A Patriot’s Story: Part I

Lewis Anderson, my 5th great-grandfather, is the first patriot ancestor of which I was aware and remains my most documented patriot ancestor. He is likely to also have one of the most interesting stories in my family tree and I am still awed that have an account of it in his own words. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to him to share the transcription of his pension file this Fourth of July week. Look for a portion of the file posted here on the blog each of the next three days.

Lewis was born January 22, 1757 in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He was the youngest child of James Anderson and Catherine Lloyd, themselves children of Scottish immigrants who had arrived in the colonies around the turn of the 18th century. Lewis’ grandfather had briefly served the Crown as a member of the Royal Council and even a few days as Governor of New Jersey before his sudden death.

Only 40 years later Lewis is fighting against the British Army. At 18 or 19 years old he volunteered for the New Jersey Militia. Although I know little of his life before military service, the transcribed portions of the file below and in posts later this week tell his incredible story…

Lewis’ Deposition

State of New Jersey, Middlesex Js. | Declaration in order to obtain the benefits of the Act of Congress passed June the 7. 1832.

On this Thirtieth day of April Eighteen Hundred and Thirty Three personally appeared in open court being a special Term of the Court of Common Pleas in and for said county held in the City of New Brunswick, being a Court of Record, Lewis Anderson a resident of the Township of East Windsor in the said County of Middlesex aged seventy six years on the twenty second day of January last, who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath made the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June the 7 1832. That he entered the service of the United States as a private in the Militia of New Jersey and in the latter end of the year 75 or the winter of 1776 does not certainly recollect which was ordered out into service under the Command of Colonel Nathaniel Heard and in the Company Commanded by Captain John Schanck of the Middlesex Militia and was marched under their orders to Long Island in the State of New York (then a British Colony) for the purpose of disarming the disaffected of that place commonly in them times called Tories and after effecting that object this deponent then returned to Princeton in the said County of Middlesex was out on that tour three weeks and sometime about the tenth of June thereafter this deponent enlisted in the five months service under the Command of General Nathaniel Heard who had been promoted and Colonel David Forman in the Company of Captain Peter Gordon and was marched from Princeton to New York and from there to Long Island and after the Battle he retreated from the Island to New York and marched to Fort Washington and where the army marched to the White Plains he was order to take charge of a four horse baggage wagon in carting munitions of war from Fort Washington to the White plains and after making two trips in that service and before he made the third trip the Brittish got possession of Kings Bridge and of course the further communication was cut off and this deponent at the time the fort was taken by the enemy he was also taken prisoner with eight others who had the charge of the teams and were then separated from the other prisoners and we were sent back to our stables near to the fort, the next morning we were ordered by the British to take our teams and carry our own wounded and baggage to New York from the fort and when there we expected to be confined with the rest of the prisoners, but was ordered back again to the fort under a guard and set to work to cart provisions and materials to build barracks a number of our prisoners who were mechanicks who myself was one were set to work in the quartermaster general’s department so that when an exchange of prisoners came none of our names was mentioned and thus a number of us were kept waiting for an opportunity to desert, which did not offer being very closely watched and guarded until between two and three years after this deponent was taken prisoner when by stratagem, he and another prisoner effected their escape and returned to the house of one of their brothers who lived in the Township of South Amboy in the said County of Middlesex and this deponent further declared that the above are the most material facts that he can now recollect relating to his services during the Revolutionary war and this deponent further declares that he verily believes that whilst he was in actual service and while he was a prisoner with the enemy it was as much in the whole as three years at the least and this deponent further declares that he has no documentary evidence relating to his services and of his being a prisoner excepting the two affidavits hereunto attached, and he hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except the present and he declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state and he further also declares that as far as he knows and verily believes all the officers under whom he served are now dead and he also declares that he does not know of any person living that he can prove more by than what is hereunto attached or annexed.

Sworn to and subscribed in open court the day and year above said.

Robert McChesney, Judge | Lewis Anderson

To read additional parts of the story see the following posts: Part II, Part III, Part IV.

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