Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gen Israel Putnam, Col Edmund Phinney and My Patriot David McIntire 1775-1776

As recorded in the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors Book Vol 10 p 505 David McIntire of Falmouth served as a private in Capt. Samuel Noyes's company under Col. Edmund Phinney's (31st) regiment from when he enlisted June 23, 1775, until October 1775.  He then reenlisted as Corporal Jan 1, 1776 but this time in Capt. Hart Williams's company under Col. Edmund Phinney's 18th regiment.  During this time he was promoted to Sergeant Aug. 3, 1776.

In researching Col. Edmund Phinney’s Regiments I found two publications, History of Col Edmund Phinney’s 31st Regiment of Foot and History of Col Edmund Phinney’s 18th Continental Regiment both written by Nathan Goold which shed quite a bit of light on my 5th Great Grandfather’s experience in the Revolutionary War.  This is my summary of these two books.

The shot that was heard round the world on April 19, 1775 was heard two days later in Falmouth Massachusetts today Portland Maine.  War had finally come.  However there was not an organized or outfitted army to fight it.  Continental Congress immediately set about the task to resolve this problem and over thirty thousand men enlisted.  So many some had to be turned away.  Our ancestor David McIntire was one of those to heed the call.  There were ten companies in Col Edmund Phinney’s 31st Regiment.  It was the first regiment raised in Cumberland County and David had enlisted under Capt. Samuel Noyes.

Unlike the Americans the British were organized and outfitted and it showed when they won the battle of Bunker Hill June 17th.  Congress was none too happy that the organizing of Phinney’s Regiment was taking so long and on June 22nd they sent orders that 400 men of this regiment be sent to Cambridge at once.  Phinney and his captains finally set out around the first of July.  But still it would take time to march the regiment 130 miles from Falmouth to Cambridge.   With stops at local taverns along the way to eat and rest it took seven days to complete the march.

Col Phinney’s Regiment was assigned to Gen. Israel Putnam’s brigade and encamped near Fort #2 which was on the easterly side of Putnam Ave at Franklin St in Cambridge.  Today it is a busy residential neighborhood with a historical marker.

Gen. George Washington arrived July 3 to take command and he set up headquarters at Longfellow’s home not far from Fort #2

Our ancestor along with the rest of Phinney’s Regiment might have been too late for Bunker Hill but they were ready to fight.  The first important event after the arrival of the regiment at Cambridge was the burning of Boston lighthouse to prevent British warships from coming into the harbor.  Later the British tried to march out to Roxbury but we drove them back to Boston and when they rebuilt Boston Light the regiment destroyed it again.  By August Capt. Daniel Morgan’s Riflemen had arrived from Virginia.  And in September Gen Benedict Arnold and Col Henry Knox were given order to leave for Ticonderoga.   David McIntire along with his comrades in arms participated in skirmishes and picket firing and saw many killed and wounded about them while stationed outside of Boston during the Siege.

On October 18 the town of Falmouth was attacked and burned by a fleet of Royal Navy vessels commanded by Henry Mowart.   It was the same Capt. Mowart who Capt. Samuel Noyes and Col. Phinney had had trouble with before they marched to Boston four months earlier.  The record doesn’t say that is the reason Capt. Noyes’ men went back to Falmouth in October but they did none the less.

Col Phinney’s regiment remained in Cambridge.   The Colonial Army was in trouble.  The British ministry had hired over seventeen thousand German troops known as the Hessians and the colonies were not united. The southern colonies were not giving their all to the cause.  Also there was no money and very little ammunition.  It seemed hopeless but we would not give up we just needed to be reorganized!  So on December 31 the old regiments were disbanded and on January 1, 1776 a new organized and renamed army was born.  It was now called the Continental Army and the 31 regiment became the 18th.   It is at this time David McIntire reenlisted as a corporal under Capt. Hart Williams and he went back to Boston to continue with the siege.

All through February the army was being prepared to attack Boston.  It was during this time that Henry Knox’s “Noble Train” arrived from New York with the cannons and ammunition they need for the attack.

On March 4 Col Phinney’s regiment was stationed at Lechmere Point and Cobble Hill with the intention of distracting the British of the goings on at Dorchester Heights.  Washington was sure the British would order an assault when they discovered the works at Dorchester and so the next day Gen Putnam’s regiment was marched to Cambridge Commons and readied for an attack on Boston but the order never came due to a torrential rain storm that kept the British from their attack.

By March 10 British conceded to evacuate Boston and were all gone along with Tory sympathizers by March 17.  Gen Putnam left March 28 for New York and Washington left April 5.  However even though the British were no longer in Boston it didn’t mean the American troops could just leave the town and harbor unprotected.  Col Phinney’s  and Col Hutchinson’s regiments stayed on through the summer of 1776. On July 4 independence was declared and on the eighteenth the declaration was read aloud from the State House in Boston.

A few weeks later in August, our ancestor David McIntire was promoted to Sargent just as orders to march to Fort Ticonderoga came through.  Col Phinney’s regiment marched out of Boston August 8 heading north.  The terrain was rough, the weather awful and most nights they could not find a place to stay so camped in the woods to sleep.  In all it took them over three weeks to reach the Fort.  They were assigned to Mount Independence, across the lake from Fort Ticonderoga, where fortifications were being built in preparations for an attack from the British out of Canada.

October 11 there was a naval battle off Valcour Island that lasted all day.  The Americans were out gunned and though they narrowly escaped that day most vessels were destroyed the next two days.  The British now occupied Fort Crown Point.  The next few days the troops on Independence worked nonstop to finish the fortification.  And on October 28th when the British approached the forts they were met by an army of over 13,000 men that were well armed on both sides of the lake.  The British boats retreated by sunset and all forces at Fort Crown Point left and returned to Canada.

On November 20 Col Phinney’s regiment marched from Mount Independence and arrived at Fort George at the south end of Lake George where Phinney took command of the Fort from Col John Stark.  The duty of the regiment was to transport flour over the lake to the other forts.  And at the end of December the regiment was discharged where upon many started for home including David McIntire.

There are no other records I have found that suggest David reenlisted again throughout the rest of the war.  However his brother, Benjamin is recorded to have been a part of the Penobscot Expedition with Paul Revere in 1779.

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