Westmoreland in the Revolution
Late in 1775 the Continental Congress requested the Assembly of Pennsylvania to raise one battalion for service in the regular army. About this time John Nelson had raised a company of riflemen, nearly all of whom were Westmorelanders, and had offered them to the Continental Congress. His company was composed of one captain, himself; three lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals and seventy privates. As soon as they were received in New York they were sent to Canada by order of General Benedict Arnold. They were at first in Colonel De Hass' battalion, and in November, 1776, they were placed under command of Colonel Anthony Wayne. After March, 1777, they were placed under command of Colonel Francis Johnston, of the Fifth Pennsylvania Regiment. In Canada they served under Colonel St. Clair. Some of them fought under Colonel Richard Butler, a brave young soldier from Westmoreland county, of whom and of whose family we shall write more extensively later on. He was under Wayne with these Westmoreland soldiers in the southern campaign when the long continued war was nearing its end. They were also at Germantown, Brandywine, Monmouth, Stony Point and Yorktown.
The Second Pennsylvania Battalion was raised by an order of Congress dated December 9, 1775, calling for four more battalions, and the enlistment of these was for one year. This was also connected with Wayne's Fourth Battalion, and with the Sixth as well, which was under the command of Colonel, afterwards General, William Irvine. In January 1776, Congress promoted both St. Clair and Wayne, and they will hereafter be known as Generals. St. Clair had up to this time been engaged in drilling troops as they came as new recruits from the country, and organizing them into companies. This was done near Philadelphia, and as rapidly as they were ready they were disposed of and became the effective force of the regular army. But now he was ordered to Canada. With him went two new companies from Westmoreland county, most of whom he knew intimately. One of these Westmoreland companies was in command of William Butler, a brother of Richard, and a lifelong friend of St. Clair's. These two men not only went through the Revolutionary war together for the most part, but were together in the unfortunate Ohio expedition against the Indians in 179t, when Butler, as second in command, bravely laid down his life. The other company from Westmoreland county was under command of Stephen Bayard, who was afterwards lieutenant-colonel of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, which was composed very largely of Westmoreland soldiers.
General St. Clair, according to the order of the war committee of Congress, prepared his battalion as rapidly as possible for the Canadian commission. Though they were very poorly equipped, their equipment was the best the colonial exchequer could afford. As rapidly as possible they passed up the Hudson and thence into Canada. It was a desperate march, for it was through an almost unbroken forest, and then into the heart of the English colony, and that the strongest in America. Without great difficulty he took Quebec. Much had been hoped for from this expedition. It was supposed that Canada would be as anxious to cut itself loose from England as our colonies were, and that all that was necessary was to afford them an opportunity, when they would unite with us and enlarge and strengthen our colonies. The advantage of this addition to our territory, thus leaving England no foothold whatever in America, can easily be seen, and accounts for the brilliant prospects of the Canadian expedition. But the contrary was found by St. Clair and his army. After taking their capital they refused to assist him or to declare themselves free from England. They did not want to be "liberated," and, instead of allying themselves with the American troops, they decidedly leaned towards the British. They even took up arms against the Colonial army, whom they treated on every hand as invaders. Of course, under this state of affairs the Colonial troops could not hold what they had so boldly marched for and captured. St. Clair could do nothing but retreat toward the Sorrel river, which is the outlet of Lake Champlain and flows into the St. Lawrence. The British, reinforced, now pursued his retreating army. They finally came together at Three Rivers, and St. Clair gave battle in a manner which has been the admiration of military writers ever since, and which has been considered by them as one of the best contested fields, from a scientific military standpoint, among all the battles of the Revolution. In fact, no campaign in all the war showed more military genius nor more personal heroism on the part of its soldiers than this one. Hardships seemingly almost insurmountable were bravely endured and conquered. After one of the most difficult marches in our history, they practically conquered the British army on their own ground. The English army was now reinforced by Canadians and Indians, and was under the command of General Burgoyne. St. Clair's army could do nothing but retreat gradually before the English bayonets into a cold and snowy wilderness to their own country. In all this the Westmoreland soldiers bore their part, and in every instance, so far as the records show, acquitted themselves as became brave men of the new nation.
The Third Pennsylvania Regiment was formed from part of St. Clair�s Second Battalion, in which were the companies commanded by Captains Butler and Bayard. It was enlarged by recruits in the latter part of 1776 and early in 1777. There is very little information in the army reports concerning this regiment, but it was taken into the Continental service in March, 1777. Colonel Joseph Wood was its commander, but he had been wounded in Canada, and, his wounds growing more serious, he resigned and was succeeded by Thomas Craig, who was kept in command till the close of the Revolution. Captain Butler was made lieutenant-colonel of Daniel Morgan�s rifle regiment, and was succeeded as captain by James Christie. From time to time several of the companies were transferred to other regiments, and some of its officers were promoted or given other commands. The men of Captain Butler's company mostly re-enlisted when their time of service had expired, and remained in the regiment under Captain Christie. They were never, while they remained in the army, more than half clothed, and generally were poorly fed, but this was the general condition of the Colonial army, and makes still greater the honor of the victory they eventually won at Yorktown. At one time, it is reported that the regiment had but one blanket on an average to six men, and none of them had whole tents. The officers were as poorly clad as the soldiers, none of them having uniforms, and they partook of the same scanty food. They spent an ever memorable winter at Valley Forge, and from there recruiting officers were sent out. The recruiting stations for Westmoreland county were established at the houses of Lieutenant Francis Moore, James Carnahan and Lieutenant Joseph Brownlee. Twenty dollars bounty was offered by Congress, and the state offered one hundred dollars, but these bounties were paid by the county to Congress and the state, so that in reality one hundred and twenty dollars was paid by the county for each recruit. Small as it may seem to us, it was a great tax on the early inhabitants of the county. Nevertheless there were many of our Westmoreland soldiers who enlisted early and without bounty, and remained in the army till after the battle of Yorktown. In some cases they came home only to enlist in defense of the border settlements against the Indians. This service was largely performed by militia in short-term enlistments, and by independent companies called "rangers."
The Third Regiment, by deaths in and out of battles and from various other causes, was so greatly reduced that it had to be reorganized at Easton, Pennsylvania, in January, 1781. Colonel Craig was its commander, and it was attached to the command of General Wayne in his justly celebrated southern campaign. The officers were Captain James Christie, Captain Thomas Butler, Lieutenants Daniel St. Clair and Ebenezer Denny, and Colonels Richard Butler and Stephen Bayard.
James Christie was a Scotchman, born in Edinburgh, in 1750. He came to Westmoreland county some time before the Revolution, perhaps when about twenty years old, and died here in the early part of the eighteenth century. When Benedict Arnold's treacherous plot was discovered to Washington, he appointed Christie to visit all the posts along the Hudson and report their general condition to him. When it is remembered that Washington (after Arnold attempted to sell the Colonial armies out for British gold) said he did not know whom to trust, Christie's appointment indicated that the commander-in-chief had great faith in him. He was a brave soldier, and lived a most exemplary life.
Nor was Colonel Thomas Butler less distinguished and trusted by the great chief. At the battle of Brandywine he saw a squad of American troops retreating in disorder. Butler, placing himself at their head, successfully rallied them so that they did good service. For this he received the highest praise from the lips of Washington on the field of battle. He accompanied General St. Clair in the Ohio campaign, when defeated by the Indians in 1791, and was badly wounded in the leg. His brother, Captain Edward Butler, carried him to a place of safety. In 1794 he was made a lieutenant-colonel, and died in Westmoreland county in 1805, aged fifty-one years.
Daniel St. Clair was the eldest son of General Arthur St. Clair, and was born in Boston, in 1762. He was rather meagerly educated, considering the polished education of his father, for he spent his boyhood days on the frontier, where schools were unknown - in Fort Bedford and Fort Ligonier. He entered the Revolution as an ensign, September 20, 1776, was promoted to first lieutenant April 1st, 1777, and served continuously till 1781. He read law, and was admitted to the bar in Westmoreland county in January, 1789, and practiced in Greensburg. He served a short time in the war of 1812. In 1791, February 3, he was married to Rachel Shannon, of Perkiomen, Pennsylvania. Later he removed to Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, where he died, February 18, 1833, and was buried at Evansburg. Pennsylvania.
Two strictly Pennsylvania regiments organized for the protection of the province were the Pennsylvania Regiment of Musketry and the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment. They were authorized by a resolution of the Pennsylvania Assembly, passed March 4, 1776. In the Rifle Regiment was the company of Joseph Erwin, which was raised in Westmoreland county and enlisted for two years. This company was afterwards transferred to the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Regiment, and thence to the Second Pennsylvania, and was finally discharged at Valley Forge in 1778, their time of enlistment having expired. In 1777 a state regiment of foot was founded, and Captain Erwin's company, under James Carnahan, Erwin having been promoted, was included in it. They were at Brandywine and Germantown. They had also been in the disastrous battle of Long Island when Generals Howe, Clinton and Cornwallis, with the best equipped army in the world and the largest British army that ever contended against American forces, thought they won a great victory over the ragged and starving American troops under Generals Washington, Putnam, Miles, Sullivan and Stirling.
Captain James Carnahan lived in the northern part of Westmoreland county. At the close of the Revolution he returned to our county, and in the winter of 1786-1787 he was drowned in the Allegheny river. He was the father of Dr. James Carnahan, who was president of Princeton College from 1831 to 1853.
The Second Pennsylvania Regiment entered the service in October, 1776, and with various changes remained till the close of the war, returning home late in 1783. In the first years of its services in the war there were few if any Westmoreland soldiers in it, but later on, when its hardships were greater, there were very many from Westmoreland added to it, both by transfer from other regiments and by recruits directly from the pioneer families. The list is very imperfect. but it nevertheless discloses that many Westmoreland soldiers were killed while serving in it. Many others serving through the war returned and spent their last years here, and their names may yet be read on the mossy headstones of our old cemeteries. That they were under Generals Anthony Wayne and Nathaniel Greene is sufficient evidence that they saw much active service. They doubtless bore their part at Guilford Court House and Ninety-Six, and finally at Yorktown. The only complete lists of this regiment are said to have been destroyed by the British army when they burned the capitol at Washington in 1814.
We have referred several times to the border troubles of Western Pennsylvania during the Revolution, Although we were far removed from the actual fighting ground of the armies, the Indians were a much greater menace to our people. Several attempts were made by Connolly, then in the British service, to take the western part of our state from the dominion of our Colonial army. Pittsburgh was to be his headquarters, and all that saved us from the additional misfortune was the unbending loyalty of our people. The British, failing in this, allied themselves thoroughly with the Indians, who were readily induced to annoy and harrass our almost defenseless pioneers. The Indians were by this time pushed west as far as the valley of the Ohio river. Our Congress knew of this impending trouble, and that a daily outbreak by the Indians was looked for. In 1776 Colonel George Morgan was directed to negotiate with the tribes and endeavor to secure them as our allies, or, failing in this, to induce them to remain neutral. A further committee from Congress visited them. but, like Morgan, failed to accomplish anything of permanent good. All this was promptly reported to Congress. They traced their failure mainly to Governor Hamilton. who had been appointed by the British, and had great power with the Shawnees and the Delawares. The result was that all of the militia which our county could spare was moved to Fort Pitt and to other western forts. Some of our forts having been long since abandoned, were repaired and garrisoned. In furtherance of this project the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment was authorized by a resolution of Congress. passed July 15, 1776. and was designed for the special purpose of protecting the frontier of Pennsylvania, particularly that part north of Pittsburgh, for the southern border, notably around Fort Pitt, had been in a measure protected all the time, and the fort itself had never been abandoned. This regiment had been mustered at Pittsburgh, and did duty along the frontier during the summer months of 1776. The officers were Colonels Aeneas Mackay and George Wilson, and Major Richard Butler. Rev. David McClure was appointed chaplain, and Ephraim Douglas quartermaster. Many of the soldiers were from our county, for, to remain near home and protect their own firesides and families, was doubtless more inviting to them than service in the army with Washington. For that reason they enlisted most readily, all of them between August 9 and December 16. But now large additional reinforcements for the British army landed in New York, and this demanded that all troops from every part of the army who could be spared should be added at once to Washington's army. They had, therefore, scarcely become settled in their posts on the frontier until Congress ordered them to New Jersey to reinforce Washington's army, which was indeed sadly in need of them. Orders were issued, and all troops were to assemble at Kittanning on December 15, to begin a march of about five hundred miles on foot across the Allegheny mountains, in the dead of winter. They were so poorly clad that Colonel Mackay wrote that he would be obliged to go by the way of Philadelphia in order to secure clothes and other much needed supplies. Colonel George Wilson, writing from Kittanning, December 5, to Colonel James Wilson, among other things makes the following observations: "To march east is disagreeable to me, for both officers and men understood when entering the service that we were to defend the western frontier. Now to leave their families in so defenseless a situation as they will be in their absence seems to give great trouble here. But I hope we will leave some of our trifling officers behind, who pretend to have more wit than seven men. We are ill provided for a march at this season. We need tents, kettles, blankets and clothes, that we may not cut a despicable figure in the east. I have recommended all to lay aside personal resentment and issued orders to have your soldiers meet at Hannastown by December 15."
They left Hannastown and Kittanning on January 6, 1777, and made, all things being considered, one of the most wonderful rnarches k:nown in the military history of America. They crossed the Allegheny mountains, then across Pennsylvania, and across the Delaware into New Jersey. They had no tents, were poorly clothed and poorly subsisted. They camped at night on the snow, building fires to keep themselves from freezing. Many of them died on the way. At Trenton, Colonel Mackay died, and, a few days after, Colonel George Wilson, whose letter is quoted in part above, also died. Both succumbed to the hardships of this long wintry march. Many of the soldiers who survived the march were laid up with a throat disease of a putrid nature. After the deaths of Mackay and Wilson, Daniel Broadhead was made colonel, Richard Butler lieutenant-colonel, and Stephen Bayard major. Butler was shortly afterwards made lieutenant-colonel of Morgan's rifle regiment, and Major James Ross took his place. There were ten companies in the regiment, which numbered 681 soldiers in all, exclusive of the officers. Nearly all of them were enlisted from Westmoreland county, as the limits were then. Captain David Kilgore's company had 58 men; Captain Samuel Miller's had 85; Captain Van Swearingen's had 74; Captain Joseph Piggot's had 59; Captain Wendel Ourry's 59; Captain Andrew Mann's 62; Captain James Montgomery�s 59; Captain Michael Huffnagle's 74; Captain John Finley's 79, and Captain Basil Prather's 73. In this regiment was Matthew Jack, afterwards quite noted in Westmoreland, as shall be learned later. He was wounded April 13. They had made the long march from January 6 to about February 22.
The reader will recognize several old Westmoreland names in the list of captains, among others that of Huffnagle, the second prothonotary of Westmoreland county.
Several Westmoreland soldiers deserted on the long march, and, we believe, afterwards returned to the army and performed good service. It must not be forgotten that to desert was not regarded as harshly as it is now. In the Revolution many honest soldiers ran away in the spring to their crops, and then returned to duty again. Washington readily saw the difference between a genuine deserter and one who went home to assist his needy wife and children.
The regiment was under General Benjamin Lincoln, and suffered severely at Bound Brook, where they were attacked by Cornwallis. They stood up and repulsed a charge of British bayonets at Paoli, and were also in the battles of Ash Swamp, Brandywine and Germantown. Like all regiments in the Revolution, it was often divided, and parts of it attached to other battalions. Officers were also removed to other commands, and all this was apparently necessary then, and was done much more extensively in the Revolution than in later wars. The soldiers of the Revolution were generally enlisted for short terms. It was not uncommon for them to serve a year or two and then go home to provide for their families by repairing their houses, improving farms and then return to the army. Their enlistments were for as long as they thought their families could subsist without them. But in the meantime, the army had to be kept up and in the best possible condition, for it was invariably called on to meet larger numbers of trained British soldiers.
Some of our Westmoreland members of the Eighth Regiment re-enlisted, and were sent with Morgan to fight the battle of Saratoga, and others with Wayne to capture Stony Point. They were nearly all at Valley Forge. On March 5, 1778, after more than a year's service in the east, the regiment was sent back to Pittsburgh to defend the frontier, for which purpose it was originally intended. This was necessary because of the constant Indian raids made on the frontier, which is treated elsewhere. At Pittsburgh, they were under the command of General McIntosh. Captain Matthew Jack has described them as first going down the Ohio river to the mouth of the Beaver river, where they built Fort McIntosh, after which they journeyed to the headwaters of the Muskingum, in Ohio, where they built Fort Laurens. In 1779 they went up the Allegheny river about two hundred miles with General Broadhead's expedition and attacked the Indians at various points, defeating them and burning their towns. On their return, says Captain Jack, who accompanied both expeditions, they were discharged because their term of service had expired. The Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment was not disbanded, however, but was kept up by recruits from this county till the close of the war, and most if not all of the time after their return from the east in March, 1778, they were doing frontier duty in and around Pittsburgh.
The name of Daniel Morgan will not soon be forgotten by the American people. As the commander of Morgan's Rifles and as the hero of Cowpens, his name will shine with star-brightened splendor as long as the Americanpeople revere true courage and patriotism. It is not generally known how closely his name is linked with Westmoreland soldiers in the Revolution. Reference has already been made to his participation in Braddock's expedition in the attempted capture of Fort Duquesne. The Eighth Regiment was with him at Saratoga, as we have said, and one of his most trusted colonels was our own Richard Butler. Morgan's corps was made up of the best sharpshooters selected from all the American army, though the credit of it is generally attributed to Virginia, because Morgan himself was a Virginian. In reality, the fifth company was commanded by Captain Van Swearingen, of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment. In General James Wilkinson's memoirs, it is said there were 163 Virginians and 193 Pennsylvanians, these two states furnishing the greater part of the corps, since the entire regiment numbered only 508. The official name was not Morgan's Rifles, as it is generally called, but "Morgan's Partisan Corps." It was organized for the special purpose of sharpshooting by Washington himself, and he selected the officers with his well-known unerring judgment of military men. Of their services at Saratoga, George Bancroft, the greatest of Revolutionary historians, has the following: "In concurrence with the advice of Arnold, Gates ordered out Morgan's riflemen and light infantry. They put a picket to flight at a quarter past one, but retired before the division of Burgoyne. Leading his forces unmolested through the woods, and securing his right by thickets and ravines, Morgan next fell unexpectedly upon the left of the British center division. To support him, Gates, at two o'clock, sent out three New Hampshire battalions, of which that of Scammel met the enemy in front, that of Lilly took them in flank. In a warm engagement Morgan had his horse shot under him, and with his riflemen captured a cannon, but could not carry it off."
Genera! Henry L. Lee in his "Memoirs of the Revolution in the Southern States," speaks of Colonel Butler as the renowned second and rival of Morgan in the Saratoga encounter. But this is not all. Captain Van Swearingen and Lieutenants Basil, Prather and John Hardin were all Westmorelanders and were with Morgan, and all of them rendered distinguished services, particularly in the many encounters which resulted in the overthrow and capture of Burgoyne's army. Van Swearingen was probably the most noted captain of the regiment. On September 9, 1777, he and twenty of his men were captured by a charge of the British into the heart of Morgan's force. He was taken before General Fraser, who wanted him to give information concerning the strength of the American forces. The captain persistently refused to answer, except that it was commanded by Generals Gates and Arnold. Upon this the general said he would hang him, but the only words elicited were, "You may if you wish," and then General Fraser rode away, but first handed him over to Sergeant Dunbar and Lieutenant Aubury, who had him guarded with other prisoners, but gave orders that he should not be illtreated. Not long after this Burgoyne's army was captured, and Van Swearingen made every exertion to have Dunbar and Aubury exchanged. But a moment after General Fraser rode away, he was seen from a long distance by Morgan. He ordered Timothy Murphy, from Northumberland county, one of his best sharpshooters, to shoot him, with the result that Fraser fell from his horse dead, almost immediately after threatening to hang Van Swearingen. Van Swearingen returned to Westmoreland from the army, and was afterwards the first sheriff of Washington county. Another company of Morgan's Rifles was commanded by Major James Parr, of Westmoreland, and was sent to western New York to defend the frontier against the Indians, after which they came to Tioga and united with General Sullivan's army in his campaign against the Indians, who were engaged in the Massacre of Wyoming. Other Westmoreland soldiers were with Morgan when he won his greatest honors in the south, from which he is remembered as the "Hero of Cowpens."
Lieutenant John Hardin, of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, after the war was over removed from our county to Kentucky, where he is remembered as General Hardin. He took a prominent part in the Indian warfare conducted in the west by Generals Harmar and St. Clair, and rose to distinction in arms. He was murdered by the Indians near Sandusky. in 1791. We think he was the father of General Benjamin Hardin, a contemporary of Henry Clay, and one of the ablest lawyers Kentucky has yet produced.
Aeneas Mackay, who was so prominent in those days, was born in South Carolina, in 1721. The first mention of him seems to be that when Washington was at Great Meadows, and was building Fort Necessity, in 1754, he was reinforced by Captain Aeneas Mackay with one hundred soldiers from South Carolina. There, without as much grace as he showed later in life, he resented the idea of serving under Washington, who was a mere unknown backwoods militiaman, while he was commissioned by the King. After leaving Great Meadows he took his company to Will's Creek, where he assisted in building Fort Cumberland, which was named after the Duke of Cumberland, a name the city built there bears yet. Later he was for several years commander of the garrison at Fort Ligonier, under the commission of the King of England. From his Bible it is learned that his son Samuel was born there on July 20, 1766. The same year he was moved to Fort Pitt. He was a tower of strength in Dunmore's war over the boundary question, and was appointed a justice in Westmoreland county. His death, as colonel of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, as a result of the long march from Westmoreland to New Jersey, has been mentioned elsewhere. He died February 14, 1777, and was buried in the "Presbyterian burying ground" at Trenton, New Jersey. His wife was born in New York, and was afterwards married to George Adams, of Pittsburgh. His daughter Elizabeth was married to Stephen Bayard. Had Mackay lived through the Revolution he would undoubtedly have made for himself an enviable name in our military annals, for he was a man of superior character; training and courage.
Stephen Bayard was born January 23, 1744, of an old family in Maryland. Early in life he was a Philadelphia merchant, and in the beginning of the Revolution raised a company in Philadelphia, of which he was made captain. The company was part of St. Clair's expedition to Quebec. Later he served under Richard Butler, and was with the Eighth Regiment when it returned from Valley Forge to Pittsburgh. He was a colonel under Broadhead when he conquered the Indians in Ohio, and up the Allegheny river. In 1781 he commanded the regiment at Fort Pitt. After the Revolution he located in Pittsburgh and became wealthy. He had taken up large tracts of land on the Monongahela river, and on one of them founded a boat-building town which he named after his wife Elizabeth, which yet bears her name. In the war of 1812 President Madison offered him a major general's commission, but he wisely declined it because of his age. He died in Pittsburgh, December 13, 1815.
George Wilson, lieutenant-colonel of the Eighth Regiment, was a native of Augusta county, Virginia. He was an officer in the French and Indian war, and settled in Westmoreland county shortly after the close of the war. He was appointed a justice, first for Bedford county, and later, when our county was erected, held the same position here for many years. He was also, as will be remembered, one of the trustees appointed to locate the county seat of \Vestmoreland county. Of course he was a leading spirit in Dunmore's war, and was one of the justices whom Connolly arrested. Rather than give bail he was taken to Staunton in irons. He died like Colonel Mackay, from the effects of the long march to New Jersey. His death occurred in April, 1777, and he was buried at Quibbletown.
Daniel Broadhead commanded our Westmoreland soldiers in the army frequently, but had no other special connection with our county as it is now bounded. He was a native of New York, and was afterwards surveyor-general of Pennsylvania.
The Butler family was purely a Westmoreland family and it was the most noted family we produced during the Revolution. Their father was Thomas Butler, who was born in Ireland, and three of his sons were also born there, viz.: Richard, William and Thomas. Richard, as will be recalled, was lieutenant-colonel of Morgan's Rifle Regiment. From his first connection with the regiment he drilled them at all reasonable hours, and much of the honor they gained was doubtless due to the pains he took in preparing them for future actions. Butler was with Wayne when he charged up Stony Point, and was prominent at the last when Cornwallis was compelled to surrender to \Washington. In 1790 he was appointed a major-general, but unfortunately, as we have said, he was killed the following year 1791) while fighting the Indians in Ohio with St. Clair. It is well authenticated that on the night before the battle, knowing more about Indian warfare than St. Clair, he said to him, "I have some good wine here, general: let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Thomas Butler was a law student in Philadelphia in 1776, when the Revolution was beginning to be thoroughly felt in that city. He enlisted as a private and rose to the rank of captain, serving till the close of the war. It was he whom General Washington publicly thanked at the battle of Brandywine. At the battle of Monmouth he defended a dangerous ravine, while his brother Richard's regiment was retreating through it. For this he received the thanks of General Wayne. He was also in the Ohio Indian battle with St. Clair in 1791, as commander of a battalion. St. Clair in that battle ordered a bayonet charge. Thomas Butler was on horseback and had had his leg broken by a ball, yet in this painful condition he led the charge. He was removed from the field by a third brother, Edward. Thomas died September 5, 1805.
Percival, the fourth son, was born in Carlisle, and entered the Revolution when eighteen years old, as a lieutenant. He was at Valley Forge, Monmouth and Yorktown, and was greatly trusted by General Washington. He moved to Kentucky in 1784, and was adjutant general of that state in the war of 1812.
Edward was too young to enter the Revolution, but was a captain in St. Clair's army in 1791, and in 1794 was adjutant-general of General Wayne's army.
The mother of the Butler brothers was a strong-minded, patriotic woman who was willing to part with her husband and sons, and endure the hardships which their absence added to her life, if only the cause of the colonies might thereby be advanced. It was probably this that led Washington, at his own table, surrounded by army officers, to propose that toast, "The Butlers and their five sons." Lafayette at one time said that when he wanted anything well done he ordered a Butler to do it.
At the surrender of Cornwallis, Baron Steuben had command of the trenches when the white flag was sent out by the British. While the terms of surrender were being considered by Washington and his generals, Lafayette's division marched up to relieve Steuben, the time for relief having arrived. But the Baron did not want to be relieved then, for he knew that the surrender would soon be at hand, and wanted the honor of hoisting the flag. Washington decided that neither he nor Lafayette should hoist it, but gave the honor to Ebenezer Denny, of Pittsburgh. But when the ensign was about to plant it, Steuben, perhaps in excitement, hurried forward, took the flag and hoisted it himself. Richard Butler thought this an insult to the Pennsylvania troops and challenged Steuben. Both these men had rendered great services to the colonial army, and there was too much glory in the army now to allow two of its best officers to engage in a deadly conflict but it required all the efforts of Washington, Hamilton and Rochambeau to prevent the duel. It is but fair to say that the Butlers, while coming from Westmoreland, were from that part of it now included in Allegheny county.
Colonel James Smith has often been referred to as early even as in Braddock's march. He was, indeed, a very important factor in the early annals of our county. He was born in Cumberland county, perhaps in a part that is now Bedford county, in 1737. In 1755 he was hunting near Bedford, and was captured by the Indians. He was a prisoner in Fort Duquesne on July 9, 1755, and heard and saw the preparations made between Beaujeu and the Indians to surprise Braddock's army. Much of the information concerning that attack comes from his writings. He escaped from the Indians in 1760 and went to Franklin county. His natural ability and his knowledge of the Indians, gained while a captive, made him valuable to Bouquet in his Ohio expedition in 1764, when he served as an ensign. Later he was a lieutenant in the militia of Western Pennsylvania. In 1769 and 70 he purchased lands along Jacob's creek and on the Youghiogheny river. In 1774 he assisted St. Clair in organizing the Rangers to protect our frontier against Dunmore�s invasions, and was one of the members of the Hannastown convention on May 16, 1775, which adopted the celebrated resolutions previously referred to. He was also one of the Associators called for in those resolutions. Later he was elected a member of the convention of July 15, 1776, and was elected to the assembly of the state in 1776-�77. Here he was known as an authority on Indian affairs, and respected for his knowledge of border warfare. The assembly was in session in Philadelphia in 1777, and at his own request he was granted a leave of absence to conduct a scouting party through New Jersey. He remained in Washington's division of the army, and in 1778 was made a colonel, and sent to Western Pennsylvania, where he performed valuable services in the continuous warfare against the Indians. In 1788 he removed to Kentucky, where he was again a member of the assembly, though of another state. In 1812 he wrote "A Treatise on the Mode and Manner of Indian War," with many extracts from his journal kept when a prisoner among the Indians. It is a valuable work because of its simplicity, and contains much information about the habits of a race now almost extinct. He died in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1812.
Source: Page(s) 132 - 144, History of Westmoreland County, Volume I, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed March 1999 by Terry R. McGuire for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Terry R. McGuire for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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