About Reuben Calvert
DAR Ancestor #: A133530
From the Prince William Reliquary, Vol. 7, No. 2, April 2008, webcached at:
In September 1782, another 3rd Virginia soldier, a sergeant in Captain John Peyton’s company, Reuben Calvert, who had died in January 1777, was part of that month’s court record. The Court ordered John Thorn and Samuel Byrne to “divide the estate of Rhubin Calvert decd between the orphans and the widow and set apart the widow’s dower.” The Prince William County Court had already ordered the church wardens of Dettingen Parish in July 1779 to bind out Tommy Calvert, Reuben’s son, to George Newman Brown to be a carpenter or joiner.
- 20 NARA, Reuben Calvert’s compiled service records, 3rd Virginia.
- 21 PWCOB, September 1782 Court, 177.
- 22 PWCOB, July 1779, 45.
From the Prince William Reliquary, Volume 5, Number 4, October 2006:
In July 1779 the churchwardens of Dettingen Parish bound out Tommy Calvert, orphan ofReuben Calvert, to George Newman Brown to become a carpenter. Reuben Calvert was another 3rdVirginia soldier in Captain John Peyton’s company. He died January 15, 1777.
- 45 PWCOB, July 1779 Court, 45.
- 46 Reuben Calvert’s Service Record, CSR, 3rd Va., roll 952
Ben M. Angel notes: The original contributor to this profile had Reuben listed as having died at Valley Forge in January 1777. If he had done so, then he would have been miles away from his military unit, as Valley Forge was not used as a winter camp by his unit (and much of the rest of the Continental Army) until a year later.
Being part of the 3rd Virginia, Reuben's military history can be easily inferred from Wikipedia entries on the regiment and its commanding officer, Hugh Mercer. A timeline follows:
28 December 1775: The 3rd Regiment of the Virginia Line (formed to support the Continental Army) is formed at Alexandria in opposition to British Governor of Virginia John Murray, Lord Dunmore. Since his evacuation from Williamsburg, which was followed by a proclamation to free all slaves held by rebels and a failed campaign to use freed Black males in restoring British control of the colony, the governor's popularity in the colony diminished. Within a few days of the regiment's formation, Norfolk, a Tory stronghold, was burned to the ground by rebels already located there.
11 January 1776: Hugh Mercer, apothecary, medical doctor, and member of the Spotsylvania County Committee of Safety, is appointed Colonel of the 3rd Virginia Regiment as the unit is given two more companies of musket (raising the regiment to a full 10 companies). The next day, George Weedon is appointed his Lieutenant Colonel. Among the officers later appointed in the company are future U.S. President James Monroe and future U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall (although Marshall is also said to have served in the 11th Virginia Regiment).
5 February 1776: John Peyton, a colonel in the Gloucester County militia, joins the 3rd Virginia Regiment as a lieutenant. Sgt. Reuben Calvert will later be attached to his company, when he obtains a company command.
27 February 1776: The Virginia regiments are assigned to the newly formed Southern Department by the Continental Congress. The regiment was assigned, along with much of the other Virginia regiments to protect the coast from British Governor of Virginia John Murray, Lord Dunmore (still located off the burnt remains of Norfolk at the head of a fleet of more than 100 British ships - these relocate to Gwynn's Island at the end of May). The next day, 10 companies are formed with men from Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford, Louisa, Fairfax, King George, Loundon, and Culpepper counties in Alexandria and Dunfies. They are assigned to watch the North Peninsula
5 June 1776: Colonel Hugh Mercer, while with his unit in Fredericksburg, receives a letter stating that he is appointed by the Continental Congress to serve as Brigadier-General in the "Armies of the United Colonies." He is ordered to report to Continental Army headquarters in New York City. George Weedon, owner of the Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg who served as a Lieutenant under George Washington during the French and Indian Wars, is promoted to Colonel and becomes the unit's second commander.
9 July 1776: The Declaration of Independence is read aloud to the 3rd Virginia Regiment. The scene is described by Private John Darwin: "Soldiers standing in regimental formations listened to their officers read the declaration on July 9, and in the days that followed civilians heard it read or read it themselves in the newspapers. Although both soldiers and civilians responded with cheers and celebrations, there is no way of knowing what pleased them the most about the declaration. It seems likely that they were moved most by the Congress declaring them independent of Britain. That they were independent had seemed obvious to many for at least a year. Now they had to prove it, with their lives if need be." (Boatner, Op.Cit)
20 July 1776: The 3rd Virginia Regiment, with former British Governor of Virginia John Murray, Lord Dunmore, rendered irrelevant after being forced by the 7th Virginia Regiment to evacuate smallpox-plagued Gwynn Island 10 days earlier, is released from service with the Southern Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army. The unit is assigned at first to Charleston, South Carolina, and marches from Fredericksburg to Williamsburg.
13 August 1776: The 3rd Virginia Regiment is ordered to join with the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th regiments in a march north to assist General Washington in defense of New York City. The unit, under Colonel George Weedon, takes a circuitous route in order to avoid the smallpox epidemic striking Philadelphia.
15 September 1776: The 3rd Virginia Regiment arrives on Manhattan Island shortly after Sir Henry Clinton lands British troops at Kip's Bay and seizes the island south of present 125th Street (General Washington was left exposed by the rout - he would call his troops' flight from battle and New York City as "shameful" and "scandalous").
16 September 1776: Connecticut Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton, supported by Major Andrew Leitch of the 3rd Virginia, draws the British Black Watch (42nd Highlanders) into the Hollow Way on Manhattan. In response to an insulting fox call (suggesting that the Americans were in full flight), troops of the 3rd Virginia and the Massachusetts Brigade attack, prompting the rest of the 3rd Virginia under Colonel George "Joe Gourd" Weedon to advance at the Battle of Harlem Heights. Major Leitch is killed when his forces begin to assault too early, but nonetheless the Americans are victorious. (George Washington's report: "When I arrived I heard a firing, which I was informed was between a party of our rangers...and an advance party of the enemy.... I immediately ordered three companies of Colonel Weedon's Virginia regiment under Major Leitch and Colonel Knowlton with his rangers to try and get in the rear, while a disposition was making as if to attack them in front and thereby draw their attention that way. This took effect as I wished on...the enemy.") This would be General Washington's first victory against the British.
17 September 1776: General Washington issues this statement to the army in praise of the 3rd Virginia: "The General most heartily thanks the troops...who first advanced upon the enemy, and the others who so resolutely supported them. The behaviour yesterday was such a contrast to that of some troops the day before, as must show what may be done where officers and soldiers will exert themselves. Once more, therefore, the General calls upon officers and men to act up to the noble cause in which they are engaged."
21 September 1776: New York is torched by rebel agitators, and Nathan Hale is caught and hanged the following day, regretting that he had but only one life to give to his country.
5 October 1776: General Washington reorganizes his army and the 3rd Virginia Regiment assigned to Colonel Weedon's newly formed brigade. The regimental command is given over to Col. Thomas Marshall (father of future Supreme Court Justice John Marshall).
12 October 1776: General Howe lands 4,000 troops at Throg's Neck, forcing General Washington to either withdraw or be encircled.
17 October 1776: Colonel George "Joe Gourd" Weedon steps down as brigade commander and returns to the 3rd Virginia as the recently released William Alexander Lord Stirling is appointed in his stead. (Lord Stirling had been captured in the Battle of Long Island two months before, following which he was called "the bravest man in America" for his role in defending against the invasion, and freed in a prisoner exchange that also released British Bahamian Governor Montford Browne.)
18 October 1776: Following the Battle of Bell's Point/Pelham, which delayed a flanking move by the British, American troops begin withdrawal from Harlem Heights to new positions at White Plains.
22 October 1776: General Washington arrives with the last of his troops from New York at White Plains. The 3rd Virginia is among the troops present. The garrison of 1,200 troops under Col. Robert Magaw is augmented to 3,000 and remained under siege at Fort Washington.
28 October 1776: British General Howe defeats American General Washington at the Battle of White Plains. Washington's troops are scattered into the hills to the north.
30 October 1776: As American troops reorganize, British General Howe is reinforced with additional mercenaries and prepares to advance on the rebels in the hills to the north. A heavy rain prevents the advance from happening.
31 October 1776: General Washington sets up camp near North Castle and orders his troops to dig in. General Howe decides against pursuing the rebels, and instead attempts to draw them out of the hills for further battle.
5 November 1776: After deciding that the rebels won't be drawn into a disadvantaged position, General Howe withdraws back to Manhattan to prepare an assault on Fort Washington.
7 November 1776: Two British ships force passage past Fort Washington and Fort Lee, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the two fortresses on the North River. At Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson River, General Washington divided his forces, sending 7,000 men under Charles Lee to the north to prevent a British invasion of New England, 3,000 men under General Heath to Hudson Highlands to stall any British advance north from Manhattan, and 2,000 men under himself (likely Virginians) through Peekskill to Fort Lee.
16 November 1776: British troops storm Fort Washington. More than 2,800 are captured. Of these, only 800 would survive captivity aboard the British prison ships.
19 November 1776: Before the British can repeat their success at Fort Lee, General Washington orders his troops (including the 3rd Virginia) to withdraw to Philadelphia. New York and New Jersey are abandoned. Cornwallis is sent to pursue the rebels, but fails to catch them before they reached the Delaware River.
12 December 1776: With the British advancing on the Delaware River, the Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia and reconvenes at Baltimore, Maryland. General George Washington prepares his next campaign against the British.
15 December 1776: General George Washington establishes a headquarters near McKonkey's Ferry across the river from Trenton, New Jersey. The 3rd Virginia Regiment under Colonel George "Joe Gourd" Weedon is among the soldiers encamped there.
19 December 1776: According to the English Wikipedia page on the Battle of Trenton (no source given), Thomas Payne, aide-de-camp of General Nathaniel Greene, published "The American Crisis" and distributes it among the American troops under General Washington near McKonkey's Ferry. Four days later as he announces to his officers the date of his attack on the British at Trenton, General Washington has the pamphlet read aloud to his demoralized troops, beginning with the words, "These are the times that try men's souls." General John Sullivan's troops (from whom he had taken command after the capture of Charles Lee), retreating from New York, arrive the next day.
25 December 1776: All American Patriot soldiers are ordered to prepare 3-days food and at evening parade (around 4 p.m.), they are issued ammunition while being observed by General Washington himself. The are told that they are embarking on a secret mission. As darkness fell at 4:30, the troops were marching 8 abreast to McKonkey's Ferry, where they boarded boats from Durham's iron works and crossed the Delaware. As the first boats were loaded around 6 p.m. "It blew like a hurricane," as rain turned to sleet, and then snow.
26 December 1776: At 4 a.m., the last boatloads of Washington's troops land in New Jersey, but General Washington realizes that it is too late to hope for a pre-dawn attack on Hessian-defended Trenton. General Sullivan reported that his men's powder had become wet, rendering his ammunition unusable. Washington responded to use the bayonet, "I am resolved to take Trenton." The 3rd Virginia was part of the other column, under General Greene (who was accompanied by General Washington, and of course Greene's aide-de-camp Thomas Paine). Both columns came from out of the snows and surprised the Hessian and British troops defending the unfortified city. Routed, the Hessians attempt to reform and organize an escape, but are cut off by Sullivan's men. The last Hessians surrender while it was still daylight - these captives are detailed to the 3rd Virginia Regiment, who escort them to first Philadelphia, then to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for holding. John Cadwalader's forces had not crossed into New Jersey, and this rendered Washington's hold on Trenton tenuous. So, the troops are ordered to destroy the Hessian's food and drink supplies before returning to Pennsylvania (nonetheless, several kegs of rum are dragged back to the Delaware River, and several drunken soldiers are said to have fallen in the river while attempting to cross).
6 January 1777: General George Washington establishes his winter camp at Morristown, New Jersey. As desertions rise and soldiers decide not to reenlist with the Continental Army, the numbers of troops under General Washington drops to 2,500. General Washington and Lord Cornwallis begin to compete for forage across central New Jersey in what is later called "The Forage War."
15 January 1777: Sargent Reuben Calvert is said to have died on this date. The cause of death is undetermined. His unit may have been ambushed on forage detail, or he could have caught smallpox while in camp, or any number of possible accidents could have befallen him. One family tree researcher online suggested that he died at the winter encampment at Morristown, but there is no free online source that confirms this. His Compiled Service Record may have some of the answers.
Sources (secondary) for the history of the 3rd Virginia Regiment during the life of Sgt Reuben Calvert include:
The 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Revolutionary War on My Revolutionary War:
The Darwins in the Revolutionary War:
Sketches of the life and times of Jesse Corn, Sr., 1753 -1809
Wikipedia pages for the 3rd Virginia Regiment, New York and New Jersey Campaigns, Washington's Crossing of the Delaware, Battle of Trenton
With respect to the uniform likely worn by Sargent Reuben Calvert:
A modern day re-enactment society, the B.A.R. 3VR Society provides the following details on the uniform of the 3rd Virginia Regiment:
The uniform of the 3rd Virginia reflects that of the regiment shortly after it's formation. The 'dark' dyed hunting shirt is short with red trim and has a single fringe on the one shoulder cape- some contemporary Virginia units had fringe on enlisted shirts and others used them only for NCOs and officers.
The Hat is a typical round hat cut down to a 2" brim, edged in black tape with a white metal button and black cockade. This hat is turned up on the left side and is commonly referred to as a "Virginia Round Hat" and is not to be confused with a Riflemen's Hat which is similar in all aspects except it is edged in white tape.
White shirt or shirt made of period "checks" design. While in uniform and on duty a black neckstock is to be worn as well.
Weskit would be a civilian choice. In essence, whatever the soldier had on when he enlisted in the regiment. Breeches and stockings would also be a civilian choice. In essence, whatever the soldier had on when he enlisted in the regiment.
Leggins: Are made of blue wool and have 5 black horn buttons similar to those issued to other Virginia regiments.”
Sgt. Reuben Calvert's Timeline
Prince William County, Province of Virginia
Prince William, Virginia, United States
Prince William, Virginia, United States
Prince William, Virginia, United States
July 10, 1765
Prince William, Virginia, United States
Prince William, Virginia, United States
January 15, 1777
New Jersey, United States