The Institute’s deputy director and curator, Emily Parsons, discusses Dr. James Tilton’s Society of the Cincinnati Eagle insignia and 1813 medical treatise.
James Tilton served in the Revolutionary War first as a military physician for the Delaware Regiment and later as a Continental Army hospital physician. During the brutal winter encampment at Morristown in 1779-1780, he designed an experimental hospital where the sick and wounded were separated to control contagion. Known as “Tilton Hospitals,” this project would be a hallmark of his career devoted to improving the medical care of soldiers. After the war, Dr. Tilton joined the Delaware State Society of the Cincinnati and was elected its first president. The gold Society of the Cincinnati Eagle insignia he owned was one of the first Society of the Cincinnati insignias made in America, by Jeremiah Andrews in Philadelphia, ca. 1784-1791. Dr. Tilton was called back into service in 1813, when President James Madison appointed him surgeon general of the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. That same year Dr. Tilton published Economical Observations on Military Hospitals and the Prevention and Cure of Diseases Incident to an Army, a treatise on the design and construction of military hospitals based on his extensive experience with military medicine. Dr. Tilton’s Society of the Cincinnati Eagle insignia and 1813 treatise are both featured in our exhibition Saving Soldiers: Medical Practice in the Revolutionary War, on view April 1-November 27, 2022.