Monday, November 14, 2011

Rev War junkie, part two - A Call to Serve

They didn't have Twitter or Facebook or YouTube to transmit their revolutionary words and actions.  They didn't have computing or fast transit, or even electricity, but the Patriots of the Revolutionary War did have the printing press and the pamphlet writers.  It could be said that half the war was won on paper, by the spreading of information, and the preservation and memorializing of deeds and events necessary to transmit the ideals of the egalitarian Revolution.

Many of the pamphlets were used for recruiting purposes.  A fine example of one such recruiting pamphlet, perhaps penned by Major General Charles Lee, or a gifted subordinate, was recently found in the Congressional relief petition case-file of Asher Sedgewick, a Patriot who served from Hartford, Connecticut from 1775 until the winter of 1780. 

US Legislative Archives, RG233, hr21a-g13.1

Asher Sedgewick signed this pamphlet, knowing full well that he may as well have been signing his own death warrant.  His name appears clearly written fourth from the bottom.  The lead signatory was Captain Abraham Sedgewick, his own father, so it is really not a mystery why Asher, at the time only 15 years old would have penned his name to this dangerous, seditious document.  Capt. Sedgewick used his utmost zeal and ardour, and perhaps several copies of this pamphlet, which he also probably read aloud to groups of men in Hartford, and raised a company of sixty enlisted men and four officers to serve in Colonel Chester's Regiment Connecticut Militia.

It is not really hard to imagine the impact of this pamphlet.  This one was used specifically for recruitment purposes, and just like recruitment attempts today played on the potential recruit's personal sense of honor and loyalty to submit to the service of their country as a test of character.  Of the signatories to the pamphlet only Capt Sedgewick and his teenage son Asher appear on the Travel Roll of men who actually marched with the Captain to Ticonderoga.

This payroll, which is mentioned by Asher's widow in his pension case file, has not been previously available to researchers.  Luckily for the modern Rev War scholar, the "Travel Role of Captain Abraham Sedgewick's Company Returning from Camp 1776", like the pamphlet, was submitted by Asher to Congress in 1820 in one of his attempts at obtaining a pension or an increase. 

US Legislative Archives, RG233, hr21a-g13.

This "Travel Role" shows the men returning by march from the vicinity of Fort Ticonderoga, New York to Hartford, Connecticut.  In addition to their monthly salary, determined by rank, each man was guaranteed a certain amount of pay, per mile, on the march to and from the place of service, either before or after muster.  Asher, who served as Fifer, traveled 237 miles and received £0-19-9 (19 shillings and 9 pence, when a Pound Sterling equaled 20 shillings).  They marched on foot, and had to obtain whatever lodging and provisions they could find along the way, using their own money or that provided by the Captain, which he received back from the men after the Travel Roll was submitted for pay.

I am inspired by the efforts of my nation's forebears, to continue to preserve their words and deeds.  Anyone interested in assisting to transcribe the names from this document, or other Rev War documents like this, is welcomed to contact's internship coordinator Anne Musella.

Sources :

Pension case-file of Asher Sedgewick (available on and in NARA RG15).

Petition for relief of Asher Sedgewick, US Legislative Archives, RG233 (House of Representatives), HR21a-g13.1, (viewed and scanned by Deiss, 18 May 2011)