Archive for the ‘Tories’ Category

“bless me I hope you are not Hessians”

More on MARGARET HILL MORRIS, following on the previous post, as she dealt with events in December 1776 when she was living with her sister Sarah Dillwyn in Greenbank, New Jersey on the Delaware River. During this time British, Hessian, and American troops were active in the area which, along with patriot vessels on the river, gave ample reason for alarm even though her family were Quakers. She was especially concerned as she was harboring a Loyalist in the house.

12th—The people of the gallies [Americans], Suspecting that some troops were yet either conceald in Town or in the Neighborhood of it, have been very Jealous of the inhabitants, who have been often alarmd with reports, that the City [Philadelphia] woud be Set on fire, Many have gone in haste & great distress into the Country, but we still hope, no Mischief is Seriously intended—A Number of Men landed on our Bank this Morning, & told us it was thier settled purpose to set fire to the Town—I begd them not to set my house afire—they askd which was my House, I showd it to them, & they said they knew not what hinderd them from fireing on it last Night, for seeing a light in the Chambers, they thought there were Hessians in it, & that they pointed the Guns at it Several times, I told them my Children were Sick, which obligd me to burn a light all Night—Tho they did not know what hinderd them from fireing on us, I did, it was the Guardian of the Widow & the Orphan, who took us into his Safe keeping, & preservd us from danger, oh—that I may keep humble, & be thankful for this, as well as other favors Vouch safed to my little flock—

13th—This day we began to look a little like ourselves again. The troops were removd some miles from Town as we heard. . . . but the Suspicions of the Gondola Men still continued, & search was made in & about the Town for Men distinguishd by the Name of Tories. . . . There was no appearance of the formidable Hessians. . . . some of the Gentlemen who entertaind the foreigners were pointed out to the Gondola Men—2 Worthy inhabtants were seizd upon & dragd on board—from the 13th to 16th we had various reports of the advancing & retireing of the Enemy—Parties of Armd Men rudely enterd the Houses in Town, & diligent search made for Tories, the 2 last taken releasd & sent on Shore.

About noon this day, (the 16) a very terrible account of thousands coming into Town—& now actually to be seen on Gallows Hill—My incautious Son [John] catchd up the Spy Glass, & was running to the Mill to look at them. I told him it wd be liable to misconstruction, but he prevaild on me to let him gratify his curiosity, & he went, but returnd much dissatisfyd, for no troops coud he see. As he came back poor Dick took the glass & resting it against a tree, took a view of the fleet—both of these was observd by the people on board, who suspected it was an Enemy that was watching thier Motions— They Mannd a boat & sent her on Shore—aloud knocking at my door brought me to it—I was a little flutterd & kept locking and unlocking that I might get my ruffled face, a little composd. At last I opend it, & half a dozen Men all Armd, demanded the keys of the empty House—I asked what they wanted there they said to Search for a D—-d tory who had been spying at them from the Mill—the Name of a Tory so near my own door seriously alarmd me—for a poor refugee [Dr. Jonathan Odell] dignifyd by that Name, had claimd the shelter of my Roof & was at that very time conceald, like a thief in an Auger hole*—

I rung the bell violently, the Signal agreed on, if they came to Search—& when I thought he had crept into the hole—I put on a very simple look & cryd out, bless me I hope you are not Hessians—say, good Men are you the Hessians? do we look like Hessians? askd one of them rudely—indeed I dont know; Did you never see a Hessian? no never in my life but they are Men, & you are Men & may be Hessians for any thing I know—but I’ll go with you into Col Cox’s [Colonel John Cox] house, tho indeed it was my Son at the Mill, he is but a Boy & meant no harm, he wanted to see the Troops—so I marchd at the head of them, opend the door, & searchd every place but we coud not find the tory—strange where he coud be—we returnd; they greatly disapointed, I pleasd, to think my house was not Suspected—the Capt smart little fellow Named Shippen [William Shippin] said he wishd he coud see the Spy glass—S D [Sarah Dillwyn] produced it—& very civilly desird his acceptance of it, which I was sorry for—as I often amusd myself in looking thro it—they left us, & Searchd [other] houses—but no tory coud they find.

*a secret, windowless room entered through the back of a closet; a warning bell, activated by a knob near the front door, hung nearby.
†John Cox, a Philadelphia businessman, owner of Batsto (site of an iron furnace), which supplied the Continental Army with cannon shot and bomb shells, kettles, etc. He and his wife Esther Bowes Cox were also friends of Esther DeBerdt Reed.

Margaret Hill Morris’s account continues in the next post.

The passages quoted can be found on page 98-100 of In the Words of Women. Dr. Jonathan Odell’s likeness is from the New York Public Library. Odell eventually fled to England but returned to his family in America after some years.

posted December 21st, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: American soldiers,British soldiers,Hessians,Morris, Margaret Hill,New Jersey,Philadelphia,Tories

“I suppose there will be a change soon … “

When Martha Washington joined her husband in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in December, 1775, they lived in the former home of John Vassal, which served as Washington’s Headquarters. (He had previously occupied space in Wadsworth House, the home of the president of Harvard.) It was in a section of Brattle Street known as Tory Row for the number of houses built there by wealthy Loyalists. Vassal had left when war threatened, and his property was seized by the Americans. The house was later lived in by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and has since become a National Historic Site. Martha wrote to her sister with details about both their family and the military situation.

Cambridge January the 31, 1776My dear Sister
I have wrote to you several times, in hopes it would put you in mind of me, but I find it has not had its intended affect. I am really very uneasy at not hearing from you and have made all the excuses for you that I can think of but it will not doe much longer. If I doe not get a letter by this nights post I shall think myself quite forgot by all my Freinds. The distance is long yet the post comes in regularly every week—The General, myself, and Jack are very well. Nelly Custis is I hope getting well again, and I beleive is with child. I hope noe accident will happen to her in going back [to Virginia]. I have not thought much about it yet god know whare we shall be; I suppose thare will be a change soon but how I cannot pretend to say—A few days agoe Pokies Gen [Henry] Clinton, with several companyes Sailed out of Boston Harbor to what place distant for, we cannot find out. Some think it is to Virginia he is gon, others to New York—they have been keept in Boston so long that I suppose they will be glad to seek for a place where they may have more room as they cannot get out anywhere here but by water—our navey has been very successful in taking thair vessels; two was taken last week loded with coles and potatoes wines & several other articles for the use of the troops—If General Clinton is gon to New York,—General Lee is there before him and I hope will give him a very warm reception,—he was sent thare some time a goe to have matters put in proper order in case any disturbances should happen, as thare are many Tories in that part of the world, or at least many are susspected thare to be unfreindly to our cause at this time—winter hear has been so remarkable mild the Rivers has never been frozen hard enough to walk upon the Ice since I came heer.

My Dear sister be so good as to remember me to all enquireing friends. …

I am my Dear Nancy your ever effectionate sister Martha Washington

Martha’s letter is on pages 41-42 of In the Words of Women. There are several interesting POSTS by J. L. Bell on Washington’s taking command of the troops outside of Boston. He has written a book George Washington’s Headquarters and Home—Cambridge, Massachusetts containing much information for those who wish to read further about the general and his entourage.

stolen by the Tories

In 1847, Asa Fitch, a country doctor and a noted etymologist, began to ask his elderly patients questions about their experiences during the American Revolution when they were young. He carefully recorded their answers and, although they may be the imperfect recollections of people advanced in years, they reflect the uncertainties and trials their families faced. Tryphena Martin Angell of Salem recounted her family’s experience fleeing from the advancing army of General Burgoyne.

In the war Father was away from home when the families evacuated the town. … It was said [that General Burgoyne] had a hundred thousand soldiers with him—British, Hessians, and Indians—and was coming down through this place and would kill every enemy of the King.

Daniel Livingston … helped us to get away. Some of our things were buried, others sunk in the well, and the rest were put into the ox-cart. … Mother rode on the old mare and I was tied on behind her or had to hold on to her. …

On the road somewhere towards Hoosick was a large slough hole [swamp] or brook across which poles were laid to keep the horses, et cetera, from miring in it. The foot of the horse we rode got caught between these poles so that she fell pitching Mother and me off into the mud. We were not hurt but badly frightened and sadly besmeared with muck and mud. A few days after our arrival at Brown’s my brother Moses was born. We came back before cold weather. … part of our things were buried in time of the retreat before Burgoyne: pots and kettles, a large brass kettle, pewter platters and other dishes, the iron trammel [a chain and hook for raising and lowering a kettle] that hung in the chimney. When we got back we found all these things had been stolen by the Tories. We never got any trace as to who it was that had taken them.

This excerpt is from In the Words of Women, Chapter 3, pages 77-78. The illustration is of an iron trammel mentioned in the text.

posted June 14th, 2012 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Patriots,Saratoga,Tories

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