Extract from Simeon Thayer's Journal by William W. Burr

A journal of the suffering of Simeon Thayer in the two last wars in America.

In seventeen hundred & fifty six at the age of sixteen he served in the Rhode Island Regiment in fifty seven he served in the Massachusets line under the command of Col. Fry, and was princepally in the rangers under Rogers when he was personally in three engagements with the Indians, in which there were many of the rangers killed in each actions. In August of the same year he was in fort Wm. Henry when besieged by Montcalm, which surrendered on the morning of the seventh day from the commencement of the seige. After being detained 24 hours he was with the rest of the garrison disarmed, and striped of all his cloaths, even his coat which he had on was taken off with haste leaving him only an under waistcoat &c. As he was (walking?) down the road near bloody pond, he was attacked by an Indian who seized him by the back of his waistcoat collar with right hand and draged him towards a swamp on the left, about 12 or 15 rods, in his left hand he held a tomahawk & scalping knife. Thayers shoulder (as the Indian was forcing him along) struck against a small tree, which stoping him , his waistcoat broke open and sliped off, which as the Indian pulled with all his strength gave him a fall at some distance, Thayer being disengaged from his waistcoat & the Indian, ran into the woods were he joined the rest of the troops. In passing on the road being (crowded?), he with one more took a path called the flank guard path. They soon perceived an Indian behind them with his tomahawk. They both ran and coming to a tree that was blown up by the roots he crept under while his companion endeavouring to leapt over was struck & killed with the tomahawk which the Indian threw at that instant. this stoped the Indian, and Thayer made his escape once more by running round the top of the tree, in an hour or two he reached Fort Edwards, the exessive fatigue of running so great a distance in a short time, in violent hot weather, brought on an inflamation which impaired his health for many years and prevented his entering into service again during that war.

When the designs of Britain made it nessisary for the colonies to arm for their defince, Thayer was an officer in a chartered company of Greniders in the town of Providence, in the state of Rhode Island. his zeal for the publick and the reputation he had acquired as a freind to liberty pointed him out as a proper person to be instrusted. And he was accordingly appointed a Captain by the assembly of that state on a Sunday, and by the Wednsday following he had compleated his company; he inlisted every man himself. On Sunday the 19th of May 1775 an express arrived from near Boston. that the British were marching out to Dorchester to burn some buildings, in two hours time Thayer assembled his company, dealt out their arms amuninition, blankets &c. and marched with every man belonging to his company. He was met nine miles from town by an express & informed that the British had returned into Boston. And as it was late when he marched he halted & took up his quarters in Attleborough meeting house for that night. and the next day proceeded on for Roxbury where he arrived eight days before any other troops from Rhode Island arrived. On the 10 of September he was chosen to accompany Arnold in his memorble march by the way of Kennebunk river to Qubec, and in that unsucessful attack on the town was with many others officers and soldiers made prisoners. were he was kept closely confined for nine months part of that time in irons on board a prison ship before he was admitted on parole which he afterwards was indulged with. On being released from his parole he was appointed a major in one of the Rhode Island Regiments and joined the Army in 1777 and marched to Red Bank. here he was detached the next morning being the 19th of October with 150 men to join Col. Smith where the enemys batteries were playing. were he continued three days until the Hessians appeared as if they intended an attack on Red Bank. When he received an express from Col Greene to return with his troops to Red Bank about 12 oclock which he immediately complied with and reached the fort just as the Hessians appeared in sight he. commanded according to his rank during the action, and was detached (after the enemy had disappeared) about the dusk of the evening with a small party to bring in the wounded, as he was employed in the humane service two Hessian Grenadiers came and told him that their commanding officer Count Donop was lying wounded in the edge of woods near where their artillery had played, as it was near dark, he suspected they might mean to decoy him into an ambuscade. He therefore claped them under guard telling them if they deceived him they would be immediately put to death, to which they readily concurred, & conducted him to the place where he found the Count lying under a tree mortally wounded the Count asked if he was an Officer and of what rank of which being satisfied he then surrendered himself up as a prisoner to Major Thayer who made six men take him on a blanket and carry him with all possible care to the fort, were he was received by Col. Greene. Col. Smith who commanded on Mud Island being wounded it was neccessary that some sufficient officer should be appointed to succeeded him Gen Varnum who commanded at Red Bank offered the post to two officers where rank entitled them to the command but for some reason they declined; Major Thayer tho he was sensible of the importance of the command and that the whole continent had their eyes on the officer who was defending so important a post and he was open to the censure of the world for any misfortunes, much more for any misconduct during the seige. yet when it was offered him he could not refuse his country any service in his power, but accepted it, and continued as long as the fort was tenable, but could not be of any services in defending the passage of the river, without a considerable reinforcement to repair the works, which was applyed for by the Major and refused by the opinion of a council of war. Thinking it needless to lavish a way the lives of his men, after having removed all the military stores over to Red Bank & the greater part of the garrison which were overcome by fatigue, he with a few that were with him set fire to the works according to his orders and retired over to Red Bank at 1 oclock in the morning, this was about three days before the action at Monmoth, he was detached with Gen. Scott to watch the motions of the enemy, he being then Major to Col. Sylla, on the evening before the action Scott's detachment was ordered to join the army. The next day being the 28 of June the action commenced, in which, after undergoing the greatest fatigue had the misfortune to lose his right eye by the violence of the wind of a cannon ball which passed so near his head (as he was marching with Sylla's regiment by particular leave of his Excellancy to attack the enemy that appeared to be coming on the left of the American Army, which Sylla's regiment drove through a marsh) as to make the blood gush out at the corners of his eyes which as soon as he perceived he tied an handkerchief over his face, and continued in his post all night, the next day he joined his brigade an being in excessive pain he obtained leave from the commander of this brigade to retire to Morristown untill he should recover. During his stay at Morristown which was five weeks, before he recovered as far as to be able to attend his duty, his regiment was ordered to Rhode Island where he arrived with the entire loss of his right eye, and joined his regiment three days before Gen. Sullvan retreated from the island being anxious to render his country all the service in his power. At Springfield in the Jerseys in 1780 he was Major to Col. Angel's Regiment which was stationed at the bridge where the enemy attacked that place, he was stationed in the center with orders to watch the motions of the enemy and give intelligance of them to the commanding officer of each wing. His post he sustained in four different ___, ___ ___ __ ____ the road in front four differant times during a heavy fire with in pistol shot, and when the regiment was forced to quit the ground, he commanded the rear and was the last that left the ground, and joined Gen. Greene on Rocky Hill. After the enemy retreated, Gen. Stark who then commanded the brigade he belonged to, requested that he would follow their rear, and make what discoveries he could of their motions, which request he complied with, and followed alone on horse back keeping in sight of them untill they crossed Elizabeth Town Bridge, not withstanding they often fired whole platoons at him all which he returned & informed Gen. Greene and Stark. It must be remarked that when the Marquis De Lafayette was in danger of being surprised at Baron Hill Church. Major Thayer was chosen by him with 300 men to cover his retreat, were there was scarcely a probability of escaping either being killed or taken prisoner which however the Major effected and brought off the whole of his detachment in the face of the enemy, the Marquis having moved off the main body some time before.

Many more transactions of ___ __________ __ ommitted

Written by William W. Burr

transcribed from:

MSS27 Box #1
The Rhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02906
Telephone (401) 751-7930

This transcription was done to support this organization's research and public education. It was a good faith effort, but errors are possible and differences due to interpretation of marks on the page. So researchers should access the original documents when possible.

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