Scald Feet. 18th-century Trenchfoot.

By Mark Tully

In early June of 1776, George Rogers Clark and Mr. John Gabriel Jones were elected to present a petition to the Virginia assembly proposing that the Kentucky territory be considered as a new country. Clark and Jones immediately set out for Williamsburg with their petition. Of this trip, Clark wrote the following:

"The weather being very rainy, our feet being wet for three or four days and nights without ever being dry, not daring to make fire, we both got what hunters call scald feet, a most shocking complaint; the skin seems to rot on every part of our feet; (in) this condition we traveled in greater torment than I ever before or since experienced. In hopes of getting relief at the station ten or twelve miles from the Cumberland Gap, in Powel's valley, how greatly were we disappointed on our arrival to find the place totally abandoned and part of it burned. My companion, being but little used to such distress, got almost discouraged at the disappointment ... the person on foot could, by no means, bear the torture of traveling through the thick woods."

To prevent this condition, Clark and Jones should have waterproofed their shoes! To waterproof YOUR footwear, see Steve Gilbert's article.

SOURCE: Great Americana, Clark's Memoir, George Rogers Clark, Readex Microprint Corporation, 1966, page 459. The Readex book is excerpted from English's Conquest of the Country.