Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking closer at the pension application

Source: Fold3. Pension file of James Smith.

The Revolutionary War pension file of James Smith includes a declaration dated 9 August 1832, made in Adair County, Kentucky. In this document, James claimed that he entered service in Frederick County, Maryland in either 1774, 1775 or 1776 under "Captain Craiger" with Philip Smith the First Lieutenant of the Company. He would have been 21 years old in 1776.

I found verification to part of James' story in the Archives of Maryland, Records of Maryland Troops in the Continental Service. Captain Valentine Creager was in charge of a Flying Camp company in 1776. According to the Archives of Maryland, the Flying Camp was established by the Continental Congress on 3 June 1776 consisting of 10,000 men from across Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. James Smith does appear on the service list for the company, along with a John and Joseph Smith, although at this point it isn't clear if there is a relationship between these two and James. Creager's company was formed on 3 October 1776 from the Middle District of Frederick County, Maryland. Further information on James' enlistment in the Flying Camp militia company should be located at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.
Archives of Maryland, page 72.
Archives of Maryland, page 73.
According to a Rootsweb post updated on 8 February 2002, Creager was born 9 February 1734 in Oley, Pennsylvania. From June to December 1776, his company saw action in battles on Long Island, at Harlem, White Plains and Fort Washington. Smith's declaration mentions he was at a skirmish at Brunswick, this would have been during General Washington's retreat through New Jersey.

It looks like James served for the remainder of 1776 in Creager's company, and then joined with Captain John Carmack in early 1777 for two months. He says he marched over parts of New Jersey and New York. I need to look at available records in Maryland on Smith's service.

James claimed to have served for two months with Captain Humphreys in Virginia, marching to Williamsburg and Jamestown. This should be Thomas Humphrey of Loudoun County, Virginia, who commanded a company from 1779-1780. He also claimed to have served a two month tour under Captain Josiah Moffett in 1781. Moffett was from Loudoun County, Virginia.

Smith notes he was at the "taking of Cornwallis", which would have been the Battle of Yorktown. Another ancestor fought at the Battle of Yorktown, my 6th-great-grandfather Joseph Thornhill Senior. James said he assisted in guarding prisoners, marching them up the Potomac to Fredericksburg. At this stage of the war he was a Sergeant.

At the end of the war, James returned to Loudoun County, Virginia, where he married Alice Margaret Truax. A verification of their marriage was included in the file as part of Margaret's widows pension in 1841.

James provided an amendment to his file on 1 April 1833, stating that he served with Major Samuel Cox, marching to Mechanicsburg and Jamestown. James' Adair County neighbors Samuel Wilson and Joseph G. Walker testified that they knew him and were aware he was a soldier during the Revolutionary War.

There is more in the file following James' move from Adair County to Gibson County, Indiana in 1835. His widow Margaret Truax Smith's case was linked to the widows pension application of Nancy Ann Redman, wife of Aaron Redman. Aaron was another soldier originally from Loudoun County, Virginia and a good friend of James Smith. Redman and Smith's families moved together from Virginia to Kentucky, and later from Kentucky to Gibson County, Indiana.

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