The Invalid Corps - Lewis Nicola's Disabled Soldiers
The reasons the Continental Army’s Invalid Corps is fascinating should be obvious.
Men who were unfit for active duty but still wanted to do their part for the cause deserve just as much appreciation (if not more) than any other soldier...then as now.
Today’s article is an overview of this group with a focus on its Founder: Lewis Nicola.
When the dust settled, and the Battle of Brooklyn was complete, hundreds of Continental soldiers were dead.
Hundreds more were captured.
Hundreds more were wounded. Many seriously.
Dozens of the men were maimed, having lost limbs.
But what to do with these Patriots? Just send them home?
Nope. Not this Revolution.
The Continental Congress first decided to continue giving these men half pay.
Soon, Lewis Nicola, a 60-year-old veteran of the French and Indian War had an idea: copy European traditions.
Nicola recommended to Congress that the establishment of an Invalid Corps was necessary, just had been done over the pond.
With the support of General Washington, Congress approved the measure. Eight companies were raised and placed it under Nicola’s control.
The Invalid Corps
So the question becomes, what do you do with disabled soldiers in the 18th century.
The answer is...pretty much what one might expect.
These men were given ‘light duty’ which primarily entailed guard duty. Generally, they were stationed at hospitals, storage facilities and arsenals.
The Invalid Corps were an astounding success, so much so that William Heath once recommended to Washington that a second one be established in New England (mostly so they could be closer to the men they fought with).
At a certain point, Nicola had Washington use the General Orders to recruit disabled Officers in an effort to better run the organization which was completed quickly. The Commander-in-Chief took the Corps very seriously and was even proud of the men who continued to fight after suffering such a tragedy.
Nicola led the Invalid Corps through the entirety of the Revolutionary War.
Here are some other Founders who had a hand in creating the US Constitution.
Unfortunately, there is no book I know of about the Invalid Corps - at least not in the American Revolution.
The best recommended reading on a similar subject I know of is ‘An American Plague’ about the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).