The 4th of July is upon us once again! A time when many start thinking about the actions of those who helped form this country. Research regarding soldiers of the Revolutionary War is akin to traveling through the woods by bread-crumb trail – the pieces are few, far away from one another, and sometimes are non-existent. The biggest impediment of sold Revolutionary War records comes from how peace-meal the army was at the time and how frequently people deserted due to illness, drunkenness, or lack of pay.
With the release of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical Hamilton, many people are beginning the search for ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War in hopes that they may have served with Alexander Hamilton himself. While I can’t claim that my ancestors played such a part, I do know that I am related to a few fellows who served during the time period.
Ebenezer Higgins – 7th great-grandfather – Born July 21, 1721 at Eastham, Massachusetts,1 he served for many years as 1st Lieutenant in Capt. Elisha Doane’s 6th (2d Eastham) company of the Second Barnstable County regiment of militia. On April 26, 1776, Ebenezer was commissioned into active service at the age of 55 and served for another three years. It wasn’t until April 1, 1779, that he asked permission to resign on “account of advanced age and impairment of health.” Ebenezer’s resignation was officially accepted on April 21, 1779, and the age of 58 years.2
Moses Meader – 6th great-grandfather – Born January 28, 1752, in Alton, New Hampshire,3 Moses entered into the Revolutionary War at age 23 in place of John Johnson. Moses served as a private under Captain Winborn Addams’ company in Colonel Enoch Poor’s regiment.4
Philip Judkins – 7th great-grandfather – Another New Hampshire native, Philip was born on August 29, 1748.5 He was a soldier in the company of Jason Wait, part of 1st New Hampshire regiment. Shortly before the end of the battle at Valley Forge, Philip was busted from Corporal back to Private,6 and additionally was written up for desertion twice, at least, once in 17797 and again in 1780.8 He is one of the few soldiers I found who used his own pension for his own needs – Philip lived to be 103 and most likely needed that pension to help cover his own costs of living while residing with family.9
Stephen Gardner – 6th great-grandfather – and Stephen Gardner Jr – 5th great-grandfather – While there are no records of either Stephen doing anything more than helping guard the shores of Dorchester, this “minor” action shows how common it was for the militia to help during the Revolutionary War in protecting the coastline.10
My search for Revolutionary War patriots on my lineage is far from over. Aside from these five men, there is the distinct possibility that the following ancestors may also have served during this time:
Ebenezer Andrews Jr
Reuben Wing, Sr
1 American Genealogical-Biographical Index, database, Ancestry.com
2 US Revolutionary War Rolls, 1755 – 1783, database, Ancestry.com
3 New Hampshire Births and Christenings Index, 1714 – 1904, database, Ancestry.com
4 Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, compiles 1894 – ca 1912, documenting the period 1775 – 1784, roll 0522, image fold3.com
5 Maine Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, 1780 – 1990, Ancestry.com
6 Entry for Philip Judkins, ID# NH20759, http://valleyforgemusterroll.org/
7 New York Historical Society (1916), The John Watts de Peyster Publication Fund Series vol 47, pg 312
8 New Hampshire (Colony) Probate Court (1874), Provincial and State Papers Vol. 8, pg 852
9 Maine Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, 1780 – 1990, Ancestry.com
10 Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of State (1896), Massachusetts soldiers and sailors of the Revolutionary-War – a compilation from the archives, pg 278
As with all written pieces of genealogical research, the findings in this piece are subject to change based on new evidence as it becomes known.