Monday, October 12, 2015

Dr Church's Surgeons

   Dr Church hired a staff of seven surgeons to run the Hospital he established for the Continental Army and I thought it would be interesting to provide some background on a rather interesting staff of surgeons.

 1. Dr. Isaac Foster, Jr. was born in Charlestown, was a graduate of the Harvard class of 1758 ( four years after Dr. Church) and was elected to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in October 1774 as a representative of Charlestown. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress
Isaac Foster, age 15,
 Joseph Badger,
was faced with the problem of wounded soldiers, British and American that had fallen on a very long battle front. Orders were given by the Congress to take care of them and Dr. Foster responded to the call. He set up a temporary hospital in the Vassall House and collected a number of wounded, apparently, most of them British soldiers. On April 29, 1775, Dr. Foster was given an order to relocate all of the sick and wounded, whose conditions permitted, and who were scattered amongst a number of houses in the local area, to the Vassall House. The Vassall House soon filled with militia men suffering from fever, dysentery and the other diseases that would naturally arise from the hastily constructed and apparently not too clean camps of the Yankee militia. Until the middle of June, Dr. Foster devoted most of  his time to the Hospital but made no attempt to obtain a regular staff, medical supplies, or additional hospital space. He was assisted by one of his apprentice doctors. However, any physician was free to visit the hospital and attend and/or prescribe medicines for any of the patients. In Dr. Foster's defense, he was merely a contract physician and had not been given any authority or direction to take charge. But then, he apparently made no attempt to convince the Provincial Congress to do anything further.

    Dr. Foster's world was shattered by Bunker Hill in mid-June 1775. All of a sudden, there were approximately 300 wounded that had to be treated. Confusion reigned. And to add to that confusion, a rumor spread that the British were about to attack Cambridge. Many of the wounded were carried to Watertown and to farm houses in the adjacent country. Dr. Foster enlisted the aid of Harvard undergraduates, probably all of whom had absolutely no medical training. After the initial chaos had abated, the wounded were brought back to the Vassall House and other locations in Cambridge. The Provincial Congress energized itself and arrangements were made to establish branch hospitals in Cambridge and Roxbury, and to deal with the ever present fear of smallpox. But then, there was still no formal organization and no one in authority. That was changed when Dr. Church was named Director General of the Hospital and he began to bring his organizational and executive skills to bear in a rather chaotic situation in which there were more than thirty hospitals.

   Dr. Foster remained in residence at The Vassall House and was hired by Dr. Church (probably the first hire) as one of his surgeons. After Dr. Church was removed from his position, Dr. Foster became Director General until he lost out to John Morgan of Pennsylvania and he apparently became Deputy-Director. I lost touch with Dr. Foster who apparently left the Army and returned to Charlestown where he died in February 1782.

2.  Dr. John Warren, younger brother of Dr. Joseph Warren, was born in Roxbury in 1753. While attending Harvard (class of 1771), he started an "Anatomical Society" amongst the undergraduates in which they studied a skeleton and dissected whatever they could get their hands on; e.g. horses, dogs. Cadavers were impossible to obtain although the "Society" did concoct an elaborate plan, never consummated, to secure the body of a hung criminal. After graduating from Harvard, John, and almost all the members of his "Anatomical Society" AKA "Spunkers", studied medicine. John, obviously, under his brother Joseph. After two years, John moved to practice in Salem, apparently believing that the competition for physicians was rather too intense in Boston. He joined Col Timothy Pickering's Salem militia regiment in 1773 as a surgeon and marched with the regiment when the battle at Lexington broke out. However, the regiment arrived too late to take a major role in the battle. John was in Salem when he received the news of  Bunker Hill and, at 2 AM the following day, he set off for Cambridge. On the way, he heard that his brother was reported missing in the battle. He then made an attempt to look for his brother on the battlefield where, according to John, he was turned back by a thrust from a bayonet from a British sentry. ( A tale I view with extreme skepticism.) He was said to bear a scar from that thrust for the rest of his life.
John Warren by Rembrandt Peale
ca 1806

   Dr. Warren then accepted a post as a surgeon under Dr. Foster, apparently heeding the entreaties of his mother not to enlist as a soldier in the militia. At 22 years of age, Warren's views of his abilities did not quite match those held by his seniors and he appears to have been somewhat frustrated in the practice of his profession. Warren continued to serve as a surgeon with Washington's Army and was present at Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. He returned to Boston in 1777 to continue his service as a military surgeon. After the war, he became a very successful doctor and helped to found the Harvard Medical School in 1782. He died at the age of 61 in 1815.

3. Dr. Samuel Adams, Jr. The only son of Samuel Adams was born in Boston in 1751 and attended Harvard, graduating with the class of  1770. He has been described as academically undistinguished and somewhat of a troublemaker. This, despite the fact that he was a sickly child suffering from tuberculosis and apparently sick for much of his life. After graduating from Harvard, young Samuel studied medicine with Dr. Joseph Warren, perhaps more as a favor to his father than to young Samuel's abilities. After Lexington and Concord, young Samuel was trapped inside Boston and was only released by General Gage with some reluctance. Finding employment  as a regimental surgeon in Cambridge, Adams continued to serve the wounded after Bunker Hill. Adams continued to serve the Continental Army as a surgeon in the New York and  other areas, returning to Boston after the war, apparently in very poor health since he did not resume the practice of medicine. He died at the age of 36 in  January 1788, pre-deceasing his famous father.

4. Dr. Charles McKnightwas born in Monmouth County, New Jersey on October 10, 1750 and graduated from Princeton in 1771. At Princeton, McKnight was a member of the American Whig Society along with fellow classmate James Madison. McKnight's father, the Irish immigrant Rev Charles McKnight, was an ardent patriot who reportedly received a severe sabre cut to the head  in the same skirmish that saw General High Mercer, George Washington's good friend, die at the battle of Princeton. He later was imprisoned on a British Prison ship in New York harbor and died on January 1st, 1778.
    After graduation, McKnight studied medicine under the distinguished physician of a well connected Pennsylvania family and a trustee of Princeton, Dr. William Shippen. Before he could complete his studies, the Revolutionary War broke out and Dr. McKnight joined the Continental Army along with a number of medical students. It is not clear as to how McKnight came to Dr. Church's attention or precisely which Continental Army unit he was associated with. But given Dr. McKnight's later career, it is obvious that he was a doctor of some talent and would quickly be noticed wherever he was assigned. McKnight later founded the "flying hospitals" for the Continental Army which allowed for a more rapid response to wounded soldiers. McKnight served throughout the Revolutionary War as a senior physician, establishing a good reputation. Immediately after the war, McKnight was appointed to the position of Professor of Surgery and Anatomy at Columbia and was considered one of  the foremost surgeons in the United States until his death at the age of 41 in November 1791.

5. Dr. William Aspinwall, was born in Brookline in May 1763, descending from one of the first
Dr William Aspinwall
Gilbert Stuart, circa 1815
English settlers of Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard in 1764, Aspinwall studied medicine in Connecticut with the famous small pox expert Dr. Benjamin Gale and in Pennsylvania. with Dr John Morgan.  He received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, at that time the only medical college in the colonies.  He became the first physician resident in Brookline where, after  practicing medicine for some years, and after hostilities broke out, Aspinwall decided to join the army. Dr. Joseph Warren, however, persuaded him to serve as a physician instead. Aspinwall received a commission as a surgeon under Brigadier General  William Heath and then was appointed as Deputy Director of the Hospital on Jamaica Plain. Aspinwall fought as a soldier in the battle of Lexington and followed the retreating British to Charlestown. He served as a surgeon throughout the war and, at one time, served with General John Sullivan in Rhode Island. After the war, Dr. Aspinwall returned to Brookline where he resumed his medical practice and became renowned for the treatment of small pox. Dr. Aspinwall lost sight in an eye as a child and later suffered from a cataract in the other eye. Cataract surgery proved unsuccessful and he was totally blind  for the waning years of his life. He lived to be 80 years old, dying in 1823.

6. Dr. Lemuel Hayward was born in Braintree in 1749 and graduated from Harvard in 1768. He was one of the many who studied medicine under Dr. Joseph Warren. After Lexington and Concord, Hayward and Aspinwall both served militia units and were then contracted by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress to serve the wounded. Both received warrants as  surgeons from the Provincial Congress in late June 1775. When Dr. Church was appointed as Hospital Director, both Hayward and Aspinwall were in a kind of limbo. Their warrants from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress had been superseded by the Continental Congress. Church asked them to stay on since there was a dire need for their services and told them he would obtain warrants for them as surgeons from the Continental Congress. Before that could be accomplished, however, Dr. Church was arrested and their status had to be sorted out by General Washington. After the siege, Dr. Hayward returned to his civil practice and like Aspinwall, specialized in the inoculation and treatment of smallpox. Hayward retired in 1798, living a very comfortable life until his death in 1821. He lived his final years in a mansion in Boston on Washington Street, between Bedford and Essex, that had an acre of garden with it. It is reported that in addition to being a successful physician, part of Dr. Haywards's wealth derived from the sale of a rather non-descript one story and a half house in Jamaica Plain, but with extensive land and mature Linden tress to John Hancock as a summer home in 1800. Hancock paid for the home with four and a half shares in the Long Wharf, which proved to be very valuable.

7. Dr. Elisha Perkins. Elisha Perkins was born in Plainfield Connecticut in January 1741, the son of a physician. He briefly matriculated At Yale and then studied medicine under his father. After practicing in his hometown and surrounding area, Dr. Perkins joined a Connecticut militia unit and served at the siege of Boston. However, I cannot place Dr. Perkins in the Boston area prior to January 1776, some six months after he is reported to be attending to the sick and wounded in Roxbury. On the other hand, I can find no physician of the same name on the rolls of any militia unit and the name would indicate that there can't be more than one. I am reasonably certain that the Dr. Elisha Perkins I describe is the same one hired by Dr. Church. Dr. Perkins is notorious in American medical history.

   After the war, Dr. Perkins returned to his medical practice in Connecticut, supplementing his income (he had ten children to support) by buying and selling mules. Sometime in the late 1790s, while in his forties, Perkins developed a theory that pain was caused by "a surcharge of electric fluid in the affected areas" and that metal could be used to draw off the electric fluid and cure the patient. In 1796, Dr. Perkins patented his " Metallic Tractors." The tractors consisted of two 3-inch metal rods with a point at the end. Although they were made of steel and brass, Perkins claimed that they were made of unusual alloys and he used his rods to cure inflammation, rheumatism and pain in the head and the face. He applied the points on the aching body part and passed them over the part for about 20 minutes. Perkins claimed they could "draw off the noxious electrical fluid that lay at the root of
Modern Replica of Dr Perkins Tractors

   Perkins treated all kinds of illnesses and numbered among his patents George Washington and Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth. He sold his "tractors" by the score and became quite wealthy from the sales. George Washington was reported to have purchased a set for his family. Perkins  collected hundreds of testimonials from leading citizens, all claiming that his "tractors", not only relieved pain and suffering, but actually saved lives. (Imagine what Dr. Perkins could have accomplished if only Cable TV and the infomercial had been invented.)  His fame and his "tractors" spread to England and the Continent.

  Dr. Perkins then turned his attention to developing an antiseptic remedy which he claimed  could be used in the treatment of diphtheria and typhoid dysentery. Anxious to try out his newly developed antiseptic in treating yellow fever Dr. Perkins traveled to the city and treated patients with it for four weeks only to die of the disease in September 1799 at the age of 59.

  After his death, the use of his tractors and antiseptic faded into oblivion. It should be noted that not all were taken in by Dr. Perkins and he was expelled by the Connecticut Medical Society in 1797.


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, Attended Yale 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 houses are depicted as they exist today. They have had many owners and many renovations since 1775. And, each was considered a country estate which meant 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 took 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 to 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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Washington Travels From Philadelphia to Cambridge III

   On Friday, June 30, 1775, Washington and his party departed Wethersfield bound for Springfield. It is approximately 35 miles from Wethersfield to Springfield, so, given Washington's travel habits, one might assume that he entered Springfield sometime after noon.

   In June 1775, Springfield, Mass was the most important town in Western Massachusetts, but still only had approximately 1200 residents and about 150 houses, very few of which were painted,  a newly built brick school house, and a Courthouse with a whipping post in front of it. The town had been burned down to the ground 110 years earlier during King Philip's War when Metacomet (King Philip) had incited the native Pocumtuc Indians (Deerfield) to rebel and burn nearby Springfield to the ground. Serious thought was given to abandoning Springfield but ultimately the decision to rebuild was taken. It occupied an important position and served as a gateway to Albany and to Hartford.

   The town rose on the east bank of the Connecticut River with pasture land descending to the river bank from the ridge. It was situated in some of the richest farm land in the colonies and the Connecticut River teemed with shad and salmon. Shad had been a staple of the American Indian diet and made runs of hundreds of thousands of fish up the Connecticut River to find fresh water spawning grounds and then back down again.  The salmon were so numerous that, in seining for shad, salmon also had to be caught. So many salmon were caught that shad came to be considered "poor man's food" and salmon came to be known as "Agawam Pork." It became so bad that a condition of hiring a laborer was that he had to eat shad a certain number of times per week; and a condition of buying shad that a certain amount of "Agawam Pork" had to be taken with it.

   There were three taverns in the town with the most prominent being that of Zenas Parsons whose tavern rose to a height unusual for a town the size of Springfield. Parsons' tavern was considered the best in town and was famous for miles around.

Parsons Tavern
   It was in Parsons Tavern that Washington and his party met up with the committee consisting of Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr and Moses Gill that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress had sent to escort him to Cambridge. One presumes that Washington and Church had met earlier in Philadelphia when Church visited the Continental Congress, of which Washington was a member, and delivered some important documents from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Church and Gill informed Washington that the Massachusetts provincial Congress had appointed them a Committee to receive Washington "with every mark of respect" and had directed that gentlemen of each of the larger towns on the road to Cambridge would serve as an escort to General Washington and to General Lee all the way to Cambridge. Washington must have been really anxious by this time to get to Cambridge but he could not avoid this honor and courtesy. This was much the same thing he had experienced all of the way from Philadelphia.

   Washington, however, could take advantage of Church and Gill to be briefed on the situation around Boston and the disposition and condition of the Continental Army. There were few, if any, more prominent Whigs than Church in Boston. He had been one of its core members for years, had given an oration on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre, and was well known for his political tracts as well as his poetry. More importantly for Washington, Church had been a member of the Committee of Safety and had served as its Chairman for a brief period. No one knew more than Church. Moses Gill, on the other hand, was a member of the Committee of Supply and could give Washington a detailed account of the supply situation for the army currently besieging Boston.

   Washington, Lee, Church, Gill and the rest of the party departed Springfield on the morning of Saturday, July 1st 1775 bound for Brookfield, some 35 miles east on the road to Boston; and, again escorted by some prominent citizens. Tradition has it that Washington stopped  about a mile west of
Washington Elm, Palmer
 Palmer, Massachusetts, about 20 miles east of Springfield, and had lunch under a huge elm next to the tavern owned by Daniel Graves and his son Aaron. Washington's party allegedly sat under this elm tree and lunched on "milk and other necessaries" ordered from the Graves' tavern. The only problem with this legend is that it is said to occur on the day previous, June 30th. That could just be faulty memory, or not. But it does seem plausible that Washington would stop some 20 miles into the day's journey given his preference for starting early in the morning without eating breakfast. One last thing, I just can't get my arms around the mental image of George Washington drinking a glass of milk.

    Washington and his party proceeded to Brookfield, about 15 miles east of  Palmer, where his escort was changed, and then on to Worcester, where again the escort changed. At Worcester, the party stopped at the King's Arms Tavern, run by the widow Mary Sternes. Interestingly enough, this tavern, in a town of about 2000 residents, was known as a Tory meeting place and where Tories plotted against the town's Whigs. Upon hearing of the Declaration of Independence, patriots tore down the sign bearing "King's Arms" and burned it in the street. The widow Sternes kept the tavern, renamed Sternes Tavern, until her death in 1784. (The tavern is no longer standing.)

      The next stage of the journey was to the prescribed resting place of Marlborough where the party spent the night. Marlborough is about 25 miles from Watertown and it is where the Provincial Congress was meeting. Washington's party managed to travel 65 miles that day.
Boston Post Road Mile Marker
On Sunday, July 2nd, 1776, Washington, escorted by a company of light cavalry and some citizens traveled the 25 miles to Watertown where the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was in session. It is not clear just how long Washington spent with the Congress, most likely just enough time for each to present a short speech to each other. Washington then listened as another address was given to General Lee, who replied in only six sentences.          

Washington, at last, was able to start to reach the end of his long journey from Philadelphia, Escorted by cavalry, Washington rode the final three miles to Cambridge. Troops had been paraded the previous morning when a false report was received that Washington and Lee were to arrive that day, July 1st. Again on the morning of the 2nd, the troop were marched out to present honors to the generals. But rain started to fall and no one had positive notice of just when Washington would arrive. Once again the men were dismissed. So when Washington, Lee, and their party went down that wet road to take command of the Continental Army, they found only Sunday idlers in the Harvard College Yard, no committee to greet them, and no troops in formation to salute them. Washington was conducted to the house of Samuel Langdon,  President of Harvard, ( Benjamin Wadsworth House)  where the Provincial Congress had ordered that Washington and Lee were to have all of the rooms except for one assigned to President Langdon. One wonders just how that went over with Washington. Washington, at the time, said nothing and proceeded to meet the officers who had been summoned to meet him as soon as word of his arrival was received. Among them were Generals Artemus Ward and Israel Putnam.
Wadsworth House

   At 9 AM,  Monday, July 3, 1775,  Washington took formal command of the Continental Army.

   On July 4th, 1775, Church and Gill submitted a bill to the Provincial Congress for £28, 5 shillings, and ten pence for "the expense of escorting and entertaining Generals Washington and Lee from Springfield to the camp at Cambridge."


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Washington Travels From Philadelphia to Cambridge - II

   Before continuing with Washington's travels, it should be noted that amongst the nine companies of New York militia which met and escorted Washington into New York city on Sunday, June 25th, 1775 was a unit that called itself  the "Corsicans." They wore short green coats and leather caps with
King's College (Columbia) circa 1770
the inscription "Freedom or Death" on them. One of the privates in the Corsicans was a twenty year old student at King's College (Columbia). The student claimed to be eighteen but had shaved two years off of his age when a teenager on the Caribbean island of Nevis, probably to make it easier to gain an apprenticeship. Alexander Hamilton was already well-known amongst New York Whigs, having published several pamphlets supporting their cause. MGen Philip Schuyler was to be Hamilton's future father-in-law and, of course, Washington would be his mentor. Interestingly, there are no contemporary accounts indicating that Hamilton was introduced to Washington or Schuyler during Washington's visit. Perhaps no one considered it to be remarkable at the time.
   Given the news about Bunker Hill that Washington received on Sunday, it would seem that he would be anxious to proceed on his journey and assume command of the Continental Army located outside of Boston. In the Monday morning of June 26th, he drafted instructions to Schuyler, who was to take command of New York's defenses and the Continental troops in the state,  to consult with the Continental Congress as to what action he should take concerning Governor Tryon. Interestingly, Washington authorized Schuyler to report directly to Congress. The chain of command would not flow through Cambridge on to Philadelphia on subjects that required a prompt decision. Schuyler, thus, could operate independently of Washington when, in Schuyler's judgement, that was expedient.

   While Washington was occupied drafting Schuyler's instructions, he sent his aide, Lt Col Mifflin out shopping for some wine, some stationary, and a trunk. Two representatives of the New York Provincial Congress  arrived wishing to present an address to Washington and inquired as to what time would be convenient for him to receive it. As anxious as he was to depart, Washington could not refuse this request and set 2:30 as the time of the meeting. After receiving the address, Washington responded as follows:

Gentlemen, at the same time that with you I deplore the unhappy necessity of such an appointment as that with which I am honored, I cannot but feel sentiments of the highest gratitude for this affecting instance of distinction and regard. May your every wish be realized in the success of America at this important and interesting period; and be assured that every exertion of my worthy colleagues and myself will be equally extended to the reestablishment of Peace and Harmony between the Mother Country and the Colonies. As to the fatal, but Necessary, Operations of War. When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen, & new shall most sincerely rejoice with you in that happy hour, when the establishment of  American Liberty on the most firm and solid foundations, shall enable us to return to our private Stations in the bosom of a free, peaceful, & happy country.
   As incongruous this may sound to our ears 240 years later, Washington summarized the feelings of the overwhelming majority of Patriots and how they would express what they were fighting for in June 1775.
   Finally, Washington, accompanied by the two Major Generals, aides, and the Light Troop of Philadelphia cavalry, as well as by a contingent of New York militia and civilian New Yorkers set out once again for Cambridge.
Macomb Mansion, circa 1880
    Washington only got to Kingsbridge, New York (The Bronx) that day before he stopped, some fourteen miles above the city. Most likely he stayed over night at Cox's (Cock) tavern, a well-known tavern on the old Albany road originally constructed in 1669.
Loosing Field Book of the Revolution
Its owner, John Cox (Cock) was a well known Whig sympathizer who buried the head from the statue of King George II famously torn down in April 1775 in lower New York. The tavern was not the better of two taverns located in Kingsbridge but was more conveniently situated for the route Washington would take the following day. The tavern was purchased in 1797 by General Alexander Macomb, thus its designation.
   On Tuesday, June 27th 1775, Washington headed for New Haven, Connecticut, crossing Dyckman's Bridge taking the "road to Connecticut."  MGen Schuyler accompanied him as far as New Rochelle, New York where he and Washington conferred with David Wooster, head of the Connecticut militia whose units were incorporated into the Continental Army in mid-June 1775. Wooster was given a commission as a Brigadier General in the Continental Army. At the request of the New York Provincial Congress, the sixty-five year old Wooster had marched Colonel David Waterbury's 5th Connecticut Regiment south into New York to protect it from any British expedition. Schuler left the conference at about 10 AM to return to assume his duties defending New York.

   The Light Cavalry Troop of Philadelphia went no further than New Rochelle where they turned back for New York City.

Thaddeus Burr by John Singleton Copley,
 circa 1760
We do not know where Washington and his party spent the evening of the 27th of June but a local history indicates that he was "entertained" at the home of Thaddeus Burr in Fairfield, Connecticut, fifty miles north of Kingsbridge. .( The Burr family was prominent in Fairfield and Aaron Burr, Jr was a cousin of Thaddeus. Aaron Burr Sr. moved from Fairfield to Newark, NJ and Aaron Jr spent many a day at cousin Thaddeus' home and considered him somewhat of a surrogate father.) This means that Washington either took refreshment or spent the night there, or both. I think it is quite likely that Washington did, indeed, spend the night as the guest of Mr. Burr. The forty year old Thaddeus Burr was a man of wealth who owned a number of estates, a staunch patriot, and was a life long friend of John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. Hancock visited Burr frequently at Fairfield and Burr spent most of his winters in Boston. In fact when Hancock was returning from Philadelphia, he married Dorothy Quincy on September 28th, 1775 at Burr's home. Hancock must have mentioned to Washington that his old friend had a home and estate on the road to Cambridge.

   Unfortunately, Burr's home was later burned by the British. On July 7, 1779, British troops, under the command of the previously mentioned Governor Tryon of New York, landed at Fairfield and burned the town to the ground. 97 homes, to include the Burr estate, were burned. The devastation was so great that a decade later, Washington, when visiting the town, noted that the devastation could still be seen and the chimneys of burned houses were still standing. A few weeks after the burning, Hancock visited his old friend and, according to local legend, advised him that he would provide all of the glass for the building of a new home if Burr would build an exact replica of Hancock's mansion on Beacon Hill in Boston. The house, built in 1790, is still standing and is now a museum owned by the town of Fairfield. I doubt  this Georgian style home resembles John  Hancock's Beacon Hill mansion .
Thaddeus/Eunice Burr House, Fairfield, CT (1790)

   On June 28th, 1775, Washington and his party reached New Haven, only 30 miles from Fairfield.  Washington's approach was known in advance and some Yale students who had formed a volunteer
Issac Beers Tavern
militia company asked Washington if he would review them. Washington agreed to this and among the student militia, some 100 strong, was a young Noah Webster, the lexicographer, who marched playing either the fife or the drum.  Two other companies of militia made arrangements to muster the following morning and escort Washington out of town. Washington stayed overnight at the Beers tavern, (no longer standing). The Beers tavern was where, on April 20th, 1775, Benedict Arnold, as captain of the Governor's Foot Guard, rode his horse up to the tavern door, and demanded that the Town Selectman turn over the keys to the powder house. This started Benedict Arnold's rise to prominence. (Check the Index Page for my posts on Benedict Arnold).

   Washington was reportedly chafing at the slow progress he was now making but felt that he could not ignore theses requests on his time. At this point Washington could take one of three routes to Cambridge. All were titled the King's Highway. We know it as the Boston Post Road and parts of it are still labeled such today.( I take a part of the Upper Boston Post Road when I visit my sister in Western Massachusetts.)

The King's Highway (Boston Post Road)
    Washington chose to take the Upper Post Road which was the fastest, the most popular, had the fewest river crossings,, and reportedly had the finest taverns of all three routes on it.

Elizabeth Deane, 1760
By Joseph Trumbull
On June 29th, 1775, Washington set out for Wethersfield some 35 miles away and just south of Hartford, with the Yale student militia company and the other two militia companies escorting him for several miles out of  New Haven reportedly as far as "neck bridge." Washington noted that the summer had been dry in the lower Connecticut Valley and along the northern shore of Long Island Sound, but observing, with admiration, "a great deal of delightful country...covered with a very different manner to what our lands in Virginia are." At New London, which he had visited in 1756, Washington saw some familiar faces and houses, and, at Wethersfield, he dined with Elizabeth Deane, the wife of Silas Deane, prominent patriot, who was serving as a delegate to the Continental Congress and who Washington had gotten to know quite well  It is also believed that Washington spent the night at the Deane home. The Deane home still stands in Wethersfield and is being restored to its original condition. A piazza original to the house is missing. Washington was carrying the following letter from Silas to his wife Elizabeth :

Philadelphia Jun22,1775. This will be handed to you by his Excellency, General Washington in company with General Lee, and retinue. Should they lodge a night in Wethersfield, you will accommodate their horses, servants, &c, in the best manner at the tavern, and their retinue will likely go on to Hartford.

Silas Deane House
   On his way to Wethersfield, Washington stopped in Durham, Ct, some 20 miles south, and met with then Captain Jeremiah Wadsworth, who would in 1778 be selected Commissary General of the Continental Army, probably to discuss provisions for the army since Wadsworth had already been appointed to purchase certain provisions for the Connecticut militia. Washington also stopped at John Swathal's tavern, perhaps to obtain some fresh horses. Wadsworth claimed in his diary that he furnished Washington a horse which Washington used to draw his carriage
Jeremiah Wadsworth and son, 1780
John Trumbull

   The next morning, Friday,  Jun 30, 1775, Washington set out for Springfield where he was to meet up with the delegation sent to meet him by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Washington's party traveled up the west side of the Connecticut River entering Massachusetts at Agawam, crossed the Westfield River into West Springfield and took the lower ferry across the Connecticut River into Springfield.

To Be Continued