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Congressional list of physicians and surgeons to serve in the Continental Army

Congressional list of physicians and surgeons to serve in the Continental Army

An important handwritten document bearing the title "In Congress, Octo 7th 1780" describing the appointment by election in the Continental Congress of 15 physicians and surgeons to the newly-established Hospital Department of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The letter is written and signed by Charles Thomson, a Patriot leader in Philadelphia and Secretary of the Continental Congress throughout its existence (1774-1789).

The document reads: "Congress proceeded in the Election of Officers in the Hospital Department, and the ballots being taken Doctrs James Tilton, Saml Adams, David Townshend, Henry Latimer, Francis Hagan, Philip Turner, Willm Burnet, John Warren, Moses Scott, David Jackson, Bodo Otto, Moses Bloomfield, Willm Eustis, George Draper, Barnabas Binney were elected hospital Physicians and Surgeons-Extracted from the Minutes---- Chas Thomson Secy"

In the book "The Army Medical Department 1775-1818" by Mary C. Gillett (Page 44), this handwritten listing of appointments from the Secretary of the Continental Congress is confirmed to represent the composition of officers in the Army Medical Department as of the same date as this document.

The year 1780 featured many significant engagements. British troops under Sir Henry Clinton captured Charleston in May inflicting the most serious defeat of the Continental Army of the entire war; in the same month Banastre Tarleton defeated an American force at the Battle of Waxhaws; Southern Continental Army General Horatio Gates was defeated by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Camden in August; and Loyalist troops under Major Patrick Ferguson were defeated at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Several of these Continental Army physicians had prominent careers. Dr. Tilton became the first Surgeon General of the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. Dr. Bloomfield was a leader in the anti-slavery abolitionist movement. Dr. Townsend became the physician-in-charge of the U.S. Marine Hospital in Massachusetts. Dr. Eustis won election to the U.S. Congress, was selected by President James Madison in 1809 to be Secretary of War, and in 1822 became the Governor of Massachusetts.

Contributed by anonymous

List of Continental Army physicians