George Washington Papers

General Orders, 4 March 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, March 4th 1776

Parole Hooper.Countersign, Allen.

The Flag on Prospect-hill, and that at the Laboratory, on Cambridge Common, are ordered to be hoisted only upon a General Alarm; of this the whole Army is to take particular notice, and immediately upon those Colours being displayed, every Officer and Soldier, must repair to his alarm post—This is to remain a standing order, until the Commander in Chief shall please to direct otherwise.

The several Surgeons, of the Hospitals at Cambridge, and every regimental Surgeon in the left, and centre divisions of the army, are directed to meet at five O’Clock this evening, at Brown’s Tavern in Cambridge, to take directions from the Director General of the hospital, relative to the immediate disposition of their sick, and in what manner they, and their Mates are to be posted.

The College to be forthwith appropriated to the reception of the regimental sick, and such as may be wounded—That suitable Barracks at Prospect-hill, or any other part of the Camp, which the Director General of the hospital shall advise, be got in immediate readiness for the reception of at least, one hundred wounded, in case of need, and such a number of men, as he may think sufficient, be ordered to assist in carrying wounded men to the hospital—Hand-barrows, and other proper means to be provided for their removal.1

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At the end of the orders for this date, William Henshaw’s orderly book includes the following sentence: “Col Hitchcocks Regiment to go to Lechmores Point & Cobble Hill to Morrow Morning” (American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings description begins Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. Worcester, Mass., 1812—. description ends , n. s., 57 [1947], 100).

Medical preparations for a battle had been underway for several days. Surgeon’s mate James Thacher noted in his journal entry for 22 Feb. 1776 that “orders have been received for surgeons and mates to prepare lint and bandages, to the amount of two thousand, for fractured limbs and other gun-shot wounds. It is, however, to be hoped that not one-quarter of the number will be required, whatever may be the nature of the occasion” (Thacher, Military Journal description begins James Thacher. Military Journal of the American Revolution, From the commencement to the disbanding of the American Army; Comprising a detailed account of the principal events and Battles of the Revolution, with their exact dates, And a Biographical Sketch of the most Prominent Generals. Hartford, 1862. description ends , 37). In an advertisement dated 21 Feb., Thomas Carver, quartermaster and steward of the general hospital, called for a number of nurses to serve at Cambridge and Roxbury. “The preference,” he said, “will be given to Boston and Charlestown women.” Carver also requested some laborers to assist the nurses and a variety of supplies for the hospital (Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal [Watertown, Mass.], 26 Feb. 1776).

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