There is no question that there is a Peter Baker, born in Littleton, Massachusetts, who served in the Revolutionary War. He married Lydia Dudley, then moved to New Ipswich NH before settling in Westmoreland NH. He infamously left his family around 1800 when there were small children in the house. It is also quite likely that our ancestor James Baker of Cambria NY was born to Peter and Lydia with recent DNA testing comfirming this link. A separate article has been written that gives an analysis of this part of the story which can be found by clicking here.
The surprise is the extent of Peter’s Revolutionary War service. He lived long enough to apply for a Revolutionary War pension which the US government started to grant in 1818. In his application letter, he states:
“I, Peter Baker, of Mount Holly in the County of Rutland & State of Vermont of the age of sixty two years, being duly sworn, do declare depose & say with in December 1775 at Littleton in Massachusetts, I enlisted into Capt Saml Gilbert’s Company in Col. Prescott Reg’t. of Massachusetts line to serve for one year. That immediately joined my company at Cambridge where we remained until the British army evacuated Boston, when we followed them to New York – that we went into winter quarters in the High Land in New York I believe about three miles north of West Point – I further say that whilst in said winter quarters, about a month before my time of service expired, I again enlisted into Capt Saml Darby’s company in Col John Bailey’s Regiment being the 2nd Reg’t. Massachusetts line to serve for three years. – that I served in said Company & Regiment the full term of reenlistment except nine days which was allowed me to return home when I was discharged at West Point – I have lost my discharge, not considering it of any value – I was at the battle of Monmouth & at the taking of Burgoine – I further say that I am a resident citizen of the U States – that I have resided in Mt Holly aforesaid about five months – that I am poor – and from my reduced circumstances in life I am in need of assistance from my country for support –and further say not. Peter Baker, 6 Apr 1818”
He writes casually about travelling from Boston to New York and being present at the battles at Monmouth and Burgoyne’s capture. However, when one analyzes Peter’s movement, a harrowing story emerges. Due to the large amount of detail to cover, this story will be broken into three parts. First, a top level look of what we know is true. Second, a “best guess” account of Peter’s involvement in the Revolutionary War. Third, all the bare evidence will be presented for those that like to get into the weeds.
Some Details of Revolutionary War Service
First some explanation of military structure. Peter was an enlisted man. He remained a private. Other enlisted ranks include sergeants and corporals. His brother, Joseph, became an officer, specifically a lieutenant. Other officers include captains, majors, colonels, and generals. Soldiers were assigned to a Company led by a Captain, consisting of about 80 men. A Regiment, headed by a Colonel, would lead a series of Companies (around 8). Regiments would be placed in a Brigade, lead by a Brigadier General. Brigades were controlled by a Major General.
Individuals generally signed up for a term of service. Three major recruitment drives occurred, the first being the “8 month” term from April to Dec 1775, following the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Individuals in this service experienced Bunker Hill and remained in Boston. Second, the “year long” service from Jan to Dec of 1776 included the march to New York and the wintering in the Highlands. Third, the “three year” term occurred from Jan 1777 to Dec 1779. It involved the Battles of Saratoga and Monmouth as well as the winter in Valley Forge.
If you know the location of the Company, you likely know the location of Peter Baker. However, Company locations are not often mentioned in the literature. Fortunately, Companies traveled with their Regiment, and the Regiments traveled with their Brigade. So one can infer the whereabouts of Peter and Joseph by using this trick. However, this logic has limits. Soldiers got sick, they got captured, they took leave, they deserted, and they were assigned to other services.
Peter Baker in the Revolutionary War – The Summary View
Peter Baker signed up around December 1775 for a one year tour in Cambridge MA to serve with his brother Joseph Baker in William Prescott’s Regiment. Joseph and their father Joseph Sr had fought earlier in April at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Joseph and Peter marched from Boston to New York in March 1776. They were forced to retreat from New York after the British assault on Long Island on August 1776, eventually wintering in the Highlands of New York, near present day West Point. During the winter of 1776, Prescott’s Regiment disbanded. Peter and Joseph reenlisted for 3 years in John Bailey’s Regiment. This Regiment was involved in the Battles of Saratoga starting September 1777 where they defeated the British. They then marched to Valley Forge for a long, tough winter. In June 1778, Peter participated in the Battle of Monmouth, the last major Battle in the North. Afterwards, Peter and Joseph were assigned back to West Point to keep a crossing of the Hudson River open. Peter was discharged on Dec 1779.
Peter Baker in the Revolutionary War – Best Guess what happened
Peter Baker was part of a family that actively served their country in the Revolutionary War, starting with his brother Joseph Baker and father Joseph Baker Sr. These two men fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill under the command of William Prescott. The Colonists lost this battle, but the British, under the command of William Howe, took heavy losses in their three attempts to win. It showed the Colonists that victory was possible. Prescott with his men continued to defend Boston against further attacked from Howe, whose ships sat anchored in the harbor. Peter joined his brother at Sewell Point in Dec 1775. By then George Washington had taken charge of the army. Eventually, Boston was refortified with weaponry seized from a raid of Fort Ticonderoga. Howe opted to evacuate to Nova Scotia.
Both Washington and Howe focused their attention on New York City. Washington bet that the British wanted to control the Hudson river and split the Colony into two. Washington sent 19000 troops to defend New York City. Prescott’s Regiment made a hasty march to New London CT where they boarded ships to New York. They were then stationed on Governors Island, a small island south of Manhattan Island, where they built a fine fortification. Meanwhile, the British took several months to amass a huge force of 32000 men.
Joseph Baker Sr died on 8 Jul 1776 so speculation abounds that his death may have had something to do with the war. However, note that military activities centered in New York at this time. It is possible he received injuries or got sick due to Bunker Hill. It is possible he marched with his sons to New York in which case he would have died on Governor’s Island. Or maybe he died from natural causes.
Fighting started on Aug 27 with the Battle of Long Island, where Howe stormed Staten Island and forced Washington’s retreat. Washington was out-manned, out-equipped and out-maneuvered. Washington managed to elude outright defeat by sneaking all his troop to Manhattan in a fog during the night. Prescott’s Regiment, located off the main island, was among the last to leave. It must have been a hasty retreat because various reports describe guns, cannons and even clothes left behind. The defeat represented one of several battles where Howe chose not to impose outright defeat. The British viewed the Colonist as wayward children who would eventually behave with the proper punishment. They badly misinterpreted the American resolve.
Peter and Joseph’s Regiment was next reorganized under General William Parson’s Brigade and stationed at Crown’s Point as part of an effort to hold Manhattan Island. Howe launched his next big strike on 15 September against the colonists at Kipps Point. There was chaos at the point of attack. George Washington ordered Parson’s Brigade north to support those troops, but the Prescott’s Regiment also took flight and retreated. Washington became furious. Stories tell of him hitting soldiers, throwing his hat in disgust, calling them cowards. Eventually, much to the amusement of the on-looking enemy, someone led Washington away on his horse to keep him from being shot. In reality, the soldiers were wise to flee; they had no chance of survival.
The Battle of Harlem Heights occurred the next day on 16 September. It represented the sole victory during the NY campaign in that the British were forced to retreat slightly. Many of Prescott’s troop would later claim participation in this battle although they may also be referring to their time at Kipps Point.
Prescott’s Regiment was next positioned at Frog’s Point where they erected another fortification. As a side note, Peter and Joseph were part of a team that could build great fortifications while under duress. This time they successfully prevented Howe troops from landing at the point (It also helped that Howe picked an unsuitable marsh-like spot to land). After five days, the ships pulled anchor and landed north at Pell’s Point to continue their assault.
The retreat from New York continued with the next confrontation at the Battle of White Plain on 28 October 1776. Prescott’s Regiment was located on the east side of the front, while most of the action occurred on the west side. This battle was considered a loss in that Washington’s forces were again forced to retreat, but again losses were minimized. Several of Prescott’s men later indicated they fought in this battle, although their exact involvement remains unknown.
After White Plain, Prescott’s regiment was ordered north to the Highlands to winter. There they built a sizable encampment, later known as Continental Village, where they could house large numbers of soldiers, and store food and armaments. It is also at this time that Prescott finished his term. His regiment was disbanded, and Peter and Joseph were convinced to join the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment better known as Bailey’s Regiment under Colonel John Bailey.
Bailey’s Regiment became part of Learned’s Brigade in the spring of 1777, when General William Learned came out of retirement to serve under the command of Major General Philip Schulyer. They continued to march to forts in upstate New York to counter British General Burgoyne’s powerful army marching from Canada to New York by way of the Hudson River. Bailey’s Regiment would have been part of the effort to slow this march. They fell trees across the few available roads, destroyed bridges, diverted streams and burned fields to deny food to soldiers and livestock. The strategy, while not glamorous, succeeding in weakening Burgoyne.
There were several documented skirmishes. The Colonists, including Bailey’s Regiment, were forced to retreat from Fort Ticonderoga on 6 July after Burgoyne men was able to set up a cannon on nearby Mount Defiance. Some of Bailey’s Regiment also marched on 8 August under the leadership of Benedict Arnold in support to Fort Stanwix, under siege from the British troops of Barry St Leger on their way to merge with Burgoyne. Arnold, undermanned, tricked St Leger into withdrawing with a convincing rumor of inflated troop numbers. In a serious blow to Burgoyne, St Leger’s troops would never materialized.
A little side note here about the Generals. General Schulyer was the pragmatic one. He understood the limitations of his troops as soldiers, but took advantage of their stamina in the wilderness. General Horatio Gates was the politically ambitious one who got Schulyer fired after the retreat at Fort Ticonderoga. General Benedict Arnold was the brilliant one whom the troops most admired. His aggressiveness in battle do not mix well with the cautious behavior of Gates.
All this activity culminated in the two Battles of Saratoga. In the Battle of Freeman’s Farm on 19 September, Gates formed a left wing under Arnold, a center wing under Learned and a right wing. Gates allowed Arnold to wage an assault, which turned out to be aggressive and brilliant, while Gates cautiously held back the center and right wings. As the battle wore on, Arnold appealed for more troops, but Gates waited to the afternoon to release Learned’s Brigade which made them very ineffective. As Wikipedia put it: “They mainly got lost in the woods, and exchanged light fire near the end of the battle.”
Learned played a major part on 7 October in the second battle of Saratoga called the Battle of Bemis Height. This time, Arnold received no command from Gates. Yet when the battle started, he swooped onto the field like a madman and led Learned’s Brigade against the Prussian front, forcing their retreat. Bailey Regiment would have fought in the thick of battle with hand-to-hand combat. When the smoke cleared, Burgoyne was resoundingly defeated. It gave the troops some badly needed hope. It also convinced France to support us. Yet, even in glorious victory, hardship remained. Gates gave zero credit to Arnold for the victory which undoubtedly contributed to Arnold’s later decision to defect. Worse, Bailey Regiment remained unpaid for the last 6 to 8 months, and they refused to march until they somehow got paid for their courage.
Next stop was Valley Forge from Dec 1777 to June 1778. Many men perished in the harsh winter due to factors like rancid meat and a lack of clothing. However, springtime presented an opportunity for the troops to regroup under men like Baron Von Steuben who arrived from Prussia and provided badly needed military training.
These skills were put to the test at the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, a day of scorching 100 degree heat that claimed the lives of many soldiers. Peter and Joseph fought in General Stirling’s left flank. What a difference from Kipps Landing. Washington and Steuben watched proudly as the Colonists fought with precision against some of Britain’s best troops under General Clinton. This battle, while technically a draw, felt like a victory since the troops demonstrated such skill and since Clinton slinked away from the battle site before daybreak. Monmouth is considered the last great battle of the North.
After Monmouth, life appears to be much quieter for Peter and Joseph, as much of the war action moved away from the North to the South. Bailey’s Regiment was stationed back at the Highlands. Continental Village had been burned down by a British raid in 1778. However, Washington considered it vitally important that the Hudson River remain open. Activity centered at West Point where the troops strengthened the fortifications along the river. It was so vital that Benedict Arnold attempted to pass the West Point plans to Britain as part of his treason in July 1780. Although Peter and Joseph faced little combat, conditions for them remained tough. Men continued to desert due to lack of pay. On a more personal level, Joseph was declared “deranged” on 1 April 1779. Little more surfaces about Joseph Baker after the end to his brave service.
On 23 Dec 1779, after many grueling years of service, Peter Baker completed his contract, and would have walked home to resume the career he left four years earlier.
The above narrative is subject to interpretation since we are trying to follow the movements of Peter and Joseph Baker through the movements of their Regiments and Brigades. There are some omitted events, such as the contribution of Col. Jonathan Reed’s 6th Middlesex Regiment, whose role remains unclear (Reed arrives from Littleton on occasion and appears to be a minor player) . You also have to deal with occasional, small contradictions. So presented here a complete chronology found in a multitude of sources.
The Pension Files of Other Soldiers
The Federal government allowed survivors of the Revolutionary War to apply for a pension starting in 1818. Spouses also could get a benefit. The files are now online, and many names on the files have been indexed on Fold3 so it is now possible to see what other survivors have to say. The purpose of these pensions is to prove service and hardship so they need to state they have neither income nor any assets. As a bonus, several individuals gave details of their service including battle, injuries, sickness, etc.
|Seige of Boston begins with Battles of Lexington and Concord – the First battles of the Revolutionary War|
|William Prescott’s Regiment organized as 10th regiment of the Army|
|Joseph Baker Jr, enlists as ensign in Capt Samuel Gilbert’s Company, Col William Prescott’s Regiment. Service 92 Days [until 31 Jul 1775]|
|Joseph Baker Sr, enlists as Private in Capt Samuel Gilbert’s Company, Col William Prescott’s Regiment. Service 73 Days [until 1 Aug 1775]|
|Battle of Bunker Hill with Joseph Baker Sr and Joseph Jr present. 1200 troops under William Prescott defended against 2400 British under William Howe. It took three assaults before colonist lost, but the British took surprisingly heavy loses. A stand-off ensued.|
|Joseph Baker commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant by order of Provincial Congress|
|George Washington takes control of army. Orders Prescott’s Regiment to the woods leading to Lechmere’s Point, near Cambridge, considered a prime landing spot for the future British attack.|
|Joseph Baker Sr dies. Cause of death not known.|
|Prescott’s Regiment stationed at Sewall’s Point or Brookline Fort for remainder of time in Boston. This fort did not see much action, but it represented a strong deterrent force with six guns and a large population of soldiers. Total number of officers and men 482. Site now location of Boston’s famous Citgo sign.|
|1 Jan |
|Peter Baker enlists for 1 year in Col Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Gilbert’s Company. Peter states in pension file that date is Dec 1775
|Prescott’s Regiment combined with other companies to form 7th Continental Regiment, part of Heath’s Brigade under General William Heath|
|Siege of Boston ends on “Evacuation Day”. Howe decides to move 11,000 troops to Nova Scotia after Boston gets reinforced with heavy artillary captured from the British at Fort Ticonderoga.|
|New York Campaign starts. George Washington orders available troops to NY city. On this date, Prescott’s Regiment ordered to march under Brigadier General Sullivan. They left 29 Mar for New London CT where ships transported them to the city. 19,000 soldiers total.|
|Prescott’s Regiment ordered to Governors Island to erect a fortification. They did a good job. General Stirling would later write: “Governors Island is more strong and better guarded than any other post of the Army…”|
|British troops start arriving with their version of “shock and awe” 32,000 total troops with heavy armaments and a flotilla of ships.|
|Prescott’s troops assigned to Nixons Brigade under General John Nixon.|
|British assault starts. Colonists about to get crushed. On 27 Aug Battle of Long Island was waged. Washington issues retreat. Prescott’s Regiment slips out from Governors Island at night on 30 Aug leaving 40 cannons and ammunition, one of the last bases to leave the area.|
|Relieved from Nixon’s Brigade and assigned to Parson’s Brigade under Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parson. Still part of Main Army. Stationed at Corlears Hook, also known as Crown Point.|
|British landing at Kip’s Bay. When invasion started, chaos and panic ensue, including Prescott’s Regiment, who had been ordered to provide support. The troops did not have a prayer, but Washington was disgusted as he wrote:
“As soon as I heard the firing, I rode with all possible dispatch towards the place of landing, where to my great surprise and mortification I found the troops that had been posted in the lines retreating with the utmost precipitation and those ordered to support them (Parsons’ and Fellows’ brigades) flying in every direction, and in the greatest confusion, notwithstanding the exertions of their general to form them into some order; but my attempts were fruitless and ineffectual and on the appearance of a small party of the enemy, not more than sixty or seventy, their disorder increased, and they ran away in the greatest confusion, without firing a single shot.”
|Battle of Harlem Heights. Considered the sole victory during the Siege of Long Island, giving the Colonist’s some reason to hope. Some of Prescott’s Regiment later claim participation.|
|Prescott at Frog’s Neck having built a fortification there. Howe lands large force to attack Washington’s Army. The line holds. After 5 days Howe forced to relocate to Pell’s Point.|
|Parson’s brigade assigned to St Mary’s Pond. They would remain in area until 9 Nov covering the upper road into Connecticut|
|Battle of White Plains. Part of Parsons brigade participated (Webb’s Regiment). Some of Prescott’s probably participated (there is a partial list of soldiers that list 10 men from Prescott’s Regiment). Colonial troops forced to retreat further north. However, losses were minimal.|
|After battle of White Plains, Parson’s Brigade stationed near head of Rye Pond. On 1 Nov, Parson brigade marches on Kingstreet from Rye Pond to Saw Pits (now Port Charles).|
|Parsons has a desertion problem when he write about the “most scandalous practice of desertion and returning home, by which the number of our troops is every day decreasing.” His brigade had 3192 on 3 Nov, 1999 on 9 Nov, and 1316 on 24 Nov. Prescott’s troop number on 31 Oct: 211 fit for duty, 26 present but sick, 59 absent & sick, 60 absent on command, 376 total excluding officers|
|Parson’s Brigade relieved from Main Army and assigned to Highlands Department under Major General William Heath. On 18 Nov, Heath writes to George Washington about troop placement. Prescott’s Regiment would be located at “the Gorge of the Mountains by Robinson’s Bridge”. Clinton’s Brigade (where John Bailey’s Regiment could be found) would be stationed at “the Heights above Peeks Kill Landing”. The fort near Robinson’s bridge would later be called “Continental Village”.|
|Capt Samuel Gilbert of Prescott’s regiment taken prisoner. Circumstances unclear. Joseph and Peter still likely serving under him. He was exchanged two years later.|
|Battle of Trenton where George Washington launched surprise attack on Hessian troops. Victory improved moral of troops. Washington used victory to help re-enlist troops. Attacking force included John Bailey’s 23rd Continental Regiment.|
|Battle of Princeton included John Bailey’s 23rd Continental Regiment, part of Clinton’s Brigade.|
|Peter and Joseph enlist for 3 years in Capt Samuel Darby’s company, John Bailey’s Regiment. Pay account indicate 1 Jan start date. Peter Baker writes that he re-enlisted in John Bailey’s Regiment “about a month before his time of service expired”. So it is possible that Peter and/or Joseph Baker joined John Bailey’s Regiment in Nov/Dec. If true, then they could have served in the important battles of Trenton and Princeton. More likely, they made the transition Jan/Feb in Continental Village.|
|Letter from Major General William Heath to George Washington:
“Some Regiments, in particular Prescott’s, have Sixty or Seventy Arms lost, some private & others public property—The Officers alledge that when they left Governor’s Island, they had many Sick, That some Arms were left on the Island—that others were brought over to the City, & that at the Time of the Retreat, Waggons could not be obtained to bring them off, & that they lost even their own Clothing—Others were at the Armourers Shops, and either brought away in a Hurry, & mixed with others, or left behind—Such as were private property they request payment for—Such as belonged to the Public & were so lost, they construe unavoidably lost—As there were a great many Arms lost by different Regiments, in the before mention’d Retreats, under Similar Circumstances, I would beg your Excellency’s particular Direction, as it is a matter of very considerable importance, as all should be treated alike—I have ordered a Stoppage for the public Arms, which have been lost in the before mention’d Instances, until I am directed further.”
|Prescott’s Regiment disbanded. Washington combines Bailey’s 23rd and Prescott’s 7th Regiments with elements of other regiments, creating the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment or “Bailey’s Regiment” of the Northern Department.|
|Ebenezer Learned comes out of retirement to lead the 4th Massachusetts Brigade, or Learned’s Brigade. Stationed in the north to try and slow Burgoine’s march down the Hudson. He appears to be working under Major General Philip Schuyler.|
|Major General Philip Schuyler writes to George Washington that half of Bailey’s Regiment going to reinforce Fort George; half going to Fort Edward. Total 255 rank and file. He also discusses severe supply shortages:
“I have as yet only been able to march Colonel Bailey’s Regiment consisting of 255 Rank & File—Half of it is to reinforce Fort George and the other half Fort Edward—None of the Militia are yet moved. Should our Troops at Tyconderoga fall into the Enemy’s Hands, I fear they will be able to march where they please, unless a greater Force is sent me than what your Excellency at first intended. I shall be greatly distressed for Shelter for the Militia—If any Tents can be spared I beg your Excellency to order them up and whatever Cartridge paper you can, for we have next to none on this Side of Tyonderoga….If it to be true that we may be so plentifully supplied with fresh Beef as Mr Trumbull positively asserts, his Agents manage badly, for we have none, and hardly any Thing else of the Meat Kind on this Side of Tyonderoga, altho’ I ordered his Deputy to send for Cattle to every Quarter soon after my Return from Philadelphia. If any intrenching Tools can be spared, I wish to have two hundred Spades, and as many Shovels and pick axes sent up, and if any Field Artillery is sent up, be so good as to let it be accompanied by a Detachment of the Artillery, with a Sufficiency of fixed Ammunition. I am Dear Sir most respectfully Your Excellency’s obedient humble Servant Ph. Schuyler”
|Americans forced to evacuate Fort Ticonderoga after Burgoine sets up some huge cannons on nearby mountain. Bailey’s Regiment retreats toward Saratoga. Schuyler is blamed, and replaced by Horatio Gates.|
|Learned’s Brigade (~700) marched under Benedict Arnold to the relief of Fort Stanwix under seige by Brigadier General Barry St. Leger and trying to prevent him from merging with Burgoyne troops. Arnold created false impression that 3000 men on the way. On 22 Aug, St. Leger took the bait and retreated. His troop were never available to merge with Burgoyne.|
|Joseph Baker assigned with Capt Aaron Jewett’s (3rd) co., Col. Jonathan Reed’s (6th Middlesex Co.) Regiment. According to Wikipedia, this regiment was formed on 27 Sep in Littleton and marched to Saratoga as a reinforcement. Part of Brickett’s Brigade, one of five known to be “floating” on Burgoyne’s left flank during the retreat to Fort Hardy and Saratoga after the action at Bemis Heights. None of these units saw any significant action, but served to block lines of retreat and limit the range of Burgoyne’s foraging parties. Disbanded on 9 Nov. It is possible that Joseph was assisting this regiment during the Battles of Saratoga.|
|Bailey’s Regiment in 1st Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Learned’s brigade considered not very effective. Working forward in the center of the line, they mainly got lost in the woods, and exchanged light fire near the end of the battle.|
|Bailey’s Regiment in 2nd Battle of Saratoga, also called Battle of Bemis Heights. Peter calls it “taking of Burgoine”. A great Colonial victory that prevented the British from cutting Colonies into two by way of the Hudson river.
The Americans attacked in three columns under Morgan, Learned, and Poor. The British line broke and rallied repeatedly. As the British retired, [Benedict] Arnold, who held no official command, dashed onto the field and led Learned’s Brigade against the enemy center which retreated. He then led Poor’s Brigade against British fortifications until he was wounded….Burgoyne lost over 600 men, 10 guns, and a key defensive position. The Americans lost about 30 killed and 100 wounded.
|Continental Village buried by British attack|
|Bailey’s Regiment expected to go to Philadelphia to help Washington. However, despite the Saratoga victory, the troops are unhappy as seen in this letter from Alexander Hamilton to George Washington:
“I am pained beyond expression ⟨to⟩ inform your Excellency that on my arrival ⟨here⟩ I find everything has been neglected and de⟨ranged⟩ by General Putnam, and that the two brigades Poor’s and Learned’s still remained here and on the other side the River at FishKill…The two Brigades of Poors & Learneds it appears would not march for want of money and necessaries, several of the Regts. having received no pay for 6 or 8 months past. There has been a high mutiny among the former on this account, in which a Capt. killed a man, and was shot himself by his comrade. These difficulties for want of proper management have stopped the troops from proceeding. Governor Clinton has been the only man, who has done any thing toward removing them; but for want of General Putnam’s cooperation has not been able to effect it. He has only been able to prevail with Larned’s brigade to agree to march to Goshen; in hopes by getting them once on the go, to get them to continue their march. On coming here, I immediately sent for Col. Bailey who now commands Larned’s Brigade, and have gotten him to engage for carrying the Brigade on to Head Quarters, as fast as possible. This he expects to effect by means of 5 or 6000 Dollars which Governor Clinton was kind enough to borrow for me; and which Col. Bailey thinks will keep the men in good humour ’till they join you. They marched this morning toward Goshen.”
|Bailey’s Regiment begins Valley Forge Encampment. Brutal winter. 2nd Mass entered with 459 men assigned, 297 fit for duty. Left with 392 assigned, 226 fit for duty.|
|A letter from a Committee to Inspect Beef to George Washingtona about rancid meat:
We the subscribers being appointed a Committee to Inspect the Beaf drawn for Genl Learnard’s Brigade, under the Command of Colo. Bailey Commandant, we have examianed the Beaf and Judge it not fit for the use of human beings, unwholesome & destructive to nature for any person to make use of Such fude. Signed Joseph Pettingill Captn, John Wiley Capt., Seth Drew Capt.
|A letter from Col Bailey to George Washington about lack of clothing:
May it Please your Excellency. Lieut. Colonel Bedlam of my Regiment, having lost his Cloaths, in the Siege at Fort Stanwix. The officers & Soldiers of the Regiment, being in great want of Cloathing, Myself & the Major being Present Humbly request, that he may have a furlough, for the purpose of Procuring Cloathing for himself & Regiment. From Your Excellencys Most Obedent Humb. Servt, John Bailey Col.
|Peter Baker assigned to Capt Aaron Jewett’s (3rd) co., Col. Jonathan Reed’s (6th Middlesex Co.) Regiment. It is not yet clear what this assignment meant. Other in the company are also assigned.|
|Ebenezer Learned, who never wintered in Valley Forge, resigns from post citing health problems. Brigade now called “Late Learned”.|
|Bailey’s Regiment leave Valley Forge a strong fighting force having been trained by Baron Von Steuben who arrived on 23 Feb.|
|Battle of Monmouth. Learned’s Brigade were stationed on left flank under Lord Sterling. In “The War of the Revolution”, Christopher Ward writes:
“A British attack was aimed at Stirling’s wing. The British light infantry, the 42nd Foot, and the famous Black Watch pressed forward and were met by the heavy fire from the guns of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Carrington’s battery. British fieldpieces were brought up, and a smart artillery duel ensured. Volley after volley of musketry came from both sides. Stirling, with Washington and Stueben, passed along the American line, encouraging the men. For nearly an hour the guns on both sides pounded their opponents, the muskets rained lead without cessations. The fighting was terrific. The American regiments in that line had been brought up to their positions under the eye of Stueben. Under fire they had wheeled into line “with as much precision as on an ordinary parade and with the coolness and intrepidity of veteran troops.” Alexander Hamilton afterwards said that never, until he saw the troops deploy and fight as they did, had he “known or conceived the value of military discipline.” It was Steuben’s reward to see those result of this teaching.”
|In letter from Major General Horatio Gates to George Washington, Late Learned’s Brigade under Col Bailey will march to Hartford CT to support the French fleet in Boston if they need help.|
|Bailey’s Regiment relieved from the Main Army and assigned to Highlands Department. Building fortresses around West Point to prevent another British attempt to divide the colonies.|
|Joseph Baker discharged from army for being “deranged”|
|Peter Baker receives honorable discharged at West Point.|
|William Heath wrotes: “Early in the morning about 100 soldiers belonging to the Massachusetts regiments [of the West Point garrison] … marched off with intent to go home: they were pursued and brought back: some of them were punished; the greater part of them pardoned.” Once back in quarters the individual cases were reviewed, and some of the men received their discharges. The mutineers seem to have asserted that their three year enlistments meant that they only had to serve for three different calendar years, not for three full years from their date of enlistment. Thus, those that had enlisted in 1777 were done, having served for 1777, 1778, and 1779|
“Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War”, published in 1891 by the Secretary of the Commonwealth represents the gold standard of Massachusetts Rev War service. The authors combed through all the available military rolls, and attempted to show how they served. Many members related to the Baker family can be found on these rolls
Peter Baker: Peter’s service record, as detailed in the book, does not mention Prescott because a roll for those serving this term does not survive:
“Baker, Peter, Littleton. Return of men enlisted into the Continental Army from Capt Aaron Jewett’s (3rd) co., Col. Jonathan Reed’s (6th Middlesex Co.) regt., dated Feb 19, 1778; joined Capt. Samuel Darby’s (2nd) co., Col. John Bailey’s regt.; enlistment, 3 years or during war; also Private, Col. Bailey’s regt.; Continental Army pay accounts for service from Jan. 1, 1777, to Dec. 31, 1779; also Capt. Samuel Darby’s co., Col. Bailey’s regt.; return of men in service at Valley Forge Jan. 25, 1778.”
Stephen Dudley (father-in-law to Peter): The Stephen Dudley listed in the book is probably, not definitely, our ancestor. He served as a guard for three months to protect Boston. Boston was not under siege at the time, so it was likely an uneventful assignment
“Dudley, Stephen. Private, Capt Isaac Woods’s co., Cop. Jonathan’s Reed’s (1st) regt. of guards; joined April 1, 1778; service, 3 mos. 2 days, at Cambridge; enlisted, 3 months from April 1 (also given April 2). 1778.”
Joseph Baker (brother of Peter): Joseph enlisted first in Col. William Prescott’s regiment. He started as an ensign, became a 2nd lieutenant, later a 1st lieutenant.
“Baker, Joseph (also given Jr.), Littleton. 2d Lieutenant, Capt. Samuel Gilbert’s co., Col. William Prescott’s regt. ; list of officers; commissioned June 25, 1775; also, muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775; enlisted April 30, 1775; service, 92 days; also, company return dated Cambridge, Sept. 28, 1775; also, order for recompense for losses at Bunker Hill, dated Littleton, April 2, 1776; also, return of men enlisted into Continental Army from Capt. Jewett’s co.. Col. Reed’s (6th Middlesex Co.) regt., dated Littleton, Sept. 17, 1777; joined Capt. Samuel Darby’s co., Col. John Bailey’s regt.; enlistment, 3 years; also, Col. Bailey’s regt.; Continental Army pay accounts for service from Jan. 1, 1777, to April 1, 1779 ; reported resigned April 1, 1779; also, Capt. Darby’s co., Col. Bailey’s regt.; return of men in service at Valley Forge Jan. 25, 1778; also, order for clothing payable to Lieut. Col. Ezra Badlam, dated Camp at White Plains, Aug. 19, 1778; also, return for clothing dated Dorchester, Sept. 28, 1778 ; also, return for clothing dated Boston, Oct. 6, 1778; also, list of officers in need of clothing, dated Dorchester, Oct. 22, 1778; also, certificate signed by said Baker, dated Littleton, Feb. 1, 1779; also, list of officers dated Boston, May 19, 1779 ; reported not recommended on the new establishment.”
Joseph Baker Sr (father of Peter): Joseph Sr enlisted a month later. Both served under the famous William Prescott of Bunker Hill fame who uttered the famous line “Do not shoot until you see the whites of their eyes”.
“Baker, Joseph, Littleton. Private, Capt. Samuel Gilbert’s co., Col William Prescott’s regt.; muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775; enlisted May 20, 1775; service, 73 days; also, company return dated Cambridge, Sept. 28, 1775; also, order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money, dated Cambridge, Oct. 30, 1775.”
Jonathan Whitcomb (husband of Peter’s sister, Sarah Baker): Not listed on “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War”. However, from “The Whitcomb family in America”, pg 214, we read this about Jonathan Whitcomb:
“On hearing of the news from Lexington and Concord enlisted in the American army. Just before the battle of Bunker Hill he was called home for some reason, and his brother, Peter, who served as his substitute, was killed in the fight.”
Samuel Tuttle (husband of Peter’s sister, Elizabeth)
“Tuttle, Samuel, 2d, Littleton. Return of company officers of Col. Dike’s regt., showing number of men present under them and also those not joined, dated Dorchester, Sept. 21, 1776; said Tuttle, with others, raised for Capt. John Minott’s co. but reported as not having joined.”
John Darling (second husband of Lydia Dudley Baker)
“Darling, John, Winchendon. Private, Capt. Abel Wilder’s co. of Minute-men, Col. Ephraim Doolittle’s regt., which marched April 20, 1775, in response to the alarm of April 19, 1775, to Cambridge; service, 6 days; also, Capt. Abel Wilder’s co. Col. Ephraim Doolittle’s regt. ; receipt for advance pay dated Charlestown, June 26, 1775 ; also, same co. and regt. ; muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775 ; enlisted April 26, 1775; service, 3 mos. 13 days; also, company return dated Oct. 6, 1775; reported went to Quebec; also, order dated Nov. 8, 1776, signed by said Darling, for money due for a bounty coat, he having marched to Quebec with Col. Arnold Sept. 13, 1775, and been taken prisoner, and not having received either the coat or its equivalent.”
Thomas Baker (uncle of Peter Baker): The youngest brother of Joseph Sr struggled after the war. Legal documents show the town of Groton taking over his finances to settle some of his debts. One son, William, is known to survive. He became an itinerant minister settling in Michigan.
“Baker, Thomas, Groton (also given Littleton). Private, Capt. Henry Farwell’s co., Col. William Prescott’s regt., which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; service, 18 days; also, Capt. Samuel Gilbert’s co., Col. Prescott’s regt.; muster roll date Aug. 1, 1775; enlisted May 20, 1775; service, 73 days; reported lost articles in battle at Charlestown, June 17, 1775; also, company return dated Cambridge, Sept. 28, 1775; also, order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money, dated Cambridge, Oct. 30, 1775.”
Timothy Baker (cousin of Peter Baker and brother of David): He shows up as a drummer on the military rolls with Peter and Joseph, likely a cousin. Joseph Sr had a brother William with children Timothy and David. The term “Jr” may be used to differentiate him from his uncle Timothy. Like Peter, Timothy initially settled in Cheshire county, NH. After his first wife died, he eventually settled in Genesee county NY.
“Baker, Timothy, Jr., Littleton (also given Shirley). Return of men enlisted into Continental Army from Capt. Aaron Jewett’s (3d) co.. Col. Jonathan Reed’s (6th Middlesex Co.) regt., dated Feb. 19, 1778; joined Capt. Samuel Darljy’s (2d) co., Col. John Bailey’s regt.; enlistment, 3 years or during war; also, Drummer, 2d co., Col. Bailey’s regt. ; Continental Army pay accounts for service from May 10, 1777, to Dec. 31, 1779; also, Capt. Darby’s co.. Col. Bailey’s regt. ; return of men in service at Valley Forge, Jan. 25, 1778; also, Private, Capt. Thomas Bradford’s co., Col. Bailey’s regt. ; Continental Army pay accounts for service from Jan. 1, 1780, to April 17, 1780.”
David Baker (cousin of Peter Baker and brother of Timothy): Likely died during the war. On military roll lists him a “sick in hospital”
“BAKER, David, Littleton. Private, Capt. Asa Laurance’s co., Col Jonathan Reed’s regt.; enlisted Sept. 26, 1777; discharged Nov. 9, 1777; service 1 mo. 15 days, with army under Gen. Gates; also, descriptive list of men enlisted from Middlesex Co. for term of 9 months from the time of their arrival at Fishkill, June 21, 1778; 3d co., Col Reed’s regt.; age, 19 yrs.; stature, 5 ft. 2 in.; residence, Littleton.”
Comparatively few pensioners name Samuel Gilbert as their Captain. However, other individuals under Col Prescott give a consistent story. They all indicate going to Governor’s Island. Many indicate that they fought in Harlem Heights, but this service could include the time on Crown Point which is never mentioned. Many indicated fighting at White Plain, but this service may include time on Frog Point. Finally all mention finishing in either Fishkill or Peekskill.
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Samuel Gilbert’s Company
PETER BAKER: “immediately joined my company at Cambridge where we remained until the British army evacuated Boston, when we followed them to New York – that we went into winter quarters in the High Land in New York I believe about three miles north of West Point”
JOHN OAKS: “I served this time out; and at West Point I immediately enlisted again for three year under Capt Saml Derby (of old York) & Col Bailey’s Regt.”
as stated as witness on Caleb Severan pension file: He [Caleb Severan] was in the “years service” so called, did his duty faithfully as a soldier during that time & was discharged on or about the first of January 1777: together with my self & others of the same Reg’t.”
LEMUEL OAKS: in a company of infantry commanded by Capt Samuel Gilbert, Leut. Joseph Gilbert and Leut or Ensign Joseph Baker…enlisted into the service of the United States under the same officers for the term of one year, and served as a private during said term chiefly in the State of New York.”
from witness Abel Proctor: “he [Lemuel Oaks] said that he was a warten to leiut Joseph Gilbert who went from Littleton, when on their furlough home, said Gilbert was taken sick by the way, and died at North Castle, this he stated to me on his return.”
ISAAC DURANT: “went to New York, did a years service and was discharged”
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Joseph Morse’ [AKA Moss] Company
JOHN BULLARD: “he was in the battle of White Plain in the State of New York”
SAMUEL CLARK: “I was first stationed at Lechmere point in Cambridge, Toward the last ??? of the next March I left that place & went to Governors Island in New York Harbor. I was there & in N.Y. City till sometime in the next September when the Regiment marched to Kings bridge – we then built some Barracks & in a short time after we went to White plains – when the British took the place, the Company when to Peekskill & continued there till the end of my said enlistment.
WILLIAM CLARK (as stated on Samuel Clark Pension): “I was first stationed at Lechmere point in Cambridge. Toward the last of March of the next year I left that place & marched to Governors Island in New York Harbor. I was at that place & in the City till sometime in September when we went to Kings bridge – we there built some barracks & after a few weeks we went to White plains – when the British took that place we went to Peekskill & continued there till the end of my enlistment.
ABEL CONANT: “was stationed at a place called Sewell’s point near Boston until after the British evacuated Boston – from thence to New London, Conn. and from thence by water to New York City and was there stationed for a short time and afterwards at Governors’ Island – was taken from Governors’ Island to work as a Carpenter, in the City some time in the summer, building boats etc. At the time the army left New York, went with the army up North river and was discharged at Peek’s kill”
JOHN REED: “he remained a short time at Brookline when his Regiment repaired to the City of New York & from thence to Governors Island on the harbor of that City, & he continued doing duty in New York and New jersey untill the expiration of his term”
WILLIAM WOOD (from Josiah Gilman & Sam Tenney, 4 Dec 1787): “he has produced sufficient evidence that, while in the service of this county in said regiment [at Bunker Hill] he received a wound in the right elbow by which it is rendered stiff – that we judge him to be entitled to a pension.”
PELATIAH RUSSELL: “he was employed by his company Officers on particular service and was ordered to join his company at Providence which he did and on the nineteenth day of april, he was with this Regiment in the City of New York, and from thence they proceded to Govenors Island….In the month of May there was a proposal to raise a Regiment of Artificers, and all Artisans belonging to the service were permitted to houin it; some day in May they paraded on Broadway, were counted of into…in a Regiment of Artificers commanded by Coll Jonathan Brewer…The Artificers were employed in or about New York untill they were compelled to retreat to Kings Bridge, thence to North Castle, then to Pekks Kill when they went into Winter Quarters and remained until his time expired”
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Joseph Moor’s [AKA Moore’s] Company
JOHN PATTIN: “Marched to Boston, then to New York: were stationed on Governors Island. On or about the month of September we were driven from this place by the British [assault?] into the City of New York; from thence to Harlem Heights & to Kingsbridge. And on to the White Plains. I continued in this service till the 24th of November following when I was taken unwell. I was discharged, as a Invalid. Having been in service almost eleven months”
as stated as witness on Caleb Severance pension file: “from said Sewels Point, we marched the spring following to New York – from New York we went on to Governor’s Island where we remained until driven off by the British back to New york – we retreated from the City of New York to Harlem heights’ then off the Island across King’s Bridge & from thence to white plains”
EBENEZER FARNSWORTH: “he was at the Battle of White plains”
(as witness for James Mack): “We were first embodied at Sewells Point in Massachusetts and from thence went to Providence Rhode island from which place we embarked on bord a ship and went to New york City and were stationed on Governnors Island. From which place we retreated to New York and were stationed on the Common, from whence we retreated to Harlem Heights and were in the Battle of that place. From thence we removed to White plains and were the the Battle of that place. From thence we went to Peekskill, afterwards went into Winter quarters at Fishkill. From which place we were discharged.”
SAMUEL WHITNEY: “I was at the Battle of Harlem heights, and various skirmishes in New Jersey – & on the 15th Sep 1776 in the retreat from New York under Col. Prescott, to Harlem heights”
AMOS BLODGET (20 Apr 1818): “in this company he proceeded by the way of New London to New York and was encamped on Governors Island in the harbor of New York” (March 1821): “was in the Battles of Harlem Heights and White Plains”
SIMEON KEMP: “enlisted for the term of one year in December 1775 and was called for in April following into active service, was marched to the City of New York to Governors Island adn Long Island adn continued in the service till the succeeding January being the year 1777 & was discharged at Peekshill in the Highlands.”
(from witness Jonas Blood): “I remember his going from Sewells point to New London, where we took shipping for New York, where we landed and afterwards, were encamped on Governors Island, & I remember to have seen him during the year occasionally tho he did not belong to the same Company with me, but being of the same Town, I often met & recognized him & know that he continued with his Company and Regiment untill we were all dismissed at Peeks kills.”
DAVID CLOUGH: “I was stationed on Govenors Island in New York harbor. I was in the battle of white plains & had to retreat to Peeks kills where we remained untill my time of enlistment was out”
STEPHEN HILLS: “I did duty in the City of New York & on Governors Island, at Harlem Heights, White plains, Peeks Kell, and in the State of New Jersey. I have been in several skirmishes but in no pitched battles & received a slight wound from a musket ball in my left leg on a retreat from New York to Harlem Hights. I was in a brush at White planes & exposed to bombardments on Governors Island & a place called the bowry near the City of New York. & I was honorably discharged in writing on the high lands about fifty miles above the city of New York, a mile or better from the River”
EBENEZER HILLS (as witness on Phineas Gage pension file): “The regiment marched to Providence, New London & New York. Soon after to Governors’ Island, where we served until the enemy came into the narrows. In the later part of September or the first of October 1776 said Gage was sick, and sent to Stamford. I was sick and sent to the same place soon after. About the middle of October an examination of the sick list was made, and I was directed to join by regiment, which I did, and said Gage and John Patten of said Merrimack were directed to go home, being considered unfit for any more duty that year.”
PHINEAS GAGE : “As stated in the affidavit of Ebenezer Hills, that I was taken sick in September 1776, and sent to Stamford in Connecticut. In October, and I think in the middle of the motth, an examination of the sick list was made. I was then so sick that it was certain I should be unable to do duty before my time was out, and I was discharged and told I might go home though it was doubtful if I ever reached home. I went by short stages and reached home the first of November as near as I can recollect, and remained sick some time longer.
WILLIAM GREEN (witness on Simon Green pension file, 18 Aug 1838): “We were stationed in the vicinity of Cambridge untill about the first of April following and then marched to the City of New York and were stationed in the City of New York and on Govenour Island untill the fifteenth day of September following when we were driven out of the City by the enemy to Harlem Heights. The next day we drove the enemy back towards New York City. A short time after we marched to white plains and said Simon Green and myself were in the Battle at said white plains. After said battle we were stationed in different places in the State of New York untill the first of January 1777 when we were disbanded and went home.”
MOSES CHASE (witness on Samuel Lawrence pension file): “we both served there in, he as an Ensign, and I as a private for the term on one year, – marching to New York, retreating to Harlem heights on the 15th of September, my birthday, were there in a battle, and afterward, retreated across King’s bridge, & we were in the battle of White plains – afterward went to winter quarter at Fish kill.
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Hugh Maxwell’s Company
CALEB SEVERANCE: “I then continued in service, and enlisted under the same officers upon the Continental Service for one year (viz. the whole 1776). We remained at Sewall’s Point until the enemy evacuated Boston. Then we marched to New York, and worked on the Fort at Governor’s Island, until the retreat at King’s birdge. From thence we marched to White Plains, where I served in the battle. From thence we marched to Peek’s Kil, where I remained until January 1777.”
as stated as witness on John Pattin pension file: “enlisted on 1st Jan in 1776 at a place called Sewel’s point, near Boston, from said Sewel’s Point we marched in the spring following to New York; from New York we went to Governor’s Island where we remained until we were driven off by the British -back to New York – we retreated from the City of New York to Harlem Heights & from thence off the island across Kings bridge & from thence to white plains”
JACOB NUTTING: “Preceded by the way of New London to New York and was encamped on Governors Island in the harbor of that city, in that vicinity and in the State of New Jersey he remained until the expiration of that year when his Company was discharged and he returned home.”
JAMES PATTS: “Served at Cambridge Massachusetts, New York – and near in the battle of White Plains.”
JONATHAN PETTS: “marched to New York City and from thence to Governors Island where we staid the summer and from thence to what was called the Highland in said State and thence took up our winter quarters and the spring following was discharged”
ARCHIBALD McINTOSH: “was in the battle of White Plains”
SILAS PARKER: “went from Brookline to Cambridge, then to New York, Governors Island, to the City of New York, & to White plains, and was in the Battle of Frogs point”
JOSEPH RUMRILL (from daughters Rebeca and Asenath Rumrill regarding wound received earlier at Bunker Hill): “he suffered from the effects of a wound by a musket ball through both cheek received in service, for which he drew the Invalid Pension, which carried away eleven of his teeth, and a large part of his tongue; that his tongue partly grew again, but was deformed; that his speech was much impaired by it; that he suffered dispency in eating”
JOHN MANNING: “with the Regiment he proceeded by way of New London to New York, was first encamped on Governors Island, and with his Regiment he continued doing duty”
BENJAMIN BROWN: “I was in several engagment during the evacuation of New York Island in 1776. I was in the Battle of White Plains and in December I was present at the taking of Hackinsack under the command of Genl Parsons”
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Jonathan Nowells’ Company
ICHABOD LORD: “marched to the city of New York, and remained there & vicinity of Boston till the army retreated up the Huson river at King’s bridge & vicinity till he was discharged at Peekskill in the state of New York, on or about the first of January, 1777.”
ANDREW NEAL: “was in the battle of White Plains”
BENJAMIN LORD: “and then enlisted into the years service for a year and served in the same company nine months of the years service ofarred (?) & then hired a man by the name of Feltch as a substitute and that he was accepted by the officers”
RICHARD PERKINS: “I was in Bunker Hill battle, also at Harlem plains and Stillwater besides many skirmishes and was always called a good soldier”, Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt John Nuttings’ Company
ELEAZER SPAULDING: “I joined my Reg’t at Cambridge, Marched to N. York (after the British had evacuated Boston); was stationed on Governor’s Island; Continued there till we evacuated the place; when we went into the City of N. York. I was at the Battle of White Plains; We went to Fiske kills when we continued principhy[?] till my said term of one year had expired; when I was regularly discharged.”
THOMAS WEATHERBEE: “In the service of the United States untill the first day of Jan 1777 when he was discharged from Service at Peekskill in the State of New York, was stationed at Governor’s Island & White Plains & other places”
DANIEL NUTTING: “he entered his company at Cambridge on the said first day of January & proceeded with them by the way of New London to New York and was encamped on Governors Island on the harbor of New York, & did duty on the State untill his year expired & he was dismissed, no discharges were given to any solider of Capt Nuttings Company that ever heard off – he received a wound in the battle of bunker hill, for which he was place on the pension roll”
From Doctor’s Report concerning his pension status
“it appears that on 17th day of June in the year 1775 being engaged in the battle on or near a place called Bunker’s Hill in the State, of Massachusetts, he received a wound in his left hand from a musket ball which entered the out edge of said hand near the wrist, croped said hand, and carved away his left thumb, and injured the muscles and tendons of his said left hand and arm.”
JOSIAH NEWHALL: “I served but two months on the last enlistment owing to my being unwell & unable to perform duty, and by the advice of Doctor Hart, Surgeon of said Regiment & with the consent & approbation of Col. Prescott I was honorably discharged at West Point in the State of New York on or about the 22nd of March 1777, by hiring a substitute to take my place for the remainder of the term of two years; this substitute was my Brother Micajah Newhall, who is now dead. I had a written discharge from my Col which was stolen from me with my pocket book at New London in the State of Connecticut on my return home. I was in no battle except the battle of Bunker Hill.”
His witness, Thomas Kemp, writes: “Newhall soon after his second enlistment was ordered to New York and the next time I saw him was a the Battle of White Plains, where said Newhall was…”
ELEAZER SPAULDING: “I joined my Reg’t at Cambridge, Marched to N. York (after the British had evacuated Boston); was stationed on Governor’s Island; Continued there till we evacuated the place; when we went into the City of N. York. I was at the Battle of White Plains; We went to Fiske kills when we continued principhy[?] till my said term of one year had expired; when I was regularly discharged.”
JOSEPH SHED: “marched to Rhode Island & thence to New York and was in the battle at ‘White plains’ “
OLIVER BOWERS: “he was in the Battle of Harlem Heights on York Island below Kings Bridge”
NATHANIEL SARTELL: “when the American Army marched to New York that Spring he was left with the care of the Invalids at Sewell’s point, and on the 22nd of April he was ordered to join his Regiment till the expiration of this term”
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt John Nutting’s Company
JONAS BLOOD: “he proceeded to the City of New York, was on Governors island and continued to do duty in that vicinity untill the first day of January, 1777”
JOSIAH SPAULDING: “I was in the battle of White Plains”
JOHN McCONNECK: “he was at the battle of Harlem heights in the State of New York in the year 1776 & at the battle of white plains in the State of New York”
Soldiers in Col William Prescott’s Regiment, Capt Samuel Patch’s Company
SAMUEL NUTTING: “in the spring he proceeded with his Regiment by way of New London to New York, and encamped on Governors Island [unreadable] retreated from New York, he was ordered in Capt. John Nutting’s Company of Rangers in which he did duty until his time expired”
from witness Amos Blood Letter in file: “Soon after I joined the Army I kept a journal of occurences and know that Col Prescott’s Regiment marched from Sewells point in Cambridge to New London where they took shipping and landed at New York City and soon after were encamped on Governors Island, on which place I often saw the aforesaid three Soldiers – Some time during the summer Genl Washington came on to the Island & invited Capt Nutting to select two hundred men from Col. Prescotts Regiment for Rangers, and he took the aforesaid Samuel Nutting who was Searjant in Capt Patch Company amoung the first he selected, and he left the Island, and I did not see him as he went away with the Rangers untill after I was discharged – the said Joseph Adams and Jonas Blood remained on the Island with their Companies untill the Regiment retreated from the Island and over Kingsbridge to Harlem – I was ordered to Stamford with a Sarjants party and after the battle at White plains, I joined the Regiment again, where I again met the said Adams and Jonas Blood and we all continued with our respective Companies untill the first day of January AD 1777”
LEVI CHUBBUCK: “wounded on 14 Oct 1776 on Frog’s Point in left knee by a musket ball”
Enough pensioner file exist for Col John Bailey and Samuel Darby’s Company so that other companies were not included. They universally mention “The Capture of Burgoyne” and Monmouth which likely includes both battles of Saratoga. The description of Ichabod Lord is valuable because he taking about his movement outside of these important events.
PETER BAKER: “I further say that whilst in said winter quarters, about a month before my time of service expired, I again enlisted into Capt Saml Darby’s company in Col John Bailey’s Regiment being the 2nd Reg’t. Massachusetts line to serve for three years. – that I served in said Company & Regiment the full term of reenlistment except nine days which was allowed me to return home when I was discharged at West Point – I have lost my discharge, not considering it of any value – I was at the battle of Monmouth & at the taking of Burgoine.”
JOSEPH HILTER: “marched to New York and Pitskill, when by term of service expired. I then reenlisted into the same company and regiment for the term of one year and served out the full period of my enlistment, I reenlisted at Pittskill and afterwards marched at Trenton and to a place some where near Philadelphia”
ZACHARIAH ROBBINS: “He entered in the spring of seventeen hundred and seventy-five for eight months in the company commanded by Capt Joseph Baker and Regiment of Col Prescott and was the battle of Bunker Hill; Afterwards he enlisted for three years and during the time was detained a prisoner at N. York ten months. I think he left the service in the year seventeen hundred and eighty.”
WILLIAM DAVIS: “I was at the capture of Burgoyne; was in the front guard of Gen. Washington’s main army at the battle of Monmouth, and acting as a serjeant commanded a platoon at the storming of Stoney Point under General Wayne.”
MILES FORD: “he was in both of the battles at the taking of Burgoyne”
JOSHUA FENIX: “That he was at the capture of Burgoyne & Battle of Monmouth. Resigned his commission on account of deafness”
ICHABOD LORD: “he with said company marched to Boston & in the spring to Bennington, Vermont, then to Albany, where the whole regiment remained some time, and then marched up North river to Saratoga, Forts Miller, Edward & Ann; was in the battles of Stillwater & Saratoga in September & October 1777, and at the surrender of Burgoin’s army – in said battles. Colonel Bailey, Leiut Col. James Tupper, & Major ___ Peters belonged to said Regiment, in Brigadier Genl Learned’s brigade, in Genl Arnold’s division, & whole army commanded by Generals Schuyler & then Gates. And after Burguoin’s surrender said regiment went to Albany, to Esopus, then across New Jersey to Valley Forge where passed the winter of 1777 & 1778, and then 1778 crossed New Jersey to West Point, where said vicinity he said Ichabod Lord served till dischaged on or about the first of January, 1780, thus serving three years.”
JAMES NOCK: “near 2nd Battle of Saratoga 10/7/1777”
WILLIAM PREBBLE: “1st Battle of Saratoga 9/19/1777”
NATHAN PILLSBURY: “he was in the Battle of the Capture of Burgoyne, the Battle of Monmouth and at the Storming of the fort at Stoney Point”
EBENEZER PERKINS: “Capt Baker’s Company in Col Bailey’s Regt in the Massachusetts Line where I served untill a little before Burgoin surrendered & was in the first battle at Saratoga in New York. I was ordered out in a Corporal’s guard & was taken by surprise by a Company of Tories & was pricked in the breast by one of them & should have been killed had not one of them struck of the bayonet. There were six of us in the guard we were carried prisoners to Montreal & from thence to Quebeck in Canada & was then removed to St. Johns & the Isle of Nore where they put me to work & I soon after made my escape from them & when I came to Crown Point I was told that peace had taken place & returned home & never after joined the army & I understood my Regt had broken up.”
ZACHARIAH ROBBINS (from Hugh Maxwell): “This may certify that Sarj’t Zachariah Robbins has served as a faithful good soldier in the 2nd Mass Regt from the tenth of May 1777 to the Ninth of January 1781 – Being three years and Eight Months from the 3rd Feby 1780 to the 10 Dec 1780 was a Prisoner in New York- is honorby discharged the service. Given under my hand at West Point this Ninth day of January 1781.
BENJAMIN ROE: “In the spring of 1777 I enlisted again as a private for three years [unreadable] same time in the fall of 1777 [unreadable] ambushed at Lake George in Capt Darby company in Col Baileys Regiment, Massachusetts line [unreadable] cut my time and [unreadable] discharged”
JOHN TOBEY: “I enlisted again in Captain Samuel Darbys Company in Col Bailey’s Regiment and marched to Albany, and to Fort Edward, served under then several enlistments at above mentioned and various other place during the revolutionary war four years and and half on the continental establishment, and was discharged but my certificate of discharge has long been lost. I was in the Battle of Monmouth, and on the Retreat from Ticonderoga”
ALEXANDER THOMSON: “during the above time of service said Capt. Derby was promoted to be a Major, and our company was commanded by Capt Simeon Lord. I was at the taking of Burgoyne, & at the Battle of Monmonth. I think said Lord was called Captain Lieutenent”
DANIEL WEBBER: “he was in the battle of Monmouth & in several Shirmishes”
PAUL WENTWORTH: “he was in the battles of Still Water – of the White Plains & at the Capture of Burguoyne”
THOMAS WOOSTER: “went to Boston, and from thence went to the Northward, and was engaged in the battle at the taking of Burguoines army – Afterward he was engaged in the celebrated battle of Monmouth. And was engaged in several other shimishes.”
Soldiers in Col John Bailey’s Regiment, Capt Drew’s Company
LEVI CHUBBUCK: “a fifer; he was in two battles at Stillwater in September & October 1777, and in the Battle at Monmouth June 28th, 1778”
When looking back over their service record, one has to wonder why Peter and Joseph Baker did it. Their battle experience looks like a living hell. Would life have been that terrible under continued British rule? Fellow soldiers continuously deserted because they could not justify the continued hardship. By the end of the three year service in Dec 1779, some soldiers, who has a few months left of service, preferred to face mutiny changes rather than remain at West Point. Not only was there a physical toll of marching, fortifying and fighting, but there was a financial toll. Immediately after the positive experience at Saratoga, Learned’s Brigade refused to march because they had not been paid in the last 6 to 8 months. Worst was the mental toll. Joseph Baker was discharged for being “deranged”. Peter shows all the hallmarks of suffering what we know call PTSD by his erratic behavior later in life. For those of us who appreciate all the trappings of July 4th and what it represents, we owe a great deal of gratitude to these men and their sacrifice.