Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I was able to find Elisha Houghton's service records and muster rolls on
the website (Now the Fold3 website). This is the information
they gave me in chronological order of his  military career with the
Massachusetts 15th Regiment of the Continental Army in a company
commanded by Captain Joshua Brown. I've added three battles that
Elisha says in his pension file he was present at:

1May 1777  enlists for 3 years
19Sep 1777 Battle of Stillwater
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
28Jun 1778 Battle of Monmouth
29Aug 1778 Battle of Newport

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.)

Elisha seems to have had a tumultuous time in the army. He was made
a sergeant, busted down into the ranks as a private, regained his
original rank, and then was busted down again where he stayed until
he was mustered out of the army. So far I haven't been able to find
out what caused his reduction of rank twice. Was he a discipline
problem? Many of the New England natives who'd joined the
Continental Army were used to the less formal discipline of the
their own militia. Unless Elisha did something notable enough to
make the journal of one of his officers I may never find out what
he did.  

In an earlier post on Elisha in 2009 I raised a question about terms.
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". Fellow blogger Susan
Clark of Nolichucky Roots sent me a link to a Google ebook that seems
to confirm my theory:

"The term "on command," as given on the published returns of the
Revolutionary Army, is understood to be equivalent to the term
"on detached service," as used at the present day, and the number
 of men so reported should be included with the number of "
present and fit for duty" to determine the effective force of the Army. . ."

((A letter from Col F.C. Ainsworth, quoted in The Scotch-Irish:
Or, The Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America, Volume 1

by Charles Augustus Hanna,  G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1902, p.7))

So that's an overview of Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War service
before I start the transcription of his pension file. But first there's another
matter I need to clear up, involving a mistake I made about the identity
of Elisha's wife.

1 comment:

Diane B said...

Very interesting Bill. Not being much of a military buff I had never heard of Stillwater til I saw my own ancestor was there. I'll look forward to seeing the pension record. I was thinking, the drop down to private in Dec could have been due to the illness, and unfitness for command due to that.