Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Continental Army Hospital - August 1775

   Using Benjamin Church's letter to Samuel Adams and other research, the following is the best reconstruction I can attempt of the Hospital that Church established for the Continental Army in the late summer of 1775 in and around the Continental Army's Headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Director General and Chief Surgeon
Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr.
(no known likeness)


Henry Vassal House
HQs and Hospital
Residence of Director General Church
Hooper-Lee-Nichols House (Lee Mansion)

Ruggles-Fayerweather Mansion (Fayerweather House)
Since I am not certain which building should be identified  as Washington, Lee, and Putnam Hospital, respectively, I have not done so.                                                                                
     1. Dr. Issac Foster - Succeeds Church as Director until replaced on 29 Nov, 1775
    Lives with Church in the Vassal House.                                                                    
           2. Dr. John Warren, younger brother of Joseph Warren.                                               
                 3.  Dr. Samuel Adams, Jr. son of Samuel Adams.                                                               
                                                      4.  Dr. Charles Mc Knight, very distinguished and connected surgeon.                                                                



Loring- Greenough House (Loring House)
Ward's Hospital
St Thomas Hospital*
Barnard House
Parker Hill, Brookline
Wooden Barracks No Longer Extant
Later Used to Inoculate Troops for Smallpox
Causing Great Consternation to the Local Residents
1. William Aspinwall, Harvard graduate and friend of Dr. Joseph Warren              
         2. Elisha Perkins, Yale Graduate and inventor of "Perkins Tractors" (Quack medicine)
(I am not certain of this identification)
  3. Dr. Lemuel Hayward, studied medicine under Dr. Joseph Warren                       
   It is possible that the three surgeons in Roxbury were paid by their respective colonies rather than the Continental Army.      
   St Thomas Hospital is a very famous London Hospital that can trace its roots to at least the twelfth century. Could it be that Church walked its halls while studying medicine in London?
N.B. All of the house are depicted as they exist today. They have had many owners and many renovations since 1775. And, each was considered a country estate which mean they had lots of land attached to them.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Dr Church Takes Charge

   We do not know precisely what day Benjamin Church was notified of his appointment as Director General of the newly established Hospital in Cambridge or the day that he assumed his duties. But we know that he was in place and functioning in mid-August from letters he sent to his old friend and compatriot in the Whig cause, Samuel Adams. On August 22nd, 1775, he wrote Adams requesting some drugs. A list of drugs was enclosed in the letter but it is now lost. On the following day, Church again wrote Adams and it is worth quoting that letter (with some editing for clarity) in full. There is no better account of the medical situation in Cambridge in the Continental Army two months after Bunker Hill and the actions Dr. Church to correct it.

Continental Hospital, Cambrige, Aug 23,1775
 Honoured & dear Sir!
Accept my most sincere acknowledgements for the honour and favour of my late appointment., derived from you my Friend! and the rest of that august body, for whom (abstracted from Self-Consideration) I have ever felt the warmest Devotion, the most heart-felt Reverence: the most acceptable Expressions of my Gratitude, I am assured will be a zealous Application of myself to discharge the important Duties of my Commission
  An acquaintance with the economy of Hospitals derived from a Residence of almost three years in the London Hospitals, made the Task before me very acceptable, but I confess the extreme Disorders in which I found matters upon a closer scrutiny, rendered the attempt to effect a Change a very formidable One; a total Revolution was necessary, to fix upon any Principles at all: there existed near 30 Hospitals, each distinct and independent, and some of them under the Guidance and uncontrouled Jurisdiction of Surgeons who had never seen an Hospital; the demands yon the Commissary General and Quarter-master were so extremely frequent and rapid that they informed me, the Expense of supplies for the Surgeons exceeded all the other Expenses of the Army: a matter so ruinous to the Cause demanded, an instant remedy.
I immediately procured two good Houses in Cambridge, the one already improved as a Colony Hospital, the other a regimental sick-House, a perfect sink of Putrescence, filth and Disease; to these I have since found it necessary to add a third viz the House of the fugitive Judge Lea,
I found little difficulty with the Surgeons of this Colony, for having examined and appointed them, they considered me in the light of a Master or Director before, and readily conceded to my Orders; but I have had much difficulty with my Brethren of Connecticut &c, they viewed themselves as Lords of their little Dominions; each Surgeon had his Hospital, to which the officers submitted as matters of Right, already established by uninterrupted usage, and hugged as a Benefice by each distinct, some Surgeons divided the Regiments with their Col'., their Orders were undisputed at the publick stores: The Officers indeed groaned that Diseases became so grassant, the Committee of Supplies and the Commissary groaned with good Reason that they should never be able to answer the Demands.
a cabal has been formed against me, which now exists in a crumbling situation, I still persevere in demolishing these little Pagoda's, and altho much Art and much malice  have been exercised to discredit the American Hospital, it is now arrived to such a degree of reputation that the Soldiers bless the happy Institution, and several of the Regimental Surgeons are soliciting mates Birth, at the loss of 30/pr Month, to improve themselves in the Practice of the Hospital.
We have now 200 Patients in three Houses, which go under the Denomination of Washington's Hospital, Lee's Hospital and Putnam's Hospital.[illegible] to the Brigade on this Quarter. We have likewise three Houses at Brookline to accommodate Roxbury Camp in which are 170 Patients, but these I am reducing to 2 Houses Loring's and Barnard's which I shall call Ward's Hospital and St Thomas's Hospital in honour of the two Generals on that Quarter.
I should be happy could every purpose be effected agreeable to the Disposition of Offices made by the Honle Congress, with the Allowance annexed to sundry of them. The number of Surgeons I apprehend must be enlarged  to three more.
The Houses at Cambridge now improved for Hospitals are most advantageously situated to accommodate the Camps on Prospect Hill, Mystick, &c. And in the course of two days by which time I hope to compleat the Number of Beds & Slaw bunks [ some type of a bunk bed with straw as near as I can determine], will be filled and will contain about 240 Patients with their proper number of attendants. These Hospitals are not only insufficient to hold all the sick of both Camps, but they are so remote from Roxbury being 6 miles at least, that in many Cases it would be greatly inconvenient, and in case of an Engagement totally impracticable to remove the wounded men so far;
the Houses lately the property of Barnard and Loring are already made use of for the sick, stand very conveniently, and are sufficiently elevated & capacious these will accommodate the Camp at Roxbury, and the disposition of the Surgeons could stand thus: [Church names his seven surgeons] 
I must entreat your Indulgence to mention one or two other matters - the sick thicken upon us so rapidly, that we are obliged to send the Recovering Men too early to the Camps; being obliged to do duty immediately, and being thereby exposed to all Weathers in their weak state, they frequently relapse; 4 out of 5 generally return to the Hospital within a Week after their Dismission. An Airing house, or as 'tis usually called a Convalescent Hospital is a wise and salutary Provision; here the Patients upon their recovery ought to be sent, to be kept upon a half-Diet and tonic medicines, till they have recovered such a degree of firmness, as to be able to do their duty in Camp without hazard - these Houses require nothing more than a good careful Mate or two to attend them, and to be daily visited by the Hospital Physician.........
I must here renew my solicitation to be supplied with Medicines, I will particularly attend to eke out the few on hand, to prevent distress for want of medicines before the rest arrive. 3 lb of Ipecac is our whole stock, for 400 sick men, and great part of them Dysenteries, and no more to be obtained this way. Tow-Cloth for Beds I am much embarrassed for, the stores are exhausted and none can procure as yet elsewhere.
Thus sir, I have led you thro' a tedious dry detail. I know you adopt the generous sentiment of Terence...Homo sum, et nil humanum a me alienum puto*,
this shall be my only Apology; being an Exile and in distress, I am doubly compassionate, I view every Child  of Sorrow as my Brother - nevertheless Sir! I am fortified daily with the glad presage of future and fast approaching happiness, a thorough Restoration to Liberty & Peace. When Shall we commence the song Deo Redemptori [God the Redeemer], when shall we, as we have been wont mingle together 'the Feast of Reason & the Flow of Soul'. **
Your affectionate Friend & Humble Servant
Benja Church junr 
* I am a human being: I regard nothing of human concern as foreign to my interests.
** Alexander Pope, Imitations of Horace
Siege Lines 1776
   This letter is typical Church. The effusions in the beginning of the letter are standard for the eighteenth century even if Church does go a little overboard ( to our modern sensibilities) sometimes. The concluding paragraphs with the poetic quotations are also typical of Church, an educated man of his day with a serious familiarity with the classics and poetry. Church's letters [ those that remain] are full of classical and poetical quotes; and, he is writing to a fellow Harvard Graduate well versed in his Latin.

  But the body of this letter shows a very professional and very capable physician with real executive ability who found a chaotic situation, in which soldiers were suffering, and created a functioning hospital exercising the best possible care considering the limitations of supply and professional knowledge. Indeed, one can characterize some of Church's ideas as modern. For this alone, Dr. Church deserves enormous credit, yet it is totally ignored and/or dismissed.

   Dr Church did step on some toes in setting up the Continental Army's Hospital and those he offended will attempt to get their revenge.



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dr Benjamin Church, Jr Appointed "Surgeon General"

   Meeting in Philadelphia in July, 1775, the Continental Congress was faced with the reality of forming a means to govern the newly united colonies and to establish a Continental Army to defend them, where none had existed before. Previously, all armies were provincial and controlled by the individual colonies or, on needed occasions, by the British Army. In a letter dated July 20, 1775,  the new Commander-in Chief, writing from Cambridge, Massachusetts was pleading for the establishment of a paymaster and :

 I have made Inquiry with respect to the Establishment of the Hospital and find it in a very unsetled Condition. There is no Principal Director, or any Subordination among the Surgeons; of consequence Disputes and Contentions have arisen and must continue until it is reduced to some System. I could wish that it was immediately taken into consideration as the Lives and Health of both Officers and Soldiers so much depend upon a due regulation of this Department.
   Washington was also in correspondence with Benjamin Harrison, a Virginia delegate to the Congress, on the subject and Harrison advised Washington in a letter dated July 21st, 1775:

Nothing is as yet done as to the Hospitall, but I will bring it on very soon. 

   On Thursday, July 27,1775, The Continental Congress voted to establish a hospital for an army of 20,000 men to be headed by a "Director General and Chief Physician",  with a staff of four surgeons, one apothecary, twenty surgeons mates, one clerk. two storekeepers, one nurse to every 10 sick,  and "labourers  occasionally."  The Director was to "furnish medicines, Bedding and all other necessaries, to pay for the same, superintend the whole, and report to and receive orders from the Commander-in-Chief.

  Dr.  Benjamin Church, Jr.  was unanimously elected to the position of "Director General and Chief Physician" of the new hospital and was given authority to appoint the four surgeons and apothecary, the two storekeepers, one clerk, and one nurse to every ten sick. A parsimonious Congress, totally unfamiliar with the nature of an army in the field, also resolved that the  surgeons mates should only be paid for days when the number of sick should justify their attendance.

   Dr. Church's pay was fixed at $4 per day ($120 per month). A Major General in the Continental Army was paid $166 per month, the Commissary General of Stores and Provision $80 a month, and the Paymaster General $100 per month. Dr. Church's pay was twice that of a Colonel in the Massachusetts Militia.

   In addition, note the patronage positions Dr. Church controlled and the fiscal responsibilities of his position. Given the culture of British procurement under which all of the officers of the Continental Army had previously operated under and the opportunities for  enrichment it represented, the position of Director General certainly, despite its many drawbacks, could be seen as a very desirable one.

   There is a general misunderstanding of Dr. Church's titles and duties as the Director General of the Continental Army's Hospital. He was not the first Surgeon General of the United States, a position under the US Public Health Service and not established until many years later, and which position, during my lifetime, has been held  by some of the strangest physicians imaginable,  and he is not, in actuality, the first Surgeon General of the United States Army. In April 1777, the Continental Congress superseded the Hospital organization it created in July 1775 with the establishment of a Medical Department based on the British model. After the War, the US Army consisted of short service troops with no provision for medical services above the regimental level. Subsequent legislation in 1802 and 1808 authorized the employment of  permanent peace time physicians and surgeons for the Army, but it wasn't until 1818 that this Medical Department was given a permanent Director under the title "Surgeon General."  However, Church was referred to as "Surgeon General" and so titled in several contemporaneous letters by John Adams.

   I could find no correspondence or diaries, etc. which would indicate just why Benjamin Church was elected as the new Director General of the Continental Army's Hospital; but, one can, through the review of several of John Adams' letter from the days surrounding the vote to establish the Hospital and appoint Church Director, that it was the Adams cousins, John and Samuel, along with Elbridge Gerry, who were responsible. In the days preceding Church's appointment the journal of the Continental Congress indicates a flurry of activity to establish new positions to conduct the affairs of the united colonies and concomitant with that, there had too have been enormous politicking to get favored candidates appointed to those positions to advance personal interest as well as the interests of one's colony. And there was the issue of providing geographical balance to the army as well as the government. And John Adams was in the midst of it. Sometimes for good (e.g. George Washington's appointment as Commander-in-Chief) and sometimes for the not so good. A perfect illustration of this can be found in a letter from Adams to James Warren  dtd. July 26, 1775:

I can never Sufficiently regret that this Congress have acted so much out of character as to leave the appointment of the Quarter Master General, Commissary of Musters and Commissary of Artillery to the General [Washington]. As these officers are checks upon the General and he a check upon them, there ought not to be too much connection between them. They ought not to be under any dependence upon him or so great obligations of Gratitude as those of a Creature to the Creator.

    Only John Adams could write something this obtuse.

  John Adams was determined to get his friend James Warren, newly elected President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and husband of Mercy Otis Warren, appointed Paymaster of the Continental Army at the same time he and Samuel Adams were, I believe, championing Church as Director of the Hospital. John Adams would later distance himself from James and Mercy Warren, but at this time, he was determined to get him the position of Paymaster. John Adams had a long doctor-client relationship with Benjamin Church and only recently, upon Dr. Church's June visit to the Continental Congress on the business of  the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Church prescribed a lotion for Adams' eyes.*

   Samuel Adams, of course, had a strong relationship with Church as a fellow Whig and one of the real stalwarts in pressing the British for colonial rights before war broke out in April 1775. Whereas John Adams only became very important to the cause after war broke out, Church along with Dr. Joseph Warren, William Molineux (until his death in October 1774)  and  Dr. Thomas Young stuck with Samuel Adams throughout the dark days when the Whig cause was in decline. Church, it must be remembered  had prominence in his own right, not only as an orator and pamphleteer, but also as a Poet.

   I can find no record of any reaction to Dr. Church when he visited the Continental Congress but he must have made a favorable impression and, just as important, the delegates had a face to put to his name when his name was mentioned. Benjamin Harrison may also have played a role in Church's appointment since he knew of Washington's desire to get a Hospital established as soon as possible. Harrison was described by John Adams as a "Falstaff-like" character and indeed, he was big, friendly and very rich. All of which Adams was not. At some point Adams came to really detest Harrison but what his attitude was in July 1775 is not known., I doubt that any dislike would have prevented Adams from working with Harrison. In any event, I believe it was an easy sell. No one nominated could possible match Church in stature or prestige.

 * Dr. Church was something of an eye specialist and advertised himself as such. Cataract surgery was practiced at this time and ,without anesthetic, must have been a very painful business. On April 8, 1747, Jacques Daviel, a French physician, performed the first modern cataract surgery by purposefully making a corneal incision to remove the lens.

Illustration from Daviel's paper to the
French Academy of Surgery.


Monday, September 28, 2015

July 4th, 1775

    It would be timely now to set forth the situation, military and political, that permeated Boston one year before the United Colonies declared their Independence from Great Britain and one day after George Washington took command of the Continental Army as Commander-in-Chief. The Battle of Bunker Hill had been fought some two weeks earlier and it left the British in total control of Boston and Charlestown. Between that time and the arrival of Washington, a kind of irregular warfare occurred, much to the dismay of the British. The British would periodically bombard the Provincials, and the Provincials would ambush British sentries and conduct minor raids. At one point, some Stockbridge Indians, assigned to a militia unit, ambushed the British and killed four of them with bows and arrows

These are two of four watercolors by  Lt Richard Williams , a
British engineer, who drew them between July and November 1775,
 of the British and American defenses during the siege of Boston.
They are now in the British Library. They cannot be adequately
presented on this blog. They can be seen in better detail at:

Taken from Osprey Campaign Series
Boston 1775
The British fleet, consisting of approximately ten ships and upwards of 250 guns, dominated Boston Harbor and the rivers leading into Boston. Water traffic was totally disrupted. Although suffering severe losses at Bunker Hill, the British Army, under General Thomas Gage, still numbered approximately 10,000 men, although a reliably accurate figure is difficult to come by. The bulk of the British Army was on Bunker Hill under the command General William Howe, the rest, with the exception of the light horse and a few men, were on Roxbury neck. The British fortified Bunker Hill with a redoubt. It was a formidable defense and could not be successfully assaulted without the use of superior artillery fire, The Provincials did have some artillery but it was insufficient for the task at hand. For some inexplicable reason, General Gage never fortified Dorchester Heights.

   The Colonial troops were spread out in a great arc some twelve miles in length. Manning the colonial fortifications were troops from all of the New England states. (Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820). In his history of the Siege of Boston, Richard Frothingham, provides this return of the New England troops besieging Boston.

   On July 9, 1775 Washington held a council of war with his senior officers and they estimated that the British forces defending Boston were 11,000 strong and that it would take an army of 22,000 to successfully maintain the siege that was currently in progress.. It was estimated that only 14,500 colonial troops were fit for duty. It was decided that the prudent course of action was to maintain the status quo and apply for reinforcements. For some reason, it was decided that it was not necessary to take and fortify Dorchester Heights nor to opposes the British should they choose to take it.

A Map drawn by a British Engineer in October 1775
        Washington also faced the fact that the outbreak of fighting had resulted in army created by circumstance from different provinces with different regulations, different laws, and different supply, transportation, and logistics problems. Regiments from four colonies acted under their respective commanders and were only cooperating out of mutual consent. They recognized no military authority above them. Discipline was lax, hygiene was substandard, fights were common, and, of course, New Englanders were New Englanders. Washington's disdain for them upon first meeting is outside the scope of this narrative, but it was palpable and real. Washington, after all, saw himself as the quintessential English gentleman. And, of course, what little military experience he had, in no way prepared him for what he found when he arrived in Cambridge on that rainy day.

   Perhaps, most importantly, Washington discovered an incredible shortage of gunpowder. Within days of his arrival in Cambridge, Washington asked for an inventory of available gunpowder. The response from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was : "303 1/2 bbbl's [barrels] of Powder."  This, in itself, was an astonishingly small amount for an army of 15,000 men, but a further report gobsmacked Washington. On 1 August, 1775,  the Massachusetts Committee of Supplies told him that in reserve “there remains but 36 barrels in Store of the Quantity collected from the Towns in this Colony & recd from others.” The larger number had been “an Account of all the Ammunition, which had been collected by the Province” over time. Training, Bunker Hill, and other actions had drawn down that stock. Soldiers and artillery companies had powder in their cartridges, but “the whole Stock of the Army at Roxbury & Cambridge & the adjacent posts, consists of 90 Bbbls [Barrels]or thereabouts.”
   Politically, although it seems incongruous, those actively engaged in rebellion were not ready for independence. Just how they expected to be reconciled with a Great Britain that treated uprisings against it with incredible ferocity is a mystery. They were well aware of what happened to the Highland Scots at Culloden, some thirty years earlier. Indeed, one of Washington's best friends, Hugh Mercer (killed at Princeton) was an assistant surgeon in Bonnie Prince Charlie's army and present at Culloden. He fled to the United States as a fugitive after months in hiding. Washington had to be aware of that whole affair. It is extremely difficult to ascertain just what percentage of the colonists did, indeed, support those who rose in rebellion. Loyalists were a significant percentage of the population and could have been of even more assistance to the British had the British Army not been so stupidly antagonistic towards them (Then again, outside of the Duke of Marlborough and Robert Clive, British generals haven't astonished the world with their military genius.) And, of course, you had those who were pinning their hopes on a swift reconciliation and those who would support whomever eventually prevailed.

   Upon returning to Cambridge from escorting Generals Washington, Lee and  their aides from  Springfield, Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr resumed his position as a delegate to the Third Provincial Congress and as a prominent member of the Committee of Safety. I can find no indication that Dr. Church was involved in practicing medicine or that he was in receipt of any type of income. His wife and family were safely housed with friends near Taunton but since a mob burned his papers later, it is impossible to determine just what kind of drain they were on his finances, which had to be in very poor shape since there was no indication that he received any income since Lexington and Concord, some two and a half months earlier, except for whatever expenses he received in reimbursement for business conducted for the Provincial Congress.

Andrew Craigie by Archibald Robertson, 1800
Craigie is a fascinating character. See more
Abut him here:
It is obvious form the records of the Third Provincial Congress that he was an extremely active and respected member of the Congress. He was assigned his own room in which to conduct business, most likely in the Edmund Fowles House in Watertown. On the day Washington assumed command of the Continental Army, Church was appointed to a committee to confer with two delegates from New Hampshire on matters pertaining to New Hampshire and Canada. On July 4th, he was appointed to a follow-up committee on the New Hampshire matter and a committee to bring in a resolve appointing the 21 year old  Dr. Andrew Craigie commissary of medical stores and determine what his pay should be. On July 5th, Church was among a committee of three charged with conferring with Washington "on the subject of furnishing his table, and know what he expects relative thereto, and that they sit forthwith" On July 6th, the Congress authorized Church and Moses Gill the sum of £28, 5 s, 10 p, for expenses in escorting General Washington to Cambridge from Philadelphia. And, finally, On Sunday July 9th., Church was paid £ 34, 5s, 2p for  expenses for him and one servant for their trip to the Continental Congress the previous month.

   On Sunday July 10th, Church, along with James Warren, the President of the Provincial Congress, and Elbridge Gerry were appointed a committee to prepare a letter to MGen Charles Lee who had informed the Congress that he had been in written communication with British General John Burgoyne who held a command in the British Army in Boston. The importance the Congress placed in that letter can be seen by the individuals who were selected to respond to General Lee. On July 11, Church and two other doctors were appointed to "take into their custody all the medicines, medical stores and instruments, which are, or may be provided for the use of the army, by this colony, and to distribute them at their best discretion, so that no peculation or needless waste be made of the medicinal stores belonging to the public."

   On July 13th, 1775 Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr was reappointed to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress' Committee of Safety with 10 other delegates. The most prominent member was John Hancock. Benjamin Church was listed second.
Edmund Fowles House, Watertown, Mass


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

George Washington's Horses

   A few final words about George Washington, horseman. Washington had two favorite horses he rode during the Revolutionary War. The first was a horse called Blueskin (Blewskin) and the second was a horse called Nelson.

   Blueskin is, allegedly, the gray or white horse seen in paintings of Washington mounted on a horse  As mentioned in a previous post, Washington had a preference for white and gray horses, so it is not surprising that he would choose one to ride during the war. Unfortunately, there are no contemporary paintings or sketches of Blueskin and those paintings of Washington on a white horse were painted well after his death. Also, unfortunately for Washington, Blueskin was skittish under fire and became hard to control. Therefore, he rode another horse when he went into battle.
Rembrandt Peale 1830
   Washington acquired Blueskin sometime early during the war. We don't know how old he was since the only description we have is "mature." He was described as of a "dark iron-gray color, approaching to blue, "; a fiery animal with great endurance in a long run. The horse was a gift to Washington from Benjamin and Elizabeth Dulaney of Maryland. The Dulaneys were close friends with George Washington's wastrel stepson John Parke Custis (Jackie) who loved horse racing. Jackie had been sent to school in Alexandria with an Anglican minister named Johnathan Boucher. When the Rev Boucher moved his school to Annapolis, Maryland, Jackie went with him as his pupil. There Jackie became very close friends with Benjamin Dulaney. Benjamin Dulaney later married  Elizabeth French, the daughter of Daniel French, a wealthy Fairfax planter who lived at Rose Hill, located about five miles west of Alexandria. French, who died in 1771, owned 552 acres in the Mount Vernon area to which Washington was trying to acquire title. However, Daniel French's widow, Penelope, was refusing to relinquish her life right to those acres. The Dulaneys were frequent dinner guests at Mount Vernon.

   We do not know what breed of horse Blueskin was but the belief is that he was half-Arabian, sired by the stallion "Ranger", otherwise known as "Lindsey's Arabian". I was unable to find any evidence to corroborate that belief. "Lindsay's Arabian" is a legendary American sire, pure Arabian, with a fascinating history. Legend has it that the Emperor of Morocco gave a pure Arabian stallion to the Captain of a British Frigate for some unknown service to the Emperor's son. The Frigate Captain planned to take him to England where he expected to sell him for a hefty price. For some reason, the frigate called at one of the ports in the West Indies. The Frigate Captain, wanting to give the horse some exercise, let him run loose in a lumber yard where the horse broke three of his legs. At the same time, there was, in harbor, a ship's captain from New England who was a friend of the Frigate Captain. Faced with a horse with three broken legs, the frigate captain offered the horse to his New England friend if he could cure him. The New Englander accepted the offer and put the horse aboard his vessel. He rigged up sling and carefully set and bound the horse's legs. When the ship reached Connecticut, the horse's legs had been mended and he was put to covering mares.

   It is believed that Lindsey's Arabian reached Connecticut in 1766. He was described as a "white horse of the most perfect form and symmetry, rather above 15 hands high, and gallant temper, which gave him a lofty and commanding carriage and appearance."

Light Horse Harry Lee
In 1777 or 1778, "Light Horse Harry" Lee, Continental Army cavalry commander and father of Robert E. Lee,  and his officers became aware of some exceptionally fine horses that were being used as cavalry mounts by cavalrymen from New England. Lee sent one of his officers, a certain Captain Lindsey, to look into the matter and purchase the sire of these horses, if possible. Lindsey was successful, purchased this horse, named  "Ranger", and shipped him to Virginia where, as a full blooded Arabian, he started covering mares at an exceptionally high price and with outstanding results. Ranger later stood at stud at Piscataway, MD. His blood line is as famous as any in the history of horses in the United States.

   "Nelson"was a chestnut stallion who was given to Washington by Thomas Nelson, the Governor of Virginia in 1778, when Nelson heard that Washington was having trouble finding a replacement foe one of his mounts. Nelson soon became a favorite of Washington and he rode him when battle was nigh, In fact, Washington rode Nelson at Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown in 1781. Nelson was described as being sixteen hands high, chestnut ( or light sorrel) , with a white blaze and white legs.

   After the war, Washington retired Blueskin and Nelson to Mount Vernon where he hardly ever rode them but tried to pay them a visit every day. Nelson died at the age of 27.

   But we know, for certain, that Washington did own a stallion out of "Lindsey's

Arabian" (Ranger). After the surrender at Yorktown, Washington purchased two horses from his stepson Jackie's estate. Magnolia was purchased for £500 and was known as one of the most beautiful horses in the states, "a chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, 16 hands tall, and thought by all who saw him to be perfect," according to the Virginia Journal. Washington tried racing Magnolia without much success, then put him to work as a stud with a lot of success. In 1788, Washington traded Magnolia to Light Horse harry Lee for title to 5,000 acres in Kentucky.

 The horse at right is said by Mount Vernon to resemble Magnolia, except for the fact that he is a little smaller then Magnolia at 15 hands.

  I cannot conclude without mentioning Washington's slave valet William "Billy" Lee.  Billy rode a horse called Chinkling. Other than being described as a great leaper and being built much like his rider, low, but sturdy, and of great bone and muscle,we have no other description of Chinkling. But we do have a description of Billy Lee, a French horn at his back, throwing himself at full length on his horse, with his spur in flank, rushing at full speed through bramble and brush, astonishing even the best and most daring horsemen of his day.