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Revolutionary War

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            CHAPTER

                  VII

   The Revolutionary War

Great Britain mercilessly taxed the colonies without representation throughout the years. The colonies finally rebelled and declared for independence in 1776. The last court held under the authority of the King of Great Britain was May 1, 1776. The first court held under the authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia was held July 16, 1776. Local government functioned very much the same as it had previously.

There are many records of court entries for wills, deeds, trials, etc., during the period of the Revolutionary War, but there are not any records to be found telling of the raising of troops in any of the counties. Hening's "Statutes at Large," and records of the various Acts of Assembly of the Convention of the Commonwealth of Virginia, supply the only information of the raising of the Virginia troops.

According to an ordinance passed in July, 1775, Virginia was divided into military districts. Augusta, Albemarle, and two other counties, made up one district from which a battalion of five hundred men was to be raised. The battalion was to be divided into ten companies of fifty men each and were called 'minute men.' The men were from sixteen to fifty years of age. They were required to furnish their own arms and amunition. The ordinance stated that the men were to be trained for twelve days, twice each year, and were to be assembled in their home county four days each month, except during the winter months. George Mathews, of Augusta County, was Colonel and Charles Lewis, of Albemarle, was Lieutenant-colonel of the militia of 'minute men.'

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From the records we know that Colonel Charles Lewis was ordered to march his battalion of minute men to Fincastle County to participate in the Cherokee expedition upon the direction of the council in July, 1776. Michael O'Hair may have marched from Augusta County to Fincastle County, or he may have been recruited later in Fincastle County. However, we know that Michael O'Hair was one of the men who took an active part in that expedition because his name appeared on the list of men known to have actually participated in the Cherokee expedition.

The minute men were not considered to be a part of the regular army. They were a militia organization. The ordinance of July, 1775 also called for the raising of two regiments to be called the First and Second Regiments. A Convention held in December, 1775 ordered seven additional regiments of ten companies each, with sixty-eight men to each company. There were now a total of nine regiments. Augusta County was to have two captains, two first lieutenants and two second lieutenants. The county committees were to appoint their own officers. The officers were to recruit their own companies for the regular army by bounties, volunteers, and by drafts from the militia 'minute men.' The Ninth Regiment was for the protection of Accomac and Northampton counties across Chesapeake Bay. Only eight of the ten companies of the Ninth Regiment were raised in the vicinity they were assigned to protect. Virginia did not own enough arms to equip her troops, so each soldier brought his best gun and tomahawks, collecting twenty shillings a year as rental on his equipment. Each soldier was furnished with a hunting shirt, a pair of leggins, and binding for his hat. Pay for privates was one shilling and four pence per day. The men were enlisted for a two year period, starting April 1, 1776.          .

Thomas Fleming was Colonel of the Ninth Regiment. George Mathews of Augusta County was Lieutenant-Colonel. His commission was dated March 4, 1776. John Hays who lived at the foot of North Mountain in Augusta County, was commissioned March 16, 1776. Pay vouchers for John Hays indicate he was a recruiting officer. Michael O'Hair was probably recruited by Hays. Michael's first pay was drawn in December, 1776 for the months of November and December under Captain John Hays' company of the Ninth Virginia Regi-

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ment under the command of Colonel Thos. Fleming. The Ninth Regiment was originally intended for the protection of the eastern seashore of Virginia, but in December, 1776 the Ninth joined the main army. Colonel Thomas Fleming died and Lieutenant-Colonel George Mathews succeeded to the command of the Ninth on February 10, 1777. The pay voucher on Michael O'Hair's December, 1776 pay bears a notation across the bottom, "Next pay roll on file Apr. 1777." This indicates that the vouchers for the months of January, February and March for the company have been lost or destroyed and are not on file at the War Department. Michael's next pay voucher is for April, 1777. His pay vouchers continue to the month of October, 1777 where he is listed as being in Capt. John Hays' Co. in the 9th Virginia Regiment under the command of Colonel George Mathews. An undated list of names with a heading, "To be Deducted out of Capt. John Hays' pay Roll they Drawing pay in the Rifle Batalion," indicates Michael had been transferred to Morgan's Rifle Regiment of the Continental Troops. Although Michael was transferred to the Rifle Regiment in June or July, his name still appears on John Hays' payroll vouchers thru the month of October. Possibly someone else collected his pay until the error was noted. Photo copies of these pay vouchers are on file at the office of this writer. The Ninth Regiment fought at the Battle of Germantown. Col. Mathews and all of his men were captured by the British at Germantown on October 4, 1777. Michael had already been transferred to the Rifle Regiment when the Battle of Germantown was fought. The soldiers and officers of the Ninth Regiment were held prisoners at Long Island for three years. Colonel Mathews again entered the service in October, 1780 as Colonel of the Third Virginia Regiment at Staunton.

Michael O'Hair was assigned to Captain William Henderson's company in Colonel Daniel Morgan's rifle battalion in July, 1777. His first pay voucher in Captain Henderson's company is dated July, 1777. His name on the payroll was spelled O'Harro. His pay was six and two-thirds dollars per month and continued on for the months of August, September, October and November. In December, 1777 he was paid $20 for three months service plus an allowance of fifteen days for going home. Also in December, 1777 he received an extraordinary month's pay, given by authorization of the Honour-

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able Continental Congress. This extra pay was given in appreciation of the victory of the American army at the Battle of Saratoga. Michael's pay vouchers in Morgan's Rifle Regiment bear the notation: "This regiment was organized about June, 1777, and was composed of men selected from the army at large."

Daniel Morgan had been commissioned a Captain and commanded a company of riflemen under George Washington. Morgan accompanied Benedict Arnold to Quebec, and assumed command when Arnold was wounded. After an initial success Morgan was captured by the British and not exchanged until nearly a year afterward. Morgan was then given command of a Virginia regiment with the rank of colonel and took a prominent part in the campaign against John Burgoyne.1 General Washington had written a letter of recommendation to Congress, dated September 20, 1776, endeavoring to obtain the services of Morgan to command a rifle regiment, saying: "Captain Daniel Morgan, just returned among the prisoners from Canada, as a fit and proper person," and further wrote, "the States will gain a good and valuable officer for the sort of troops he is particularly recommended to command." After Morgan had been released by the British, he had returned to Virginia to join his wife and children. He did not receive notice until November of his appointment as "Colonel of the Eleventh Regiment of Virginia, in the Army of the United States, raised for the defense of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof." 3 Morgan had recruited 180 men and joined part of the army encamped at Morristown by April, 1777. The balance of his regiment of 500 was composed of men selected at large from other regiments of the army. General John Burgoyne, of the British army, had nearly a thousand Canadian and Indian fighters in his army composed of nearly ten thousand soldiers. Among the captains Morgan selected was William Henderson. Michael O'Hair drew his first pay as a member of Captain Henderson's Company in Colonel Daniel Morgan's Rifle Battalion in July, 1777. Michael was probably transferred from the Ninth Virginia Regiment of the army of the United States about June, 1777, not long after Morgan arrived at Morristown with his recruits from Virginia. Some of the more "genteel" officers did not approve of the new rifle regiment of frontiersmen, as evidenced in a letter of resignation

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written by Major Jacob Morris to General Washington, "in a regiment where the corps of officers are men of very low births and no educations. Men who I am very conscious are totally ignorant in military affairs...are to me capital objections." 4

Morgan and his riflemen were sent to the north to join the forces of Benedict Arnold, per Arnold's request to General Washington, in which he wrote, on July 27, 1777, of troops gathering northward in New York and expressed a desire to have Morgan's regiment join him, saying, "I think we should then be in a condition to see General Burgoyne with all his forces on any ground that they might choose." 5 Possibly another reason why Morgan and his men were sent north at that time was due to the fact that Burgoyne's marauding cruel Indians ran wild, looted and ravaged, to the terror of the white inhabitants. The sharpshooting frontiersmen of Morgan's Riflemen were happy to march north to combat the Indian opposition. This was a kind of fighting they well understood. Washington wrote to Morgan on August 16, 1777, "I know of no corps so likely to check their progress in proportion to its number, as that under your command. I have great dependence on you, your officers and men, and I am persuaded you will do honor to yourselves, and essential services to your country." 6

Most of Burgoyne's Indians resented his attempted restraint of their cruel activities and deserted. Nor did the Indians relish an encounter with the riflemen. The British and their allies complained that Morgan's riflemen fought Indian fashion, behind trees, behind stones, and not out in the open as they had been accustomed to fighting in Europe. Washington wrote to General Gates that he had great dependence on the corps of Morgan as a check against the savages, that he was on an equality with the enemy.

An English writer described Morgan thusly: "Daniel Morgan, that remarkable bushman and sharpshooter...had collected and was the leading spirit of a body of marksmen, perhaps at that time without compare in any part of the world. Morgan's huge frame and stature, his handsome features, his rough yet kindly demeanor and the glamor attached to his earlier adventures on the Indian borders, made of him an ideal scout master in a war of surprises, guerillas and snipers." 7

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General Gates had only taken over command of the northern army of the American forces in mid-August, 1777. According to several historians, Gates was unsure of his ability to succeed in the fracas against Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, as he was nicknamed. Gates wrote to Washington that he could not sufficiently thank the commander-in-chief enough for sending Colonel Morgan's corps, and that "They will be of the greatest service to it." 8 Gates wrote warmly to Morgan in August, 1777, of his happiness in having the riflemen in his command, "I had much satisfaction in being acquainted by General Washington of your marching for this department." 9

Morgan arrived at General Gates' camp August 23rd and learned that he and his riflemen were to be the advance guard of the northern forces. Gates told Morgan that the army, now numbering 6,000 men, was preparing to march towards Stillwater, south of Saratoga, the evening of September 8th. Morgan and his riflemen started the march a day ahead of the regular army in order to watch for any movement of the enemy. Gates told him, "You cannot be too careful in reconnoitering your front and gaining every possible knowledge of the ground and surrounding country." 10 Meanwhile, Burgoyne had come down from Canada following the Lake Champlain route, and crossed the Hudson River on a bridge of boats September 13th and 14th. The boats were later used for transport down the river. "Gates had advanced to Stillwater by September 8th, and to Bemis Heights four days later." 11 Burgoyne was now at Saratoga with his British forces numbering nearly ten thousand strong with a thirty day supply of provisions. Gates was at Bemis Heights where field works and other fortifications were erected by the American forces. Morgan had been ordered to a position in front of the American left flank, placing him between the two forces. The British master plan had been for three British forces to meet at Albany: Burgoyne moving south from Canada, Howe from New York City, and Barry St. Leger southeast from Lake Ontario. They had expected to cut off New England from the other states. St. Leger suffered a defeat which was undoubtedly bad news to Burgoyne, but he still depended upon being joined by Howe's forces. Howe didn't come to his assistance and later claimed that he had never received orders to join Burgoyne's forces, but this has never been

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proven in history.

Most of Burgoyne's Indian allies had deserted by the time they were needed. The morning of September 19th was heavy with fog which added to Burgoyne's difficulty in determining the location of the American forces without his Indian-scouts; however, he could hear sounds of American activity. Burgoyne confidently issued orders for his forces to advance in three columns across Freeman's Farm, while the British General Fraser moved thru woods to the right and a second column advanced from the riverside. The plan was to drive the Americans into the river. The strategy was excellent, but it failed to succeed. Morgan moved northward from his position on the American left flank and divided his forces in an attempt to pinpoint the enemy. Morgan and a company of his men waited at the edge of Freeman's Farm in the uncleared woodland. Burgoyne's infantry was in orderly formation near Freeman's house by 1:00 p.m. The riflemen responded to Morgan's homemade turkey - call signal and aimed at the glitter adorning the uniforms of the redcoat officers. All the officers except one fell, as well as many men of the ranks. Morgan was "the first on the battlefield and the last to leave it."12 Morgan's riflemen overconfidently left the shelter of the woods and started across the clearing, intent on more fighting. The British General, Fraser, rushed in from the right and joined the main body of Burgoyne's army. The riflemen were forced to run helter-skelter back into the woods. The riflemen were scattered. An aide to General Gates wrote in his memoirs, "Returning to camp to report to the general, my ears were saluted by an uncommon noise, when I approached, and perceived Colonel Morgan, attended by two men only, and who with a turkey-call was collecting his dispersed troops..." 13 Morgan's riflemen responded to the turkey-call and regrouped into a thin line, sheltered by trees and underbrush. Another signal from the turkey-call told them to commence their fire upon the redcoats who were in close formation. Again they aimed at the glittering uniforms of the officers. Burgoyne later commented: "The enemy had with their army great numbers of marksmen, armed with rifle-barrel pieces; these, during an engagement, hovered upon the flanks in small detachments, and were very expert in securing themselves in high trees in the rear of their own lines, and there was seldom a minute's interval of smoke, in any

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part of our lines, without officers being taken off by a single shot." 14

British Sergeant Lamb wrote: "Here the conflict was dreadful; for four hours a constant blaze of fire was kept up...Men and particularly officers dropped every moment on each side. Several of the Americans placed themselves in high trees, and as often as they could distinguish a British officer's uniform, took him off by deliberately aiming at his uniform." 15

The British officers had been accustomed to an entirely different kind of fighting in Europe. They had previously fought on open ground and were inexperienced in fighting an enemy they could not see, riflemen who kept themselves well hidden. Morgan and his men were definitely the heroes of the day. They held off the whole British center with only two American corps. General Benedict Arnold finally brought reinforcements into the battle by 4:00 p.m. The fighting continued until the second British column came from the riverside to supplement the weakened British forces. The Americans were then forced to withdraw. Darkness brought an end to the fighting for both of the exhausted armies. "The Americans had lost 319, killed, wounded or missing. The British lost about 600 that day of the 1,100 who faced the men of Morgan." 16

After the battle on the 18th, Burgoyne believed he was up against an army of twelve thousand. His own army was badly shot up, and he had no word of any relief from New York. Burgoyne did not get any reinforcements from Howe in New York. Howe was busy at that time engaged in battles with General Washington. Morgan's help was needed by Washington at that time to reinforce his army near Philadelphia. Washington had written to Gates suggesting that he send Morgan. Gates replied to Washington on October 5th, "Since the action of the 18th, the enemy have kept the ground they occupied the morning of that day, and fortified their camp...neither side have given ground an inch. In this situation, your Excellency would not wish me to part with the corps the army of General Burgoyne are most afraid of." 17 Meanwhile Burgoyne's troubles were not decreasing by any means. He waited three weeks for the reinforcements that never came. The Earl of Harrington, when asked in 1779 in Parliament whether such a delay was necessary, said that all

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the work on redoubts was necessary, explaining that the British were in inferior numbers, and that the army was working all that time. While the enemy forces were engaged working on redoubts, Morgan's riflemen were perched high in trees where they could easily sight into the British camp and further increase the British casualty list. The enemy rations were growing short. The men were cold, wet and hungry. They didn't dare to light fires and further light the way for Morgan's deadly sharpshooting. While Burgoyne's men suffered, it was reported that he spent much time "singing, drinking and amusing himself with the wife of a commissary." 18 Canadians, Indians and Tories were deserting Burgoyne daily. Meanwhile Gates' army was reinforced by 4,000 New England militia. Gates now had almost twice as many men as Burgoyne.

At noon, October 7th, Burgoyne struck desperately at the American left wing. Upon learning of the impending attack, Gates asked his aide, Wilkinson, about the lay of ground and his opinion of the situation. Wilkinson answered, "Their front is open and their flank rests on woods, under cover of which they may be attacked; their right is skirted by a lofty height; I would indulge them." 19 Gates then told his aide to order Morgan to begin the game. After Wilkinson delivered the order, he said of Morgan, "He knew the ground and inquired the position of the enemy. They were formed across a newly cultivated field...Colonel Morgan with his usual sagacity proposed to make a circuit with his corps by our left, and under cover of the wood to gain the height on the right of the enemy and from thence commence the attack, so soon as our fire should be opened against their left. The plan was the best that could be devised, and no doubt, contributed essentially to the prompt and decisive victory we gained. This proposition was approved by the general, and it was concerted that time should be allowed the colonel to make the proposed circuit and gain his station on the enemy's right before the attack should be made on their left. Poor's brigade was ordered for this service, and the attack was commenced in due season on the flank and front of the British grenadiers, by the New York and New Hampshire troops. True to his purpose, Morgan at this critical moment, poured down like a torrent from the hill and attacked the right of the enemy in front and flank." 20 By the middle of

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the afternoon the British loss was great. The quarters were so close that fighting was now either with bayonet or hand to hand.

Benedict Arnold and Gates had quarreled. It was said that Gates had showered more praise upon Morgan than upon Arnold in the battle at Freeman's Farm on September 19th. Arnold had been relieved of his command and proposed to leave Gates and join Washington. Meanwhile, however, Arnold remained in his quarters and occasionally rode his horse. The exciting sounds of battle were more than Arnold could stand. He mounted his horse and rode into the battle. His former regiment cheered when they spotted Arnold on the big horse. He led the regiment into battle but was repulsed. The British General, Fraser, was handling his line much too well, and must be stopped. Morgan's riflemen concentrated on stopping him. Before Fraser died he told that he had seen a rifleman in a tree shoot the fatal bullet. After Fraser and other officers were stopped, the British enthusiasm for battle waned. Arnold and Morgan charged against a British redoubt, forcing the British to start a general retreat toward Ticonderoga. Arnold was wounded in the leg. Gates reported to Congress a 'warm and bloody' conflict from which the enemy retreated, leaving tents, baggage and brass cannon. Great praise was due," he wrote, "to Morgan and his rifle regiment." 21 Gates' forces had grown to 20,000 men by this time. It did not take the army long to surround Burgoyne's weakened forces, now numbering 4,991 according to the count by Wilkinson, on file at the Library of Congress. Negotiations were started for surrender terms. Refusing Gates' demand for unconditional surrender, Burgoyne secured what is known as the Convention of Saratoga. Arms were to be given up, but the army was to be returned to England and not to serve again during the war...the arrangements were completed, and mutually signed October 17, 1777. 22 When General Burgoyne was introduced to Morgan during the surrender, Burgoyne said to Morgan, "Sir, you command the finest regiment in the world." 23

After the formal surrender an aide dispatched orders to Morgan, saying the general wished Morgan and the riflemen to parade the next day. The riflemen must have felt very proud as they cleansed the grime of battle from their buckskin clothing and made ready for the parade. They probably

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did not realize that their participation in the Battle of Saratoga would be recorded in the annals of history. The next day the riflemen, including Michael O'Hair, stood straight and erect in their parade line as the general mounted his horse and reviewed the regiment. Gates personally tendered his thanks to the brave sharpshooting men and said he was indebted to them for the honour of the victory.                                            .

Captain William Henderson took command of his company in Colonel Daniel Morgan's regiment on or about the first of June, 1777. From that date on, the record of Morgan's Rifle Regiment reveals the record of Henderson's Company of which Michael O'Hair was a member. Captain Henderson served in the Ninth Virginia Regiment. A record of his service is on file at the Virginia State Capital. In connection with an application for pension, certain sworn statements were filed at the Office of Record of Claims of the State of Virginia at the State Capital in 1824. Such statements are interesting because they tell of the formation of the regiment, the march to join Gates, and of the regiment parade after the surrender. Such statements throw some new light on the record of Captain William Henderson's Company and Daniel Morgan's Regiment; therefore, they are included here:

                                            Req. C 9088,

                                            Rejected Claims,

                                            William Henderson (Capt.) 1830.

                                                                                  )

               State of Kentucky, Jessemine County to wit  )

                                                                                  )

This day Col. Joseph Crockett personally appeared before me John Downing - a Justice of the Peace for the County aforesaid and made oath that he was appointed Capt. in the month of January 1776 in the 7th Virginia Regiment on the Continental line commanded by Col. Alexander McCloinahan and that some time in the four part of the year 1777 their was an arrangement made for a particular Regiment to be vacated (riflemen) termed light infantry to which Daniel Morgan was appointed Col. Commandent - and the said Morgan had the privilege of making a choice and selecting any of the officers belonging to the other Regiments to fill

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his said Regiment and that some time in the four part of the summer 1777, Col. Daniel Morgan selected Capt. William Henderson out of some one of the Virginia Regiments on the continental line (the number not recollected) he having had the appointment of Capt. before such selection and put him at the head of a Company under him the said Col. Daniel Morgan and that he the said Joseph Crockett was also selected to serve under Col. Daniel Morgan at the same time that Capt. William Henderson was and Col. Daniel Morgan's Regiment was ordered to march up the North River to join General Horatio Gate's army at Still Water and said Regiment remained under General Gates untill the surrender of the British Army and the next day after the surrender Genl. Gates ordered Col. Daniel Morgan's Regiment to be Paraded and he road in frunt and tendered them his thanks and said he was indebted to their little Corps for all of his honorrs and Capt. William Henderson continued to serve as Capt. in the Regiment as aforesaid untill late in the fall 1778 - at which time the Regiments was very much reduced and he the said Joseph Crockett became a Major and that he left the said Capt. William Henderson in the service of the United States commanding as Capt.

                                            (signed)   Joseph Crockett

Sworn and subscribed to before me and I certify that I well know the above Col. Joseph Crockett to be a man of credibility and truth. Given under my hand this 21st October 1824.

                                           (signed) John Downing J. P.

State of Kentucky Jassamine County

 

I Daniel B. Price Clerk of the Court for the County aforesaid do hereby certify that John Downing, Esq. whose name is subscribed to the within certificate is and was at the time of signing the same an acting Justice of the Peace in and for the

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County aforesaid duly commissioned and qualified as such and that full faith and credit is and ought to be given to all his acts as such in testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the seal of my office this 21st day of October 1824, and in the 33rd year of the Commonwealth.

 

                                (signed)      Danl B. Price 

                                                                            )

              State of Kentucky Franklin County to wit  )

                                                                            )

This day Anthony Crockett personally appeared before me James McBrayer, a Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid and made oath that he was acquainted with Capt. William Henderson represented by Col. Joseph Crockett in said Regiment of Col. Daniel Morgan from early in the spring of 1777 untill late in the fall of the same year at which time he the said Anthony Crockett was discharged from the service and that as well as he recollects William Henderson was selected a Capt. from some one of the Virginia Regiments on the Continental Line and put at the head of a company in Col. Morgan's Regiment.

 

                                (signed) Anthony Crockett

 

Sworn and subscribed to before me and I certify that Anthony Crockett is a credible witness given under my hand this 3rd day of December 1824.

 

                                (signed) Ja. McBrayer J. P.

                                                                   )

     State of Kentucky Franklin County to wit  )

                                                                   )

This day John Porter personally appeared before me James McBrayer, a Justice of the Peace for the County aforesaid and made oath that he was one of the men who belong to Capt. William Henderson's Company in Col. Daniel Morgan's Rifle Regiment and served under him from June, 1777 untill

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February 1778 at which time he was Discharged from the service and left him in the service commanding as Capt. and as well as he can recollect he thinks that Joseph Crockett's statement is correct - and he is of the opinion that Capt. William Henderson was selected from the ninth Virginia Regiment on the Con't line commanded by Col. Sampson Mathews at the time of such selection.
 

                                  (signed)            John    Porter


Sworn and subscribed to before me and I certify that John Porter is a credible witness whose testimony is entitled to full credit given under my hand this 3rd day of December 1824.

 

                                  (signed) James McBrayer J.P.

 

I Alexander H. Rennich Clerk of the Franklin County Court do certify that James McBrayer gentleman who hath signed his name to the foregoing certificate, was at the time and still is a justice of the peace in and for the County and State aforesaid duly commissioned and qualified and so all his acts as such and faith and credit is vouched for.

 

                                               ******

Although the two battles comprising the Battle of Saratoga were fought at Freeman's Farm and Bemis Heights, they derive their name because the surrender was signed at Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga virtually ended the war in the north and later proved to be the crucial turning point of the entire war. The British were forced to change their strategy and direct further attacks in the south which lead to their final defeat. Burgoyne's capitulation was the first of the victorious battles. The Battle of Saratoga is credited with bringing France into the war as an ally. Without the help of France, especially the French fleet, the Revolution could not have been won. Morgan and his men deserve the everlasting thanks and gratitude of all the American people.

General Washington needed heavy reinforcements and

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requested Gates to join him at Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania. Gates sent Morgan and the riflemen in response to that request. Morgan received his orders on November 1, 1777, to march his men to Whitemarsh. After waiting two weeks for heavy reinforcements from Gates, General Washington dispatched his aide, Col. Alexander Hamilton, to go to Gates with a specific request for heavy reinforcements. Hamilton was told by Washington that if he met Colonel Morgan on the way to "let him know how essential their services are to us and to ask Colonel Morgan to hasten his march as much as is consistent with the health of his men, after their late fatigues." 24 Morgan and his riflemen, including Michael O'Hair, marched from Saratoga and arrived at Whitemarsh, November 18th. They were immediately given orders to accompany Lafayette to Fort Mercer. Morgan was now forty-three years old and had sciatica. Most of the riflemen either were sick or without sufficient clothing. There were only about 160 of the riflemen healthy enough and with enough clothing, especially shoes, to endure another march. Fort Mercer had withstood a British attack October 22nd. Howe had ordered the British General, Cornwallis, to take Fort Mercer. Cornwallis departed from Philadelphia November 17th on his mission. Lafayette and the riflemen arrived at Fort Mercer too late to participate in the battle. The fort had already been evacuated November 20th, unable to combat the overwhelming forces of the enemy. The riflemen had to content themselves with a small attack on some Hessian soldiers. The American commander of the fort, Col. Greene, later told Washington that "Lafayette was charmed with the spirited behavior of the militia and riflemen...I never saw men so merry, so spirited, and so desirous to go on to the enemy, whatever force they might have, as that small party in this fight." 25

Morgan and his men took part in a skirmish, along with the Maryland militia, against Howe's forces at Chestnut Hill. That battleground was located south of Washington's quarters at Whitemarsh, and north of Philadelphia, where Howe was encamped. The riflemen put up a good fight, but had to retreat when the Marylanders defected.

Washington established his winter headquarters at Valley Forge, a distance of only thirteen miles from Whitemarsh. Valley Forge was backed by the Schuylkill River and

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fronted by steep hills. Washington immediately set about fortifying the new camp. In addition to the impregnable terrain, the camp had been selected so that the activities of British foraging parties might be checked. Morgan and his men were assigned the duty of intercepting supplies going into the enemy headquarters at Philadelphia. The supply line into Valley Forge was broken down. Provisions could not be brought in by the sea route from Philadelphia, the enemy headquarters. Men yoked themselves to provision wagons like beasts of burden because their horses had died of starvation. Morgan's men were no exception to the famished condition of the American forces. Morgan told Washington of his scouting men, "They straggle at such a rate that if the enemy were enterprising, they might get two from us, when we would take one of them, which makes me wish General Howe would go on, lest any incident happen to us." 26

Food was almost non-existant. Starved men deserted, trying to make their way homeward. At Christmas nearly three thousand men were without shoes and clothing. By February the number had grown to four thousand. "Lafayette, who had joined Washington's staff, reported of the soldiers that 'their feet and legs froze until they grew black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.' Woe to the soldier whose fortune it was to go to one of the Valley Forge hospitals, a rough hut like the one he lived in, where he lay without proper medicines, diet, or even covering, side by side with dying and sometimes even dead men." 27

Morgan did not spend the dreadful winter at Valley Forge. His sciatic condition had worsened as the winter days grew colder. He was granted leave to recuperate at his home in Virginia, and did not return to Valley Forge until Spring. In his absence, the riflemen were placed under the command of Major Thomas Posey who had been one of his lieutenants from the beginning of the regiment. Morgan often granted his men time off for a visit home when they could be spared. He had found this to be an excellent way to combat desertion. Furloughs did not become general practice until the following winter when they were offered as a means of enlisting men and inducing others to re-enlist. Bounties were then offered as a means of encouraging enlistments. News of France's recognition of the Independence of the United States was not received until the end of April, 1778.

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The news brought rejoicing throughout the country. During the summer of 1778, Morgan was promoted to the temporary command of a brigade (a unit comprising two or more regiments) while the regular commander was on sick leave. The following January of 1779, pay records reveal that Morgan was in command of the 7th Regiment at Camp Middlebrook. Morgan resigned his command in July, 1779. His sciatic condition was bad again. He had also learned that the command of a new light troop of infantry, which he especially coveted, was being given to another. Morgan remained at his home in Frederick County, Virginia, until the Fall of 1780, when he was induced to join Gates in the Southern battles. The Articles of Confederation at that time did not make it mandatory for a person to fight in the Revolution. Some of the states had requirements and draft laws, but even those had frequent expiration dates. It is amazing that there was even any kind of an army maintained with which to win the war.

War Department records reveal that Michael O'Hair drew pay in Captain William Henderson's Company of Colonel Daniel Morgan's detached rifle battalion from July 1, 1777 to March 1, 1778. His last pay voucher, dated December 1, 1777 states, "from December 1, 1777 to the expiration of his service for a total of three months at 6 2/3 dollars per month, total pay of twenty dollars with an allowance of 15 days for going home." From this information it would be reasonable to conclude that Michael left for his trip home on or about March 1, 1778. Michael also received an extra month's pay of 6 2/3 dollars in December, 1777. This extra pay was given by the Honourable Continental Congress for extraordinary service to be paid to the members of Colonel Morgan's Rifle Corps, in appreciation of their gallant victory in the Battle of Saratoga. It can be assumed that Michael O'Hair arrived home near Fincastle, in Botetourt County, Virginia about the first of April, 1778.

Michael remained in Botetourt County until he reenlisted in the Illinois Regiment under the command of George Rogers Clark. His presence at that location is revealed by entries in the Order Books of Botetourt County, in Order Book #5, covering the entries from 1776 - 1780. These entries cover the proceedings of a trial between Michael and William Preston.

K R O'Hair PAGE-125

Page 61                           8 Sept. 1778

William Preston                  pl

      against                          In Case

Michael OHair                    df

 

James McDonald and Archibald Kyle

Special Bail and special imparlance.

 

Page 91                           9 Sept. 1778

William Preston                  pl

      against                         In Attendance

Michael OHair                    df

                                   

James Ritchey and James Ohair special

Bails and special imparlance.

 

Page 132                         11 November 1778

William Preston                 pl

      against                         In Attendance

Michael Ohair                   df

Non detinet and issue.

 

Page 196                         11 March 1779

William Preston                  pl

    against                          In  Case

Michael Ohair                    df

 

A commission is granted the defendant to take depositions of Charles, Elizabeth and Sarah Burks.

 

Page 196                          11 March 1779

Ordered that Michael Ohair pay unto Elizabeth Burks and Sarah Burks one hundred pounds of tobacco for four days attendance as witness for him at the suit of William Preston.

 

Page 198                          11 March 1779

Ohair at the suit of Preston leave is granted the defendant to take the deposition of Patrick Lockhart.

 

K R O'Hair PAGE-126

 

Page 268                         13 Aug. 1779

William Preston                  Pl

       against                         In Case

Michael Ohair                    df

This day came the parties by their attorney's and thereupon came also a jury (to wit) William McNeely, Robert Caldwell, William Frazier, Thomas Welsh, Uriah Humphries, Alexander Huntley, John Robinett, John Drake, Jonah Phipps, John Johnson, William Kyle and Ebenezer Titus who being elected, tried and sworn Returned a verdict for the defendant and on the prayer of the plaintiff by his attorney a new trial is granted him on his paying the costs of this day.

 

Page 329                        12 Nov. 1779

William Preston                 pl

     against

Michael Ohair                   df

Issue waived and suit dismissed.

 

Page 333                         12 Nov. 1779

William Preston                  pl

     against

Michael Ohair                    df

This suit was discontinued plaintiffs cost.

                              *****

The trial listed on page 91 of Order Book No.5, dated September 9, 1778, reveals that a James O'Hair was one of the persons who signed Michael O'Hair's bond. There is no record or information that could be found to identify this James O'Hair. Because of the spelling of his name, he might have been a relative. Perhaps he was Michael's father or brother. His name is not found on the War Department records, which indicates that he might have been an older man and did not participate in the war. However, Michael's name on the War Department records, as well as many of the local records, appeared in many different spellings, such as:

K R O'Hair PAGE-127

O'Hair, O'Hara, Oharah, Oharow and O'Harro. There could have been a mistake made when the name O'Hara was entered on records and some of the old records of people of these various spellings may have been members of the O'Hare family. In Ireland the families of O'Hara and O'Hare came from different parts of Ireland and were not related. In Virginia the names appear to have become mixed up.

The Battle of Cowpens was fought in South Carolina on January 17, 1781. Part of Morgan's command consisted of Virginia riflemen, and at least two companies were from Augusta County, commanded by Captain James Tate and Captain Buchanan. There are not any War Department records or State of Virginia records to indicate that Michael O'Hair was a member of either of the two companies from Augusta County. Michael could not possibly have participated in any of the southern battles, because he was elsewhere when the southern battles were fought. In fact, it will be seen further on in this story that at that time Michael was in the Illinois Regiment in Captain John Rogers' Company, in Kentucky, under the command of General George Rogers Clark.