February 6, 1814: On this date George Washington's dear friend and physician Doctor James Craik passed away at the age of 84.
James was born in Scotland in 1727 as an illegitimate child (out of wedlock). He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Upon graduation he joined the British Military as a Surgeon and served in the West Indies.
In 1751 with his British military time coming to a close he relocated to Virginia.
Doctor Craig first met George Washington in 1754 when he and the future president were fighting in the French and Indian War. He also accompanied George on a number of his surveying campaigns in 1770 and 1784.
Throughout most of the revolution, Doctor Craik served as Washington's Director General of Hospitals.
After the Revolutionary War Doctor Craik settled in Alexandria Virginia and restarted his private practice. But, his friend George would summon him out of “retirement” in 1789 to serve once again as his Physician General of the Army during a short “conflict” with France.
Doctor Craik lived a very full life! He rubbed elbows with many historical giants besides George Washington. He also treated Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette (La Fayette to us Americans). His son studied medicine too but became George Washington’s personal secretary instead. Not to mention he is the Great Uncle of Confederate General Richard S. Ewell.
Doctor Craik was bedside for George Washington’s final breaths and wrote an Appendix “Giving a Particular Account of the Behaviour of General Washington During his Distressing Illness, Also of the Nature of the Complaint of which he died, by Doctors James Craik, and Elisha C. Dick, Attending Physicians (1800)” in the pamphlet “A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of General Washington - - - Preached Dec. 29, 1799, By the Rev. Hezakiah N. Woodruff, A. M. (They liked long titles on written works back then, didn’t they!)
James is buried at the old Presbyterian meeting house on South Fairfax Street in Alexandria Virginia.
One story Dr. Craik never tired of retelling was one of when he meet an Indian chief who said that at the Battle of Monongahela he fired his rifle several times in Washington but could not hit him. The Chief also told Doctor Craik that several of his young warriors told the same thing, they could not hit him, and that after that battle they all believe Washington was protected by the great spirit.
Doctor Craik, thank you for taking care of Our First Larger Than Life American, George Washington. We own you much more than a nation can repay!
Three Cheers for Doctor James Craik! HUZZAH! HUZZAH! HUZZAH!
I hope this short peek into history was of interest to you. I plan on posting more short historical interest pieces like this as time allows. I am using the NSSAR Key Hole to History as a foundation. Once I get a few of these up I may branch into the 1860's too.
I am a Member of the William Prince Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, in Princeton KY. https://www.facebook.com/WPRINCE.SAR
If you are interested in History I’d like to recommend that you become active in your local Historical and Genealogy Societies along with the SAR or DAR. History needs you!
History does not repeat itself, but it most assuredly rhymes!
More of my short works at: https://cb.run/jicK