Samuel Holden Parsons
|Birthplace:||Lyme, New London County, Connecticut Colony|
|Death:||Died in Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Occupation:||Commander under Gen. Israel Putnam; first to propose the idea of a Continental Congress in 1774; appointed first Chief Judge to Northwest Territory (Ohio)|
|Managed by:||Private User|
About Maj. Gen. Samuel H. Parsons
A Patriot of the American Revolution for CONNECTICUT with the rank of MAJOR GENERAL. DAR Ancestor #: A088340
Major General Samuel Holden Parsons (1737 - 1789) was an American Revolutionary War Commander under George Washington and Israel Putnam. He first proposed the idea of a Continental Congress in 1774. He was appointed first Chief Judge to Northwest Territory.
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Samuel Holden Parsons (May 14, 1737 – November 17, 1789) was an American lawyer, jurist, and military leader.
Parsons was born in Lyme, Connecticut, the son of Jonathan Parsons and Phoebe (Griswold) Parsons. At the age of nine, his family moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where his father, an ardent supporter of the First Great Awakening, took charge of the town's new Presbyterian congregation.
Parsons graduated from Harvard College in 1756 and returned to Lyme to study law in the office of his uncle, Connecticut governor Matthew Griswold. He was admitted to the bar in 1759, and started his law practice in Lyme. In 1761, he married Mehitabel Mather (1743–1802), a great-great-great-granddaughter of Rev. Richard Mather. Well-connected politically, he was elected to the General Assembly in 1762, where he remained a representative until his removal to New London.
* 1 Revolutionary activist * 2 Military career * 3 Civilian life * 4 Frontier jurist * 5 Parsons' children * 6 References
Actively involved in the resistance against British forces on the eve of the Revolution, he was a member of New London's Committee of Correspondence. In March 1772, he wrote to Massachusetts leader Samuel Adams, suggesting a congress of the colonies: "I take the liberty to propose for your consideration," he wrote, "whether it would not be advisable in the present critical situation to revive an institution which formerly had a very salutary effect – I mean an annual meeting of commissioners from the colonies to consult on their general welfare."
Parsons went on to suggest that the time for discussing colonial independence from Britain was at hand: "The idea of inalienable allegiance to any prince or state, is an idea to me inadmissible; and I cannot but see that our ancestors, when they first landed in America, were as independent of the crown or king of Great Britain, as if they had never been his subjects; and the only rightful authority derived to him over this people, was by explicit covenant contained in the first charters."
In April 1775, immediately after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Parsons, along with colleagues in the Connecticut legislature, began promoting a project to take Fort Ticonderoga from the British, securing commitments of both public and private funds to underwrite the expedition.
Like most active politicians of the period, Parsons served as a militia leader. He was appointed Major of the 14th Connecticut, Militia Regiment in 1770. In 1775, he was commissioned Colonel of the 6th Connecticut Regiment, a new regiment raised "for the special defense and safety of the Colony." In June he was ordered to lead his regiment to Boston, where he fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He remained in Boston until the British evacuated the city in March 1776.
In August 1776 Congress appointed Parsons Brigadier General in the Continental Army. He was ordered to New York with his brigade of about 2,500 men. Stationed in Brooklyn, Parsons was in the thick of the fighting with British troops under Lord Sterling at Battle Hill on August 17, 1776. He took part in the Council of War on August 29, at which it was decided to retreat from New York. Parsons successfully transported his men from Long Island, joining the main body of the army as it withdrew from the city.
While in New York, Parsons played a central role in the American efforts to destroy the British fleet. David Bushnell, an inventor from Connecticut, had devised a submarine which he planned to use to place torpedoes on British ships. Parsons selected his brother-in-law, Captain Ezra Lee, to undertake this risky mission. Lee succeeded in reaching the British flagship Asia undetected, but was unable to attach the torpedo to its hull. The bomb exploded, much to the consternation of the British, but without causing any harm to the ship.
After the retreat from New York, Parsons' brigade was assigned to General Rufus Putnam's division north of the city. He fought in the battle of White Plains. In January 1777, he returned to Connecticut to help recruit the Connecticut Line to bolster depleted Continental forces. He led raids on Tory enclaves on Long Island, and took part in efforts to defend Connecticut towns against raids by British forces under General William Tryon.
In the winter of 1777–78, Parsons took command of West Point, and began rebuilding its fortifications. At the end of 1778, he joined Connecticut troops at winter quarters in Redding. In December 1779, Parsons took command of Putnam's Division, and spent the following months recruiting, training, and trying to engage British General George Clinton in battle. The high point of this period was the discovery, in September 1780, of Benedict Arnold's treacherous scheme to surrender West Point to the British. Parsons served on the board of officers which tried Arnold's accomplice, Major John André, and ultimately sentenced him to death.
On October 23, 1780 Parsons was promoted to Major General. In the winter of 1781 he helped suppress the mutinies of soldiers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and took part in efforts to clear out Tory militias in Westchester, north of New York. After months of containing the British troops in New York, American forces, now bolstered by French reinforcements, departed for Virginia. Parsons and his troops were left behind to keep the British contained.
In July 1782, following the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, Parsons – broken physically and financially – tendered his resignation to Congress. Forty-five years old, he had served continuously since the Lexington Alarm of 1775.
On the eve of the war, Parsons had moved his family to Middletown, Connecticut, which was then a prosperous port on the Connecticut River. He returned there during the summer of 1782, hoping to revive his law practice, his political career, and his depleted finances. Something of a celebrity, Parsons was elected to the legislature, became involved in organizing the Connecticut branch of the Society of the Cincinnati, and was appointed by Congress to help with Indian diplomacy on the western frontier.
In March of 1787, Parsons became a director of the Ohio Land Company, a scheme that enabled ex-Revolutionary officers to trade their pay certificates for Ohio lands. Parsons played a leading role in persuading Congress to grant land to the company, and then jockeyed for appointment to a leading position in the territory. Though aspiring to the governorship — which was later awarded to General Arthur St. Clair — Parsons was appointed Chief Justice. In the midst of this, Parsons was also an active member of the Connecticut Convention for adopting the U.S. Constitution.
In March of 1788, Parsons and his son Enoch, who had been appointed Registrar and Clerk of Probate, set out for the Northwest Territory. They arrived at Marietta, Ohio — a settlement of some fifty houses — in May 1788. Parsons was one of the early pioneers to the Northwest Territory. Lacking a clergyman, Parsons filled in as leader of sabbath services. During the following months, Parsons busied himself with surveying the Ohio Company's lands and purchasing choice parcels for himself and his family.
On November 1, 1789, Parsons wrote to his wife in Connecticut from Pittsburgh, stating that he was about to "set out for Lake Erie to survey the Connecticut lands (Connecticut Western Reserve)."
A letter written by Richard Butler, dated November 25, 1789, relates the circumstances of Parsons' death:
“I am sorry to inform you that I have every reason to fear that our old friend, General Parsons, is no more. He left this place [Pittsburgh] in company with Captain Heart, (who is sent to explore the communication by way of the Beaver to Cuyahoga and the Lake), on the 5th instant, he had sent a man with his horses from the place where he had encamped the night before, and directed him to tell Lieut. McDowell, who commanded the Block House below the falls of Beaver, that he (General Parsons) would be there to dinner. A snow had fallen in the night which had retarded the progress of the man with the horses. At one place on the Beaver shore he saw where a canoe had landed, and a person got out to warm his feet by walking about, as he saw he had kicked against the trees and his tracks to the canoe again. The man did not get down till evening, but about noon the canoe, broken in pieces, came by the Block House, and some articles known to belong to General Parsons were taken up and others seen to pass. Lieut. McDowell has diligent search made for the body of the General, but made no discovery.”
Parsons' body was found the following May and was buried with the expectation that it would be more suitably interred. Because of the series of mishaps, the location of his burial was lost. The General now lies in an unmarked grave on the banks of the Beaver River in Pennsylvania.
Parsons' surviving children included:
* William Walter Parsons (1762–1802). Served as a midshipman during the Revolution, wherein he was taken prisoner by the British during the disastrous Penobscot Expedition. He eventually settled in Bangor, Maine.
* Enoch Parsons (1769–1846). Accompanied his father to Ohio, where he served as Registrar and Clerk of Probate. Returning to Connecticut after his father's death, he served as High Sheriff of Middlesex County for 28 years and as President of the Middletown Branch of the Bank of the United States from 1818 to 1824.
* Samuel Holden Parsons (1777–1811). Middletown merchant in West Indies trade.
* Lucia Parsons (1764–1825). Married Stephen Titus Hosmer, Chief Justice of Connecticut. Her daughter, Sarah Mehitabel Hosmer (? - 1834), married Major Andre Andrews (1792–1834), second Mayor of Buffalo.
* Mehetable Parsons (1772–1825). Married William Brenton Hall, Middletown physician.
* Margaret Parsons (1785-?). Married Stephen Hubbard of Middletown.
* Charles S. Hall. 1896. Hall Ancestry. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, * Charles S. Hall. 1905. Life and Letters of General Samuel Holden Parsons. Binghamton, NY: Otsiningo Publishing Company. * Clifford K. Shipton. 1968. Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Source: Downloaded 2011 from Wikipedia.
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Major-General Samuel Holden Parsons, grandfather of Samuel Holden Parsons Hall, was born May 14, 1737, at Lyme, Conn., while his father, Rev. Jonathan Parsons, was still pastor of the church in that place. His mother, Phebe Griswold, was a sister of Gov. Matthew Griswold, and a lineal descendant of Henry Wolcott of Windsor, the ancestor of all of that eminent name in Connecticut. When nine years old he removed with his parents to Newburyport, Mass., where he probably prepared for college. In 1756 he graduated at Harvard at the age of nineteen, after which he returned to Lyme to study law in the office of his uncle, Gov. Matthew Griswold. In 1759, when twenty-two years of age, he was admitted to the bar of New London County, and settled at Lyme in the practice of the law. Except for the accident of his removal to Newburyport, Yale, instead of Harvard, would doubtless have been his alma mater; but twenty-five years later, in 1781, in recognition of his eminent services, Yale bestowed upon him an honorary degree at the same commencement at which she conferred a similar honor on General Washington. Among his college mates were John Hancock, Governor Trumbull and John Adams, with the latter two of whom his relations were intimate and his correspondence very large all through the Revolutionary War.
In September, 1761, at the age of twenty-four, he married Mehetable Mather, daughter of Richard Mather of Lyme, a great-great-grandson of the first Richard who came from England and settled in Dorchester. She was born in Lyme, March 7, 1743, and died in Middletown, Conn., August 7, 1802, and is buried in the old cemetery in that city. The marriage of General Parsons and Mehetable Mather is described as having been a very important event in Lyme. The whole town was invited to the ceremony, which, on account of the great number of guests, was held in an orchard adjacent to the house. At the very last moment, as tradition has it, it was discovered that a very important personage by some strange oversight had been forgotten, and the wedding was delayed until a messenger could be dispatched to bring him. The wedding cake was of immense size, an entire barrel of flour having been consumed in its making.
In 1762, at the age of twenty-five, Mr. Parsons was elected a member of the General Assembly of Connecticut, and was successively re-elected until his removal to New London in 1774, a period of twelve years, during which he received repeated proofs of public confidence in various appointments of honor and trust. In a letter to Samuel Adams written March 3, 1773, he originated the suggestion of the first Congress of the Colonies which subsequently met at Philadelphia. In May, 1773, he was made one of the Committee of Correspondence, whose duty it was to secure concert of action among the Colonies in resisting the claims of Great Britain. In April, 1775, immediately after the battles of Lexington and Concord, he set on foot the project of surprising Fort Ticonderoga, and raised the funds necessary for the purpose on the personal obligations of himself and half a dozen of his fellow members of the legislature. Thus was he instrumental in compelling the first surrender of the British flag to the coming republic.
General Parsons was appointed Major of the 14th Regiment in 1770, and on the 26th of April,
1775, was commissioned as Colonel of the 6th Connecticut, a new regiment raised "for the special defence and safety of the Colony." In June he was ordered with his regiment to Boston and was present at the battle of Bunker Hill. During the siege of Boston, Colonel Parsons's regiment was encamped on Parker's or Great Hill, under the command of General Spencer. He remained at Roxbury until the evacuation of Boston in March,
1776, when his regiment was ordered to New York. In the latter part of June we find him presiding over a court-martial for the trial of one Thomas Hickey, a member of Washington's Life Guard, charged with plotting against the life of the Commander-in-Chief. Hickey was found guilty and hung on the first of July.
August gth of that year, Colonel Parsons was appointed by Congress a Brigadier-General in the Continental or regular army. His command consisted of the regiments of Colonels Huntington, Wyllys, Deane, Durkee and Tyler of Connecticut, and Ward of Massachusetts, in all about 2500 men, all troops of the line or Continentals, as they were called, in distinction from the militia. On the 24th he was ordered to Brooklyn with his brigade. On the morning of August 27, 1776, occurred the battle of Long Island. While the main body of the British were moving by the Jamaica road to flank our left, General Grant marched by the road along the bay to make a feint of attack. The first collision took place between him and our outposts, word of which was brought to General Parsons as the Field Officer of the day, who, collecting some twenty of the pickets, checked the enemy until Lord Sterling could form his brigade. Finding that the British were overlapping his left, Sterling directed Parsons to extend his line with Atlee's and Huntington's regiments into the woods. Here for the first time was an American and British line of battle opposed in the open field. As Parsons moved to the left he found the enemy marching to seize what is now known as Battle Hill in Greenwood Cemetery, and opening fire, drove them back with great loss and occupied the hill with all his force. In half an hour the British formed for another attack but were again repulsed, this time with the loss of Lieut. Col. Grant, which gave rise to the report that the division commander himself had been killed. In Parsons's front were counted not less than sixty of the enemy's dead. In the meantime the day had been lost on the left and centre, and Cornwallis, who led the flanking movement, coming up in the rear, had cut off Sterling's and Parsons's retreat. Finding themselves surrounded, Parsons's men, not over three hundred in number, broke up into small parties and tried to escape through the woods, but nearly all were taken. Atlee with twenty-three men avoided capture until late in the afternoon, while Parsons, more fortunate, concealed himself in a swamp whence with seven men he escaped to our lines the next morning. In the retreat, Capt. Joseph Jewett of Huntington's regiment, the lineal ancestor of the Jewetts of Buffalo, was wantonly bayoneted after having surrendered his sword, so that he died on the morning of the 29th.
Late on the 29th, a council of war, held at Phillip Livingston's house, at which General Parsons was present, decided unanimously upon a retreat, and before seven o'clock the next morning the entire force on Long Island had crossed to New York. While the army was yet in New York, the famous attempt was made to blow up the British fleet with a torpedo invented by David Bushnell, a Yale graduate of the year before. Washington requested Parsons to select some one in whom he could confide to undertake the enterprise. He chose his brother-in-law, Capt. Ezra Lee, who succeeded in getting under the Asia, where he remained for two hours, but there was not sufficient resistance in the boat to enable him to penetrate her copper. The magazine becoming detached floated off, and the clock-work which fired it getting started, it exploded to the great consternation of the British, but without injury to the vessel.
In the reorganization of the army which followed the battle of Long Island, Parsons's brigade of Continentals, to which Prescott's Massachusetts men had been added, was assigned to Putnam's division and stationed at Corlear's Hook. About five thousand men were left in the city, the main body of the army being concentrated around and above Harlem. On the 12th of September it was decided to evacuate New York, all of which would have been accomplished within three days, but on Sunday morning, the 15th, Washington was surprised in the midst of the movement by an attempt to flank and cut off the troops in the lower part of the city. Five frigates anchored early that morning in Kip's bay within musket-shot of Colonel Douglas's brigade of Connecticut militia, and opened on them suddenly with seventy or eighty guns. At the same time eighty-four boats filled with redcoats and Hessians, which a soldier remembers as looking like "a large clover field in full bloom," were drawn up on the other side of the river ready to cross under cover of the fire. This was too much for Douglas's Yankees, and they fled panic-stricken from their works. Fellow's brigade, which had been sent to their assistance, also militia, were soon retreating in disorder. When the cannonading commenced, General Parsons had ordered three of his regiments to march to the support of the troops where the enemy was landing. Coming up the Bloomingdale Road, now Broadway, and turning into a crossroad, now 42d street, he was directed by Washington in person to form his brigade on the line of the post-road, now Lexington Avenue, and check the advance of the enemy. As the troops were passing, Washington, perceiving the approach of the British, called out, "Take the walls, take the cornfield," a cornfield being then on the right, adjoining east on the avenue and north
on 42d street. Immediately from front to rear of the brigade the men ran to the walls and some into the cornfield in a most confused and disorderly manner. Parsons, ably seconded by his officers, made every effort to form his regiments on that ground, but the men were so scattered that he found it impossible. When the British light infantry appeared, the brigade, although with it were Prescott's men who had fought at Bunker Hill, was seized with the prevailing panic, and broke and retreated with the rest. Riding back to the Bloomingdale Road, Parsons found a considerable part of his brigade, but in no order, and Washington, who was then forward on the road, directed him to form and march to Harlem Heights, where was the main body of the army. The brilliant affair of the next day greatly relieved the depression of the troops. Colonel Thomas Knowlton of Parsons's brigade, and, as it happens, of the same ancestry as the wife of the writer, was sent to reconnoitre the position of the enemy, and an attempt to capture a small force in his front brought on an engagement involving over 3000 men on the two sides, ending with some of Howe's best troops being driven nearly back to camp. But Knowlton fell mortally wounded. Read, the Adjutant General, who was with him, says, "Our greatest loss was a brave officer from Connecticut, whose name and spirit ought to be immortalized — one Colonel Knowlton. I assisted him off, and when gasping in the agonies of death, all his inquiry was, 'if we had driven the enemy.'" Washington mentioned him in his orders as "a valuable and gallant officer, an honor to any country."
After the battle of White Plains, which was merely a third attempt on the part of the British to outflank Washington, a strong camp was formed in the Highlands under the command of Heath. In January, 1777, Heath made a demonstration upon New York, Parsons with the Connecticut troops advancing along the Sound. The experiences of the first two years of the war having demonstrated the necessity for a permanent disciplined army to cope with the British Regulars, Congress by resolutions of September and October,
1776, ordered that eighty-eight regiments of the line should be raised to serve for three years, or the war. Of these, Connecticut, which was then the fourth State in importance, was to furnish eight. The business of recruiting the "Connecticut Line" and pushing on the enlistments fell mainly on General Parsons. By the first of April,
1777, the recruiting had well progressed, and on the 14th, in published orders, General Parsons directed Huntington's and Durkee's regiments to rendezvous at Norwich; Wyllys's at Hartford; Douglas's at New Haven; Swift's at New Milford; Charles Webb's, Bradley's, and Chandler's at Danbury; Samuel B. Webb's at Wethersfield; and Lieutenant-Colonel Meigs's at Middletown. These troops later on were permanently organized into one division of two brigades under Generals Parsons and Huntington, respectively.
In May, hearing that the enemy was collecting forage at the east end of Long Island, General Parsons sent a detachment under Colonel Meigs to destroy it, in which he was successful. On the 29th, Washing wrote him approving of his action, congratulating the troops on their success, and asking him to proceed to Peekskill as soon as he could give the necessary orders as to recruiting troops. During the summer and fall he commanded a brigade under Putnam on the Hudson. In June, 1777, we find him with his brigade in New Jersey to reenforce Washington. After Howe sailed for the Chesapeake, Parsons was sent back to Peekskill to relieve the Massachusetts troops ordered to Albany. Burgoyne was now moving rapidly southward to effect a junction with Clinton. On the 7th of July he had recaptured Ticonderoga, and on the 30th was at Fort Edward. Perceiving the danger, Parsons on the 30th wrote to Washington, urging the importance of defending the Highlands, and the necessity of large re-enforcements. Before anything could be done, Clinton with a large force moved above the Highlands, compelling the evacuation of all the posts below. But Clinton was too late. Burgoyne had surrendered on the 17th of October (1777). On the 19th, Parsons, with two thousand men, marched down and took possession of Peekskill and the passes in the Highlands, and captured many horses and cattle collected for the enemy. In November, Parsons's and Varnum's brigades, under Putnam, marched to Kingsbridge to create a diversion in favor of Gen. Dickinson, who had
made a descent on Staten Island. In December, Parsons undertook an expedition to Long Island for the purpose of destroying lumber prepared for building barracks in New York. The forces moved in three divisions, but that only which was under the immediate command of Parsons was successful. Eight of the enemy were killed, several wounded and about twenty taken prisoners.
In November, General Tryon had burned several houses within about four miles of Parsons's guards under circumstances of great barbarity, turning women and children into the street in a most severe night. Parsons immediately wrote Tryon, remonstrating with him for his savagery, and reminding him that, if disposed to retaliate, it was in his power at all times to burn the Phillips and DeLancey mansions. Tryon brutally replied: "Could I possibly conceive myself accountable to any revolted subject of the King of Great Britain, I might answer your letter received by the flag of truce yesterday. ... I have, however, candor enough to assure you, . . . that I should, were I more in authority, burn every committee-man's house, . . . and I am willing to give twenty silver dollars for every acting committee-man who shall be delivered to the King's troops." In January, Parsons replied, scoring Tryon without mercy. In answer to the opening sentence of Tryon's letter, he says: "A justifiable resistance against unwarrantable invasions of the natural and social right of mankind, if unsuccessful, I am sensible, according to the fashion of the world, will be called rebellion; but when successful, will be viewed as a noble struggle for everything important in life. Whether I am now considered as a revolted subject of the King of Great Britain, or in any other light by his subjects, is very immaterial and gives me very little concern ; future ages, I hope, will do justice to my intentions, and the present to the humanity of my conduct." This correspondence is very spicy, but too long to be given here in full, and I refer the reader to Volume 8 of the New York Colonial Documents, pages 735-745, London Document 47. Retaliation came sooner than was expected. November had not expired before a small party of the Whig "advanced water guard" passed the British ships in the night, landed at Bloomingdale and destroyed the beautiful country seat of Oliver DeLancey. This outrage, which was committed by irresponsible persons, was promptly disapproved by the Committee of Safety.
In the winter of 1777-8, the hardships of the campaign had told so severely on General Parsons that he expressed a wish to the Commander-in-Chief to retire temporarily from the duties of the army, but at his urgent solicitation he continued with his brigade. In February General Putnam went to Connecticut, leaving General Parsons in command of West Point and all the troops in the Highlands, with the additional duty of completing the fortifications which had been begun at West Point. His correspondence with Washington at
this time was very large and shows the confidential relations existing between them. Here he continued for the greater part of the years 1778 and 1779, but was frequently detached on expeditions to protect the sea-coast of his native state. In a letter to Colonel Wadsworth of Connecticut, he describes West Point as "beautiful as Sharon to a contemplative mind which delights in a lonely retreat from the world," but " affords to a man who loves the society of the world a prospect nearly allied to the shades of death." "Here I am to be found at present in what situation of mind you will easily imagine. Mr. Dwight and Major Humphrey are now here, and a good companion now and then adds to the number of my agreeable family." Dwight was his Chaplain, afterwards the famous President Dwight of Yale College. Humphrey was his Adjutant-General, the soldier poet of the revolution, and later on the aid and intimate friend of Washington. Kosciusko, the Polish patriot, and Rufus Putnam, afterwards his associate in the Ohio Company, were his engineers. In the brigade were Colonel Wyllys, Lieutenant-Colonels Grosvenor and Sherman, Major Gray and several junior officers, all, as well as Dwight and Humphrey, Yale men. With such a surrounding of the "blue," it is perhaps not surprising that Parsons, a Harvard man, should have desired to add "a good companion now and then to his agreeable family." The defenses of West Point progressed rapidly towards completion under the charge of General Parsons; the fort, which was of great size, had been put in " some state of defense," and the preparations to sink the chevaux-de-frise and stretch the chain across the river had been well advanced, so that all the obstructions to navigation were in position before the end of April.
In March, 1778, Washington, in several letters to Parsons, suggested an attempt to capture General Clinton, the British commander in New York. He described his isolated quarters, how they might be reached in the night by a party in whale-boats, and recommended that our men be dressed in red so as not to be distinguished from British soldiers. The feasibility of the scheme he left to Parsons's judgment. For some reason the attempt was not made at this time, although later on it was made, but without success. March 31st Washington wrote Major-General McDougal, who had now assumed command of the department, asking his opinion as to the practicability of an attempt on New York, and directing him to consult as to the matter "with Governor Clinton and General Parsons, and them only." Both advised against it in the condition of the troops, but thought it might be successfully made a few weeks later if men and provisions could be had.
In the summer of 1778, Parsons was in command of his brigade, the 1st Connecticut, at Washington's camp at White Plains. June 24th he writes from camp to his old friend and compatriot, Thomas Mumford of Groton, one of those who had aided him in i 775 in raising funds for the capture of Ticonderoga, and, after announcing the evacuation of Philadelphia, sums up in an ironical way the meagre achievements of Great Britain:
"To the immortal honor of Great Britain she has expended nearly thirty millions sterling, wasted her best blood, transported a greater army than ever before passed the Atlantic, in three campaigns conquered the capitals of five States, fought ten battles, lost one army prisoners, another by death, and at the opening of the fourth campaign may perhaps secure one city strongly fortified, sufficient to cover one army of 20,000 men from immediate destruction, a glory this in which she will stand unrivalled in fame by any other nation in the annals of future ages."
It appears from the numerous opinions of General Parsons, preserved among the manuscripts of General Washington in the State Department, that he was frequently consulted by Washington on matters of great public importance. These opinions give a favorable impression of the abilities of General Parsons both as a statesman and soldier. It would be interesting, if space permitted, to insert several of them here.
In November, 1778, the whole army went into winter quarters, the Connecticut troops, including Parsons's brigade, at Redding, Conn., under the command of General Putnam. McDougal commanded in the Highlands, and Washington with part of the army was at Middlebrook, New Jersey. This disposition was for the purpose of protecting the Highlands and the shores of the Sound, and guarding against the enemy in New York. December 5th, Parsons is reported with a party at Horseneck on the Sound, and in February, 1779, he was there again looking after the Coast Guards. The same month he went with a detachment from the camp at Redding to repel an expected attack on New London and to push forward the construction of defensive works. He drew up and submitted to Governor Trumbull a plan of defense and urged the immediate calling out of the militia to complete the works. In March the alarm was so increased by reports that Clinton was assembling transports and troops at the east end of Long Island, that many of the inhabitants removed their families and effects. It is not a little singular that the activity of the British was not, as it proved, directed against New London, but was occasioned by a rumor confidently believed by the enemy, that General Parsons was at New London with a body of four thousand men, making hasty but secret preparations for a descent on Long Island, in consequence of which Clinton had hastened from New York with a flying column to meet the expected invader. In the latter part of March General Parsons returned with his troops to Redding.
In the spring of 1779, General Parsons was so much depressed by his failing health, annoyed by the failure to send the promised supplies to his suffering troops, and burdened with anxiety lest the depreciation in the currency and rise in prices should leave his young family without sufficient means of support, that he enclosed his resignation to the President of Congress. But it not having been accepted and the time for the opening of the campaign drawing near, on the 23d of April he wrote to Washington acknowledging his letters of the 12th, 17th and 19th instant, and after informing him as to the situation of his troops goes on to say:
"I have reasons which have great weight to induce me to decline any command in the army the ensuing campaign, but the situation of the troops is such that I am apprehensive some ill effects will follow my resignation at this particular time. I shall continue in my command until the season is so far advanced that my example can have no influence to induce my officers to decline a service which too many of them already wish to be freed from."
From now on until the end of May, when he was ordered to the Highlands, General Parsons was very much occupied in collecting his men and getting them ready for the coming campaign. The people of Connecticut near the Sound, had for some time been in the habit of fitting out private expeditions for the purpose of plundering the inhabitants of Long Island living within the enemy's lines. This practice General Parsons regarded as not only unlawful, but impolitic and disgraceful, and as justifying every act of barbarity and cruelty which the British had been guilty of, and which Congress and every honest member of society had indignantly denounced. But as there was a claim that the practice was lawful, he determined to make a test case, and ordered Colonel Gray to seize certain goods taken from Long Island as soon as they came within his lines. These goods the claimant libelled, and the court, very much to Parsons's surprise, declared private warfare to be lawful. Believing the decree of the court to be contrary to law and good policy, he urged Congress to appeal the case, arguing that the Supreme Power alone had the right to carry on war. "If no further proceedings," he wrote, " are had in this case, I shall suppose that Congress is of the opinion that the practice is laudable and honorary, and that no military order to prevent it is to be obeyed, and that every subject of these States who is not restrained by his own private sentiments is at liberty to commit such depredations on the property of the inhabitants within the territory possessed by the enemy as he pleases; and as the trade of plundering is now in a flourishing condition, we shall be at liberty to share the benefits of it with our fellow citizens." His position on this question, although in the highest degree honorable to himself, was not calculated to make him friends among the piratical crews who sailed the Sound.
May 17, 1779, he writes to General Washington that, "if there should be any western or northern campaign, my officers would much prefer being employed in active service if the general good may as well be promoted. For my own part, I should prefer any part in an active campaign than any stationary post." On the 25th of May, the brigade commenced its march to the Highlands. The enemy having taken possession of Verplanck's and Stony Point, Washington, on the 23d of June, moved his headquarters to New Windsor, just north of the Highlands, leaving the main army at Smith's Clove under the command of Putnam. Parsons was encamped directly opposite West Point with instructions to assist in constructing the works. The great object of the disposition of the troops at this time was to guard against an expected attack upon West Point.
Early in July, in order to create a diversion and draw away the troops from the Highlands, General Tryon invaded Connecticut, and on the 5th plundered New Haven, burning many buildings; on the 8th laid Fairfield in ashes; and on the 12th destroyed Norwalk except a few scattered houses, in all this committing the most savage atrocities. As soon as Washington learned of the invasion, he directed General Parsons to hasten to Connecticut and encourage the militia in their efforts at resistance. Getting together one hundred and fifty Continentals and assisted by Wolcott's militia, he attacked the enemy at Norwalk, and though not in time to prevent the burning of the town, he succeeded in driving the invaders to their ships. The British loss, according to Tryon's report, was twenty killed, ninety-six wounded and thirty-two missing, showing that the few men engaged, not half the number of the enemy, did efficient service. Just before invading Connecticut, Tryon had addressed the following letter to Putnam or in his absence to Parsons:
"New York, June 18, 1779.
"By one of his Majesty's ships of war which arrived here last night from Georgia, we have intelligence that the British forces were in possession of Fort Johnstone, near Charleston, the first of June. Surely it is time for rational Americans to wish for a reunion with the parent state, and to adopt such measures as will most speedily effect it.
"I am your very humble, obedient servant,
"Wm. Tryon, "Major-General."
September 7th, General Parsons replied to this letter, apologizing for not answering sooner, because he "entertained some hope of a personal interview with you in your descents upon the defenseless towns of Connecticut, but your sudden departure from Norwalk, and the particular attention you paid to your personal safety when at that place, and the prudent resolution you took to suffer the town of Stamford to escape the conflagration to which you had devoted Fairfield and Norwalk, prevented my wishes on that head. . ." After giving Tryon a budget of news somewhat larger and quite as unpalatable as that contained in his letter, he concludes as follows:
"Surely it is time for Britons to rouse from their delusive dreams of conquest, and pursue such systems of future conduct as will save their tottering empire from total destruction. "I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"Samuel H. Parsons."
While Parsons was absent in Connecticut," mad" Anthony Wayne had carried Stony Point, but not having sufficient men to hold the works, the British immediately reoccupied them in greater force than ever. Parsons, in an opinion called for by the Commander-in-Chief, thought a second assault should be attempted.
In the movements of 1779, General Parsons served in the left wing of the army which was stationed east of the Hudson, under Major-General Heath. In November the Connecticut Division, which heretofore had wintered at Redding and in the Highlands, was ordered to break camp at Peekskill and go into winter quarters with the main army at Morristown, New Jersey. The move to the west side of the Hudson was delayed until the 25th, when the Division crossed and encamped at Haverstraw. General Heath remaining in the Highlands, the Division with General Parsons in command, came immediately under Washington's orders. On the 27th, the Division encamped for the night at Kakeat, Parsons taking up his quarters at Judge Cox's house. On the 28th the march was continued to Ramapo and on the 29th and 30th to Persipany. The next day the Division marched to the grounds assigned to it for winter quarters, on the slope of a high hill about three miles south of Morristown, where it commenced to build the log huts which were to protect it during the severest and most trying winter experienced during the Revolution. General Putnam up to this time had been the nominal commander of the Connecticut line, but being for the greater part of the time with the main army, the actual command had now for nearly eighteen months devolved on Parsons. In December, 1779, Putnam having been stricken with paralysis while on a visit to Hartford, General Parsons succeeded to the full command. These troops were all regulars and the flower of the Connecticut soldiery. The position of the Division in the camp at Morristown was on the left of the first line. About June 30, 1780, the Division returned to the Highlands.
On the 18th of December Washington wrote to Parsons from his headquarters in Morristown, as follows:
I am fully of the opinion that those people who undertake to procure intelligence under cover of carrying produce to New York and bringing goods out in return, attend more to their own emoluments than to the business with which they are charged; and we have generally found their information so vague and trifling that there is no placing dependence on it. Besides, it opens a door to a very extensive and pernicious traffic. You seem to intimate that an advantageous chain of intelligence might be established by the means of money. Be pleased to make inquiry into this matter, and if you find proper persons for the purpose, let me know the terms and the sum requisite, that I may see whether it comes within the limits of our scanty funds in hard money, as I suppose that kind is meant. . . ."
Spies were employed on the most extensive scale by both sides during the Revolutionary War. In England we had a perfect corps of spies. In New York, Washington maintained an organization throughout the war, and particularly in 1779 and 1780, that under the guise of zealous loyalists, never failed to advise him instantly of any considerable movement. Many prominent persons within the enemy's lines, then trusted and lauded by the British commander and officials, and now believed to have been strong Tories, were in fact Whig spies. Washington's system for obtaining secret intelligence was thorough and efficient, and his sources and methods were many, and utterly unknown and unsuspected at the time, and each independent of the other. The entire direction of the system, especially after the defection of Arnold, he retained in his own hands. Every prominent leader in the war had also his own private agents and means of obtaining information from the enemy. From the fact of his commanding in Westchester and along the Sound during so much of the war, General Parsons had, of necessity, probably as much to do with the spy system and kept as many agents in his employ as any other General Officer except Washington himself; and he was often called upon by Washington, as in this case, for his advice and assistance, and all the more confidently, perhaps, because he was an able lawyer, had been a prosecuting attorney and possessed a very wide acquaintance with* men. The matters submitted to him were frequently of the most difficult, delicate, and confidential character.
During 1780, Parsons served both as brigade and division commander in the main army. In February both he and Huntington were absent in Connecticut, and the Division was temporarily under the command of General St. Clair. April 25th, General Parsons in a reply to a letter from Washington asking him to join his brigade as soon as he could make it convenient, says that he hopes he will be able to do so within ten or fifteen days. He further says:
"My son has just come from New York, whence he escaped, the 18th inst. ; he says a vessel arrived there the 14th in eleven days from Savannah, the master of which informs that Charleston was not taken when he sailed. The report in the city was that Sir Henry Clinton had so far advanced as to render the conquest of that place almost certain, but it is whispered that he had been repulsed in two assaults on the town with great loss."
The son here referred to is the General's eldest son, William Walter Parsons, named from his father's old friend and classmate, Rev. William Walter, who lived in New York during the war and at its close returned to his old home in Boston. "Midshipman Billy," as he was called, had been captured with his vessel at Penobscot and carried a prisoner to New York. He had not been with his father at Bunker Hill, and in the camps at Dorchester, Redding and in the Highlands, a privateersman for a year or more, and imprisoned in New York, without having learned that eyes and ears were made for use, and very little happened in New York while he was there that he did not report when he returned. It is plain from letters to be referred to, that love for his enemies was not one of Billy's weaknesses, but, on the contrary, that there lurked in his bosom the very natural though ungodly feeling of revenge, and that his father was not wholly free from sympathy with Billy's sentiments. In a letter to General Howe, the 29th, he says:
"In the course of my son's imprisonment, though he received many civilities from some gentleman there and from the British officers in the city, yet the Refugees had address and influence enough to procure an order for his close confinement and other rigorous treatment which I think is not to be suffered from the hands of any man. Those persons who were immediately instrumental in procuring those orders will probably soon be on the coast of Long Island where they may be taken. I should be particularly obliged to you to give my son an order to take the command of the small guard at Stamford and Horseneck and make incursions on the Island for the sole purpose of taking off their small guards and seizing the persons of those Refugees if they fall in his power."
The same day, in writing to his friend, Parson Walter, in New York, he says:
"As to your tory friends, the best advice I can give them is to keep out of my way; as to reforming them, I have no expectation of it, and to punish them I have no desire to; but my conduct will be regulated by theirs. Although my son's resentments are high against the class of men who solicited his confinement, I shall not consent to his inflicting punishment upon any who may fall in his power (which, I think, will probably not be a few), except the Hoyts, Captain Camp, Nicol, Baker, Jarvis and a few other persons, whom if he happens to fall in with, I believe I shall not feel myself disposed to prevent his taking full satisfaction of in any way he chooses."
Whether Billy succeeded in capturing any of his friends, the Refugees, and making it pleasant for them does not appear, but, if not, it was not due to any lack of activity and enterprise on the part of the young sailor. The next we hear of him is at St. Eustatia in April, 1781, a prisoner on board one of Admiral Rodman's ships, whence he escaped in a vessel bound for St. Thomas. He had been treated with great severity, probably on account of his attempts to escape, having been kept in irons seventy-two days. But the cruelty of his captors had not taken out of him his old grit and spirit, for his determination then was to go to Guadaloupe and "get on board some armed vessel that he might have it in his power to retaliate for lost property and abusive treatment."
On Christmas day, 1779, Sir Henry Clinton had sailed for South Carolina with a large force, leaving New York in command of the Hessian general, Knyphausen. The active operations of the campaign having been transferred to the South, little was left for several months to employ the Northern Army except to keep watch and ward against the enemy in New York. Clinton returned North in June, and on the 10th of July, Ternay's fleet with Rochambeau's army, sailed into Newport harbor. Shortly after his return, Clinton organized an expedition against the French contingent at Newport,
and Washington, in order to defeat his object, at once prepared a demonstration in force toward New York. On the 30th of July, the troops moved down the river to Peekskill and remained there till August 3d. They were to have continued their march towards King's Bridge, but learning that Clinton had relinquished his design against the French, Washington recrossed the Hudson with his entire force to make a grand reconnaissance down the west side of the river towards Bergen and Staten Island, in the course of which it was expected that an opportunity would occur for striking at the northern end of New York Island. The general order of battle announced before leaving Peekskill, gave Parsons the command of the rear column of the right wing of the army. Clinton refusing to accept battle, the army fell back to Orangetown, N. Y., where it remained for a time under the command of General Greene.
At the beginning of the war General Parsons had invested his property in government securities, thinking to be relieved thereby of all care as to his private affairs. But this investment, instead, had proved a source of endless anxiety, for as the currency depreciated and all kinds of property rose in value, he found himself, who had trusted his all to the government when he entered the army, growing poorer every day, while his friends who had remained in civil life and, keeping their property, had engaged in trade, were growing rich. If Congress was certain to pay the face-value of its obligations,
he could wait; but should it repudiate them, as its recent action led him to fear would be the case, his family must be reduced to penury. To save that was his first duty, and he must act promptly if he would preserve the remnant of his fortune from total wreck. Under these circumstances, on the 30th of May, he sent his resignation a second time to Congress, but the only reply which seems to have been made to his request, was to promote him in the following October to the position of Major General. The country could not afford to be deprived of his services. If Parsons seems to any one to have acted without sufficient reason, let him read Washington's letter of August 13, 1780, to Joseph Jones in Congress:
"It does not require with you, I am sure, at this time of day, arguments to prove that there is no set of men in the United States, considered as a body, that have made the same sacrifices of their interests in support of the common cause, as the officers of the American Army; that nothing but a love of their country, of honor and a desire of seeing their labors crowned with success, could possibly induce them to continue one moment in the service; that no officer can live upon his pay; that hundreds, having spent their little all in addition to their public allowance, have resigned because they could no longer support themselves as officers; that numbers are at this moment rendered unfit for duty from want of clothing, while the rest are wasting their property, and some of them verging fast to the gulf of poverty and distress."
In June, General Parsons made a tour through Connecticut for the purpose of urging the people to greater activity in furnishing men and supplies for the army. Lafayette was engaged upon a similar errand and while on his progress to Newport, stopped to confer with Parsons. During part of July and August, Parsons was in the camp at Danbury. We find a letter written by him from that place to Alexander Hamilton, then an aide-decamp of General Washington, acknowledging his letter of the 21st, in which he had asked Parsons to appoint a friend of his on his staff. On the 3d of August, Arnold was appointed to the command of West Point and its dependencies. This brought Parsons and his division within Arnold's military jurisdiction and under his immediate command. September 23, 1780, occurred the great event of the war, the capture of Andre" and the discover}', as Washington truly characterized it, of Arnold's "villainous perfidy." On the 29th, General Parsons was appointed by Washington one of a Board of General Officers for the trial of Andre\ After full deliberation and upon the confession of Andre, the court, although most anxious to save him, by a unanimous vote condemned him to death, and he was executed in the camp at Tappan on the 2d of October.
A singular circumstance occurred in connection with Arnold's negotiation with Clinton. About the 27th of August, one William Heron, a member of the Connecticut Legislature from Redding, and well-known to the officers of the Connecticut Line, requested Parsons to assist him in procuring a flag for the purpose of going into New York that he might collect money due him there. Accordingly he gave him a note to Arnold, then in command of the department, who, instead of granting the flag immediately, detained Heron until the 30th, and then brought from his private room a letter which he said was from a friend of his and that he had examined it, at the same time pointing out to him that it had been sealed with a wafer which he had broken and afterward sealed with wax, and desiring him to be careful and deliver it with his own hand if he went into New York. Heron went into New York, but Arnold's extraordinary precautions led him to inspect the seal, and finding that the wafer had not been broken as Arnold said, his suspicions were excited and instead of delivering the letter as promised, brought it back with him, and on the 10th of September gave it to Parsons. The letter appearing to relate merely to trade, Parsons, preferring to state the facts privately to Washington instead of making a formal communication, rode over to camp for the purpose, but on his arrival, finding that his Excellency was just leaving camp for Hartford, "it was left," as Parsons expresses it, "to the ripening of the horrid event to detect this unsuspected instrument." It is an interesting speculation as to how much history would have been changed had Heron delivered this letter in New York, or had Parsons succeeded in bringing the matter to the attention of Washington. The letter is signed "Gustavus," and is the one published in the Life of Andre.
On the 23d of October, 1780, General Parsons received his well-deserved and long-delayed promotion as Major-General in the Continental Army. He had served as Colonel from the Lexington alarm until August 9, 1776, when he was made Brigadier-General, and as Division Commander since Putnam's disability in 1779 and during the greater part of the eighteen months previous, and was justly entitled to the rank due to his command. The Connecticut Line went into winter quarters in a valley above Robinson's farm just back of Constitution Island and opposite West Point. Under orders dated " Highlands, near North Redoubt, December 2, 1780," General Parsons gave minute directions as to laying out the camp and the construction of the huts. This cantonment came to be known as "Connecticut Village."
The Continental Congress by resolution of October, 1780, provided for a reorganization of the army and a reduction of the number of regiments without reducing the number of troops in the field. The eight Connecticut regiments of Parsons's Division were consolidated into five. The new arrangement went into effect January 1, 1781. Pursuant to the orders of General Parsons, the 3d and 4th were consolidated as the first; the 5th and 7th as the 2d; the 2d and 9th as the 3d; the 1st and 8th as the 5th; and the 6th became the 4th. Under the provisions of the resolution of Congress, General Parsons called upon the officers of the Connecticut line to signify in writing whether they were inclined to remain or retire, adding that he hoped "every officer whose age, health and circumstances will allow of it, will be willing to continue his services to his country."
Early in January, 1781, a detachment of New England troops was sent to quell the revolt of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Lines, the command of which Parsons sought and to whom it properly belonged, but Howe claimed it and received it on the ground of seniority. The same month General Washington, in order to protect the defenseless inhabitants near the Sound, directed General Parsons to take command of a detachment of four battalions and beat up the quarters and destroy the barracks and forage of DeLancey's Refugee Corps at Morrisania and Throgg's Neck. The column of attack under Lieutenant-Colonel Hull was to push on beyond Kingsbridge and Fort Independence along the east bank of the Harlem to Morrisania. The expectation was to effect a surprise in which Hull was only partially successful, but his assault was so rapid and vigorous that he was able to accomplish nearly all that was intended. Hull was now eight miles within the enemy's lines, and Fort Independence was only four miles from East Chester where Parsons was with the supporting force. Getting together the fifty-four men and sixty horses he had captured, Hull commenced his retreat, which was no easy matter with half the British army in his rear, now fully aroused by the noise of musketry and the light of the burning barracks. Twice Parsons sent him word to hasten his march as a large body of the enemy was advancing from Kingsbridge to intercept the retreat. This force he directed Sherman to oppose until Hull should come up, and to relieve Hull he sent Hazen's regiment, which, concealed behind a stone-fence, by its sudden and well-directed fire checked the pursuit. A junction having been formed, Parsons gave orders for retiring by the way of New Rochelle, Scammel with his artillery covering the retreat. With a force of not exceeding two thousand men, thirty miles distant from any support, officers and men exhausted by the long march, a large part of the British army within five or six miles, and the main objects of the expedition fully accomplished, General Parsons did not deem it prudent either to follow up the advantage secured by Hazen's regiment or to attack the column advancing from Kingsbridge. Indeed, the situation was so critical that it was unsafe to halt for refreshments even, and he continued his march through a severe storm of snow and hail until twelve o'clock that night. Stopping one day at Horseneck to rest his troops he marched them back to their cantonments in the Highlands. For this brilliant affair, General Parsons and Lieutenant-Colonel Hull and their officers received the thanks of Congress and the congratulations of the Commander-in-Chief.
In a letter dated Huts, January 31, 1781, General Parsons writes to his wife now living at Redding:
"I have not heard a word from the family since I wrote by Mr. Wright. I wish you and they may be well. I thank you for the offer of the pigs—should have sent for them before this, but the expedition which I commanded below prevented. I intend to send in a few days. I have two or three barrels of flour which I only wait an opportunity of sending you. I wish I knew what you were most in want of that I might provide and send it. . .1 have not had a farthing this month, nor do I expect any. . . ."
Washington having been informed that dangerous plans and combinations were being formed among the Tories of Fairfield County, he writes to General Parsons the 22d of February, to proceed thither and investigate the matter, taking with him a sufficient guard from the Connecticut Line, and authorized him to assure the spy he should employ such generous compensation as would be an object to his family and secure his fidelity. Twenty-two days later Parsons reported to Washington the bad condition of affairs he had discovered, and after stating that he knew about forty persons engaged in illicit trade and correspondence with the enemy on Long Island, and that he believes "this is not one quarter of those concerned in so doing," says, "it has become difficult to know what is best to be done in these towns. To make enquiries thorough and take up all concerned, will drive great numbers to the enemy, and to omit it will put the few well affected who now remain here wholly in the power of the enemy, notwithstanding any effort we can make to protect them. In short, the evil has taken so deep root, it has become a subject of a very delicate nature and difficult to know how far it is best to extend enquiries." He concludes his letter with a statement of the arrangement he has made with the spy employed in the investigation, who is supposed to have been William Heron. Washington in reply advised severe measures, and suggested that Parsons consult Governor Trumbull and his Council, and offered the necessary military assistance when matters should be brought to a head. Before anything could be accomplished, Parsons was prostrated with a malarial fever. On the 30th he wrote Washington that the fever had left him exceedingly weak and that he would not be able to join the army before June. "Two severe fevers in six months are very forcible proofs of a ruined constitution, and reasons of great weight with me to pay more attention to my health than a camp life will admit of. . . . I believe very little more progress can be made in the matters committed to my conduct at present." The previous sickness he refers to is mentioned in a letter to his wife written from the camp at Tappan shortly after the execution of Andre.
May 22d, he writes to Washington that he has learned from New York that General Arnold was every hour expected to take command of an expedition into Connecticut. This information was doubtless furnished by William Heron, who had just returned from New York.
In May of this year Yale College conferred honorary degrees on both General Washington and General Parsons in recognition of distinguished services.
In June, Washington concentrated his troops at Peekskill, where much time was devoted to perfecting their drill and soldierly appearance in view of the approaching meeting with their French allies, then on the march from Newport. On the morning of July 2, 1781, he broke camp at Peekskill and marched towards Kingsbridge to form a junction with the French army and with them make an attempt on New York. Parsons commanded the right of the first line and occupied the heights immediately commanding Kingsbridge, where he was in position to intercept DeLancey's Refugees who were to be beaten up by the Duke de Lauzun. The intention was to surprise the posts on the upper end of New York Island, but General Lincoln, to whom the duty had been assigned, having been prematurely discovered by the enemy, Washington fell back to Dobbs Ferry where he went into camp with the French on his left. The objective of the campaign was the capture of New York, but the operations were delayed and finally abandoned on account of the dilatoriness of the New England States in furnishing their quotas of provisions and men. This condition of affairs was very aggravating to both Washington and Parsons, and on the 20th elicited from Parsons a very scathing and indignant letter to Governor Trumbull and his Council. Parsons was the one upon whom Washington chiefly relied to keep Connecticut up to its duty, and he felt that his honor was concerned when his State fell behind. His letters appear to have aroused the authorities from their apathy, and his cutting words do not seem to have lost him their esteem, for not long after the Governor and Council honored Parsons with a distinguished mark of their confidence by requesting him to take command of the State troops and Coast Guard, together with such militia as should be ordered to the coast, and dispose of them in such manner as he should judge best calculated to protect the State from the incursions of the enemy.
On the 21st of July, Washington marched from his camp at Dobbs Ferry with about 5000 men to reconnoitre the enemy's posts near Kingsbridge. The army moved in four columns, Parsons's Division in the lead, and arrived at Kingsbridge about daylight and formed on the heights back of Fort Independence extending towards DeLancey's mills, while the legion of Lauzun with Waterbury's corps proceeded to scour Morrisania and Throg's Neck, but with little effect as the Refugees had fled. After spending two days in the reconnoissance, Washington on the 23d marched back in reverse order to camp. On the 21st of August the siege was abandoned and the whole French army and part of the American marched to the Peninsula, where on the 19th of October Cornwallis surrendered to the allied armies, thus practically ending the war.
When Washington left for the South, General Heath took command of the Department. The New England troops, including Parsons's Division, were stationed on the north side of the Croton River to watch and annoy the enemy in New York. Parsons continued to command the right wing of the army, and at the same time discharged the duties imposed upon him by the Governor and Council of Connecticut of guarding the shores of the Sound. In the fall he attempted to organize an expedition against the Tories on Lloyd's Neck on Long Island, and obtained Heath's consent, but for some unexplained reason it was abandoned when on the point of success.
In the winter of 1781-2, the Connecticut Division re-occupied camp "Connecticut Village" of the previous year. The Division went into quarters under General Parsons, but his health and domestic affairs took him from camp most of the season. In April, 1782, after seven years of continuous service, dating from the Lexington alarm in 1775, and after the war had been practically closed by the Yorktown surrender, General Parsons, so long identified with the Connecticut Line, resigned his commission as Major-General in the Continental Army. His resignation was accepted by Congress July 22, 1782. Upon leaving his old command, he issued the following parting order:
"division Orders, April 3, 1782.
"It is with regret that Major General Parsons finds himself obliged to inform the Division of the army under his command that his health is so impaired, he feels himself totally unable to continue his connection with them any longer. Duty and Inclination would have led him to have accompanied them with his service to the end of the war had not the state of his Health been such as to put it out of his Power. He takes this opportunity to express his cordial attachment to the Interest and Welfare of the army in general and of this Division in particular. The Intimacy and friendship with which he has spent seven years with many officers and the harmony which subsisted with all renders it affectionately painful to separate from them and has cemented an union which nothing but necessity should have interrupted — the feelings and pleasing remembrance of which nothing but Death shall obliterate. The Patience under disappointments and distresses, the obedience and attention to Duty by which the Soldiers of the Connecticut Line have been ever distinguished, will redound to their lasting honor, and endears them to every friend to the liberties of our country.
"The General begs the officers to accept his most hearty thanks for the many and repeated proofs he has received of their friendship and thinks it his duty to give his testimony to the fidelity, fortitude and persevering constancy of both officers and soldiers since he has had the honor to command; and though he feels deprived of the pleasure any longer to unite his personal exertions with theirs, yet his Heart shall be with them in contending for the object of our long and united struggle."
May 17, 1782, General Parsons wrote to General Washington announcing his retirement from the army and assigning as the reason therefor his "extreme ill-health." For several years he had suffered from malaria contracted in the Highlands, and the two severe sicknesses which he had undergone during the previous year indicated a constitution so broken as to be unable longer to endure the exposures of army life. He was now forty-five years old and had served continuously as Colonel, Brigadier-General and Major-General since he entered the army, April 26, 1775. His military career was honorable and successful. Had he enjoyed the advantages of a military education, or possessed the military experience of some of the other generals, it might have been more brilliant, though perhaps no more useful. In retiring from the army he must have carried with him a feeling of profound satisfaction that events had proven the correctness of his judgment when he advocated an appeal to arms. But his statesmanship was even more conspicuous than his soldierly qualities. He was one of the earliest and most strenuous in opposing the encroachments of Great Britain. "The idea of inalienable allegiance to any Prince or State," wrote he to Samuel Adams, "is an idea to me inadmissible; and I cannot see but that our ancestors when they first landed in America were as independent of the Crown or King of Great Britain as if they never had been his subjects." All through the war he was a rank, aggressive republican, intolerant of the short-comings of Congress, and impatient of the dilatoriness and apathy of the States. In the cause of Independence, he was a positive, compelling force, vigilant, active, uncompromising, fruitful in plans and suggestions, full of confidence and hope himself and a source of inspiration and encouragement for others, and never once lost faith in the justice of the cause or in its final successful outcome. There is less of doubt and discouragement in his letters than in those of Washington or of most of the Revolutionary writers. Even John Adams said after the war was over, "there was not a moment during the Revolution when I would not have given everything I possessed for a restoration of the state of things before the contest began, provided we could have had a sufficient security for its continuance. Parsons never conceded so much as this. He never uttered a word in favor of a settlement on the old basis, a plan which had many adherents in Connecticut.
The discovery of a stray volume of Sir Henry Clinton's Headquarters Secret Service Record in 1882, has been made the occasion of a cowardly charge against Parsons of treasonable correspondence with the enemy. This charge is so utterly absurd and improbable and comes from such a prejudiced source, that it would never have been noticed had it not been carelessly repeated in more responsible quarters, and the act defended by the astonishing declaration that "if the historian is to consider all damaging uncorroborated statements, charges that ought to go for nought till other evidence is adduced, he will find that little history can be written." So much the worse, say we, for history. This charge so stirred the indignation of Senator Hoar and our late minister to Portugal, Hon. George B. Loring, that the latter at the instance of Mr. Hoar, prepared a pamphlet in refutation, which has been pronounced unanswerable by such men as Senator Hoar, Judge Devens, Wayne McVeigh, Judge McCurdy and Rev. Dr. Peabody. In preparing a biography of General Parsons, the writer has discovered additional facts in documents not seen by Mr. Loring, which materially strengthen his argument and make belief in this miserable slander impossible to any fair-minded man.
William Heron of Redding, Conn., for many years a member of the legislature and a man very active in affairs, was often employed as a spy by General Parsons, who in April, 1782, when about to retire from the army, commended him to General Washington as one of the most faithful, accurate and trustworthy men in the secret service. He mentions as evidence of his fidelity the bringing to him of Arnold's letter to Andre\ and the early information he gave of Arnold's intended raid on Connecticut. Heron had many friends in New York, and one, with whom he was particularly intimate, in the office of the British Adjutant-General. Through them he was able to furnish more accurate and valuable intelligence than could be obtained elsewhere. He was also supposed to have been the spy employed in the Fairfield investigation.
In Clinton's Record are found several letters purporting to have been written by Heron, which profess great loyalty and apparently are of a treasonable character — apparently, I say, for while they are such on their face, to my view they merely disclose the methods of a shrewd, audacious spy in plying his trade. The noticeable thing about all Heron's communications is, that he deals in generalities rather than particulars, in opinions rather than facts, and that the intelligence he gives is of little value. In his visits to the Adjutant-General's office he seems to have discovered Clinton's conceit that he could tamper with any American officer, and taken advantage of it to further his schemes by pretending to be negotiating to bring over Parsons. As the negotiation was imaginary it naturally proceeded slowly, and when the Adjutant-General became impatient and required some evidence of progress, Heron in his strait presents a letter, a copy of which appears in the Record, purporting to have been written by Parsons, which he alleges was written in pursuance of a plan by which in this manner he was to communicate intelligence to the enemy. The letter appears to be in answer to one written by Heron and states nothing but what was already well known. Assuming it to be genuine, it might have been a friendly letter to Heron written without any suspicion of the use to which it was to be put, for it is of the same general character and expresses the same sentiments as one written four days after to his friend Thomas Mumford of New London, who had assisted him in raising funds to surprise Ticonderoga and whose patriotism was beyond suspicion. The noticeable difference in the two letters is, that he writes to Mumford many things which would have been very interesting to Clinton, while to Heron, whom he knows as a spy, he says nothing which Clinton did not already know. But there is no evidence except Heron's statement that this letter is genuine. There is nothing to show whether it is an original or a copy. Parts of this letter sound like Parsons, and other parts do not. From the number of original letters of Parsons in my possession, it is evident that the custom was then, as now, to mail signed copies and file the originals. This being the case, how easily Heron might have fixed up a letter for the occasion without the least danger of detection. That he did so is almost certain, for in a postscript to his own letter enclosing Parsons's, he adds, "I thought it advisable to cut the name off the enclosed." If he had not been practicing a fraud upon Clinton, would he, sharp and keen as he undoubtedly was, have been guilty of the folly of destroying a genuine signature and throwing away the opportunity of committing Parsons irretrievably to the British cause? The only basis for this charge is this alleged letter of Parsons's, and the only proof of its genuineness is the statement made by Heron under these circumstances — by Heron who is known to have been an American spy and whose object from all that appears was to get money out of the British under the pretence of needing it to secure the allegiance of Parsons. That this was his object is apparent from a postscript to a letter written by him to Clinton, March 4, 1782, at a time when Parsons, as he knew but as Clinton did not know, had practically retired from the army and was in no position to aid or convey intelligence had he so desired. In this postscript he speaks of his having been able to keep Parsons in a " tolerable frame of mind," of his willingness to communicate information, of his having frustrated the expedition concerted by Tallmadge against Lloyd's Neck (an expedition which, as we have seen, was originated by Parsons for the breaking up of a Tory nest on Long Island and was frustrated probably by Tallmadge), and closes with an intimation that a sum of money will be needed if a continuance of these services is expected. Surely no one less fat-witted than Clinton had the reputation of being, could have been taken in by such humbuggery. If Parsons was in fact ready to communicate the secrets of the "Cabinet," and if Heron was such a friend of the British as he pretended to be, how did it happen that Clinton was left in the dark for ten days as to the plans of Washington when he began his march to Yorktown, and how was it that Parsons neglected to inform him of his projected raid on the Tories at Lloyd's Neck? The fact that Heron's bureau of information always failed to work at critical periods is pretty good evidence that it had no existence.
Clinton's Secret Service Record, unfortunately, was annotated by one to whom might well be applied the remark made by Sparks in reference to the English historian, Adolphus, "that prejudice, embittered feelings, and national antipathy are infirmities peculiarly unfortunate in a historian whose aim should be truth, candor, and justice." Heron's statements, without the trouble of inquiry, were hastily and eagerly assumed to be literally and unquestionably true. It seems never to have dawned upon the annotator's mind that possibly Heron was an American spy posing as a loyalist, as we now pretty certainly know was the case. No account was made by him of Parsons's high character, delicate sense of honor, eminent services and uniformly consistent and patriotic conduct; of the fact that he had the entire confidence of Washington, with whom he was intimately associated through the whole war, and of all the civil and military officers of his State, and that every act and utterance of his, from the beginning to the end of his life, gives the lie to the charge and throws the burden of proof on his accuser, who, unless able to sustain himself by irrefutable evidence, must be regarded by the world as a criminal libeller, and his act all the more mean and contemptible because directed against a man no longer able to speak for himself. At the close of the war General Parsons resumed the practice of law in Middletown, Conn., to which his family had already removed. During the next few years he was often elected to the legislature. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, and for some time President of the Connecticut branch. In the latter part of the year 1785, he was appointed by Congress a Commissioner in connection with Gen. George Rogers Clarke of Kentucky and Col. Richard Butler of Pittsburgh, to treat with the Shawnee Indians. This treaty was made near the mouth of the Great Miami River, January 31, 1786, and the Indians then ceded to the United States a large and valuable tract of land upon which the city of Cincinnati now stands.
In March, 1787, the Ohio Land Company was organized in Boston by the election of General Parsons, Gen. Rufus Putnam and the Rev. Manasseh Cutler as directors. The stock of the Company was 1000 shares of $1000 each. Each shareholder was to pay ten dollars in coin to defray the expenses of the Company, and the balance in Continental Certificates. The purpose of the Company was to enable the Revolutionary soldiers of New England to convert their pay certificates into land. The business of purchase was undertaken by General Parsons alone. On the 9th of May, 1787, the same day the "Ordinance of 1787" was under consideration, he placed before Congress a memorial asking that "a tract of country within the Western Territory of the United States at some convenient place may be granted them at a reasonable price upon their paying a sum not exceeding $1,000,000, nor less than $500,000, and that such of the associators as by the resolutions of Congress are entitled to receive lands for their military services, may have their lands assigned to them within the aforesaid grant." This memorial, in the handwriting of General Parsons, shows no objection to the "Ordinance," but for some reason it stopped action on it. On account of the delay of Congress in acting, Parsons returned home leaving further negotiations to his co-director, Manasseh Cutler, who immediately proceeded to Middletown to confer with him as to the business. Cutler kept a diary in which he wrote as to this visit:
"I arrived at General Parsons's before day-light-in, but it was too dark to make any observations on the city. He lives on Main street opposite the church. His house is large and the situation delightful. The General was very complaisant and insisted on my lodging with him. Sunday, July ist, Gen. Parsons introduced me to Rev. Mr. Huntington, for whom I preached in the morning and afternoon. I spent the evening at Gen. Parsons's with my good old friend Mr. Plumb, who has left the desk for the bar. Mrs. Parsons, who appears to be an amiable lady, of rather a serious turn, treated me with the greatest kindness and attention. Monday, July 2. It was nine o'clock this morning, before Gen. Parsons and I had settled all our matters with respect to my business with Congress. He furnished me with a large number of letters to members of Congress and other gentlemen in New York."
On the 10th, the Committee on Parsons's Memorial reported in favor of the grant to the Ohio Company, but meanwhile Congress had determined to consider the "Ordinance" first, and it was passed on the 13th. Cutler found much difficulty in getting Congress to act on his grant until Duer came to him with a proposal from "a number of the principal characters in the city," that he should take in another Company and buy lands as its agent, though apparently for his own Company, all of which was "to be kept a profound secret." This agreed to, matters moved more smoothly. Cutler was anxious that Parsons should be made Governor of the new Territory, but Arthur St. Clair, then President of Congress, desiring the place and having a large interest in Congress, some concession became necessary, and he agreed to support St. Clair for Governor if Parsons should be made Chief Judge and Sargent Secretary. This settled, all obstacles were removed and the bill passed on the 27th, upon which Cutler entered in his diary:
"By the Ordinance we obtained a grant of near 5,000,000 acres of land, amounting to three and one half millions of dollars, one and one half millions for the Ohio Company, and the remainder for a private speculation in which many of the principal characters of America are concerned. Without connecting this speculation, similar terms and advantages could not have been obtained for the Ohio Company."
Returning home, Cutler writes in his diary, July 30th:
"We arrived in Middletown about sunset. When I informed General Parsons of my negotiations with Congress, he expressed his astonishment that I had obtained terms so advantageous, and assured me that he preferred the appointment of first Judge to that of Governor, especially if St. Clair was Governor. Mrs. Parsons was exceedingly complaisant. We spent a long and agreeable evening, for we did not go to bed until half after one."
In January, 1788, we find Parsons an active and influential member of the Connecticut Convention for adopting the Constitution of the United States. Our old acquaintance, the spy Heron, was also a member and voted for the adoption of the Constitution.
In March, 1788, General Parsons and his son Enoch, whom St. Clair appointed Register and
Clerk of the first Probate Record Office established northwest of the Ohio River, started for the Territory, where they arrived some time in April. The permanent settlement of Ohio by families dates April 7, 1788, when the pioneers of the Ohio Company, led by Gen. Rufus Putnam, arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum and founded Marietta—named from the unfortunate Queen of Louis XVI. In a letter to his daughters, April 12, 1788, Mr. Parsons writes with a tone of sadness almost prophetic of his coming fate: "I don't think it probable you will ever see me again. I have very little expectation of returning to New England again — my duty calls me away from you."
Under the "Ordinance of 1787," Arthur St. Clair was appointed Governor, and Parsons Chief Judge. His commission was dated October 23, 1787, just seven years after he was commissioned Major-General. The associate Judges were James M. Varnum and John Cleves Symmes. Civil government was not established in the Territory until July 15th of the next year, when Governor St. Clair, attended by Judges Parsons and Varnum and Secretary Sargent, made a public entry at the " Bower" in the city of Marietta, where he was received by Gen. Rufus Putnam and all the citizens "with sincere and unreserved congratulations."
July 16,1788, General Parsons writes to Manasseh Cutler from Muskingum:
"The beauty of the situation, fertility of the soil and goodness of climate are equal to our most sanguine expectations; industry and perseverance will soon place us in very easy circumstances. The Indians are friendly, but our working parties are required to take their arms into the fields. When I came no cover was provided for any person. We have built our huts, and the block-houses are now begun. You are much wanted."
Parsons, in 1788, purchased a tract near the Mahoning River, known as "The Salt Spring Tract," which attracted the attention of settlers. During August Cutler visited Marietta, where he was entertained by Putnam in his marquee, and " drank tea with Parsons." Parsons showed him a black walnut tree which was twenty-two feet in circumference five feet from the ground. On the 25th he went with Parsons and Putnam to survey his city lots on the Ohio.
December 11, 1788, Parsons writes to Cutler who has now returned home,
"that forty or fifty houses have been erected and more are building, but the arrivals are faster than we can provide coverings. . . . We still continue our Sabbath exercises, and last Monday we had the first ball in our country, at which were present fifteen ladies as well accomplished in the manners of polite circles as any I have seen in the old States. I mention this to show the progress of society in this distant country. I believe that we shall vie with, if not excel, the old States in every accomplishment necessary to make life happy. My wife has beat a parley and submitted a prisoner of war. She agrees to send one of our daughters next summer and with the family to remove when I can make it convenient."
January 23, 1789, he again writes to Cutler of the affairs of the Company:
"Judge Varnum left this world, in which he was very unhappy, the 10th inst., for a better, I hope, where he will enjoy a tranquillity to which he was a stranger here. ... I beg you will come as soon as possible. I can preach for you no longer. Deacon Story does very well, but on the public thanksgiving I was obliged for the first time to preach much against my will, from Psalm 103, verse 2, and such a piece of work I believe you never heard; I am sure I never did. To confirm my wife in her faith I have sent it to her for perusal."
A copy of this sermon is in the possession of the writer, and it is a much more creditable production, especially for a soldier, than the General would have us believe. That the Indians have " quietly submitted to our possessing their country," he particularly mentions as a subject of thanksgiving.
The Constitution of the United States was put in operation March 4, 1789, and General Parsons was appointed by Washington and confirmed by the Senate as Chief Judge of the Northwestern Territory, embracing the present States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, which office he held until his death. The same year he was appointed by the State of Connecticut a Commissioner with Governor Oliver Wolcott and Hon. James Davenport, to treat with the Wyandottes for the extinguishment of the Indian title to the Connecticut Western Reserve. November 1, 1789, he writes to his wife from Pittsburgh that he is about to " set out for Lake Erie to survey the Connecticut lands." This must have been the last letter she received from him, for while returning to his home in Marietta, he was drowned in descending the rapids of the Big Beaver River, November 17, 1789, at the age of fifty-two years. Governor Wolcott, Mr. Davenport and the General's son Enoch, the young Register and Probate Clerk, so writes a granddaughter who has often heard from Enoch the distressing details of the General's death, were waiting at Marietta for Parsons, who was momentarily expected, dinner being delayed for him, when a messenger arrived with a note to one of the Commissioners. "As he read it, his eyes inadvertently rested on our young uncle, who felt that it was fatal news, but commanded himself the best that he could. After dinner, Governor Wolcott invited Enoch to walk out with him, and when by themselves, said, 'Mr. Parsons, I have very sad news to communicate to you.'—' I know it, sir,' he replied, 'my father is dead.'" It was not until six months after that the body was recovered, and it was buried where it was found, at the mouth of the Big Beaver, near New Brighton, in Pennsylvania. A monument marks the spot. General Parsons was a fine swimmer, and it was thought that had it not been for a lameness caused by his horse falling upon his ankle, he would have made the shore. Enoch remained until the body was discovered, when he resigned his office and returned to Middletown. The death of General Parsons was a great loss to the new Territory, in which, undoubtedly, he would have proved a very prominent figure. The General's sword and many of his papers are in the possession of his great-grandson, Samuel Holden Parsons of New York.
At the beginning of the war General Parsons was possessed of a considerable fortune and enjoyed an income from his profession sufficient for the support of his family, but between the depreciation of the government securities in which he had invested the bulk of his property when he entered the army, and the loss of his professional income, which was not made good by the meagre salary of even a general officer, he came out of the war very nearly impoverished. In the Ohio venture he hoped to recuperate his fortunes, and doubtless would have done so in time, but he did not live long enough to accomplish it. When in 1789 letters of administration were issued to his son Enoch, his estates, both in Middletown and Marietta, were found to be insolvent.
The children of General Parsons and his wife, Mehetable Mather, were:
I. William Walter, born at Lyme July 5, 1762, died January 24, 1802. During the war he served as a midshipman. February 9, 1784, he married Esther Phillips of Middletown, by whom he had Esther Phillips, born December 7, 1 785, who married William Hammet of Bangor, Maine, and Thomas, born July 31, 1787, died August 28, 1787.
II. Thomas, born December 12, 1767, at Lyme, and died September 8, 1778, at Middletown.
III. Enoch, born November 5, 1769, at Lyme. In May, 1789, when only nineteen, he was appointed by Governor St. Clair, Register and Clerk of the first Probate Court in Ohio. Returning to Middletown after the death of his father, he was in May, 1791, at the age of twenty-one, appointed High Sheriff of Middlesex County, which office he held for about twenty-eight years. May 19, 1795, he married Mary Wyley Sullivan of Philadelphia, who died at Middletown, July 2, 1807. By her he had three children, born at Middletown: 1. Mary Sullivan, born August 5, 1796, who married Robert Dixon, and had one son who died unmarried. 2. Enoch Thomas, born October 31, 1798, who married Sarah C. Flannan of New York, and died April 15, 1830, without children. 3. Samuel Holden, a lawyer and distinguished antiquarian, born August 11, 1800, graduated at Yale, 1819, and died at Middletown, February 23, 1871, aged seventy years. He never married. After the death of his first wife, Mr. Parsons married Mrs. Sarah Rosecrans, daughter of Nehemiah Hubbard of Middletown. He was frequently a member of the legislature, and from 1818 to 1824 was President of the Middletown Branch of the Bank of the United States. After the removal of the bank to Hartford, he went there and again became its President, continuing such until the expiration of the charter of the parent bank in Philadelphia. He died at Hartford, July 9, 1846. By this marriage he had one child, Henry Ethelbert, born December 25, 1809, who married, May 26, 1842, Abby Catharine Welles. His youngest son, Samuel Holden, now a broker in New York, inherits from General Parsons the right to a membership in the Society of the Cincinnati.
IV. Samuel Holden, born December 31, 1777, at Middletown, married February, 1803, Esther Sage of that city, and died in the West Indies, March, 1811. His daughter, Mary Anne, married William C. Hammet of Howland, Maine, and had nine children.
V. Lucia, born at Lyme November 8, 1764, married, January 4, 1785, Chief Justice Stephen Titus Hosmer, born January 10, 1763, eldest son of Hon. Titus Hosmer and Lydia Lord of Middletown. She died February 28, 1825, and her husband August 6, 1834, at Middletown, where both are buried in the old cemetery on Main Street. Their children were: 1. Titus Samuel, born December 9, 1785, and died at sea, December, 1820. 2. Lucia Parsons, born September 15, 1787, and died June 10, 1791. 3. Harriet Lydia, born June 28, 1789, married Daniel Hinsdale of Middletown, and removed to New York, where she died leaving Richard, a merchant, and Charlotte Augusta, who was associated with her cousin, Mrs. McCauley, in a fashionable school of the day in New York City. 4. Lucia Parsons 2d, born August 31, 1791, who married Seth H. Noyes, a merchant in New York, and had nine children. 5. Sarah Mehetable, born August 4, 1793, who married Major Andre" Andrews, a lawyer of Middletown, who finally settled in Buffalo. Her daughter married Hon. Stephen W. Kellogg of Waterbury, Conn. 8. Elizabeth Lord, born June 16, 1800, who married, June 6, 1822, Dr. Edmund L. Cone, and is buried at Middletown. 10. Mary Whiting, born November 27, 1804, and died August 30, 1894, in her ninetieth year. She was also associated with Mrs. McCauley and Miss Hinsdale in the school before mentioned. 11. Oliver Ellsworth, named from Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth of the Supreme Court of the United States with whom his father studied, was born May 6, 1808, and married Anne P. Hawes of New York. They had a large family of unusually handsome children.
VI. Mehetable, born at Lyme December 24, 1772, married, March 6, 1796, Dr. William Brenton Hall of Middletown, and had Mehetable Parsons, William Brenton, and Samuel Holden Parsons Hall.
VII. Phebe, born at New London, January 25, 1775, who married, July 30, 1797, Samuel Tiffin. Their daughter, Eliza H., married L. T. Clarke, a lawyer of Philadelphia, and had two children.
VIII. Margaret, born at Middletown June 1, 1785, who married, February 10, 1807, Stephen Hubbard. They settled in Champion, New York, where he died March 27, 1812. She afterwards married Alfred Lathrop, a lawyer of Champion. By her first husband she had: 1. Mary Sullivan, born April 29, 1808, who married, December 21, 1830, Hon. Joel Turrill, a Member of Congress and consul at the Sandwich Islands during Polk's administration. They had four children, Elizabeth Douglas, William, Mary Hubbard, and Frederick. Mrs. Turrill is now living with her children at Los Gatos, California, in the enjoyment, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years, of excellent health and with her mental vigor unimpaired. 2. William Hubbard, born September 1, 1810, and died unmarried. By her second husband, Alfred Lathrop, she had: 1. Stephen Hubbard, born January 21, 1815, who married Dorcas Eliza Beardsley. He was a banker in Oswego. 2. Samuel Parsons, born April 12, 1817, who married Caroline Curry Pickett of Richmond, Virginia. 3. George Alfred, born August 19, 1819. He was a physician and went to the Sandwich Islands, where his brother-in-law, Judge Turrill, was consul, and where for a time he was himself acting consul. He married Frances Maria Smith, and had Francis Augustus, born at sea, and George Parsons, born August 25, 1851, near Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. George Parsons Lathrop married Rose, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, September 11, 1871, in the old church of St. Peter's, Chelsea, London. She was born May 20, 1851. 4. Eliza Stoors, born December 20, 1822, who married James Willard Smith. 5. Enoch Thomas, born August 1, 1824. 6. Frederick B., born March 13, 1828, who married Mary Elizabeth Mather of Binghamton, a lineal descendant of Rev. Richard Mather of Dorchester. Their children now living are: Frederika Turrill, Nellie, Helen Morgan, Caroline Mather, and Lillie Mather. Mr. Lathrop for many years lived in Binghamton, but has now for a long time resided in Oswego, where he has an attractive home.
Source: Hall ancestry, by Charles Samuel Hall, G. P. Putnam's sons, 1896, pages 312-369. Downloaded 2011 from Google Books.
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Maj. Gen. Samuel H. Parsons's Timeline
May 14, 1737
Lyme, New London County, Connecticut Colony
July 5, 1762
Lyme, Connecticut, USA
December 12, 1767
Lyme, CT, USA
November 5, 1769
Lyme, Connecticut, USA
December 24, 1772
Lyme, New London County, Connecticut Colony
January 25, 1775
New London, CT, USA
December 31, 1777
Middletown, CT, USA
June 1, 1785
Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States