Scotland, George Washington and Victory
How the Scots ‘Doctored’ his wins
Jim ‘Ski’ Schiaffino Post 1814
While George Washington is considered to be the Father of our country, he might not have been had it not been for help from several, here to fore, relatively unknown Scotsman. George learned his trade while serving under Brigadier General John Forbes during The French and Indian War. General Forbes was born in Fife and served in The Scots Greys as a Lieutenant Colonel, prior to transferring to the infantry. Washington served under him culminating in the 1758 campaign against Fort Duquesne.
One of Washington’s most trusted subalterns was BrigGen Arthur St. Clair of Thurso, Caithness. Originally, St. Clair had served under general Wolfe at Quebec before accepting a commission from Congress. It was St. Clair who was credited with a key role in urging Washington to adopt the daring strategy that delivered victory at the Battle of Princeton. The Virginia Line spearheaded the surprise assault in that battle and it was lead by BrigGen Hugh Mercer of Aberdeen.
Mercer was a graduate of Mariscal College in Aberdeen. Following his graduation he served as a surgeon’s mate in the Jacobite army of The Bonnie Prince, Charles Edward Stuart. Following the defeat at Colloden he sailed to America to escape royal retribution, where he set up practice in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian frontier among his fellow Scots and Scots-Irish. He also served under Forbes, that is where he became friends with Washington.
Another Aberdonian, was Adam Stephen. He received his training at King’s College Aberdeen and The University of Edinburgh. He served first as a surgeon in the Royal Navy. Later, he fought with Washington and St. Clair at the battle of Fort Duquesne and Fort Necessity, then later during the Revolutionary War, following the disastrous defeat at Germantown, he left the service.
It is important to note that all of these men “had been bred to the profession of physic” in the words of the Pennsylvania Gazette’s obituary for Gen. John Forbes. They were all trained doctors! Originally, they crossed the Atlantic seeking to save lives, not take them. Of all Washington’s Scottish comrades, none knew him better than his personal physician, Dr James Craik. Born in Kirkcudbright, near Dumfries, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Craik first served with Gen. Braddock during the French and Indian War. Then, he opened a medical practice in Port Tobacco, Md; Later moving to La Plata in Charles Co. Throughout the Revolutionary War he served as Washington’s personal physician. At war’s end, and at Washington’s request, he moved his practice to Alexandria. There he served as the first Physician General, now known as Surgeon General of The United States.
Born:1730, Arbigland, Scotland
Died: 6 February 1814, Alexandria, Virginia
Physician General of the U S Army, as well as George Washington’s personal physician and close friend.
Adam Stephen (c.?1718–16 July 1791) served in the Virginia colonial militia under Washington during the French and Indian War. He served under Washington in the American Revolutionary War, rising to lead a division of the Continental Army. After a friendly fire incident in the 1777 Battle of Germantown, Stephen was found to have been drunk during the battle, and was cashiered out of the army.
Hugh Mercer (1726 ~ 1777) was a Scottish soldier and physician. He initially served with the Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and with the British forces during the Seven Years’ War, but later became a Brigadier General in the Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington. Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero and rallying symbol of the American Revolution.
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