacious ward, capable of containing fifty patients, with one fireplace, stoves, etc. The number of sick were not very numerous. The Hospital being in an advanced part of the army, I did not think it expedient to assume a residence therein as yet, in consequence of which I was obliged to visit it daily in open view of the enemy's walls, who seldom failed to give me a few shots every time.”

This hospital seems very close to the enemy's lines, but they seldom fired on it. On the 16th he moved his quarters to the hospital and was then only fired on when leaving it to go to the camp. A log building in front of the hospital was used as a guard house.

Smallpox now appeared in the camp, probably brought from Montreal. Senter says on December 18th:- “Small pox appeared, five cases brought to the Hospital. Not only the smallpox, but the pleurisy, peripneumonia, with the other species of pulmonic complaints were now very prevalent in the army. However, the issue of it all generally favorable.” Inoculation appears to have been practiced. Senter himself was inoculated on December 25th, but makes no mention of being sick or even indisposed later.

On the 27th preparations were made for storming the gates. Senter relates that three of the captains declined the desperate


undertaking and that Arnold desired no unwilling leaders. Whereupon Dr. Senter, “wrote a billet to Colonel Arnold desiring his permission to lead one of the companies. He received the following reply:-

Dear Sir:-

I am much obliged to you for your offer, and glad to see you so spirited, but cannot consent you should take up arms, as you will be wanted in the way of your profession. You will please to prepare dressings and repair to the main guard house at 2 o’clock in the morning, with an assistant.

                            I am in haste, yours,
                                B. Arnold, Col.

?? ??????????

Doct. Center,
27 Dec. 1775.

Montgomery wrote of these three captains,10 who were disaffected with Arnold. Their action was connived at by a field officer, and the General said it threatened the whole affair. The morale of the expedition at this time would be a curious study. Montgomery himself was hoping to be relieved, and so anxious to go home that Washington thought it necessary to write urging him to remain. One wonders if it was not the dauntless Arnold, supported by Daniel Morgan, who held the army to its place and to the attack.

The General Hospital at Quebec

The assault was again prepared, on the night of the 31st, and took place on the morning of the 1st; for it was four o'clock when the gates were reached. The hospital was made ready; and it appears that horses and wagons were secured from Canadian villages, for the removal of the wounded. The inhabitants of these villages were generally friendly and gave as much aid as their rather timid natures would allow. On the 30th there was a storm, with hail and snow, increasing the already deep snow—to six feet, Senter says. This terrible weather did not prevent or even delay the attack, poorly clothed as were the Colonials.

Montgomery led the right wing, the small battalions of Clinton, McDougal and van Cortland,—about three hundred men,— along the river bank. Livingston's Canadians were to fire the St. John's Gate, as a diversion; in this they failed totally, and even retired to a point of complete safety. Arnold with the


able bodied portion of his command, some four hundred men, and Captain Lamb's artillery, attacked on the left, through the St. Roque's suburb.

Montgomery fell at the first fire, almost an accident on the part of the British and with him the fate of the expedition. There was no one to take his place, his column faltered and then retired. Arnold led a determined column at the right of the works, into the lower town. When he fell wounded there was no wavering, Morgan took the command and with stentorian voice urged the column on, deep into the place: too deep to retreat when the whole British force was concentrated on him. The remnant of his band was compelled to surrender. So the assault ended in disastrous failure. It was a forlorn hope which could only have succeeded by a most fortunate succession of happy accidents. One hundred men were killed or wounded; three hundred taken prisoners; the leader of the little army was killed; half its strength gone, with most of its officers; only Arnold was left, lion-like as ever.

Greene, Meigs, Bigelow were captured. Of the rifle companies, Hendricks was killed, Morgan captured, Smith escaped. Captains Hubbard, Macpherson and Cheeseman were killed, also Lieutenants Humphreys and Cooper. Little was left of Arnold's force except the sick and those fortunate ones on detached duty. The best account is that 53 were killed, 94 wounded and 383 captured. The prisoners were exchanged later.

Dr. Senter relates what he saw of the attack:-

“Not more than an hour had the action continued before the wounded came tumbling in so that the grand ward was directly filled. They continued to come until the enemy rushed out at St. John's and St. Roque's Suburbs, and captured the horses and carriages which were employed in the service. Few of the wounded escaped from their hands; after the capture of the horses, etc., except those wounded slightly. Daylight had scarce made its appearance ere Colonel Arnold was brought in, supported by two soldiers, wounded in the leg with a piece of a musket ball. The ball had probably come in contact with a cannon, rock, stone, or the like, which had cleft off nigh a third. The other two-thirds entered the outer side of the leg, about midway, and in an oblique course passed between the tibia and fibula, lodged in the gastroennemea muscle at the rise of the tendon Achilles, where upon examination I easily discovered and extracted it.”


They learned of the death of the General, also of Capt. Cheesman and Mr. McPherson of the New York troops. Next came word that Capt. Dearborn was captured and a party was advancing on the hospital. This did not dismay either Arnold or Senter.

“We soon perceived this to be true, in consequence of which all the invalids, stragglers, and some few of the artillery that were left behind were ordered to march immediately into St. Roque Street with a couple of field pieces under command of Lieut. Captain Wool, who much distinguished himself on this occasion. He took the advantage of a turn in the street, and gave the enemy so well directed fire as to put them to flight immediately. Notwithstanding this, we were constantly expecting them out upon us, as we concluded Arnold's division, then under the command of Lieut. Col. Greene, were all killed, captured, etc. Under these circumstances we entreated Colonel Arnold for his own safety to be carried back into the country where they would not readily find him out, but to no purpose. He would neither be removed, nor suffer a man from the Hospital to retreat. He ordered his pistols loaded, with a sword on his bed, etc., adding that he was determined to kill as many as possible, if they came into his room. We were now all soldiers, even to the wounded on their beds were ordered a gun by their side. That if they did attack the Hospital to make the most vigorous defense possible. * * * * . The storm still continued tremendously. The prospect was gloomy on every side. The loss of the bravest of Generals, with other amiable officers smote the breast of all around with inexpressable grief.”

“On January 2nd Major Meigs came out on parole informing us that Arnold's party had forced its way into the city, only to be surrounded, overpowered and captured. Capt. Hendricks, Humphrey and others were killed. Morgan, Greene, Meigs, prisoners, etc.”

Not five hundred men now remained in the little army, and of those a number were sick or convalescent, and without supplies. On January 2nd Col. Donald Campbell the Quartermaster, who had assumed command wrote to Wooster at Montreal:-

“Medicines are much wanted here, and I am told that Dr. Beaumont has claimed a chest worth fifty pounds, which was the property of the Crown and ought to belong to Congress * * * * * .  I hope you will not forget to remind the Congress of the necessity of furnishing a suitable chest for the Army that may be ordered here, a thing much neglected this campaign for our army.”


Arnold also wrote to Wooster, asking him to come on and take the command, as he expected to be incapacitated for above two months on account of the wound; which he says included injury to the bones. This exchange of officers was made, with no benefit to the army at Quebec. On the day of the battle Arnold had sent off an express asking for reinforcements. They could not arrive soon. Meantime all were content to keep up a sort of blockade.

In March the army was joined by reinforcements from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and other troops were on the way, but many were sick and supplies were of the scantiest. The British garrison was also growing stronger, and was confident, while the morale of the Continentals was low. Wooster was old and lacking in energy. On April 15 he was relieved by Major General John Thomas11 of Massachusetts.

On May 1st there were 1900 men before Quebec; but, of this number 900 were sick, chiefly with smallpox; 200 were inoculated and would soon be sick; 300 were to be discharged on the 15th of the month. No plans could be made for using more than five hundred men. Those men were scattered and there was almost no discipline. As smallpox continued, soldiers, and officers, were in the habit of inoculating themselves. The General issued an order designed to put an end to this practice. Of the new troops scarcely any had had the disorder, and many took it in the natural manner. It may well be doubted if inoculation had not been wiser.

This army was really no army, and when, on May 6th, British ships suddenly appeared at Quebec and landed about a thousand men, the order was given to retreat. The whole force fled in the greatest disorder; helter-skelter, as Senter says. They abandoned camp and hospital, guns, equipment, stores, sick, even clothing. The boats in the river were run ashore and burned. The French inhabitants feared to give assistance, and no stand could be made until Duchambault was reached on the 7th. About two hundred of the sick, the worst cases, were left in the hospital. One hundred and fifty, suffering from smallpox, took to their heels with the rest, and suffered no ill results from such exercise. Senter even thought they were improved by it. At Duchambault a council of war was held and it was decided to


continue the retreat to the mouth of the Sorel. This was done. At the Sorel the army was joined by Thompson's Brigade of four Pennsylvania regiments, including those of Anthony Wayne and Arthur St. Clair. Sullivan's Brigade was on the way. Of this Pennsylvania Brigade, two of the four regiments were commanded by medical men. Arthur St. Clair and William Irvine12 were both Scots who had served as officers in Great Britain, and left the British service in America, later to enter the line of the Continental Army.

The army encamped at Sorel on low, flat ground, at the junction of the two rivers, a place almost at the water level, and very unhealthful.13 Smallpox was still rife. As there appeared to be no pursuit by the British, there was a little leisure for necessary arrangements. General Thomas ordered Dr. Senter to go to Montreal and prepare a hospital for the reception of smallpox patients, and also for the inoculation of soldiers.

General Thomas

There was much dissatisfaction over the failure of this expedition and Congress had sent a Commission, with Benjamin Franklin at its head, to investigate the condition of the army and make recommendations. On May 15th Arnold wrote to the Commission

“I should be glad to know your sentiments in regard to inoculation as early as possible. Will it not be best, considering the impossibility of preventing the spreading of smallpox, to inoculate five hundred or a thousand men immediately, and send them to Montreal, and as many more every five days, until the whole received it; which will prevent our army being distressed hereafter; and I make no doubt we shall have more effective men in four weeks than by endeavoring to prevent the infection spreading.”

An interesting point in this logical letter is that the inoculated men were not expected to be sick longer than five days.

On May 17th the commission agreed with Arnold: recommending the inoculation of Patterson's regiment at Montreal, and sending the others there gradually.

Senter says of this inoculation scheme:-

“I accordingly made application to General Arnold, then commanding in the city, and obtained a fine capacious house belonging to the East India Company. It was convenient for nigh


six hundred. I generally inoculated a regiment at a class, who had it so favorably as to be able to do garrison duty during the whole time. * * * * * .

“We were now between the two arms of the foe, under every embarrassment possible, no quantity of ammunition, no provisions but obtained by force. * * * * * Our principal fortification not tenable against an equal number if attacked by land. Our prospect was still gloomy. General Thomas caught the natural smallpox, was carried to Chamblee and died. * * * * * Our army, weakened by the smallpox, and in fine every movement against the enemy unsuccessful, a retreat was ordered to St. John's.”

On May 10th we hear from Director Stringer once more. He has proceeded as far as St. John's and writes to Washington asking for more help :-

    4    senior surgeons            1 or 2 stewards
    12    mates                        Surgery men
    1    matron                        Apothecaries.
    1    or 2 clerks
    Laborers, servants and cooks, also a list of supplies.

He said further:-

“The majority of Regimental Surgeons gone up, have neither medicines nor instruments, and the army likely to be overpowered with smallpox, and no possibility of getting supplies in Canada.”

Washington answered him on May 15th that he would direct Dr. Morgan to send the supplies, and send the request for help to Congress.

General Thomas being very sick, General Thompson assumed command at the camp on the Sorel. On May 25th he wrote the Commission:-

“On ordering the surgeons to examine the state of the sick, many have been found at the point of death, who were left by their officers, without a person to take care of them. I also found upwards of a hundred damned rascals, crowded among them, fit for duty. I have now got all the sick together, and appointed Doctors Samuel McKenzie, Alexander Stewart, and Marshall to attend them, with proper nurses, etc., and hope to have very many of them fit for duty. * * * * * .

                            William Thompson.”


The state of the army was deplorable, in spite of reinforcements. On May 27th the Commission reported to Congress

“There is little or no discipline among your troops, nor can any be kept up while the practice of enlisting for twelve months is kept up. * * * * * . The Army is in a distressed condition and is in want of the most necessary articles: meal, bread, tents, shoes, stocking, shirts, etc. * * * * * . Your army in Canada do not exceed four thousand men; above 900 are sick with different diseases; three fourths of the army have not had the smallpox. The greater part of Greaton's and Burrell's regiments have been lately inoculated. We cannot find words strong enough to describe our miserable situation.”

On May 31st Arnold wrote: “Our army, which may rather be called a rabble, &. &.“ Truly there was need of a leader. Thomas died on June 2nd. On June 5th General John Sullivan reached the camp and assumed command. Sullivan began with high hopes and excellent promises. He had been a New Hampshire lawyer, was a staunch patriot, but was a most unfortunate general.

A succession of disasters followed, which led Dr. Senter to pronounce the whole undertaking “A hetero-general concatenation of the most peculiar and unparalleled rebuffs and sufferings that are perhaps to be found in the annals of any nation.” He scarcely exaggerated the cases.

The first of these was the affair of “The Cedars”, some forty miles above Montreal, where Major Isaac Meigs surrendered Col. Bedel's New Hampshire regiment of four hundred men to a few hundred British and Indians, making little or no defense. A hundred men sent to his assistance were also killed or captured. The prisoners were not only stripped of their packs and all they had, but even of their clothing, and left nearly or quite naked, on an island in a lake near Montreal. Here they were kept for eight days with scant food, until Arnold arranged a cartel and they were released. Such was the general indignation that Congress repudiated the parole, and the affair was the source of a long controversy.

In June General Sullivan sent General Thompson, with two thousand men, including Wayne's, St. Clair's and Irving's Pennsylvania Regiments, to attack a division of the British Army at Three Rivers. The attack ended in disaster, involving a loss


of two hundred and thirty in killed and prisoners. Thompson and Irvine were made prisoners, and Wayne was severely wounded. Surgeon McKenzie was also among the prisoners. One woe did tread upon another's heels.

There were rumors of a British fleet, and the wretched army was in no condition to repel any attack by regular troops. On June 11th Arnold ordered the removal of the sick from Montreal. Only three hundred men remained there, with one hundred and fifty at Lachine. Smallpox still hindered every movement. Schuyler wrote to Washington (June 12) “If the militia ordered into Canada should not have had the smallpox, they will rather weaken than strengthen the army. * * * *” . On June 10th Arnold wrote that there were three thousand sick at St. John's and Chamblee. Colonel Trumbull, who visited the camp, said:- “I did not look into a tent or hut in which I did not see either a dead or a dying man.” A physician writing from the camp said:- “I wept till I had no more power to weep. More than thirty new graves were made every day. There were regiments without a single man fit for duty.” A return on June 12 showed 3591 present for duty, and sick present or absent 1550, which is thirty-one percent of the whole strength.

On June 14th the British fleet came up the river and Sullivan abandoned the camp on the Sorel. Arnold held on to Montreal until the ships were within twelve miles of the place, then crossed the river and joined Sullivan. On the 17th all were at St. John's. Next day the army moved to Isle La Motte, and there received Schuyler's order to retire to Crown Point. Bancroft says:-

“On the 18th (June) the emaciated, half naked men, broken in spirit and discipline, too weak to have beaten off an assault from the enemy, as pitiable a spectacle as could be seen, removed to Isle au Noix.”

From there the army moved to Isle La Motte, and by July 2nd was back at Crown Point. All the resolution, courage, endurance and sufferings of the army had produced nothing but disaster and failure.

A committee appointed by Congress to investigate the expedition reported that the failure was due to:-


        Its being undertaken too late in the Fall.
        Terms of enlistment too short.
        Haste and insufficient preparation.
        Want of species.

Sullivan had lost all his high hopes, and wrote to Washington urging him either to come himself or send General Lee to take command.

On June 26th John Adams wrote :-

“Our misfortunes in Canada are enough to melt the heart of a stone. The smallpox is ten times more terrible than the British, Canadians and Indians together. This was the cause of our precipitate retreat from Quebec.”

Adams was looking for excuses; smallpox was but one of the reasons for the failure of the expedition. Lack of reinforcements at the critical time, and lack of supplies at all times, were chief reasons. At this time the army in three months had lost five thousand men by disease and desertion, and had scarcely as many remaining; and of these two thousand were sick. On July 4th Adams wrote again :-

“Our army at Crown Point is an object of wretchedness enough to fill a human mind with horror—displaced, defeated, discontented, dispirited, diseased, naked, undisciplined, eaten up with vermin, no clothes, no beds, blankets, no medicines, no victuals but salt pork and flour.”

On June 26th Director Morgan wrote to John Adams :-

“The state of the army in Canada, according to Dr. Lind's account (who is just arrived from there by order of General Sullivan, for a supply of medicines) is truly deplorable. I have seen no return of the sick, but he assures me that in the beginning of the month there were no less than 1800 men down with the smallpox; and that the total of sick and unfit for duty amounted to 3300 men; and he says they have no medicines. Such a report is scarcely credible, but you may learn the particulars yourself from him, as he intends going to Philadelphia. General Gates sets out tomorrow to take command of the Army in Canada, Dr. Potts14 will accompany him. I have therefore given orders to supply him, from the General Hospital, with a large chest of such medicines as can be spared, and what can be got ready tomorrow before his departure. Upon looking into Dr. Pott's commission I find he is appointed Physician and Surgeon in the Department of Canada, etc etc.


From all I can learn, everything in the medical department in Canada displays one scent of confusion and anarchy. Nor has the Congress taken upon itself to establish, or vested any person whatever, with a power sufficient to establish a General Hospital in Canada.”

When Dr. Potts arrived at Fort George he wrote to Samuel Adams:-

“The distressing situation of the sick here is not to be described: without clothing, without bedding, or a shelter sufficient to screen them from the weather. I am sure you know humanity will be affected when I tell you that we have at present upwards of one thousand sick crowded into sheds, and laboring under the various and cruel diseases of dysentery, bilious, putrid fever, and the effects of a confluent smallpox. To attend this large number we have four surgeons and four mates, exclusive of myself; and our little shop doth not afford a grain of jalap, ipecac, bark, salts, opium, and sundry other capital articles, and nothing of the kind to be had in this quarter.”

                                        Dr. Jonathan Potts.

To Samuel Adams,
August 10, 1776.

General Horatio Gates assumed command of the army at the head of Lake Champlain in July. Six thousand additional men were called from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York; but men sickened and died about as fast as they arrived.15 Nothing was done during the remainder of the summer.

The army took position at Ticonderoga with small garrisons at Skenesborough, Fort George and Crown Point. The army at Ticonderoga also held the opposite hill, called Mount Independence. The principal hospital was at Fort George. There was also a hospital at Albany, built during the French War. On September 10th Dr. Potts was in charge of the hospital at Fort George. Dr. Stringer was then at Philadelphia,16 endeavoring to secure medicines, and intended going from there to New England, for the same purpose. On September 22nd the returns showed 5247 present fit for duty; 3917 present sick; and 915 absent sick. There were very nearly as many sick as well, probably quite as many. Gates wrote on September 16th :-

“It is not the want of vegetables, that causes sickness on the Lakes, but the natural unhealthful feature of the place, that is,


fever and ague; which the inhabitants suffer as well as the troops, * * * * . The Doctor, that is, cold weather, is beginning and the intermittents will cease, of course; we grow daily more and more healthy.”

The main force was then at Ticonderoga; 486 at Crown Point; 600 at Fort George; and 450 at Skenesborough. The Commander at Skenesborough wrote that he was constructing barracks for the troops; each building sixteen by seventy-six feet in size, two stories high, with six rooms on each floor. These were doubtless built of logs.

The conditions improved somewhat but were still bad enough on September 22nd, as shown by the following letter of Colonel Samuel Wigglesworth:-

                         “Ticonderoga, September 27th, 1776.

?? ??????????

Near half this regiment is entirely incapable of any service, some dying almost every day. Col. Wyman's Regt., is in the same unhappy situation. There are no medicines of any avail in the Continental Chest; such as there are, are in their native state, unprepared: no emetics, nor cathartics; no mercurials or antimonial remedies; no opiate or elixir, tincture, or any capital remedy. It would make a heart of stone melt to hear the moans and see the distress of the sick and dying. I can scarce pass a tent but I hear men solemnly declaring that they will never engage another campaign without being assured of a better supply of medicines.* * * * * * *

        To the Committee of Safety of New Hampshire.”

In October General Carleton reached the foot of the Lakes with a strong force and threatened Gates; but the season was far advanced and Carleton soon retired to winter quarters. The Northern Army melted away. On November 9th it still numbered 5545 fit for duty, with 2697 present sick, and 1264 absent sick. On November 24th Washington was authorized by Congress to call the regiments from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to his aid. St. Clair marched with three regiments at once, and eight others soon followed. The hospital was removed from Fort George to Albany.17 Gates himself went south, and on December 11th the garrison of Ticonderoga numbered but 1700 men, with less than a hundred at the outposts. The expedition was at an end, Canada had not been taken, complete and


costly failure was the outcome. But well might Senter close his journal with the lines:-

        “‘Tis not in mortals to command success,
        “But we've done more—we've deserved it.”



1st Connecticut Regt.,—-Colonel David Wooster.
    Dr. Jared Potter,—Surgeon.
    Levi Ives,—Mate.
    Isaac Chalker, —Mate.
4th Connecticut Regt.,—Colonel Benjamin Hinman.
    Dr. John Spaulding,—Surgeon.
    Penuel Cheney,—Mate.
    Elijah Adams,—Mate.
5th Connecticut Regt.,—Coloisel David Waterbury.
    Dr. John Ward,—Surgeon.
    Samuel Whiting,—Mate.
    Abel Fitch,—Mate.
Vermont Regt.,—-Colonel Seth Warner.
Bedel's N. H. Regiment.
    Abner Barker,—Surgeon.
    Geo. Eager,—Mate.
1st New York Regt.,——Colonel Goose Van Schaick.
    Dr. Daniel Budd,—Surgeon.
    Dr. William Mead,-—Surgeon.
2nd New York Begt.,—Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt.
    Dr. Ebenezer Haviland,—Surgeon.
    Dr. Daniel Menema,—Surgeon.
3rd New Iork llegirnent,—Colonel James Clinton.
    Dr. Humloke Woodruff,—Surgeon.
    John Elliot,-—Mate.
4th New York Regt.,—Colonel James Holmes.
    Dr. Caleb Sweet,—Surgeon.
    John F. Vacher,—Mate.
    Isaac Smith,—Mate.

2 Dr. Samuel Stringer was born in Maryland in 1734, studied medicine with Dr. Bond, in Philadelphia, and in 1755 was appointed an officer in the American Contingent of the British Army by Governor Shirley. In 1758 he


was present at the attack on Ticonderoga. After the war he settled in Albany, and practised medicine there. He was employed by General Schuyler in August 1775, and made Medical Director of the Northern Army on September 14, 1775. He appears to have claimed independence of the jurisdiction of Dr. Morgan, and engaged in endless controversies with. the Director. Little remains by which to judge him. He did not accompany the army to Quebec. The medical affairs of the Northern Army were hopelessly bad, but the difficulties were beyond imagination. He was dismissed by the Congress on January 9th, 1777. After leaving the army he returned to Albany and engaged in practice there until his death in 1817.

3 IN CONGRESS, September 14, 1775.

RESOLVED, That SAMUEL STRINGER, ESQ., be appointed Director of the Hospital, and Chief Physician and Surgeon, for the ARMY in the Northern Department.
    That the pay of the said SAMUEL STRINGER, ESQ., as Director, Physician and Surgeon, he four Dollars per day.
    That he be authorized, and have power to appoint a number of Surgeons-Mates lender him, not exceeding four.
    That the pay of said Mates be two thirds of a Dollar per day.
    That the number be not kept in constant pay, unless the sick and wounded be so numerous as to require the constant attendance of four, and be diminished as circumstances shall admit, for which reasons the pay is fixed by the day, that they may only receive pay for actual service.
    That the Deptuy Commissary General be directed to pay DOCTOR STRINGER for the medicines he has purchased for the use of the ARMY, and that he purchase and forward such other medicines as GENERAL SCHUYLER, shall, by his warrant direct f or the use of the said ARMY.

        A Copy from the Minutes
                Charles Thompson, Secretary.

        By Order of the Congress,
                John Hancock, President.<


Colonel Benedict Arnold, Commanding.

1st Division, Captain Daniel Morgan.
    Captain Morgan's Rifle Company, Va.  . . . . . . .85 men.
    Captain Matthew Smith's Rifle Co., Pa. . . . . . . .80 men.
    Captain William Hendrick's Rifle Co., Pa. . . . . .85 men.

2nd Division, Lt. Col. Christopher Greene of Rhode Island.
    Major Timothy Bigelow of Maine.
    Captain Samuel Thayer's Co.
    Captain John Topham's Co.
    Captain Jonas Hubbard's Co.


3rd Division. Major Return J. Meigs of Connecticut.
    Captain Samuel Ward's Co. of Massachusetts.
    Captain Oliver Hanchett's Co. of Connecticut.
    Captain Henry Dearborn's Co. of New Hampshire.
    Captain William Goodrich's Co.

4th Division. Lt. Col. Roger Enos of Connecticut.
    Captain Thomas Williams' Co.
    Captain Samuel McCobb's Co.
    Captain Scott's Co.
    Captain Coburn's Co. of artificers, Maine, about 20 men.

Surgeon:    Isaac Senter of Rhode Island.
Mate:    Green.
Assistants:    Burr and Jackson.
Chaplain:    Rev. Samuel Spring.
Aaron Burr was a volunteer aid, but gained little credit.

5 Dr. Isaac Senter was a native of Londonderry, New Hampshire, where he was born in 1753. He studied medicine at Newport, Rhode Island, and left his studies to accompany the Rhode Island troops to Cambridge, serving with the Rhode Island Regiment. He was ordered to Arnold's detachment, and served as surgeon of that remarkable little army, being then at the age of 22. He organized hospitals before Quebec, and at Montreal, returning with the troops to Ticonderoga in the Spring of 1777.

He retired from the army in 1779 and practised medicine in Cranston, Rhode Island. He was elected a member of the General Assembly, and served as Surgeon General of the State. Later he removed to Newport, where he became eminent in his profession. He was a member of the London and Edinburgh Medical Societies, and for several years President of the Society of the Cincinnati of Rhode Island.

He received an M.D. from Brown University in 1787, and became a trustee of that institution. Yale gave him an M.D. in 1792 and Harvard in 1793.

He was remarkably successful in practice, and it was said of him, “if the case demanded only simples, his smile proved more potent than his prescription.”

He died at a comparatively early age in 1799.

6 Henry Dearborn, the son of Simon Dearborn of Hampton, New Hampshire, was born in 1751. He was educated to be a physician, and practised with his father until 1775. When the war began he followed Stark to Bunker Hill, where the attractions of a military life seemed to him so great that he entered the line of the army. He commanded the New Hampshire Company in Arnold's Quebec expedition; was Major of the 3rd New Hampshire, and Adjutant at Saratoga; and was chosen to carry the news of victory to Congress. He was Lt. Col., 1st New Hampshire from April 1, 1781, to end of the war. Congress proposed to make him a brigadier in 1777, but.


he had the good sense to decline. He became Major General in 1790, and again in 1812.

He served two terms in Congress, was Secretary of War 1801-1804, and was later Minister to England. He retired to Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he died June 6, 1829. For him was named Fort Dearborn, the germ of the great city of Chicago.

7 “We now found it necessary to erect a building for the reception of our sick, who had now increased to a very formidable number. A block house was erected and christened by the name Arnold's Hospital, and was no sooner finished than filled. Not far from this was a small bush hut provisionally constructed by Morgan's division of riflemen, who were gone forward. In this they left a young gentleman by name (Matthew) Irvine, a native of Pennsylvania, brought up as a physician in that city (sic) and serving as an ensign in the company under Captain Morgan. The ease of this young gentleman was truly deplorable. In the first of our march from Cambridge he was tormented with dysentery, for which he never paid any medical  attention. When he came to wading in the water every day, then lodging on the ground at night, it kept him in a most violent rheumatism I ever saw, not able to help himself any more than a newborn infant, every joint in his extremities inflexible, and swelled to an enormous size. Much in the same condition was Mr. Jackson of the same Company, and Mr. Greene my mate. The last of whom was left at Fort Western.”

October 17. “By this time the remained of the army was come up, in consequence of which I quit my hospital business, and proceeded with them, where I left poor Dr. Irvine with all the necessaries of life I could impart to him. He was allowed four men of his company to wait upon him, but they'd nothing to do with, they could be of little service, except keeping him a good fire, turning him when weary, etc. His situation was most wretched, overrun with vermin, unable to help himself in the least thing, attended constantly with the most violent pain.”—Dr. Senter.

Dr. Matthew Irvine, younger brother of General William Irvine, was borne in the North of Ireland and came to Philadelphia when a boy. He studied medicine with his brother at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but had not completed his studies when Daniel Morgan's riflemen came marching by on the way to Boston, and books were dropped to follow the stirring drum. At Boston he soon enrolled for Arnold's bold expedition. We see him left apparently to die in the wilderness, but he was born lucky and though left in the wilderness did not perish. A faithful soldier carried him back to the river, and he returned in safety to his home. He is next heard of in Lee's attack on Powles's Hook, August 19, 1777. Soon after this he became surgeon of Lee's (Light Horse Harry's) Legion. He served through the southern campaign of this famous legion, but usually forgot his profession and pushed ahead into every fight. At length he was wounded, but recovered and served to the end. After the war he settled at Georgetown, South Carolina, and successfully practiced medicine there. His later life was uneventful; he died in 1827 and was buried in Charleston.


8 Senter, October 24th. “Here we met several boats returning, loaded with invalids, and lamentable stories of the inaccessibleness of the river and the impracticableness of any further progress in the country. * * * .  Two miles further * * * * were Colonel Greene's division. * * * .  I found them almost destitute of any eatables whatever, except a few candles.”

9 “October 31.
    At this camp was Lieut. McCleland of Morgan's Company, almost expiring with a violent peripneumonia. Necessaries were distributed as much as possible, with two lads of the company in charge of him. (He died a few days later.). Nor was this poor fellow the only one left sick upon this river. Life depending upon a vigorous push for the inhabitants, and that did not admit of any stay for any person; nor could the two lads have been prevailed upon had not provisions been dealt out * * * *, with the promise to send them relief as soon as possible from the settlements. In this general wreck my medicine box suffered the fate of the rest, with a set of capital instruments, etc. Though little was to be feared from either my chirurgical apparatus, or physical potions; I had however, a few necessaries in that way in my knapsack, and with a lancet in my pocket, which enabled me at least to comply with the SANGRADOINE method.”

10 These three captains were Hanchett, Goodrich, and Hubbard. Hanchett had been severely reprimanded by Arnold, who was at times abusive. He was supported by the other two captains and also by Major Browne, of Montgomery's force. Both Browne and Col. Hazen, of the second Canadian regiment, afterwards had serious difficulties with Arnold. Hanchett flatly refused to obey several of Arnold's orders. However, all took part in the attack. Hubbard was mortally wounded, and Hanchett seems to have suffered more while imprisoned than any other officer. The outcome of the assault appears to justify Hanchett's opinion of it, but he cannot be exonerated in the stand he took, on that account, or any other.

11 Dr. John Thomas was born near Marshfield, Massachusetts, in 1725. He studied medicine and practised for several years at Kingston, becoming prominent as a physician and surgeon. He was a regimental surgeon in the colonial forces in 1746, and surgeon on the staff of General Shirley in 1747. In the last colonial war he was a line officer—a captain at the capture of Montreal in 1760. He was early in the field, at the head of a regiment, in 1775, was commissioned a brigadier of Massachusetts, and then a major general, June 20th, second only to Ward. He was made brigadier general in the Continental Army in June 1775, and Major general March 6, 1776. He was assigned to the Northern Army, and died of smallpox at Chamblee, on June 2nd, 1776.


12 Dr. William Irvine was born in Scotland in 1741. He studied medicine and became a surgeon in the British Navy, but resigned and came to America in 1763. He was made Colonel of the Sixth Pennsylvania Regiment in June 1776, and served in the Canada Campaign. He was taken prisoner at Three Rivers in June 1776, and not released until 1778. He was a brigadier general in 1779, and served creditably throughout the war.



Fit for duty


Colonel Reed's Regt., N.H.



Colonel Stark's Regt., N.H.



Colonel Poor's Regt., N.H.



Colonel Patterson's Regt., Mass



Greaton's Regt., Mass.



Bond's Regt., Mass.



Colonel Wayne's, Penn.  



Irvine's, Penn.



Dayton's, N.J.



Wind's, N.J.



De Haas', Penn.



Bedel's, N.H. 



 Maxwell’s, N.J. 



Burrell's, Conn. 






St. Clair's, Penn.     







—about         20%.


l4 Dr. Jonathan Potts, the descendent of a distinguished Pennsylvania family, was born August 31, 1747. He studied medicine in Edinburgh with Dr. Benjamin Rush, but graduated from the new Philadelphia Medical College in 1768, with the degree M. B. He received the degree M. D. in 1771 and began the practice of medicine in Reading. In 1775 he was a member of the Committee of Safety in Berks County. On June 6, 1776, he was appointed a surgeon for the Northern Army. On April 11th, 1777, he was elected Deputy Director General of the Hospital in the Northern Department. In November 1777 he returned to Philadelphia on leave, and on February 6th 1778 was made Deputy Director General of the Middle Department. Here he took over the expenditure of funds from Dr. Shippen and appears to have been criticized for extravagance in the hospital management. When the hospital department was reorganized in September 1780 his name disappeared from the list of medical officers of the army. He died at Reading in October 1781.


15 Director General Morgan wrote of the Army on July 12th.

“Melancholy accounts have been received respecting the situation of our army in Canada; they are subjected to very great hardships, suffering and privations. Destitute of the necessary supplies of provisions and stores, exhausted by fatigue, and reduced by sickness, with the smallpox attended by unexampled mortality, they are in a state but little short of desperation. In addition to all these sufferings, they now have to deplore the loss of their valuable commander, Major General John Thomas. This gentleman was a native of Marshfield, Mass. lie was in military service against the French and Indians in former wars, where he acquired a high degree of reputation. lie was among the first to espouse the cause of his country in a military character in 1775, and during the siege of Boston, and on the Heights of Dorchester, he was distinguished as an active, vigilant and brave officer. In March 1776, he was appointed to be a Major General, by Congress, and by them appointed to the command of our forces in Canada. On his arrival there he found immeasurable difficulties to encounter; the smallpox frequently breaking out among the troops, and the soldiers being in the practice of inoculating themselves, to the great injury of the public service. The general deemed it necessary, for the safety of the army, to prohibit the practice of inoculating, and, not excepting himself from the injunction, he unfortunately received the infection, which proved fatal to him. * * * * * * .”


                    August 21, 1776.

The officers and soldiers may be satisfied that the General has left no means in his power unattempted to procure medicine and every comfort for the sick. The director of the general hospital in this department, Dr. Stringer, was sent to New York three and thirty days ago, with positive orders to return the instant he had provided the drugs and medicines so much wanted. Since then repeated letters have been wrote to New York and Philadelphia, setting forth in the strongest terms, the pressing necessity of an immediate supply of those articles. The General is credibly informed that a principal surgeon from the General Hospital at New York, has been dispatched from thence above a fortnight ago, with a supply of medicines, and apprehends that the badness of the roads and weather have alone prevented his arrival.

It is the soldier's duty to maintain the post he is ordered to defend. The same climate and season that affect us affect our enemies, and the favour of the Almighty, to whom we have appealed, will, if we trust in him, preserve us from slavery and death.

The General recommends it to the surgeons of the different regiments, to communicate to each other, the state of the sick in their respective corps, the various diseases, the remedies principally wanted, and the comforts most in request; for he will leave nothing unattempted in his power, to provide whatever he can command for their recovery.


The General also desires the medical gentlemen will consult upon and adopt the most proper measures for obtaining those salutary purposes.

17 Report of Committee of Congress, November 27th, 1776, concerning the General Hospital, at Ft. George:

“That there is a range of buildings erected, convenient for the purpose, which, on the 20th of October last, contained about 400 sick, including those wounded. * * * * * .  That they were sufficiently supplied with fresh mutton and indian meal, but wanted vegetables. That the Director General in the Department obtained a large supply of Medicines, but that the sick suffered much from Want of good female Nurses, and comfortable Bedding, many of those poor Creatures being obliged to lie upon the bare Boards. *

Your Committee cannot omit noticing, under this Head, the complaints that have been received from Persons of all Ranks, in and out of the Army, respecting the Neglect and Ill treatment of the Sick. It is Shocking to the Feelings of Humanity, as well as ruinous to the Public Service that so deadly an evil has been so long without Remedy. * * * * * .

The Committee recommended an inquiry and exemplary punishment of the guilty. Dr. Potts was at Ticonderoga at this time.

18 Journal of Capt. John Lacey of Pennsylvania. [Ed. - There is no footnote 18 in the text. Duncan must have added this as a comment.]

Isle aux Noix.
22 June 1776. Having nothing else to do curiosity led men to visit the New England camp. Here my feelings were indescribable, some men In, and some out of tents, sick on the bare ground—infected with Fluxes, Fevers, Smallpox, and overrun with legions of Lice, and none but sick to wate on one another. My eyes never beheld such a scene, nor do I desire to see such another—the Lice and Maggots seme to vie with each other, camping in Millions over the Victims; the Doctors themselves sick or out of medicine. The estimation in both camps was that 15 to 20 die daily. * * * * * .

The New England and New York camp was the worst infected with the smallpox, scarcely a one of the whom survived.