from the discovery of the Delaware to the present time by W. W. H. Davis, A.M.,
1876 and 1905* editions.
Contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by Donna Bluemink. email@example.com
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Transcriber's note: Liberty has been taken with numbering footnotes so as
to include all footnotes from both the 1876 and 1905 editions, plus any
additional text and pictures in the 1905 edition. All 1905 material will
be noted with an asterisk.
Note: Where names differ, the 1905 edition spelling is applied.
The story of the Revolution. -The county faithful to the colonies. -The first steps taken.* -Committee of Safety. -Men enter the army. - The campaign of 1776. -Washington cross the Delaware. -Boats collected. -Troops distributed. -Suffering of troops. -James Monroe. -Death of Captain Moore. -Sullivan joins the army. -Quarters of Washington, Greene and Knox. -Headquarters. -Attack on Trenton. -Return of army with prisoners. -Oath of allegiance. -Militia of Bucks turn out. -Continental army crosses Bucks county. -Lafayette. -British occupancy of Philadelphia. -Depredations. -Lacey's command. -Battle of Crooked Billet.* -Bucks county riflemen. -The Doanes. -The disloyal. -Confiscations. -Hardships of the war. -Revolutionary data.*
The story of the American Revolution cannot be too often told. The wisdom and patriotism of the men who led the revolt against the British crown, and the courage and endurance of those who fought the battles of the colonies, have never been surpassed. Bucks county is surrounded by localities made memorable by the struggle. Less than a day's journey will take one to the Hall of Independence where constitutional liberty was born, to the battle fields of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Red Bank, and Monmouth, and to the bleak hills of Valley Forge. On three [four*] occasions the Continental army, with Washington at it head, marched through our county, to meet the enemy on historic fields, and in the trying period of December 1776, it sought shelter on Bucks county soil behind the friendly waters of the Delaware. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Taylor, Clymer, and Morris, made their homes in our county, [two of them, at different times living in the same dwelling,*] and one of them was buried here.
While our county was faithful to the cause of independence, a considerable minority of her population remained loyal to the crown. When the war became inevitable, Bucks was one of the first counties to act. [At a public meeting, held at Newtown, on July 9, 1774, with Gilbert Hicks, chairman, and William Walton, clerk after a brief address by the chairman,*] Joseph Hart, [of Warminster,*] John Kidd, Joseph Kirkbride, James Wallace, Henry Wynkoop, Samuel Foulke, and John Wilkinson were appointed to represent Bucks at a meeting of all the county committees to be held in Philadelphia, [July 15*] where Mr. Hart was chairman of the committee that reported in favor of "a congress of deputies from all the colonies." [On December 15, at a meeting at Newtown, Joseph Galloway, John Kidd, Christian Minnick, John Bessonett, Joseph Kirkbride, Thomas Harvey, Thomas Jenks, Henry Krewson, Joseph Hart, James Wallace, Richard Walker, John Wilkinson, Joshua Anderson, John Chapman, Jonathan Ingham, Joseph Watson, Benjamin Fell, John Kelley, David Waggoner, Abraham Stout, Thomas Foulke, John Jamison, Jacob Strahan, James Chapman, Henry Wynkoop, Jacob Beidleman, Thomas Darrach, Robert Patterson and David Twining, were appointed a "Committee of Observation" for the county.
On January 16, 1775, a committee of safety was organized in Bucks, of which Joseph Hart was [chosen*] chairman, and John Chapman clerk, in which was reposed, for the time being, the legislative and executive authority of the county. During the winter the committee collected £252. 19s. 18d. to relieve [and support*] the people "of the town of Boston."
The Society of Friends were against the war from the beginning, because strife and bloodshed were opposed to their religious tenets, but the authority of the fathers could not restrain the sons. A number of their young men gave open sympathy to the cause of the colonies, and some entered the military service. Among the latter we find the well-known names of Janney, Brown, Linton, Shaw, Milnor, Hutchinson, Bunting, Stackhouse, Canby, Lacey, and others. The meeting "dealt with" all who forsook the faith, and the elders of Richland were visited with ecclesiastical wrath for turning their backs upon King George. We must do the Society justice, however, to say that it was consistent in its action, and that the same censure was launched against the martial Quaker, whether he entered the ranks of the king or the colonies. Nevertheless, the society did not forget the needs of charity, and down to April 1776, they had already distributed £3,900, principally in New England, and Falls monthly meeting authorized subscriptions for the suffering inhabitants of Philadelphia.
When Congress authorized an army, John Lacey, an Orthodox Quaker, of Buckingham, raised a company of 64 men for Wayne's regiment, in January 1776, whose first lieutenant was Samuel Smith, of Buckingham, Michael Ryan, the second, and John Bartley, and John Forbes, ensigns. About the same time, among those who entered the military service from this county, were Robert Sample, a scholarly man from Buckingham, a captain in Hubeley's [Hubley's*] Tenth Pennsylvania regiment, a good officer who served to the end of the war, Augustus Willet, who had served with Montgomery in Canada, in 1775, a captain in Bull's regiment, Samuel Benezett, major in the Sixth Pennsylvania regiment, and Alexander Grayden [Graydon*], of Bristol, a captain in Shee's regiment, who was made prisoner at Fort Washington. Colonel Robert Magaw, of the Sixth Pennsylvania regiment, recruited a number of his men in this county, and the roll of his killed and captured at Fort Washington gives many well-known names. (1) Adjutant Johnson, (2) of Buckingham, and Lieutenants Matthew Bennett and John Erwin, of this county, were among the captured at Fort Washington, and were kept prisoners several years. Four militia regiments were organized in the county immediately after the war commenced, and in the summer of 1776, Bucks sent a battalion of 400 men, under Colonel Joseph Hart, to the Flying camp near Amboy, whose adjutant was John Johnson, surgeon, Joseph Fenton, Jr., quartermaster, Alexander Benstead, and Captains John Folwell, William Roberts, William Hart, Valentine Opp, and John Jamison.
(1) Names of officers and men from Bucks county, in Colonel Magaw's regiment killed and captured at Fort Washington:
John Beatty, major, Warminster
John Priestley, lieutenant, Bristol
William Crawford, lieutenant, Warrington
Isaac Van Horne, ensign, Solebury
John Wallace, sergeant, Warrington
John Murray, sergeant, Bristol
Robert Forsyth, corporal, Warrington
Richard Hay, private, New Britain
John Stevens, private, Bristol
John Banks, private, New Britain
Thomas Bell, private, Bristol
Daniel Gulliou, private, Warwick, died of wounds
Joshua Carrigan, private, Bristol, died in prison
Ralph Boon, private, Bristol,
Ralph Aiken, private, Warminster
William Jenkins, private, Warwick
Timothy Knowles, private, Northampton
Robert Frame, private, Bristol, died in prison
William Huston, private, Warwick
Joseph Bratton, private, Bristol,
James McNiel, Bensalem, sergeant
John Evans, sergeant, Bensalem
Daniel Kenedy, sergeant, Bristol
William Kent, private, Bensalem
Cornelius Foster, private, Bensalem
John Bell, private, Bensalem
Edward Murphy, private, Bensalem
Andrew Know, private, Bensalem
Halbert Douglass, private, Warrington
John Lalbey, private, Solebury
Edward Hovenden, ensign, Newtown
John Coxe, sergeant, Bensalem
Thomas Stevenson, sergeant, Newtown
John Sproal, corporal, Newtown
John Eastwick, corporal, Newtown
Richard Lott, private, Plumstead
Dennis Ford, private, Middletown
John Murphy, private, Falls
Thomas Varden, private, Glassworks
Richard Arkle, private, Wrightstown
Henry Aiken, private, Wrightstown
Charles A. Moss, private, Northampton
John Dunn, private, Falls
John Kerls, private, Falls
John Ketchum, private, Bensalem
Hugh Evans, private, Southampton, died in prison
George Clark, fifer, Biles Island (enlisted)
Reading Beatty, ensign, Warminster.
[The author has a piece of the discharge of Andrew Stull, of Nockamixon, a soldier of the Revolution, but we do not know when nor where he served. He died January 13, 1846, at the age of 95 years and 27 days.*]
(2) A statement in Henry Cabot Lodge's "Life of Washington," says he was six feet and six and one-half inches tall, wore shoes eleven and boots thirteen inches, and could hold a loaded musket at arms length in one hand and fire it; made, we believe, on the statement of a soldier in the Continental army, who was near him, in 1776, shortly before crossing the Delaware. We have seen no account of it elsewhere.*
The campaign of 1776 was disastrous to the American arms. Washington announced to Congress, the first of December, his contemplated retreat across the Delaware, and asked that the Pennsylvania militia be ordered toward Trenton, and the boats collected on the west side of the river. About the same time he sent forward Colonel Humpton to collect all the boats and other craft along the Delaware, and General Putnam was ordered to construct rafts of the lumber at Trenton landing, while another party was sent up the river to collect all the boards and scantling on or near the river banks. Congress and the local authorities were thoroughly alarmed at the approach of the enemy. The arms of non-associators were collected to prevent them being used against the Americans, the militia were ordered to reinforce Washington, and the owners of cattle were directed to be ready to remove them at least five miles from the river.
Washington, with the main body of the army reached Trenton the 3d of December, and the heavy stores and baggage were immediately removed to this side. He crossed over with the rear guard on Sunday morning the 8th, and took quarters at the house of a Mrs. Berkley, about a mile from the river, while the troops were stationed opposite the crossings. The enemy came marching down to the river about 11 o'clock, the same morning, expecting to cross, but were much disappointed when they found the boats had been removed to the west bank. They made demonstrations to cross above and below, including a night march to Coryell's ferry, but their attempts failed. The hostile armies now lay facing each other across the Delaware, and the cause of Independence was saved. Washington, fearing the boats on the river might fall into the enemy's hands, General Greene was charged with their safety. He was at Bogart's tavern, now Righter's, Centreville, the 10th of December, whence he ordered General Ewing to send 16 Durham boats and four flats down to McKonkey's, and General Maxwell was directed to collect the boats as high up the river as there was danger of the enemy seizing them, and to place them under strong guard. Those that could not be secured were to be destroyed. Boats were to be collected at one of the ferries in Tinicum for the passage of Lee's troops, which were shortly expected to join Washington. The Legislature of New Jersey, which left their state with the army, was summoned to meet at Four Lanes Ends, now Attleborough [Langhorne*], the last Thursday in December, "to take action on the future." Washington's next care was to guard the fords and crossings of the river to prevent the passage of the enemy. On the morning of December 9th he sent four brigades, under Lord Sterling, Mercer, Stephen, and De Fermoy, up the river, who took post between [Yardley*]ville and New Hope. Sterling was at Beaumont's, in Solebury, with three regiments, which he had under cover by the 12th, and De Fermoy was at Coryell's. General Dickinson guarded the river from Bordentown to [Yardley*]ville, General Cadwalader was posted near Bristol, and Colonel Nixon's regiment was at Dunk's ferry. Small redoubts were thrown up at various points, and each detachment was supplied with artillery. The general instructions to the troops were, if driven from their positions to retreat to the strong ground near Germantown. Washington rode up to visit Sterling on the 10th, probably returning the same day. The depot of supplies was fixed at Newtown, the county seat, because it was central, removed from the river, and easy of access from all points.
While the enemy, in his comfortable quarters on the east bank of the Delaware, was waiting for the river to freeze that he might cross over, the Continentals were shivering on the west bank. Some of the troops were actually in a suffering condition. Major Ennion Williams, of the First Pennsylvania rifles, stationed at Thompson's mill in Solebury, wrote on the 13th that his men were barefooted; a week afterward Washington thanked the committee of safety for the old clothes collected for the army, and at his request one person was appointed in each township to collect blankets for the troops. (3) Some of the officers quartered at farm houses in the vicinity of their camps, and we learn that Captain Washington, a fine-looking man, Lieutenant James Monroe of the artillery, afterward President of the United States, and Doctor Ryker were at William Neeley's in Solebury. Captain James Moore of the New York artillery, a young man of 24, died of camp fever at the house of Robert Thompson the day the army marched for Trenton, and was buried just below the mouth of Pidcock's creek, in the edge of the timber. His grave is marked by sculptured stones, and patriotic hands of the neighborhood enclosed it a few years ago by an iron railing. Marinus [Marinnus*] Willett, Jr., likewise an officer of a New York regiment, died at the house of Matthias Hutchinson in Buckingham, and was buried near the dwelling, whence his remains were removed to the family vault. He was a young man of superior intelligence and refinement, and the family nursed him with the greatest tenderness and care. His parents visited the Hutchinson's after the war, and subsequently many interesting letters passed between the families. His father was a distinguished citizen of New York, and the intimate friend of Lafayette.
(3) The following were the number of blankets collected and by whom:
Buckingham, collector, John Robinson, 20
Tinicum, William Wilson, 20
Hilltown, James Armstrong, 16
Northampton, Gilliam Cornell, 18
Wrightstown, Joseph Sacket, 8
Lower Makefield, George Bennett, 9
Upper Makefield, Isaiah Keith, 13
Southampton, Leonard Krewson, 12
Lower Milford, John Jamison, 10
Solebury, John Sebring, 13
Warwick, Charles McMicken, 12
Newtown, Robert Ramsey, 10
Warminster, William Carr, 10
Falls, Lambert Pitner, 12
Springfield, William Thomas, 6
New Britain, David Davis, 18
Rockhill, Abraham Kechline, 13
Richland, John Fries, 13
Durham, George Knight, 4
Warrington, Abraham Hollis, 6
Bedminster, John Shaw, 12
Plumstead, Joseph Greir, 12
Bristol Borough, Robert Patterson, 14
Bensalem, Jacob Vandergrift, 15
Nockamixon, Samuel Wilson, 12
Middletown, Anthony Rue, 13
The number of blankets collected was 313, and the cost £678. 12. 6. The names of the townships and collectors and number of blankets are from the original records which belong to the author.*
General Sullivan, with Lee's division in a destitute condition, joined Washington on the 20th of December, and the same day General Gates came in with the remnant of four New England regiments, 500 strong, which raised the strength of the army to about 6,000 men, although a large portion of them was unfit for service. During the month the Rev. John Rosbrugh, pastor of the Presbyterian church of Allen and Lower Mount Bethel, Northampton county, raised a battalion, and marched at its head to join the Continental army. He requested to have a military man placed in command, as he wished to act as chaplain. A few days after the battle of Trenton he was surprised by the enemy at a house near Pennington, and cruelly murdered. (4) The headquarters of the commander-in-chief and his most trusted lieutenants were at farmhouses in the vicinity of their troops, where they could be in easy communication with each other. Washington occupied the dwelling of William Keith, on the road from Brownsburg to the Eagle, Greene was at Robert Merrick's, a few hundred yards away across the fields and meadows, Sullivan was at Hayhurst's, grandfather of Mrs. Mary Buckman, of Newtown, and Knox and Hamilton at Doctor Chapman's over the Jericho hill to the north. The main body of the army was encamped in sheltered places along or near the streams, not far from the river. No doubt this position for headquarters was selected with an object, its sheltered situation, nearness to the river, and its proximity to Jericho hill, from the top of which signals could be seen a long way up and down the river when the trees were bare of leaves. Here Washington was near the upper fords of the Delaware, at which it was supposed the enemy would attempt to cross, and within a half hour's ride of the depot at Newtown.
(4) The late Rev. Robert D. Morris says that Rosbrugh was killed on the northeast branch of the Assanpink [note by DLH: currently spelled Assunpink; spelled Assanpink in 1776/1777] the day of the battle of Trenton. This doubtless refers to the action of January 2, 1777, when Cornwallis made the attack on Washington at Trenton.*
The old mansions in which Washington, Greene, Knox and Hamilton quartered are still standing. The Keith house has undergone but little change, except where gnawed by the tooth of time. Then, as now, it was a two-story, pointed stone house, 24x28 feet, with kitchen adjoining, and built by Keith in 1763. The pine door, in two folds, set in a solid oaken frame, is garnished with a wooden lock 14x8 inches, and is the same that locked out intruders when Washington occupied the house. The interior, finished in pine, remains unchanged, and one room has never been despoiled by the painter's brush. (5) Washington probably had the main front room downstairs for an office, and slept in the chamber over it. The property was purchased by William Keith 125 [150*] years ago of the London company, contains 240 acres, and has never been out of the family. The situation, on the south side of Jericho hill, is retired and pleasantly exposed to the sun. The Merrick house, a fourth of a mile away across the fields, on the road from Newtown to Neeley's mill, is a stone dwelling, 20 feet square, with a kitchen at the west end, and the farm was bought by Samuel Merrick in 1773, and now belongs to Edward, his descendant. When Green occupied it the first floor was divided into three rooms, now all thrown into one, and the family lived in the kitchen. As the house was recently build, and not yet finished, the general caused the walls of the room he occupied to be tastefully painted, with a picture of the rising sun over the fireplace. At this time Samuel Merrick had a family of half-grown children about him, who were deeply impressed with passing events, and whose descendants are full of traditions of the times. Greene purchased the confidence of his young daughter, Hannah, by the gift of a small tea canister, which was kept in the family many years. The Rhode Island blacksmith lived on the fat of the land while quartered with this Upper Makefield farmer, devouring his flock of turkeys, and monopolizing his only fresh cow, besides eating her calf. In return he allowed the family to use sugar from the barrel bought for his own mess. At the last supper before Trenton, when Washington was the guest of Greene, the daughter Hannah waited upon the table, and kept the plate from which he ate as a memento of the occasion. The Chapman mansion, the quarters of Knox and Hamilton, and now owned by Edward Johnson, on the opposite side of Jericho a mile from Brownsburg, is in excellent condition, and is the best house of the Revolutionary period we have seen in the county. Knox occupied the first floor of the east end, then divided into two rooms, but now all in one, 25x17 feet. Hamilton, then a captain of artillery, lay sick in the back room. The late Peter G. Cattell, who lived and died on an adjoining farm, used to relate that he saw Washington at Knox's quarters.
(5) The above description of the Keith house is as we knew it 30 years ago, and described in the first edition of the "History of Bucks County," but since then the despoiler has been about. It has been modernized and several changes made inside and out, but the walls are the same. The front door is no longer fastened by the wooden lock and were Washington's spirit to come back it would not recognize the house.*
The location of Washington's headquarters has given rise to considerable local discussion. It is claimed that he quartered at Newtown all the time his army lay on the west bank of the Delaware, but the evidence in the case is to the contrary. It does not appear that his headquarters were at Newtown until after the battle of Trenton, nor did he write a single official letter from there down to that time. To prove this we have but to trace his whereabouts from the time he crossed the Delaware, on the 8th, to his re-crossing on the 25th. On that and the following day his headquarters were at Trenton falls, where he still was on the 13th, when he wrote Congress: "I shall remove further up the river to be near the main body of my small army." He probably removed to Keith's on the 14th, where we know he was on the 15th and 16th, the latter day writing that many of his troops "are entirely naked, and most so thinly clad as to be unfit for service." The same day he and Greene rode up to Coryell's ferry. He was down at Trenton falls on the 20th, back at headquarters on the 22d, down again at camp at Trenton on the 24th, and back at headquarters on the 25th, to make the final preparations for Trenton. The headquarters of Washington do not appear to have traveled about with him, and when at other points, his letters were dated from "camp," "camp above Trenton falls," etc. When he was down at the falls on the 24th, Deputy-paymaster-general Dallam wrote him from Newtown, on public business; but if headquarters had been at Newtown the paymaster would have awaited the general's return in the evening, instead of writing him. Had he removed from the falls to Newtown on the 14th, when he advised Congress that he wished to be nearer to his small army, he would have been going in to the interior instead of up the river.
|From the Trenton Historical Society website -- map of Trenton|
(click on picture for larger view)
Notes by DLH:
• Cadwalader was a Colonel and not a General; the PA militia men under his command were from Philadelphia county
• This account omits the troops under General Ewing, which included the Bucks militia companies, that were even further south at Trenton Ferry to take a position south of the Assanpink Creek and hold the bridge to prevent an escape by the Hessians. Map at right. (see footnotes for more details)
• Only the men further north with Washington made it across; neither Cadwalader or Ewing were able to cross the Delaware further south due to weather -- the ice made boat passage impossible (see footnotes)
Washington rode over to Merrick's, and took supper with Greene, the evening of December 24th, and no doubt Knox, Sterling, and Sullivan were there. The family was sent across the fields to spend the night at a neighbor's, so there would be no listeners to the council of war that destroyed British empire in America. A day or two before, a young man from down the river came with a message to Washington, who was put under guard until the truth should be known, and the frightened youth kept repeating to himself, "They may keep me here, but they will find it just as I told them."
While Washington was making his final preparations to strike, everything was pleasant and serene within the enemy's lines. The Hessians spent a merry Christmas at Trenton, and the officers were invited to spend the evening at the house of Abraham Hunt, (6) a suspected Tory, where they made a night of it. A surprise by the demoralized Continentals had never been thought of, and no precautions were taken against it. General Grant at Princeton had heard of the intended attack, and advised Rahl, but the latter treated it with indifference. During the evening a Bucks county Tory crossed the river with a note to the Hessian commander, informing him of the attack on the morrow, but he was too busy just then to attend to such matters, and when it was handed to him, the note was put into his pocket, where it was found, unopened, after his death. On what a slender thread hung the destinies of the country!
(6) General Stryker, in his exhaustive history of the "Battles of Trenton and Princeton," says: "Abraham Hunt was the rich merchant of the village, and its postmaster. He has been called a non-committal man. Patriots, it is said, feared he was not altogether true to the cause, for they knew their country's enemies ofttimes partook of his bounty. He has frequently been spoken of in history as a Tory, but it is never asserted that he took any active part against his county. On the contrary, at this very time, he held the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel in Colonel Isaac Smith's first regiment, Hunterdon county militia, and the State records do not show any stain upon his honor as an officer and a soldier. It has never been stated that he ever claimed protection from the British. His property does not appear to have been confiscated, which would have been done had he been a Tory, and he certainly was in the full enjoyment of it to the date of his death, long after the close of the war. He also retained his office as postmaster of the village under the national government for many years." This testimony seems conclusive that Abraham Hunt was a friend of the Colonies. It is probable Hunt was in the secret of Washington's intended attack, and the Christmas party may have been a "set up" job on the Hessians.
Note by DLH: The Bucks county Tory who crossed the river with the note to the Hessian commander is reputed to have been Moses Doan by Doan descendants; most printed sources I have searched do not list his name.
From: A COLLECTION OF PAPERS READ BEFORE THE BUCKS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY. PUBLISHED FOR THE SOCIETY BY FACKENTHAL PUBLICATION FUND, 1926. VOLUME V. p.386-387
"General W. S. Stryker, in his Battles of Trenton and Princeton, page 125, says that the messenger was 'a Tory farmer from Bucks county, Pennsylvania (whose name the German records give as Wall, possibly the same royalist called Mahl who had visited Col. Rahl a few days before.' General Stryker does not make it very clear as to what German records he refers and it is highly improbable that the note should have ever reached Germany or German records, and if the general really saw it he would know whether it was signed Wall or Mahl. Hon. Garret B. Wall, who was elected governor of New Jersey in 1829, is the author of the statement that the messenger was Moses Doan, the notorious leader of the Doan outlaws of Bucks county, and this story has been repeated by several historians who give the exact text of the note as follows : "Washington is coming on you down the river. He will be here afore long. Doan." It seems to be an established fact that Moses Doan was on Long Island prior to the Battle of Long Island, and gave information to General Howe as to the location of Washington's army. Several historians have also stated that Moses and Abraham Doan were in the British camp at Trenton some time prior to the battle, and since it is admitted that Moses Doan acted as a messenger and spy in the service of the British officers there seems to be no reason to doubt the truth of the story so often reiterated that he was the messenger to Col. Rahl on Christmas night.
However, many of the stories told in reference to the exploits of the Doans are sensational and fictitious, including a large part of the several pamphlets of William P. Seymour in 1853, Henry Marrs in 1860 and John P. Rogers about 1870, and in spite of the apparent authenticity of the note as above quoted, there will probably always remain some doubt as to the identity of the messenger."
The troops left their camps about three P.M. the afternoon of the 25th of December, and late in the day reached the place of rendezvous, at the mouth of Knowles' creek, where the crossing was to be made, and near which a house still stands which shows marks of its occupancy by the soldiers on this memorable occasion. The morning was clear and cold, but the night set in stormy with sleet; it commenced to snow about eleven, and the river ran strong with ice. At six P.M., Washington wrote to Cadwalader that, as the night "is favorable," he was determined to "cross the river and make the attack on Trenton in the morning." Wilkinson, who joined the army on the bank of the river, tracked the men by the blood from their feet on the frozen ground. During the day Lieutenant Monroe, with a piece of artillery, was sent across the river to the Pennington road, but joined the army in its march to Trenton next morning. The troops commenced crossing about sunset, and it was three in the morning before they were all over, with the artillery. Washington called Captain Blount to take the helm of the first boat, and James Slack, a young man of 20, son of Abraham Slack, who lived a mile above Yardleyville [Yardley*], William Green and David Lanning, all acquainted with boats, assisted to ferry the army across. The troops were formed on the bank of the river into two divisions and put in march, Washington, accompanied by Sterling, Green, Mercer, and Stephen, taking the upper, while Sullivan led the right column on the river road.
|From the Trenton Historical Society website -- etching of Battle of Trenton|
(7) Johnson's ferry was below Yardley, about half way to Trenton, and little, if any, used at the present time.*
(8) December 27, 1776 - "Here we are back in our camp with the prisoners and trophies. Washington is keeping his promise; the soldiers (Hessians) are in the Newtown meeting-house and other buildings. He has just given directions for tomorrow's dinner. All the captured Hessian officers are to dine with him. He bears the Hessians no malice, but says they have been sold by their Grand Duke to King George and sent to America, when if they could have their own way they would be peaceably living in their own country." From Diary of an officer on Washington's staff.
Note from DLH: While the first Mrs. Keith died in 1772, William Keith (1714-1781) married for the second time the widow Elizabeth Wilson by whom he had a son Samuel. After William Keith's death, Elizabeth Keith then married Robert Gibson Sr in 1783 and had two children: Jean and Robert. Robert Gibson Sr's 1788 will does not mention his stepson Samuel Keith (I, DLH, assume he was well provided for in his father's will) but does mention a £137 bond against Elizabeth's stepson John Keith as well as the possibility of Elizabeth Gibson living in John Keith's house. Therefore, this story did not have to be a myth; it could have referred to William Keith's second wife Elizabeth Wilson Keith rather than the first wife Margaret Stockton Keith.
-- Note that Keith's second marriage is confirmed in the 1782 confession of Solomon Vickers "John Tombleson told me that Aaron Doan & John Paul ware the men that ware at the Widow Keith's, endeavoring to prevent her from appearing against Jesse Vicars" (Pennsylvania Archives, s1 v9). The Doan gang had robbed collector John Keith, Elizabeth Keith's stepson, in February 1782 at the Keith home; apparently Elizabeth Keith was a witness so was subsequently threatened by the gang -- it is unclear if the threat was during the robbery or on a second occasion.
The men who refused to march were identified in Colonel Joseph Hart's "List of Pennsylvania Associators who not enterred into the service under the command of his Excellency, George Washington" dated December 29, 1776. There were 238 names on the list, covering the companies of Warwick (Captain Jamison), Warrington (Captain Wier), Plumstead (Captain McCalla), Buckingham (Captain Sample), and Solebury (Captain Lott) -- Captain Roberts's and Captain McKonkey's companies were not included. Note: if source link becomes inoperational, use alternate
-- The 67 Plumstead men are also identified below, and compared to the 1775 roster
-- ironically, the Bucks militia men who did march saw no action at either the Battle of Trenton or the Battle of Princeton due to weather and reserve status respectively (see below)
-- it is unknown if a signifcant number of men on the Plumstead delinquent list did indeed "follow in a day or two" as they intended according to the report by Colonel Hart.
It should be noted that Captain McCalla was included on the delinquency list due to sickness. I (DLH) would assume that many of the men did not want to go off to fight without their captain; after all, this was just 5-6 weeks after the Battle of Fort Washinton when their fellow soldier Richard Lott was killed (see below). Since none of the other companies listed on the delinquency list were missing their captain, it would appear this is why the volunteer rate from Plumstead was the lowest of all the Bucks companies.
The active scenes of warfare were now removed from our county. When the state government was put into operation under the constitution of 1776, the Legislature took steps to strengthen the hands of the civil authorities. June 13, 1777, an act was passed compelling every inhabitant to subscribe an oath of allegiance, which met with general compliance. 3,250 took the oath in all, of which 2,874 subscribed it while the war was in progress. The first oath was taken by William Folwell, of Southampton, before Joseph Hart, a justice of Warminster, and before whom 690 subscribed. Among the subscribers we find the well-known names of Hart, Cornell, Bennet, Kroesen, Vanhorne, Dungan, Davis, Thompson, Shaw, Morris, James, Chapman, Foulke, Kulp, Overpeck, Transue, Fulmer, Beans, Jamison, Dyer, Hogeland, Ingham, Applebach, Harvey, and many others whose names are now prominent in the county. The oath of allegiance was followed by the test-oath, with pains and penalties, and the refusal to subscribe it disabled persons following certain pursuits, among others that of teaching school. The violent opposition of the Friends caused it repeal. The county courts met the first time September 9, 1777, when Henry Wynkoop, of Newtown, the presiding justice, delivered an able charge to the grand jury, appropriate to the new order of things. When spring opened it was thought the Delaware would again become the scene of conflict, in the attempt of the enemy to reach Philadelphia. General Arnold was put in command of the river the 14th of June, and all the fords and crossings were placed in a state of security. At the request of Washington, President Wharton of this State caused accurate drafts of the river and its approaches to be made; and boats were collected at New Hope and above for the passage of the army. During the spring and summer several calls were made upon the Bucks county militia. In April she furnished 500 men for the camp of instruction at Bristol, and in July the battalions of Colonel John Gill and Lieutenant-colonel McMaster were ordered to Billingsport, New Jersey, and received the thanks of the authorities for their good conduct. In September every able-bodied man was ordered to turn out, and those who had not arms were to take axes, spades, and every kind of entrenching tools. The county frequently furnished wagons, and at one time her farmers supplied the Continental army with 4,000 bushels of grain for horse feed. [An old court record shows that a draft was made on Bucks county for 50 wagons, but the absence of the date prevents us knowing when. It might possibly have been in some of the previous Indian disturbances. The warrants issued were as follows:
2 Bristol township
2 Lower Makefield
2 Upper Makefield
2 New Britain
2 Springfield and Haycock
This was no new thing in colonial times.*]
When the British sailed south from New York, in July 1777, the Continental army again crossed the Delaware into Bucks county. Washington, with Green's division, reached Coryell's ferry the night of the 29th, and one brigade crossed over before morning. General Stephen, with two divisions, crossed at Howell's ferry, four miles above, and Lord Sterling at Trenton. The troops which crossed at Coryell's and Howell's, composing the bulk of the army, were put in march down the York road the morning of the 31st of July, Washington setting out for Philadelphia at the same time, where we find him the 3d of August, and whence he joined the army at Germantown before the 6th. On the supposition that the enemy had returned to New York, the army retraced its steps and [we find it at the Neshaminy, on the York road just above the present Hartsville, then the Cross Roads,*] on Sunday evening, the 10th of August. Here it was halted by an [order of Congress.*] It remained encamped on the Neshaminy hills 13 days, and until it was known that the enemy was about to land at the head of the Elk.
[While the Continental army lay at Neshaminy its strength was about 11,000, composed of four divisions, Greene's, Sterling's, Stephen's and Lincoln's, divided into eight brigades, Maxwell, Scott, Weedon, Muhlenburg, Wayne, Woodford, Nash and Conway. The main body was encamped on the slopes of Carr's hill facing southwest, the rest occupying the Jamison and Ramsey farms a mile down the Bristol road, and here the cattle were slaughtered. The Neshaminy church was probably used for an hospital. The location made an admirable camping ground, surrounded by a fertile and healthy country and peopled by a loyal Scotch-Irish population. The officers on duty here were the elite of the Continental army. While Lafayette had witnessed previously a review of the army near Germantown, there is no evidence he reported for duty prior to the Neshaminy encampment. Here he first sat at the council board and took an active part in military duty. Washington had his headquarters in what was then the "Moland" house, a stone dwelling, still standing on the east side of the York road 100 yards north of the bridge over Neshaminy. On the opposite side of the road was the whipping post. At the time the "Cross Roads" had three or four dwellings, and a tavern on the northwest corner, opposite the present one, and the general landmarks were the same as present.*]
The army was again put in motion down the York road, on the morning of the 23d, and the next day marched through Philadelphia and across the Schuylkill to meet the enemy on the disastrous field of Brandywine. The approach of the British army caused great alarm in this section of country, which Washington's defeat and the fall of Philadelphia greatly increased. Lafayette, who was wounded at Brandywine, was taken to Chester and thence conveyed up the Delaware to Bristol, en route for Bethlehem. He stayed overnight at Bristol at the public house of Simon Betz, and was waited on by his niece, Mrs. Charles Bessonette. From Bristol, Lafayette traveled up the Durham road in an easy carriage to his destination, stopping on his way at Four Lanes End, Newtown, Stoffel Wagner's tavern, built, 1752, a mile above Hellertown and other points. At Bethlehem he occupied the house owned in recent years by Ambrose Rauch, on Main street west of the Sun Inn, and torn down 1872.
During the British occupancy of Philadelphia the country between the Schuylkill and the Delaware was debatable ground, and was traversed by armed parties of both armies. The enemy made frequent incursions into Bucks. On the night of February 18, 1777, the cavalry companies of Hovenden and Thomas, both Bucks county Tories, made a raid on Newtown, where they captured a considerable quantity of cloth being made up for the Continental army, and made prisoners of Major Murray, three other officers and 26 soldiers of the guard, besides killing and wounding nine. On another occasion, hearing of a drove of cattle en route for the hungry Continentals at Valley Forge, the enemy's horse pounced upon them and captured the whole herd, and in April a party of horse went up to Bristol and captured Colonel Penrose and several other officers. They made frequent excursions in armed barges up the Delaware to plunder. In one of these they threw a six-pound shot in the house of Peter Williamson, father of the late Mahlon Williamson, of Philadelphia, which stood on the site of Beverly, New Jersey. It passed just over the cradle of the infant Mahlon and rolled harmlessly on the floor. On another occasion they came up the river and burnt the handsome mansion of Colonel Joseph Kirkbride, of Falls, a warm friend of the colonies. This debatable ground was entrusted to the command of General John Lacey, but he never had sufficient force to protect it from the incursions of the enemy, or to prevent the disaffected going into the city. The high price paid by the enemy for all kinds of produce appealed strongly to the cupidity of the Tories, who crossed the line with their wallets filled with butter, eggs, etc., at every opportunity. Many were caught in this disreputable and illegal traffic, and among them is mentioned one Tyson, of Bedminster, whose horse and marketing were confiscated while he was tied to a tree, still standing near Branchtown, and battered with his own eggs.
(See illustration of Col. Joseph Kirkbride)
General Lacey frequently had his headquarters at Doylestown and this was his depot of stores. We find him here March 19, 1778, and copy the following from his order book: "Parole, Salem; countersign, Wilmington; officer of the day tomorrow, Major Mitchel; detail, three captains, three sergeants, four corporals and 48 privates. Officers of all grades are cautioned not to quarter out of camp." Lacey and his men did not want for the good things of life while soldiering in Bucks county. The receipts of the purchasing commissary cover payments for veal, beef, flour, mutton, whiskey, not a rifled article, turkeys and fowls. His troops, while encamped at the Crooked Billet, now Hatboro, were surprised by the British at daylight May 1, 1778, and it was only by boldness and good management that he was able to prevent the capture of his entire force. Spies, well acquainted with the situation, had given General Howe full information, who sent out strong detachments of cavalry and infantry. They took possession of all the roads, closing in upon Lacey, his camp was almost surrounded before their presence was known. Extricating his command he retreated across Warminster toward the Neshaminy. When it became evident that the enemy intended to evacuate Philadelphia, Washington requested the militia of Bucks county to hang upon his flanks in his march through New Jersey, and General Lacey (9) ordered the battalions of Colonels Keller, Roberts, Toms, and McIlvain to turn out for this service. [Colonel Joseph McIlvain died February 17, 1787, and was buried in St. James's yard, Bristol.*]
(9) Sally Wister has the following to say, in connection with General Lacey, in her "Journal" of June 1778: "No new occurrence to relate. Almost adventureless, except General Lacey's riding by and his fierce horse disdaining to go without showing his airs, in expectation of drawing the attention of the mill girls, in order to glad his master's eyes. Ha! ha! ha! One would have imagined that vanity would have been buried with the shades of North Wales. Lacey is tolerable, but, as ill luck would order it, I had been busy and my auburn ringlets were much disheveled, therefore I did not glad his eyes, and can not set down on the list of honors received, that of a bow from Brigadier-General Lacey." As Lacey was a young and handsome man, and single, doubtless the young ladies were pleased to have a bow from him.*
[In the spring of 1858, the late Safety Maghee, of Northampton township, then 93 years old, related to the author what he had seen in connection with the battle of the Crooked Billet, when a boy of 13. He said: "In 1778 I was living with my uncle, Thomas Folwell, Southampton, in the house where Cornell Hobensack lives, on the road from Davisville to Southampton church. On the morning of the battle I heard the firing very distinctly and a black man named Harry and myself concluded we would go and see what was going on. We started from the house and went directly toward where the firing was. When we came near where Johnsville now stands, we heard a heavy volley which brought us to a halt. The firing was in the woods. The British were in pursuit of our militia and chased them along the road that leads from Johnsville to the Bristol road, and also through the fields from the Street road to the Bristol road. They overtook the militia in the woods at the corner of the Street road and the one that leads across to the Bristol road. When the firing had ceased, we continued on to the woods, where we found three wounded militiamen near the road. They appeared to have been wounded by the sword, and were much cut and hacked. When we got to them they were groaning greatly. They died in a little while and I understood were buried on the spot. They appeared to be Germans. We then passed on and in a field nearby we saw two horses lying dead. They were British. One of them was shot in the head and the gun had been put so near the hair was scorched. While we were on the field, Harry picked up a cartouch box that had been dropped or torn off the wearer. Shortly after we met the militia returning and when they saw the black fellow with the cartouch box they became very indignant; charged him with robbing the dead, and took it away from him. These dead horses were on the farm of Colonel Joseph Hart. Soon after this we returned home. The last man was killed on the British road at the end of the road that comes across from Johnsville. A British officer, who was badly wounded at the battle of the Billet, was taken to the house of Samuel Irvin, who lived nearby. His wounds were dressed there and he afterward returned with the troop to Philadelphia."*]
Washington put the Continental army in march from Valley Forge, after a six months' residence upon its bleak hills, the 18th of June, to pursue the enemy in his retreat toward New York. General Lee, with six brigades, led the advance, via Doylestown to New Hope, where he crossed the night of the 20th, and Washington encamped at Doylestown the same evening with the main body. The weather was very stormy, and the army remained here until the next afternoon, occupying three encampments: on the south side of S tate street, west of Main, on the ridge east of the Presbyterian church, and along the New Hope pike east of the borough mill. Washington pitched his tent near the dwelling of Jonathan Fell, (10) now John G. Mann's farmhouse, and General Lafayette quartered at the house of Thomas Jones, New Britain, whose best bed was a little too short for the tall young Frenchman. The army was accompanied by some warriors of the Seneca nation, seeking the release of a captured chief, and attended by some friendly Oneidas and Tuscaroras. The army resumed its march for the Delaware the afternoon of the 21st, and crossed at New Hope the next day. While passing Paxson's corner a soldier shot the button from the top of a young pine, and the wound can still be seen [until the tree blew down a few years ago.*]
(10) While Washington quartered at Jonathan Fell's, he regulated the movements of the troops by the tall clock that stood in the hall or adjoining room. This clock has fortunately come down to the present generation, and keeps the same accurate time as 125 years ago. It is owned by William Jenks Fell, great-grandson of Jonathan; has always been in the family, and now stands in the hall of his residence at Faulkland, Delaware. The clock was presented by Dr. John Watson, son of Thomas Watson, the original settler, to his daughter Elizabeth on her marriage to John Fell, 8 mo. 1738, and, by her will, bequeathed to her son, Jonathan Fell, the owner when Washington was his guest, 1778.*
From this time forward the stirring and active scenes of the war were removed to distant parts of the country. General Lacey was still in command in this county, keeping a watchful eye on the disaffected, now and then making an important arrest. In the summer of 1780 Bucks county sent her quota of militia to the camp at Trenton, in view of an attack upon New York, and the following year, when Philadelphia was again threatened, there was a concentration of troops at Newtown, under General James Irvine. In September 1781 the French and American armies, in march to meet Cornwallis in Virginia, passed through the lower end of the county. They crossed the Delaware at Trenton and the neighboring ferried on the morning of the 1st, and the same afternoon passed the Neshaminy at the rope ferry, encamping at the Red Lion in Bensalem that evening, and the next day marched through Philadelphia.
The robbery of the county treasury at Newtown by the Doanes and their confederates, in the fall of 1781, was one of the exciting events of the day. John Hart, then treasurer, lived in the house that lately belonged to Abraham Bond, in the lower part of the village. Early in the evening Moses Doane rode through the town to see if the situation were favorable, and about ten o'clock the house of the treasurer was surrounded, and Mr. Hart made prisoner. While sentinels kept watch outside, and over the treasurer, others of the gang ransacked the house. Then, obtaining the keys of the treasurer's office, and one of them putting on Mr. Hart's hat, and carrying his lighted lantern, as was the treasurer's wont, the robbers went to th office, where they stole all the public money to be found. They got, in all, £735. 17s. 19-1/2d. in specie, and £1,307 in paper. That night they divided the spoils at the Wrightstown schoolhouse.
The story of the Doanes is both romantic and tragic. They were the sons of respectable Quaker parents, of Plumstead, and during the war, became celebrated for their evil deeds. These five brothers were men of remarkable physical development, tall strong, athletic, and all fine horsemen. Before the war they were men of good reputation, and it is said proposed to remain neutral. Living in a Scotch-Irish settlement, faithful to a man to the cause of Independence, the young Doanes were not allowed to take a middle course, and soon they espoused the cause of the crown, which engendered a bitter feeling between them and their Whig neighbors. They began their career by robbing and plundering in the neighborhood, gradually extending their field of operations in this and neighboring counties. They finally became outlaws with a price upon their heads. They were the terror of the country, and occupied themselves in stealing horses, plundering houses, etc., but we believe the crime of murder was never imputed to them. They had many narrow escapes, and now and then some one of them fell into the hands of the authorities, but generally managed to escape. Joseph broke jail while awaiting trial at Newtown, and escaped to New Jersey, and after teaching school awhile, fled to Canada. Near the close of the war Abraham and Mahlon were apprehended in Chester county and hanged at Philadelphia. Moses, the leader of the outlaw brothers, met a more tragic end. In the latter part of the summer of 1783, the Doanes went to the house of one Halsey, living in a cabin on Geddes run, Plumstead, and asked for something to eat, and Halsey sent his son to a neighboring mill to get flour. On the miller hesitating, the boy said the Doanes were at his father's house and they would pay. The miller sent word to a vendue in the neighborhood, that the Doanes were at Halsey's, when a party of 14 armed and mounted men, led by William and Samuel Hart and Major Kennedy, started to capture them. The cabin was surrounded. The two Harts, Kennedy, and a Grier were selected to enter it, and on approaching, saw through the chinks of the logs the Doanes eating at a table, with their guns standing near. William Hart opened the door, commanded them to surrender, when they seized their arms and fired. One of their bullets knocked a splinter from Grier's gun which struck Kennedy in the back, giving him a mortal wound. Hart seized Moses Doane, threw him down and secured him, when Robert Gibson rushed into the cabin and shot Doane in the breast, killing him instantly. The other two brothers escaped. Colonel Hart carried the body of the dead outlaw to his residence, and laid it on the kitchen floor until morning, when he sent it to his unhappy father. Joseph Doane spent the balance of his life in Canada, where he died at an advanced age. Sixty years ago he returned to the county to claim a small inheritance, when he met and became reconciled with the Shaws and other families who had felt the wrath of himself and brothers during the troublous days of the Revolution.
Notes by DLH:
• Errors in the above: It was Abraham and Levi who were hanged in 1788, not Abraham and Mahlon. Grier was not a member of the posse; the bullet that killed Kennedy was not knocked off his gun. There have been stories of murders by the gang.
-- Levi and Abraham were hanged in Philadelphia in 1788, not Mahlon. (Pennsylvania Archives, s1 v11)
-- Mahlon escaped from Jail and was never heard of again; some say he drowned and some say he escaped to England.
-- Aaron was pardoned in 1787 upon the condition that he leave America and never return (Pennsylvania Archives, cr v15); he moved to Canada. His father and brother Joseph joined him there.
-- Grier is not mentioned by any other author as being a member of the posse. He also is not included in the list of 13 who claimed the £100 reward for apprehending Moses. All other authors state the first three on the scene were the Hart brothers and Kennedy, with Gibson fourth rushing in later.
-- While some accounts state it was a Doan bullet that ricocheted and killed Kennedy and some say the bullet splintered a Patriot gun which caused the wound, all accounts by everyone but Davis say the gun belonged to a Hart, and some specifically to Sam Hart. As stated above, no other account states a Grier was there, so no one else contends the bullet ricocheted off a Grier gun. The version in this 1876 book mirrors the one Davis wrote in his 1857 "The History of the Hart Family" when he said that a Doan bullet "knocked a splinter from Grier's gun, which struck Kennedy in the back." However eleven years earlier in 1846 William Hart's son-in-law Sam Hart stated that when William Hart rushed in the cabin, his brother Sam Hart and Major Kennedy remained to guard the doorway, and a shot from a Doan gun cut off the barrel of Sam's gun and a splinter lodged in Major Kennedy's back (source: 1846 letter). The only period report, the 1783 article in the Pennsylvania Gazette, does not detail how Kennedy was injured.
-- The only period document I have found about a Doan gang murder was a 1788 broadside about Levi and Abraham which stated the gang killed a storeowner along the Susquehanna. Of course, a bullet from a Doan weapon killed Major Kennedy during the shoot-out on August 28, 1783 at Halsey's cabin when Moses Doan was also killed. Articles written later mention that Levi killed a British soldier; I have not seen this refuted. Another article mentions a Doan outlaw killed a pastor's wife; I have seen this refuted.
-- The Doans apparently began their crime spree with robbery, mostly stealing horses. The first documented robbery in Bucks was after the Revolution ended -- the robbery of the treasury at John Hart's home (Pennsylvania Archives), three days after the end of the Revolution; however, there are many assertions of undocumented robberies as well. At least 14 treasury robberies (at tax/fine collector's homes) were documented in the Archives in Oct 1781-July 1783, with four non-collectors also robbed in July 1783.
• It is interesting that in this section of the History of Bucks County books, Davis does not mention the 1875 Keachline letter that states that Gibson was a friend of the Doans, and killed him deliberately to protect his gang identity. This letter is included elsewhere in the volume.
The records of the Pennsylvania Archives refute that the Bucks community was "faithful to a man to the cause of independence":
-- The 1775 political Orientation of Plumstead on the eve of the Revolution was evenly split, with a slight leaning to anti-Revolution -- about 116 men signed up as non-Associators (s2 v14), including Joseph Doan, Joseph Doan Jr, Melen [sic] Doan, Moses Doan and Israel Doan. On the same date of August 21, 1775, the list of Associators (s2 v14) is 85, and includes Robert Gilson [Gibson] Sr, Robert Gilson [Gibson] Jr, and John Gibson. So the majority (58%) of adult males adults were anti-Revolution in 1775.
-- The Non-Associators are people who did take the middle course, not actively supporting either side. Given the Quaker history of the original three counties in Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks -- there was a large community who simply did not believe in war as a means of settling disputes, and these people were allowed to remain impartial as war was breaking out.
-- In 1775-1777 the militia was comprised 100% of volunteers; there was no requirement to join and no retribution for failure to do so.
-- The 1778 lists of 550+ Pennsylvania "attainted traitors" include men from Bucks, men who were not impartial but actually worked against the cause of independence (cr v11; s1 v10; s4 v3; s6 v13). However, in comparing this list to the Non-Associator list of 1775, there is little overlap -- being a non-Associator did not equate to being a traitor. For instance, Charles Keichline and Peter Leer are on the 1775 Bedminster Non-Associator lists but not on the traitor lists.
-- I (DLH) find it curious that these Archives documents were not consulted for this section of the history book, when "the student of Revolutionary history" is actually referred to these Pennsulvania Archives in the end of this for more information!
Note that Moses Doan is suspected to be the Tory from (Plumstead township) Bucks who tried to warn the Hessian commander Rahl of Washington's surprise Christmas 1776 crossing of the Delaware and attack at Trenton (see above). Robert Gibson, William Hart and William Kennedy were all members of the Plumstead militia starting in 1775 (see below), and were ordered to march to join Washington at Trenton and Princeton at Christmas 1776. Kennedy was subsequently promoted to Major and Gibson to Captain by the war's end in 1781. It is unknown if the militia men of Bucks knew/suspected that Doan was an informant; it is unknown if Washington knew/suspected that Doan was an informant.
The marines on board Commodore Barney's ship, the Hyder Ali, were Bucks country riflemen, and behaved in the most gallant manner in the desperate action with the General Monk, April 26, 1782. The life of the Commodore, written by his widow, says: "One of these brave fellows, who was much better acquainted with the use of his rifle than with the rules of subordination, called out to Captain Barry, with a coolness of tone and familiarity of manner that evinced anything but intended disrespect, "Captain, do you see that fellow with the white hat? and firing as he spoke, Captain Barry saw the poor fellow 'with the white hat' make a spring at least three feet from the deck, and fall to rise no more. 'Captain,' continued the marksman, 'that's the third fellow I've made hop.' It was found that every man of the enemy who was killed by the small arms was shot in the breast or head, so true and deadly was the aim of the Bucks county riflemen."
A number of persons in this county joined the British army and drew their swords against their country. Among these were Edward Jones, of Hilltown, who raised a company of cavalry in that township and New Britain; Evan Thomas, of the same township, commanded a company in Simcoe's Rangers, was in the attack on Lacey at the Crooked Billet, went with Arnold to Virginia in 1780, and was among the prisoners at Yorktown. After the war he removed his family to New Brunswick, where he died. Joseph Swift, who was known as handsome but stuttering Joe Swift, son of John Swift, of Bensalem, who was an officer of the British army before the war, re-entered the service as captain of horse in the Pennsylvania Loyalists. He lost his estate, and died in Philadelphia in 1826. Thomas Sandford, who commanded a company of Bucks county dragoons, was a captain in the British Legion, and Walter Willett, of Southampton, was also a lieutenant of cavalry in the same corps. Enoch, a son of Cadwallader Morris, and Thomas Lewis, of New B ritain, joined the British army in 1778, and settled in Nova Scotia. A number of others entered the military service of the enemy, but they did not reach distinction enough to be remembered in history. Joseph Galloway, of this county, one of the most prominent men in the province, joined the enemy, but never took up arms against his countrymen.
Under the confiscation act of March 6, 1778, a number of persons in this
county lost their estates for remaining loyal to the British crown. Among
these may be mentioned:
Gilbert Hicks and Joseph Paxson of Middletown
John Ellwood and Andrew Allen of Bristol
Samuel Biles and Walter Willett of Southampton
Richard Swanwick, John Meredith and Owen Roberts of New Britain
Evan Thomas, Jonathan Jones and Edward Jones of Hilltown
Peter Perlie of Durham
John Reid and John Overholtz [Overholz*] of Tinicum.
Some of these estates were valuable, that of John Reid containing 1,412 acres. A considerable amount of money was realized to the treasury from these sales. A record in the surveyor-general's office, Harrisburg, contains the names of 26 Bucks countians who were required to purge themselves of treason to prevent confiscation, but probably only few of them were proceeded against. The commissioners for this county under, the confiscation act, were George Wall, Jr., Richard Gibbs, John Crawford, and Benjamin Siegel [Siegels*].
The war bore with great severity upon those who would not take up arms, or submit to all the unjust exactions of the period. Among others, Joseph Smith, a son of Timothy, of Buckingham, the inventor of the iron mould-board, and a consistent Friend, was committed to Newtown jail. He whiled away his prison hours in whittling out models of his iron mould-board plows, which he threw over the jail wall. They excited so much interest among the military officers, to whom they were shown, that they asked to see the ingenious prisoner, and were much interested in his explanations of the benefits the iron mould-board would confer upon the farmer. He lived to see his anticipations fully realized. The case of Thomas Watson, a Friend, of Buckingham, was one of still greater hardship. Hay had become exceedingly scarce in the winter of 1778 and 1779, by reason of some detachments of troops being encamped in his vicinity. He saved a stack which he intended to distribute among his less fortunate neighbors, but which the landlord at Centreville wanted to buy with worthless Continental money. Mr. Watson refused to sell, but told the landlord if he would come the day the stack was opened he would receive a share of it without price. This did not suit this pretended patriot. Find ing out the price of the hay, he offered it to Mr. Watson, who refused it. The landlord immediately caused his arrest, on the charge that he had refused to sell his hay for paper money, and he was confined in the Newtown jail. He was tried by court martial, sentenced to be hanged, and all efforts to obtain his pardon failed. At last Mr. Watson's wife appeared before Lord Sterling, then in command, at a time when his nature was softened by good cheer, provided purposely by the landlady of the tavern where he boarded, and her appeal was more successful. He withstood her eloquence as long as he could, when he raised her to her feet and said, "Madam, you have conquered, I must relent at the tears, and supplication of so noble and so good a woman as you. Your husband is saved."
[The following data, from the Pennsylvania Archives, first series, vols. 4, 5 and 6, may assist the student of Revolutionary history in finding what he may be looking for:
Page 702, 9, 25: Letters of Henry Wynkoop, Bucks county, to Committee of Safety, 1776; Saltpeter, Bucks county powder mills, resolutions of Bucks county on war measures, 1776.
Page 31: Tory election, Newtown, Bucks county, 1776.
Page 83: Resolution of Real Whigs, 1776.
Page 95: General Cadwalader at Trenton Ferry, 1776.
Page 108: Bristol Camp, Bucks county militia, 1776.
Page 115: Resolved by Council of Safety, that General Washington issue orders for militia of Bucks county forthwith to join his army.
Page 125: Value of Penn. Currency.
Page 157: Letter of Lord Sterling, Newtown, January 4, 1777.
Page 166, 175, do, January 6 and 8, 1777.
Page 321: Colonial Court books taken from Isaac Hicks, Newtown, February 22, 1777. First and second class militia, Bucks county, directed to camp at Bristol, 1777.
Page 331: Great difficulty in securing substitutes.
Page 334: one-half of quota made up of substitutes.
Page 369: First class at Coryell's Ferry.
Page 375: Report on fording places in the Delaware.
Page 405: Driving of cattle, June 25, 1777.
Page 441: Fords on the Delaware.
Pages 459-471: Militia ordered to Chester to meet expected approach of General Howe.
Page 463: Bucks county militia at Billingsport.
Page 530: General Conway writes from Warminster camp, Bucks county, August 17, 1777.
Page 545: Driving of cattle.
Page 549: Third class militia called.
Page 558: Militia returns from Billingsport.
Page 615: The third and fourth class called out.
Page 711: Price of wheat, Indian corn, rye, beef, pork, etc.
Page 100: Letters from Major-General Armstrong to President Wharton, Lancaster, concerning usefulness of militia,
Page 116: Proclamation of Washington; defense of counties of Philadelphia and Bucks during General Howe's occupancy of Philadelphia.
Pages 92, 107, 146, 187: Goods (clothing) seized in Great Swamp, Bucks county.
Page 227: Col. Coates hopes Friends may turn out in defense of their country.
Pages 261-62-63: Capture of Colonel Coates; inroads of British in Bucks county.
Page 265: Militia reduced to 60 men.
Page 266: Prisoners captured up Newtown road.
Page 280: Constant alarms in lower part of Bucks county.
Page 285: Raid of Tory Lighthorse into Bucks county.
Page 291: Washington on the raid.
Page 323: Resolution of Congress, 1778, to organize troop of lighthorse.
Page 595: Renewal of ravages of Tories on Bucks county.
Pages 596-7-9, 600, 605: Examination of Garret Vansant, etc., June 15, 1778. The author is indebted to Mr. Winfield L. Margerum, Philadelphia, for this interesting data.*]
End of Chapter XL [or XI 1905 edition*]
|First page of Thomas Paine's first pamphlet -- The American Crisis|
|reenactment of troops assembling for the crossing (source: Washington's Crossing Historic Park website)|
|Pennsylvania and New Jersey period map|
"These are the times that try men's souls, the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom would not be highly rated." -- Thomas Paine, December 1776
Surprisingly, although the history account above is titled Bucks in the Revolution, it actually omits information on the plans for the Bucks militia troops on Christmas 1776. The above account mentions the two-pronged north-south attack of the Continental troops crossing with General Washington, as well as the separate crossing of Colonel (not General) Cadwalader in charge of the Philadelphia militia troops, but it omits entirely General Ewing, who was in charge of all the troops from Bucks (see details below). And how only Washington was successful in making the crossing.
"Washington with commanders John Sullivan, Nathaneal Green, John Glover and Henry Knox along with 2400 troops, 18 cannons, baggage, and approximately 50-75 horses would cross the Delaware River at McKonkey's Ferry Inn and attack the Hessian stronghold before daylight 9 miles away in Trenton." ... "Lt. Col. John Cadwalader with most of the Philadelphia Associators was to cross near Bristol Ferry and attack or at the least distract Col. Von Donop's men, who were at the time in Mt. Holly. ... General Ewing was to cross with members of the Bucks County militia at Trenton Ferry to take a position south of the Assupink [sic] Creek and hold the bridge -- a viable escape route for the Hessians at Trenton. ... Cadwalader and Ewing were unsuccessful in crossing the River. Cadwalader turned back because he was unable to get his artillery across and Ewing abandoned the plan entirely." -- Washington's Crossing Historical Park website
So even though Trenton is just across the Delaware River from Bucks, and even though the Revolution was less than 18 months old, only 10% of the Plumstead volunteers agreed to march for this major campaign that is considered to have changed the course of the entire war; this is reiterated in the book The Day is Ours! (by Dwyer). However, Colonel Joseph Hart specifically states that many men of the Plumstead company do plan to march in a day or two; no other company has a similar statement. Therefore, it is likely Plumstead had the smallest volunteer rate for the Battle of Trenton because Captain McCalla was also delinquent due to illness; none of the other companies were missing their captain. So apparently the biggest potential impact Bucks had on the Battle of Trenton was the warning note that (reputedly) Moses Doan tried to deliver!
The small but decisive Battle of Trenton, as with the later Battle of Cowpens, had an effect disproportionate to its size. The colonial effort was galvanized, and the Americans overturned the psychological dominance achieved by the British Government troops in the previous months. No wonder General Washington was disappointed with the support from Bucks, especially when he had just spent the last 10 days in their midst.
In 1776 letters General Washington himself lamented the "mistaken dependence on the militia." Just before the Crossing of the Delaware, Washington wrote his brother Augustine "I expected to have met at least five thousand men of the Flying Camp and militia; instead of which I found less than one half of that number, and no disposition in the Inhabitants to afford the least aid." and to the President of Congress "It is needless to add, that short enlistments, and a mistaken dependence upon militia, have been the origin of all our misfortunes, and the great accumulation of our debt. ... Militia may possibly do it for a little while; but in a little while, also, and the militia of those States, which have been frequently called upon, will not turn out at all; or, if they do, it will be with so much reluctance and sloth, as to amount to the same thing. Instance New Jersey! Witness Pennsylvania!"
Robert Gibson (and captain William McCalla, and future major William Kennedy and many others) did not march, or at least did not march upon the first request. The list identifies 67 of 73 Plumstead militia members who did not march -- a list of "delinquents" prepared by Colonet Joseph Hart for General George Washington on December 29, 1776. (Note there is a small possibility that the Robert Gibson on the delinquency list below referred to Robert Gibson Sr and Robert Gibson Jr did indeed volunteer; however, this is deemed unlikely, and it is thought more likely that Robert Gibson Sr was no longer a volunteer due to his age). It is known that many of the men intended to march later, as Colonel Hart writes of the Plumstead militia only: "I am well informed that many of those whose names are here set down will follow in a day or two." It is unknown who of the delinquents did join up later.
I (DLH) would assume that many of the Plumstead men did not want to go off to fight without their captain; after all, this was just 5-6 weeks after the Battle of Fort Washinton when their fellow soldier Richard Lott was killed (see below). It should be noted that none of the other companies listed on the delinquency list were missing their captain -- it seems clear this is why the volunteer rate from Plumstead was the lowest of all the Bucks companies
There are no records found at the Pennsylvania Archives that specify which six men from the Bucks militia volunteered; there are no lists outstanding at the museums (BCHS or Washington's Crossing) either. Jesse Britton is not ruled out based on information available. A November/December 1776 company list would need to be found to have some assurance as to the identity of the six. Further verification might be possible in letters/biographies and pension applications. However, the pension applications were in 1832 -- not too many of the men would have lived until then, 56 years later, so it is a slim possibility.
1832 pension applications: when they exist they contain a wealth of information. As most men did not still have any paperwork (specifically discharge paperwork detailing service), the application is more like a formal deposition describing their actual service. However, few Bucks militia men who served in 1776 were still alive 56 years later to file such an application. And sometimes even the ones that were (especially Jesse Britton who was one of the 14-man posse on August 28, 1783 and who volunteered in McCalla's company in 1775, and who died in 1841) did not make an application. Plus, since there are only six, it is unlikely to find one, and then it is extremely unlikely he will name the other five in his application. Therefore, it is not a goal for me to track down the memoirs/pension forms of the 73 Plumstead militia men. However, as I run across interesting Bucks militia memoirs, I include them here:
John McDole -- deceased, who was an officer in the Revolutionary War; the said McDole first entered the service in the autumn of 1776 as lieutenant of a company of volunteers commanded by one Captain Isaac Longsheth." "The company was raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania near the place of residence of the said McDole. Marched into New Jersey, joined the army under the Commander-in-chief, and was present at the Battles of Princeton and Trenton. The said deponents have heard many persons say that the said McDole was present in these two actions and have often heard the said McDole speak of the fact in his lifetime. The said McDole was in service either in field or garrison nearly all the time up to the close of the war."
This should not be a match to the delinquent John McDonel listed in Plumstead as this John McDole said he volunteered under Captain Longsheth not Captain McCalla. For him to have been present at the Battle of Trenton, he would have to have been one of the 2400 troops that crossed under commanders Sullivan, Green, Glover and Knox; Longsheth is not mentioned below as one of the Bucks captains under Colonel Joseph Hart. -- DLH
Alexander Alexander -- November 26, 1790. The Petition of Catherine Alexander.... husband Alexander Alsexander decd'd served as a private soldier in a Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia, commanded by Colonel James Irwin, and in Captain William McCalla's Company, that at an Engagement which happed in or about the Month of September 1777 at or near the Gulph Mills between the British Army and the Militia the Petitioners aid Husband received a Wound and was made Prison that he was carried to the Goal of the City of Philaedelphia..." (listed as delinquent on the list)
Jesse Edwards was born Apr. 3, 1754, in the state of Maryland. When a boy he was bound out to a farmer by the name of Clulls, living in West Virginia. He enlisted as a soldier of the revolutionary war, May, 1776, for two months, as a private of Capt. William McCalla's company; colonel not stated. At the time of this enlistment he was from the state of Pennsylvania, July, 1776, for six months, as a private in Capt. Thomas Craig's company, Col. Nathaniel Baxter. He enlisted a third time from the state of Virginia, July 17, 1781, for two months, as a private of Capt. Beaver's company; colonel not stated. He was engaged in the battles of Staten Island and Fort Washington, at which place he was made a prisoner. At the time of his first enlistment he was a resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania (listed as delinquent on the list -- however, from this application, he was in another company for July-December 1776)
Plumstead Militia, 8/21/1775 -- there are 81 men on this list, while the December 1776 number was 73. However, it is not just a simple matter of eight less on this list; when matching up the December 1776 delinquent list to this one, the lists are inconsistent by about 40-50 names -- or over half the company! in just 16 months!
• William McCalla, Captain -- delinquent (sick)
• Alexander Alexander -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list (see pension application above)
• Adam Bean -- delinquent
• Conrad Bean, Jr. -- delinquent
• John Boil -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• James Breidein -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Jesse Brittain (1759 PA-1841 OH) married Ann Gibson; brother-in-law to Robert Gibson, Jr who married Mary Britton
• Nathaniel Brittain
• Samuel Brittain -- delinquent
• John Boyd
• James Buckman -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• George Burns -- delinquent
• Jacob Carsdrop -- delinquent (Jacob Castrop)
• John Casner -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• William Chilcott
• Peter Cosner -- married Hannah Britton (thought to be an aunt of Jesse Britton)
• Thomas Craig -- (thought to have his own company -- see Jesse Edward's pension above)
• Richard Crean -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Barnard Cupler -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• William Davis
• William Deleware -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Thomas Dickinson
• James Down -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John Dunlap
• John Dunlap, Jr. -- delinquent -- ** Committee to drive off cattle (assume Jr?)
• Joseph Dyer -- delinquent
• Jessey Edwards -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list (see pension application above; he was in another company)
• James Faries
• Benjamin Fell
• Levi Fell
• Hugh Ferguson -- assume he did not volunteer as he is listed as about 50
• James Ferns -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Hugh Fleming
• Peter Fodder
• David Forsman -- delinquent (David Forgeman)
• John Forsman -- delinquent (John Forgeman)
• John Fox -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Philip Fox
• George Gaddis -- delinquent
• Henry Gaddis -- delinquent
• John Gaddis
• John Gibson -- delinquent
• Robert Gibson (~1720s PA-1788 PA) -- not eligible due to age?
• Robert Gibson, Jr. -- delinquent (list doesn't specify Jr or Sr; assume Sr not on later roster due to age?) -- (~1750 PA-1787 PA) married Mary Britton; promoted to Ensign on May 6, 1777*** and to Captain in 1779; ** Committee to drive off cattle
• Joseph Grier
• Matthew Grier (1714-1782) -- assume he did not volunteer as he is listed as about 50
• Benjamin Griffith
• Samuel Hair
• Benjamin Hall -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Samuel Hannen (Buckingham) -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Joseph Hart -- delinquent
• William Hart
• William Harkins -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John Haskins -- delinquent (John Harkins)
• James Henry -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Isasc Hill
• Philip Hinkle -- delinquent (Philip Kinkle)
• George Hughes
• Jonathan Huntsman -- delinquent (Jonathan Hinsman)
• William Kennedy -- delinquent -- was promoted to First Lieutenant on May 6, 1777***
• Barnet Kepler (~1736-1807 PA)
• Richard Lott -- listed above as killed in 1776 at Fort Washington in November, 1776*
• Valentine Marsheller -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Alexander McCalla
• John McCalla -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John McCalla -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list (second one; perhaps one was supposed to be Joseph?)(thought to be a brother to William)
• Joseph McCalla
• Robert McClay -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Alexander McFarland -- delinquent
• John McDonel -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Patrick McGahan
• James(?) McMullen -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John McMullen -- delinquent
• Joseph McMullen
• William Meredith ( Dr. Hugh Meredith was an enrolled member of Captain William McCalla's Plumstead Company in August, 1775. -- Account of the Buck family of Bucks, PA)
• Daniel Millhoff
• Valentine Mosteller
• Cornelius Neafur
• David Nesbit ** Committee to drive off cattle -- delinquent
• Patrick Poe
• Ambress Potton (Buckingham) -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John Reve -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• George Rice
• Alexander Robinson
• Ezekiel Rodgers -- delinquent (Ezekiel Rogers)
• John Rodgers -- delinquent (John Rogers)
• James Sample -- delinquent
• John Seas -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Joseph Severens
• Adam Shafer -- delinquent (assume this is not Andrew)
• Andrew Shaffer
• Joseph Shaffer -- delinquent
• William Silist -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Ambrose Smith -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• David Smith
• John Smith (New Brittain) -- delinquent
• Matthew Smith -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• William Smith -- delinquent
• Charles Stewart -- assume he did not volunteer as he is listed as about 50
• George Stewart
• George Stinhurt -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• John Stiner -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Joseph Taverns -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Daniel Thomas -- delinquent
• Isaac Thomas
• Joseph Thomas -- delinquent (sick)
• Robert Thorn -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Francis Titus (1) -- delinquent
• Francis Titus (2)
• Samuel Titus
• Peter Traush
• Thomas Tustin -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• William Tyndall
• John VanFossen
• Samuel Walter -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
• Samuel Watts
• Peter Wood
• John Worreld -- delinquent -- not on 1775 list; on 1776 delinquent list
-- Note: There were supposed to be only six not on the delinquent list who did go; not clear as to the identity of these six: Jesse Britton, Nathaniel Britton, John Boyd, William Chilcott, Peter Cosner, Thomas Craig, William Davis, Thomas Dickinson, John Dunlap (?), James Faries, Benjamin Fell, Levi Fell, Hugh Fleming, Peter Fodder, Philip Fox, John Gaddis, Joseph Grier, Benjamin Griffith, Samuel Hair, William Hart, Isaac Hill, George Hughes, Barnet Kepler, Alexander McCalla, Joseph McCalla, Patrick McGahan, Joseph McMullen, William Meredith, Daniel Millhoff, Valentine Mosteller, Cornelius Neafur, Patrick Poe, George Rice, Alexander Robinson, Joseph Severens, Andrew Shaffer, David Smith, George Steward, Isaac Thomas, Francis Titus, Samuel Titus, Peter Traush, William Tyndall, John VanFossen, Samuel Watts, Peter wood -- there are 46 names here -- impossible to determine the six. The lack of consistency between the 1775 and 1776 lists is astounding!
* The Battle of Fort Washington was fought in New York on November 16, 1776 during the American Revolutionary War between the United States and Great Britain. It was a decisive British victory that gained the surrender of the entire garrison of Fort Washington near the north end of Manhattan Island. A total of 59 Americans were killed and 2,837 were taken as prisoners of war. The Pennsylvania unit was involved in the initial fighting: Hessian soldiers landed under heavy fire from the American artillery on the Manhattan shore. The British troops charged up the hillside and dispersed the Americans until they reached a redoubt defended by some Pennsylvania Volunteer companies. After brief fighting, the Americans turned and ran towards the fort. (Interestingly, the Hessians were commanded by Johann Rall (Rahl), who later lost at the Battle of Trenton!)
** see PA archives cr v11, s1 v5 and s2 v2. The only three men authorized by the Council to drive cattle out of Bucks (when the enemy approaches) in 1777 were these three men who were militia volunteers -- John Dunlap, Robert Gibson, and David Nesbit.
*** Curiously, Jacob Caster was promoted to Second Lieutenanct on May 6, 1777; he is not found on this list; it is assumed that Carsdrop is not a severe mangling of the name Caster.
General James Ewing (1736-1806)
Wikipedia: On July 4, 1776, Ewing was commissioned a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia. Characterized by historian David Hackett Fischer as a "hard-driving Scotch-Irish border chieftain", Ewing commanded a brigade of five regiments at the time of Washington's crossing of the Delaware on the night of December 25–26, 1776, in a surprise attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. Ewing's force, positioned directly across from Trenton, was unable to cross the river because of the ice. Although Ewing has sometimes been criticized by historians for failing to join Washington on the other side of the river, Fischer argues that no one could have crossed the river at that point that night. Washington did not blame General Ewing, writing that "the Quantity of Ice was so great, that tho' he did every thing in his power to effect it, he could not get over."
However, a letter from George Washington on December 13th says that General Ewing had the Flying Camp of PA and General Cadwalader had the Pennsylvania Militia. Perhaps that was the earlier plan, and when there were fewer volunteers than had been expected, the chain of command was changed. Wikipedia lists that:
• Cadwalader's Brigade, under Brig. Gen John Cadwalader, was estimated at 2322, some of whom crossed at Dunk's Ferry but then withdrew. This brigade was made up of 1500 Philadelphia Associators and 822 Hitchcock's brigade -- the latter was made up of 156 Nixon's Regiment (MA continentals), 168 Little's Regiment (MA continentals), 138 Varnum's Regiment (RI continentals), 114 Hitchcock's Regiment (RI continentals) and 171 Lippitt's Regiment (RI Line)
• Ewing's Brigade, under Brig. Gen. James Ewing, was estimated as 1000-12000, and was to cross at the Trenton Ferry directly across from the town. [sources: Fischer and Stryker -- Fischer lists fewer units than Stryker does, estimating the brigade to have 826 men.]. This brigade was made up of the Cumberland county regiment under Col. Frederick Watts, the Cumberland county regiment under Col. William Montgomery, the Lancaster county regiment under Col. Jacob Klotz, the York county regiment under Col. Richard McCallister, the Chester county regiment under Col. James Moore, a detachment of the Bucks County Regiment under Col. Joseph Hart [stating that "This unit is not listed by Fischer, but is listed by Stryker as part of Ewing's brigade. Stryker estimates that this unit and Dickinson's New Jersey militia combined numbered between 300 and 500 men.], the NJ militia under Brig. Gen Philemon Dickinson, a detachemnt of the 1st regiment of Hunterdon county NJ militia under Col. Isaac Smith, and a detachment of the 2nd regiment of Middlesex county NJ militia under Col. John Neilson.
-- General Ewing had been unable to cross the Delaware at Trenton Ferry (Morrisville) with any of his troops, so the Bucks militia men who were with him saw no action. However, his artillery did fire across the river during the battle, and did protect the bridge that protected Philadelphia.
-- the Battle of assanpink Creek, the night of January 2, 1777 included the Bucks Militia volunteers under Ewing (source: Trenton and Princeton 1776-1777, by David Bonk). Washington's revolutionary forces repulsed a British attack at the assanpink Creek in Trenton.
-- the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, immediately followed the next day, with Washington circling around General Cornwallis' army and attacking and defeating them -- the last major battle of Washington's winter NJ campaign. General Cornwallis had been ordered to recapture Trenton; his defeats at the battles of assanpink Creek and Princeton not only lost him Trenton, but also led to his loss of most of New Jersey to the Patriot forces.
-- there are no records of the names of the men who fought; there are not even records of the names of all the men who died. Many sources do not even mention General Ewing at assanpink or Princeton.
The Bucks militia men under General Ewing apparently saw no action at the Battle of Princeton, although the Philadelphia militia men under Cadwalader did. "Cadwalader attempted to move his men into a battle line but they had no combat experience and did not know even the most basic military maneuvers. When his men reached the top of the hill and saw Mercer's men fleeing from the British, most of the militia turned around and ran back down the hill. ... Washington quickly rode over to Cadwalader's fleeing men. Washington shouted, 'Parade with us my brave fellows! There is but a handful of the enemy and we shall have them directly!' Cadwalader's men formed into battle formation at Washington's direction." (source: Wikipedia)
The York County (PA) Historical Society wrote "General Ewing's Brigade was in the Campaign of 1776-1777 in New York and New Jersey, being of the troops at the evacuation of Fort Lee, 21 November 1776 and attempting to cross the Delaware 25 December 1776 and acting as a reserve at the battle of Princeton."
Colonel Joseph Hart (1715-1788)
biography: Having a taste for military affairs Joseph Hart was ensign of a company of Bucks County Associators, and in 1755 was commissioned captain at the defeat of Braddock, when the militia were embodied for the defence of the Province. Joseph Hart's most valuable services were rendered during the war for independence, I776-83; was one of the first in the Colony and county to take sides against the mother country, and, in point of zeal and fidelity, had no superior. He was chairman of the "Bucks, County Committee of Safety," a delegate to the Carpenter's Hall convention and a member of the committee that recommended a "Congress of Deputies." When steps were taken in I776 to establish a State government for Pennsylvania Joseph Hart was chosen one of the delegates from Bucks to the convention, of which he was vice president. He was twice chairman in committee of the whole, and reported the resolution prescribing the qualification of voters. When the Continental Congress, I776, established a "Flying Camp" of i0,000 men, Joseph Hart was commissioned colonel and placed in command of the battalion of 400 men, the quota from Bucks county, which served in New Jersey until sometime in December. On the i9th Washington ordered Colonel Hart's battalion to march to Philadelphia and report to General Putnam. In 1777 Colonel Hart was elected a member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, in 1780 was appointed register and lieutenant of the county, and in I784 one of the judges of the court of common pleas, which he held until his death. (source)
--- General Davis details his service as:
• Sheriff of Bucks county 1749-1751
• Justice of the county courts 1764-1788
• Ensign in Captain Henry Kroesen's comapny of Bucks Associatrs in 1747
• Captain of a Bucks county company in 1756
• on commitees for Pennsylvania in the Revolution, including the chairman of the Committee of safety
&• Colonel of the first battalion raised by the committee of safety in 1775-1776
• elected to the suprememe executive council 1777-1779
-- source: History of Bucks County by General Davis; note that Joseph Hart was General William Watts Hart Davis' great-grandfather; Joseph's son Joseph was Davis' grandfather.
Note: The Hart family had been Quakers in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Col. Joseph Hart's second son John (1743-1786) was the treasurer of Bucks county during the Doan robbery in 1781. It is not known if the brothers Sam and William Hart who were in the cabin on August 28, 1783 when Major Kennedy and Moses Doan were killed are distant cousins to John Hart or Colonet Joseph Hart.
Delinquents in Plumstead. December 29, 1776 -- Congress spent much of this Sunday in a Committee of the Whole discussing a plan for obtaining foreign assistance. General George Washington published the "list of Pennsylvania Associators who not entered into the service under the command of his Excellency, General Washington." There were 238 names on the list, prepared by Colonel Joseph Hart of Bucks, with the Bucks Plumstead names as follows:
Delinquents in Captain WILLIAM MCCALLA' S Company, PLUMSTEAD (source):
Wm. MeCalla, Captain, sick, James McMullen, John Worreld, James Ferns, Conrad Bean, Jacob Castrop, Henry Gaddis, Wm. Deleware, Robt. Gibson, Sam' l Walter, Samuel Brittain, David Nesbit, John Seas, James Sample, John Forgeman, Wm. Harkins, Valentine Marsheller, Ezekiel Rogers, Francis Titus, Ambrose Smith, Benjamin Hall, Committee-man, &c., Joseph Dyer, Mathew Smith, John Dunlap, Jun., Adam Shafer, Wm. Kennedy, Adam Bean, Sam' l Hannen, Buckingham, Wm. Silist, Thos. Tustin, James Down, Alex' r Alexander, John Smith, New-Brittain, John McCalla, George Burns, John Stiner, Barnard Cupler, Ambress Potton, Buckingham, John McMullen, John Gibson, Joseph Hart, David Forgeman, James Bredein, Robt. Thorn, Joseph Thomas, sick, Joseph Shaffer, Rich' d Crean, George Stinhurt, James Buckman, Philip Kinkle, Dan' l Thomas, Jessey Edwards, John McDonel, John Boil, John Fox, Jonathan Hinsman, John Casner, John Reve, John Rogers, Alexander McFarland, John McCalla, Wm. Smith, Robt. McClay, John Harkins, George Gaddis, James Henry, Joseph Tavens.
Six of Captain McCalla' s Company, whose names are not down here, are marched for Philadelphia, agreeable to his Excellency' s orders; and I am well informed that many of those whose names are here set down will follow in a day or two.
JOSEPH HART, Colonel.
December the 29th, 1776.
For his Excellency General Washington.
(See source for the delinquencies in Warwick (Captain Jamison), Warrington (Captain Wier), Buckingham (Captain Sample), and Solebury (Captain Lott) -- Captain Roberts's and Captain McKonkey's companies were not included. Note: if source link becomes inoperational, use alternate
William McCalla (1732-1815)
William McCalla, (1732-1815), raised a company of militia at his own expense. Captain, 2d Battalion Bucks County Pennsylvania Militia, Colonel John Beatty, August 21, 1775-1779. captain 7th Company, 2d Battalion, Bucks County Militia He was appointed chief of Forage Department and Commissioner of Purchases, 1778-1779, and held the office until 1781. He died in Abington. His daughter Jane married Robert Kennedy.
Note: it is possible that some more records might be found in the New Jersey Archives or among personal letters of some of the other generals. However, since my (DLH) interest is in the Bucks militia, and specifically the Plumstead company under Captain McCalla, it is not expected that these other sources would be fruitful. I suspect that the many historical writers of these famous battles have already researched these other sources. And particularly since the Bucks militia apparently saw no action in these battles, records are probably non-existent. The best potential source might be pay records, but these would be in PA.