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Liveblogging World War I: February 2, 1916: Crashed Zeppelin

Liveblogging the American Revolution: February 1, 1778: At Velley Forge

U.S. History.org: Physicians, Surgeons and Mates with Washington at Valley Forge:

On April 11, 1777 Dr. William Shippen Jr., of Philadelphia was chosen Director General of all the military hospitals for the army.... The wage scale was as follows: Director General's pay $6.00 a day and 9 rations; District Deputy Director $5.00 a day and 6 rations; Senior Surgeon $4.00 a day and 6 rations; Junior Surgeon $2.00 and 4 rations; Surgeon mate $1.00 and 2 rations....

The camp at Valley Forge was established in December 1777. Perhaps the earliest reliable record of the sick is found in the report under the date December 23, when 2,898 men were reported sick or unfit for duty largely due to the lack of clothing. A return made February 1, 1778 shows the number of incapacitated increased to 3,989, again traced to the need of clothing....

Weedon's Valley Forge Orderly Book is the primary source of health conditions within the camp. The first entry is under date December 26, 1777. 'Complaints having been made by the Surgeons of Hospitals that the sick are often sent to him without a list required by Genl. Orders issued the 12th November, to them orders all officers are ref'd for directions in this point and of the directions in this point and of the disposition of the arms of the sick. It appears also that many men who go into the Hospitals well clad are in a manner naked when they get well and cannot return to their regiment till new cloathed, to prevent a continuance of this evil that those guilty may be known and punished. Hence forward every article of their cloathing, their lists signed by the captain or officer commanding compys.' [Weedon's Valley Forge Orderly Book, p. 169]

It seems there was carelessness in making necessary health reports, consequently Washington ordered on January 2, 1778: 'Every Monday morning regimental surgeons are to make returns to the Surgeon Gen'l. or in his absence to one of the senior surgeions, present in camp or otherwise under the immediate care of the regimental surgeons specifying the mens names Comps. Regts. and diseases.' [Weedon's Valley Forge Orderly Book, p. 175]

Small pox and the itch caused much trouble in the army so that orders were issued under the following dates: January 6, 1778, 'The regimental surgeons are immediately to make returns to Doctor Cochran Surgeon Gen'l. of all the men in their regiments who have not had the small pox, they will also call on Doctor Cochran for what sulphur they need for the use of their regiments.'3 January 8, 1778. 'Being informed many men are rendered unfit for duty by the itch, the Commander -in-Chief orders and directs the regimental surgeons to look attentively into this matter and as soon as the men who are affected with this disorder are properly dispersed in huts to have them anointed for it.' [Weedon's Valley Forge Orderly Book, pp. 183-186]

Since sickness was so prevalent in the early days of the camp plans were made to take care of the ill directly on the camp grounds. Washington issued the following orders: January 9, 1778. 'The Majr. Genl. and Brigaiders or officers commanding the brigades of each division are to fix on some suitable place near their respective brigades where hosptials may be erected one for the sick in each brigade as soon as the men can possibly be spared from hutting they are to erect those hospitals, the officers who shall be app'd. to superintend the work will receive directions therefore at the Adjudt. Genls. office.' [Weedon's Valley Forge Orderly Book, p. 188]....

Stressing the need of accuracy concerning the sick Washington required, January 20, 1778: 'The regimental surgeions every Wednesday and Saturday are to make returns to the brigadier of all the sick in their respective regts. They or their mates are duly to attend the huts of their men and see that the sick are provided for as well as possible. The surgeons are also to keep a book in which they will enter a copy of every return they give in.' January 21, 1778. 'The Director Genl. of the Hospitals is as soon as possible to furnish the R'mental surgeons with medicine chests supplied with such medicine as are necessary for the sick in camp.' January 29, 1778. 'The commanding officer of each brigade is to appoint a Capt'n daily to visit the sick of his brigade in or near camp to examine whether they have proper attention paid to them and are furnished with everything their situation requires as far as circumstances will allow.'....

The following excerpts from the diary kept at Valley Forge by Albigence Waldo, Surgeon, from Connecticut is enlightening:

'December 25th — Christmas. We are still in tents, when 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 and grogg — and a captial medicine once in a while — to start the disease from its foundation at once. We avoid piddling pills, powders, Babus's Linctus's cordials — and all such insignificant matters whose powers are only rendered important by causing the patient to vomit up his money instead of his disease. But very few of the sick men die.'...

Dec. 21, 1777. 'A general cry goes through the camp this evening among the soldiers, 'No meat, no meat.' 'What have we for dinner, boy?' 'Nothing but cake and water, sir.'

Dec. 24, 1777. 'Huts go up slowly. Cold and smoke make us fret.' [Thomas-American Revolutionary Diaries, Vol. III, pp. 133-170]...

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