In celebration of the 4th of July, I thought it would be good to remember the Revolutionary War vets in the family tree. For all of us Wells descendents, we have three Revolutionary War vets that I am aware of. The one that I know the most about is Joseph Goodwin (see lineage below). In addition to Joseph, his father, Charles Goodwin and his daughter Clara’s father-in-law, Stephen Webster both served in that war.
The lineage: 1 Joseph Goodwin b: 24 Aug 1756 in Litchfield, CT d: 01 Feb 1842 in Romeo, MI +Sally Ferguson b: 21 Apr 1753 in Litchfield, CT d: 25 Dec 1835 in Romeo, MI 2 Clara Goodwin b: 26 Jul 1781 in Litchfield, CT d: 24 Mar 1874 in Romeo, MI +Roswell Miah Webster b: 1778 in Litchfield, CT d: 14 Sep 1850 in Romeo, MI 3 Anna Webster b: 1810 in Dryden, MI d: Nov 1838 in Dryden, MI +Henry Van Kleeck b: 22 Dec 1805 in Rensselaerville, NY d: 13 Jun 1887 in Almont, MI 4 Julia Ellen Van Kleek b: 1831 in Dryden, MI d: after 1920 +Nelson R Wells b: 1816 in NY d: 23 Jan 1882 in Moore, MI 5 Orson Roscoe Wells b: 27 Jul 1863 in Dryden, MI d: 02 Aug 1942 in Centralia, WA +Hannah Huldah Hall b: 28 Oct 1866 in Washtenaw Co., MI d: 02 Dec 1940 in Centralia, WA 6 Julia Evelyn Wells b: 29 May 1895 in Snover, MI d: 29 Dec 1969 in Vancouver, WA +Lee Kirkpatrick, Sr. b: 30 Sep 1891 in Cantril, IA d: 06 Jun 1971 in Vancouver, WA
Joseph is my 5th great grandfather. He is the 3rd great grandson of Ozias Goodwin, who arrived in Boston in 1632 on the Ship "Lyon" and was one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut in 1636. So, the family had been in the colonies for around 140 years by the time that the revolutionary war broke out!
In 1832, congress passed a pension for revolutionary war veterans and their widows. So, at age 77, Joseph applied. It was lucky for us that he did - his pension application contains enough details to construct an interesting history of his time in the war.
The following is taken from a combination of Joseph's pension application, in which he discusses his war service, and various history sources.
Around May 1, 1776 - Joseph volunteered for the Connecticut Militia (at age 19) for an 8 month term (enlistments were for relatively short durations) in Col. Abraham Bradley’s Regiment, serving under Capt. Bazebeel Beebe. The militia was formed after General Washington issued a call for help defending New York city from an expected attack by the British. They marched from Litchfield, CT to Norwalk, CT (approx. 60 miles) and then went to NY by water.
I don't have any details on his part in the defense of New York. The men assembled there spent several months fortifying the defenses. But, the British and Hessian troops outflanked and overwhelmed the defenders. Most of Washington's army retreated from New York. A portion of it was left at an area called Fort Washington (near the north end of Manhattan Island). After the British finished securing the rest of New York, they turned there attention to this fort. On November 15, 1776 (the day before the battle for this fort), Joseph and other sick or wounded soldiers were evacuated from Fort Washington across the North River to Fort Lee in New Jersey and so were not taken prisoner when the fort fell the next day. That turned out to be a good thing for us. Many of the troops taken prisoner susequently died aboard prison ships.
General Washington was across the river at Fort Lee when Fort Washington fell. As the British advanced across the river, Gen. Washington abandoned the New York area completely and moved his forces further westward toward the Delaware River with Cornwallis in persuit.
Joseph stated that he was part of the retreat of George Washington’s army from NY and that they marched to Bergen by English settlement. Generals Washington, Green, and Putnam accompanied the troops from Bergen Point to the Delaware River near Trenton NJ (approx. 50 miles).
The defense of New York was, thus, close to a complete catastrophe for the continental army. They had lost the city without much resistence, many thousands were killed, injured, or taken prisoner, valuable supplies were lost, and the army was on the run for its life. By the way, winter was coming on so the troops were cold and hungry. Enlistments were running out and morale was bad. The enlistments for about a quarter of the army expired at the beginning of December. Most of those troops went home. Another quarter of the troops were scheduled to go home near the end of December.
December 11, 1776 - Washington took his remaining troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The next day, over concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental Congress abandoned Philadelphia for Baltimore.
Among Washington's troops at this time was Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, who wrote "...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 it 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."
December 25, 1776 – Joseph's term of enlistment was expiring but he was induced, along with his company, by the urgent solicitations of George Washington to remain for four more weeks – followed by another 3 weeks. He states that during this service he was engaged in battles of Princeton and Trenton in New Jersey. That means that he took part in Washington's crossing of the Delaware!
December 25-26, 1776 - On Christmas, George Washington took 2400 of his men and crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey. Washington then conducted a surprise raid on 1500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians surrendered after an hour with nearly 1000 taken prisoner by Washington. The continental army suffered only six wounded (including future president Lt. James Monroe). Washington occupied Trenton. The victory provided a much needed boost to the morale of all American Patriots.
January 3, 1777 - A second victory for Washington as his troops defeated the British at Princeton and drove them back toward New Brunswick. Washington then established winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the harsh winter, Washington's army shrunk to about a thousand men as enlistments expired and deserters fled the hardships. By spring, with the arrival of recruits, Washington will have 9000 men.
February 16 or 17, 1777 – left service
February 20, 1777 – re-enlisted in a volunteer company of Connecticut militia for a three month term under Capt. Bradley.
May 20, 1777 – left service
June 15, 1777 – re-enlisted in the Connecticut Militia (Col. Adam’s regiment) for a four month term under Capt. Smith and Col. Adams. Served until after the capture of Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga, NY. This term of enlistment included the battles below.
October 7, 1777 - The Battle of Bemis Heights (2nd Saratoga) resulted in the first major American victory of the Revolutionary War as Gen. Horatio Gates and Gen. Benedict Arnold defeat Gen. Burgoyne, inflicting 600 British casualties. American losses were only 150.
October 17, 1777 - Gen. Burgoyne and his entire army of 5700 men surrendered to the Americans led by Gen. Gates. News of the American victory at Saratoga soon traveled to Europe and boosted support of the American cause. In Paris the victory was celebrated as if it had been a French victory. Ben Franklin was received by the French Royal Court. France then recognized the independence of America.
September 1778 - re-enlisted in the Connecticut Militia (Col. Adam’s regiment) for a 6 week term. Marched to Crompond, NY (70+ miles).
Summer 1779 re-enlisted (for 6 weeks and a day) as a private in a company of light dragoons commanded by Capt. Moses Seymour (of Litchfield), under General Oliver Wolcott
July 8, 1779 – marched to repel British General William Tryon’s invasion. Marched from Litchfield, CT to Fairfield, CT (approx. 50 miles) when the place had just been burned by the British (burned on July 8th) . From there to Norwalk, CT (burned by British July 11) and then to Stamford, CT.
That is all I have gleaned from his pension documents. He was certainly a part of two major initiatives that helped gain independence:
After learning that this patriot was in the ancestral tree, I did further research on the lineage and accumulated the proof of descent. Once I had the proof, I applied to the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and, after further research, had it accepted as valid.
Mostly, I wanted to see if I could accumulate the proof that would convince a trained genealogist that the family tree I'd constructed was correct. Also, by proving the lineage back to Joseph Goodwin, it proves (because there are respected books covering this lineage) it back to Ozias Goodwin, his arrival in this country in 1632, and his role as one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut. Through Joseph's son-in-law, Roswell Webster, we have a provable lineage back to John Webster, one of the first governors of Connecticut, who was elected in 1656!
This was also a good way to ensure that the research didn't get lost and that the results could be shared with anyone in the family line.
Since I now have a "National Number" (168413) for Joseph Goodwin, any other member of the family can use my application as a basis for membership in the SAR or DAR. You just have to develop the proof of descent from someone in the line that I sent in. For my sons, Matt & Eric, that is simply using their birth certificates. For all you cousins out there, it is just your birth certificate and the birth certificate for your mom or dad showing that they are the offspring of Julia Evelyn Wells. Everything above that is considered as already proven! Not that I am recommending that everyone file applications. I just wanted you to know that it was available. You have provable bragging rights back to the Rev. War and back to 1632!
Anyway, for the 4th of July, I just wanted to remember these farmers turned soldiers – Joseph Goodwin, his father Charles, and his daughter Clara’s father-in-law Stephen Webster. This is my way of thanking them for helping to give us what we have today.