The Doughboy of 1780: Pages From a Revolutionary Diary


1780. Saturday 12 August. Sent a letter to my mother by Mr. Wescott. Am to pay him 10 dollars.

19th. This morning exercise Baron Steuben Commanded, somewhat fatiguing, but through Divine goodness was enabled to go through it acceptably. Capt. Sewall on guard.

ORANGETOWN. 26. Saturday—Upwards of three hundred waggons which went off two days ago covered by a detachment of the Army arrived this morning loaded with sheaves of wheat and upwards of three hundred head of cattle which were taken on the Jersey shore [? ?] below York. Successful enterprise very beneficial to the Army. The Lord’s name is to be praised from the rising to the setting sun.

Thursday 31. Pretty warm this evening. Heavy shower of rain, very sharp lightning & thunder. One clap broke on the light Infantry, one man struck speechless. Come and see the works of God. He is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

Monday 4th Sept. Decamped from Tenick & march’d about 8 miles & encamped near [?] Steenrapie in comfortable circumstances. Has been a very pleasant march. blessed be God for it.

STEENRAPIE. Lords Day,Sept. 10. This morning, Capt. Sewall left camp to go on business to Newburg. Previous to his departure he called me to him & informed me of his going & that he expected to be gone two days at least, during which time or in his absence I must take the care of the company with respect to its internal police, that I must grant passes only to four men a day, two in forenoon and two in afternoon & not to give pass to the latter till the former are returned. — I requested the Capt. to inquire of Mr. Brooks, Commr. Gen’l. of Clothing, respecting a paper cont’g a list of the articles of clothing which I lost by fire at West Point & which he took of me at Said point for to estimate their value as sold at Continental store in ‘74, which he said he would endeavor to get. Mr. Francis B. Q. M. accompanied him.

Attended divine service, Mr. Smith officiated. He spake with great clearness and energy from John IV. 8 v. of how little likeness or rather how great and almost universal is the unlikeness to the ever Blessed & true God in this fallen world. —

Oh! that God of his infinite, free, rich, mercy & grace would be pleased to pour out of his spirit and turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.

ORANGETOWN. Fryday 22. Fine weather. Early this morning, heavy cannonade above Dobbs Ferry [*** ***] by our troops & the enemies ships when the latter was beat off with damage.

Monday 25. Pleasant weather. The left wing of the Army were reviewed by Gen’l. Greene and a number of other principal officers.

Tuesday 26. Last night, about two o’clock orders came to be in the most perfect readiness to march at the shortest notice. Advice having been rec’d. from His Excellency of Gen’l. Arnold’s treason in being about to deliver up West Point into the hands of the Enemy. Of Arnold’s escape to the Enemy & of Mr. Andrie, Adjut. Gen’l. of the British Army being our prisoner. This day the Pennsylvania divisions march’d agreeable to orders.

Wednesday 27. Last night Capt. Sewall invited me to go the grand rounds with [him]. I cheerfully accepted & went between 11 & 1 o’clock. This day Sergt’s. Frost & Poland & myself obtained permission to pass the guards and went first to Dobbs Ferry. Near it is a block house building, which we was at while at the Ferry. A British sea officer arrived there with a flag, in a barge & was permitted to land & deliv’d a letter to the commanding officer of the detachment at that post, then went to a house near the Ferry with several American officers. We then return’d. towards camp, leaving it on our right, went on about three miles & we conversed with several inhabitants & returned to camp by the way I pass’d it. Some rain. Blessed be God for his preserving goodness.

Thursday 28th. This day the British Adjt. Genl. & [Hett?] Smith a Tory were brought to the Army & kept under guard in a house & think they were Arnold’s accomplices.

Fryday 29 — Nothing remarkable.

Saturday 30. Learnt the circumstances respecting the captivating the British Adjt. Gen’l. — It happened about 2 or 3 miles below Terrytown by 3 of our militiamen who were a patroling— they had halted to divert themselves by a game at cards when a man rides up [to them] and speaks addresses them with words to this effect (if not the identical) ‘what do you do here lads?’ ‘ Waiting for two or three of the Dam’d rebels whom we expect this way.’ ‘ I am glad to find myself among my friends again. I have been out on weighty business and am now returning to York & wish you to guard me a few miles,’ to which they readily assented, immediately arose from their game with their guns, step’d round him & ordered him to dismount or he was instantly a dead man. He used entreaties to dissuade them from it and to let him go but they told him they availed him nothing. He dismounted — they searched him, took his watch, money &c. but found no writings. They made him sit down and searched further, pulled off one boot and then the other — when under his stocking foot they found papers by which Gen’l. Arnold’s Hellish Plot was discovered. They then brought him on to His Excellency, General Washington who was then in Connecticut.

N. B. I had like to have forgot an essential article in the affair. Viz. The above mentioned prisoner (who proved to be the British Adjt. Gen’l.) offered our men a large sum of money to let him go but they treated his proposal with disdain & queried with him how much he would give them. He made large offers but they were all lighter than a feather against their honorable Patriotism and finally resolutely assured him he was not to go to York again but was their prisoner & should safely guard him to Washington.

The three heroes who took Mr. Andrie yesterday came to the Army and were conversed with by many.

Lord’s Day. Oct. 1st. Pleasant weather, attended divine service, text, Psalms 52 v. 7. on the occasion of treason.

Gen’l. Orders that Maj. Andrie the British Adjt. Gen’l., was tried by a board of Gen’l. officers & condemned to suffer death, the sentence to be put in execution the usual way. The gallows was erected, grave dug & numerous spectators had assembled expecting to see the execution. A flagg arrived — execution put off.

Monday 2d. This day, the business of Mr. Andrie’s execution was resumed and completed. He was hung at 12 o’clock, with great apparent fortitude to the last. Capt. Sewall on guard.

Wednesday 4th. Stormy, This evening,... a soldier in our camp was punished agreeable to a sentence of a Court Martial for loosing Continental horses, a disobedience of orders while in the B. waggon service. He received 38 [lashes?] and then joined the company.

TOTOWAY, October 26 Thursday. This day, a general review by His Excellency Gen’l. Washington & French Ambassador and a number of other gen’l. officers. The Ambassador had been [elected] from Congress and was on his return.

Oct’r. 27, Fryday. I sold Serj’t. Huggins one dozen cartridges which number he lost.

Lord’s Day. November 26. This day, the Army rec’d marching orders.

Monday 27. This day, agreeable to yesterday’s orders, we marched at 10 o’clock & encamped 2 miles E. of Peramust church in woods. Pleasant weather.

Tuesday 28. March’d, from Peramust and encamped near Karhaat church.

Wednesday 29. Marched from Karhaat and encamped near Kings Ferry.

Thursday 30. Decamp’d from Kingsferry & incamped in the woods near West Point.

Fryday, December 1. Arrived at West Point, where I met several of my old friends who rec’d & treated me kindly. Tarried on the Point a few hours, then were marched to the woods about 2 miles west of the point and there three days.

Monday 4. Marched from thence & the baggage having arrived at the Point, pitched tent. on a hill 2 miles N. W. from West Point.

Tuesday [5] This day built chimnies to our tents. Gen’l. Glover’s & Lieut. Learneds Brigade in barracks at the Point. Paterson’s in hutts which the Yorkers yesterday left, being ordered to Albany for several days. Part of the levies have been discharged.

Through the whole campaign, I have enjoyed an uninterrupted state of health, notwithstanding the many inconveniences we have necessarily been subjected to — for which I desire to bless and praise God’s holy name whose mercy is great above the Heavens & beg him to give me new resolution to devout my spared life to his service & I do pray God to grant me wisdom and strength to conduct in such a manner as shall be well pleasing in his sight & that he would keep & preserve me in every time of danger & difficulties, that I may glorify him in body & spirit, while in this life & if it shall be His holy will, see these United States free & independent & my friends & relations in peace & safety to rejoice with them, & above all, be brought to the full enjoyment of God in his Heavenly Kingdom, for Christ’s sake.

N. B. The seven nights which we lay in the wood without covering, only part of one was wet — a very pleasant march.

WEST POINT.Saturday 16. Capt. Sewall let me have a pair of boots.

Tuesday 19. Bought the aforesaid boots of Capt. Sewall for which, I am to pay him One hundred & twenty dollars, old emission. Agreed with Plaisted to give him my linen breeches for his blanket.

Tuesday Jan. 2d, 1781. Yesterday the new arrangement of the Army, pursuant to the resolves of Congress of the 3 & 21 Oct’r. took place. A gill of rum ordered to each of the soldiers who remained in service on the occasion — this with the new year, new clothes as to send in a day or two, should be lasting influences to the aspiring to become new creatures.

Fryday 5. Lieut. Huggins & Arnold arrived from threshing. The comp’y was served with clothes but no coats.

We are now, through Divine Goodness, arrived at the place, where, I trust, we are to remain during the winter, here are hutts which will tolerably accommodate us & in which I hope we may make improvements in all those things which tend to the glory of God and our countrie’s good surrounded with mountains — may we have the sensible preference of the God of Glory at all times with us—be influenced, directed & supported by wisdom. This day, Lieut. Huggins & Arnold were disch’g’d and set off for home.

Saturday 13. Fuller & John went on redoubt guard. Get brimstone of the surgeon to anoynt for the itch.

Lord’s Day 14. Last night anointed for to cure the itch. This day I read a small book which I borrowed of Mr. Senote containing two sermons 1st. if the righteous surely are saved &c. 2. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end of that way is death — Willard & Wakefield return’d from extra service, some snow.

Monday 15. Last night reanointed, to-day pleasant — copied back orders — Willard & Wakefield’s levies discharged and set off for home.

Thursday 18. Last evening had a surtout and a waistcoat cut out of a blanket.

Tuesday 23. Yesterday Col. Sprout informed me he was ordered on command — that the Jersic troops had revolted & His Excellency was determined to reduce them to obedience. Last evening, sent by the Col. with a letter to the Bd. Major at the hills about clothing, there being 40 coats to a reg’t. arrived at Red House — snowstorm, it fell till day and was very severe.

Monday 29. Pleasant weather and a load of wood.

Wednesday 31. Col. Sprout returned from command, having reduced the Jersic troops to their duty, two of whom were shot .

Wednesday. February 14. Committee from Boston arrived with hard money for the troops. Money left on the Island because the ice is weak — O! God keep our hearts in thy love.

Lord’s Day 18. Committee from state began to pay the troops their hard money nine dollars per man, light companies first who are ordered on detachment duty. M. Ge’l. Howe set off for Boston. Colo. Sprout asked me if I did not want a furlough, answered I should be happy in an opportunity of visiting my friends for a short time previous to the opening of a new campaign. Said he would give me a recommendation for a furlough.

Tuesday March 13. Sarjt. Penny was at our hut, said he was going home in 10 days & that, if after he had been home, he cold get 400 hard dollars would engage for three years & come out again. News. A number of the enemy vessels were coming up the river, were as far as Sing Sing — Bragdon, a soldier of Capt. Williams’ comp’y. began to fit our compy’s hut to accommodate him and his wife, having no place to live in as the number of our comp’y. are small they quarter with Capt. Williams comp’y. in their hut & when recruits arrive & it becomes necessary for our comp’y. to occupy the hut — Bragdon &c is to remove from the hut.

Thursday 22. Delivered 1/2 lb. tea for Capt. Lord to his waiter. The commander in chief returned from Philadelphia.

Wednesday 28. 29 years of age. [Edmund Gale born March 28, 1752.]

Thursday 29. Pleasant.

Saturday 31. Agreeable to Gen’l Orders, the troops of 2 Brigade marched to be inoculated for smallpox. 24 from 2 Regt. Lieut. Myrick & 16 privates — his waiter Maxwell is with him. Maj. Maxwell returned to the Regt. from command at the lines.

Wednesday April 11. . . . agreeable to the Regulations, Lt. Myrick told me he has seen Sewall who was not willing I should leave the company to serve with Commisary Frost, nor the Major. Perceiving it would be disagreeable to the officers of the Reg’t. in general tho’t. it best to conclude not to leave the company. Supposing I might, accordingly, I went over to Mr. Frost’s and told him my conclusion. Said he should have been glad to have had me & that he had not sought for anybody else. I was obliged to him & I returned to camp. The chain laid across the river. Training weekly return for the morrow. Dewey promoted to be a serg’t.

Monday May 14. Reg’t paid their wages for the first month in 1781.

Tuesday 15. N. Alvord & Clary went off on command completed to 40 rounds of cartridges from Irason’s box. Sergt. Lincoln gone. Rec’d. one recruit into our company, John Choran from Boston, carpenter. Drew pair of shoes, Wadsworth, old Salem friend, one of the recruits who joined Capt. Drew’s comp’y, by whom I was informed my friends & relations were well to my great satisfaction, it being a long while since I heard from them. News from the Lines. The enemy surprised and butchered a small guard of ours at Pine Bridge, murdered Col. Green & a major & several militia.

Lord’s Day 27. Richardson absent from roll call by reason as appeared he was very drunk. In evening Adjt. Ballard ordered me to put him into the guard house as soon as he was able to walk, which he was not at tattoo beating.

Monday 28. This morning, Richardson upon his legs and according to orders put to the guard house & made report to the Adjt. who said it was very well. Fine Day.

Tuesday 29. Last evening Richardson brought to the post, when the sentence of the court martial was read it was 30 lashes but beg’d the Commandants forgiveness & was forgiven by Majr. Gibbs. This day brig’d. marched at 8 o’clock, A. M. & arrived & encamped near the German huts at eleven. An agreeable encampment, Watkins on command at lines.

Monday May 4. Serjt. Dewey confined of overstaying his pass 18 days.

Thursday 7. Last night and this day rainy & very seasonable. Blessed be God.

Tuesday 12. Lt. Myrick to Penna. Sold my green coat Noadiah Alvord for a pair silver knee buckles & ten new emission dollars to be paid as soon as possible.

Thursday 14. Crary returned from command, lost 4 cartridges.

[Scrawls, and so forth. Evidently an attempt to make out a wash list.]

Wednesday 20. Maj. Gibbs made a feast to his excellency Gen’l. Washington, Genl’s. Howe, Paterson & numerous field & commissioned officers.