Historic Valley Forge

Who Served Here?

Dr. John Cochran

John Cochran

Dr. John Cochran
Artist unknown, 1904.

John Cochran was born in 1730 in Sadsbury, Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants. He was tutored by Francis Alison, a Presbyterian minister and educator in New London and Philadelphia, who also tutored John Dickinson. During the French and Indian War, he was in the British service as a surgeon's mate. In 1758, he served under Colonel John Bradstreet during the capture of Ft. Frontenac. At that time, he met General Philip Schuyler, whose sister, Gertrude Schuyler, he would marry on December 4, 1760.

After living in Albany for a while, the couple moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey. There Cochran helped found the New Jersey Medical Society and served as its president beginning in 1769. At the onset of the War for American Independence, Cochran and William Shippen worked together on ideas and plans in the organization of the army medical department, submitting these plans to General Washington on February 14, 1777.

Washington took note of Cochran's initiative and talent and on April 11, 1777, commissioned him Physician and Surgeon General of the Middle Department. At the Whitemarsh encampment in 1777, Cochran used Hope Lodge as his head quarters. During the winter at Valley Forge, Cochran oversaw smallpox innoculations, among other medical duties.

John Cochrane.
Photo ca 1861 -1865

Cochran was appointed Surgeon General of the Continental Army on October 6, 1780, and on January 17, 1781, became Director General of the Hospitals of the United States, serving as the nation's top medical officer until the end of the war.

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After the close of the war, he moved to New York City and was appointed commissioner of loans in 1790 by President Washington. Later, he suffered a paralytic stroke and afterwards retired to Palatine, New York, passing away in 1807.

Cochran's son, Walter Livingston Cochrane added on an "e" to the last name. His grandson, John Cochrane was a politician and later a brigadier general in the Civil War. In 1864, he ran for Vice-President as the running mate of Gen. John C. Fremont.

Adapted from an article by the National Center for the American Revolution/Valley Forge Historical Society


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