Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Back in November of last year I wrote my first two posts here about
my 5x greatgrandfather Elisha Houghton, including one which told how
he lost his rifle in the aftermath of Bunker Hill. Looking over his service
record and the muster rolls for his regiment, it struck me he was a
colorful fellow and I decided to do a series transcribing his Pension
Request file. But the busy Christmas season at work and then my
illness at the start of the year postponed that.

Then last week I was thinking about what I might want to post about
here for the 4th of July and research once more piqued my interest in
Elisha.First there were the battles he took part in, and secondly there
was the fact he'd twice been a sergeant, and twice he'd been broken
back down to the ranks. Third, his pension request file is relatively
small compared to some of the others I have (My 4x great granduncle
Benjamin Barker's file, for example, has 86 images if I include the
service records and muster rolls.) and I thought I could write about it
in only a few blog entries.

As Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men so often go

So I began by looking over the service records, and then the muster rolls,
and this is the information they gave me in chronological order of Elisha
Houghton's military career with the Massachusetts 15th Regiment of the
Continental Army in a company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown:

1May 1777  enlists for 3 years
1Nov 1777 appointed Sgt
10Dec 1777  Sick at Albany.
Jan 1778 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
21Feb 1778 On command at Albany  Jan 1778
5Mar 1778 Sick in Albany Feb1778 Valley Forge
Apr 1778 Sick in camp March 1778 Valley Forge
2May 1778 On Guard Apr 1778 Valley Forge
2Jun 1778 Sgt May 1778 Valley Forge
25Sep 1779 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
1May 1780 discharged at"Camp near Robinson's Farm(?)"

(This doesn't include his previous service with the militia at Boston.)

Looking at this raised a question I hadn't considered before. I knew
what"on guard" meant  and of course "sick", but what did "on
command"mean?Not finding much information on my own I asked my
friends on Facebook if anyone knew what the term meant. I received
answers and suggestions from genealogist and non-genealogist friends
alike, and I finally decided that the best explanation was that Elisha
was either on a special detail or detached duty from his company
during those periods he was "on command".

There is of course more to explore about Elisha Houghton then I
originally thought, and that's what I'll be doing in honor of him and my
other Revolutionary War ancestors during this month of July.