Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chapter 22 - My Revolutionary War Ancestors Part 2

In February of 2009 I received correspondence from one my distant cousins, Jan Starkweather Van Lyse, who asked me for my sources of information for John Starkweather, my third great granduncle and the son of my 4th great grandfather and our common ancestor, Elijah Starkweather. She had seen my family tree on which led her to write. In the course of our back and forth correspondence Jan mentioned that Elijah Starkweather was a Revolutionary War soldier, a fact that I had previously overlooked. My original intent was to simply add this narrative on Elijah Starkweather’s war record to the biographies of my other Revolutionary War ancestors that are covered in Chapter 15 of my Baker Family History Blog at www.Bakerfamilytree, Elijah would have been our Patriot #27, however as I researched Elijah, I discovered six additional ancestors that I had also missed when I first wrote Chapter 15 and I concluded that there was enough new information to justify writing this entirely new separate chapter.
Patriot #27: Elijah Starkweather (1756-1847):

The last of the major service-pension act benefiting Revolutionary War veterans was passed in the U.S. Congress on June 7, 1832. Prior pension acts starting with the first pension legislation in American history signed on August 26, 1776 limited pensions to officers and later amended to include disabled and indigent soldiers. The act in 1832 however, for the first time made pensions available to all veterans or their widows who could show that they served at least six months. The size of the actual benefit was determined primarily by rank and length of service. In the year 1832 alone, 33,425 new pension applications were submitted which is an extraordinary number considering that the war had ended 49 years earlier. Were it not for these applications and the detailed information provided therein most of our ancestors’ Revolutionary War experiences would be lost in history. This was particularly true in the case of my ancestor Elijah Starkweather, who served in his state’s militia on four separate occasions spanning from 1775 to 1779. His total time in the militia however, added up to only 7-1/2 months as each new enlistment period was of short duration and was followed by a discharge. This was a very common occurrence for militia enlistees. Elijah Starkweather’s application dated July of 1833 consisted of almost five pages of a handwritten narrative that described his history in the military including the dates of each enlistment, the location of the service, the officers’ names under whom he served, and his dates of discharge. In Elijah’s case his application was prepared by others in the form of a deposition and it is suggested from the application that he may not have been able to write since he signed his name with his mark. The application however, does state that he was “now perfectly blind and in poor health.” The application further states that he was 78 years old in 1833.

It is interesting that in his application Elijah stated that he was not clear as to his birth date. He believed that it was 1755 which as it turns out was not correct. Considering that today many of us know the time of day that we were born and almost all of us celebrate our birthday in one form or another each year, poor Elijah was not even clear what year he was born. He was aware however, many years later when he prepared the pension application, that he entered the service in the Connecticut militia “as a substitute for his brother Joseph Starkweather” in Cambridge, Massachusetts in May of 1775 “soon after the Battle of Lexington” that was fought on April 19, 1775. He served in and around Cambridge for a period of three months at which time “his brother returned to said service,” replaced him, and Elijah was discharged. During the period that Elijah served in the Boston area, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought and while it is possible that he was present at the battle, it seems unlikely since first he failed to mention this fact in his application, and secondly only around 1,500 Americans were at the battle site on June 17, 1775 whereas it is estimated that at the time there were upwards of 15,000 State militia in the area and most of the militia soldiers remained on their lines that were surrounding Boston. The map above shows how the Boston area looked in 1775 with Cambridge on the Charles River to the west of Boston, Bunker (Breeds) Hill to the north across the bay, and Roxbury to the south located on the only road leading out of Boston.

Elijah Starkweather re-enlisted in the spring of 1776 and “he marched with said company to Cambridge and from there to Roxbury.” Roxbury as shown in the map above guarded the main road out of Boston thus preventing supplies at least by land from reaching the British stationed in Boston. The superiority of the British navy (the Americans had no navy to speak of) allowed the British troops in Boston to be supplied by sea. In July of 1775, George Washington assumed control of the American forces surrounding Boston and one of his earliest orders was to direct the movement of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to the Boston area. Fort Ticonderoga had been captured from the British on May 10, 1775. Washington ordered the guns placed on the hills at Dorchester Heights across the bay to the east of Boston so that they would be in a position to bombard the City of Boston and the British. The British realizing that they would soon be in a position of weakness once the guns were in place evacuated Boston on March 17, 1776. Elijah Starkweather stated in his application “that he was stationed there at the time Boston was evacuated by the enemy and saw them sail out of the harbor.” This must have been a joyful occasion for all of the American troops surrounding Boston. Since the purpose of his pension application was to convince the federal government that he was qualified for a pension, he must have felt that adding the following statement in his application would help his cause: “. . . he saw and knew Gen Washington, Gen Putnam, Gen Green, Gen Lee, that he was personally acquainted with General Putnam. . .” As a private in the militia it is doubtful that he was “personally acquainted” with any generals but I am pleased that he felt comfortable stating his positive relationship with General Putnam even if the relationship was only in his own mind. Elijah Starkweather was again discharged for a second time after serving for only a 1-1/2 months. The British at this point had departed Boston.

Elijah Starkweather served in the militia on two additional occasions. He re-enlisted for a third time in the spring of 1778 where he again served for a period of 1-1/2 months, this time at Fort Griswold located near the village of Groton in New London County in Connecticut. Here he claims to have been “. . employed guarding and repairing said fort. . .” His final enlistment according to his application began in February of 1779 when his militia unit was ordered to march to Providence, Road Island “where he was stationed at the College.” [Elijah does not state the name of the college although it was probably Brown University that was first established in 1764 and was known to be the site of a French infantry encampment before they marched to Yorktown and helped the Americans defeat the British in 1781.] Here again he served for a total period of 1-1/2 months at which time he returned home for the final time. Elijah Starkweather’s application qualified him for a small pension that he continued to collect until his death in 1847 at the age of 90. Not bad for a guy who probably never fired a bullet in the direction of the enemy and who stated in his pension application in 1833 fourteen years earlier, that he was “now perfectly blind and in poor health”. His brother Joseph Starkweather, who is my 4th great granduncle, is also recognized as a Patriot in the American Revolution. The daughter of Elijah Starkweather, Adaline, married John J Yawger. Adaline Starkweather Yawger is the great grandmother of my grandmother, Florence Adaline Ferree.

Patriot #28: Alexander Miller (1748-1843):

At least five of my great grandfathers fought in the same regiment, Colonel John Hathorn’s Fourth Regiment of the Orange County [New York] Militia. Hathorn’s second in command in the regiment was my great grandfather Lieut. Col. Henry Wisner, listed as my Patriot #1 in Chapter 15. Two of the captains in this same regiment were also my great grandfathers, Capt. Peter Bertholf, Patriot #2, and Capt. John Wisner, my Patriot #3, both also covered in Chapter 15. Recent research has discovered four additional great grandfathers who served in the 4th Regiment: Privates Alexander Miller, Abraham Bennett and his son Abraham Bennett Jr., and Joseph Smith. There are as many as another half dozen great granduncles who served in this same regiment including Alexander Miller’s two brothers, Capt. Andrew Miller and Ensign William Miller.

Most history books covering the Revolutionary War describe the actions of George Washington and his Continental army. Unfortunately, there is very little taught in schools about the activities of the state militia units despite the fact that the majority of Revolutionary War patriots were enlisted in state militias not under the direct control of General Washington. Washington correctly believed that without a full time army he could not have won the war, however it is also true that without the local militia units like the Orange County 4th Regiment, the war would also have been lost. Militia soldiers were part time soldiers who were called up for service on an as-needed basis. For example, if one of their local communities was threatened in some way, or if fortifications required building or repair work, or if the Continental Army needed support, the militia would be called up to accomplish the task and once the task was completed, the militia units would be discharged. It was not unusual for a period of service to be as short as two weeks and rarely did service in the militia last more than six continuous months unless of course, the militia soldier continued to re-enlist. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of the militia units was that they were not well trained, they did not gain much in the way of battle experience, and in most cases their commitment to their farms and their families took precedence over their commitment to winning the war. We are fortunate that my 5th great grandfather, Alexander Miller lived long enough to have submitted his application for a Revolutionary War pension, for his application document provides great insight into the military life of a typical militia soldier. His application was submitted in 1832.

Alexander Miller was only seventeen years old when he enlisted in the 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia in late April of 1775. It was an exciting time in the small village of Florida where the Miller family lived. The news of the engagement on April 19th between the American militia and the British regulars at Lexington and Concord near Boston had the recruiters busy signing up new recruits. Militiamen in the 4th Regiment were drawn from men living in the area surrounding Warwick and the nearby village of Florida located in the southern part of Orange County about 70 miles north of New York City. All of the Miller brothers enlisted including Alexander’s two older brothers, Andrew who was made a captain, and William who enlisted as an ensign. Alexander probably had no idea why the British army and the militia around Boston were fighting, but the thought of getting away from his father’s farm chores and the small coins that was promised when he signed his name on the enlistment papers were enough to excite his young mind about the possibility of going to war.

According to Alexander Miller’s long and detailed pension application which he filed in 1832, he served in the 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia for a total period of 25-1/4 months that spanned from 1775 to late 1781. He was discharged for the final time shortly following the British defeat at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. He was either drafted or he re-enlisted on at least a dozen different occasions during the six year period serving mostly as a private when he enlisted and as a sergeant when he was drafted back into service. It does not appear from the description of his service that he ever fired a gun in battle during the war. Most of his activities seemed to be defensive in nature such as constructing or guarding frontier forts along the upper Delaware River on Orange County’s western border and at the forts along the Hudson River such as Fort Montgomery. The major charge for the Orange County militia was to protect their community from the threat of attacks from Indian and Loyalist (Tory) forces that were constantly raiding frontier communities during the entire course of the American Revolution. Alexander Miller mentioned in his application that he was part of a militia force that was rushed to support the 4th Regiment at the Battle of Minisink. Minisink Ford where the battle was fought was on the western border of Orange County near the banks of the Upper Delaware River. The battle was fought between a force of around 60 Indians and 27 Tories under the command of Joseph Brant, a Mohawk war chief and a Captain in the British army, and a contingent of 120 Orange County militiamen who were under the command of Col. John Hathorn. The Indians and Tories carried the day leaving 44 of the militia soldiers dead. There does not seem to be any reason to question Alexander Miller’s assertion that he was in the vicinity of the Battle of Minisink when it was fought although his application gives the time of the battle as August or September of 1777 whereas the battle actually occurred on July 22, 1779. He was 74 years old when he prepared his application, over 50 years after the battle took place, and he probably needs to be granted the benefit of the doubt for his dating error considering the passage of time. In any case, he was granted a pension for his war services. After the war in March of 1795, the Alexander Miller family moved to Tioga County in northern Pennsylvania. In 1813, the family moved to the village of Groton in Tompkins County, New York. When Alexander’s wife died in 1829, he lived with several of his children at their homes in Tioga County and Steuben County, NY until his death in 1843. He is believed to be buried in the Barbours Corners Cemetery in Horseheads, New York. Alexander Mill is my ancestor on my Grandmother Helen Spaulding’s side of our family.

Patriots #29 and #30: Abraham Bennett (1715-1790) and Abraham Bennett Jr. (1742-1795):
That joining the local militia during the American Revolution was sometimes a family affair is well illustrated in the case of the Bennett family. Not only did Abraham Sr., my 6th great grandfather, enlist at the age of sixty but also at least four of his sons joined including Abraham Jr., my 5th great grandfather, and his younger brothers Benjamin, Thaddeus, Thomas, and Gershom. Gershom was only 13 when he enlisted. The list of men who served in the 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia includes ten men with the surname of Bennett including Abraham Sr. and his sons as well as his brother, Ephraim and his sons. It is also known that Abraham Jr.’s younger brother, Benjamin Bennett, my 5th great granduncle was one of the 44 militiamen killed at the Battle of Minisink on July 22, 1779. Since neither Abraham nor his father lived to apply for a pension in 1832, we know no details of their activities during the War although it seems likely that they served much in the manner that Alexander Miller served as described above. Revolutionary War payroll records confirm that both men can without question be listed as Patriots. It is likely that the Bennett family and the Miller family were acquainted not only because they lived in the same small community but also because one of Abraham Jr. son’s, Comfort Bennett, married one of the daughters of Alexander Miller, Abigail Miller. Comfort, who was born at the close of the war, was too young to have enlisted. The portraits above are those of Comfort Bennett and his lovely wife Abigail. The Bennetts are also my ancestors on my Grandmother Helen Spaulding’s side of my family.

Patriot #31: Joseph Smith (? – 1846)

Despite the fact that Joseph Smith, my 5th great grandfather, was alive in 1832 there seems to be no record that he filed an application for a pension based on his Revolutionary War service. As a result we know little about his war record other than it is clear that he served as a private in the 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia along with many other men with the surname of Smith some of whom were no doubt his relatives. The only payroll record that I could find for Joseph Smith lists him serving in Capt. Colvill Shepard’s Company in Col. John Hathorn’s Regiment of the Orange County Militia during the time period of June 12th through the 19th in the year 1779 “on an Alarm at Minisink.” This is the time period a month preceding the Battle of Minisink that was fought on July 22, 1779. There is no evidence that Joseph was present at the battle or any other records that I could locate to define his service although no doubt he was engaged in other military activities during the course of the war. [A photograph of the monument honoring the soldiers that died at the Battle of Minisink is shown on the left]. It is important to note that Joseph Smith married Sally Hallock, the daughter of John Hallock, another Revolutionary War soldier, my Patriot #32, and Joseph and Sally Smith’s daughter, Maria Smith, my 4th great grandmother, married the grandson of Henry Wisner, the Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Regiment, and the grandson of Peter Bertholf, one of the captains in the 4th Regiment. Both Wisner and Bertholf are my ancestors. Joseph and Sally Smith are believed to have died and been buried in Chemung County, New York. Joseph Smith is also my ancestor on my Grandmother Helen Spaulding’s side of my family.

Patriot #32: John Hallock (1751-1842):

In 1833, John Hallock, my 6th great grandfather, submitted his application for a pension based on his Revolutionary War service. Despite a rather detailed description of his service his application was rejected and he was denied a pension. It is not clear why the government decided that he was not qualified although it was probably based on his inability to furnish any documents such as discharge papers or other documentation attesting to his service. All that he did include with his application papers were depositions from his neighbors attesting to his honestly and their belief that he serviced during the war. One of the depositions was submitted by his son, John Hallock Jr., who had served eight years as a United States Congressman from the State of New York, but even this document from a known Congressman failed to sway the government officials. Despite the rejection of his application for a pension, there seems to be a general consensus that he served in the military. John Hallock was accepted as a Revolutionary War Patriot by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), Volumes 1-40, Index Book 15513. In the “History of the Minisink Region” written by Charles E. Stickney and published in 1867, his service in the Revolutionary War is acknowledged. Finally, in a history of the Hallock family, “A Hallock Genealogy” written by Lucius H. Orient in 1928, the author lists dozens of members of the Hallock family that serviced during the Revolution including John Hallock, as well as his brothers Daniel, Zachariah, and Richard.

John Hallock and most of the other male citizens of his hometown, Southold located at the far eastern end of Long Island, joined the First Regiment of Minutemen of the Suffolk County Militia in April of 1776 shortly following the British evacuation of Boston. It was widely believed at the time that the British would next invade New York and consequently General George Washington now commanding a new Continental army, marched from Boston to the defense of New York. Many of the citizens of Long Island including those living near the small village of Southold were in panic and quickly packed their belongings and in some cases even their livestock, abandoned their homes, and sailed across the Long Island Sound for safety in Connecticut. This was quite a remarkable change for the large extended Hallock family since the immigrant father of their family, William Hallock, had first settled in the Southold area back in 1640, 136 years earlier.

The British landed on Staten Island off the west coast of Long Island in July of 1776 and over the next month and a half they reinforced their troop strength until it reached to over 30,000 men. In the meantime, John Hallock with his militia regiment marched the almost 100 miles from their home in Southold to the west end of Long Island to join with the rest of General Washington’s forces which numbered around 10,000. Hallock’s company under the command of Colonel Josiah Smith consisted of around 100 men. It is unclear from John Hallock’s application exactly what troop movements his company was engaged in after they reached Brooklyn and after the British landed on Long Island on August 22, 1776, however his testimony that “. . we came within half a mile of the British army. . .” suggests that their militia was part of the American force that marched to meet the British along the western coastline road on Long Island on August 27th. The Americans once they realized that they were greatly outnumbered by the British, quickly retreated in a less than orderly fashion back to the main American forces that were positioned at Brooklyn Heights. On August 28th it poured rain and the British who now had the Americans surrounded at Brooklyn Heights held their position as a battle in the rain and mud was thought to be impossible. As you can see from the above map showing the troop movements during the Battle of Long Island, Washington’s forces at Brooklyn Heights were trapped and appeared ready for a major defeat. They were in much the same position as the British soldiers were on the beaches at Dunkirk in the early part of World War II. However, just as Hitler had hesitated to attack at Dunkirk, the British commander, General Lord William Howe, delayed attacking the Americans during the day of August 29, 1776. Had Howe attacked as his officers recommended, the British would have most likely have quickly and completely defeated the American army and ended the American Revolution on August 29, 1776, less than two months following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But General Howe did not attack which gave Washington a chance to evacuate his forces by boat after dark on the night of August 29th sailing across the East River to Manhattan Island. They were aided in their evacuation by a miracle for a dense fog and a wind that prevented the British ships from entering the mouth of the East River allowed the American to escape undetected. John Hallock was evacuated with the others, and once on Manhattan Island, his militia was disbanded and he was told to go home and help his family.

In his pension application John Hallock stated that he “went home and removed his wife leaving all his effects” behind and “that he came to reside in the town of Blooming Grove in Orange County. .” Washington’s Continental Army eventually evacuated New York and conceded the city to the British which they occupied until 1783, several years after the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. John Hallock was to reside for the remainder of his life in Orange County, New York, however his military obligations were not finished with the American defeat at the Battle of Long Island. Shortly after his arrival at his new home in Blooming Grove, John was drafted into the First Regiment of the Orange County Militia under the command of Captain Thomas Horton. According to his application he spent a total of two years with the Orange County militia mostly with duties helping to construct forts along the Hudson, particularly Fort Montgomery on the northern border of Orange County. Fort Montgomery was strategically located on the Hudson in a position to prevent British troop movement via boats up the Hudson River. The strategic location of Fort Montgomery was recognized by the British and in October of 1777, the British under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton attacked and captured the fort. It was interesting to read in the “History of the Minisink Region” [Minisink was where the Hallocks retired after the war] that John Hallock was not at the fort when it was attacked. It states that “His brother Daniel was acting as his substitute at the capture of Fort Montgomery in 1777, and narrowly escaped being taken prisoner.” Captain Thomas Horton of the First Regiment was killed at the Battle of Fort Montgomery. Some of the many forts constructed along the Hudson River are shown in the drawing to the left. John Hallock died many years later in 1842. John Hallock was the father-in-law of Joseph Smith and my ancestor on my Grandmother Helen Spaulding’s side of our family.

Patriot #32: Jacob Coapman (1740-1810):

Unfortunately, very little historical information is available about Jacob Coapman’s Revolutionary War service although the existence of Jacob Coapman is well documented as having lived in Dutchess County during the period of the Revolutionary War and his name appears on a Revolutionary War Pledge that he and others signed on August 15, 1775, shortly following the Battle of Bunker Hill. His name is also mentioned a number of times in the records of Christ Church, an Episcopal church in Poughkeepsie, and in the tax rolls in Dutchess County, where his name appears in 1774, 1775 and 1777. It follows therefore, that the Jacob Coapman whose Revolutionary War payroll record for the period of October 6th through October 28th, 1777 listing him as a private in Capt. John Van Buntschoten’s Company of Col. Brinckerhoff’s 2nd Regiment of Militia of the Dutchess County Militia is the Jacob Coapman who is my ancestor. Other than this single payroll record I could find no other evidence that Jacob Coapman was a Revolutionary War Patriot. It is likely however, that he served on more than this one occasion guarding the frontier against attacks from Indian and Loyalist troops and assisting in the construction of forts along the Hudson River. One of Jacob Coapman’s brothers, Johannes Coapman, is listed in the 4th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia and it is interesting to discover that Johannes Coapman’s wife, Seletje LeRoy, was the sister of Jacob Coapman’s wife, Maria LeRoy. We also find that another great granduncle, Abraham Coapman, served in the Tryon County Militia (Tryon County is now Montgomery County). Jacob and Maria Coapman are my 5th great grandparents on my mother’s side of our family.

Patriot #33: Asa Johnson (1735-1791):

Fort Rutland, Vermont, constructed 1775
Asa Johnson moved his wife and three children to Rutland, Vermont from Massachusetts in the summer of 1770. He was 35 years old. The small farming community of Rutland had been settled in 1767 only a few years before the arrival of the Johnson family. Asa’s wife, Thankful Cowles Johnson, had in fact been pregnant when they moved to Rutland and their fourth child, a daughter named Chloe Johnson, was born only a few months after their arrival. Chloe was their third child and the first female child born in Rutland. Only one payroll record with Asa Johnson’s name exists in the federal archives, however it confirms that Asa Johnson can be claimed as a Revolutionary War Patriot. This payroll record covers the time period of October 21st through October 30th of 1781 when Asa served as a private at Castleton, Vermont in Capt. Nathaniel Blanchard’s Company of Militia in Col. Thomas Lee’s Regiment. Asa’s son Benjamin, aged 23, is also listed as having served during this time period. Castleton is located about nine miles west of Rutland. While it is likely that Asa Johnson served more than these few days in October of 1781, there is no evidence to suggest that he was involved in the capture of nearby Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775 with Nathan Hale and his Green Mountain Boys, or involved in any of the other activities of the Green Mountain Boys such as the ill-fated attempt to invade Canada. It is very possible however, that Asa Johnson fought at the only battle that took place in Vermont during the war, the Battle of Hubbardton, that occurred on July 7, 1777. Nearby Rutland where Asa Johnson lived was the headquarters of the “Republic of Vermont” during a part of of the Revolutionary War and it is probable that Asa was involved in the construction and guard duties at the local forts including Fort Rutland constructed in 1775 and Fort Ranger near Rutland constructed in 1778. A sketch of Fort Rutland as it appeared during the Revolutionary War is shown above. Asa Johnson died at the relatively young age of 55. He was my 5th great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family.

Patriot #34: Timothy Baker

Patriot #35: Isaiah Vail (1731-1810)

Isaiah Vail, my 7th great grandfather, is recognized by both the Daughters and the Sons of the American Revolution as a Revolutionary War Soldier. He was a Captain in the Second Regiment of the Ulster County Militia under the command of Colonel James McClaughry. The most notable service of the Second Regiment during the war was in the battle fought in the defense of Fort Montgomery in October of 1777. Fort Montgomery was located not far south of West Point and on 6 October 1777 it was attacked by a large British force and after a short battle the fort was captured. Of the 600 Americans defending the fort more than half were killed, wounded, or captured. As best that we can determine, our great grandfather was among the American soldiers who were able to escape although Col James McClaughry and many others were not so lucky. It is generally noted that Isaiah Vail was a solder in the war from October of 1775 until October of 1779 although details are lacking and there is a payroll record of his service in December of 1790. There is one record that notes that in October of 1778 he was part of a force of soldiers ordered to march to the small settlement of Peenpack (now Deerpark) in Minisink Valley to oppose a force of Indians and Tories although his service in this case according to his payroll record only lasted a few days. Fortunately for militia soldiers their involvement in the Revolutionary War was often limited especially since General George Washington was not a big supporter of the quality of their services.

Patriot #36: Matthew McConnell (1739-1817):

Matthew McConnell, my 6th great grandfather, was a sergeant in the 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia under the direct leadership of Capt Peter Bertholf also one of my 6th great grandfathers. Second in command of the 4th Regiment was a man named Lt Col Henry Wisner who also was another one of my 6th great grandfathers. The 4th Regiment of the Orange County Militia was fairly active during the Revolutionary War as they were engaged in several battles against the British on Long Island including the Battle of Harlem Heights in September of 1776 and later at the Battle of White Plains in October of 1776. This militia is also credited with being the primary American military force at the Battle of Minisink fought in July of 1779.  Unfortunately they lost the battle and their forces were described in a Wikipedia website as being "hastily assembled, ill-equipped, and inexperienced."  Of the 120 American militia soldiers present at the battle, 48 were killed. This compares unfavorably with only three of the enemy soldiers being killed. The enemy in this case consisted of around 60 Iroquois Indians and 27 British Tories.  Unfortunately this was a common criticism of most of the American militia forces during the Revolution as the militia men were generally considered as being only part time and often poorly trained soldiers. Matthew McConnell is recognized by the Sons of the American Revolution as a Revolutionary War soldier.

Patriot #39: Moses DeGraff (1748-1828):

Our Moses DeGraff, my 5th great grandfather, is often confused with another Moses DeGraff (1724-1800) who was his cousin and who was also a soldier during the American Revolution. My great grandfather, Moses, was a private in the 6th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia under the command of Col Morris Graham and it is very likely that he was an active participant in the Battle of White Plains fought on 28 October 1776. It is written that his militia along with other militias occupied a position on Chatterton Hill which was a scene during the Battle of White Plains of a powerful British assault following a fierce cannonade and it is considered as the best known action during the battle. While Cousin Moses DeGraff is listed as a soldier by the Daughters of the American Revolution apparently no descendant of our Moses DeGraff has yet to seek acceptance using him as a Revolutionary War soldier.

Patriot #40: Thomas Coon (1723-1785:

Thomas Coon was accepted as a Patriot by the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR #A025675. While we did not learn anything about Thomas Coon's military service searching the internet, as a resident of Bound Brook in Somerset County, New Jersey and as a soldier fighting in Col. Roderick Frelinghuysen's regiment, he undoubtedly was present at both the Battle of Bound Brook in April of 1777 and later at the Battle of Monmouth in June of 1778.

Patriot #41: Philip Adam Diller (1723-1777):

Philip Adam Diller has been accepted as a militia soldier by the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR #A036148. He apparently enlisted as a militia soldier in 1777 when in March of 1777 the Pennsylvania law changed making enrollment compulsory for all males between the ages of 18 and 53. At the time he was 53 and he was placed along with two of his sons, Adam and Leonard, in Colonial David Jenkin's 10th Battalion Lancaster County Militia. There is no evidence that he ever participated in any battles and in any case he died in September of 1777 probably from a disease he may have caught while serving in the militia. Philip Adam Diller was my 6th great grandfather on my mother's side of my family.

Patriot #42: Israel Titus (1738-1811):

We were surprised to find that neither the Daughters nor the Sons of the American Revolution had our 5th great grandfather, Israel Titus, listed as a Revolutionary War soldier despite the fact that his name was included in a list of soldiers in the Fourth Regiment "of the Forces of the United Colonies raised in the Colony of New York." The New York Regiment was under the command of Col. James Holmes and Israel was in a Company of Dutchess County soldiers led by Capt. Daniel Mills. This particular regiment was active from around June of 1775 until the end of December 1775 and as far as we can determine it too was engaged in the invasion of Canada. Whether or not Israel Titus re-enlisted after 1775 we were unable to determine although it would seem likely. Also in the same Dutchess County Regiment was a man named James Titus who might very well have been Israel's older brother. James Titus is included in the DAR listing of Revolutionary War soldiers.

Patriot #43: Hezekiah Mead (1748-1810):

Hezekiah Mead, my 5th great grandfather, was a captain in the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia under the command of Col Henry Luddington. We could not find whether he was ever accepted by the DAR or the SAR as a Revolutionary War soldier although there are enough records available to show convincingly that he was a Patriot. As a captain, Hezekiah would have commanded around 85 to 100 men which would have been considered a "Company" and most of the men as militia solders were only part timers serving for a maximum period of 3 months and sometimes for only a matter of weeks. While Hezekiah may have volunteered earlier, the 7th Regiment was actually formed by July of 1776 and it is recorded that they were present at the Battle of White Plains fought on 28 October 1776. Following George Washington retreat from the New York City area after the battle, the 7th Regiment was pretty much retired to serve principally in a "military police" role in Dutchess County by keeping the loyal British Tories under control. Perhaps the best known battle involving Capt Hezekiah Mead and the 7th Regiment took place in April of 1777 near Danbury, Connecticut. A British force of around 2,000 soldiers had departed ships in the Long Island Sound and marched to Danbury and there they burned an American supply depot. They were soon attacked by American forces in Ridgefield, Connecticut as they were returning to their ships and while the American troops were hopelessly outnumbered, it is reported that their gunfire at the retreating British troops injured or killed up to 500 men. It is also reported that a group of 7th Regiment soldiers were later present at a skirmish at Fishkill, New York in June of 1779. Fishkill was also a major American supply depot during the war and it too was attacked by around 330 British soldiers. Whether our Hezekiah was present at the skirmish could not be determined and in any case from what we read, following the brief skirmish the militia soldiers soon marched home and disbanded so as "to tend to the summer farm chores." Such was the life of the part time militia soldiers during our American Revolution.  After the war, Hezekiah lived with his family in the village of Warwick in present day Orange County before moving to the Elmira area sometime before the year 1810. Hezekiah Mead is my ancestor through my paternal grandmother Helen Mary Spaulding.

Patriot #44: Jacob Reynolds (1731-1786):
Patriot #45: Martin Tichenor


I am unable to determine with any degree of accuracy the total number of my great grandfathers who participated in the American Revolution. Of the forty-five Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors that I have so far uncovered, most of them were my 5th great grandfathers although a few were 6th great grandfathers and at least one was a 4th great grandfather. In seven cases, the Patriots were father and the son teams. My best guess at this point is that from 70 to 80 of my great grandfathers were between the ages of 16 and 60 during the Revolutionary War and all of them may have been soldiers in the war assuming of course, that they were living in this county at the time, were not British Loyalists, or did not object to the war for religious reasons (Quakers). Of the 70 to 80 great grandfathers mentioned above, I have identified at least 20 who were not living in America at the time of the war, another five who were Quakers, and at least one who was a Loyalist. If I subtract these twenty-six men from a total of say 76 possible participants, that would leave 50 great grandfathers who may have fought in the Revolution. Since forty-five great grandfathers have already been identified, then somewhere in the range of five or so have yet to be identified. Not bad.


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