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Smallpox lecture given at SAR first annual event

PLATTSBURGH Disease has destroyed 10 men for us, where the sword of the enemy has killed one, wrote John Adams during the American Revolution. Dr. John W. Krueger explained the relevance of this quote during his lecture at the Sons of the American Revolutions first annual George Washingtons Birthday celebration Feb. 23. Dr. Krueger, the director of the Kent-Delord House Museum, began his lecture by explaining his primary purpose was to recount the trials and tribulations, the frustration and the sadness, and the defeats and successes of the Northern Medical Department during the years 1776-1777. The Valcour Battle Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution welcomed Dr. Krueger to explain an aspect of the American Revolution, to which SAR members have ancestral attachment. Dr. Krueger explained in great detail the extent to which the smallpox epidemic spread through battalions and killed thousands of soldiers. The epidemic was worsened by the fact by the time of the American Revolution, there were approximately 3,500 fairly legitimate medical practitioners in the 13 colonies, explained Dr. Krueger. In other words, there was about one doctor for every 600 people, and fewer than 400 of these held medical degrees. The smallpox epidemic was obviously detrimental to soldiers and 1776 had clearly been a year of disease, infection, and death, said Dr. Krueger, who also stated an army well prepared to battle the British, was clearly unprepared to battle smallpox. Dr. Krueger also explained the only effective way of dealing with the smallpox epidemic was to isolate those infected, and then systematically eliminate the disease. Eventually smallpox became less of a hazard to the soldiers, through inoculation and isolation, and 1777 was considered a year of victory. Stanley A. Ransom, SAR vice president explained Dr. Krueger was selected to speak at the celebration because it is traditional that every George Washingtons birthday, there be a lecture or some kind of program that serves the image of George Washington, the general and president of the American Revolution. The SAR and the Daughters of the American Revolution also held other programs throughout the day, to celebrate George Washingtons Birthday. Mr. Ransom noted there will be future lectures to celebrate this event. Its a good time to remind people of what went on in our history and to keep American patriotism alive, he said. Mr. Ransom also wanted to get the word out about the SAR organization itself. The local chapter is relatively new, having only been established since April 2007. [The SAR] help the young people of the community in an number of ways, mentioned Mr. Ransom. We have Eagle Scout awards, essay awards and we have a lot of ways in which we involve ourselves with local history. Many of us are also involved in the Battle of Plattsburgh. The SAR is a patriotic association that was established in the late 1800s. Chapters are formed if men can trace their ancestors through the male line to the American Revolution, said Mr. Ransom, who has six ancestors who fought in the war. The Valcour Battle Chapter is a group of currently 27 members, with a potential for 125, and is looking to expand its ranks as much as possible.

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