Item #8485 A Return for the State Store of the Men left at the Hutts of the 7th Regt. Corporal Cleveland, osiah.
A Return for the State Store of the Men left at the Hutts of the 7th Regt.

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A Return for the State Store of the Men left at the Hutts of the 7th Regt.

[Morristown, New Jersey,] 15 June 1780. 2 pp. in ink on single sheet of rag paper, 6” x 7.25”. Docketed on verso. CONDITION: Very good, light chipping to margins, old folds, a few minor ink stains, no losses to the text.

A scarce Revolutionary War manuscript return including the names of two women who were camp followers, one of whom was accompanied by four children, and both of whom were evidently the wives of privates listed and named here.

Gen. George Washington’s encampment in Morristown, New Jersey in the winter of 1779–80 spanned some six months (December 1, 1779–June 22, 1780). Located between New York and Philadelphia, Morristown was a strategic location for Washington’s Army to make camp. The town was a center for local farming, mining, and timber, which would later provide the Army with necessary resources to build winter shelters. 

Documents that name camp followers or women with the army are exceedingly scarce, and these small returns are often more illuminating than the large aggregate ones which simply detail the number of women receiving rations from the army. The eight men listed here variously belonged to the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 9th Companies of the 7th Connecticut Regiment: Corporal J[osiah]. Cleveland, Derias Calkins, Samuel Smith, Phineas Lake, Thomas Hall, John Tozer, James Nichols, and Stephen Babisson. Following these are the names “Mrs. Nichols of the 4[th] Company” and “Mrs. Culver and 4 children [of the] 5[th] Company.” It is noted that a total of thirteen individuals (not including Josiah Cleveland) are “at the Hutt” of the 7th Regiment as of June 15, 1780. On the verso is the note: “Rec’d of John Barnes Comsa for the use of the within 18 lb. Sugar, 9 lb. Coffee for which we paid 36 Shilling.” The verso is also docketed, “Q.M. [i.e., Quartermaster] 7th Regt. No. R 9—Deliv[ere]d 18 Sug[ar]. 9 Coff[ee]. Paid 36 S[hilling].”

Mrs. Culver was likely Connecticut-born Phebe Culver, the wife of Aaron Culver (1749–1833), who was born in Litchfield, Connecticut and served as a private in the 7th Connecticut Regt., 5th Company (Capt. Titus’ Company), after enlisting in May 1777 for three years of service. He also fought in the 2nd Regiment, Capt. Chamberlain’s Company, from January 1, 1781 to December 31, 1781. 

Mrs. Nichols is likely Jemima Morris Nichols (ca. 1742–1807), the wife of James Nichols, IV (1741–1816), who was born in Reading, Massachusetts. James married Jemima in Worcester in 1763. Jemima was born at New Roxbury, Connecticut and had some five children with James. In 1777, Nichols entered military service as a private in Col. William Williams’s Vermont Regiment of Militia, Capt. John Petty’s Company. In 1777, Nichols served as a Sergeant of Capt. Josiah Boyden’s Company in Williams’s Regiment on an expedition to Bennington, Vermont. In 1781, Nichols served as a private in Col. Fletcher’s Vermont Battalion, Capt. Josiah Fish’s Company, until the end of the campaign in 1781. Nichols died in 1816 at North Afton, New York, where Jemima also died, in 1807. 

Born in Canterbury, Connecticut, Captain Josiah Cleveland (1753–1843) served as a Sergeant and a Corporal during the Revolutionary War. Remaining in the army throughout the Revolution, Cleveland fought at Bunker Hill, Harlem Heights, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, and Yorktown. In 1843, at 90 years old, he journeyed some 500 miles from home to be present at the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument. He died two weeks after that celebration in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

“Camp followers in the Continental Army served a critical role in the day-to-day functions of the American revolutionary cause. By the winter of 1777, around two thousand women marched with American troops and worked as seamstresses, nurses, and cooks. In many cases, women who followed the army were widows, runaway servants, or those who faced poverty because of the war. The wives of high-ranking officers, including Martha Washington, also accompanied their husbands at winter encampments. Though they supported the operations of the military, camp followers were often disparaged for taking a share of the already meager resources of the Continental Army…Washington was irritated with the influx of camp followers, asserting in his August 1777 general orders that ‘the multitude of women in particular, especially those who are pregnant, or have children, are a clog upon every movement…’ Though sometimes considered by Washington as a hindrance on war efforts, women who accompanied the Continental Army served an important role in the daily operations of camp life.”—Mount Vernon online.

REFERENCES: Johnston, Henry P., editor. Record of the Service of Connecticut Men In the War of the Revolution… (Hartford, Connecticut: The Adjutant-General of Connecticut, 1889), p. 218; “Camp Followers” at Mount Vernon online; “James Nichols, IV” at Geni online; “Capt Josiah Cleveland” and “Jemima Morris” at Find a Grave online.

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