Archive for the ‘Inoculation’ Category

“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

“four to five feet of snow had fallen in the night”

In the fall of 1779, General Friederich von Riedesel received news that he had permission to leave Virginia, where he and his Hessian troops were being held after their defeat at Saratoga. He was to go to New York City where he would be exchanged. His wife and their children would join him there. The Baroness was pregnant and the journey was hard on her. British General Henry Clinton arranged for her and the children to stay at a country estate* that he had at his disposal, an hour from the city, which was at the tip of Manhattan Island at that time. There the children were to be inoculated against smallpox which had been rampant in the city. The Baroness described their stay.

The estate was lovely, as was also the house, but the house had been built more for a summer residence, so that, as we were there in December, I suffered a great deal from the cold. However, the inoculation was a success. When it was over, and we henceforth no longer had to fear contagion,we prepared for our return to the city and sent our cook and the rest of the servants on ahead to get everything ready for our arrival the next day. However, we had such a terrible storm that night, that we thought the house would be blown down. In fact, an entire balustrade actually was torn off and fell to the ground with a dreadful crash, and when we woke up the next morning we saw that four to five feet of snow had fallen in the night, and in some places there were snowdrifts eight feet deep, so that it would be impossible for us to leave without sleighs. I tried therefore to get together whatever food I could for our dinner. An old chicken which had been forgotten was used for soup, and this with a few potatoes given us by the gardener and some corned meat, which was the last of our supplies, formed our whole dinner for fourteen people. In the afternoon, as I was sorrowfully looking out of the window, thinking of how we could get along, I saw our cook approaching on horseback. Full of joy, I turned around to tell the others about this. When I looked out again the cook was nowhere to be seen. Horrified at his disappearance, the gentlemen ran out and found him with his horse buried so deep in the snow that he could never had gotten out alone and probably would have died. Our people in the city had become uneasy when we did not come, and knowing that we had no supplies, the cook brought us some food for supper. It was impossible for a carriage to drive to the city. The next morning Captain Willoe brought us two large sleighs. We got in and I was rather worried about the children, because their inoculation had not yet entirely healed on account of the awful cold. But the trip did not hurt them a bit. While their inoculations were healing, Caroline did not have her whooping cough, but it set in again immediately afterwards and hung on for a whole year.

*The house was the Beekman mansion “Mount Pleasant,” built in 1763 for the New York City merchant James Beekman. On a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues, it is commemorated nearby as Beekman Place. The mansion served as the British military headquarters during the Revolutionary War. American spy Nathan Hale was held, tried, convicted, and condemned there in 1776.

The above passage was taken from pages 97-98 in Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution, Journal and Correspondence of a Tour of Duty, 1776-1783, A Revised Translation with Introduction and Notes, by Marvin L. Brown, Jr. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1965). The illustration is a wood engraving, 1876, from the Granger Collection.

posted February 3rd, 2014 by Janet, Comments Off on “four to five feet of snow had fallen in the night”, CATEGORIES: British soldiers,Children,Hessians,Inoculation,New York,Travel,Weather

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