Sometimes the only reason you know a member of your family served in the American War for Independence is because they applied for a military pension years after their service. Records were not kept of every person who served, especially those who volunteered in state militias. They enlisted and were discharged sometimes verbally with no official paperwork.
When a man who served this way wanted to apply for a pension, the practice was for him to come to court and issue a sworn statement regarding his service. At that point a decision was made as to whether or not he was entitled to one.
One of my fifth great grandfathers, Drury Hutcheson of South Carolina was such a person. He appeared before the court in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1833 when he was eighty-eight years old requesting a pension for his service in the Virginia Militia during the Revolution. Below is my best effort at transcribing the hand written record of his testimony as found in the “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files:”
About the commencement of the Revolutionary War…as a volunteer in the company commanded by Captain Seath (afterwards Col. Seath) in the regiment commanded by Colonel Meriweather and marched to Williamsburg and then to Cabbin Point where we…about six weeks and marched to York Town and then to Smithfield and from there back to Cabbin Point where I was discharged verbally by my superior officer having served something more than two months.
About one month or two and I again volunteered in the company of Captain Walker in Amelia Virginia and marched to Richmond and then to Petersburg – then on to Williamsburg where we were stationed for some time. From there we marched to York Town and to Smithfield and then on to the…where I was discharged having served about two months.
Some short time afterwards I again entered the service under Captain Craddock and served a tour the length of which I cannot recollect, but it could have been two months – my fourth (tour) was…under Captain Walker for about two months in a section of the country with which I was unacquainted and I cannot now recall the names of places…I afterwards served two (tours) about two months each under Major McClure (?) and (Gen.?) Lafayette and was finally discharged in York Town a short time before the fall of Lord Cornwallis.
I have no documentary evidence…service now…and know of no people who served with me who can now (vouch) for me. My claim to a pension (doesn’t rest) on anything except the present (perhaps meaning this present testimony) and declare that my name is not on the pension roll of the army of any state.
It appears he was granted a pension of $40 per year (about $1100 today) as a result of his statement. Drury Hutcheson went on to live three more years dying at the ripe old age of ninety-one in 1836.
Interestingly, his son and my fourth great grandfather Furney Hutcheson, served as a volunteer from South Carolina during the War of 1812, perhaps due to the example set for him by his father at the nation’s founding.
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