Item #8519 John Gray, of Mount Vernon; The Last Soldier of the Revolution. James McCormick Dalzell.
John Gray, of Mount Vernon; The Last Soldier of the Revolution.

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

John Gray, of Mount Vernon; The Last Soldier of the Revolution.

Washington, D.C.: Gibson Brothers, printers, 1868. 8vo (8.75” x 5.7”), printed red wrappers. 64 pp. Ownership inscription on front-wrapper, “A. W. Denison,” who may be the Civil War veteran Andrew Woods Denison (1831–1877). CONDITION: Very good, a few minor black ink stains, light creasing, a few tiny chips, light toning, and light rubbing to wrappers; contents bright and clean, light wear.

An account of the supposed last surviving veteran of the Revolutionary War, published in the year he died.

Born near Mount Vernon, Virginia, John Gray (1764–1868) was confirmed a veteran and awarded a pension of $500 semi-annually by Congress in 1866. Dalzell conducted research on Gray’s behalf to promote his legacy. His account embraces a range of materials, including various poems he wrote about Gray and other military themes (“Birthday Ode on the Last Soldier of the Revolution,” “The Veterans Begging,” “The Mother’s Prayer for Her Soldier Boys,” “The Army in Heaven,” etc.); correspondence between Dalzell and others on the subject of Gray; a poem on Gray by J. Wickliffe Jackson; a copy of Gray’s will; articles and letters to the editor by Dalzell that were published in various Ohio newspapers; and “Gray’s opinions on various subjects.” Dalzell writes that “[Gray] told me himself that the first day he ever worked…was at Mount Vernon, for George Washington. Just think of that!”

As of the Fall of 1867, following the death of Samuel Downing in New York, Gray was believed by the Bureau of Pensions of the U.S. Department of the Interior to be the last surviving veteran of the Revolutionary Army. Gray’s claim depended on the failure of his competitors Daniel F. Bakeman and George Fruits (the former died a year after Gray, and the latter died several years after him) to prove service during the war. 

Gray joined the Revolutionary Army at age sixteen in 1780 and was present at the Battle of Yorktown. After the war, he moved to the Northwest Territory and lived out most of his life in Noble County, Ohio. Married three times, he fathered at least four children. He died at the age of 104 in the vicinity of Hiramsburg, in Noble County, Ohio in 1868. Gray’s father John Gray Sr. also fought in the war and was killed in the Battle of White Plains. 

Born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, James M. Dalzell was a lawyer, journalist, and member of the Irving Lyceum in Washington D.C. 

REFERENCES: “On This Day in History January 6, 1764 John Gray, last living veteran of the American Revolution, is born” at Revolutionary War and Beyond online.

Item #8519

Price: $450.00

See all items in Rare Books
See all items by