The following are notes compiled by sixth great granddaughter, Anne Joslyn Mereness Strupp in preparation for a presentation at the SE Regional Archives, Atlanta, GA. They are a sample of the papers pertaining to Dr Bodo Otto, available to research and copy in the National Archives.
Records of the Adjutant General in Washington War Dept.
Collection of Rev. War Records: pension application, and bounty land warrant, compiled military service records – widely used by local patrons to the Research Room, SE Regional Archives
Some of my favorite finds are among the less commonly searched Papers of the Continental Congress (which are the official records of the per-Federal government in the United States, 1774 -1789) M247 and the Miscellaneous Numbered Records (known collectively as the Manuscript File) M859
Such items as a hospital inventory of medical stores, including number of blankets, kettles, and such necessaries as chamber pots, writing paper, and wine
January 1st, 1777: receipt for 9 months pay as Nurse at the Yellow Springs “Bettering House” under Dr. Otto M859
June 27th, 1778: receipt for medicines and attendance for a “Dragoon being bruised by a fall from his Horse in the Continental Service” M859
May 19th, 1780: ‘The Memorial (petition) of Bodo Otto, Surgeon of the Hospital at the Yellow Springs to the committee of Congress for conducting the Medical Dept., in which he points out that “the Sick have been obliged these several days past to eat Salt Provisions … stale dry bread…” He asks “Can it be supposed a Physician or Surgeon can gain any Credit or perfect a Cure under these Circumstances?” He goes on to say that the Physicians “complain daily, they have not received any Money for the Services these Seven Months past, neither are they washed with Cloathing … The Nurses & Orderlies refuse serving any longer, as they receive no pay … the Sick and Wounded must unavoidably suffer”. He expresses remorse that the hospital he has directed for two years should be rendered useless by these conditions, and gently prods the Committee of Congress with a subtle name-dropping threat, in which he quotes “His Excellency General Washington’s Orders to the Officers… That if in Case the Sick are likely to suffer & not be relieved by the Department, they are to report the same to him”. It is signed “your most obedient and very humble servant, Bodo Otto, Sr. Phy. Surg” M247
August 26th, 1780: personal letter from Dr. Otto at Yellow Springs to General Charles Pickering, Esq., Quartermaster Gen. for the Continental Army in Phila., in which he describes that his Hospital is entirely destitute of firewood and straw for the patients beds, who “must inevitably suffer greatly”. M859
Petition (not dated on front) to the Hon. Congress of the U. S. of America from “Bodo Otto, late Phisician & Surgeon to the M. D.” [17841 — a genealogical gold mine, written 3 years before his death at the age of 76, in which he sketches his history with the Army from his residence at the beginning of the war, to his appointment as Doctor for a Battalion of the Flying Camp, during which all his medicine and useful utensils were lost at a surprise attack on Long Island, followed by his commission to act as Sr. Surgeon in the Hospitals of the U.S. in April 1777 … 1782 his accounts were settled and Certificates [bounty land] received, “But on Account of Necessity, your petitioner was Obliged to sell them to Speculators, for a Mere trifle, Merely to relieve him of his Absolute Present Wants, and has Ever Since been Obliged to Shift for Necessity for himself and Familie … has yet some hopes of receiving Something for his Great Toil & Service and humbly prays the Hon. Congress Would be pleased to relieve him, in his Distress“. M247