October 15, 1749 or 1750 Henry Fitzgerald was born possibly near the area where, at the age of 26, he became a soldier in the American Revolution. His pension claim application states that he
…enlisted at Hanna’s Town in Westmoreland County state of Pennsylvania on the seventh day of March to 1777 for one year and nine months in the company commanded by Captain Joseph Erwin In Colonel Stewart’s regiment of the Pennsylvania line. That he continued in the service for one year and ten months when he was regularly and honorably discharged at the Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. That he was at the battle of Flatbush on Long Island he was taken prisoner remained sometime in the Sugar houses in New York suffered much for want of provisions. That after he was exchanged he was at the battle of White Plains, at the taking of the Hessians at Trenton, a few days after was at the taking of a British Regiment near Princeton. That he was at the Battle of Brandywine and Germantown October 4, 1777 and Sunday at the skirmish in Scouting parties.1
Hannastown in Westmoreland County, during the 18th century, was in remote and isolated areas that had been settled by North British and Scots-Irish emigrants. In 1775, when the residents received the news of the Battle of Lexington they realized that they needed to get involved and fight for their liberty and freedom.5
The backwoods riflemen of Westmoreland were known for their effectiveness, which was for practical reasons, and Washington believed in the usefulness of the rifle so in March 1777 he ordered a redesign of the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment and that same month Congress directed Pennsylvania to create more regiments and ensure that each one had a riflemen company. That month, which was the same month Henry enlisted, Pennsylvania alone raised over 1000 new enlistees.
The city streets where the fighting took place, such as in Long Island, and the lack of one-to-one bayonet type fighting experience were not a good match for the riflemen. This placed them in more vulnerable circumstances that resulted in many being captured, fleeing or being killed.6
Henry indicated in his pension claim that he was a private and that he had been a prisoner in the Sugar House in New York. There were three locations in New York City that were known as The Sugar House, which were sugar warehouses where American prisoners were kept and were horribly mistreated.7 Since Henry was present for the roll taken on September 4 he would have been a prisoner for no more than 7 days. Henry is not on Captains Erwin or Carnahan’s listings of the men who were taken prisoner.11 Interestingly, the footnote in Henry Johnston’s book states “One of these sergeants escaped, but the rolls do not show which one.”3 By March 1, 1777 Henry was listed as a sergeant on the rolls for his company and I do not know when that became effective nor do I know of the accuracy or completeness of the listing of prisoners.
By reviewing the timeline of the American Revolutionary war events it is clear that Henry, based on the information in his pension claim, was present for several significant battles.
- March 7, 1776 enlisted as a private at Hannastown, Pennsylvania in Joseph Erwin’s Company. Mustered at Marcus Hook in the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment later included in the 2nd
- August 27, 1776 Battle of Flatbush on Long Island. Taken prisoner at Sugar House in New York and exchanged
- September 4, 1776 present on James Carnahan’s Company roll
- October 28, 1776 Battle of White Plains
- December 26, 1776 Battle of Trenton
- January 2, 1777 Battle of Princeton
- March 1, 1777 to May 1, 1777 present as a sergeant on James Carnahan’s Company roll
- May 9, 1777 mustered at Red Bank in James Carnahan’s company
- September 11, 1777 Battle of Brandywine
- October 4, 1777 Battle of Germantown
- October 5, 1777 other skirmishes
- January 1, 1778 regularly and honorably discharged at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
In a letter dated January 5, 1878 written by Henry’s granddaughter Emaline Goldthait nee Taylor she indicated that her grandfather “fought in the Revolutionary War. He lost the sight of both his eyes in the war.”1 So far I have not found further information of injuries Henry may have sustained.
Julia Galbraith and Henry married in Pennsylvania either before or after his service. Then by 1800 they they had moved to the Northwest Territory in Ohio that later became Fairfield County, Ohio where they remained for the rest of their lives. He and his wife likely had several children although I have only verified two so far and none were mentioned in his pension application.
- Sarah, referred to as Josephine by some researchers, (born ca 1780), married Drake Taylor (ca 1779 – 1843)
- Joanna (1786-1864) married John Bradley (1783 – 1860)
In his 1819 pension application, Henry’s property was worth $3.00 and at 68 years of age he was in “reduced circumstances” and in need of his country’s assistance. He was placed on the pension roll on February 3, 1819 and his annual allotment was $96.00. By the time of his death at age 73 on June 18, 1824 he had received a sum of $586.54.1 Although no stone has survived, the records indicate that Henry is buried in the Glick-Brick Church-Hoy Cemetery in Bloom Township, Fairfield, Ohio.10
Knowing more about my ancestor and his involvement in various battles makes videos, such as this this short one by The History Channel called America the Story of Us: American Revolution more interesting to me.
Henry Fitzgerald was my biological 5th great grandfather on my father’s side.
- Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls). Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
- “The 13th Pennsylvania Regiment.” Revolutionary War 101. 2012. Accessed September 14, 2014.
- Johnston, Henry P. The Campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn. Brooklyn: Long Island Historical Society, 1878. 300.
- Pennsylvania State Regiment, 1777 – 13th Pennsylvania Line. Uniforms of the American Revolution. 2005. Accessed September 14, 2014.
- Fischer, David Hackett. Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas. Google Books. January 1, 2005. Accessed September 14, 2014. (pages 75-77)
- York, Neil L. “Pennsylvania Rifle: Revolutionary Weapon in a Conventional War?”Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 103, no. 3 (1979). Accessed September 14, 2014. pdf: https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/view/43544/43265
- Dandridge, Danske. American prisoners of the revolution. Charlottesville, Virginia: Michie Company printers, 1911, 504.
- Albert, George Dallas. History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Vol. 1. Phildelphia: L. H. Everts & Company, 1882. 840.
- Montgomery, Thomas Lynch. Pennsylvania Archives. Vol. 2. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Harrisburg Publishing Company, 1906
- Kishler, Patty. “American Revolutionary War Veterans Who Lived And/Or Died In Fairfield County, Ohio.” Fairfield County Chapter OGS Revolutionary War Veterans Page. January 1, 2005. Accessed September 14, 2014.
- Grabek, Susan. “William Lindsey of Fort Pitt.” Lindsay Surname DNA Project Group 2. February 5, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2014.
No Story Too Small offered a challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.Each of my posts for this challenge will include in the title “52 Ancestors Challenge” and will have the tag of 52Ancestors.