Posted By Doctor Clift on June 7, 2012Tonight I took all the bottles off their display shelves, the portmanteau and pill tile from their places of honor in my living room, and opened up the boxes and cases to fill with medical items from that era long ago I love so much. Tomorrow I head for Cumberland, Maryland, and the site of the westernmost fort of the British in 1755- Fort Cumberland.
Recently I’ve been reading the diary of Charlotte Brown, the matron of the hospital at Fort Cumberland, and the first woman to get a military commission from the British Military. For the most part, her diary speaks of her travels, of visiting with ladies in town and the areas surrounding as she travels, and some of her conversations with individuals she considers her friends. Additionally, she mourns the loss of family members back home, and then too, of her own brother while on campaign. But I have to wonder, on nights like tonight, if there weren’t days and evenings where she too was packing bags and boxes, loading them on to the wagons that would take her to her various destinations. She sailed across from England in late 1754, then up to Alexandria, and then from there took wagons to Wills Creek, the site of Fort Cumberland. She briefly mentions packing the wagons with her supplies, but after that, there’s only scant moments of her saying she packed something.
I have to imagine that being the Matron of the hospital, there would have been a fair amount of organizing on her part- making sure the linens and bedding that Braddock ordered for the hospital were packed properly, the food stores and perhaps even the medicines her brother, the Apothecary, would have used.
It made me smile to think on it, as I stared at all the boxes that would be filling my “carriage” in the morning- 6 if you include my personals chest that stays in my tent. It seems so long ago when I was getting started and had just one simple box and the small rolled case of instruments. How far I’ve come in knowledge and in supplies. How far I still have to go in both sometimes seems a daunting task, but then I think about how happy it makes me feel. I laughed at entries in Charlottes diary as if I were reading notes from an old friend. I made note of facts that were important to my impressions, and I enjoyed it more than any fiction book I could pick up.
I need to remember that enjoyment. Its far too easy to feel as if I know enough, and don’t need to learn more, or don’t need to write here in my blog. I need both of these things, and I need to continue using both to grow. So in my bag will be more things to learn from, and in my brain will be a notepad of things to write when I return.