James Craik was born in Scotland where he received a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh. Immigrating to America, he eventually set up his medical practice in Winchester, Virginia. Dr. Craik came to know George Washington during the French and Indian War when he served as his medical officer. He moved to Maryland after resigning from the army but he and George Washington remained friends for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Craik joined the American army in 1777 when his old friend Washington offered him a position as a medical officer. He eventually rose to the position of Chief Hospital Physician and Surgeon of the American army. Dr. Craik was instrumental in setting up the hospitals that provided medical attention to the French troops in Rhode Island during their stay from 1780-1781.
He joined the American army on it's march to Yorktown and commanded a field hospital during the siege. Craik left the army in 1783 and returned to private practice, this time in Alexandria, Virginia. He continued his association with George Washington by becoming the personal physician to Washington and his family. Dr. Craik would be present at the death of George Washington on December 14, 1799.