On Being a Revolutionary’s Daughter

Revolutionary: Gwashington

Father of our country; not quite related to me, but close . . .

On this fourth of July, I’m thinking about what it means to be a revolutionary’s daughter.

My own father was a brilliant mercurial man, who served as a naval officer but was not revolutionary.

Our forefathers, however, were a different story.

In writing my family history (five years of research. You can find Pioneer Stock in the Library of Congress), I discovered I qualified for status as a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) eight times over.

Eight of my male ancestors were revolutionaries back in 1776-1783. (You did remember the war lasted seven years?)

Half were not soldiers but citizen “patriots” who provided material for the Continental Army in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.

Thomas Dodson Jr., Thomas “Second Fork” Dodson, Moses Hanks and Thomas Hill signed an oath of allegiance in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

That oath of allegiance was fierce:

“I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain . . . and that I will bear true allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia . . . I will discover and make known to some one justice of the peace for the state, all treasonsor traitorous conspiracies which I now or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the United States of America.”

There may have been pressure brought to bear on those who didn’t sign. The statue required non-signers to relinquish arms and to be refused permission to hold any office, serve on juries, sue for debts or purchase

Revolutionary: This (attributed to ) originally appeared duri...land.

A little further north in western Virginia, Joseph Neville Sr. was the father of two Revolutionary War generals, Joseph and John Neville. (I descend from a daughter). He’s regarded as a patriot because of his contribution of goods in kind. Virginia Revolutionary Publick Claims lists payments to him over the yeras for flour, sheep, salt mutton and pasturage. He also furnished rations for the Fiarfax and Loudon County Milita.

Family tradition says Abraham Hanks fought in the Revolutionary War for the colonists, but no one has been able to prove it.

 Remarkable how often family tradition links you to the winners, isn’t it? Click to Tweet

Some of the younger ones, however, were firebrands: my ancestor Bennett ( a “marker” name in genealogical terms–it reappears in nearly every generation since 1776) and his brother Benjamin Posey enlisted in the Continental Army.

Benjamin, the elder brother, went first in March, 1777, when he was 17 years old. He served for three years in Capt. Benjamin Lusby’s Curry’s Company, probably out of Port Tobacco, Maryland.

My ancestor, Bennett enlisted as a private fifteen months later, just about the time he celebrated his sixteenth birthday. It’s probably worth noting their parents were dead and their grandparents both died in 1780 (when Benjamin inherited).

The Muster Rolls of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution 1778-1783, listed Bennett as being discharged on April 7, 1779, after serving a nine-months enlistment. He was a member of the First Regiment from the western shore (of Maryland). The Commissary of Stores for that regiment was charged to give

“Bennett Posy a 9 month sold in the 1st Regt. Dischd the amt of nineteen pounds, five shillings and six pence in cloathing [sic]”

The Muster Rolls of Maryland Troops noted “the disciple of the Revolutionary armies was not strict, and many left the ranks when they were needed at home, returning to the service after a few months.”

Infantry of the Continental Army.

Infantry of the Continental Army. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain William Smith of Louisa County served at the direct request of neighbor Thomas Jefferson. (Would love to see that letter!) He was involved in obtaining gun stock for the army. He also provided goods: “one barrel, 42 gallons of whiskey.”

One of my Waddy kin suffered small pox during the terrible winter at Valley Forge and never recovered. (The Waddys were kinfolk to George Washington; as possibly were the Smiths).

Maybe a Loyalist or two?

Not everyone was a patriot in my family. Hastings Dial and his father-in-law James Abercrombie of Laurens County, SC, were wealthy men. Some believe Hastings may have been a colonel in the British Army, but that’s never been proven.

His brother Martin, however, was a rebel soldier serving under Colonel Hay’s Regiment and one of the few survivors of the Cane Brake Massacre. (We always think of him when we watch the movie The Patriot)

Family tradition has it Martin twice was captured by the British. He escaped the first time but legend has it he was to be executed the second time. Only Hasting’s intervention saved him.

(Local historians argue the above was unlikely. Hastings is not mentioned in records as having his land confiscated after the war and his name does not appear on lists of British officers. One historian points out the two brothers were rivals and the family history I read came from Hastings [and my] line).

What does it all mean?

Of course it’s something to be proud of–my ancestors fought to establish the country which has granted me so much freedom.

But while doing the research and reading about the Revolutionary War, I’ve come to feel an immense awe at what it meant to fight for the freedoms I treat so casually. Martin Dial was nearly shot. Hastings Dial could have been run out of his county. Any one of those men mentioned above and their families could have been burned out of their homes by the British Army. Samuel Waddy died from the injuries to his health suffered–suffered is exactly what the soldiers did that winter at Valley Forge–as a result of his commitment to the cause and his kinship to George Washington.

This fourth of July, I cannot hold their sacrifices–and their risks–lightly.

What does it mean to be the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of revolutionaries? Click to Tweet

Revolutionary: American soldiers at the siege of Yorktown, by...

Continental Army soldiers at Yorktown

Thankfulness. Respect. Awe. Honor.

and thanks be to the God, all those men worshipped.

If you’re an American, someone in your ancestral line, probably more than one closer generation-wise than you think, took a risk to get to north America. Whether they fought in a war for freedom, or just came searching for freedom, they were patriots–United States of America-affirming folk.

Have you got any patriots in your family? Click to Tweet

Happy Fourth of July!


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