The website, Fold3.com is a great resource for finding military records. One such record is the pension file for Ebenezer Minton, my paternal GGGG Grandfather. The pension file is the principal source for most of Ebenezer’s vital statistics. However, just as I mentioned in an earlier post about a soldier of the Revolution, the papers in the pension file are a little difficult to read.
To begin with, the file contains an affidavit from Peter Johnston, a judge of the General Court of Virginia, Lee County. He reported that Ebenezer Minton, aged 59, made a declaration before him in order to obtain a Revolutionary War Soldier’s pension:
“On this first day of September in the year one thousand eight hundred and nineteen before me Peter Johnston—one of the Judges of the General Court of Virginia appointed by law to perform the judicial duties of the thirteenth circuit which comprehends the county of Lee personally presented himself Ebenezer Minton of the county of Lee and state of Virginia, aged fifty nine, and on oath made the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress entitled “An act for the relief of certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the war of the revolution”…”
In summary, Ebenezer stated that he enlisted August 11, 1777 in the “Third Regiment of Cavalry on Continental establishment commanded by Colonel George Baylor of Virginia” and served under Captain Churchill Jones. He served for 3 years, then re-enlisted “in the same Regiment, then commanded by Colonel William Washington for the war & remained in service until the end of the war when he was regularly discharged.” For the most part, the fighting ended with the surrender of Cornwallis in October 1781 & the war was officially over with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September 1783, so Ebenezer served for 6 years. He stated that “from his reduced circumstances, he stands in need of the assistance of his country for his support.”
So from this first statement, since he stated he was 59 years old in 1819, we can estimate Ebenezer’s birth year as 1760. Which also means that he was 17 years old when he enlisted in 1777!
Ebenezer’s statement also included a list of some of the Battles he was involved in:
“That he was at the surprise of the American detachment, composed, in part, of his regiment, at Paoli in the State of Jersey; at the defeat of Colonel Abraham Buford, at the battle of Cowpens, at the battle of Guilford, at the second battle of Cambden, and at the battle of the Eutaw Spring.”
An additional statement before the Lee County court on September 26, 1820 gives more detail of Ebenezer’s service:
This clip indicates that he was enlisted under “Fitzpatrick of the Dragoons.” So what were the “Dragoons?” In essence, they were the cavalry–prepared to fight from horseback or on foot.
The summary of Ebenezer’s service follows:
After enlisting, he states he “marched under Fitzpatrick to Fredericksburg in Virginia and was placed in the Third Troop of Cavalry Commanded by Capt Churchill Jones in the Regiment commanded by Col. Baylor. That he wintered in Fredericksburg the winter of 1777 and in the Spring following he marched to the north and was in the surprise at Paoli, where Col Baylor was badly wounded and never again joined the Regt. And Major Clough was killed.”
According to the American Battlefield Trust website, <battlefields.org>, the surprise attack at Paoli was on September 20, 1777. So I guess Ebenezer was a little off on his timeline as this occurred a month after he enlisted, not the next Spring. This is also know as the “Paoli Massacre” as it was a surprise attack by the British late at night on the camp of the Continental Army near Paoli Tavern in Pennsylvania.
Ebenezer’ statement continues: “That after the said surprise and defeat the Command of the Regiment was given to Col. Washington. That he continued in Washington’s Regiment of Cavalry until the end of the war.” This Colonel William Washington was second cousin to George Washington.
His 1820 statement indicates that he was “at Monks Corner,” which was a battle that took place on the outskirts of Charleston, SC, April 14, 1780. Again, the Loyalists and British undertook a surprise attack at 3 A.M. and most of the Continental forces were driven away. They lost their horses to the British in this battle. This led to the eventual British capture of Charleston.
He also stated he was at “the defeat of Buford.” Also known as “Buford’s Massacre,” this battle took place May 29, 1780, after the British had taken Charleston. Three columns of British soldiers easily overtook the single line of Continental forces near the North and South Carolina border. Again a British victory.
He was at “the battle of Cowpens,” which took place January 17, 1781 in South Carolina. This time the Continental troops formed 3 successive lines against the British attack. The Light Dragoons were sent to meet the British. It was considered the “most decisive American victory of the War for Independence.” The tide was turning for the Continental Army.
Then he stated he was at “the battle of Guilford.” This was the battle of Guilford Courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 15, 1781. General Charles Lord Cornwallis commanded the British forces. The Continental Army again formed 3 lines with the Light Dragoons in the 3rd line. While it was a British victory, they lost 25% of their troops and were unable to pursue the Continental forces. Cornwallis moved on to Virginia.
The next battle mentioned in Ebenezer’s statements was “the second battle of Camden,” which took place in South Carolina April 25, 1781. The British had already won a victory at this same spot in the Summer of 1780, and again were victorious.
The final battle mentioned is “the Battle of Eutaw Springs.” This took place near Charleston, SC on September 8, 1781. With this battle, the British eventually abandoned their position and withdrew to Charleston.
As mentioned earlier, Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781, thus ending the fighting. Ebenezer definitely saw the defeat and victory of war. I expect he matured quickly through those years. When he “was discharged on the Santee River in South Carolina” and returned home, he was still considered young at 22 years old.
According to the 1820 statement, Ebenezer obtained a pension certificate from the Secretary of War October 8, 1819. Certificate #15,306.
I’m not sure why he made the statement in 1820 when he had already received his certificate, perhaps he was petitioning for additional funds. Regardless his statement includes his financial status:
“…that he has no occupation but that of a farmer. And that although he is subject to the infirmities incident to his age, he still performs what labour he can on the farm. That having no land of his own, he has to depend on renting.”
He lists his personal property as:
“One mare and colt, and two other mares, five cows & calves, four two year old heifers, one yearling steer, Twenty seven head of sheep, twenty eight head of hogs, mostly small, two Bareshear ploughs, two pair of horse gear, three cleavers, two shovel ploughs & single trees, four old asses, five weeding hoes, two mattocks, one double tree, one handsaw & drawing knife, one auger, one large kettle, two pots, two ovens, two pot racks, one pair shovel & tongs, two pewter dishes, eighteen old pewter plates, fifteen delf[t] plates, five knives & forks, one set cups and saucers, one cream mug, one coffee pot, one sugar bowl, one set table spoons, four water pails, one rifle gun, one churn, nine old tea cups, one old saddle, one smoothing iron, & one iron wedge.”
He states he has debts amounting to $166.
Then for a family historian, the best bit of information, he lists the names and ages of all of his family members living in his household:
He lists his wife, Elizabeth, who is 55 years old. His five children living with him: Isaac, 17; Ebenezar, 15; Liddy, 13; Betsey, 11; and Vardeman, 9. He also had “two orphan grandchildren to raise,” Washington, 7 and Preston, 5. What a wealth of information! Finding names of family members from the 1820’s is difficult, as Census records only list the head of household and # of people in the household by age. Obviously, Ebenezer also had at least one more son not listed who had died, leaving the two grandchildren.
Additional paperwork in Ebenezer’s pension file confirmed that he did receive a pension of $8/month.
But that’s not the end of Ebenezer’s story. His file also contained an Application for Transfer, dated May 12, 1826.
Ebenezer requested to transfer his Pension payment from Lee County, Virginia to Blount County, Tennessee. He stated he had moved to Tennessee to be with his children, who had also moved there. Looking at the map, Lee County, Virginia is on the border with Tennessee, in the area of the Cumberland Gap. Blount County, Tennessee is just south of Knoxville, in Eastern Tennessee. Interestingly enough, when I did a search for Blount County, TN, I came across a picture of a memorial marker at the Blount County Courthouse in Maryville, TN.
The memorial was erected “In Memory of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution who Settled in Blount County.” Ebenezer’s name is listed on the back of the memorial.
On Ancestry.com, I found a little more information about Ebenezer. He was apparently awarded 100 acres of Bounty land in 1794 as this certificate confirms:
However, by 1820, he states he does not own any land. So perhaps he sold his bounty land to a speculator. I have not been able to find out any more information about the location of this land.
One final record from Ancestry.com was the Tennessee Pension Roll record showing that Ebenezer was entered to the Tennessee roll in March of 1826. His last payment is recorded as March 1838. This would indicate that Ebenezer passed away sometime between March and September of 1838, which is when the next entry would have been recorded.
According to the Find-a-Grave website <www.findagrave.com>, Ebenezer was buried in an unmarked grave at the Third Creek (Baptist) Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Per church records, he died April 24, 1838. He was 78 years old. It is also indicated that he was a charter member of the church.
So that’s the story of Ebenezer Minton, private in the Continental Army, Light Dragoons. One of the average citizens who as a young man helped found this country, the United States of America.
And how do I fit into the line of Pvt. Ebenezer Minton? He had a son, Ebenezer, Jr. (1805-1877). Ebenezer, Jr. had a daughter, Mariah (1846-1923). She married George Portis (1839-1916) & they had a daughter, Gertrude (1888-1967). Gertrude married Oscar McKinley (1887-1969), they were my Great-Grandparents. Ebenezer, Jr. and his family moved from Knoxville, to Wilbur, in Morgan County, Indiana.
© MJM 2020