Reenactors portray Maryland troopsDear Reader,Today, we are going to examine a particular type of ammunition used by eighteenth-century soldiers: buckshot. For those unfamiliar with the term, buckshot consists of smaller projectiles, which spread out after leaving the barrel of the weapon. It is often used in a shotgun today. In the eighteenth-century, German language speakers…
On May 5, 1776, General George Washington wrote to Congress. Among the many items was this paragraph:
“I beg leave to lay before Congress, a Copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon Lieutenant Grover of the 2d. Regiment, and of his defence, which I should not have troubled them with, had I not conceived the Courts Sentence upon the facts stated in the proceedings, of a singular nature; the small fine imposed, by no means adequate to the enormity of his offence and to be a dangerous and pernicious tendency: for these reasons, I thought it my duty to lay the proceedings before them, in order to their forming such a Judgment upon the Facts, as they shall conceive right and just, and advancive of the Public Good. At the same time I would mention, that I think it of material consequence that Congress should make a resolve, taking away the supposed right of succession in the Military line from one Rank to another, which is claimed by many upon the happening of vacancies, and upon which principle this Offence seems to have originated in a great measure, and this extraordinary Judgement to be founded; declaring that no succession or promotion can take place in case of vacancies, without a Continental Commission giving and Authorizing it.”
In Congress on May 10, 1776 it was resolved:
“That this Congress has hitherto exercised, and ought to retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy, without the authority of a continental Commission.”
Thus, not even his Excellency, General George Washington, would not have the power to promote an officer in the Army he commanded. An act of Congress would be required. Even in the early days of the American Revolution, the idea of a balance of power was in practice. Washington also knew who held the power over his own commission, and personally, in later correspondence with Congress made recommendations for many of the officers, in addition to forwarding the recommendations from the thirteen provincial congresses that recommended which officers should be commissioned.
These commissions, however, did not arrive immediately. In Isaac Frye’s case, New Hampshire made the recommendation in March 1777, but the commission was not signed until June 1779, more than two years afterward.
George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence: George Washington to Continental Congress, May 5. May 5, 1777. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mgw447183/.
Livermore, Abiel Abbot and Putnam, Sewall 1888. “History of the Town of Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire with a Genealogical Register” Marden & Rowell, Printers, Lowell, MA. Page 106 has a transcription of Isaac Frye’s commission to rank as Captain, which was signed by John Jay, President of Congress, on June 16, 1779.
Early on I learned my ancestor, Isaac Frye, recruited a company of soldiers for the Continental Army in early 1777. He ranked as a captain at that time, and records show was given 300£, for to be paid as bounties to induce the men to enlist.
For years, I took that literally, i.e., he was given species as in hard sterling silver money. In those days that was enough money to buy a nice plot of land. Read more
As I’ve been writing “Honor and Valor”, book two of Duty in the Cause of Liberty, I have had to get back into research mode. I always look for journals written by the men who were there–these journals have an authenticity historians cannot replicate. In writing about the lead-up to the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga, I found a reference to the “Diary of Lieut. Nathan Weare Kept at Ticonderoga and During the Retreat, 1777.” Read more
Dear Readers, Today, I want to touch on a rather controversial subject.* The subject is the infantry fire effectiveness of mid-eighteenth century European and Euro-American armies. At the outset, “shooting at marks” or target practice, was common in many eighteenth-century armies. Specifically, I am examining the accuracy and limitations of firepower…
The War has Begun by Charles E. Frye (CreateSpace, 2017). Based on extensive historical and ancestral research, U.S. Army Veteran Charles Frye’s book is the first in a series about NH native Isaac Frye, during the American Revolution. You can learn more about the series and the author’s fascinating research findings in an interview with CultScoop Magazine.…
Thank you, Rebecca Stockbridge!
I am lucky to have a wife with a talent for doing interviews, and to have fallen in with the Written by Veterans program founded by Andreas Kossak. They collaborated to produce this interview in the Written by Veterans Magazine.
It is also available in CultScoop Magazine.
It was a great opportunity for me to supply some of the background and motivation that would never have fit on the back cover.
Wilton Meetinghouse and surrounding town today. The festive raising of the Wilton meetinghouse turned to tragedy in 1773 when a worm-eaten support post gave way. All 53 of the men working on the roof beams fell 27 feet among axes, planks, hammers and crowbars. The Essex Gazette of Salem called it ‘the most melancholy Accident…that perhaps […]
There is also an excellent book on this topic, The Meetinghouse Tragedy by Charles E. Clark, with Illustrations by John Hatch. It gets into the details–worth a read; I have a copy, and learned Isaac Frye was one of the men who was injured.
“Voted, to raise as minute men 25 privates, two commissioned officers, two sergeants, twenty nine in all. Voted, 6 dollars a month to each officer and soldier after they are called to an expedition, till they have proper time to return after they are dismissed.”
From the minutes of the town of Wilton, New Hampshire, April 4, 1775
This was the contract. No language specifying when the militia would be paid or any limit of time beyond an “expedition”. By May 19, 1775, I imagine a few of the New Hampshire men besieging Boston might have begun to have concerns about being paid. The New Hampshire Provincial Congress was working to determine the ways and means to support three regiments, which implied they would be paying, rather than the towns that raised the militia. By the middle of July, three months had slipped past with none of the New Hampshire militiamen paid. Read more