Item #8250 [Autograph letter, signed, by an U.S. military surgeon, to Maj. John Mills on his situation at Fort St. Clair.] . John F. Carmichael.
[Autograph letter, signed, by an U.S. military surgeon, to Maj. John Mills on his situation at Fort St. Clair.] 

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

[Autograph letter, signed, by an U.S. military surgeon, to Maj. John Mills on his situation at Fort St. Clair.] 

Fort St. Clair, 31 July 1795. ALS on bifolium, 9” x 7.5”. 2 pp. in ink. Integral address panel, docketed. CONDITION: Good, two 3.5 inch separations along old folds, each mended with small pieces of document repair tape, a few small holes.

An evocative letter by a disgruntled American military surgeon on his circumstances at Fort St. Clair, revealing his hostile relationship with “His Excellency,” possibly General James Wilkinson, suggesting that he will seek a furlough, and joking (perhaps) that he is considering hiring a prostitute to stave off boredom. 

The letter is addressed to Major John Mills, Adjutant General in Greenville, Ohio, apparently a friend: 

My Dear Sir

I received yours of the 28th inst and have complyed with your request by signing the certificate. I thank you for your kind invitation to drink some of your wine, I think my choice would have been to take my share on the road, either with or without God’s blessing for I suspect my throat will not taste any of it. I suspect the briars and thorns will make the road altogether impassable for me, at least for a long time. I have one scheme, that may work—I shall ask for a furlow and he will grant it, upon two principals, first he will serve the U.S. as I cannot ‘poison the minds of the savages’ —2nd he will be glad to get clear of a person he has so great an aversion to —. Your domestic Juno has escaped from her bed and board, she despised all commands, particularly Garrison duty, she is gone to see her aunt in the Garrison of F.W. [Fort Washington] as she left this in company with an officer—it is to be expected she will soon be a common prostitute. I have wrote a long letter to His Excellency, with a general statement of my conduct and remarks thereon however as it is probable He will not read it, I shall prepare No2o and so on until I fill a vol.m. I shall modestly ask for a court of inquiry, in the first place, and afterwards in stranger terms. My situation on this command is now tedious, I have not a book to read, I have wrote to all my friends, there is no amusement, not exercise at this place except throwing the ring, and the hook which I have become a proficient in. I suspect I shall soon send for a whore by way of spending my time…

Jno Carmichael in exile.

Named for Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair and built on his orders in 1791 and 1792 by General James Wilkinson, Fort St. Clair, on the western border of present-day Ohio, figured significantly during the Northwest Indian War, which pitted the U.S. Army against the Native American coalition known as the Northwestern Confederacy. The military forces on the western frontier suffered severe defeats in and around Ohio during 1790 and 1791, under the administration of President Washington. In March 1792 Congress authorized a reorganization of these forces into a legion and four sub-legions, each with 1280 rank and file, a surgeon and three surgeon-mates, one for each battalion, with Richard Allison appointed surgeon of the legion. Gen. Anthony Wayne led the legion against the Native Americans, spent the year 1793 in building forts and roads, and in August 1794 defeated the forces of the Northwestern Confederacy at Maumee Rapids. Later that year trouble arose with the British over western posts which they were still holding. With war threatening, Congress authorized another reorganization.

A native of Pennsylvania, John Francis Carmichael (1761–1837) served as a surgeon mate for an infantry regiment from Sept. 1789 until he was honorably discharged in June 1790. He re-entered the service as a surgeon’s mate in March 1791 and was appointed a surgeon in 1792, being assigned to the 3rd sub-legion in March of that year, to the 4th sub-legion in Sept. of that year, and the 4th infantry in November of 1796. Carmichael was transferred to the 2nd Infantry in Feb. 1801 and became the post surgeon in March 1802. He resigned in 1804 and died in 1837.

Maj. John Mills entered military service as an ensign in May 1775. He remained in service during the revolution and served as Adjutant and Inspector of the Army from 13 May 1794 to 27 February 1796. He died in July of that year. 

An interesting letter reflecting the professional and psychological stresses endemic to military service at a fort on the frontier.

REFERENCES: “Maj John Mills V” at Find a Grave online; “Collection Title: Carmichael and Jenkins Family Papers, 1779-1896 and undated” at University of North Carolina online; “St. Clair's Defeat” at Ohio History Central online.

Item #8250

Price: $1,650.00

See all items in Autographs & Manuscripts
See all items by