In a 1777 letter to Continental Congress President John Hancock, George Washington called on the army to be inoculated against smallpox. He feared it every bit as much as the muskets of the British.
“Finding the smallpox to be spreading much and fearing that no precaution can prevent it from running through the whole of our army, I have determined that troops shall be inoculated. This expedient may be attended with some inconveniences and some disadvantages, but yet I trust in its consequences will have the most happy effects. Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the Army . . . we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy.”