Brief Letter Dated June 13, 1776 from Samuel Tredwell Pell of Pelham Manor and Others to General George Washington
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The letter that is the subject of today's Historic Pelham Blog posting may be brief, but what a powerful story it tells about the valor and dedication of our forefathers as they struggled to gain independence from Great Britain during revolutionary times.
On June 13, 1776, Samuel Tredwell Pell of the Manor of Pelham joined with four other junior commissioned officers and wrote to the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington, and asked to be deployed on behalf of the Patriots' "cause."
Samuel Tredwell Pell was a resident of the Manor of Pelham. I have written about this noted Patriot, who is buried nearby in the cemetery of St. Paul's Church National Historic Site, on several occasions. For example, see: Thu., Oct. 12, 2006: Biographical and Genealogical Information Regarding Revolutionary War Officer Samuel Tredwell Pell of the Manor of Pelham.
Samuel T. Pell was born in the Manor of Pelham on July 26, 1755. He enlisted in the Continental Army in the Spring of 1775. He served as an officer in the Fourth Regiment of New-York troops during the unsuccessful campaign to capture Canada and convert it to the 14th colony. After that campaign, the Fourth Regiment was disbanded, but the officers retained their commissions which remained in effect unless revoked by the Continental Congress. Early in the Revolutionary War, Pell and several other officers of the disbanded Fourth Regiment wanted to serve the Patriots' cause. Less than a month before the Declaration of Independence was approved, Pell and his colleagues wrote the following letter to General Washington, seeking deployment in support of the cause.
"New-York, June 13, 1776.
SIR: Permit us, the officers of the Fourth Regiment of the New-York troops that have served in Canada, to address you at this time. Our regiment is disbanded — our commissions are in force until revoked by Congress. We have applied to the Congress of this Province, and they refer us to your Excellency for orders in what manner to proceed. We are still willing to exert ourselves in the service of our country, and think the unparalleled hardships that we have undergone in Canada must be a convincing proof that we are disposed to exert ourselves to the utmost in the cause we are engaged in.
Your directions will be acknowledged by your Excellency' s most obedient, humble servants,
SAMUEL SACKETT, Captain.
SAMUEL T. PELL, Lieut.
ISAAC VAN WART, Lieut.
WM. MATTHEWSMAN, Lieut.
JAMES Dow, Lieut.
To His Excellency George Washington, Esq.,Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army."
Source: "Letter from Captain Sackett and Other Officers of the Fourth New-York Regiment to General Washington" in American Archives, Series 4, Vol. 6, p. 840.
Although it took time, the requests of most of these officers were honored. According to one source:
"All of these officers had served in Canada during the previous fall and winter with Col. James Holmes's 4th New York Regiment. Three of them received appointments when the New York line was reorganized in November 1776. Samuel Sacket (1724-1780) of Westchester County became a captain in Col. Henry Beekman Livingston's 4th New York Regiment. Samuel Tredwell Pell (d. 1786) was made a captain in col. Philip Van Cortlandt's 2d New York Regiment, and Isaac Van Wart (Van Woert, Van Wert; 1750-1840) of Westchester County joined Van Cortlandt's regiment as a first lieutenant. Sacket remained a captain in the 4th New York until his death in April 1780 (see Sacket to the New York council of safety, 28 June 177, N. Y. Prov. Congress Journals, 1:982). Pell served as a captain in the 2d New York Regiment until June 1783. Van Wart was promoted to captain in the 2d New York Regiment in October 1778 and resigned his commission as lieutenant in April 1779 after he became lame."
Source: National Archives, Founders Online: To George Washington From Officers Of The 4th New York Regiment, 13 June 1776 <http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-04-02-0404>