J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Doctor's note in New England Ancestors

The spring 2006 issue of New England Ancestors, the magazine of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has provided a nice home for my article "Note from a Doctor: A Story of the American Revolution." The online version contains the article's full text, but the printed version has more illustrations and a handsome layout. [ADDENDUM in 2012: Page images are now available online.] My thanks to all the folks at the NEHGS who worked on it.

This article starts from a single document written on 22 Apr 1775, at the start of the Revolutionary War. One doctor was desperately trying to treat wounded British POWs after the Battle of Lexington & Concord. Another was trapped in Boston with the British military. And a third was volunteering to sneak across the lines. But what was really going on?

I've had versions of this article burning a hole in my hard drive for a few years. One reason I wanted to publish it was to set down more information about one of those doctors, Joseph Gardner. As I note in my notes, some authoritative studies have confused him with other men:

  1. Dr. Silvester Gardiner, a wealthy Loyalist physician
  2. Justice of the Peace Joseph Gardner, a less politically active man
  3. his younger brother Samuel Gardner, a physician in Milton
Dr. Joseph Gardner was the first physician recorded as examining victims of the Boston Massacre. He later served in the first independent session of the Massachusetts General Court, and he was a cofounder of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Since he was bachelor with no children, Gardner's main legacy was his work, so it's a pity that his work is getting mixed up with other men's.


Argle Bargle said...

"One doctor was desperately trying to treated wounded British POWs after the Battle of Lexington & Concord."

Just to clarify, I'm assuming this should read "trying to treat wounded"?

Also the article, "Note from a Doctor: A Story of the American Revolution." has moved, it is now reproduced from the print edition here: http://www.americanancestors.org/PageDetail.aspx?recordId=137256649

This blog is fantastic

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the correction and the updated link. I’ve used that to add links to both my New England Ancestors (now American Ancestors) items on the “Articles” page.

This was one of the very first postings on Boston 1775, over six years ago. And in all that time no one noticed the typo!