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1776 Military Document of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment Dr. Robert Johnston, a Society of the Cincinnati Member & the First United States Government Minister to China with Docket from "Mad" Anthony Wayne
ANTHONY WAYNE (1745-1796). Continental Army Brigadier General (1777-1783) and the sobriquet "Mad Anthony"; later served as General in Chief of the Army and Commanded the Legion of the United States, original member of the Society of the Cincinnati. Docket of being from Colonel ("Mad") Anthony Wayne.

DR. ROBERT JOHNSTON (1749-1808). First United States Government Minister to China.
c. 1776 Revolutionary War Period, Military Manuscript Document, Docket of being from Colonel ("Mad") Anthony Wayne (Colonel 1775"1777 & General 1777-1783) to DR. ROBERT JOHNSTON (1749-1808) the First United States Government Minister to China, Choice Very Fine. This Manuscript Document is 1 page, measuring 4.5" x 7" having no date or place, the Docket in Wayne's hand on the blank reverse reads: "Mem of Colo. Wayne for Dr. Johnston."

This well written clean appearing Letter must be dated circa 1776. At the onset of the Revolutionary War in 1775 Anthony Wayne raised a militia unit and, in 1776, became Colonel of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment. He and his regiment were part of the Continental Army's unsuccessful invasion of Canada where he was sent to aid Benedict Arnold, during which he commanded a successful rearguard action at the Battle of Trois-Rivires, and then led the distressed forces on Lake Champlain at Fort Ticonderoga, and Mount Independence. His service there then resulted in a promotion to Brigadier General on February 21, 1777.

This specific period in 1776 is when Colonel Wayne would intersect in history with the historic Dr. Robert Johnston. In 1807 Dr. Johnston was appointed Major General of the 7th Division of Pennsylvania Militia. Dr. Johnston entertained more distinguished personages than perhaps any other member of the medical profession, even to the present time. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and General Scott in his youthful days, were among the many visitors in the Johnston home. In addition, Dr. Robert Johnston, was one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Dr. Robert Johnston (1749-1808). On January 16, 1776, the Committee of Safety at a meeting held in Philadelphia resolved: "That Robert Johnston is hereby appointed a Surgeon to the Sixth or Col. William Irvine's Battalion." Dr. Johnston continued in service until 1781, when he was ordered by General Greene to leave the regimental service and assist the wounded officers and soldiers of the American Army, prisoners in the British Hospital at Charleston, SC.. After the Revolutionary War Dr. Johnston made a trip to the Orient and was the First Minister to China from the new United States Government. In 1807, Dr. Johnston was appointed Major General of the 7th Division of Pennsylvania Militia. This Document reads, in full:

"Doc'r Johnston will wait on Genl Schuyler and let him know that there is no time to be lost in Sending troops to the Relief of this place - Burrells Reg't will go off the last of this month - and the 6th Pennsyl(vania) Reg't have agreed to stay two weeks - which will be twenty Days after their term of Inlistment expires; - which was the time the 2nd and 4th Remained after theirs expired before the troops Arrived to Relieve them."

Dr. Johnston stayed up in New York performing his duties and as a result of his traveling between hospitals and commands, he was frequently used as a messenger, passing along letters from Gen. John Stark to Gen. Horatio Gates and letter and intelligence from George Washington to General Wayne.
Anthony Wayne (January 1, 1745 " December 15, 1796) was a United States Army officer, statesman, and member of the United States House of Representatives. Wayne adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to Brigadier General and the sobriquet Mad Anthony. He later served as General in Chief of the Army and commanded the Legion of the United States and was one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati.

DR. ROBERT JOHNSTON (1749-1808) Johnston came back to the Antrim Township and opened up a practice near Greencastle. He stayed there for a couple of years, seemingly content; however, with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775, him and his brothers headed the call and joined up to serve Pennsylvania and the American cause.

In late 1775, Drs. Thomas Cadwalader, Thomas Bond, Adam Kuhn, and William Shippen, Jr.* recommended the 25-year old Johnston for service in the Pennsylvania Militia. On January 16, 1776, Pennsylvania's Committee of Safety acted on that recommendation and appointed Johnston surgeon in Col. William Irvine's Sixth Pennsylvania Battalion.

*The elderly Cadwalader was on a Committee with Drs. Bond and Benjamin Rush to examine Navy surgeon candidates. Bond helped organize the medical department for the Continental Army and set up the first field hospitals. Kuhn had Tory sympathies and when the British left Philadelphia so did he. He went down to the West Indies and stayed there for the duration of the war, returning to Philadelphia after the war to continue his academic career. Shippen had a long, rollercoaster-y career during the Revolutionary War. He began the war as the Chief Physician and Director General of the Hospital of the Continental Army in New Jersey. Then, he was made the Director General of the Hospitals West of the Hudson River. Finally, he arose to the position of Director of Hospitals for the Continental Army after a reorganization of the Army hospital system, and would be Johnston's direct report when he became a Deputy Director. This was a position Johnston got primarily by playing politics and ousting former friend and colleague, Dr. John Morgan, whom he co-founded the College of Philadelphia's medical school with in 1765.

Morgan would level allegations of malpractice, misconduct, and misappropriation of funds at Shippen, who would go on to face a court-martial based on Morgan's claims. Shippen was acquitted and returned to be elected Medical Director of the Army, but he resigned the post shortly after taking charge. Shippen was the brother of Edward Shippen III, the founder of Shippensburg.

Shortly after joining the Sixth PA Battalion, Gen. Washington ordered Irvine* to New York City and from there onto Albany and then eventually Canada. The Canada Campaign had begun the year before as a way to cut off one entry point for British forces coming into America and to put to rest any British recruitment efforts to get the Six Nations involved in the War. The First Continental Congress approved the plan of invading Canada (only Quebec would be invaded), and an invasion force under Gen. Philip Schulyer took off from Fort Ticonderoga and up Lake Champlain into Quebec.

There was an engagement at St. Johns followed quickly by the taking of Montreal. From Montreal, the Continental Army, now under the command of Gen. Richard Montgomery, made its way to Quebec City. A second force sent by Washington under the command of Col. Benedict Arnold coming up through Maine met up with Montgomery on the Plains of Abraham in front of Quebec City, and promptly began besieging the city. The battle and siege were repelled, which started a retreat by American forces back down the St. Lawrence River. The Sixth Battalion arrived just in time to be thrust in as reinforcements during that retreat seeing its first action at the Battle of Trois-Rivieres.

*Irvine was himself a physician. Irish-born, he emigrated to America, settling in Carlisle. [Spoiler alert] He was captured at the Battle of Trois-Rivieres and held by the British for nearly two years before being exchanged for a British prisoner. Upon his release, he took command of the 7th PA Regiment and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1779. He went on to command Fort Pitt from the spring of 1782 to the Fall of 1783. Later he would serve as a member of the Continental Congress, 1787-1788, and a member of the 3rd Congress, 1793-1795.

The Americans had little intelligence on the terrain surrounding Trois-Rivieres, which meant that Brigadier General William Thompson led his force of 2,000 strong straight into a swamp on the outskirts of town. The battle did not go much better from there. When troops managed to make it out of the swamp, they faced either a formidable British force waiting them or a British warship firing grapeshot into them. So back into the swamp the Americans went. It was a disaster. Thompson and 17 of his officers, including Irvine were captured. Defeated at Trois-Rivieres, the Continental Army retreated South, out of Quebec, never to cross over into Canada again. The Army fell back to Fort Ticonderoga on the southern tip of Lake Champlain and that is where they wintered.

Johnston most likely was near the front receiving the wounded from his regiment. Director General of Hospitals, Dr. John Morgan (who recommended Johnston for service) had issued a set of regulations for regimental surgeons that included dressing wounded soldiers on a hill 3,000 to 5,000 yards to the rear of the battlefield, surgeons at these stations would only give emergency care only such as stop bleeding, remove foreign objects from the wound, apply dressings, reduce fractured bones. More serious operations such as amputations would take place either at the regimental or department hospital. Surgeons were also responsible for ensuring they received from the regimental leadership the appropriate transportation of the wounded off of the battlefield.

The Medical Department was kind of a mess and was never really straightened out during the duration of the war. There were rivalries between top officials (see Shippen v. Morgan). Every regiment had their own surgeons and tent hospital and had to scrounge around for provision for it. What organization there was had overlapping jurisdictions with no clear distinction on who was in charge of what. In February 1778, there was a reorganization of the Army's hospital system in an effort to centralize the care of wounded or sick soldiers, by establishing a Director General in charge of all Hospitals in the Army and four Deputy Director Generals, each in charge of a different department (Northern, Eastern, Middle, and Southern). Head physicians and surgeons for each regiment within a department report to the Deputy Director. The Deputy Director can appoint Assistant Deputy Directors to handle the day to day operations of the Department's hospitals: providing beds, furniture, utensils, hospitals, clothing, medicines, instruments, dressing, herbs, and other necessaries.

In January of 1777, Johnston began serving as a hospital physician and surgeon in the Northern Department, a position he would hold for the next year. The Continental Congress praised the work of the physicians and surgeons in New York following the retreat from Canada and the bitter winter of 1777, "The unremitting attention showed by Doctor Potts* and the officers of the hospital to the sick and wounded soldiers under their care is proof not only of their humanity, but also of their zeal in the preservation of the health and lives of the gallant asserters of their country's cause."

According to the National Archives, by the beginning of 1778, Johnston had been appointed Assistant Deputy Director of Hospitals in the Northern Department. In the same resolution that reorganized the structure of the Medical Department, Dr. Potts was transferred to the Middle Department as Deputy Director there. Congress passed along the Deputy Directorship in the Nothern Department to the "eldest" Assistant Deputy Director until further orders from Congress. Johnston apparently was the eldest Assistant Deputy Director at the time, and he assumed the role of Deputy Director for the Northern Department, which encompassed the part of New York north of the Hudson Highlands and Vermont.

With the surrender of a large British force at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, a major threat to the Northern Department was instantly wiped off of the map. The focus of the war shifted South and the Northern Department became relatively quiet. The British recruited Loyalists and loyal Native Americans to mount raiding parties on settlements and incite skirmishes around Upstate New York. Some of these skirmishes and raids were quite brutal in nature leading to many massacres on both sides. Maybe it is because the focus had shifted elsewhere that Congress did not think to appoint a new Deputy Director.

Whatever the case, Johnston stayed up in New York performing his duties and as a result of his traveling between hospitals and commands, he was frequently used as a messenger, passing along letters from Gen. John Stark to Gen. Horatio Gates and letter and intelligence from Washington to Gen. Wayne.

By late 1780, Johnston was in South Carolina assisting with the treatment of wounded Americans captured by the British. The British had neglected in treating captured American soldiers leading to a dire situation for them. Chief Medical Officer of North Carolina's militia, Hugh Williamson, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, received permission to go behind enemy lines to care for the sick and wounded. In a letter to the British Physician General and Inspector General of Hospitals of the in the Carolinas, Dr. John M. Hayes, Williamson wrote:

Our hospital patients are near 250, many of them dangerously wounded. They are lodged in six small wards, without straw or covering. Two of them have not any cloathing besides a shirt and pair of trowsers. In the six wards they have only 4 small Kettles, and no Canteen, Dish or Cup, or other Utensil. We have hardly any medicies and not an ounce of Lint, Tow, or Digestine, not a single Bandage or Poultice Cloath, nor an ounce of meal to be used for Poultices. In a word nothing is left for us but the painful Circumstances of viewing wretches who must soon perish if not soon relieved.

We were also weak in Medical Help. Our Militia Surgeons disappeared after the Battle and the Commander in Chief [Lord Cornwallis] had not yet turned his attention to the wounded Prisoners. It happened that one of the Continental Surgeons fell into the hands of the Enemy. It may be supposed that with his assistance, tho' he was indefatigable, I found it impossible to give the desired help to 240 men who Laboured under at least 700 wounds. After three weeks we were happily reinforced by Dr. Johnson [Dr. Robert Johnston] a senior surgeon of great Skill and Humanity in the Continental Service.

In May of 1781, Johnston was officially made a physician and surgeon in the Southern Department. It is not known where Johnston was stationed at the time. He could have remained in South Carolina with Gen. Nathanael Greene's force as it attempted to recapture the state from the British, ultimately succeeding in penning the British up at Charleston. Or he could have been with the Marquis de Lafayette to defend Virginia from Lord Cornwallis's forces. This would ultimately end in Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1791. It has been passed down through the years that Johnston was at the surrender at Yorktown, but there is nothing that can substantiate that.

The day before the surrender which would all but end the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress had appointed Johnston deputy purveyor for the military hospital of the Southern Department. He was put in charge of purchasing and acquiring all of the goods that the hospital may need from medicines and medical supplies to bedding and clothing.*

*He seemingly did all of the procuring of medicines and good on his own dime, travel costs as well. There are records from the Second Continental Congress discussing the bill Johnston submitted for costs of $1,600, which he paid out of pocket to secure the provisions needed. That would roughly equate to $40,000 today.

The British surrender at Yorktown effectively spelled the end of the Revolutionary War. British troops would remain in America for another two years until the Treaty of Paris could be signed that officially ended the war. During that time, the Continental Army shrunk with the lack of a threat.

Later ...

Johnston may have been uniquely qualified to perform the duties of ginseng wrangler in China. Having been born on the Pennsylvania frontier and the very eastern edge of the Appalachians, Johnston had some familiarity with the types of people and places he'll be traveling and running into. Also, as a assistant deputy director and deputy purveyor during the war, he received unmeasurable on the job training in obtaining supplies, buying on credit, and locating hard to find basics needed to keep the hospitals under his command functioning at a high level as long as possible. A lot of it was about making quick relationships and getting what you need from them. Johnston was described as "a Man possessing a very Noble and Philanthropic mind", which would go a long way towards ensuring he locates enough ginseng to make the voyage profitable.

He became an agent for Turnbull, Marmie & Co., who were tasked with procuring the ginseng for the trip on the Empress of China, the boat making the trip to China.

With a thousand dollars in his pocket, his long and winding journey began in Philadelphia on September 3, 1783 where he set off for Fort Pitt (modern day Pittsburgh). He reached the Fort in about a week's time and almost immediately headed south reaching Bath, VA on September 12th. A journey that would have taken him along and over some of the most rugged terrain in the Ridge and Valley section of the Appalachians. From Bath, he sent off a report back to Turnbull, Marmie, & Co.

All in all for a journey halfway around the world and back and America's first time trading with China, it was uneventful. After about a month at sea, the Empress stopped at the Cape Verde Islands a couple hundred miles off the coast of Africa to replenish their fresh water supply. Johnston got off and did a little bird hunting. Once back out to sea, it would be nearly four months till they next time they spotted land. They sailed down Africa and rounded the Cape heading out into the Indian Ocean finally sighting Java on July 17th. While at Java, Johnston would explore the Island and visit a few local villages. There the Empress fell in line with a large French trading vessel, Triton, and the two sailed on to Canton (modern day Guangzhou).

Indirectly, China played a role in the Revolutionary War. It was Chinese tea that was dumped in the harbor at the Boston Tea Party. Tea itself had become a staple in the colonies, and finding a direct means of procuring it was of great import. The Empress would fill its hull on its return voyage with the same kind of teas that got tossed into Boston harbor. France also, in part, joined the war on the American side to fight against a British monopoly on trade with China.
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