The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From Doctor David Olyphant,[1]

He was "regularly exchanged" before Gen. [Benjamin] Lincoln left Charleston, but remained there at Lincoln's "particular request" and with the promise that he would "receive Orders speedily" from Congress or the commander of the Southern Department.[2] Has not received orders yet.[3] He has learned that he is "much wanted" at the army, and is anxious to be there; but for "near five months past," he has been "confined" to his house by the British commander "through the Court of Police."[4] This has prevented him from attending the sick prisoners. Olyphant sends "particulars" to show that he is wrongfully held. Asks NG and Gov. [John] Rutledge, if the latter is at camp, to try to procure his "Enlargment."[5] Gen. Moultrie has already "made every necessary Application" without success.[6]
The bearer of this letter is Dr. Peter Fayssoux, who has just been exchanged. Olyphant believes that Fayssoux "has a right to take Charge & Superintendancy of the Hospital."[7] Olyphant assumes that the returns of sick prisoners that he has given to Moultrie will be forwarded to NG.[8] He has also sent a "full state of the Department" to the medical committee of Congress.[9] Refers NG to Fayssoux for particulars of the "Wants & Distresses" that he hopes NG will help relieve.[10]
Autograph letter signed (Louis R. Lau, 1986) 2 pp.
    [1.] David Olyphant, whose surname is often spelled Oliphant, held the post of director general of the hospitals in the Southern Department. (Gillett, Medical Department, p. 117) When Congress reorganized the hospital department in the South in May 1781, it named him deputy director. (JCC, 20: 506)
    [2.] Olyphant had been exchanged on 9 November 1780. (Heitman, Register)
    [3.] In a letter that he began on 12 February, Olyphant told NG that the medical committee of Congress had sent him orders on 18 July 1780 to rejoin the Southern Army, but he had not received the letter until 20 January. (See Olyphant to NG, 3 March, PGNG, 7: 384.)
    [4.] Olyphant was being held because of his "failure of private contract, in not liquidating his debts." (Nisbet Balfour to William Moultrie, 8 February 1781, Moultrie, Memoirs, 2: 157) In retaliation for the holding of Olyphant, the Continental Board of War ordered the detention of a British doctor. (See Wood to NG, 2 May, PGNG, 8: 195.)
    [5.] In a similar plea for help, which he sent to the South Carolina delegates in Congress, Olyphant enclosed a copy of a letter he had written to the Charleston Board of Police, justifying his actions; that letter undoubtedly contained the "particulars" that he sent to NG. (PCC, item 78, vol. 17: 313, 317, DNA)
    [6.] Correspondence concerning Olyphant between Moultrie and Balfour, the British commandant of Charleston, is printed in Moultrie, Memoirs, 2: 143, 144, 156-57.
    [7.] When it reorganized the southern hospital department in May 1781, Congress appointed Fayssoux "chief physician of the hospital." (JCC, 20: 506)
    [8.] Moultrie did not specify whether any of the returns he sent to NG on 30 January (PGNG, 7: 222-223) concerned sick prisoners.
    [9.] The report has not been found.
    [10.] It is not certain that NG received this letter. Olyphant repeated much of what he wrote here in another letter, which he began on 12 February and completed on 3 March (PGNG, 7: 384). Fayssoux, who was to have brought the above letter to NG, was detained by the British in Charleston until about the time that Olyphant completed the second letter.