Family Yankees

It is important to understand that records of Revolutionary War era patriots are confusing and fragmented. This is usually the result of the method on militia enlistments and service. The Minutemen are trained to respond to need but are not full time soldiers. In many case their service might only be for a few days or weeks. They would then be allowed to return to their families and farms so that the officers in charge would not have to figure out how to feed or clothe them. Most Colonial militia units were provided neither arms nor uniforms and were required to equip themselves. Many simply wore their own farmer’s or workman’s clothes and, in some cases, they wore cloth hunting frocks. Most used fowling pieces, though rifles were sometimes used where available.

My methodology is to look at records of service and the unit membership. It is usually easier to find unit history than that of a specific individual. One source of information are the numerous applications by ancestors to join the Sons of the American Revolution. The society insisted that there was sufficient documentation to join. I will accept their judgment even though I am sure that things were occasionally embroidered. Below are some of the men for whom I was able to find good information of their service. I know that there were numerous others.

Lawrence Litchfield served as a Sergeant in Captain William Turner’s 1st Scituate Militia as part of Anthony Thomas’s Regiment. They marched to Cambridge upon hearing the news of the battles at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. In the Spring of 1776, he is elected as 2nd Lieutenant by the men of the 6th Company of the 2nd Plymouth Regiment. He is serving as a full Lieutenant in Captain Pierces Company in Colonel Hills regiment seemingly at Bristol Rhode Island. Lawrence will continue to serve a number of times for the rest of the war as a Massachusetts militia man. There are another 50 or so Litchfields who also served during the revolution. Most kept their day jobs but responded when needed. Most are from Scituate or nearby.  

Seth Swift was appointed as a Lieutenant in 8th Company in Colonel Freeman’s 1st Barnstable Co. Regiment of Militia. The records say they marched in response to the events of April 19, 1775 (Lexington and Concord) as did other Minutemen. He like most Minutemen were not at Concord or Lexington. It is unclear if her participated in the rebel harassment of the retreating British Regulars

Next, Seth Swift served as a Sergeant in Captain Joshua Tobey’s Company from July 1, 1775 for 6 months. It was at this time that the Patriot siege of Boston was undertaken. Following the Battle at Concord and Lexington the Massachusetts militia occupied high points around Boston. The British were bottled up but easily supplied by their naval dominance in the harbor. In June, the Battle of Bunker Hill takes place. The British Commander Howe suffered heavy casualties but force the Rebels from their threatening positions. In July, George Washington arrives to take control of patriot forces. Despite having almost 16,000 troops, Washington and the British General Howe were at a stalemate. The British could be bottles up but were too strong in Boston for the Patriots to assault the town. The British Navy made sure that their troops were well fed. The Patriot forces needed heavy artillery emplaced on the hills over Boston Harbor to make their siege effective.

Siege of Boston 1775-76

Issac Foster born in 1745 joins the winter march to Fort Ticonderoga with Lt. Timothy Robinson’s Hampshire County Regiment in  the winter of 1776-77 as part of the Knox Expedition. The rebels dragged 60 tons of cannon and other equipment on sledges some 300 hundred miles from Ticonderoga to Boston. The cannons were place on Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston Harbor. The British being cu off from resupply were faced to abandon Boston as a result.

The Knox Expedition

Lazarus Lincoln served in Colonel Benjamin Gill’s Regiment of Militia also known as the 3rd Suffolk County Militia Regiment was called up at Stoughton, Massachusetts on August 12, 1777 as reinforcements for the Continental Army during the Saratoga campaign. The regiment marched quickly to join the gathering forces of General Horatio Gates as he faced British General John Burgoyne in northern New York. The regiment served in Gen. Warner’s brigade.  The brigade was under the command of Benjamin Lincoln on the right wing during the Battle of Bemis Heights. With the surrender of Burgoyne’s Army on October 17, the regiment was disbanded on December 12, 1777.

Battle of Bemis Heights

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