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profession, his friends and his home. He entered as a surgeon in the Delaware regiment, with $25 a month, and connected his own with the doubtful fortunes of his country. He continued with the regiment during the campaign; was with it at the battle of Long Island and White Plains; and had the mortification to accompany the American army in the celebrated retreat, when driven by a superior and relentless enemy from the North river to the Delaware. He was then ordered to Wilmington with such of the soldiers as had escaped with their lives from the inclemency of the season, their hardships and exposures, and the swords of the foe, but who were unable to do duty. He was quartered in this town during the winter, and was fully employed in rendering those kindnesses to his wretched wounded countrymen, for which he was so eminently qualified by his disposition and profession.
Before the next campaign opened, without any solicitation on his part, he was called to the hospital department in the army. The greatest disorder existed here, and the mortality of the soldiers was almost unprecedented. The system which had been adopted, rather invited and produced diseases, than cured them. The purveyorship of the hospital and the medical department, properly so called, were vested in the same persons. In speaking of the monstrous absurdity of this arrangement, Dr. Tilton says, “I mention it, without a design to reflect on any man, that in the fatal year 1777, when the director general had the entire direction of the practice in our hospitals, as well as the whole disposal of the stores, he was interested in the increase of sickness and the consequent increase of expense, as far at least as he would be profited by a greater quantity of money passing through his hands.” And again, "It would be shocking to humanity to relate the history of our general hospital in the years 7 and '78; when it swallowed up at least one half of our army, owing to a fatal tendency in the system to throw off the sick of the army into the general hospital; whence crowds, infection and consequent mortality, too affecting to men
In the year 1777 the British advanced to Philadelphia; and he directed the hospitals at Princeton, New Jersey, where he narrowly escaped with his life from an attack of hospital fever. His sufferings from this disease must have been of a most distressing kind; and his recovery was almost a 'miracle. At one period of his disease eleven surgeons and mates, belonging to the hospital, gave him over, and only disputed how many days he should live. Providence ordered otherwise. To his friend the late Dr. Rush, and the attention of a benevolent lady in the neighborhood he chiefly attributed his recovery, which was slow and painful. The cuticle scaled off from his skin, his hair gradually combed from his head, and, to use his own forcible language, he was reduced to "skin and bone.” It was nine months before he was again fit for active duty. As soon as he was able to travel he returned to Delaware, and visited on his way the different hospitals at Bethlehem, Reading,
was nine forcible lang graduallynd painful. che chie
Manheim, Lancaster and Newport, which he found generally in a state of great disorder. His experience enabled him to remedy many of the defects, and to arrest in some measure the mortality which existed. In the campaigns of '78 and 79 he directed the hospitals in Trenton and New Windsor. All his contemporaries bore ample testimony to the able and indefatigable manner in which he performed the duties of hospital surgeon. In the hard winter of "79 and '80 he made the experiment of “the hospital huts;" the hint he took from Marshal Saxe. His improvements exceeded his most sanguine calculations; they consisted in having an earthen floor, instead of wood, with a hole in the centre of the roof for the purpose of allowing the smoke to escape from the fire, which was made in the middle of the hut.
So deep was his conviction of the absurdity and inhumanity of the existing hospital arrangements, that in the year '81 he determined to resign his situation in the army, unless they were radically changed. He visited Philadelphia for the purpose, and delivered to the medical committee of congress his observations in writing, pointing out the leading principles to be observed in forming a plan for conducting military hospitals. Although they were acknowledged to be correct, congress was so much engaged with other business, that this was not immediately attended to.
About this period a financier was appointed to examine into and report a plan for the general reform of the army, and was also instructed to direct his attention to the medical department. To this gentleman, Dr. Tilton applied in person, and submitted to him his views and observations, by whom they were approved, and he had the satisfaction to obtain his assurance that he would immediately report upon the subject. The observations submitted in writing by Dr. Tilton, were placed in the hands of Drs. John Jones, Hutchinson and Clarkson, and they perfectly coincided in opinion with him. He was called into their consultations, and his principles were so far established as to constitute the great outlines of hospital arrangement and practice from that time to the present day. The complete success of his exertions tended greatly to increase the high and deserved standing which he had acquired with the army and the public.
About this time he was elected a professor in the University of Pennsylvania, to which I have already referred; which office he declined from motives of the purest and most high minded patriotism. He accompanied the American army to Virginia, where he had the satisfaction of being present at the surrender of lord Cornwallis, at Yorktown, which was soon followed by a full acknowledgment of the liberty and independence of his country.
When the army was disbanded he returned to his native State, and recommenced the practice of medicine in Dover, in 1782. He had exhausted his pecuniary resources during the war, and, like many others, was paid for his faithful services in the depreciated certificates of the United States, which were of little more use than
to remind him of the honorable part he had taken in the struggle which had terminated so propitiously. His patriotism still supported him, and he applied himself with increased assiduity to his profession. He was a member of the old congress in '82, and was elected repeatedly as a member of the State legislature, which assured him that his feliow citizens delighted to honor the man who had devoted his time and talents to their service.
He had just re-established himself in practice, and was about acquiring that independence and easy competence which was his only ambition, as related to matters of a pecuniary kind, when the unhealthy climate of Kent began to make such inroads upon his contitution, that he was obliged to "fly for his life” to the hills of New Castle county. He established himself in this place, where he soon obtained his full share of practice, and secured to an unusual degree the confidence of the people. The profits of his profession, together with the emoluments of the office of commissioner of loans, made him easy in bis circumstances, and enabled him to enjoy the society of his friends, which was always peculiarly agreeable to him. Soon after this period a change took place in the general government, to whose measures Dr. Tilton was at that time conscientiously opposed; and, acting fully up to those high principles which always regulated his conduct, he resigned his office, and devoted himself with more ardor to the practice of medicine and to the pleasures of horticulture, of which he was particularly fond.
His medical fame was established on so broad and substantial a basis, as to defy the ravages of time or the machinations of the envious and malicious. As he advanced in his profession, he was peculiarly fond of assisting merit and genius whenever an opportu. nity offered. To young practitioners he was uncommonly kind and indulgent; instead of opposing, he assisted their exertions; when he could with propriety, he took them by the hand, and recommended them to the support and patronage of the public; if their promise did not entitle ihem to this signal display of generosity, he most studiously refrained from saying any thing which might, in the most remote manner, militate against their advancement. He doubiless met with some who returned his kindness with ingratitude; but there were others, who ever remembered this friend of their youth with feelings of respect and esteem. I would here mention a strong instance of the display of the noble qualities which adorn our nature, as occurred in the case of the late celebrated Dr. Edward Miller of New York. By the assistance and patronage of Dr. Tilton he was enabled to overcome the difficulties which surrounded him in early life. He was not only advised as a friend, but he was invited to commence the practice of medicine in the same town with himself. He there began that professional career which terminated with so much honor to himself, to his native State, and was so highly gratifying to his benefactor, of whose numerous acts of liberality and friendship he always spoke in the strongest terms of regard and veneration.
As a physician, Dr. Tilton was bold and decided; he never temporized with disease. His remedies were few in number, but generally of an active kind. He considered the functions of the skin of the very first importance, and his remedies were generally directed to restore them to a healthy state, when deranged. There were few physicians who possessed more candor, or exercised it to a greater extent towards their patients than Dr. Tilton. When interrogated, he would freely express his opinion as to the nature and probable issue of a disease, whether favorable or otherwise, however unpalatable it might be. He never visited or dosed the sick unnecessarily, thereby picking their pockets, as he justly termed it, and from this cause he was more frequently dismissed from families than from any other. He had no secrets in medicine; he was superior to any and every species of quackery, He certainly stood at the head of his profession in this State; his naturally strong and discriminating mind peculiarly fitted him for consultations, and for many years before his death, scarcely a case of any consequence occurred within the circle of his practice in which more than one physician was necessary, but his advice was requested.
After practising medicine with uncommon success and reputation, for several years in Wilmington, he purchased and improved a small farm in its vicinity, to which he removed, and indulged his taste for horticulture. In this situation, noted for his hospitality to all who visited his friendly roof, either for the benefit of his advice and experience, or the pleasures of social intercourse, he was found at the commencement of the late war, in 1812.
Although for several years preceding this period, he had retired in a great measure from the busy pursuits of the world and the active duties of his profession, he had the high honor conferred upon him, of being appointed physician and surgeon-general of the army of the United States. He was fully sensible of the distinguished confidence thus reposed in him by his government; yet it was not without deep reflection and no little hesitation, that he eventually determined to accept the appointment, which he did, after receiving assurances that his office should be chiefly ministerial, and his re- . sidence principally at Washington.
In July 1813, he commenced a journey to the northern frontier, and examined all the hospitals in his route; he arrived at Sackett's Harbor in August of the same year. He found here, as he often said, the filthiest encampment that he had ever seen, and the mortality was as great as he had ever known it during the war of the revolution. He immediately requested a Medical Board, with a field officer to preside; this was granted, and the salutary change, made in the main army, according to the principles laid down in his printed work upon military hospitals, soon extended itself along the whole lines from Lake Erie to Lake Champlain. The wholesome provisions which he introduced, soon arrested the mortality, and destroyed the infection of the "Lake Fever," as it was called,
which had become so alarming as to threaten the destruction of the whole army, and put an entire stop to enlistments.
In the spring of 1814, he again contemplated a visit to the northern frontier, passing the range of hospitals on the sea coast, to go by Plattsburg to the Lakes. In this he was disappointed, in consequence of an obstinate tumor, which made its appearance in his neck; and in July a more formidable disease affected his knee, which rendered locomotion extremely difficult, and from which he suffered the most acute and agonizing pain. This disease rapidly increased, and in 1815, to preserve his life, it became necessary to amputate the limb above the knee joint; the operation was performed on the 7th of December in that year. To an intimate friend who was present, whilst the surgeon was taking off the limb, he spoke of it as the greatest trial to which he had ever been exposed. But his religion and fortitude did not desert him on this trying occasion; when he had once made up his mind to submit to it, he reinained as firm as the pyramid in the tempest; and, whilst his friends sympathized around him, he calmly gave directions to the surgeon and medical assistants. This fact alone, when we consider his age, which was then upwards of seventy, and his previous sufferings, incontestably proves his mind to have been one of no common texture. An intimate friend of his, who was present on this painful occasion, after speaking of the extraordinary firmness with which he bore the operation, says "for several days and nights after the amputation, I had the gratification of watching with and comforting him in his lonely, dreary bachelor's abode, where the balm of female tenderness and sympathy never mitigated a pang, nor compensated for a woe, but where masculine aids, rough as they are, were alone employed to sooth and cheer the scene."
Although Dr. Tilton never married, he was always a strong advocate for this happy condition of man. He was an ardent admirer of the fairest and best part of creation, and, whatever might have been his disappointments in early life, he never allowed them to warp his judgment or vitiate his taste. The high regard and esteem which this class of his patients always entertained for him, whilst in the practice of his profession, speak volumes in his favor. And I would fain believe that there are some who have not forgotten the good wold bachelor," and recollect with mournful pleasure, the satisfaction they enjoyed, whilst partaking of his Virgilian suppers.
Dr. Tilton was fond of young company, and took a deep interest in the success in life of the rising generation. He was as mindful of posterity as if he had been surrounded by a family of his own. From most old persons he differed materially, as it regarded his opinion of the times and generation in which he lived. Instead of inveighing against the manners and customs of the age, he rose superior to such illiberality, and bore ample testimony to the improvements which are making in the arts and sciences, the advancements of religion, and the rapid march of liberal principles