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First Name: James

Last Name: Tilton

Birthplace: Kent County, DE, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 01 June 1745

Date of Death: 14 May 1822

Rank: General

Years Served:
James Tilton

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)
•  War of 1812


James Tilton
First Surgeon General of the U.S. Army

James Tilton was born on 1 June 1745 in Kent County, DE, to Thomas Tilton, a farmer. After attending an academy in West Nottingham, PA, he attended the College of Philadelphia (which was later the University of Pennsylvania). He graduated in 1768 and earned a degree as a Doctor of Medicine in 1771. He started a medical practice at Dover, and also served as an infantry Lieutenant in Dover's Company of the Kent County Militia.

When the Revolutionary War began, his Militia became part of the 1st Delaware Regiment of the Continental Army. Colonel John Haslet quickly reassigned him to duty as the Regimental Surgeon. He served with distinction and saw action at the battles of Brooklyn, White Plains, Trenton, and Princeton.

Haslet's unit was virtually destroyed in the Battle of Princeton in January of 1777. Colonel Haslet was killed and the command structure was rebuilt. Tilton remained in service with the Continental Army as the Head of Military Hospitals, first at Princeton and later at Trenton, NJ, and other sites. When active fighting ended in 1781, he returned to his practice at Dover.

As the war was ending, the surviving Delaware officers organized a chapter in the Society of the Cincinnati. Tilton was elected their first president at a meeting in Wilmington on 4 July 1783. He served in that office until 1793. During this time he also moved to a home and farm just outside of Wilmington.

Delaware named Tilton as a Delegate to the Continental Congress three times from 1783 until 1785, although he didn't attend sessions in the last year. He also served several terms in the State's House of Representatives.

The War of 1812 caused the U.S. Army to reorganize support and administrative functions in 1813. This included the creation of a position for a Surgeon General of the Army. Dr. Tilton was appointed and served as the first Surgeon General from June 1813 until 15 June 1815.

Tilton died in 1822, and is buried in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery there. He was a long time member of the American Philosophical Society and headed the Delaware Medical Society.

Death and Burial

Surgeon General James Tilton died 14 May 1822 at his home just outside Wilmington, DE. He is buried at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington.

Honoree ID: 3152   Created by: MHOH




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