George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Shippen, Jr., 12 December 1777

From William Shippen, Jr.

Buckingham Hospital [Bucks County, Pa.]
Decr 12. 1777.

Dear Sir

In consequence of your Excellencys direction which I received to day from Dr Cochran I have given orders to have the sick removed from Trenton—& will immediately direct the removal of those at Princeton,1 if you think tis absolutely necessary, altho they are now very comfortably situated & it will be fatal to many of them to move. If it can be allowed, I should wish two or three weeks continuance at princeton, if not, please Sir to signify it by the bearer, who waits on your excellency for an answer. The Buckingham & Plumsted hospitals are moving.2 What is your desire concerning the Hospitals at Easton & Bethlehem? They are now in very good order and where to fix them so well I know not; but your orders shall be punctually obey’d & my utmost exertions used to make the poor soldiers happy.

If Col. Nicola & his corps of Invalids can be spared they will be very useful at our Hospitals & the Hospitals very useful to them for two thirds are generally in the Hospitals.3

I intended to have waited on your Excellency to morrow, but the removal of the sick makes my presence absolutely necessary here. I am Dr Sir Your obedt & very humble Servant

W. Shippen Jr.


1No written orders from GW to either Shippen or John Cochran on this subject have been identified.

2The hospital at the Plumstead Friends meetinghouse, a small stone structure built in 1750 at present-day Gardenville in Plumstead Township, Bucks County, Pa., was moved to the Moravian community of Lititz in Lancaster County on 19 December. A return of the patients at the Plumstead hospital made on 10 Dec. shows that 40 men had been admitted between 25 and 30 Nov., of whom 2 had died and 10 had been discharged, leaving 28 (Jordan, “Continental Hospital Returns,” description begins John W. Jordan. “Continental Hospital Returns, 1777–1780.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 23 (1899): 35–50, 210–223. description ends 35, 40).

3GW in his reply to Shippen of this date agreed to allow Nicola’s corps to serve at the hospitals. Nicola later questioned the order, however: “what motives induced the General [GW] to order the Invalides to attend the hospitals, I do not know, unless he did it at the desire of Dr. Shippen, who had often spoke to me about it in Trenton, nor can I see the utility of the measure” (Nicola to Thomas Wharton, Jr., 22 Jan. 1778, in Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:197–98).

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