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John Farrand Hamilton, U.S.V.
Major John Farrand Hamilton, U.S.V.
Major John Farrand Hamilton was born at Marbledale, Litchfield County,
Connecticut, December 22, 1830; was the eldest son of a father who had
inherited the force and nobility of character of his immediate ancestor,
Alexander Hamilton, without the environment essential to the development
of his splendid powers.
He blessed his son with a large measure of his native virtues; therefore,
in the more auspicious sphere of life in which that son moved, the father
saw some fruition of his own unsatisfied aspirations.
From a farm-plough John "looked not back," but onward. He strove hard for
his academic course, and from such insufficient preparation entered upon
the study of medicine at Rush College, Chicago, from which he was
graduated in 1854, attracting the favor of his professors, and receiving
immediately, through the great Surgeon Brainard, appointment as
house-surgeon to the U. S. Marine Hospital, where theories were tested by
their practical applicability, and where the young man found in the
master-mind no temper for commonplace service.
Care for the disabled toilers of the inland seas was hourly duty. Thus was
he disciplined, and soon, like many others, hurried into the vortex of the
In the then far-off Colorado he was in August, 1861, appointed surgeon of
the first cavalry regiment organized by Governor Gilpin, and sent south to
watch Sibley's Texans. At Fort Craig they camped in the sand, and then
came inaction, impatience, and suffering.
||As the soldiers fared, so fared
he, relieving the encroachments of the dreaded scurvy with wild
onions and grapes, which he obtained for them. Officially he was
upon the commander's staff, but his actual whereabouts during this
dreary campaign was at the hospital tent and ambulance.
The ferocious frontiersmen composing that regiment, styled in
derision " The Colorado Pet Lambs," doffed their hats with a salute
born of true affection when he appeared, because, although he
exacted obedience, mercy and justice were ever his religion. Thus he
honored the great profession of medicine, of which he was to his
last day a reverent disciple.
During the seasons of 1862-63 he guarded his sick on the Rio Grande
and dreary plains, as the forces scouted after Texans and Indians,
whose coalition threatened to carry New Mexico and Colorado out of
At the battles of Valverde and Apache Canon he participated, and was
then ordered to Denver for promotion as medical director Department of the
Plains, General Connor's staff, remaining there upon duty until honorably
mustered out Nov. 18, 1865. He then accepted a special commission to Fort
Douglas, Utah, which after two years he resigned. He soon engaged in the
practice of medicine in Salt Lake, where he gained brilliant advantage
from insignificant scientific opportunities, in a field isolated from
centers of learning, but which was for him comprehensively the
intermountain empire. He established permanently the first of Utah's
hospitals, "St. Mark's," under the auspices of the Episcopal mission,
extending its gracious ministries to all, regardless of creed.
His observations here upon the action of lead-poison were extensive and
his treatment original, having already been adopted as specific by the
profession, who regret that he wrote no brochure upon this interesting and
obscure disease; indeed, he could not reconcile silence with his ideal
helpfulness to his fellows. Lacking the calmness necessary for authorship,
he cheerfully accepted toil equally severe, and when importuned to write,
remarked, that "if he wrote too little, many doctors wrote too much." He
made but few notes of his cases, but was glad to help younger men and
lighten their discouragements.
He founded the Salt Lake Medical Society, being twice its president, and
promoting that esprit de corps and high standard of professional honor
known as the greatest stimulant of individual excellence.
When circumstances suggested he uttered some aphorisms, which are a
perfect index of his honest directness and contempt of sophistry, avarice,
" Go to a busy man for a favor."
" I want no widow's cow."
" Death is as much a part of life as living."
Thus this man beloved wrought on modestly, bravely, until the familiar
enemy with whom he had so often battled met him in the gate. He saluted
the inexorable Commander with a smile of peace, and passed onward beyond
bound of mortal record or recall, on April 9, 1892, a faithful member of
G. A. R., and Loyal Legion, U. S. A., Commandery of California.
" Laborare est oram"
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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