Ole Larson's Folks

Philip Myers (1759-1835)

Revolutionary War

Ten years after Philip and his family arrived in Maryland, the War for Independence broke out. While his elder brother Lawrence became an officer in the Continental Army, Philip served three short terms as a private in the Maryland militia. The experience is described in some detail in his pension application, and is copied here. As before, if you would like to view the entire handwritten document, click here.

It is true that the events described took place more than 50 years earlier, and Philip’s memory at age 72 may have been less than perfect. He freely admitted to not recalling the names of some officers in his companies. However, the detail he did provide is quite remarkable, and includes several facts I readily verified from historical sources on the war. Square brackets [ ] indicate editorial additions.

That while residing in Frederick he enlisted in the state Militia for the term of two months on some of the last seven days in the year 1776, in a company commanded by Captain Abraham Huff. (The other officers of the company he does not recollect.) The company joined the regiment of militia commanded by Col. Charles Beatty of Frederick County and marched from there through Lancaster where he saw the Hessian prisoners, 918 in number, and through Philadelphia where they assisted to bury Gen [Hugh] Mercer killed at Princeton; crossed the Delaware at a ferry above Trenton and marched to Morris County New Jersey where he remained with his company until his term of service expired. His regiment was then attached to the brigade of militias commanded by Gen Ths. Johnson, then, he thinks, Governor of Maryland. [Thomas Johnson, the state of Maryland’s first governor, officially took office March 21, 1777.] Gen. Washington’s headquarters were then at Morristown, but his brigade were living in small detachments among the inhabitants of Morris County. About the first of March 1777 the term of service of the whole brigade expired, and [they] returned to Maryland without any written evidence of their service. He [Philip] does not recollect any of the officers of the brigade it was so seldom they were all together. He was in no battles this time.

Thus ended Philip’s first two-month enlistment. Note that when he joined up, he was barely sixteen years of age. Just a few months after coming home, and before his seventeenth birthday, Philip re-upped. This time, he would see combat.

About the first of September following (1777) this applicant again volunteered his services for the term of two months, into the company of state militia commanded by the same Capt. Abraham Huff, Lieut. _____ Weaver, and Michael Grant, and Ensign Christian Ramsburgh, who afterwards, on their march to Germantown, deserted and was cashiered for cowardice. From Frederick the company marched to Germantown in Pa, where it was engaged in the battle in that place [Oct. 4]. It was then attached to the regiment of militia commanded by Col. Baker Johnson / brother of the Governor of Maryland. The other officers of the regiment he does not recollect. He [also] does not recollect that this regiment was attached to any brigade, but on the day of the battle [of Germantown] his Col., with those of other regiments (who he does not recollect), was under the command of Gen. [William] Smallwood. After the battle his regiment encamped near Germantown where it remained until its term of service expired, about the first of November. During this time his regiment made no long marches. In the battle of Germantown his Captain was wounded & his Lieut., Grant, was killed. [He] thinks that none of the higher officers of the regiment were killed or wounded. He was discharged without any written evidence of his services.

The battle of Germantown was a major defeat for General George Washington, ensuring the continued British occupation of Philadelphia (the Revolutionary capitol) through the winter of 1777-1778, while Washington’s army camped in abject misery at Valley Forge. Mercifully, this did not include Philip’s militia, whose term had expired. In addition to the two officers named by Philip, a number of enlisted men in his company were no doubt among the 122 killed and 404 wounded on the Patriots’ side at Germantown. For further information, I refer you to Wikipedia’s extensive article on the battle.

The last of Philip Myers’ three two-month terms of militia service began in June of 1781. By this time, the tide had turned in favor of the Patriots, and General George Washington was firmly in the driver’s seat. Although Philip did not engage in any battles this time, he witnessed some significant events, right in his home town of Frederick, MD. As before, click here to view the handwritten document.

Pension 4

About the first of June 1781 this applicant again volunteered his services, for the term of two months in the –? — militia company commanded by Capt. Nicholas White, and Lieut. Wm. Burneston. The other officers of the company he does not recollect. From Frederick his company marched with two or three other Companies, to the place where Washington [D.C.] City now is, then called he thinks New Hamburgh[?] where they received orders to return again to Frederick Town to guard about 150 Tory prisoners, where they continued until their term of service expired. His company was the only one employed in this service. While there three of the Tories were hung, one of them called Col. Caspar Fricky, another Captain Sherman, and the other Lieut. Yost. During this time his company was attached to no regiment, and it was again discharged without any written evidence of their services. They were paid, as they had been before, for their services at the rate of eight dollars per month in Continental money, but at that time it was comparatively worthless.

There are no living witnesses of his service, to his knowledge, unless they are to be found in Maryland. A memorandum of the ages of his family, including his own, he has seen, about five years ago, in a bible now in the possession of his brothers family in Frederick Town Maryland. He refers the court to William Swetland, Post Master at New Troy, to Oliver Helm late Sheriff, and Joseph Tuttle Commissioner of this county as persons who can testify as to his character for truth and veracity, and their belief of his services as a soldier of the revolution.

And further, he hereby relinquishes any claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

Sworn to and subscribed
the day and year aforesaid.
[signed] H Pettibone, Prot[?] [signed] Philip Myers

This purports to be the actual signature of my fourth great-grandfather, viewed by me for the first time. The comparatively good penmanship suggests that Philip could read, as well as sign his name. Note that he spelled his name Myers, while the person writing the document used Myres. More tantalizing is the phrase in bold print above (emphasis mine), referring to a bible in the possession of his brother (Michael’s) family in Maryland. I believe this is what I have called the “Madison Myers Bible,” now in the possession of Tom Welch of Chicago.

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