The presence of a naval surgeon on board warships and maritime vessels was a colonial tradition long before the American Revolution. Yet studies of the navy in the Revolutionary War have ignored medical aspects. Charles O. Paullin's The Navy of the American Revolution and Gardner W. Allen's A Naval History of the American Revolution do not include discussions of health, treatment, and medical personnel in the continental and state navies. Gordon's book attempts to fill in some of the historical gaps by providing information on naval and maritime medicine.
The book is basically an expansion of the author's tight essay on the same topic that appeared in 1972 in volume 6 of Naval Documents of the American Revolution (William James Morgan, editor). The author poses a series of questions on naval-maritime medicine, covering a variety of topics, including the development of naval medicine before and during the war; the rank,