George Washington Has the Continental Army Inoculated

Most of the portraits of George Washington don’t catch this, but his face was pock marked as a result of a bout with small pox during a trip to the West Indies in 1751.  When he became Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution he knew that disease would claim far more of this troops than the musket balls of the British.  A strong believer in inoculation, Washington order that his force be inoculated and that all new recruits be inoculated before they joined the army.  On February 5, 1777 Washington informed Congress that he was embarking on the first mass inoculation in military history:

“The smallpox has made such Head- way in every quarter that I find it impossible to keep it from spreading throughout the Army, in the natural way. I have therefore, determined not only to inoculate all the troops now here, that have not had it, but shall order Doctor Shippen to inoculate the Recruits as fast as they come into Philadelphia.”

Go here to read a good article on the role that small pox played in the American Revolution and Washington’s efforts to combat the scourge.

Published in: on March 30, 2020 at 3:49 am  Comments Off on George Washington Has the Continental Army Inoculated  
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