The Medical Department of the United States Army from 1775 to 1873
"The history of the Hospital Department of the army commences with the siege of Boston in 1775, for the first legislative enactments of the Colonial Congress only legalized what was already in existence, and gave a fixed organization to what the emergencies of the occasion had called into being months before. The army which gathered at Cambridge, after the battle of Lexington, was assembled almost without any effort of public authority; it was rather the spontaneous result of the burst of patriotism and alarm which extended throughout the country, calling the farmer from his plough, the mechanic from his shop, the clergyman from the pulpit, and the physician from the sick bed. Few of these, who thus responded to the call upon their loyalty, had any idea that there would be a war; or, they thought that at worst it would be one of but short duration. Far the larger portion of them looked forward to a compromise with the Mother country, and as a consequence had made arrangements for leaving their homes for but a short period. The parties of men collected at Cambridge formed consequently but a heterogenous mass, without brigade or regimental organization, and as a necessary sequence, without any staff establishment. Among them were many physicians who had come from their native towns, like the rest ready to do anything to assist the cause of liberty; but they held no appointments, excep perhaps from the Captains of companies or self-elected Colonels of regiments, and had not the means for establishing a hospital."