George Washington Papers

From George Washington to General William Howe, 13 September 1777

To General William Howe

Head Qrs of the Army [Germantown, Pa.]
Septr 13th 1777


I was this Evening honoured with your Letter of the 12th. The attention, which, you are pleased to assure me, has been paid to the Officers & privates of the Army under my command, who were unfortunately wounded in the Action on Thursday last, has a claim to my Acknowledgements. Agreable to the permission, you offer, I have directed the following Gentn—Doctrs Rush, Leiper & Latimer, and Mr Willet, a Mate in the Hospital with their Attendants, to wait upon you and to take them under their care. The Wounded will be considered in the light you place them.1 I am Sir with due respect Yr Most Obedt servt.

P.S. I have thought proper to add Doctrs Way & Coats to the Surgeons above mentioned, that the Wounded may have the earliest releif.2

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; two copies, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Harrison wrote and then struck out the following phrase: “and I shall be glad you will order an Authentic List of their Names to be delivered to Surgeons, that such as can be recovered may be duly accounted for.”

British captain John Montresor says in his diary entry for 14 Sept. that “this evening the noted Dr. Rush, a rebel Doctor and Delegate with 3 Surgeons [came] to attend the wounded Rebels left scattered in the Houses about the field of Battle unattended by their Surgeons till now.” The following day Montresor wrote: “Came in two more Rebel Surgeons to dress their wounded and two more on the road, coming in. . . . The rebel wounded sent off to the Turk’s Head Tavern [West Chester, Pa.] 5 miles from Dilworth, Except Doctor Delegate Rush” (Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 452).

Andrew Leiper (1717–1798) served as an apprentice to Benjamin Rush before establishing his medical practice in Richmond, Va., shortly before the war. Henry Latimer (1752–1819), who received an M.A. from the College of Philadelphia in 1773 and a medical degree at Edinburgh, Scotland, three years later, practiced medicine in Wilmington, Del., before becoming a Continental army surgeon in April 1777. He was named a senior surgeon of the “Flying Hospital” in December 1779 and a hospital physician and surgeon in the hospital department in October 1780 (see General Orders, 8 Dec. 1779 and 19 Oct. 1780). Although GW appointed Latimer supervisor of distilled spirits for Delaware in March 1791, Latimer resigned that position a short time later. Latimer served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1794 to 1795 and in the U.S. Senate from 1795 to 1801. “Mr. Willett” may be Elias Willard (1756–1827) of Boston, who served as a surgeon’s mate and later as a surgeon in the general hospital.

2Nicholas Way (c.1747–1797), a close friend of Benjamin Rush, received his medical degree from the College of Philadelphia in 1771, and by the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he was a prominent physician in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1794 Way became treasurer of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, where he died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1797.

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