General Hospital - 1777

General Hospital - 1777 (HMCPD)

Location: Orwell, VT 05760 Addison County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 49.478', W 73° 22.867'

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Mount Independence State Historic Site

" . . . the new Hospital . . . 250 long & 24 wide."
- Rev. Enos Hitchcock, June 14, 1777

This shallow, dry-laid stone foundation was for the largest building at Mount Independence - a 250-foot long by 24-foot wide, two-story, wood frame General Hospital. This boardwalk is nearly as long as the hospital. On February 13, 1777, American Northern Department commander Gen. Philip Schuyler directed Chief Engineer Jeduthan Baldwin to "lose no time in preparing and collecting the materials for a hospital, sufficiently large to contain six hundred sick, besides the necessary apartments for the Director, and the other officers of the hospital."

Large quantities of nails discovered indicate the hospital was sided with planks and shingle-roofed. Four evenly-spaced stone mounds show placement of fireplaces and chimneys. Perpendicular to the west end wall is a 120-foot long by 20 to 24-foot wide stone foundation for an ell that may not have been built.

The hospital idea originated in November 1776 when two Continental Congressmen surveying medical care at Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga found shocking conditions. They urged "a strict Inquiry be made into the Conduct" of the medical staff and that conditions be improved. Congress resolved, on November 29, "that there be a general Hospital erected on Mount Independence."

On March 12 Baldwin noted in his journal: "Drawd Plan for Hospital." The site was a cleared area safe from enemy fire in the 1776 Second Brigade encampment. Baldwin recorded progress:
March 13 - Began to cut timber for Hospitals
March 18 - cuting timber for the hospital
March 29 - Getting Timber for ye Hospital.
March 31 - Finished giting timber
May 5 - Laid out the ground for the Hospital.

The north wall was raised on May 27, 1777. On June 14 Rev. Enos Hitchcock wrote "the Hospital about one third covered." General Schuyler lamented to Congress on June 25: "not one single room in the hospital is yet finished, nor will it soon be in a condition to receive a considerable number of sick." As the British approached, hospital builders halted their work to strengthen fortifications.

The hurried American evacuation on July 5 and 6 left no time to destroy anything. The British finished the hospital shell, outfitting it with a surgeon, four surgeon mates, an apothecary, and supplies from stuffed beds to kettles, bedpans, lamps, and brandy. By mid-month the first patients arrived - British and American wounded in the July 7 battles to the south at Hubbardton, Vermont, and Fort Ann, New York.

When the British withdrew from the Mount on November 8, 1777, the medical department packed up all supplies, loaded them on a vessel bound for Canada, and burned the hospital. A 1990 archaeological study found only a few fragments of stoneware cups, medicine vials, and stoppers, and a British 20th Regiment of Foot button.

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Placed ByMount Independence State Historic Site
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 2:12pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 630174 N 4853669
Decimal Degrees43.82463333, -73.38111667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 49.478', W 73° 22.867'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 49' 28.68" N, 73° 22' 52.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)802
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 28 Shoales Dr, Orwell VT 05760, US
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