Apothecary General of the Continental Army Andrew Craigie

Apothecary General of the Continental Army Andrew Craigie

If you’re anything like me, you hear the word ‘apothecary’ and think about the Middle Ages.

The truth is, apothecaries were around until surprisingly recently. As such, apothecaries were necessary for retrieving medicine during the Revolutionary War.

The Continental Army even had an Apothecary General. This position was held throughout the entire war by a man named Andrew Craigie.


Commissary of Medical Stores

In the days following the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety went into overdrive.

Suddenly, they had dozens of militias from throughout New England assembled outside Boston. The task at hand was to collect this loose group of rebels into a more cohesive army.

To carry out their mission, the Committee made several appointments to a variety of positions. Included among these was Andrew Craigie, who was given the office of Commissary of Medical Stores.


Supplying the Army

Craigie, an ardent Patriot who took his new office very seriously, risked life and limb by entering the city of Boston, retrieving the medicines he had at his home and returning to the Army.

The following summer, after the Continental Congress created the Continental Army, they too filled a large variety of supporting positions. One of these was Apothecary to the American Army. Dr. Benjamin Church, the first Surgeon General of the Continental Army, appointed Craigie to this office.

Andrew did more than just supply medicine for the army. In the aftermath of the Battle of Bunker Hill, he found everything from beds to bandages.


Apothecary General

After Dr. Church was accused of treason, the Medical Department went into a frenzy for a bit.

When John Morgan arrived as the new Surgeon General, he accused Craigie of lying about occupying the position of Apothecary as well as charging inflated prices for the medicines he supplied (it seems this was due to Morgan’s receiving incorrect information from the interim Surgeon General).

Craigie survived these accusations and when the Medical Department was reorganized in 1777 he was given the new title of Apothecary General of the Continental Army. Andrew held this position throughout the Revolutionary War.


Post-War

The connections Craigie made working a supplier during the war led him to pursue a career in business. He joined many other Founders in the field of speculation.

Using information he learned from his friends, Andrew was able to make vast amounts of money (insider trading was not a crime at the time). He also invested significant amounts of money into his hometown of Cambridge, MA. This includes the Craigie Bridge which still stands, though with some significant upgrades.

Unfortunately, like many speculators in the early republic, Craigie overextended himself. In an effort to avoid debtors prison, Andrew exiled himself in a self imposed house arrest during his final years.

The Apothecary General is not forgotten, however, as the Andrew Craigie Award is currently distributed annually to the most notable Pharmacist in the United States Army.

Commissaries had a similar job with the Continental Army as that of Craigie, just with different items they were tasked with supplying.

To learn about some of the Commissaries, check out these articles.

Jeremiah Wadsworth Gets Rich By Winning the Revolution

Joseph Trumbull Feeds the Continental Army

Elias Boudinot Signs the Preliminary Articles of Peace

An apothecary of the 18th century had a very unique job.

‘Death, Disease & Dissection’ takes a look at how medicine was changed at the time of the Revolutionary War.

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