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“I Extracted 4 balls by cutting in the oposite side from where they went in …”

Miscellaneous Accounts of Continental Army Surgeons and Surgeon’s Mates

John U. Rees
(Note: My knowledge of 18th century surgeon’s instruments and medical practice is lacking. I
welcome corrections or contributions of pertinent images, military surgeon’s narratives, etc.
Contributors will noted.)

“Revolutionary War Field Amputation,” Christopher Fisher, 2006.
Dr. John Warren's amputation instruments carried by him while serving with Massachusetts’ troops
from 1775 to 1780 John was the brother of Joseph Warren, killed at the Battle of Breed’s Hill, 17 June
1775. . For
Warrens’ diary see, John C. Warren, journal, April 1775-May 1776, in, John C. Warren,
Genealogy of Warren, with Some Historical Sketches (Boston, 1864), 85-98.


1. Return of Surgeon’s Equipment

2. Clothing for Dr. Lewis Howell, 2d New Jersey Regiment, 1778
3. “The sufferings of the wounded were extreme …”: Accounts of Wounded and Dead Soldiers,
During and After a Battle, Saratoga Campaign, Northern New York, 1777
4. Diary of Albigence Waldo, Surgeon, 1st Connecticut Regiment, 1777-1778
5. “I dressd 17 or 18 Men. Wounded in different Parts …”: Jonathan Todd’s 1777 Accounts of
Peekskill Garrison Life and Advancing with the Attack at Germantown
6. “Tearing away clothing, skin, ligaments, and muscles, to its extremity …”:
Volunteer Surgeon William Read during and after the Battle of Monmouth, June and July 1778
7. “I am in hopes With the Assistance of god that I Shall git wel again”: New Jersey Private
Henry Johnson is Wounded at the Battle of Connecticut Farms, 7 June 1780
8. “I Lay sick all night on the Ground": Massachusetts Sergeant Andrew Kettell’s Illness on
Campaign, June/July 1780
9. “A cannonball having passed through both his thighs …”: Surgeon James Thacher at the Battle of
Springfield, June 1780
10. “I assisted in amputating a man s thigh.”: A Surgeon’s Experiences during the Siege of
Yorktown, 1781
11. “Their wounded … were no more fortunate than ours.”: Hospital Conditions in and near at
Williamsburg, Virginia, after the Yorktown Siege, 1781
12. “Litters were exceedingly wanted for the wounded Men.”: Carrying Wounded from the
Battlefield, 1759 to 1781
13. “Our Army Consists of about six thousand one third or more sick mostly of the small pox ...”
Continental Soldiers’ Observations and Experience of Smallpox, 1776 and 1781-82.
14. Surgeons’ Diaries, War for American Independence
1. Return of Surgeon’s Equipment, February 1776
“Report of the several Returns made by the different Regimental Surgeons, of their Instruments &
Bandages. Lint, Rags, Medicines, &c. agreeable to the Genl. Orders of feb: 25 1776. to this day. N.B. All
the Instruments are private property. Some have made no Return.”
Amputating Pocket Crooked Bandages
Surgeons Names Regiments Instruments Do. Lancets Needles & Linen Lint Turniquets Knives
John Homans S. Col. Sargents 1 Set 1 Case 2 Cases 2 Cases 40 Bandages 1 Case
Silas Holmes – Mate 16th 48 1 [lb?] 24
James Freeland S Learneds 1 Do. 10 1
Asaph Fletcher S Col. Robersons 1 Do. ½
Wm. Rossater Mate Col Webbs 1 1 Do.
Wm Eutis S Col Knox 1 Do. 1 1 Do. 96
Caleb G. Adams S Col. Poors 1 Do. Bad 1 1 Do. 1 Do. 16
David Townshend S Col. Whitcombs 1 Do. 1 Do. 30 ½ 1 Do.
Eliphalet Downs S Col. Greatons 16 ½ 3 pr. of forceps
Isaac Spafford S Col Nixons 1 1 1 Do. 6
Wm. Magaw S Col. Hands 1 1 1
Elisha Story S Col. Littles 1 32 & 29 ½ Sheets
Elisha Perkins S Col. Douglas 1
John Spalding S 20
Saml. Adams S Col. Phinneys 1 8 Yds. of linnen
Lemuel Cushing S 23 Reg 1 1 80 ½
John Hart S Col. Prescott 1 1 30
Wm Prentice Mate Col. Wards 100 3
Jon Adams Mate Col. Reads 30 ½
Thomas Welch S Col. Hutchinson 2 1 48 1
Josiah Lord S Col Smiths 2 24, 6 ½ sheets
Joseph Joslyn S Col. Varnums 1 1 1 200 3
John Pitcher Col. Bonds 1 1 15 ½
Mr. Green 1 18
Col. Hutchcocks I have lost the return
6 sets 21 Cases 2 Cases 859 bandages & abt 24 2 Cases
100 old sheets.
abt 12 lb. of lint
[All regiments noted to have “but few” medicines, except Hand’s (Dr. Magaw) which had “A good supply.”]
John Morgan
On the above I would remark that many of the Surgeons have paid no Attention to the Genl. orders, by neglecting to
bring in their Returns – That in general they are but miserably supplyed with Instruments, Bandages, Lint, Rags, &c. - &
much worse with Medicines, some having None at all or next to None –

A Return of the Surgeons & Mates of B.G. Sullivans Brigade, examined agreeable to Orders &c
Isaac Spofford S[urgeon]: of Col. Nixons approved
Caleb G. Adams S of Col. Poors Do – but means to quit his Place
Mr. Green of |___ both sick – therefore not yet examined
Mr. Goss of Starks |
Mr. Parker |___ Mates - approved
Nathl Breed |
Nathl Burnap Mate Not qualified
one Mate declines Examination but his name is not come to hand. John Morgan
I have not had liesure to make out a List of Inst[ruments]: Bandages, Meds, necessry for each Regt. but shall at first
Leasure I have given Directions in what Manner the Hospit[al] Surgeons are to assist the Reg. Surgeons at Roxbury …
John Morgan, 3 March 1776, Report on Medical Equipment, “Report of the several Returns made by the different
Regimental Surgeons, of their Instruments & Bandages. Lint, Rags, Medicines, &c. agreeable to the Genl. Orders of feb:
25 1776. to this day. N.B. All the Instruments are private property. Some have made no Return,” George Washington
Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799, Series 4, General Correspondence, 1697-1799.
Dr. John Warren’s Fish Skin Amputation Kit, gift of Dr. Joseph Warren.
2. Clothing for Dr. Lewis Howell, 2d New Jersey Regiment, 1778

The following is "An Account [of] Cloth Trimmings etc. Delivered out of the Cloths etc.
purchased at Salem for the use of the Jersey Brigade February 1778." This listing denotes
materials issued to several officers of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, and shows the clothing
colors worn by the surgeon (black wool), paymaster (brown wool) , and quartermaster (a red
coat with black facings?), as well as showing the miscellaneous colors and varying shades
several field and company officers were given.

To Colo. Shreve & Lt. Shreve

2 1/4 yds Scarlet Broad Cloth
3 1/2 yds Blue Do.
4 yds Blue Shalloon
7 yds Brown Durant
to Doctor Lewis Howell
3 1/2 yds Black Broad Cloth
4 3/4 yds Black lining
to John Peck Pay Master
2 1/2 yds Dark Brown Broad Cloth
1 1/2 yds Brown Lining
to Benajah Osmun, Q Master
2 1/2 yds Scarlet Coating
1/2 yd & 1/2 Quarter black Broad Cloth
3 yds Shalloon
1 1/2 yd White Flannel
Capt. Bowen
2 yds black B. Cloth
1/4 Scarlet Do.
3 yds Black Lining
to Lt. Derrick Lane
1 3/4 yard Blue Broad Cloth
1 1/2 yds Claret Do.
1 1/2 yds Red Shalloon
2 yd Brown Durant
1/4 yd Scarlet Cloth
1/4 yd Black Broad Cloth

"An Account Cloth Trimmings etc. Delivered out of the Cloths etc. purchased at Salem for
the use of the Jersey Brigade February 1778," New Jersey State Archives, Department of
Defense Manuscripts, Military Records, Revolutionary War,, no. 9963.
3. “The sufferings of the wounded were extreme …”: Accounts of Wounded and Dead
Soldiers, During and After a Battle, Saratoga Campaign, Northern New York, 1777

Battle near Fort Anne, July 1777

Pvt. (later corporal) George Fox, British 47th Regiment, described his duties after the battle near Fort
Anne, July 8-9, 1777:

…the few [of the 9th Regiment - Fox was under the impression that the regiment was nearly
wiped out, but it was actually a detachment] that were left we met coming down to Skenberry at 9
oClock at night, and had come two miles (very wet night). The 47th was sent to look after the
wounded of the 9th reg. they brought them down to the first houses there was, doctors appointed
to attend them, a wet night & very dark, the roads were very bad so that in the morning our
Clothes could not be told what Colour they were of. we had this morn 1 / 2 pint of Rum serv'd out
to each man. This night I carried an officer of a Reg. named L. Torionme [Lt. Charles Torriano,
20th Foot] on my back to a private house who gave me a guinea. same day we return'd [and]
same day join'd the Army and encamp'd there again, remain'd there till the road were repair'd up
to Fort Ann to bring up the heavy cannon. after that was compleated we struck our camp and
march'd for fort Anne encamp'd there. the smell came so offensive of the hill that a party of us
were ordered to go and bury the dead bodies of the 9th reg and the rebels.
George Fox, "Corporal Fox's Memoir of Service, 1766-1783: Quebec, Saratoga, and the
Convention Army," J.A. Houlding and G. Kenneth Yates, eds., "Journal of the Society for Army
Historical Research, vol. LXVIII, no. 275 (Autumn 1990), 158.
(Courtesy of Steve Rayner)

Battle of Bennington, August 1777

Julius Friedrich Wasmus, company surgeon, Brunswick Leib Regiment Company Surgeon Julius
Friedrich Wasmus.

August 16, 1777 -- Battle of Bennington – "A violent fire erupted against the entrenchment that
was occupied by 35 dragoons. Our dragoons fired up volleys on the enemy in cold blood and with
much courage, and it did not take them long to load their carbines behind the breastworks. But as
soon as they rose to take aim, bullets went through their heads... [Our] cannon shot balls and
grapeshot sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left and then again forward into the brush. The
Savages made terrible faces and ran from one tree to the next. I had chosen a very big oak tree
close behind our entrenchment, behind which I dressed the wounded... From the enemy side, the
fire became increasingly heavy and they pressed harder. [The position is overrun, and Wasmus is
captured trying to escape.] But the Americans did not allow me any time but pulled me along by
force. We went past the trusty tree that had warded off so many bullets from me. Here I found
some of my instruments and bandages in a case.”

Helga Doblin (trans.) and Mary C. Lynn (ed.), An Eyewitness Account of the American Revolution and
New England Life : The Journal of J.F. Wasmus, German Company Surgeon, 1776-1783 (New York:
Greenwood Press, 1990)
(Courtesy of Dave McKissack)
Battle of Freeman’s Farm (First Battle of Saratoga), September 1777
Ens. Thomas Anbury, British 24th Regiment:
… Although the duty of interring the slain be thus a sad business, the picking up of the badly
wounded who are found weltering in their blood, and agonized for many hours without the
possibility of receiving surgical and medical aid, imposes a task of heartfelt trouble on the men
that execute it. So it was on the next day after the fight [19 September] Some of our soldiers were
discovered alive, who had rather stay as they were, than be pained by a removal from the field.
Some were insensible, benumbed with the night dews, and weakened with the loss of blood,
while others seemed to have arrived at the extreme point of suffering, when a desirable separation
of partnership between the soul and the body was about to deliver them from a troublesome state

Thomas Anburey, Travels Through the Interior Parts of America in a Series of Letters by an Officer, vol.
I (New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1969), letter XXXIII, 8 August 1777, 353-354.
(Courtesy of Joe Craig, Park Ranger (retired) Saratoga National Historic Park)
Capt. Georg Pausch, Hesse Hanau Artillery company
“ regimental surgeon [Jeremias] Heildelbach … went to the battlefield where the last massacre of
the enemy had occurred. Upon his return he told me that just there by the fences, to my right, he
had seen more than seventy dead. He had been unable to proceed further because he had seen a
fellow within shooting distance take aim with his weapon behind a tree and therefore considered
it wise to retreat. Shortly thereafter several English … and several Germans … came in who had
been out looking for booty and said that they had counted somewhat more than 250 dead and
seriously wounded but still living enemy and seen even more, that could not be reached however
because they had been fired upon several times …”
Bruce E. Burgoyne, Georg Pausch’s Journal and Reports of the Campaign in America (Bowie, Md.:
Heritage Books Inc., 1996), 78-79.
(Courtesy of Joe Craig, Park Ranger (retired) Saratoga National Historic Park)
Battle of Bemis Heights (Second Battle of Saratoga), October 1777
Pvt. Samuel Woodruff, Connecticut State troops or militia:
…The retreat, pursuit and firing continued till eight o’clock [7 October] . It was then dark. The
royal army continued their retreat about a mile further and there bivouacked for the night. Ours
returned to camp, where we arrived between nine and ten o’clock in the evening. About 200 of
our wounded men, during the afternoon, and by that time in the evening, were brought from the
field of battle in wagons and for want of tents, sheds or any kind of buildings to receive and cover
them, were placed in a circular row on the naked ground. It was a clear, but cold and frosty, night.
The sufferings of the wounded were extreme, having neither beds under them nor any kind of bed
clothing to cover them. Several surgeons were busily employed during the night extracting bullets
and performing other surgical operations. This applicant, though greatly fatigued by the exercise
of the day, felt no inclination to sleep, but with several others spent the whole night carrying
water and administering what other comforts were in our power to the sufferers, about 70 of them
whom died of their wounds during the night…
Samuel Woodruff , Pension No. W4406, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty - Land - Warrant
Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, (Courtesy of Joe Craig, Park Ranger
(retired) Saratoga National Historic Park)

First and Second Battles of Saratoga (September and October 1777)

Ambrose Collins, Cook’s Regiment of Connecticut Militia

… Our camp was at least a mile back. In returning to it we passed over the same ground on which
we had been fighting. The dead were lying where they had fallen and some of the wounded. They
were gathering them up and carrying them off in two horse lumber wagons. The wounded were
taken up and laid or thrown one on top of the other till the box was full, when they drove away
south to camp…We heard but little groaning among the wounded, and what we heard we did not
notice much, being much fatigued and exhausted and every one had himself to take care of. It is
probable that such of the wounded as were likely to live or were able to call for help had been
carried from the field already.

[October 9] The strong camp which the British left contained the officer’s marquees, with their
wounded, whom they could not carry away. These men were lying on straw, on the ground. There
were 40 or 50, terribly mangled, and under the care of British surgeons, who had been left to
dress their wounds. They were cutting off limbs and taking out bullets, the whole presenting a
scene of distress not to be described.

Ambrose Collins, Cook’s Regiment of Connecticut militia, Pension No. S17892, Revolutionary War
Pension and Bounty - Land - Warrant Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804,
(Courtesy of Joe Craig, Park Ranger (retired) Saratoga National Historic Park)
(Courtesy of Joe Craig, Park Ranger (retired) Saratoga National Historic Park)

4. Diary of Albigence Waldo, Surgeon, 1st Connecticut Regiment, 1777-1778

When putting together the study of the Connecticut regiments in McDougall’s Division,
Albigence Waldo’s diary of the latter months of the 1777 Philadelphia campaign and the first
month at Valley Forge, was overlooked. When the narrative was done, I cast about for other
works I may have missed that should be included. Waldo’s writings immediately came to mind,
and I was surprised I had forgotten such an obvious resource. (Perhaps Jonathan Todd’s
wonderful series of letters clouded my thinking on the subject.)
At first I thought to rework the narrative with Surgeon Waldo’s input, but after proofreading
the diary (borrowed from an online resource, with many mistakes in spelling and formatting
during the transfer), the work, with which I had thought myself so familiar, showed itself in a
new light. I had used the diary for a number of articles on soldier life, but never realized there
were so many insights on the mindset and motivation of the men, as well as Waldo’s personal
feelings and family life. Given that it covers a relatively short period (from 10 November 1777 to
8 January 1778), I thought it worthwhile to include the diary in its entirety, giving the reader the
chance to compare Dr. Waldo’s narrative with those of Captain Brigham and Surgeon’s Mate
Todd, while at the same time retaining the flavor of the whole and treating those who may be
unfamiliar with it to some special insights that may otherwise have been excised.
Among my favorite discoveries or rediscoveries in the diary are:
(page 301) “Fort Mifflin was a Burlesque upon the art of Fortification.”
(page 304) 8 December 1777: “Five men from each Regt in Varnum's & Huntington's Brigades as
Volunteers join'd Morgan's Rifle Men to Harrass the Enemy, and excite an Attack.”
(pages 306-307) Waldo’s 14 December tirade of military ills, including a description of the typical
Continental soldier at the end of the 1777 campaign.
(page 311) “December 23.—The Party that went out last evening not Return'd to Day. This evening an
excellent Player on the Violin in that soft kind of Musick, which is so finely adapted to stirr up the tender
Passions, while he was playing in the next Tent to mine …” Musical instrument in camp!
(pages 312-313) Perspicacious views of 1777 campaign
(page 317) 1 January 1778: He extols the importance of an officer having neat and genteel clothing.
(page 319) 3 January: “Fresh Beef and Flour make me perfectly Sick, especially as we have no Spirits
to drink with it;—hut others stand it, so must I.” Says so much about the rigors of the daily diet.
(page 319) Same date: “… the hunger, Thirst, Cold & fatigue we have suffer'd this Campaign, altho' we
have not fought much, yet the oldest Soldiers among us have called the Campaign a very severe & hard
one. . . .” Re-emphasizes that the 1777 Philadelphia campaign was a real crucible for Washington’s
officers and enlisted men, a turning point in the formation of the Continental Army.
(page 319) 4 January: Death of an Indian soldier in camp, and discussion of that, soldier-service, and

(page 320) Waldo’s evaluations of Continental commanders, such as Lafayette, Greene, Conway, and
(pages 323-324) The doctor’s itinerary for his journey home on furlough, including “Poquonnack 10
M[iles]. from N. Y. at Jennings Tavern & a narrow Bed—Lodg'd here. Landlady wth Teethache, Children
keep a squalling,” and a stay at the “Good Old Squeaking Widow Ann Hopkins …”

And, finally, I must recommend Waldo’s 13 December encomium to the camp at the Gulph, and the
facetiously wonderful reasons recommending it for a winter-long stay.

* * * * * * *

“Diary of Surgeon Albigence Waldo, of the Connecticut Line,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and
Biography, vol. XXI, no. 3 (1897), 299-323.
[p. 299]
Dr. Albigence Waldo was born February 27, 1750, at Pomfret, Connecticut. His medical preceptor was
Dr. John Spaulding, of Canterbury. During tbe Revolution be served as clerk in Captain Samuel
McClelland's Woodstock company, in the " Lexington Alarm ;" July 6, 1775, was commissioned
surgeon's mate of the Eighth Connecticut Regiment, Colonel Jedediah Huntington, but, owing to ill
health, was discharged in September following. On December 14,1776, the Connecticut Committee of
War commissioned him chief surgeon of the armed ship "Oliver Cromwell." He was next commissioned
surgeon (January 1, 1777) of the First Connecticut Infantry Regiment of the Line, and served while it was
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Prentice and Colonel Josiah Starr, and attached to
Huntington's brigade of McDougall's division. This regiment was raised largely in New London County,
Connecticut, and took the field in the spring at Peekskill, New York, where it remained until ordered by
Washington to join the army in Pennsylvania in September of 1777. In the battle of Germantown the
regiment was engaged on the left flank, and suffered some loss in killed, wounded, and missing. Ill health
again compelled Surgeon Waldo to retire from the service, and he resigned October 1, 1779. He died
January 29, 1794. His last lineal descendant, Charles A. Waldo, died in Florida in December of 1896.
We print Surgeon Waldo's diary from the manuscript kindly contributed by Mr. Amos Perry, of the
Rhode Island Historical Society; the annotations are by the ED. PENNA. MAG.]

November 10, 1777.—Captain [Henry] Lee, of the Light Dragoons brought in Capt. Nichols of the
English Packet whom he took prisoner at New Castle.1 I heard Capt. Nichols observe that one hour before
he was taken he had the following reflections:— "His Majesty has made me commander of a fine ship—a
packet too; I need not ever fight. I have nothing to do but transport gentlemen and ladies of the first rank.
I have a fine stock of provisions aboard, hens, turkeys, geese, pigs, ducks, wine and cider. I have a [p.
300] good interest at home, and what is above all, an agreeable family. I am not troubled in my mind. In
short, I've nothing to make me uneasy, and believe I am the happiest man in the world."
Capt. Nichols was now the unhappiest man in the world. His reflections were turned upon the
vicissitudes of life, the sudden changes of fortune and the variety of events that may happen to a man in
the course of a few hours. If we would set our reasons to work and believe what is undeniably true that
there is no dependence to be put on the wiffling wind of fortune, we could bear disappointments without
anxiety. A man of the least observation will find every state changeable, and while he considers this
mutability of time and things, he will be better prepared to undergo the misfortunes of life and the
disappointments inseparable from it. When a disappointment overtakes us unguarded by such reflections,
it often throws us into a fit of anger which vents itself on those connected with us in opprobrious words
against the Providence of God.
An incessant cannonading at or near Red Bank this day. No salt to eat dinner with.2
November 11,12,13 & 14-—Nothing material happened.
November 16.—An attack was made on Fort Mifflin by 4 ships, 4 Batteries, & 1 Gaily. Our People
fired from Fort Mifflin 1 Battery, 12 Gallies & two Shearbacks or small ships. The firing was incessant
all Day. Our people defended themselves with unparallel'd bravery amidst a continual storm of Balls 'till
at length when Capt. Lee's company of Artillery3 were almost all cut off, and a reinforcement had stood at
the Guns till 9 o'clock in the evening the Garrison evacuated the fort, after having spiked up the Cannon.
Capt. Stephen Brown4 was kill'd by a shot from the round-top of a Ship that had hauled up in pistol shot
of the Fort.
[p. 301]
Mem.—Fort Mifflin was a Burlesque upon the art of Fortification.
November 19.—The Boston and Hampshire Regiments began to join the Grand Army. This Day
Huntington's Brigade consisting of Prentice's,5 Bradley's,6 & Swift's,7 march'd for Red Bank, which the
Garrison Evacuated before we arrived. Greene's Division next day march'd for the same place, who, with
Huntington's Brigade & the Garrison consisting of Varnum's Brigade met at Mount Holly 5 miles east of
Burlington, where we Encamped till the Evening of the 25th.8 Mount Holly—so call'd from a little Mount
nigh the town—is a Compact & Pleasant Village, having a great proportion of handsome women therein.
Near this Town in a Wood, a Hermit has dwelt these 27 years, living on Bread and water. His bed is a
hole dug in the ground about one foot and a half below the surface, and cover'd at pleasure with a board—
over this is built a small bark hut hardly big enough for a man to sit up in. "When he goes to bed he
crawls into his hut and at the further end slips into his hole which he calls his grave, drawing over the
Board and goes to sleep. He crawls night and morning on his hands and knees about two rods to a
particular tree to pray. He says he was warned of God in a remarkable Dream when he first came to
America to take this course of Life. He has many Latin and other Books in his lonely Cell, and is said to
write considerably. He kisses every man's hand that visits him and thankfully accepts of what is gave him,
except Money, which he refuses. His Beard is done up in a loose club under his chin, he is small of stature
and speaks very fast, he talks but little English—chiefly German or Latin.
[p. 302]
He says he shall come out purified & live like other folks if he continues in this State till he is eighty. He
says he often wishes for Death, being frequently afflicted with pains of Body by this method of life. He
never goes near a fire in the coldest time. Much is said about the reasons of his doing pennance in this
manner, but chiefly that he murdered his own sister, and that he killed a Gentleman in a Duel while an
officer in the French Service. He was also in the German Service among his countrymen the Germans.
November 25.—In the Evening we march for Haddonfield (not far from Red Bank) where we arrived in
the morning of
November 26.—Lay in the Forest of Haddonfield, cold and uncomfortable. Two Hessian deserters
came in who declar'd our little parties had kill'd a number of the Enemy—15 prisoners were bro't in, 2
November 27.—Return'd to Mount Holly. Same Day Greene's Division and Glover's Brigade (who had
arriv'd from the Northward 2 Days before) march to Burlington. Morgan with his Riflemen were left with
the militia to harrass the Enemy as they were Recrossing the River from Red Bank to the City.
November 28.—The remainder of us marched to Burlington. P.M. the rear of the army crossed over to
Bristol. A Storm prevented the Baggage going over this Night, which prevented Dr. L. & myself also
crossing with our horses.
November 29.—Storm increas'd. About one p.m. An alarm was made by a report that the enemy were
within 15 minutes march of the Town to take the Baggage. Those of us who had horses rode up to
Burdentown. The Baggage and the Sick were all hurried out of Town the same way, but had not got 2
miles before they were turn'd back on its being a false Alarm. For the sake of good living however Dr.
L.,9 Parson E.10 & myself went to Burdentown
[p. 303]
up the River, liv'd well & cross'd over to Winsor next Day, and arrived at Bristol in the Evening when I
had my Shoes and Silver Buckles stole. Dr. L. had a valuable Great Coat stole the Day before at
December 1.—We marched to Head Quarters [Whitemarsh] and our Division (McDougals) encamped
on the Left of the Second Line. Our former Station was in the Centre of the Front Line. Here Huts of
sticks & leaves shelter'd us from the inclementcy of the Weather and we lay pretty Quiet until
December 5.—At 3 o'clock a.m. the Alarm Guns were fired and Troops immediately paraded at their
several Alarm posts. The Enemy were approaching with their Whole Strength to give us Battle. Nothing
further remarkable ensued this Day—at Night our Troops lay on their Arms, the Baggage being all sent
away except what a man might run or fight with.
December 6.—The Enemy forming a Line from towards our right to the extremity of our left upon an
opposite long height to ours in a Wood. Our men were under Arms all Day and this Night also, as our
Wise General was determined not to be attack'd Napping.
December 7.—Alarm given. Troops on their several posts. Towards Noon Col. Ch. Webb's Regt11 were
partly surrounded and Attack' on the Right of the Army. They being overpower'd by Numbers, retreated
with loss—the brave Capt. Walbridge12 was wounded in the head—Lieut. Harris kill'd.13 A scattering fire
through to the left soon began & continued a few minutes, till our Piquets ran in. The firing soon ceased
on the Right & continued on the Left, as tho' a General Attack was meant to begin there. On this
supposition the Left were Reinforced. But a scatter-
[p. 304]
ing fire was kept up by Morgan's Battalion, at Intervals all Day, and concluded with a little skirmish at
Sun Set. Our Troops lay on their Arms this night also. Some firing among the Piquets in the night.
December 8.—All at our Several Posts. Provisions & Whiskey very scarce. Were Soldiers to have
plenty of Food & Rum, I believe they would Storm Tophet. Our Lines were on a long high hill extending
about three Miles —all Man'd. An Abettes in front from Right to Left— another in the rear of the Left,
with a Cross Abettee near the Extremety.
Five men from each Regt in Varnum's & Huntington's Brigades as Volunteers join'd Morgan's Rifle
Men to Harrass the Enemy, and excite an Attack. Some Regts were ordered to march out if an Attack
should begin in earnest. This Afternoon a small Skirmish happen'd near the Enemies lines against our left.
Towards Night the Enemy fired some Cannon against our Right & 2 against our left. Their horse appear'd
to be busily moving. In the Evening there were but two spots of fires in the Enemies Camp. One against
our Park (or main center); the other against the extremity of our Left, when the evening before they
extended from almost our Right to our Left. At 12 o'clock at Night our Regt, with Sixteen more were
Ordered to parade immediately before his Excellencies Quarters under Command of Sullivan & Wayne.
We were there by One, when Intelligence came that the Enemy had made a precipitate retreat and was
safely got into the City. We were all Chagrin'd at this, as we were more willing to Chase them in Rear,
than meet such Sulkey Dogs in Front. We were now remanded back with several draughts of Rum in our
frozen bellies, which made us so glad we all fell asleep in our open huts, nor experienced the Coldness of
the Night 'till we found ourselves much stiffened by it in the Morning.
December 9.—We came from within the breastworks, Where we had been coop'd up four tedious
Days, with Cloaths & Boots on Night and Day, and resumed our old
[p. 305]
Hutts East of the Breastwork. The rest of the Army Chiefly had their huts within the Lines. We are
insensible what we are capable of enduring till we are put to the test. To endure hardships with a good
grace we must always think of the following Maxim: "Pain succeeds Pleasure, & Pleasure succeeds Pain."
December 10.—Lay still.
December 11.—At four o'clock the Whole Army were Order’d to March to Swedes Ford on the River
Schuylkill, about 9 miles N. W. of Chestnut Hill, and 6 from White Marsh our present Encampment. At
sun an hour high the whole were mov'd from the Lines and on their march with baggage. This Night
encamped in a Semi circle nigh the Ford. The enemy had march'd up the West side of Schuylkill—
Potter's Brigade of Pennsylvania Militia were already there, & had several skirmishes with them with
some loss on his side and considerable on the Enemies. An English Serj. deserted to us this Day, and
inform'd that Webb's Regt kill'd many of their men on 7th, that he himself took Webb's Serj. Major who
was a former Deserter from them, and was to be hanged this day.
I am prodigious Sick & cannot get any thing comfortable —what in the name of Providence am I to do
with a fit of Sickness in this place where nothing appears pleasing to the Sicken'd Eye & nausiating
Stomach. But I doubt not Providence will find out a way for my relief. But I cannot eat Beef if I starve,
for my stomach positively refuses to entertain such Company, and how can I help that?
December 12.—A Bridge of Waggons made across the Schuylkill last Night consisting of 36 waggons,
with a bridge of Rails between each. Some skirmishing over the River. Militia and dragoons brought into
Camp several Prisoners. Sun Set—We were order'd to march over the River—It snows—I'm Sick—eat
nothing—No Whiskey— No Forage—Lord—Lord—Lord. The Army were 'till Sun Rise crossing the
River—some at the Waggon Bridge & some at the Raft Bridge below. Cold & uncomfortable.
December 13.—The Army march'd three miles from the
[p. 306]
West side the River and encamp'd near a place call'd the Gulph and not an improper name neither, for this
Gulph seems well adapted by its situation to keep us from the pleasures & enjoyments of this World, or
being conversant with any body in it. It is an excellent place to raise the Ideas of a Philosopher beyond the
glutted thoughts and Reflexions of an Epicurian. His Reflexions will be as different from the Common
Reflexions of Mankind as if he were unconnected with the world, and only conversant with immaterial
beings. It cannot be that our Superiors are about to hold consultations with Spirits infinitely beneath their
Order, by bringing us into these utmost regions of the Terraqueous Sphere. No, it is, upon consideration
for many good purposes since we are to Winter here—1st There is plenty of Wood & Water. 2dly There
are but few families for the soldiery to Steal from—tho' far be it from a Soldier to Steal. 4ly There are
warm sides of Hills to erect huts on. 5ly They will be heavenly Minded like Jonah when in the Belly of a
Great Fish. 6ly They will not become home Sick as is sometimes the Case when Men live in the Open
World—since the reflections which will naturally arise from their present habitation, will lead them to the
more noble thoughts of employing their leisure hours in filling their knapsacks with such materials as
may be necessary on the Journey to another Home.
December 14.—Prisoners & Deserters are continually coming in. The Army which has been
surprisingly healthy hitherto, now begins to grow sickly from the continued fatigues they have suffered
this Campaign. Yet they still show a spirit of Alacrity & Contentment not to be expected from so young
Troops. I am Sick—discontented—and out of humour. Poor food—hard lodging—Cold Weather—
fatigue—Nasty Cloaths—nasty Cookery—Vomit half my time —smoak'd out of my senses—the Devil's
in't—I can't Endure it—Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze— What sweet Felicities have I left at
home; A charming Wife — pretty Children — Good Beds—good food — good Cookery—all
agreeable—all harmonious. Here all Con-
[p. 307]
fusion—smoke & Cold—hunger & filthyness—A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef
soup—full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue— away with it Boys—I'll live
like the Chameleon upon Air. Poh! Poh! crys Patience within me—you talk like a fool. Your being sick
Covers your mind with a Melanchollic Gloom, which makes every thing about you appear gloomy. See
the poor Soldier, when in health—with what cheerfulness he meets his foes and encounters every
hardship—if barefoot, he labours thro' the Mud & Cold with a Song in his mouth extolling War &
Washington14 —if his food be bad, he eats it notwithstanding with seeming content— blesses God for a
good Stomach and Whistles it into digestion. But harkee Patience, a moment—There comes a Soldier, his
bare feet are seen thro' his worn out Shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tatter'd remains of an only pair
of stockings, his Breeches not sufficient to cover his nakedness, his Shirt hanging in Strings, his hair
dishevell'd, his face meagre; his whole appearance pictures a person forsaken & discouraged. He comes,
and crys with an air of wretchedness & despair, I am Sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body
cover'd with this tormenting Itch— my Cloaths are worn out, my Constitution is broken, my former
Activity is exhausted by fatigue, hunger & Cold, I fail fast I shall soon be no more! and all the reward I
shall get will be—"Poor Will is dead." People who live at home in Luxury and Ease, quietly possessing
their habitations, Enjoying their Wives & families in peace, have but a very faint Idea of the unpleasing
sensations, and continual Anxiety the Man endures who is in a Camp, and is the husband and parent of an
agreeable family. These same People are willing we should suffer every thing for their Benefit &
advantage, and yet are the first to Condemn us for not doing more!!
December 15.—Quiet. Eat Pessimmens, found myself better for their Lenient Opperation. Went to a
house, poor & small, but good food within—eat too much from being so long Abstemious, thro' want of
palatables. Mankind are
[p. 308]
never truly thankfull for the Benefits of life, until they have experienc'd the want of them. The Man who
has seen misery knows best how to enjoy good. He who is always at ease & has enough of the Blessings
of common life is an Impotent Judge of the feelings of the unfortunate. . . .
December 16.—Cold Rainy Day, Baggage ordered over the Gulph of our Division, which were to
march at Ten, but the baggage was order'd back and for the first time since we have been here the Tents
were pitch'd, to keep the men more comfortable. Good morning Brother Soldier (says one to another) how
are you? All wet I thank'e, hope you are so (says the other). The Enemy have been at Chestnut Hill
Opposite to us near our last encampment the other side Schuylkill, made some Ravages, kill'd two of our
Horsemen, taken some prisoners. We have done the like by them. . . .
December 18.—Universal Thanksgiving—a Roasted pig at Night. God be thanked for my health which
I have pretty well recovered. How much better should I feel, were I assured my family were in health. But
the same good Being who graciously preserves me, is able to preserve them & bring me to the ardently
wish'd for enjoyment of them again.
Rank & Precedence make a good deal of disturbance & confusion in the American Army. The Army
are poorly supplied with Provision, occasioned it is said by the Neglect of the Commissary of Purchases.
Much talk among Officers about discharges. Money has become of too little consequence. The Congress
have not made their Commissions valuable Enough. Heaven avert the bad consequences
of these things!!15
up the Bristol Road & so got out unnoticed. He infonn'd that Cornwallis was embark'd for England, and
that some High-landers had gone to N. York for Winter Quarters.
There is nothing to hinder Parties of the like kind above mention'd, continually coming out between
Delaware and Schuylkill, and plundering and destroying the Inhabitants.
[p. 309]
Our brethren who are unfortunately Prisoners in Philadelphia meet with the most savage and inhumane
treatments that Barbarians are Capable of inflicting. Our Enemies do not knock them in the head or burn
them with torches to death, or flee them alive, or gradually dismember them till they die, which is
customary among Savages & Barbarians. No, they are worse by far. They suffer them to starve, to linger
out their lives in extreem hunger. One of these poor unhappy men, drove to the last extreem by the rage of
hunger, eat his own fingers up to the first joint from the hand, before he died. Others eat the Clay, the
Lime, the Stones of the Prison Walls. Several who died in the Yard had pieces of Bark, "Wood, Clay &
Stones in their mouths, which the ravings of hunger had caused them to take in for food in the last
Agonies of Life! "These are thy mercies, O Brittain!"
December 21.—[Valley Forge.] Preparations made for hutts. Provisions Scarce. Mr. Ellis went
homeward—sent a Letter to my Wife. Heartily wish myself at home, my Skin & eyes are almost spoil'd
with continual smoke. A general cry thro' the Camp this Evening among the Soldiers, "No Meat! No
Meat!"—the Distant vales Echo'd back the melancholly sound—"No Meat! No Meat!" Immitating the
noise of Crows & Owls, also, made a part of the confused Musick.
What have you for your Dinners Boys? "Nothing but Fire Cake & Water, Sir." At night, "Gentlemen
the Supper is ready." What is your Supper Lads? "Fire Cake & Water, Sir." Very poor beef has been
drawn in our Camp the greater part of this season. A Butcher bringing a Quarter of this kind of Beef into
Camp one day who had white Buttons on the knees of his breeches, a Soldier cries out —"There, there
Tom is some more of your fat Beef, by my soul I can see the Butcher's breeches buttons through it."
December 22.—Lay excessive Cold & uncomfortable last Night—my eyes are started out from their
Orbits like a Rabbit's eyes, occasion'd by a great Cold & Smoke.
[p. 310]
What have you got for Breakfast, Lads? "Fire Cake & Water, Sir." The Lord send that our Commissary
of Purchases may live [on] Fire Cake & Water, 'till their glutted Gutts are turned to Pasteboard.
Our Division are under Marching Orders this morning. I am ashamed to say it, but I am tempted to
steal Fowls if I could find them, or even a whole Hog, for I feel as if I could eat one. But the Impoverish'd
Country about us, affords but little matter to employ a Thief, or keep a Clever Fellow in good humour.
But why do I talk of hunger & hard usage, when so many in the World have not even fire Cake & Water
to eat.16
The human mind is always poreing upon the gloomy side of Fortune, and while it inhabits this lump of
Clay, will always be in an uneasy and fluctuating State, produced by a thousand Incidents in common
Life, which are deemed misfortunes, while the mind is taken off from the nobler pursuit of matters in
Futurity. The sufferings of the Body naturally gain the Attention of the Mind, and this Attention is more
or less strong, in greater or lesser souls, altho' I believe that Ambition & a high Opinion of Fame, makes
many People endure hardships and pains with that fortitude we after times Observe them to do. On the
other hand, a despicable opinion of the enjoyments of this Life, by a continued series of Misfortunes, and
a long acquaintance with Grief, induces others to bear afflictions with becoming serenity and Calmness.
It is not in the power of Philosophy however, to convince a man he may be happy and Contented if he
will, with a Hungry Belly. Give me Food, Cloaths, Wife & Children, kind Heaven! and I'll be as contented
as my Nature will permit me to be.
This Evening a Party with two field pieces were order'd
[p. 311]
out. At 12 of the Clock at Night, Providence sent us a little Mutton, with which we immediately had some
Broth made, & a fine Stomach for same. Ye who Eat Pumkin Pie and Roast Turkies, and yet Curse
fortune for using you ill, Curse her no more, least she reduce your Allowance of her favours to a bit of
Fire Cake, & a draught of Cold Water, & in Cold Weather too.
December 23.—The Party that went out last evening not Return'd to Day. This evening an excellent
Player on the Violin in that soft kind of Musick, which is so finely adapted to stirr up the tender Passions,
while he was playing in the next Tent to mine, these kind of soft Airs it immediately called up in
remembrance all the endearing expressions, the Tender Sentiments, the sympathetic friendship that has
given so much satisfaction and sensible pleasure to me from the first time I gained the heart & affections
of the tenderest of the Fair. A thousand agreeable little incidents which have Occurr'd since our happy
connection, and which would have pass'd totally unnoticed by such who are strangers to the soft &
sincere passion of Love, were now recall'd to my mind, and filled me with these tender emotions, and
Agreeable Reflections, which cannot be described, and which in spite of my Philosophy forced out the
sympathetic tear. I wish'd to have the Musick Cease, and yet dreaded its ceasing, least I should loose sight
of these dear Ideas, which gave me pain and pleasure at the same instant. Ah Heaven why is it that our
harder fate so often deprives us of the enjoyment of what we most wish to enjoy this side of thy brighter
realms. There is something in this strong passion of Love far more agreeable than what we can derive
from any of the other Passions and which Duller Souls & Cheerless minds are insensible of, & laugh at—
let such fools laugh at me.
December 24-—Party of the 22d not returned. Hutts go on Slowly—Cold & Smoke make us fret. But
mankind are always fretting, even if they have more than their proportion of the Blessings of Life. We are
never Easy, allways repining at the Providence of an Allwise & Benevolent
[p. 312]
Being, Blaming Our Country or faulting our Friends. But I don't know of any thing that vexes a man's
Soul more than hot smoke continually blowing into his Eyes, & when he attempts to avoid it, is met by a
cold and piercing Wind.
December 25, Christmas.— We are still in Tents—when we ought to be in huts—the poor Sick, suffer
much in Tents this cold Weather. But we now treat them differently from what they used to be at home,
under the inspection of Old Women and Doct. Bolus Linctus. We give them Mutton & Grogg and a
Capital Medicine once in a While, to start the Disease from its foundation at once. We avoid Piddling
Pills, Powders, Bolus's Linctus's Cordials and all such insignificant matters whose powers are Only
render'd important by causing the Patient to vomit up his money instead of his disease. But very few of
the sick Men Die.17
December 26.—Party of the 22d not Return'd. The Enemy have been some Days the west Schuylkill
from Opposite the City to Derby. Their intentions not yet known. The City is at present pretty Clear of
them. Why don't his Excellency rush in & retake the City, in which he will doubtless find much Plunder?
Because he knows better than to leave his Post and be catch'd like a d__d fool cooped up in the City. He
has always acted wisely hitherto. His conduct when closely scrutinised is uncensurable. Were his Inferior
Generals as skillfull as himself, we should have the grandest Choir of Oflicers ever God made. Many
Country Gentlemen in the interior parts of the States who get wrong information of the Affairs & state of
our Camp, are very much Surprized at G1 Washington's delay to drive off the Enemy, being falsely
inform'd that his Army consists of double the Number of the Enemy's—such wrong information serves
not to keep up the spirit of the People, as they must be by and by undeceiv'd to their no small
disappointment;—it brings blame on his Excellency, who is deserving of the greatest encomiums; it
brings disgrace on the Continental Troops, who have never evidenced the least
[p. 313]
backwardness in doing their duty, but on the contrary, have cheerfully endur'd a long and very fatigueing
Campaign. ‘Tis true they have fought but little this Campaign ; which is not owing to any Unwillingness
in Officers or Soldiers, but for want of convenient Opportunities, which have not offer'd themselves this
Season; tho' this may be contradicted by many; but Impartial Truth in future History will clear up these
points, and reflect lasting honour on the Wisdom & prudence of Gen1 Washington. The greatest number
of Continental Troops that have been with his Excelly this Campaign, never consisted of more than
Eleven thousand; and the greatest Number of Militia in the field at Once were not more than 2000. Yet
these accounts are exaggerated to 50 or 60,000. Howe, by the best, and most authentic Accounts has
never had less than 10,000. If then, Gen1 Washington, by Opposing little more than an equal Number of
young Troops, to Old Veterans has kept his Ground in general, Cooped them up in the City, prevented
their making any considerable inroads upon him, Killed and wounded a very considerable number of
them in different Skirmishes, and made many proselytes to the Shrine of Liberty by these little successes,
and by the prudence, calmness, sedateness & wisdom with which he facilitates all his Opperations. This
being the case, and his not having wantonly thrown away the lives of his Soldiers, but reserved them for
another Campaign (if another should Open in the Spring) which is of the utmost consequence This then
cannot be called an Inglorious Campaign. If he had risk'd a General Battle, and should have proved
unsuccessfull, what in the name of Heaven would have been our case this Day. Troops are raised with
great difficulty in the Southern States, many Regiments from these States do not consist of one hundred
men. What then was the grand Southern Army before the N. England Troops joined them and if this
Army is Cut off where should we get another as good. General Washington has doubtless considered
these matters & his conduct this Campaign has certainly demonstrated his prudence & Wisdom.
[p. 314]
This Evening, cross'd the Schuylkill with Dr Coln18 —eat plenty of Pessimmens which is the most
lenient, Sub Acid & Subastringent fruit, I believe that grows.
December 27.—My horse shod. A Snow. Lodg'd at a Welchman's this Night, return'd to Camp in the
morning of 28th. Snow'd last Night.
December 28.—Yesterday upwards of fifty Officers in Gen1 Greene's Division resigned their
Commissions—Six or Seven of our Regiment are doing the like to-day. All this is occasion'd by Officers
Families being so much neglected at home on account of Provisions. Their Wages will not by
considerable, purchase a few trifling Comfortables here in Camp, & maintain their families at home,
while such extravagant prices are demanded for the common necessaries of Life—What then have they to
purchase Cloaths and other necessaries with? It is a Melancholly reflection that what is of the most
universal importance, is most universally neglected—I mean keeping up the Credit of Money.
The present Circumstances of the Soldier is better by far than the Officers—for the family of the
Soldier is provided for at the public expence if the Articles they want are above the common price—but
the Officer's family, are obliged not only to beg in the most humble manner for the necessaries of Life,—
but also to pay for them afterwards at the most exorbitant rates—and even in this manner, many of them
who depend entirely on their Money, cannot procure half the material comforts that are wanted in a
family—this produces continual letters of complaint from home. When the Officer has been fatiguing
thro' wet & cold and returns to his tent where he finds a letter directed to him from his Wife, fill'd with the
most heart aching tender Complaints, a Woman is capable of writing—Acquainting him with the
incredible difficulty with which she procures a little Bread for herself & Children—and finally concluding
with expressions bordering on dispair, of procuring a sufficiency of food to keep soul & Body together
through the Winter— that her money is of very little consequence to her—that
[p. 315]
she begs of him to consider that Charity begins at home— and not suffer his family to perish with want,
in the midst of plenty. When such, I say—is the tidings they constantly hear from their families—What
man is there—who has the least regard for his family—whose soul would not shrink within him? Who
would not be disheartened from persevering in the best of Causes—the Cause of his Country,— when
such discouragements as these ly in his way, which his Country might remedy if they would?
December 28.—Building our Hutts.
December 29.—Continued the Work. Snow'd all day pretty briskly.—The party of the 22d return'd—
lost 18 men, who were taken prisoners by being decoyed by the Enemies Light Horse who brought up the
Rear, as they Repass'd the Schuylkill to the City. Our party took 13 or 14 of their Horsemen. The Enemy
came out to plunder—& have strip'd the Town of Derby of even all its Household furniture. Our party
were several times mixed with the Enemy's horse—not knowing them from our Connecticut Light
Horse—their Cloaks being alike.
So much talk about discharges among the Officers—& so many are discharged—his Excellency lately
expressed his fears of being left Alone with the Soldiers only. Strange that our Country will not exert
themselves for his support, and save so good—so great a Man from entertaining the least anxious doubt
of their Virtue and perseverance in supporting a Cause of such unparallel'd importance!!
All Hell couldn't prevail against us, If Heaven continues no more than its former blessings—and if we
keep up the Credit of our Money which has now become of the last consequence. If its Credit sinks but a
few degrees more, we shall then repent when 'tis too late—& cry out for help when no one will appear to
deliver. We who are in Camp, and depend on our Money entirely to procure the comforts of life—feel the
Importance of this matter—He who is hording it up in his Chest, thinks little more of it than how he shall
procure more.
December 30.—Eleven Deserters came in to-day—some
[p. 316]
Hessians & some English—one of the Hesns took an Ax in his hand & cut away the Ice of the Schuylkill
which was 1½ inches thick & 40 Rod wide and waded through to our Camp—he was ½ an hour in the
Water. They had a promise when they engag'd that the war would be ended in one year—they were now
tired of the Service.
Sir Wm Askins [Erskine]commanded the 8000 who were out over the Schuylkill the Other Day—but
part of two Brigades were left in the City. Cold Weather. Hutts go on moderately—very cold lying in
Tents—beyond what one can think.
December 31.—Adjutant Selden19 learn'd me how to Darn Stockings—to make them look like knit
VALLEY FORGE, Dec. 3lst, 1777.
Doct. Waldo Surgeon of Col. Prentices Regt, is recommended for a Furlow.
J. HUNTINGTON, B. General.
Apply'd with the above for a furlow, to Doct. Cochran, who reply'd— "I am willing to oblige every
Gentleman of the Faculty, but some of the Boston Surgeons have by taking an underhand method of
getting furlows, occasion'd a Complaint to be lodg'd with his Excellency, who has positively forbid my
giving any furlows at present. We shall soon have regimental Hospitals erected—and general Ones to
receive the superabundant Sick from them;—if you will tarry till such regulations are made—you will
have an honourable furlow, and even now—I will, if you desire it—recommend you to his Excellency for
one—but desire you would stay a little while longer—and in the mean time, recommend to me some
young Surgeon for a Regiment, and I will immediately appoint him to a chief Surgeoncy from your
recommendation—I shall remember the rascals who have us'd me ill.”
I concluded to stay—& immediately set about fixing accommodations for the Sick &c. &c.
[p. 317]
We got some Spirits and finish'd the Year with a good Drink & thankfull hearts in our new Hutt, which
stands on an Eminence that overlooks the Brigade, & in sight of the Front Line. The Major and
Commissary Little are to live with us which makes our Hutt Head Quarters.
In the Evening I joyfully received a Letter from my good and loving Wife. The pleasure and
satisfaction a man enjoys upon hearing of the health & peace of a Friend, and more especially of a Wife,
on whose affections & peace his own happiness depends, is a greater pleasure than . . .
1778, January 1. New Year.—I am alive. I am well.
Hutts go on briskly, and our Camp begins to appear like a spacious City.
A party of our Army at Wilmington took a Ship in the Delaware from New York tother day, in which
were a Number of Officers Wifes and about 70 or 80 men.
His Excellency Issued an Order this day that No one in the Army should have a new Coat made
without first obtaining a pattern. . . .
Nothing tends to the establishment of the firmest Friendship like Mutual Sufferings which produces
mutual Intentions and endeavours for mutual Relief which in such cases are equally shar'd with pleasure
and satisfaction—in the course of this, each heart is laid open to full view—the similar passions in each,
approximate themselves by a certain impulsive sympathy, which terminates in lasting esteem.
Bought an embroidered Jacket.
How much we affect to appear of consequence by a superfluous Dress,—and yet Custom—(that law
which none may fight against) has rendered this absolutely necessary & commendable. An Officer
frequently fails of being duly noticed, merely from the want of a genteel Dress;—and if joined to this, he
has a bungling Address,—his situation is render'd very disagreeable. Neatness of Dress, void of
unnecessary superfluities is very becoming—and discovers a man at least to have some Ambition—
without which he will never make any figure in life. A man Appears to much
[p. 318]
greater advantage, especially among strangers, with a genteel Dress, which will naturally prepossess the
Company in his favour, before they hear him speak. In this way,—even the fool may pass for a man of
consequence—A man ought always to dress according to his business let his Abilities be what they
will;—for if his Business is not sufficient to support a Credible appearance in the world, let him
discontinue it and undertake some other branch. But these are trifles not to be compared with Virtue and
good Sense : by these is the road to true fame & Glory,—by these we walk thro' the world with the least
hazzard—and obtain that peace of mind; that variety of agreeable Reflection—and that esteem among the
Virtuous & Amiable, which the Vicious Fool is a stranger to.
January 3.—Our Hutt, or rather our Hermits Cell, goes on briskly, having a short allowance of Bread
this morning we divided it with great precision, eat our Breakfast with thankful hearts for the little we
had, took care of the Sick, according to our dayly practice, and went to Work on our little humble
Cottage. Now ye poets give me my Wife & Children, with your daisies, your Roses, your Tuleps and your
other insignificant poetical materials, & I believe I should be pretty contented in this humble Cottage
which the muses have so often described.
Another Ship was taken from the Enemy this Week, the lading taken out & the Ship burnt. The other
Ship mention'd New Years day, was loaded with Officers Baggage and Medicines, with other valluable
matters, & Cloathiug for 2000 men Compleat.

The hint taken from the following line of Pope:
"Gun, Drum, Trumpet, Blunderbuss & Thunder."
Soldiers I would you acquire a lasting fame;
Would you be pleased with a Hero's name;
Have you a wish, to be a Martial Wonder;
Rush furious on your foes, & fearless blunder,
Thro' Gun, Drum, Trumpet, Blunderbuss and Thunder.
[p. 319]
Fresh Beef and Flour make me perfectly Sick, especially as we have no Spirits to drink with it;—hut
others stand it, so must I.
To day his Excellency in Orders acquainted the Troops of the Congress's high approbation of their
spirited perseverance and good Conduct this Campaign, that Rations should be raised monthly in
proportion to the rise of the Articles of life, that the Congress were exerting themselves to supply the
Commissary, and Cloathiers Departments, with a greater quantity of better Stores, than hitherto, that the
Troops may be Supply'd with a greater quantity of Provision than they have been of late; and that a
Month's Wages extraordinary shall be given to every Officer & Soldier who shall live in Hutts this
Good encouragement this, and we think ourselves deserving of it, for the hunger, Thirst, Cold &
fatigue we have suffer'd this Campaign, altho' we have not fought much, yet the oldest Soldiers among us
have called the Campaign a very severe & hard one. . . .
Sunday, January 4-—Properly accouter'd I went to work at Masonry, None of my Mess were to dictate
me, and before Night (being found with Mortar & Stone) I almost compleated a genteel Chimney to my
Magnificent Hutt, however, as we had short allowance of food & no Grogg, my back ached before Night.
I was call'd to relieve a Soldier tho't to be dying—he expir'd before I reach'd the Hutt. He was an
Indian—an excellent Soldier—and an obedient good natur'd fellow. He engaged for money doubtless as
others do;—but he has serv'd his country faithfully—he has fought for those very people who disinherited
his forefathers—having finished his pilgrimage, he was discharged from the War of Life & Death. His
memory ought to be respected, more than those rich ones who supply the world with nothing better than
Money and Vice. There the poor fellow lies not Superior now to a clod of earth—his Mouth wide open—
his Eyes staring. Was he affrighted at the scene of Death —or the consequences of it?—doubtless both;—
but he has
[p. 320]
doubtless acted agreeable to the dictates of Nature in the course of his whole life—why should he then be
afraid of the consequences of Death. Where then is his immaterial part taken its flight—undoubtedly the
scene Changes, and admits him into another State,—and there fixes him forever,—but what is that state—
is it happy or miserable. He has been an honest fellow—has done his duty to his Maker and his fellow
creatures as far as his Inclinations and Abilities would permit of,—therefore we'll suppose him happier
now than ever.
What a frail—dying creature is Man. We are Certainly not made for this world—daily evidences
demonstrate the contrary.

Ah! frail—vain man—ye jest of fortune Here

Riches thy bane—and Poverty thy Curse
All pleasures glutt thee—pain afflicts thy heart,
Thy Body only food for Death & worms.
Look upward then—0 Man—the God of Worlds
Has form'd another World for thee—by far
Superior to this Orb on which we dwell.

The Marquis De la Fayette, a Volunteer in Our Army— & he who gave three Ships to Congress, is
very agreeable in his person and great in his Character; being made a Major General—Brigadier Conway,
an Irish Colonel from France, took umbrage thereat, and resigned—but is now made Inspector General of
the Army—he is a great Character—he wore a Commission in the French Service when he was but ten
years old. Major General Lord Stirling, is a man of a very noble presence,—and the most martial
Appearance of any General in the Service—he much resembles the Marquis of Granby—by his bald
head—& the make of his face —and figure of his Body—He is mild in his private Conversation, and
vociferous in the Field;—but he has allways been unfortunate in Actions.
Count Pulaski—General of the Horse is a Man of hardly middling Stature—sharp Countenance—and
lively air;— He contended a long time with his Uncle the present king of Poland for the Crown—but
being overcome he fled to
[p. 321]
France—and has now joined the American Army, where he is greatly respected & admired for his Martial
Skill, Courage & Intrepidity. Gen1 Greene & Gen1 Sullivan are greatly esteemed. Baron De Kalb, a
Major General is another very remarkable Character, and a Gentleman much esteemed.
January 5.—Apply'd for a Furlow, Surgn Gen1 not at home—come back mumping & Sulkey.
January 6.—Apply'd again—was deny'd by reason of Inoculations being set on foot—& because the
Boston Surgeons had too many of them gone—one of whom is to be broke for his lying & deceiving in
order to get a furlow—and I wish his cursed tongue was pull'd out, for thus giving an example of scandal
to the New England Surgeons, tho' the Connectd Ones are well enough respected at present. Came home
sulkey and Cross—storm'd at the boys—and swore round like a piper and a fool till most Night—when I
bought me a Bear Skin—dress'd with the Hair on:—This will answer me to ly on—Set on.20 . . .
Case;—it serves to keep off those melancholly Ideas which often attend such a person, and who loves his
family and wishes to be with them. If I should happen to lose this little Journal, any fool may laugh that
finds it,—since I know that there is nothing in it but the natural Sowings & reflections of my own heart,
which is human as well as other Peoples—and if there is a great deal of folly in it— there is no intended
Ill nature—and am sure there is much Sincerity, especially when I mention my family, whom I cannot
help saying and am not asham'd to say that I Love. But I begin to grow Sober, I shall be home sick
again.— Muses attend!—File off to the right grim melancholly! Seek no more an asylum in thine
Enemy's breast!— Waft me hence ye Muses to the brow of Mount Parnassus! for to the summit, I dare
not, will not presume to climb— . . .
We have got our Hutts to be very comfortable, and feel ourselves happy in them—I only want my
family and I
[p. 322]
should be as happy here as any where, except in the Article of food, which is sometimes pretty scanty.
The Brigg taken from the Enemy (& mention'd New Tear's Day) is the greatest prize ever taken from
them— There is Scarlet—Blue—& Buff Cloth, sufficient to Cloath all the Officers of the Army—&
Hats—Shirts—Stockings— Shoes—Boots—Spurs—&c. to finish compleat Suits for all. A petition is sent
to his Excellency, that this Cloathing may be dealt out to the Regimental Officers only—at a moderate
price—Excluding Commissaries—Bull Drivers &c.—there are 4 or 5000 Apelets of Gold & Silver—
Many Chests of private Officers Baggage—& General [William] How's Silver Plate—& Kitchen
furniture, &c. This Cargo was sent to Cloathe all the Officers of the British Army.
January 8.—Unexpectedly got a Furlow. Set out for home. The very worst of Riding—Mud & Mire.
We had gone thro' Inoculation before this furlow.

Lodged at —Porters £0 12 0
Breakfasted at Weavers Jany 9th just by Bartholomews . 0 5 0
Grogg 0 4 0
Hyelyars Tavern 8 ½ from Caryls, dined . . . . 0 5 1
Shocking Riding !
Lodged at a private house three miles this side Delaware in
Jersey & Breakfasted. 0 6 0
Treat Serj. Palmer with Baggage 0 5 2
Mattersons Tavern 13 m[iles] De War 0 4 0
Mattersons 0 2 0
Conarts Tavern 10 M 0 5 0
Sharps or McCurdys, 4 M 0 13 0
Capt. Porter's Cross Road 2 M. from McCurdy's Lodged—5
Dol. l Sixth 1 11 0
Breakfasted at the pretty Cottagers Jany 11th . . . 0 6 0
1 M. from Porters, Horses 0 6 0
Lodging &c 0 11 0
Bullions Tavern (Vealtown) 0 5 0
Morristown Din'd 0 5 0
Poquonnack 10 M. from N. Y. at Jennings Tavern & a narrow
Bed—Lodg'd here. Landlady wth Teethache, Children
keep a squalling 0 19 0
Roome's or Romer's Tavern, Good Tavern, 11 Mile from
Jennings 0 20 0
[p. 323]
For 2 Boles Grog & Phyal of Rum Vaulk’s House 0 10 0
Honey & Bread & Oats 0 12 0
Good Old Squeaking Widow Ann Hopkins, 26 M. from
Jennings, fine Living, for Horse, Supp’r, Lodg’d, Breakft 0 12 0
Satyr Tavern, Lodged & Supped 0 9 6
Judge Coe’s, 9 M. from King’s Ferry Dinner, Oats 0 6 0
Adams £4 9 9 Paid
Waldo £4 9 9
Jany. 14. – Alone. Lodged at Sherald’s. Left Mr. Adams
sick. 0 9 0
15. – On the road to Fredericksburgh 0 7 0
Endnotes (Waldo Diary)

1. See PENNA. MAG., Vol. XVIII. p. 494.

2. See PENNA. MAG., Vol. XIX. p. 84 et. seg.
3. Captain James Lee, of Philadelphia, of Second Regiment Artillery, Colonel John Lamb.
4. He commanded a company of the Fourth Connecticut Line.
5. Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Prentiss, First Connecticut Line.
6. Colonel Philip Burr Bradley, Fifth Connecticut Line.
7. Colonel Heman Swift, Seventh Connecticut Line.
8. Huntington's brigade of the Connecticut Line regiments of Prentiss, Bradley, and Swift (and joined by
Webb's at Valley Forge), Varnum's brigade of Greene and Angell's Rhode Island Line regiments, and
Durkee's and Chandler's Connecticut Line regiments comprised the division of General McDougall.
9. Probably Surgeon Samuel Lee, of the Fourth Connecticut Line.
10. Chaplain John Ellis, of the First Connecticut Line, and subsequently brigade chaplain of Huntington's
11. Colonel Charles Webb, Second Connecticut Line.
12. Captain Amos Walbridge, later major of the Second Connecticut Line.
13. Lieutenant John Harris entered the service as second lieutenant in the Seventeenth Connecticut
Infantry December 31, 1776 ; promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to Second Connecticut Line.
14. Lyrics to the song “War and Washington”:
(As sung during the Revolution.)
By Jonathan Mitchell Seward
(Five of twelve original verses.)

Vain Britons, boast no longer with proud indignity,

By land your conquering legions, your matchless strength at sea,
Since we your braver sons incensed, our swords have girded on,
Huzza, huzza, huzza, huzza, for War and Washington.

Urged on by North and vengeance those valiant champions came,

And bellowing “Tea and Treason!” and George was all on flame!
Yet sacrilegious as it seems, we Rebels still live on.
And laugh at all your empty puffs, and so does Washington!

Should George, too choice of Britons, to foreign realms apply,

And madly arm' half Europe, yet still we would defy
Turk, Russian, Jew, and Infidel, or all those powers in one,
While Hancock crowns our senate, our camp great Washington.

Tho’ warlike weapons fail us, disdaining slavish fears,

To swords we '11 beat our ploughshares, our pruning hooks to spears.
And rush all desperate on our foe, nor breathe till battle won,
Then shout and shout. “America and conquering Washington!”

Proud France should view with terror, and haughty Spain should fear,
While every warlike nation would court alliance here;
And George, his minions trembling round, dismounted from his throne
Pay homage to America and glorious Washington!

15. A hiatus occurs here in the manuscript.

16. Surgeon Waldo does not exaggerate the state of the commissary department of the army at this time.
General Huntington, to whose brigade his regiment was attached, wrote to Washington on the subject, and
his letter with a number of others the Commander-in-Chief forwarded to Congress.
17. Two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men were reported by the surgeons unfit for duty.
18. Probably Surgeon Noah Coleman, of the Second Connecticut Line.
19. Ezra Selden, adjutant First Connecticut Line. Commissioned January 1,1777; promoted captain
January 11,1778. Severely wounded in hip at storming of Stony Point. Died December 9, 1784.
20. Another hiatus occurs here in the manuscript.

18th century grooved forceps, used to remove bullets or other foreign objects. Steel. H .7 cm,
W 6.5 cm, L 25.7 cm (Guilford Courthouse National Military Park)

5. “I dressd 17 or 18 Men. Wounded in different Parts …”: Jonathan Todd’s 1777 Accounts of Peekskill
Garrison Life and Advancing with the Attack at Germantown

Jonathan Todd (born 17 May 1756, died 10 February 1819) was a surgeon's mate in Col. Heman
Swift's 7th Connecticut Regiment. Eight of Todd’s letters home reside in his Federal pension file;
two of them are included below.

December 1777: Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington's Brigade

1st Connecticut Samuel Prentiss (lt. col.)
2nd Connecticut Charles Webb
5th Connecticut Philip Bradley
7th Connecticut Heman Swift

Camp at Peeks Kill 7th Septr. AD 1777

Honour'd Father
Nothing Material has happened this day - Last Night A soldier Rec'd 40 Lashes I went out of Curiosity to see
him Punished but believe it will be the Last that I shall go out of my way to see as the sight was Very
Disagreeable to me - I attended meeting this day - Our Chaplain is a Young [man] - Mr. Fenn - I Bled Col.
Starr & one soldier My Returns is 21 to Day
Monday 8th. Forenoon did my Tour of duty 22 Unfit for duty, after Noon Walked up to the Continental Village
4 Miles to draw some Medicines got A good supply for Present Use Also an Order from Dr. [Eustice?]
D[eputy].S[urgeon].G[eneral]. for some Rice, Molasses, Oatmeal, & Vinengar - On my way to the Village
came across Capt Hall at No. 2 he was this day Capt of the Provost Guard he Invited me to go into the Guard
house - I saw there A striking Instance of human Depravity. A poor Wretch Chaind in Irons, Guarded on Every
side with Fix'd Bayonets sentenced to be Executed in the morning at Nine Oclock - & yet [he] Appeard to have
but Very little Concern if any about A Future state. He was A Tory Robber. Another soldier Confind in [the]
same [--] for Endeavouring to [hit or kill] his Officer to be shot at the same time he Appears Very
Penitent - About A dozen others Under Confinement some have been whipt 100 Lashes & sentenced on board
the ships - The British soldiers in our Army that have deserted from the regulars are all musterd and Inlisted in
one Corps during the war & are to be sent to Georgia they have 30 dollars bounty & L 30 Pounds pr. year for
the support of A wife If any they have
Tuesday 9th The Regt. holds Considerable Healthy Cap.t Stevens Came in Last night I Expected A Letter but
was Disappointed | to Morrow Morning Leut. Baldwin sets off I hope when he returns to have a Letter from
you, the Whole Army has been drawn up to day on Gallows Hill to see the Execution of the two Above
Mentiond Prisoners, but they were disappointed - After the Guards were Call'd out & the men Blind folded
they were Reprived, I was Extremely glad to hear it if it will reform them any as I hope it will - we hear nothing
from the Enemy | by the Latest accounts from the Southward The two Armies were about 2 Miles distant one
from the other | if you think it worth your Trouble to keep the Letters I send will be A Journal of the most
Remarkable Event that happen
Sr. I am &c
Jonth. Todd Jnr.

[Postscript] so much Confusion cant write with any accuracy, Drums Fifes &c always going

Head Quarters, Skippack 28 Miles N.W. from Philadelphia 6th Octr 1777

Honord Father
After A Fatigueing March of 13 days We Ariv'd at about 21 Miles distant from Philadelphia here we Lay in
the woods one Night Next day was order'd 4 Further on Towards Philadelphia where we Lay 2 days in the
Woods, when we were order'd (about 6 oclock PM.) to advance & Attack the Enemy, at Germantown 7 Miles
from Philadelphia the Whole Army March'd About 10 Miles in the Night without so Much as speaking A Loud
word | just at day we arriv'd within 1 Mile from Town Where we formd & the Attack began on their Right by
Genll Sullivan The Attack was made with great Spirit & Bravery. When the Enemy soon gave way our division
was on the Left they began the attack | Immediately after we drove the Enemy 2 or 3 Miles & Killd many of
the Enemy their whole force was Nearly Collected I supp[ose]d – the Morning was very foggy which was a
great disadvantage to us we could scarce know our men from the Enemy – The Engagement Lasted Obstinate
4 hours when we had orders to retreat | in the beginning of the Engagement we Took 80 Prisoners & 11 Field
Pieces but Lost the Field Pieces again – We sav'd all our own | the Number [of men] we Lost Cannot Yet
Ascertain nor the Loss the Enemy sustain'd is not Yet Known but I believe the Loss was Considerable on both
sides – I suppose A hotter fire was Never known both of small Arms & Field Pieces. The Battle was Very
Generall it begun 25 Minutes after 5 & Lasted till 25 after 9 oclock Saturday ye 4 Oct. – Genll. Maxwell
[actually Francis Nash of North Carolina] died Sunday Morning of the Wounds he Rec'd – Our Regt. far'd as
well as any & shew'd as much Obedience to Order[s] | We lost 4 or 5 & had 4 Wounded Viz. Capt. Woodbridges
Compy. 2 one shot thro the shoulder & one thro the Arm. Capt. Chapmans Compy. 1 shot thro the thigh – Capt
Watsons 1 in the Arm | Capt. Hall's one slightly wounded in the Neck | Capts. Hall & Steven's Companies far'd
Well – the other Regts in the division far'd much wors than we did. G[?]Colo. Bradly has 67 Men Missing
I am Pretty well got over the Fatigue of the Battle – I hope that I may have A right sence of the distinguishing
goodness of god in sparing my life & limbs when so many fell in the Action – God Grant I may Always be
Preserv'd when in the like danger or any other – I followed the Regt. to the Field where the smoke was so thick
that I could not see a man 3 Rods [16.5 yards] – I dressd 17 or 18 Men. Wounded in different Parts I Extracted
4 balls by cutting in the oposite side from where they went in – I should Innevitably have fallen into the Enemies
hands had not the Paymaster Lent me his horse to Ride down to the Attack. I was so Fatigued with marching
all night & day without Eating that I could scarcely Walk. my cloths are all Blood [and] have none Clean to
Put on as our baggage is gone up to Bethel[ehem, Pennsylvania] – I hope by the Next opportunity to give A
mor Particular Account – The Enemy advanc'd nine miles this way – We are now Preparing for another Battle
our Army are in good spirits and are determin'd to see it out this fall – I hope you wont Fail to write Every
oppertunity – You none of you know the hardships of A soldiers life – much more the shock it Give to Human
Nature to hear such an Incessant fire & see [––] such Large Colums of smoke & fire & see Garments Rolld in
Blood – I Hope I may be suffer'd to return [and] recount the many favors the Almighty has shown me – Give
my duty to my Mother and sincere love to brothers & sisters – My Duty to Uncle & Aunt To Dr. Gales Family
& tell him I hope to Give A more Correct Account pr. Osborn Stevens
I am Sr. your Obedient son,
J. Todd Jnr.

Jonathan Todd, letters, 1777-1778, Pension No. W2197, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty -
Land - Warrant Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, reel 2395.

Sections of the below-cited covering from Spring 1777 to March 1778 include the letters of
Jonathan Todd, surgeon’s mate of the 7th Connecticut Regiment. Among other items, he followed
his regiment into action at Germantown and wrote home about the experience.

“`None of you know the hardships of A soldiers life …’: Service of the Connecticut Regiments
in Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s Division, 1777-1778”
“I am … Packing up my baggage in order to March”: Service on the North River, and
Movement into Pennsylvania, May to September 1777
“God Grant I may Always be Preserv'd …”: The Battle of Germantown and Schuylkill Expedition,
October 1777
“So small A Garrison never attaind Greater achievments …”: Forts Mifflin and Mercer, and
Maneuvers in New Jersey, November 1777
“Nothing to cover us But ye heavens …”: The Whitemarsh Encampment and Early Days at Valley
Forge, December 1777
“This is a very Different Spirit in the Army …”: Wintering Over at Valley Forge and Spring
Training, January to June 1778
“Sixty three bullet holes were made through the colours …”: Summer Campaign and the
Battle of Monmouth, June 1778
“The Troops of the whole line will exercise and manoeuvre …”: The March to New York and the
White Plains Encampment, July to September 1778
“The Enemy are upon the eve of some general and important move.”: The Fredericksburgh Camp
and Shifting Commanders, September to October 1778
“Their countrymen would … conclude the Devil was in them …”: McDougall’s Division Takes
Post in Connecticut, October and November 1778
“Grievances … Justly complained of by your Soldiers …”: The Connecticut Line Winter Camp,
December 1778 to January 1779
Longer and
6. “Tearing away clothing, skin, ligaments, and muscles, to its extremity …”:
Volunteer Surgeon William Read during and after the Battle of Monmouth, June and July

Dr. William Read writes of joining Washington’s army during the Battle of Monmouth (28 June
1778) and gives a compelling account of the post-action battlefield and treatment of the wounded,

… Dr. Read [soon] … reached the battle-field. All appeared to him confusion and smoke; the weather
was excessively hot. Dr. Read’s enquiry was for the Pennsylvania line, and was told by a wounded
soldier that Gen. Wayne had pushed it on to the field of battle; presently he saw an officer borne off
by six soldiers, in a dying condition, and knew it to be that of Col. Bonner [3rd Pennsylvania Regiment],
the man he was on the enquiry for. He stayed with him a few minutes, when he rode into the thick of
the battle, his servant [Peter Houston] all the time remonstrating with him to go no further, reminding
him of a promise ‘not to carry him onto battle.’ Dr. Read saw Gen. Washington riding to and fro along
the line, sometimes at full speed, looking nobly, excited, and calling loudly to the troops by the
appellation of brave boys. He saw Washington standing to the right of the line, with a number of
officers near him, and saw a cannon ball strike a wet hole in the side of a hill, and the dirt fly on him.
Two officers then rode up, and seemed to reason with him, and lay hold of the bridle of his horse. The
General coolly standing in his stirrups, was said to say to the officers who urged that that was no place
for him, he being observed by the enemy, ‘that he was admiring the manner in which Proctor [Colonel
Thomas Proctor, 4th Artillery Regiment] was handling their right.’ Dr. Read was near enough to hear
the word Proctor, and was told what the General said. He then moved off at full speed, all the throng
following, and Read among the rest. It was Col. Laurens and [Brigadier-General Jedediah]
Huntingdon, he thinks, who prevailed on the General to change his position. The dust and smoke would
sometimes so shut out the view, that one could form no idea of what was going on – the roar of cannon,
the crackling of musketry, men’s voices, making horrible confusion; the groans and cries of the
wounded … The evening at length came on, and the battle ceased, except some skirmishing at a
distance, and some struggles to the left in arranging off prisoners … with the approach of night, both
armies lay exhausted by fatigue and the heat of the day – a deep morass lying between them. They lay
down, man and horse, just where they halted; Washington and his suit[e] lay upon the field. It was
generally understood the battle was to be renewed at the dawn of day. Dr. Read, with his servant, rode
on to the left of the line, seeing, in a few instances, regimental surgeons officiating, and administering
to some wounded soldiers, and hearing the groans and cries of some men who crawled, or been brought
off into the rear. They reached a wagon which stood in an inclined situation, having the fore-wheels
shot away; this position afforded a comfortable shelter to the two adventurers … At the dawn of day
they heard the shout of victory – ‘the British are gone!’ Dr. Read mounted, and rode down the hill
which bounded the morass, and observing several men entering the low ground to cross over, he did
so also. The bog was very deep, and required the utmost effort of his and his servant’s horse also, to
get through it. As objects became visible, he saw several dead soldiers in the bog, mired to the waist,
and probably shot. On the opposite side he saw an officer lying a few yards from the morass, nearly
cut in two by a cannon shot; he was alive, and spoke, implored Dr. Read to lift him to a tree which
stood near, alleging that he had been all night trying to do so, ‘that he might die easy.’ The clotted
blood was piled up several inches on his front, and it had ceased to flow. Dr. Read, with the assistance
of his servant, essayed to lift him tenderly, and, stepping backwards, they placed him against the tree.
The blood now began to flow perceptibly, and in all probability terminated his life; they heard him
utter a few words of thankfulness, and proceeded on.
At the summit of the hill, dismal, indeed, was the scene; there lay fifty or sixty British grenadiers –
some dead, some alive, calling for ‘help!’ ‘water!’ uttering the most dreadful and severe imprecations
on ‘the rebels.’ Dr. Read and his servant ran down the hill, and found plenty of water; with his servant’s
hat he administered many draughts of water to these poor, famished soldiers; it was busy occupation
for an hour. Dr. Read … now proceeded to dress wounds and apply bandages. Tearing off shirts from
the dead, he made bandages, and applied them, to the best of his skill, for remedying hemorrhage.
Some country people and Negroes coming to the field of carnage, Dr. Read enlisted their feelings, and
hired them to assist in lifting and turning these wounded men, and, at length, in procuring wagons and
straw to remove them to the court-house … he was greatly assisted by his servant, Peter Houston …
They succeeded in moving twenty-one grenadiers, all with broken legs, or muscles so lacerated as to
render them helpless. Dr. Read, seeing no medical aid come to him, proceeded to amputate whenever
the patient would consent to the operation. In these operations he was aided by lint and bandages being
sent, he knew not from whence, and every article of nourishment.
Dr. Read continued to dwell in the court-house, sleeping … in the Judge’s bench. There he was
observed by sundry groups of officers, who came riding around on a tour of observation, and his name
enquired into … [His servant sometimes informed the visitors that his master was working] ‘at his own
expense.’ This explanation must have had an effect, as on the third day he received from the Secretary
a special commission, which gave him rank in the medical department, and extra rations and forage.
This circumstance fixed Dr. Read in the medical department, whereas he had left Georgia with an
intention of obtaining a company of horse, or foot, and serve in the line … but the above circumstance
changed his purpose, and gave a more settled turn to his mind.
On the fourth day of his care of the wounded grenadiers, two medical men came out of New York,
and relieved him from the arduous duty. He explained to these gentlemen the nature and circumstances
of the several cases, his amputations etc.; to which they coolly observed, that he ‘had only given so
many subjects to the Chelsea Hospital.’ [Note: The Royal Hospital at Chelsea for the care of maimed,
disabled, and pensioned soldiers.]
Dr. Read then repaired to a house+ where lay a British officer, severely wounded through the groins,
and in a dying condition. He barely spoke, and pointed to his wound. Dr. R. witnessed, on this occasion,
the appalling circumstance of the gentleman’s servants, a male and a female, reasoning on the sharing
of his silver, camp equipage and watch, which he evidently understood.
While Dr. Read stood listening to this scene, he was accosted by an officer of rank, who, after
enquiring if ‘he was Dr. Read?” desired that he would go immediately to Englishtown, and take charge
of Col. [James] Wesson [9th Massachusetts Regiment], who lay there in a wounded condition. He did
so, and found the gentleman in a most deplorable state. He had received a wound from a cannon ball,
which, striking his neck, he being in a stooped position, raked along the spine, tearing away clothing,
skin, ligaments, and muscles, to its extremity. He lay all night on the field of battle, supposed to be
dead; but, being alive next morning, he was carried to Englishtown, about three miles distant. There
Dr. Read found him attended by three of his artillery men, in a very sunken situation, while they
appeared only to wait for his death. Dr. Read, with care and exertion, immediately undertook the case;
by examining the wound, declared it not mortal, but capable of remedy. By his manner and cheering
language, he raised the drooping spirits of the wounded man and his attendants, cleansed and dressed
his wounds in such a manner as to revive hope, and afford ease and comfort. The patient was a large,
heavy man, and difficult to manage. The suppuration of his wound was prodigious, and required four
dressings in the day and night. In all this Dr. Read found his servant eminently useful; lint and dressings
were sent in by some persons in the country in abundance, and many articles of nourishment.
On the fourth day, Gen. Washington, with a number of officers, rode up to this nursery scene; Ge.
W. alighted, and, enquiring for Dr. Read, was informed of the condition of the wounded Colonel. The
General accosted him tenderly, and prevailed on him to take a tonic dose prepared for him, ending
with telling him to obey the orders of his surgeon, and get well, ‘I cannot spare such officers as you
are.’ Col. Wesson evidently improved after that day, and was more tractable.
Dr. Read had the satisfaction of seeing his patient recover in twenty-three days, so far as to be
conveyed away on a litter on men’s shoulders. It is a remarkable circumstance, that thirty years after
this scene, Dr. Read being in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, met a gentleman who knew Col.
Wesson, and who had heard him speak of ‘a young surgeon from the far South, who attended him, and
saved his life.’ The Colonel had dies an old man a few months previously. [Note James Wesson died
in October 1809 at age 75.]
[On a walk near Englishtown Dr. Read encountered two women in a horse-drawn chaise, who
abruptly turned off the road and overturned. After helping them out of the tangle and setting their
vehicle upright] Some civilities passed some thanks were made; but with coldness and ceremony.
[Helping them into their vehicle] The ladies then seemed to rally their good feelings, and invited him
to their house, which appeared in view. The mother and daughter, Mrs. and Miss English, became
talkative and civil; Mrs. E. said she had an aversion to he American rebel officers and did not wish to
meet one, which was the reason of her turning out of the road in which she met with the disaster …
the parties became acquainted [ The old lady inquired of Dr. Read in what manner, with most security,
she could put away her [silver] plate and wine, He advised her; but said, of the wine, madam, I should
be apt to be a plunderer myself, as I have a patient in town whose life might be saved by a few bottles
Dr. Read took leave of the ladies, and that evening a dozen of old Madeira was sent, of which Col.
Wesson benefitted, and it was greatly instrumental in restoring him.
Dr. Read now received orders to repair to Princeton, where the general hospital was fixed. There he
found a dismal scene; typhus fever prevailed to a fatal degree. Out of twelve medical men, five or six
had died, others retired, and the department left to a German surgeon. Dr. Read took charge of the
hospital, and endeavored to remedy the disorder, but in vain; five or six patients died daily. The
attendants refused to do the duties assigned them; an awful scene of superstition prevailed. The duties
all devolved on Dr. Read and the German, aided by a Scotch lady, the matron, with a few women, not
one of whom would go into the hospital after night. At length Dr. Read was attacked with the fever,
and underwent a severe illness; his first and second attendant died, and he was left to an Indian woman.
In a state of delirium he ordered the sick all to be carried out of town, and deposited in the farmers’
barns. Although illegal and unwarranted, it was done, and it pleased God that the measure succeeded,
as no new case ensued, and no death happened after. Dr. Read’s case terminated in an abscess of his
arm, and resulted favorably. On his recovery, he was surprised at being told of his orders respecting
the sick, being unconscious of it; but rejoiced at the happy circumstance.
At Princeton it was Dr. Read’s good fortune to obtain of Mrs. Livingston a chamber, and a closet as
an office, which gave him an opportunity of accommodating the young soldier, Marquis Lafayette, on
a very cold night, when not a bed or blanket could be had … Washington lay at winter quarters at
Morristown, and a general hospital was ordered at Brunswick. Dr. Read, dismissing the hospital at
Princeton, went on to Brunswick to seek employment.”

William Read may not yet have been officially entered into the hospital department in 1778 or,
just as likely, Francis Heitman’s research was faulty, as Mr. Heitman’s Register of Officers of the
Continental Army records only of the good doctor, “”Hospital Physician and Surgeon Southern
Department, 22d March, 1780 to close of war.”

“Reminiscences of Dr. William Read, Arranged From His Notes and Papers,” R.W. Gibbes, M.D.,
Documentary History of the American Revolution: Consisting of Letters and Papers Relating to the
Contest for Liberty, Chiefly in South Carolina, From Originals in the Possession of the Editor, and
Other Sources. 1776-1782 (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1857), 255-259.

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the
Revolution – April 1775 to December 1783 (Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Publishing Shop,
Inc., 1914), 460.
7. “I am in hopes With the Assistance of god that I Shall git wel again”:
New Jersey Private Henry Johnson is Wounded at the Battle of Connecticut Farms, 7 June 1780

Henry Johnson was an enlisted Continental soldier from New Jersey. He served in three
regiments, plus the New Jersey Battalion formed in the months before the main army’s final
furlough in June 1783. Johnson began as a private and continued in that rank until he was
promoted corporal late in 1782. (Private in Forman’s Additional Regiment, transferred to
Captain John Burrow’s company, Spencer’s Additional Regiment, and later to Captain Samuel
Hendry’s company, 2nd New Jersey Regiment. In 1782 he was listed as corporal, 3rd Company,
Major Cummings’ New Jersey Battalion; discharged 5 June 1783, Snake Hill, New York.)

Note: The two additional regiments Henry Johnson served in, along with a third, were eventually incorporated
into the New Jersey Line. Malcolm's Additional Regiment was dissolved and incorporated with Spencer's
Regiment on April 22, 1779. Forman's Regiment was dissolved in August of 1779 and its officers and men also
transferred to Spencer's Additional Regiment. Spencer's Regiment met a similar fate in January of 1781 when
its men were spread among the Jersey Brigade.
John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745–
1799 (39 volumes. Washington: Government Printing Office, DC, 1933); vol. 14, April 9, 1779, Washington
to George Clinton, p. 356; April 9, 1779, Washington to Oliver Spencer, p. 357; April 29, 1779, Washington
to William Malcom, (see also page note), page 463; April 29, 1779, Washington to Oliver Spencer, p. 464; vol.
16, August 8, 1779, Washington to the Board of War, p. 65; vol. 20, November 1, 1780, General Orders, pp.
Letter 6.1

Bascon Ridge Ospitreal [Basking Ridge Hospital] June 13th 1780

Honoured parents I have taken this Opertunyty to let you know what
misfortu[n]e I met with on the seventh Ult[imo] / A party of the Enemy Came to
Elisebeth town [and] ma[r]ched to the Conecticut Farms / We lay at Newark
Mountain / A Bout twelve oclock at Night we was Alarmed and Marched to the
farms and about Sun Rise We Etacted them [with] the Jersey Berguade [brigade]
and there was a Bout five thousand of them / we kept up a a [sic] hot fire about
fore hours and in the atact was wounded Col[onel] Ogden and was wounded six
or seven lieutenants and was kiled Liet Ogden of the forth Reg[imen]t and a
number of Soldiers kild and wounded and I got a Wound in the head very Bad
But I am in hopes With the Assistance of god that I Shall git wel again / When
I git Well I Do entend to Come home But that will be a good while first

I have Reseiv [?]

Sonomore at preasent
But Remain you[r] Loving
Son Henery Johnson
But I desir[e] to Be Remembered
to all Enquering frends

Johnson his
[There is no sign of a mark rather than a signature, but it is probable that
someone wrote this letter for him.]
[addressed] To
Lambert Johnson
Living in Monmoth
County State of New
Jersey Middletown
Near Shrewesbery

Col. Israel Shreve, in nominal command of the New Jersey brigade, described the action to his
wife Mary (“Polley”), and gave his tally of casualties.

Connecticut farms 4 1/2 miles back

of Elizabethtown 14th June 1780

Dear Polley
Before this Arives you will have seen Mr. Faulkner I Expect, who will Give you
Some Account of my welfare. I will Endeavour to Give the particulars of what has
happened since the present Alarm - on tuesday night the 7th [actually the 6th] of
June between 11 & 12 oClock the Enemy Landed at Elizabethtown point, Our
Piquets fired upon them Which Alarmed out Camp. Immediately a Light Horseman
Arived from Colo.[Elias] Dayton [3rd New Jersey Regiment] who Commanded at
that they were Landed in force, We Immediately Caled in all Guards about Camp,
and Marched towards Elizabethtown and fell in about 2 miles above the town upon
the Connecticut farm Road but thought it prudent to Retire a Little up the same
being joined by the third Regt. from town, halted at the [Connecticut] farms Meeting
house, Leaveing Capt.[Nathaniel] Bowman with his [light] Company [2nd New
Jersey Regiment] at a fork of the Road, half a mile below. -
on the Enemys Appearance which was a little before sunrise Capt. Bowman fired
upon their advance party, and Retired over a small bridge where was but a Narrow
pass he being there joined by five [?] Piquet Guards - Disputed the pass for two
hours and an half, - some part of the time very near sometimes one party Giveing
way, sometimes the other, - at Length a Large Reinforcement from the Enemy Come
up and our people Expending thirty Rounds a man, was Obliged to Give way,
Covered by the third Jersey Regt. and part of the other three, - however the Combat
was Renewed very Briskly, but Obliged to Give way slowly untill we Arived at
Springfield Bridge, Where the Militia had Gathered with a peace of Cannon, this
pass was so well Defended that the Enemy Gave way although there Numbers was 4
or six to one, and two peaces of Cannon in front was playd upon us Occationally, but
Did no Execution - by this time it was past two oClock in the Afternoon the men Got
fresh Carthrages and the Militia Came in very fast. - we Crossed the bridge with all
Our fource and made a furious Attact, and Drove them some way when their second
Line Came up, so much superior to Our fource that we was obliged to Retreat again,
which was Done in pretty Good order, though through a shower of Musket shot, we
Crossed the bridge and after an hours Dispute maintained our Ground, towards
sunset the Enemy Drew of[f] & all Encamped back of Connecticut farms
Meetinghouse. in the Evening General Washington Arived with the Army.
General [Wilhelm] Kniphausen who Commanded the Enemy secretly Moved off
at Midnight to Elizabethtown point, There he yet Remains. - in the above affair the
Loss of the Jersey Brigade according to Exact Returns since made was five Rank &
file with Ensign [Moses] Ogden [Spencer’s Additional Regiment] killed, - Lieut.
[Absalom?] Martin [1st New Jersey,] [Samuel] Seely [1st New Jersey,] [David] Kirk
Patrick [Spencer’s Additional] & Ensign Regin [unit unknown] With twenty Eight
Rank and file Wounded, - and Eight Rank & file missing. – Capt. [Isaac] Reeves his
Brother and several Others of the [New Jersey] Militia killed, and some Wounded. –
Near as we Can find Out the young Count Donop and forty or fifty of the Enemy
killed, and Many more Wounded among them for a Certainty [British] General
Stirling had his Thigh Broke and is said since Dead, - in the Neighbourhood they
burnt Eleven houses with all the barns and Other Out houses there unto belonging.
Commited several Rapes, plundered Whig & tory Amasingly ...

A 20 June 1780 "Return of the kill'd, wounded, missing and deserted, since the 6th: instant," listed
the New Jersey brigade as having had 1 subaltern and 6 privates killed, 3 subalterns and 35 privates
wounded, and 11 privates missing since 6 June.3
1. Collection 429, Henry Johnson letters, 1778-1780, Library and Archives, Monmouth County Historical
Society, Freehold, N.J., transcribed by James L. Kochan, May 1990, transcription verified and edited by
John U. Rees, January 2002)
2. Israel Shreve to Mary Shreve, 14 June 1780, Israel Shreve Papers, Buxton Collection, Prescott Memorial
Library, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana.
3. "Return of the kill'd, wounded, missing and deserted, since the 6th: instant," 20 June 1780, George
Washington Papers, Presidential Papers Microfilm, (Washington, DC, 1961), series 4, reel 67.
Henry Johnson was possibly carried to hospital by 16-year-old New Jersey Brigade wagon driver
William Dougherty. In 1853 Dougherty recalled “in the month of June 1780, he went with the
waggon to Chatam near short Hills N.J. and brought a load of wounded soldiers from Chatam to the
Hospital at Baskinridge … his step fathers father, William Dougherty, was one of the wounded
soldiers (he being wounded in the thigh) I carried in the Waggon from Chatam, near Short Hills …
to the Hospital at Baskinridge … his step father John Dougherty was with the wounded Soldiers in
the Waggon, taking care of his father …”
(William Dougherty (alias Connor), Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty - Land - Warrant
Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, R3041.)

For a New Jersey officer’s narrative of Connecticut Farms see:

"Eyewitness to Battle: The New Jersey Brigade at Connecticut Farms and Springfield, June
1780," The Brigade Dispatch, vol. XXIX, no. 4 (Winter 1999), 20-22.
Wagon carrying British wounded. (Detail from Xavier della Gatta’s painting, “The Battle of
Germantown,” painted in 1782. Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, Pa.)
8. “I Lay sick all night on the Ground":
Massachusetts Sergeant Andrew Kettell’s Illness on Campaign, June/July 1780

Sgt. Andrew Kettel, Col. Henry Jackson’s Additional Regiment, wrote a daily journal in which he
described the 1780 Crown forces incursion into New Jersey, as well as an illness and treatment he

7 June 1780, "... at 9 AM. we Recd orders for marching / paraded about 1/2 after ten with Knapsacks
arms & 40 Rounds / proceeded to Chatham arrived about 3 in the Afternoon heard that 6000 of the
british was within 4 Miles of us at Spirngfield and had set several Houses on fire / we halted about 1
1/2 hours and Drew 1/4 Gill Rum / Proceeded for Springfield with about 3000 men and a number of
paces of Artillery. we marched in Sight of the enemy and halted for the night. it Rained and thundered
all night / we Laid out upon the Ground."
Thursday, 8 June, "... we still remain at the heights 3 Miles from Springfield / it was current this morng
that the british was intrenching hear Connecticutt farms / this morng 1 hessian deserted who Informed
that the number I have aserted is out - besides Staen Island Militia. we now proceeded on our march
to the farms about 11 OClock AM met 22 British Prisoners / Arrived at the farms at 4 OClok / We
slept all night in an Orchard near Mr. Churk's on the farms"
Friday, 9 June, "... had [3 or 5] Men Killed for the Brigade / we had not time to get breakef[ast] when
there was Orders to Retreat back to the heights from whence we Came / we Draw 3 Days Rations of
Bread and 3 D[ays] of fresh Beef..." Sunday, 11 June, "... the Brigade had Canteens Issued to them"
Friday, 16 June, "... the Enemy is very still in there Works at Elizabethtown -"
Thursday, 22 June, "... I whent up to the Hutts at Morristown to Git some of my Cloathes which I Left
there / I Returned in the Afternoon & I was taken sick at night I Lay sick all night on the Ground"
Friday, 23 June, "it was very hot / 3 alarm guns was fired the Brg[ade] Paraded and march on
to - Springfield. I was sent to Chatham about [1 or 2] Miles and staid at Mr. Ward were I was taken
Great Care of / the Enemy march[ed] for Springfield about 10.000 of them they were Opposed by Colo
Angells Regt and the Jersey Brig[ade] on there Coming over a Bridge where was a Large Creek that
hindered there passing otherways the Engagement Continued about 2 hours a very Constant hot fire of
Cannon and Musquetry our troops Retreat[ed] to the Heights. the Enemy took the town and set the
most part [of] it on fire. When they Retreated to Elizabethtown from whence they Came our Army
followed after them to the farms where they halted [and] Marched Bak to old Encampment"
June 24, 1780 "... I was very sick but Better then I was before / it began to Rain Very hard Thunderd
and Lightned untill night / I heard that the Brigade was to march in the morning."
June 25 "... I was so well that I went to the Regt. / the Brigade Marched at 9 OClock I kept in the Rear.
I was very unwell But I endeavoured to Cheer up my hart untill Meridian Sun [when] the Brigade
halted I was Obliege to Lay on the Ground by the water side wereby I took Could and was worst again
than I was before"
June 26 "[it] was thick & heavy and Like to rain. I Proceeded with the Brigade till Night and then
Halted at Ramapo in the Woods. I laid Down On the Ground the Rain Came on [and] I was obliged to
lay in it as I Could not Git to any house -"
June 27 "it was Pleasant... I remained in a poor Condision our Docr. was behind I had nothing Don for
me this Day"
Wednesday, June 28 "... the Doctr. Came to see Me he Give me [a] Puke which I took / it help me
Greatly But Left me Weake..."
June 29 "... I was some Better than I was the Day before"
June 30 "... this Day Receivd orders to march to morrow morning. the Sick was to be sent to the Flying
Hospital. I had no mind to Go as I never had been at one. But the Docr. told me I had Better Go or I
was in a poor weake Condision -"
July 1, 1780 "... the Army marched this morning at 3 OCok I whent to the Hospital-"
July 2 "it was very hot the Doctr Came in to the Barn to see me / he Gave me some Bark to take he
took a great Deal of Care of me I wanted for nothing -"
July 3 "... I found I Got Better fast"
July 5 "... I found I Got Stronger every Day -"
July 9 "it was pleasant... I was so well as I went to Camp to Deliver some soldiers who was well I staid
in Camp this Night / our Brigade pitch tents this morning -"
Monday, July 10 "it was Very Hot light breezes at S. I Return to the Hospital this Afternoon at the
request of the Docr. to stay a few days with him"
July 18 "... I left the hospital for good and Joind the Regt. and Drew 3 lb of [?] and 1/4 of Tea -"

Journal of Sergeant Andrew Kettell, Col. Henry Jackson’s Jackson’s Additional Regiment/16th
Massachusetts Regiment, May 1780-March 1781. Pension No.W13568, Revolutionary War Pension
and Bounty - Land - Warrant Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804.

9. “A cannonball having passed through both his thighs …”:

Surgeon James Thacher at the Battle of Springfield, June 1780

Dr. James Thacher, Jackson’s Additional Regiment, wrote of casualties and “sickness” during the
1780 invasion of New Jersey:

In the heat of the action [at the Battle of Springfield, 23 June 1780], some soldiers brought to me in a
blanket Captain-Lieutenant [Thomas] Thompson of the [2d Continental] artillery, who had received a
most formidable wound, a cannonball having passed through both his thighs near the knee joint. With
painful anxiety the poor man inquired if I would amputate both his thighs; sparing his feelings I
evaded his inquiry and directed him to be carried to the hospital tent in the rear, where he would
receive the attention of the surgeons. He expired in a few hours. While advancing against the enemy,
my attention was directed to a wounded soldier in the field. I dismounted and left my horse at a rail
fence. It was not long before a cannonball shattered a rail within a few feet of my horse, and some
soldiers were sent to take charge of the wounded man, and to tell me it was time to retire. I now
perceived that our party had retreated and our regiment had passed me. I immediately mounted and
applied spurs to my horse that I might gain the front of our regiment ... It may be considered a singular
circumstance, that the soldier above mentioned was wounded by the wind of a cannon ball. His arm
was fractured above the elbow, without the smallest perceptible injury to his clothes, or contusion or
discoloration of the skin. He made no complaint, but I observed he was feeble and a little confused in
his mind. He received proper attention but expired the next day. The idea of injury by the wind of a
ball, I learn, is not new, instances of the kind, it is said. [have] occurred in naval battles, and are almost
constantly attended with fatal effects.
Our troops in camp are in general healthy, but we are troubled with many perplexing instances of
indisposition, occasioned by absence from home, called by Dr. Cullen nostalgia, or home sickness.
This complaint is frequent among the militia, and recruits from New England. They become dull and
melancholy, with loss of appetite, restless nights, and great weakness. In some instances they become
so hypochondriacal as to be proper subjects for the hospital. This disease is in many instances cured by
the raillery of the old soldiers, but is generally suspended by a constant and active engagement of the
mind, as by the drill exercise, camp discipline, and by uncommon anxiety, occasioned by the prospect
of a battle.

James Thacher, Military Journal of the American Revolution (Hartford: Hurlbut, Williams &
Co., 1862), 241-242.
(Courtesy of Dave McKissack)
James Thacher (February 14, 1754 – May 26, 1844)

18th century surgeon’s scalpel. Steel, ivory. H .3 cm, W 2.0 cm, L 11.8 cm
(On display at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.)

10. “I assisted in amputating a man s thigh.”:

A Surgeon’s Experiences during the Siege of Yorktown, 1781

James Thacher’s diary is by far the best account by a military surgeon’s experience during the
War for Independence. Here he recounts events during the Siege of Yorktown in September and
October 1781:

A cannonade commenced yesterday from the town, by which one man received a wound,
and I assisted in amputating his leg. 30th [September], we were agreeably surprized this
morning, to find that the enemy had, during the preceding night, abandoned three or four
of their redoubts, and retired within the town, leaving a considerable extent of commanding
ground which might have cost us much labor and many lives to obtain by force. Our light infantry
and a party of French were ordered to advance and take possession of the abandoned ground, and
to serve as a covering party to our troops who are employed in throwing up breast works.
Considerable cannonading from the besieged in the course of the day, and four militia men were
wounded by a single shot, one of whom died soon after. An occurrence has just been announced
which fills our hearts with grief and sorrow. Colonel Alexander Scammel being officer of the
day, while reconnoitering the ground which the enemy had abandoned, was surprized by a party
of their horse, and after having surrendered, they had the baseness to inflict a wound which we
fear will prove mortal; they have carried him into Yorktown.
October 1st, and 2d. Our troops have been engaged in throwing up two redoubts in the night
time: on discovery, the enemy commenced a furious cannonade, but it does not deter our men
from going on vigorously with their work. Heavy cannon and mortars are continually arriving,
and the greatest preparations are made to prosecute the siege in the most effectual manner.
3d, and 4th. A considerable cannonading from the enemy, one shot killed three men, and
mortally wounded another. … Two soldiers from the French, and one from us deserted to the
enemy, and two British soldiers deserted to our camp the same night. … The British are in
possession of a place called Gloucester, on the north side of the river, nearly opposite Yorktown;
their force consists of one British regiment, and Colonel Tarleton’s legion of horse and infantry.
In opposition to this force the French legion, under the command of the Duke de Luzerne, and a
detachment of French infantry and militia, are posted in that vicinity. Tarleton is a bold and
impetuous leader … In making a sally from Gloucester yesterday, they were attacked by the
French and defeated with the loss of the commanding officer of their infantry and about fifty men
killed and wounded, among the latter is Tarleton himself. The Duke lost three men killed and two
officers and eleven men wounded. It is with much concern we learn that Colonel Scammel died at
Williamsburg, of the wound which he received a few days since, when he was taken prisoner …
The British have sent from York town a large number of negroes sick with the small pox,
probably for the purpose of communicating the infection to our army ; thus our inhuman enemies
resort to every method in their power, however barbarous or cruel, to injure and distress, and thus
to gain an advantage over their opposers.
7th. A large detachment of the allied army, under command of Major General Lincoln, were
ordered out last evening, for the purpose of opening intrenchments near the enemy s lines. This
business as conducted with great silence and secrecy, and we were favored by Providence with a
night of extreme darkness, and were not discovered before day light. The working party carried
on their shoulders fascines and intrenching tools, while a large part of the detachment was armed
with the implements of death. Horses, drawing cannon and ordnance, and wagons loaded with
bags filled with sand for constructing breast works, followed in the rear. Thus arranged, every
officer and soldier knowing his particular station, orders were given to advance in perfect silence,
the distance about one mile. My station on this occasion was, with Dr. Munson, my mate, in the
rear of the troops, and as the music was not to be employed, about twenty drummers and fifers,
were put under my charge to assist me in case of having wounded men to attend. I put into the
hands of a drummer, a mulatto fellow, my instruments, bandages, &c. with a positive order to
keep at my elbow, arid not lose sight of me a moment; it was not long however, before I found to
my astonishment that he had left me and gone in pursuit of some rum, and carried off the articles
which are indispensable in time of action. In this very unpleasant predicament, unwilling to trust
another, I hastened with all speed to the hospital, about one mile, to procure another supply from
Dr. [James] Craik [Chief Physician and Surgeon of the Army]; and he desired that if the Marquis
de la Fayette should be wounded I would devote to him my first attention. On my return I found
Dr. Munson and my party waiting, but the troops had marched on and we knew not their route.
We were obliged to follow at random, and in the darkness of night, hazarding our approach to the
enemy. Having advanced about half a mile, of a sudden a party of armed men in white uniform
rose from the ground, and ordered us to stop; they proved to be the rear guard of the French. The
officer demanded the countersign, which I was unable to give, and as we could not understand
each others language, I was detained under considerable embarrassment till an officer who could
speak English was called, when producing my instruments and bandages, and assuring the French
officer that I was surgeon to the infantry, he politely conducted me to my station. Our troops were
indefatigable in their labors during the night, and before day light they had nearly completed the
first parallel line of nearly two miles in extent, besides laying a foundation for two redoubts,
within about six hundred yards of the enemy s lines. At day light the enemy having discovered
our works, commenced a severe cannonade, but our men being under cover received no injury. …
8th, and 9th. The duty of our troops has been for several days extremely severe; our regiment
labors in the trenches every other day and night, where I find it difficult to avoid suffering by the
cold, having no other covering than a single blanket in the open field. We erected a battery last
night in front of our first parallel, without any annoyance from the enemy. Two or three of our
batteries being now prepared to open on the town, his Excellency General Washington put the
match to the first gun, and a furious discharge of cannon and mortars immediately followed, and
Earl Cornwallis has received his first salutation.
From the 10th to the 15th [October], a tremendous and incessant firing from the American and
French batteries is kept up, and the enemy return the fire, but with little effect. … We have now
made further approaches to the town, by throwing up a second parallel line, and batteries within
about three hundred yards, this was effected in the night, and at day light the enemy were roused
to the greatest exertions, the engines of war have raged with redoubled fury and destruction on
both sides, no cessation day or night. The French had two officers wounded, and fifteen men
killed or wounded, and among the Americans, two or three were wounded. I assisted in
amputating a man s thigh. The siege is daily becoming more and more formidable and alarming,
and his Lordship must view his situation as extremely critical, if not desperate. Being in the
trenches every other night and day, I have a fine opportunity of witnessing the sublime and
stupendous scene which is continually exhibiting. The bomb shells from the besiegers and the
besieged are incessantly crossing each others path in the air. They are clearly visible in the form
of a black ball in the day, but in the night, they appear like a fiery meteor with a blazing tail, most
beautifully brilliant, ascending majestically from the mortar to a certain altitude, and gradually
descending to the spot where they are destined to execute their work of destruction. It is
astonishing with what accuracy an experienced gunner will make his calculations, that a shell
shall fall within a few feet of a given point, and burst at the precise time, though at a great
distance. When a shell falls, it whirls round, burrows, and excavates the earth to a considerable
extent, and bursting, makes dreadful havoc around. I have more than once witnessed fragments of
the mangled bodies and limbs of the British soldiers thrown into the air by the bursting of our
shells, and by one from the enemy, Captain [William] White, of the seventh Massachusetts
regiment, and one soldier were killed, and another wounded near where I was standing. About
twelve or fourteen men have been killed or wounded within twenty four hours; I attended at the
hospital, amputated a man’s arm, and assisted in dressing a number of wounds.
The enemy having two redoubts, about three hundred yards in front of their principal works,
which enfiladed our entrenchment and impeded our approaches, it was resolved to take
possession of them both by assault. The one on the left of the British garrison, bordering on the
banks of the river, was assigned to our brigade of light infantry, under the command of the
Marquis de la Fayette. The advanced corps was led on by the intrepid Colonel Hamilton, who had
commanded a regiment of light infantry during the campaign, and assisted by Colonel Gimat. The
assault commenced at eight o clock in the evening, and the assailants bravely entered the fort with
the point of the bayonet without firing a single gun. We suffered the loss of eight men killed, and
about thirty wounded, among whom Colonel Gimat received a slight wound in his foot, and
Major Gibbs, of his Excellency s guard, and two other officers, were slightly wounded. Major
Campbell, who commanded in the fort, was wounded and taken prisoner, with about thirty
soldiers, the remainder made their escape. I was desired to visit the wounded in the fort, even
before the balls had ceased whistling about my ears, and saw a sergeant and eight men dead in the
ditch. A captain of our infantry, belonging to New Hampshire, threatened to take the life of Major
Campbell, to avenge the death of his favorite, Colonel Scammel, but Colonel Hamilton
interposed, and not a man was killed after he ceased to resist. During the assault, the British kept
up an incessant firing of cannon and musketrv from their whole line.
His Excellency General Washington, Generals Lincoln and Knox, with their aids, having
dismounted, were standing in an exposed situation waiting the result. Colonel [David] Cobb, one
of General Washington’s aids, solicitous for his safety, said to his Excellency, "Sir, you are too
much exposed here, had you not better step a little back." " Colonel Cobb," replied his
Excellency, "if you are afraid, you have liberty to step back." The other redoubt on the right of
the British lines was assaulted at the same time by a detachment of the French, commanded by
the gallant Baron de Viominel. Such was the ardor displayed by the assailants, that all resistance
was soon overcome, though at the expense of nearly one hundred men killed and wounded.- the
defenders of the redoubt, eighteen were killed, and one captain and two subaltern officers and
forty two rank and file captured. Our second parallel line was immediately connected with the
two redoubts now taken from the enemy, and some new batteries were thrown up in front of our
second parallel line, with a covert way, and angling work approaching to less than three hundred
yards of their principal forts. These will soon be mantled with cannon and mortars, and when
their horrid thundering commences, it must convince his Lordship, that his post is not invincible,
and that submission must soon be his only alternative. Our artillery men, by the exactness of their
aim, make every discharge take effect, so that many of the enemy s guns are entirely silenced and
their works are almost in ruins.
16th. A party of the enemy, consisting of about four hundred men, commanded by Colonel
Abercrombie, about four in the morning, made a vigorous sortie against two unfinished redoubts
occupied by the French, they spiked up seven or eight pieces of cannon, and killed several
soldiers, but the French advanced and drove them from the redoubts, leaving several killed and
wounded. Our New England troops have now become very sickly, the prevalent diseases are
intermittent and remittent fevers, which are very prevalent in this climate during the autumnal

James Thacher, Military Journal of the American Revolution (Hartford: Hurlbut, Williams &
Co., 1862), 335-343.
(Courtesy of Dave McKissack)
“James Craik (1730-1814) was Physician General (precursor of the Surgeon General) of the
United States Army, as well as George Washington's personal physician and close friend.
He was at Washington's side at nearly every battle from the French and Indian War
through the Revolutionary War.”

Lancet and carrying case. Steel. H .7 cm, W 2.5 cm, L 10.5 cm

(Guilford Courthouse National Military Park)
11. “Their wounded … were no more fortunate than ours.”:
Hospital Conditions in and near at Williamsburg, Virginia, after the Yorktown Siege, 1781

(Courtesy of Robert A. Selig)

The following is an excerpt from Dr. James's Tilton's observations of the French hospital in
the College of William and Mary, Willamsburg, Virginia. Tilton was a Continental Army
Physician and Surgeon, appointed October1780; he previously had been a surgeon in the
Delaware Regiment (1776-1777), and from 1777 to 1780 a Hospital Physician.

I was left in charge of the sick and wounded Americans who could not be moved. Being thus in a
French garrison, I had some opportunity of observing the French practice and management of
their work. In passing the wards of their hospitals their patients appear very neat and clean, above
all examples I have ever seen. Each patient was accommodated with everything necessary, even
to a night cap [part of every French soldier's equipment]. Nevertheless, they were not more
successful than we were. Even their wounded, with all the boasted dexterity of the French to aid
them, were no more fortunate than ours. I was led to attribute their failure principally to two
causes. For ease and convenience they had contrived a common necessary for their whole
hospital, the college, a large building three stories high, by erecting a half hexogon, of common
boards, reaching from the roof down to a pit in the earth. From this perpendicular conduit doors
opened upon each floor of the hospitale, and all manner of filth and xcrementitiuous matters were
dropped and thrown down this common sewer into the pit below. This sink of nastiness perfumed
the whole house very sensibly and without doubt vitiated all the air within the wards. In the next
place, their practice appeared to me to be very inert. When passing their wards, with the
prescribing physician I observed a great number of their patients in a languid and putrid
condition, and asked, occasionally, if the bark [quinine] would not be proper in such cases? the
uniform answer was no, too much inflammation.

On 21 October, the chevalier de Chastellux appealed to Joseph-Jacques de Martelli-Chatard,

captain of the 50-gun ship l'Experiment lying off Yorktown, for assistance:
We have here 25 wounded who cannot be transported by wagons. These are terrible fractures
caused by the explosions of bombs and canon shots … they are on straw in a poorly closed barn,
where they die of cold. We cannot transport them to Williamsburg except on English cots. If you
could give or lend us only six, we will make arrangements to make several trips and I hope that
they will suffice.
(Source: John D. Rockefeller Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

James Tilton manuscript collection, Delaware Historical Society

RG 9200T02.000 Tilton Papers, ca. 1775-1783 (7 boxes)
Dr. James Tilton was a physician and patriot who served with Haslet’s regiment and then as a surgeon to the
Continental Army. He was instrumental in improving care for the sick and wounded by redesigning the military
hospitals used by the Americans. Box 2 contains a draft copy of the volumes comprising Francis T. Tilton’s “Dr.
James Tilton of Delaware, 1745-1822: A Patriotic Doctor in Our Two Wars with Britain,” which apparently was
never published. The first volume of this work, in four bound typescript folios, covers the Revolutionary period and
Tilton’s role in the war, with reference to many original documents. A few letters from Tilton written during the
Revolution are interspersed with other documents in Box 3 (all are photostats). Acts of Congress concerning
hospitals are also included (typescript copies).
Box 6 contains photostats of Tilton correspondence from throughout the Revolutionary period. These include letters
concerning Committees of Correspondence, news of the war, the establishment of a hospital in Virginia, the conduct
of army physicians, an account of the Delaware Regiment’s attack on loyalists at Mamaroneck, New York, the use
of smallpox vaccine, Tilton’s appointment as a hospital physician and surgeon, reports on sick and wounded, and
Tilton’s resignation from the Delaware Regiment in 1776.
For more on James Tilton see

James Tilton (June 1, 1745 – May 14, 1822)

“Æneas Munson (1734-1826) graduated from Yale in 1753. He studied medicine
under John Darby, and began practice at Bedford, New York, in 1756. In 1760 he
moved to New Haven, Connecticut where he resided for more than 50 years. During
the American Revolutionary War, he was a surgeon's mate in Scammell's 1781
Light Infantry Regiment.”
12. “Litters were exceedingly wanted for the wounded Men.”:
Carrying Wounded from the Battlefield, 1759 to 1781

Canada, 1759
Capt. John Knox , 43d Regiment, in a footnote to his entry for 30 June 1759, after a Corporal
was shot by one of his own men:

1759. June 30th. [Camp at Orleans.] … We fastened a blanket with skewers to two poles, and had
him carried like a corpse by six men, whom we relieved every quarter of an hour; for our poor
fellows, by some mistake, were otherwise heavily laden with their own necessaries, camp-
equipage, intrenching tools, provisions, &c. &c. &c.

John Knox, An Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America for the years 1757, 1758, 1759 and
1760 (London, 1769 - reprint, 3 vols., Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1970), note by author,
vol. I, 391.
(Courtesy of Steve Rayner)

Campaigning against Native Americans, 1765

From a plan proposed for expeditions against Native American forces after Pontiac's Uprising:

The sick and wounded, unable to march or ride, are transported in litters made of flour bags,
through which two long poles are passed, and kept asunder by two sticks, tied across beyond the
head and feet to stretch the bag. Each litter is carried by two horses ---

William Smith, An Historical Account of the Expedition against the Ohio Indians, in the Year
1764. Under the Command of Henry Bouquet, Esq. (Philadelphia: William Bradford, 1765), 59.
(Courtesy of Steve Rayner)

Battle near Fort Anne, July 1777

Sergeant Roger Lamb, 9th Regiment of Foot, of the action near Fort Anne, 9 July 1777:

The poor fellows earnestly entreated me to tie up their wounds. Immediately I took off my shirt,
tore it up, and with the help of a soldier's wife, (the only woman that was with us, and kept close
by her husband's side during the engagement), made some bandages, stopped the bleeding of their
wounds, and conveyed them in blankets to a small hut about two miles in our rear ...

Roger Lamb, An Original and Authentic Journal of Occurrences during the late American War,
from its Commencement to the Year 1783 (Dublin, 1809 - reprint, New York: The New York
Times and Arno Press, 1968), 141.
Battle near Fort Anne, July 1777
Pvt. (later corporal) George Fox, British 47th Regiment, described his duties after the battle
near Fort Anne, July 8-9, 1777:

…the few [of the 9th Regiment - Fox was under the impression that the regiment was nearly
wiped out, but it was actually a detachment] that were left we met coming down to Skenberry at 9
oClock at night, and had come two miles (very wet night). The 47th was sent to look after the
wounded of the 9th reg. they brought them down to the first houses there was, doctors appointed
to attend them, a wet night & very dark, the roads were very bad so that in the morning our
Clothes could not be told what Colour they were of. we had this morn 1 / 2 pint of Rum serv'd out
to each man. This night I carried an officer of a Reg. named L. Torionme[Lt. Charles Torriano,
20th Foot] on my back to a private house who gave me a guinea. same day we return'd [and]
same day join'd the Army and encamp'd there again, remain'd there till the road were repair'd up
to Fort Ann to bring up the heavy cannon. after that was compleated we struck our camp and
march'd for fort Anne encamp'd there. the smell came so offensive of the hill that a party of us
were ordered to go and bury the dead bodies of the 9th reg and the rebels.

George Fox, "Corporal Fox's Memoir of Service, 1766-1783: Quebec, Saratoga, and the
Convention Army," J.A. Houlding and G. Kenneth Yates, eds., "Journal of the Society for Army
Historical Research, vol. LXVIII, no. 275 (Autumn 1990), 158.
(Courtesy of Steve Rayner)

Battle of Brandywine, September 1777

Joseph Townsend, a Quaker from Birmingham, Pennsylvania, wrote of the aftermath of the
battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777:

We hastened thither and awful was the scene to behold - such a number of fellow beings lying
together severely wounded, and some mortally - a few dead, but a small proportion of them
considering the immense quantity of powder and ball that had been discharged. It was now time
for the surgeons to exert themselves, and divers of them were busily employed. Some of the doors
of the meetinghouse were torn off and the wounded carried thereon into the house to be occupied
for an hospital, instead of the American sick for which it had been repairing some days previous.

Joseph Townsend, “Some Account of the British Army …," Proceedings of the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania, vol. 1, no. 7 (September, 1846.) (Historical Society of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, 1846 – reprinted as, The Battle of Brandywine," New York: New York
Times and Arno Press, 1969), 26.
(Courtesy of Steve Rayner)
Action at Kingsbridge, 3 July 1781

Pvt. Asa Redington, Col. Alexander Scammell’s 1st New Hampshire Regiment, recorded his
experiences at Kingsbridge:

I afterwards learned the plan was for the party under Gen. [Benjamin] Lincoln to engage the
enemy, draw out a large body of them, and then retreat, while the meantime a part of
Washington’s army was to march down the river road, and cut off their retreat into York Island.
This plan failed owing to the badness of the roads and bridges, so that the Army under
Washington, who marched the whole night, were unable to arrive in season to accomplish their
design. Of this arrangement, however, we poor soldiers were wholly ignorant, and seemed to be
doomed to destruction. Many poor fellows lost their lives that day, and many were wounded.
Although I had no sleep for two nights, I had to watch the wounded men the night after the
action. They were taken into a large house, the lower floor of which was covered by these poor
fellows. The next morning, 4th of July, those that were so badly wounded as to be unable to ride in
wagons, were carried in biers on the men’s shoulders, as the army marched that day up the river
about 8 miles, and took post at Dobb’s Ferry. About 12 men were assigned to carry one man, and
relieve each other at intervals. I assisted in moving one poor fellow who was shot through the
body. He was a young man, appeared to be a fine fellow, and belonged to gen. Washington’s Life
Guard, most of whom took part in the action. The day was very warm, and we had to rest him
often, under the shade, and fan him with small bushes. He greatly lamented his fate, belonged to
New Jersey, said that if he had minded his mother he should not have been in that dreadful
situation. A number died on the march, and were slightly buried by the roadside, being told that
such a one had died, he said, ‘it will be my turn next.’ He, however, lived through the day, but I
understood he afterwards died. What a dreadful thing is War!!

Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering writes of transporting wounded at the Kingsbridge

fight and recommends improvements.

Camp Philipsburgh July 12th 1781 … After the late Skirmish of General Lincoln with the enemy I
Observed that Litters were exceedingly wanted for the wounded Men. It was like puting them to the
Rack to carry them in Carts or Waggons in this rocky country. As I expect you will shortly receive a
Quantity of Canvas from Colo. Hatch. I must request you to have made the wood work of five and
twenty litters. I do not know how they have usually been made: but I think they may be of a very
simple construction; such as lapping over the two edges of the canvas bottom & sewing them down at
such a distance as to admit of the two poles running thro' - then cross peices fixed to keep the poles
asunder would compleat them but the frame should be so contrived as to take apart for the conveinence
[sic] of carriage when not in use.

Asa Redington, “Short Sketch of [the] Life of Asa Redington” (January 1838), Stanford
University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, Misc. 383.

Timothy Pickering to Col. Hughes, 12 July 1781, Numbered Record Books Concerning Military
Operations and Service, Pay and Settlement Accounts, and Supplies in the War Department
Collection of Revolutionary War Records, National Archives Microfilm Publication M853,
(Washington, D.C., 1973) Letters sent by Timothy Pickering, Quartermaster General. May 10-Dec.
21, 1781, vol. 127, reel 26, p. 133 1/2.
13. “Our Army Consists of about six thousand one third or more sick mostly of the small pox ...”
Continental Soldiers’ Observations and Experience of Smallpox, 1776 and 1781-82.

For an excellent study of smallpox during the American War see, Elizabeth A. Fenn, Pox
Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 (New York: Hill and Wang, a Division
of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)

In an undated letter Lt. Col. Israel Shreve, 2d New Jersey Battalion, describes the disease-ridden
American camps at Ile Aux Noix or Sorel in May or June of 1776:

Monday ye 8th: assoon as Id arose [illegible word(s)]. I with an other Gentleman Walked fourth to
Vew the Different Camps - as we Gently preceeded we were often Struck with Doleful Vews we had
to behold partly men from the East prostrate on the Ground with Little to Cover them some in tents
some in the Open Air those Chiefly with ye Small pox, several I Discovered as Naked as when Born
Only a Dirty Blanket Carelessly thrown over their sholders We passed through several Camps where
we had this spectable to behold, as we passed on I saw a human [species or specimen?] under a Bush
which Caused me to say to my friend here lies a Blacamore [blackamoor, an African male] with the
small pox but when Come nearer Descovrd him to be White. this person was not Colored with the
Distemper altogether But by Laying in the open Air on the Ground. We passed on untill we Came to
an old Redout a former fortification here were old Bomb proffs [proofs] under Ground Curiosity
Caused us to Look in this Cavern where we saw several poor Wreched soldiers who had Crept in to
be screened from the weather, we Inquired what brought them there they answered they had been
Disordered had no place to stay in, they Came here before the Army Arrived, we passed on yet farther
to the Canadian Camp this we found situate on a high point of Land near the Bank of the Lake in Neat
huts formed of Bushes and sods we found these Distressed people who had fled from their homes in
Canady and remain with the Army for safety upon their knees Beautifully singing praises in their way
and tongue, those Consisted of soldiers, famalies of men Women and Children, with but Little furniture
haveing Left most part behind, - from hence we turned to the Left passed Down the shore passed
another old fortification partly standing and partly falen, the next thing that presented to our Vew was
4 or 5 savages who sheltered under a Canoe at the Waters E[d]ge those had some Days Before Crossed
the Lake to sell their furs, we still passed on untill we Came to a place caled the Hospittle here I
attemted to Enter to Vew the Distressed Both sick and Wounded as I Entered the Door a Noisum smell
met me so Offensive as to stop me from aproaching further, this spectical was very Affecting Indeed /
A Little further Lay ina tent an Officer of Our Core so far Gone as to be Beyond al sensibility / this
Gentleman A few Days ago was full of spirits hearty and strong here / My friend and I parted Being
Near head Quarters, where the Generals Reside here I steped In being now about Eleven oClock here
I found many Gentleman I took a Glass or two of Wine turnd and advanced to the Door saw about 20
people in a Cirkle on the Brink of a hill near the Door I steped out a few paces Enquired [and] found
the Cause, an unfortunate Woman with a Young Child in her arms was Endeavouring to Gain this
summit, fell Down and Instantly fainted I hear she is since Dead, those and a thousand other seens
Attend an Army, how Destructive are such unnatural Wars / As we passed we Observed a Burying
place of the Eastern troops only on this point many more has been buried at Chimney point at the sick
Camp of the Eastern troops.

A month or so later Shreve wrote his wife Mary from Fort Ticonderoga,

I am at this time in perfect health and hope You and my Children are also in Good health ... this
morning at Gen. Gates Quarters I had the pleasure to see and Read the Declaration of Independence
which Gives Life to the Officers of the Army in General. I Expect we are to be stationed here untill
fall when if Life and health premits I hope once more to Joyfully Receive you in Open Arms ... I am
Determined to serve my Country, to Assist in so Glorious a struggle as to Compleatly Gain Our
freedom / I have seen part of one of the worst fateageing Campains that Ever Americans (or Brittains)
underwent But Am not in the Least Discouraged. I have Been Retreating with the army since the 6th
of May Last / I have Not Been ten Days at one post since I Left Alabany Last April Except at Crown
point where I stayed 16 Days I Arrived at this place 2 Days ago - our Army Consists of about six
thousand one third or more sick mostly of the small pox ... my Love to you friend and famaly And in
particular to my son [John] who if he had staid here would [have] been an Ensign before this time ...

Pvt. Asa Redington, Scammell’s Light Infantry, tells of smallpox infection and treatment following
the Yorktown siege:

On the 4th of November [1781], the skeleton of the Regiment to which I belonged, was
embarked on board a French Frigate of 32 guns to be transported by the Chesapeake Bay to
Annapolis, and sailed out of York river, and proceeded up the Bay, but the wind proving adverse
the ship made but little head way, beating against the wind, and sometimes coming to anchor ----
during 8 or 10 days they made but little progress, and provisions becoming scarce on board, and
the small pox breaking out among the Americans, orders were given for all those not having that
disorder to go on shore. Accordingly about 70 men were landed by the boats from the ship (I
being one of the number) on the Virginia shore, under the command of an Officer ---- the ship
then lying at anchor some 5 or 6 miles from the shore.
We then took up our line of march for the North, procuring provisions from the inhabitants on
the route, and at night taking shelter in their houses.
Our party became very sickly, a number being daily taken down with the small pox, and were
left behind, very few recovered and I saw them no more.
We travelled on, crossing a number of rivers, and at length arrived at Annapolis, the place
where we had previously embarked for Yorktown. After resting there for one day, we again
resumed our march, passing through Baltimore, and on to Wilmington, (State of Delaware) where
three of us tarried one night at the house of an Apothecary, or Physician. He treated us with much
kindness, I then being quite unwell, and felt myself unable to continue the route on foot. This
physician invited me to stop and remain at his house until I should get recruited, said I should be
very welcome, and that they would take the best care of me they could, and rather urged my
acceptance of his invitation, but I did not like to leave my party, and be left alone among
strangers. I therefore thanked him for his kindness, and proceeded on next morning towards
Philadelphia, and arrived there about the 15th of December. I was then very sick, and I think went
to the hospital the same evening, after we arrived, with two others of my company, Turner and
Lord, both fine young men. The former died of the dysentery and the latter of small pox at this
place. Small sacks of straw were thrown on the floor for our beds. Lord lay next to me on my left
hand, and Turner on the right.
In this position they both perished.
The Hospital was a large and extensive brick building of three stories high with a large cellar
under the whole building, and had been built and formerly occupied for a poor house.
I found a great many soldiers groaning and perishing under that fatal disease, the small-pox. I
suffered exceedingly the first night with burning fever, and had it not been for a pail of cold
water, to which I had free access, it seems as if I could not have lived through the night, during
which I think I must have drank at least a gallon of that beverage. Soon after this the small-pox
began its attack, and handled me very severely. We had a narrow bed sack filled with straw and
thrown on the floor for each of us and a small blanket ---- these, with the addition of an old one
which we always carried with us in a knapsack, constituted our bedding. I remained at this sick
house till about the 10th of February, being unable to leave before that time.
This dreadful disorder made fatal ravages among the men, many of whom died daily and
hundreds fell victims to it ravages [it must be noted that many “old soldiers” had been inoculated
against small pox]. I have seen soldiers apparently in good health and vigorous, come into the
room I occupied, early in the morning, having some appearance of the small-pox about them, and
by nine o’clock in the evening would be dead men.
About the 18th of February, 1782, several who had been left sick on the road arrived at the
Barracks (where I quartered a few days after leaving the hospital) and who belonged to the New
Hampshire troops, who were then stationed at Saratoga, 36 miles above Albany. We mustered 5
in number, and began our march to join our Regiment at that place. The roads were very muddy,
and the travelling was exceedingly bad. We had no money to defray our expenses, but every few
days drew our allowance of provisions from the public stores on the route, putting up at night at
some farm house, borrowing utensils and cooking our food by their fires, generally begging a
mess of potatoes to boil with our beef, and after taking our repast, taking our knapsack for a
pillow, our blanket for our bed, took up our lodging on the soft side of the floor. In this way we
leisurely travelled on as wind and weather permitted, and arrived at Saratoga about the 15th of
March 1782.
Of about 40 men who had been drafted from the New Hampshire line and incorporated into
Scammell’s Regiment of light infantry, as before mentioned, I think no more than 12 or 15 joined
their original regiments, the rest perished by disease, or by the sword of war.
I remained here till about the 15th of November, encamping on the same ground on which Gen.
Burgoyne surrendered his Army, prisoners of War to Gen. Gates on the 17th of October 1777.

Israel Shreve, undated letter, likely May or June 1776, Israel Shreve Papers, Rutgers University. New
Jersey Room Special Collections; copies of Shreve Papers at University of Texas.

Israel Shreve to Mary Shreve, Ticonderoga, July 18, 1776, Israel Shreve Papers, Buxton Collection,
Lousiana Tech University

Asa Redington, “Short Sketch of [the] Life of Asa Redington” (January 1838), Stanford
University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, Misc. 383.

14. Surgeons’ Diaries and Letters, War for American Independence

Samuel Adams, Diary (manuscript), New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.

Lewis Beebe, Journal of Dr. Lewis Beebe: A Physician on the Expedition Against Canada, 1776,
Frederick R. Kirkland, ed. (Philadelphia, 1935 – reprint edition, New York: Arno Press, 1971); also in
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 59 (1935), 321-361.

Jabez Campfield, Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations
of Indians in 1779 (Glendale, N.Y.: Benchmark Publishing Co., 1970); also in Proceedings of the New Jersey
Historical Society, 2d series, 3 (1872-1874), 115-136.
New Jersey

Elias Cornelius, Journal of Dr. Elias Cornelius, a Revolutionary Surgeon: Graphic Description of His
Sufferings While a Prisoner in Provost Jail, 1777 and 1778, with Biographical Sketch (Washington, D.C.:
Privately Printed, 1903)
Rhode Island
Ebenezer Elmer, "Journal of Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the Third Regiment of New Jersey Troop in the
Continental Service,” March 1776-May 1777; August 24, 1782-November 1783, Proceedings of the New
Jersey Historical Society, vol. 2 (1846-1847), 95-146; vol. 3 (1848-1849), 96-102.
New Jersey

Ebenezer Elmer, "The Lost Pages of Ebenezer Elmer’s Journal [Oct.-Nov. 1776]," Proceedings of the New
Jersey Historical Society, 2d series, 10 (1925), 410-424.
New Jersey

Ebenezer Elmer, "Extracts from the Journal of Surgeon Ebenezer Elmer of the New Jersey Continental
Line, September 11-19, 1777," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 35 (1911),
New Jersey

Ebenezer Elmer, Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations
of Indians in 1779 (Glendale, N.Y.: Benchmark Publishing Co., 1970); also in Proceedings of the New Jersey
Historical Society, 2 (1846-1847), 43-50.
New Jersey

Ezra Green, Diary of Ezra Green, M.D., Surgeon on Board the Continental Ship “Ranger,”under John
Paul Jones, from November 1, 1777, to September 27, 1778 (Boston, 1875 – reprint edition, New York:
Arno Press, 1971)
New Hampshire

Edmund Hagen, Prison diary of a captured privateer, October to December 1776, American Monthly
Magazine, 24 (1904), 14-16, 110-111.

Estes Howe, Journal, Saratoga campaign, 1777-1778 (manuscript), New York Public Library, New York,

Charles MacArthur, Journal, Sullivan’s expedition, 1779 (manuscript), Library Company of Philadelphia,
Philadelphia (copy)

Isaac Senter, The Journal of Isaac Senter, Physician and Surgeon to the Troops Detached from the
American Army Encamped at Cambridge, Mass. on a Secret Expedition against Quebec, under the
Command of Col. Benedict Arnold, in September 1775 (Philadelphia: Published by the Historical Society
of Pennsylvania, 1846); also in Kenneth Roberts, ed., March to Quebec: Journals of the Members of
Arnold’s Expedition (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1946), 197-241.
Rhode Island

Daniel Shute (1930). “The Journal of Dr. Daniel Shute, [August] 1781- [April] 1782,” New England
Genealogical Register, 84 (1930),383-389.

Jeremy Stimson, “Dr. Stimson’s Diary, [September-October] 1776,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts
Historical Society, 46 (1912-1913), 250-252.
James Thacher, Military Journal of the American Revolution (Hartford: Hurlbut, Williams & Co., 1862)

Jonathan Todd, letters, 1777-1778, Pension No. W2197,Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty - Land -
Warrant Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, reel 2395.

Albigence Waldo, “Diary of Surgeon Albigence Waldo, of the Connecticut Line,” Pennsylvania
Magazine of History and Biography, vol. XXI, no. 3 (1897), 299-323.

John C. Warren, journal, April 1775-May 1776, in, John C. Warren, Genealogy of Warren, with Some
Historical Sketches (Boston, 1864), 85-98.

Note: Diaries gleaned from, J. Todd White and Charles H. Lesser, Fighters for Independence: A
Guide to Sources of Biographical Information on the Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution
(Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1977)

Dr. John Warren’s Fish Skin Amputation Kit, gift of Dr. Joseph Warren.
“Dr. John Cochran (1730-1807) was a volunteer at the onset of the War for American
Independence. He and William Shippen worked together on ideas and plans in the
organization of the army medical department. His work was noticed by General
Washington and on April 11, 1777, he was commissioned Physician and Surgeon General of
the Middle Department. He was promoted to Chief Physician and Surgeon of the Army in
1780. In 1781, he became the head of the entire Medical Department and served in that
position until 1783.”
“John Morgan (June 10, 1735 – October 15, 1789), "founder of Public Medical Instruction
in America," was co-founder of the Medical College at the University of Pennsylvania, the
first medical school in Colonial America; and he served as the second "Chief physician &
director general" of the Continental Army (an early name for the Surgeon General of the
United States Army). He also founded the American Philosophical Society in 1766 in