In 1776 Capt. Samuel McCune's Company of Col. Frederick Watt's Regiment Flying Camp was formed in Cumberland County. What can anyone tell me about this company?
"The Flying Camp" was formed on 3 June 1776 when the Continental Congress resolved that a flying camp of 10,000 men be immediately established in the middle colonies: Maryland to furnish 3400, Pennsylvania 6000, Delaware 600. The term "flying camp" had been used by the British Army at least as far back as the 16th century when Holinshed used it in his History of England. Chambers' Encyclopedia of 1729 gave the description as a body of armed men available for quick movement.
According to the "Ancestry of the Jayne Family of Long Island"," Hart's Flying Camp consisted of ten thousand men, being authorized by the Continental Congress and organized on July 27, 2776, at Brunswick, Pa. Shortly afterward, this battalion and other militia of Pennsylvania and Long Island, from August 26 to August 27, 1778. This entire Kaltius' battalion was captured by the British and the troops were all placed on the prison ships at Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, New York. The officers of this battalion were exchanged in December 1776, but the privates nearly all died from cruel treatment and starvation.."
I'm including a Google scan of Cap't. Kern's Company, my ancestor was in, George Dieter, was the third Private, I also found a paychit, where he supplied goods to the army.
Trenton, 26 December 1776: The winter of 1776 was the bleakest of what had become a War for Independence,
A Successful Failure
By Richard Baker, U. S. Army Military History Institute
* Flying Camp: Camp Volant (Fr). Eighteenth century military terminology defines such a unit as "a strong body of horse or foot, which is always in motion to cover its own garrisons, and to keep the enemy's army in a continual alarm."
Trenton, 26 December 1776: The winter of 1776 was the bleakest of what had become a War for Independence, "a time that indeed
tried men's souls." The victorious British had driven General George Washington and his army of Continentals and Minutemen.
On July 12, 1776, Admiral Richard, Lord Howe's fleet arrived at Long Island, New York, with one-hundred and fifty ships as well as renforcements for the army of his brother, General Sir William Howe, commander of the British Army in America, already encamped
on the island. General George Washington, Commander of the American Army, was concerned about a possible British invasion of New Jersey to isolate his forces in New York from the Middle Colonies. He ordered the Pennsylvania Militia encamped at Trenton, destined for the Flying Camp, to move forward to Amboy; "For having consulted with sundry Gentlemen I was informed, if the Enemy mean to direct their views towards Pennsylvania, or penetrate the Jerseys, their Route will be from near Amboy and either by way of Brunswick or Bound Brook." General Washington wanted forces in strength at the key location he deduced Amboy to be. The unit he chose to counter such a move would become unique among American military forces: the "Flying Camp."
A "Flying" unit or camp was an eighteenth century concept that today would be considered a mobile rapid reserve force. General George Washington's plans for confronting the British in 1776 included establishing such a force. In May 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia agreed that a Flying Camp would be raised, consisting of ten thousand men: "From Pennsylvania 6,000, Maryland 3,400,
lower Counties [Delaware] 600; total 10,000."
Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, appointed to command the Flying Camp, established his headquarters at Amboy, New Jersey.
Charged with creating a capable fighting force, he would be vexed by a myriad of difficulties that impeded and prevented the Flying Camp from achieving its potential. The inability of the three main states to fill their quotas of troops forced Congress to "consider the propriety and means of augmenting the Flying-Camp." Eventually units from Virginia and Connecticut would be, at least temporarily, attached to the Flying Camp. Even with such support the Flying Camp would never have a complement of 10,000 Soldiers. General Washington would repeatedly call upon Mercer to send assigned units to the Army in New York as reinforcements. Militia units would leave, sometimes in mass, upon completion of unrealistically short periods of service. Desertion would be a continual problem as men left to return to idle farms or succumbed to boredom and fatigue and departed. The heart of the "Camp," its Soldiers, was always faint due to the losses of men from illness, disease, and injury. Flying Camp physician William Shippen reported in November 1776, "The number of sick and wounded...three hundred and thirty-eight; four-fifths..will soon join their..companies. I have not yet taken charge of near two thousand that are scattered up and down the country in cold barns, and who suffer exceedingly for want of comfortable apartments...."
The difficulties of finding and keeping the Soldiers were compounded by logistical problems and supply shortages, political conflicts, and even the weather. The fall of Forts Washington and Lee along the Hudson River in November constituted the beginning of the American retreat across New Jersey. The end of the service commitment for the troops of the Flying Camp on December 1, 1776, depleted
Washington's Army still further. From that point until the Battle of Trenton, General Mercer and the remnants of the former Flying Camp would be on the defensive and in retreat. General Washington's brilliant, yet admittedly desperate, assault upon Trenton in late December and the ensuing battle at Princeton would be the final act for the command. On Christmas Day, Hugh Mercer and some 400 remaining members of the Flying Camp accompanied General Washington in crossing the ice filled Delaware River. They were assigned to the force approaching Trenton from the north and contributed greatly to the successful assault. It would be at the Battle of Princeton, on January 3, 1777, that the curtain would finally fall upon the Flying Camp. There General Mercer was mortally wounded in the fighting and taken prisoner; he would succumb to his wounds two weeks later.
Congress did not reestablish the Flying Camp. Military defeats, the forced retreat, and the inability to raise and retain adequate troops made the concept unsupportable. The decision of Congress to establish a national army eclipsed the need and role for the unit.
The Flying Camp served as a test of the Americans' ability to mobilize an effective military force, and contributed to the development of a stronger national army. Much military progress is the result of trial, error, and failure. The American Revolutionary War featured many failures over a period of nearly a decade until culminating in success. The Flying Camp was reasonably judged a failure at the time, yet still contributed to final victory.
Thanks for this post. It is very interesting. Do you know if Muster Rolls are available for other parts of Pennsylvania? I went back to my ancestor, Nicholas Henry's (Heinrich) pension request and saw that he mentions being with the Flying Camp at Fort Lee, Fort Washington, Trenton, White Plains, NJ and others. He mentions serving with Generals Washington and Mercer. I would love to find his name in a list. I have located him on a militia list from Lebanon Twp, Lancaster Co PA but not specifically in the Flying Camp.
Well if he was at Amboy, they could have served together. Amazing!! Since there was less than 10,000 that served,
I seem to remember about 6,000 in reality, it should be too hard to find, the book I got a potential ancestor (not sure he's 'my' George Dieter, there were several), was Penn_Rev. War Battalions & Miliitia.... I've created a poster of the Title page/Index. I hope your greatest relation is there.
ThomasJTeters(1952),me, son of....
John Teters(1823-1922), added 's', thereafter, because of the feud from Jacob's (Feb. 20, 1823) $1 will. Birth: 02 MAY 1823 in Manchaster, Morgan Co., OH. Burial: Spangle Cemt., Sec. A ,,,Death: 06 APR 1895 in Spokane Co., WA.......Jacob Teter(1795 Penn), went to Des Moines Township, Van Buren County, Iowa, in 1849 ....
Thank you. I finally found the book in "The Pennsylvania Archives," 2nd Series, Vol 13 and 14. I am still looking for a muster roll for the Lancaster Co. group. Don't know if Nicholas Heinrich was at Amboy but definitely mentions being in New York, Trenton, White Plains, Fort Lee, Fort Washington, Paulus Point?, Princeton, Elizabeth Town, and Hackensack NJ, and serving with Generals Washington, Sullivan and Mercer, according to his deposition.
Good luck finding him. If you come across and Dieters or Teter, please drop me a line. There are a lot of books out there and just so much time to read them. Thank God for searchable .pdf's!!! Found a great short story yesterday about a Conrad Teter-1810, Penn. in the:
*******************HISTORY OF LUZERNE COUNTY.
Sam Weller is the immortal English stage driver. This dear old stub-and-twist, whose experience gave birth to the eleventh commandment, " Beware of the vidders, Sammy," was in no way more deserving of everlasting fame than were George Boot or Conrad Teter, the noted cracks of the whip of Wilkes-Barre. Then there was Philip Abbott, who drove Robinson & Arndt's coach in 1806. Root was on the box forty years and upward—the king of his trade many years. Conrad Teter was a heavy fat man and as jolly a soul as ever lived. He drove his own stage. He loved nothing better than getting a good subject on the box with him and entertain him all the way by pointing out the finest improvements on the roadside and explaining that was his and when he made all the improvements and how much they cost him. His innocent victims would conclude, and some of them wrote back to England that they had ridden with a great " duke in disguise," called Conrad Teter.
The customs and habits of these people in the old roadless days were severely simple. Often they suffered for actual necessities, and we are apt to shudder when we are told the details. We forget that they too had their compensations, for............
............Such are the dispensations of heaven,
............That in the end make all things even.
The very first arrivals brought no wagons with them and they hardly needed a blazed way to follow. The emigrants of 1762-3 had crossed the Hudson near Newberg and pushed westward across the Delaware near its junction with Shohola creek, following the Indian path along Roaring brook to the Lackawana river and then by another trail to the place of destination. But the next wave of pioneers (1769) that followed the same route brought their carts, drawn by oxen, and they were compelled to cut a way, and this may be called the first wagon road in northern Pennsylvania.
I have done a good bit of research since my original posting. My ancestor, Philip Freeman, was a member of Col. Frederick Watts Flying Camp from Cumberland County, and served six months from June 1776 until the end of December 1776. There is only one muster roll found for this unit, in the Penna. Archives, taken in Philadelphia as they were marching north to join Washington's army in New York. The records for the flying camp units are found very rarely because they were rarely kept. They never fought together in regiments, as did other regular army units, but were broken up and used to plug holes in the line as needed. They were usually split up with one company here and another somewhere else, so record keeping was almost impossible.
The book "Washington's Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer, published in 2004, is an excellent resource for the Flying Camp units since it covers the period of time when these units were active. There are freqent mentions of these units and the appendix contains additional information on their whereabouts at different times. From this book, I was able to determine that my ancestor's regiment was with Washington's army during the New York Campaign and that at least some of his regiment was captured at Fort Washington. But he was apparently not among them and was probably back at Fort Lee,later moving with the rest of Washington's army on retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania. There were flying camp militia from Cumberland County present during the attack on Trenton at Christmas, but they could not get across the river due to ice blockage. Prior to the attack on Trenton, some of these flying camp units made sneak attaks on the British and Hessian camps across the river and drove them crazy. They did not engage in direct combat, just did damage and "poked" at the enemy. It made them paranoid and nervous. The flying camp/militia soldiers were offered bonus money to stay on after their enlistments expired, and many did.
It is interesting that Pennsylvania militia (flying camp) soldiers accompanied the Hessian captives from Trenton through Philadelphia and York, Pa, then south through Maryland to Winchester Virginia to a prisioner of war camp there. My ancestor, even though from Pennsylvania, joined the 11th Virginia Regiment in Winchester, VA in early March 1777 - about the time the Hessian prisioners would have reached Winchester. It makes for interesting speculation that he was among those escorting the prisoners.
Again, read "Washington's Crossing"!
Wonderful information R, thank you. I have read about the Flying Camps tactics and you put it well when you say it made the British/Hessians, paranoid and nervous and that is NOT the way to want to keep your fighting force. You want them well rested and calm, kind of makes me laugh.
That is great detective work about your ancestor probably guarding them back to Winchester. That is where my ancestor Opequon R. - Jorg (George)Dieter, (not yet positive if he's direct) had a land and farmed, maybe mined/quarried. I found the 1734 land grant and typed out the describe, trying my best to interpret the scan. There was another George Teter that had land on the Robinson River. Here's that text ('x' is substituted for an unknown letter)**********
x/5 :se. our Leuxx Governor and Commander in
and Dominion at Williamsburgh Under law
the Tenth Day of January, one thousand seven (hundred and)
thirty five In the Ninth Year of our Reign WILLIAM GOOCH
GEORGE the Second by the Grace of God of Great Christian Faith fo Lxxind
King Defender of the Faith. TO ALL TO WHOM these xxxx shall
come Greeting KNOW YE that for the xxxx good Causes & Consideration xxxl
more Especially for and in Consideration of the Sum of TWENTY ---- ---- -----
SHILLINGS of good and Lawful Money for our use Passed to our Prexxxxx
General of our Resixsivor in this our Colony and Dominion of Virginia. WE
HAVE Given Granted and Confirmed and by these Prxxxx for evxx.
illxxx and Successors do Give Grant and Confirm onto George Teter one
inxlxx Tract or Parcel of Land containing two hundred Acres lajxxy & lxxxy
in the County of Thanxe on the South Side (of) the Robinson River in the Little
Fork of the same and bounded as folding to a point BEGINNING
at two Roxes and a red tlax Roger Quarles Line Thence along the said line
North fifty five Degrees West, one hundred & eighty eight Poles to a white Ash
and a Poplar South forty eight Degrees West, one hundred and sixty poles to
Three Chestnut Trees South sixty Degrees East sixteen Poles to a white Ash of xxx xxx.
South thirty five Degrees East, seventy five Poles to two white Ash Populars in a
PxWon Field. South seventy nine Degrees East, one hundred and thirty xxxx Poles
to two white and a red Ash Saplings in Michael Clore(Cooke?) Line and thence along
the said line North forty Degrees East one hundred and forty eight Poles to
the beginning WITH ALL Woods under Woods Surveyors Monument Sonnxxxxx
Meadow Feexings and his due Shxxx of all there Mines and Quarries as
well discovered as not discovered within the border aforesaid and Wxxx Axx
of the said Quantity of two hundred Acres of Land and the Rivers Waters &
Water Courses therein contained together with the Privileges of Husbandry,
Hatchery Fishing, Foxling and all of the Profits Commodities and ---- -----
xxxxxx xxxxxxxx whatsoever to the same or any Pxxx Xhexxxx belonging or in ---
any noxxx Appertaining TO HAVE HOLD Pclelxand laying the --- --
said tract or Parcel of land and all other xxe Granted Prexxxes and
every Part thereof with them and every other Appurtenances unto the said --
GEORGE TETER and to his heirs and Alignes forever. To the only Use & Behold of
him the said George Teter his Heirs and Alignes forever TO BE HELD of
is our Heirs and Sxxxcelors as of our Manner of East Greenwich in the County "
of Hxxl in free and common Loccage and not in Capile or by Knights of Service
YIELDING AND PAYING unto as our Hxx and ---