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Samuel Clagget, Revolutionary War Surgeon

Served at Valley Forge and elsewhere

Link to pedigree Dr. Samuel Claggett Jr. was born in 1750 at Port Tobacco, Charles, Maryland, British Colonial America. His parents were Samuel Claggett (1717-1756) and Anne Brown (1732-1800), his father passing when he was only six years old.

He was Assistant surgeon at the Bethlehem Hospital, Maryland, and served with George Washington at Valley Forge in the Revolutionary War, where one in ten men lost their lives to desease. According to his pension:

"He entered the army in the Maryland line on continental establishment as stated by his widow in the year 1777 as an Assistant Surgeon (he then being a student of medicine with doctor Gustavus Richard. Brown [his uncle, who attended to George Washington in his last illness] of Port Tobacco, Maryland) and served until about the middle of February 1780, he then resigned and went to sea. On his return he again entered the service in the same capacity and served to the end of the war. I have often heard him speak of his services as assistant surgeon at the Bethlehem Hospital [Continental Hospital at Bethlehem] and Valley Forge, and in the state of New York and other places."

--From pension claim W6693, an affadavit by William Horner. DAR Pension Vol. 149.

According to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, "On two occasions during the Revolutionary War, from December of 1776 until March of 1777 and again from September of 1777 to May of 1778, upon General Washington’s orders, his medical officers commandeered a large, nearby communal building of the Moravian community, which founded Bethlehem in 1741, for use as a military 'hospital.' " Members of the Moravian Church, originally founded in the 15th century, founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1741 as the center of their faith in the New World.

"At the time, the imposing multi-story limestone building was known as the Brethren’s House, where unmarried men lived in a dormitory-like setting." 

The men treated at the hospital were ill-dressed and unprepared for winter weather. Epidemics of typhoid and smallpox plagued the Bethlehem hospital. One Moravian brother wrote,

"Orders were received for the collection of clothing for the soldiers in the army, and General Woodford kindly protected us from lawless pillage. We made several collections of blankets for the destitute soldiers, also shoes, stockings, and breeches for the convalescents in the Hospital, many of whom had come here in rags swarming with vermin, while others during their stay were deprived of their all by their comrades.(1)

The soldiers Dr. Claggett treated were not in good shape. A British officer described captive Americans in 1776:

The rebel prisoners were in general, but very indifferently clothed. Few of them appeared to have a second shirt, nor did they appear to have washed themselves during the campaign. A great many of them were lads under 15 and old men and few had the appearance of soldiers. Their odd figures frequently excited the laughter of our soldiers.(2)

Over 500 Continental Army soldiers were buried in the vicinty of the hospital.

The Daughters of the American Revolution attests that Dr. Claggett served in the Revolutionary War "est[timated] 1777 Charles Co. MD, while student of medicine at Port Tobacco, MD, as surgeon's mate; settled in VA after RW [Revolutionary War]; dd [died] 4th Monday of March 1821."

Samuel Claggett settled in Virginia after the Revolutionary War. He married at age 29 on September 15, 1785 15 year old Anna Jane Ramey of Cameron Parish at Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia.

Dr. Claggett and Amey had nine children:

  1. Dr. Ferdinand Claggett (1789-1860)
  2. Mary Ann Claggett(1790–1845)
  3. Samuel III Claggett m. Julia Frances Sanford (their marriage contract) (1797–1846)
  4. Thomas Claggett (1799–Deceased)
  5. Elizabeth Claggett (1800–1870)
  6. Christopher Columbus Claggett (1803–1872)
  7. Anne Claggett (1806–1850)
  8. Juliet Clagett (1806–1850)
  9. Cecelia Claggett (1809–1850)
  10. Thomas Jefferson Claggett (1809–1878)
  11. Sophia Claggett (1812–1900)

He died March 25th, 1821 in New Baltimore, Fauquier, Virginia, United States. The will book shows that, among other property, Samuel owned four slaves, "1 white horse, 1 dark bay, 22 sheep and 6 lambs, 1 yoke of steers, 1 buffalo cow red."

Other DAR records yield the following description of Samuel Claggett:

CLAGGETT, Samuel, esf 1777 Charles Co., MD, while student of medicine at Port Tobacco, ME, as surgeon's mate; settled in VA after RW [Revolutionary War]; dd [died] 4th Monday of March 1821; md [married] 9/15/1785 Amie Jane Ramey of Cameron Parish at Leesburg, Loudoun Co, VA, per her AFF, but MB dated 8/22/1786 per Cc clerk's certificate to court; wid PN ae [widowed pension age] 68 Fauquier Co. VA 1838, per her AFF & dd [died] there 11/10/47 leaving ch: Ferdinand, Christopher, Thomas, Anne W/o [wife of] Tomlin Bailey, Elizabeth w/o Thomas McCormick, Cecelia w/o John G. Kirby, Sophia w/o Thomas Simpson & Juliet w/o Robert Roach, all liv 1850; d Mary Cooper & s [son] Samuel dd before m [mother] & had ch [children] mbnn liv 1850; AFF 1838 by William Horner ae [age] 69, res [resident] Warrenton VA, high sheriff of Fauquier Co, that he halfbro/o sol [soldier], & also b & reared Charles Co, MD, further his m's s's [mother's sisters] Dr. Samuel Clagett & Dr. Gustavus Horner RW svc together, further his m [mother] Ann also md Samuel Hanson Sr. of Green Hills, Charles Co, MD, further Dr. William Brown, RW surgeon, near relative of sol; QLF 1929 from desc Mrs Samuel W Price, Searles, WV; QLF 1904 from gds [grandson] Charles W Cooper, res/o [resident of] Ex-Confederate Soldiers' Home, Richmond, VA, states sol wid [widowed] dd c1848, further querier bro of Mrs Price of Smyth Co, VA. R547.


(1) Jordan, John W. Bethlehem During the Revolution: Extracts from the Diaries in the Moravian Archives at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The PennsylvaniaMagazine of History and Biography 12(4): 385-406. 1888  

(2) Colley, David Two Hundred Years of Life in Northampton County, Pennsylvania: Volume X, Military History. Northampton County Bicentennial Commission, Easton, PA. 1976