Maj. Gen. Robert Howe (Cont. Army)

Is your surname Howe?

Research the Howe family

Maj. Gen. Robert Howe (Cont. Army)'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Robert Howe

Birthplace: Clarendon, NC, USA
Death: Died in Brunswick, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Job Howe and Mary Lytle
Husband of Sarah Howe
Father of Rachel Greenberry Darnell; MARY Howe; ANN Goodlet Howe and ROBERT Howe
Brother of Robert Howe
Half brother of Sarah Clifford; John Lytle; Archibald Lytle, Sr. and Elizabeth Patterson

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all 14

Immediate Family

About Maj. Gen. Robert Howe (Cont. Army)

DAR Ancestor #: A058411

Robert Howe (1732 – December 14, 1786) was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Contents [show] Early life

His great-grandfather was James Moore, colonial governor of South Carolina. He owned "Howe's Point" plantation at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and "Clarendon" in Bladen County, North Carolina.

Born to a prominent planter in Brunswick County, North Carolina, Howe was educated in England and, upon his return, was elected to the colonial assembly. Serving in the provincial North Carolina militia, Howe accepted a commission as a captain in 1766. He was first stationed at Fort Johnston (North Carolina) (at the entrance of the Cape Fear River in present Southport, North Carolina). He was later promoted to colonel of artillery during Colonial Governor Tyron's expeditions against the Regulators in April–July 1768 and April–May 1771.

American Revolution

In 1775, Howe was elected to the provincial congress, where he would be appointed Colonel of the 2nd North Carolina Regiment on September 1 of that year. Supported by Col. William Woodford, Howe defeated Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, on December 9 at the Battle of Great Bridge. Following this victory, Howe was promoted to Brigadier General of the Continental Army on March 1, 1776, and assigned to command of the Southern Department of the Continental Army.

Howe was promoted to major general on October 20, 1777, and led an expedition to St. Augustine of British Florida in the late 1777 and, facing the problem of divided campaign, the invasion would eventually force Howe's retreat. Attacking again in the spring of 1778, Howe faced similar difficulties as leading Continental forces, as he had no authority over either the Georgia and South Carolina militias.

After the failure to capture St. Augustine, Howe was replaced in 1778 as commander of the Southern Department by Gen. Benjamin Lincoln. However, before Lincoln could arrive, over Christmas 1778, Howe was forced to abandon Savannah, Georgia, on December 29 after a brief battle with British forces led by Archibald Campbell. Again, Howe did not have authority over the militia until very late in the campaign and was later acquitted in a court martial exonerating him from blame of the city's capture.

Serving under Gen. Anthony Wayne, Howe saw action at the Battles of Stony Point and Verplanck's Point on July 16, 1779. After holding commands at West Point and the espionage network in the Hudson Highlands, Howe was transferred to the army of George Washington during a mutiny of Continental soldiers in New Jersey in January 1781. Putting down the revolt after executing two of the ringleaders, another mutiny in Philadelphia disbanded after news of Howe's approach in June 1783.

Later years

After the war, Howe faced severe debt although he returned to North Carolina a hero. He was elected to the state assembly before his sudden death on December 14, 1786. As a man, Howe was something of a playboy and won a reputation as a womanizer. More than a few of his comrades considered him to be very pompous. His chief failing, a strange one considering his political background, was his lack of ability to get along with a number of state and local politicians, including Christopher Gadsden with whom he fought a duel. On the other hand, Howe did retain the support of a number of national political leaders, including George Washington and Henry Laurens.

view all

Maj. Gen. Robert Howe (Cont. Army)'s Timeline

Clarendon, NC, USA
Age 13
Hanover, North Carolina, USA
Age 51
November 12, 1785
Age 53
Brunswick, North Carolina, United States