Archive for the ‘Inoculation’ Category

“The Doctor proposes to Inoculate our little Fellow”

SUSAN LIVINGSTON (1748-1840) was the oldest daughter of William Livingston and Susannah French. (The couple had thirteen children.) Her father was the governor of New Jersey, a member of the Continental Congresses, and a brigadier general in the New Jersey militia. Susan, her younger sisters, Sarah and Catharine (Kitty), known as “the three graces,” were very popular. Sarah became the wife of John Jay in 1774. The Livingstons often had the care of Peter Augustus, the couple’s son, during the war. Susan wrote her sister Sarah on November 1, 1777 in care of John Jay who was in Kent, Connecticut at the time. The letter contains details of the military activity in the area and around Philadelphia as well as family news. (The Livingston home, Liberty Hall in Elizabethtown, was looted and damaged during the Revolution by both sides.)

Dearly beloved Sarah
I am in expectation of the arrival of the Post every moment, he usually comes in on Friday Evening, and returns next Morning as he goes no further than Morris Town. . . . I do not know where to direct to you; we are afraid Mr. Jay has lost all his Clothes that were at Kingston. Mama says if your warm Petticoat is lost, she can spare you one, rather than you should suffer for want of it.

Papa has been home since Sunday Evening, the Accounts he brought are old now, and not worth writing, on the 23d Inst. 5 or 6 Men of War, warped through an opening they had made in the lower Cheveaux de Frieze*, and came up to attack our Fort and Ships and Gallies but they found the Navigation so difficult, that they set Fire to the Augusta of 64 and the Apollo of 32 Guns, and the rest made the best of their way back again. A few days before 2500 of the Enemy (most of them Hessians) under the command of Count Donolp. attacked Fort Mercer or Red Bank, and were soon obliged to retreat in a most shameful and confused manner, leaving behind them killed and wounded 1500. The Count is a Prisoner—they also left 12 pieces of Artillery.

The 22nd our Troops attempted a stroke upon a detachment of six Regiments lying at Grays Ferry [near Philadelphia] where they had thrown a Bridge over the River. They marched all night and reached the Ground about Sunrise, but the Birds were flown, they had suddenly the preceding night deserted the Post, left all their works unfinished and broke up the Bridge. To day Sen’night there was a very warm Engagement, but reports respecting it are so vague, and contradictory, I cannot pretend to give you any account of it.

The Articles of Capitulation that appeared in Loudons last Paper are not relished this way, neither by Whigs, nor Tories, the latter say if Mr. Burgoyne was in a Situation to obtain such Terms he ought to have fought, the Former say if Burgoyne was obliged to surrender at all, Gates might have brought him to what Terms he pleased, so that it looks as if the two Generals wished to avoid fighting. The troops will go home and Garrison the Forts abroad, and let those Garrisons come to America—so it will be only an exchange of Men.

The Doctor proposes to Inoculate our little Fellow next week. He is now a fit subject for it, his blood is well purified, he has pretended to inoculate him often, so he will not be afraid of it. You know old Woodruff, that carts for us, his Son that lived next door to Dr. Darby, died a few days ago of the Small pox the natural way, and now his Widow and Child have it, the old Man has never had it, he stayed in the same House with his Son till a day or two before he expired, they are not entitled to much pity, for they say the Avarice of the old Man prevented their being inoculated. The Child will perish with it, it is thought.

. . . . Our house is a Barrack there was a whole Artillery Company in it, so I expect every thing will be destroyed.

We have not heard from B[rockhol]st [her brother]** since the last action to the Northward. (I have no doubt but his Letters have miscarried) but Mama has allmost persuaded herself he is among the Slain, and if there was any mourning to be purchased, I do not know but she would exhibit a dismal Spectacle of bombazeen and crepe. . . .

We had the Taylor here (that you engaged) these three weeks, which has kept Kitty tightly employed. She is his Journey-woman. Mr. Jay’s green suit is turned. Papa has brought home a Cargo of broken things, so that we have not eat the bread of Idleness since you left us. . . .

I think this scrawl as it is . . . entitles me to a few Lines from your fair hand. This I submit to you and whether you write or not, I am yours most Affectionately.

* An object of timber and spikes placed in a river to rip the hulls of vessels attempting to pass
** Brockholst was a lieutenant colonel and an aide-de-camp to General St. Clair in 1776 and 1777.

Susan makes reference to the battle of Saratoga which the Americans under General Horatio Gates won over the British and Hessian forces under General John Burgoyne. The Articles of Capitulation were very generous allowing what was called the Convention Army to to return to Britain on the condition that they not serve again in America. Both Gates and Burgoyne were criticized as Susan notes. Can you imagine a man, especially a buttoned-up one like John Jay, wearing a green suit!!

Source: John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary, 1745-1780, edited by Richard. B Morris (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 445-47.

posted October 28th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Burgoyne, Gerneral John,Clothes,Gates, General Horatio,Hessians,Inoculation,Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Brockholst,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",New Jersey,Philadelphia,Saratoga,Smallpox,Symmes, Susan Livingston

“What sad Havock will this dreadful War make . . . “

Here are the remaining entries for January 1777 from the journal of MARGARET HILL MORRIS.

3d—This Morning between 8 & 9 oClock we heard very distinctly, a heavy fireing of Cannon, the sound came from towards Trenton, about noon a Number of Soldiers, upwards of a thousand came into Town in great Confusion, with Baggage & some Cannon—From these Soldiers we learn there was a smart engagement Yesterday at Trenton, & that they left them engaged near Trenton Mill, but were not able to say which side was Victorious. They were again quarterd on the inhabitants, & we again exempt from the Cumber of having them lodged in our house—Several of those who lodged in Col Co [Colonel Cox] house last Week, returnd to Night, & askd for the key—which I gave them, About bed time I went in the next house to see if the fires were safe, & my heart was melted with Compassion to see such a number of my fellow Creatures lying like Swine on the floor fast aSleep, & many of them without even a Blanket to cover them. It seems very strange to me that such a Number shoud be allowd to come from the Camp at the very time of the engagement, & I shrewdly Suspect they have run away for they can give no account why they came, nor where they are to March next.

6th [actually the 4th]—the accounts hourly coming in are so Contradictory & various, that we know not wch to give credit to. We have heard our people have gaind another Victory, that the English are fleeing before them, some at Brunswick—some at Prince Town. . . . a Number of Sick & wounded brought into Town, calls upon us to extend a hand of Charity towards them—Several of my Soldiers left the next house, & returnd to the place from whence they came, upon my questioning them pritty close, I brought several to confess they had ran away, being scared at the heavy fireing on the 3d—There were several pritty innocent looking lads among them, & I simpathized with thier Mothers when I saw them preparing to return to the Army.

5th—. . . . We are told to day that Gen. [Hugh] Mercer is killd, & Mifflin wounded—What sad Havock will this dreadful War make in our Land. . .

9th. . . . We hear Washington has sent to buy up a Number of Stoves, from whence it is Conjectured he is going into Winter Quarters—The Weather very cold, more snow falling has almost filld the River with Ice & we expect it will be strong enough to Walk over in a day or two. . .

11th—the Weather very cold—& the River quite shut—I pity the poor Soldiers now on thier March, many of whom will probably lay out in the fields this cold Night—What cause have I for gratitude that I & my household are Shelterd from the Storm. [Margaret Hill Morris was living near Burlington which is located in the lower section of the map.]

In January, George Washington, with what was left of the Continental Army, set up winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey. Morristown was a particularly good strategic location—defensible, protected by the Watchung Mountains, the Ramapo Hills, the Hudson Highlands, and swamplands to the east—from which Washington could monitor British activity in New York, the Hudson River, and Philadelphia as well as the surrounding area in New Jersey. After losses in the recent battles, the expiration of enlistments, and desertions, the army had shrunk to a new low. In order to reorganize, discipline was tightened and recruitment were was increased by the offer of cash bonuses and, for those who enlisted for the duration, a bounty of land to be claimed after the war. Washington also undertook a plan of mass inoculation against smallpox including not only the troops but also the civilian population. Washington and his forces remained in Morristown until May.

Source for quoted passages: In the Words of Women, pages 102-03. The map is from Morristown—A Military Capital of the American Revolution, by Melvin J. Weig, with assistance from Vera B. Craig, National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 7, Washington, DC, 1950, reprinted in 1961, page 5, online HERE.

posted January 4th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: American soldiers,Inoculation,Morris, Margaret Hill,Morristown, New Jersey,New Jersey,Washington, George

“our two dear children . . . are both inoculated”

Esther de Berdt Reed, living in Philadelphia with her lawyer husband Joseph Reed, maintained a correspondence with her brother Dennis in England. She continued to miss her homeland and entertain thoughts of returning. When her first child was born in 1771, a daughter who was sickly, she wrote: “If she lives, it will make me more anxious than ever to return to dear England, as the education of girls is very indifferent indeed here. I assure my dear Dennis I find this country and England two different places; however, for the present we must be content.” Esther found the climate in Philadelphia particularly distasteful. “I Should be very glad to change this fine sky for our heavy one. There is so much clear, burning sunshine in the three summer months, that I do not wish for any more all the year. ” Esther had another child the following year and wrote to Dennis:

I can inform you that I have passed through another scene of trial, and am recovered to perfect health and strength. I think I never enjoyed a greater share of health and spirits; nothing is wanting but clearer prospects of returning to dear England; it would indeed rejoice my heart, once more to set my foot on that charming island. America must be allowed to be a fine country, but the conveniences and elegancies of England are unrivalled; they are not to be expected here; but I make myself contented. At present, we are in no small anxiety about our two dear children, as they are both inoculated, and we expect them to sicken every hour. Before this vessel sails, I hope to tell you they are in a fair way of recovery. . . . I hope to send you this fall, some cranberries and some sturgeon, and if possible some venison hams. . . .

Esther once more sent her brother a list of items she would like him to purchase for her.

Send me 4 pr. of Bk. Calma shoes. . . . A dozen of 8 bowed cap wires; a cap for Patty [her daughter], such as a child two years old should wear. If they are what they call quilted caps, send two, as I cannot get any such here; a quartered cap for my boy, a half-dressed handkerchief or tippet*, or whatever is the fashion, for myself, made of thread lace. Also a handsome spring silk, fit for summer, and new fashion. I leave it to your taste to choose it for me. I would not have rich silk. You know I do not like anything very gay, but neat and genteel. Send it to Long’s warehouse to be made up, and trimmed or not, as the present taste requires. If you call there, they will tell you how much it will take. Buy the quantity, but cut off half a yard and send it to me with the gown. . . . I will send you a gown to be dyed any color it will take best. Thus far my commissions run at present.

* a tippet is a garment comparable to a stole or boa. Rather interesting is Esther’s faith in her brother’s fashion sense and knowledge of what was à la mode.

William B. Reed, Esther De Berdt, afterwards Esther Reed, of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: C. Sherman Printer, 1853), 168, 172-73, 176-77.

posted October 5th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Children,Clothes,Fashion,Food,Inoculation,Philadelphia,Reed, Esther De Berdt,Reed, Joseph

“Mr. Morris has met with a great loss”

By the middle of April 1777, it became abundantly clear that the goal of the British was to capture Philadelphia. MARY WHITE MORRIS again writes to her mother about the situation. (See previous posts here, here, here and here.) The Continental Army was in dire straits. When several colonies did not contribute their share of assessed monies during the winter of 1776-77, Robert Morris loaned the government $10,000 to provision the desperate troops. And he underwrote the operations of privateers that ran British blockades in order to bring much needed supplies to this country, often to his loss, to which Mary refers in the following letter dated 14 April.

My Dear Mamma
There is orders from the Governor, to Innoculate all the Troops that are quarterd there [in New Town] Immediately. . . . There are now three men of War in our Bay, which look as if they intend this way; Mr. Morris has met with a great loss, as well as the Continent, by them, the ship Morris with a most Valuable Cargo of Arms, Ammunition, and dry goods. She had provided Her self with guns, to keep off any common Attack, but was most Unfortunately beset by three, the Roe buck one of them, at our Capes, She defended her Self bravely as long as it was possible, and then the Captain run her on Shore, and very bravely blew her up, and poor fellow, perished HimSelf, in his Anxiety to do it Effectively. We are prepareing for another flight in packing up our furniture, and Removeing them to a new purchase Mr. Morris has made 10 miles from Lancaster, no Other than the famous House that belongd to Stedman and Steagle at the Iron Works, where you know I Spent 6 Weeks, so am perfectly well acquainted with the goodness of the House and Situation. The Reason Mr. Morris made this purchase, he looks upon the other not Secure if they come by water. I think Myself very luckly in haveing this Assylum, it being but 8 miles fine road from Lancaster where I expect Mr. Morris will be if he quits this, besides many of my freinds and Acquaintances. So I now Solicite the pleasure of your Company, at this ones [once] famous place. . . .
We now begin to be Alarmd for Our City, theres 8 Sail of Men of War, at our Capes, and its thought are only waiting for their Transports to make an attempt. . . . I hope youll let me know if there is any thing in your House, you wish me to pack up and take care of for you. . . .
This Alarm is not like the first, every body as yet, seems quite Composed.

Two weeks later Mary Morris, still in Philadelphia, grumbled: “Theres no doubt, if General Washington had a Tolerable Army, he might with Ease, take every Man of them in Brunswick, but we cant deserve so fortunate an Event, Else our Contrimen wou’d have Spirit Enough to Undertake it.”

The letter can be found on pages 106-07 of In the Words of Women. The Roebuck, pictured above, was a 44-gun British frigate. More information about the ship and its movements during the Revolution can be found on this WEBSITE.

posted June 15th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Inoculation,Money,Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia

“Jack was so scared”

Mary Cary Ambler (1733-1781) was the daughter of Wilson Cary of Virginia. She married Edward Ambler and the couple had two children, John and Sarah. In 1770, Mary traveled from Fauquier County, Virginia, to Baltimore to have herself and her children inoculated against smallpox. She stayed with a Mrs. Chilton and, in the third person, she described the experience in her diary. The first attempts to inoculate failed and the doctor had to send for more serum to Philadelphia.

September 1770

[She] happened to meet with Mrs. Douglas returning from Baltimore in Maryland where She had been with her three children to be Inoculated for the Small Pox. . . . M Ambler inquired how far it was to Baltimore Town . . . she almost determined to carry her Chil[dre]n to that place to be Inoculated by Dr. Stephenson who she was told had Inoc[ulate]d 7000 People with the greatest Success imaginable. . . .

Monday [Sept. 8] This Morng Mrs. Brook, Mr. Lawson, M. Ambler & children went to Balte Town . . . The Dr. came & inoc. M. Ambler & Sally immediat[el]y but Jack was so scared it could not be done effect[ivel]y. . . .

Wednesday [10th] This day Dr. Stephenson came to Examine our arms & found Jacks so little affectd that he Inoculd him again & he manfully bore it. We all still find ourselves very well. . . .

Thursday [11th] This day M Ambler & Sally took Purges which made them very Sick but Jack was at liberty to run about as he took no Pill the preceding night nor any Physick this day. . . .

Sunday [14th] M. Ambler took a purge very sick with it . . . Dear Jack held out his arm for the 3d. Inoculon & never winched. . . .

Wednesday . . . The children very well still & very cheerful. This aftern The Dr. sent his Mr. Hazzlet to inocl us all again. . . .

Monday [Oct 6th]. . . . Jackey had a very high Fever all Night which continues very Smart tho he goes out of one Room into another. . . .

Tuesday [7th] A good day Jackey’s Fever very High . . . his Mother watched him all night. God be thanked several Pocks appears this morning the Fever still High but the greatest Struggle thought to be over. . . .

Saturday [11th] M. Amblers Fever exceedg smart all night but has begun to decline this day a good many Pock out, the pain in the Head has now abated. . . .

Monday [13th] M. Ambler recovers fast has about 25 pock Sally has about 10 & Jack about 17 or 18. Sally and he quite happy & lively.

It took considerable bravery and patience to endure the inoculation procedure as it existed at that time. Happily, the Amblers were counted among the doctor’s successes.

The passage is taken from In the Words of Women, pages 178-79.

posted May 14th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Ambler, Mary Cary,Children,Health,Inoculation

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