Your favorite personal story of people from this period?

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by primalclaws1974, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. The private lives of great men like George Washington and Patrick Henry are almost as interesting to me as the reasons they are still famous. An example of interesting personal information is that George Washington had little former education. His older brothers had studied abroad, but before George was old enough to go, his father died, and he was unable to go overseas. His education was not past the 6th grade. Nevertheless, by the time he retired he was worth (in today's money) in excess of $20 million.
    Can you share a less-known personal story or background of a Revolutionary war figure? Thank you!
  2. mac266

    mac266 New Member

    There is a very little known patriot whose story is my favorite, likely because he was my 7-great grandfather. His name was Joshua Danforth.

    In 1775 he was a teenager, a corporal in his father's Massachusetts militia regiment. After the "shot heard 'round the world" at Lexington and Concord, militia units all across New England mobilized and massed around the British, who had retreated to Boston.

    Like most militia units, Danforth's unit was federalized by an act of Congress on June 14th, 1775, shortly before the battle now known as Bunker Hill. G. Washington was named the Commander-in-Chief, but the army was unaware of this development by the time the battle occurred.

    Danforth remained with the Continental Army through not only Bunker Hill, but continuously re-enlisted until the war's end in 1783. He remained in service until the majority of the army was disbanded in 1784. His final rank was Lieutenant, and he was one of Washington's staff officers.

    I have thus far been able to prove that he was at Saratoga under Gates, as well as a few other battles. He does not appear on the muster rolls for Yorktown; however, because by that time he was on Washington's staff, it is likely no one bothered to write down those present in front of the man.

    I found a document from the mid 1800s where a distant relative had applied for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. The applicant cited a journal kept by Danforth, thus setting me on an expedition to find said journal. After three years of detective work, I knocked on the door to another very distant relative (our last common ancestors were my 5-great grandparents). After stating who I was, he let me inside and showed me the journal. I was able to spend about a half hour reading the journal, and learning something of the character of my patriot grandfather.

    The journal was only kept between 1780-81. He referred to Washington as "His Excellency," which I knew was Washington's style during his later presidency, but was unaware it was in use during his generalship. Arnold's treachery was discovered during the time of the journal, so my ancestor referred to him as "That Traitor Arnold," capitalized as written here, several times. I could see from the darker, thicker font how he had pressed the pen into the parchment much harder when writing "That Traitor Arnold," indicating severe emotion over the matter. He also referred to the war as "The Cause," also capitalized.

    After the war, Danforth returned to Massachusetts. However, during Washington's first presidential term, he appointed Danforth to be Postmaster General of the state of Ohio.

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