John McMullan

Soldier, Continental Line - The  American Revolution

John McMullan's Trunk

John McMullan, Soldier
 Continental Line in the American Revolution
By Gale McDonnell Fuller

In searching  for information on John McMullans service in the American Revolution, I found  bits and pieces but nothing that was supported with documentation. Thus I sought  to find the information, to know for myself and for others in the future just  when and where John did serve his new country.

In locating  the 6th Virginia Regiment records of one John McMullen, there are  over 50 cards available company muster rolls and company pay rolls - that  track his military service from the time he entered the American Revolution. The  name McMullan is written McMullan, McMullen and McMullin. There are other  McMullins, McMillons and McMullons who served, but they do not connect to the  line of John McMullan of Orange Co., Virginia.

The 10th Virginia Regiment of Foot was one of the six new regiments ordered raised by the  General Assembly in October 1776 to meet Virginias quota of fifteen regiments  set by Congress on 16 Sept 1776. Edward Stevens, formerly Lieutenant Colonel of  the Culpeper Minute Battalion, was commissioned on 12 Nov 1776, to raise this  regiment. Unlike the nine regiments already in Continental service, which had  been raised by districts, the 10th Regiment was raised at large in  the counties of Augusta, Amherst, Fairfax, Culpeper, Orange, Spotsylvania,  Fauquier, Cumberland, Caroline, Stafford, and King George.1

It is unclear  where John was living when he enlisted in the service to his country, but it is  known from his first Pay Roll card that his commencement of pay began on 20  Dec 1776. Thus this appears to be his enrollment date. He had to have been in  either Orange County or in Augusta County, Virginia, since Rockingham County,  Virginia was not created at this time.

John McMullan  began his service on or about 20 Dec 1776. He was in the 8th Company  of the 10th Virginia Regiment of Foot whose captain was John or  Jonathan Smye. It is probable that this is the stepbrother or step-nephew of  Patrick Henry, as Patrick Henrys mother was married to John Smye before  marrying Col. John Henry.

According to  author E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra, this company was raised on 3 Dec 1776 in Augusta,  so this makes the writer believe John could have been living in Augusta at this  time even though he could have been in Orange County and very close to Augusta  County. Each of the ten companies of the 10th Regiment was raised in  a different county of Virginia but all in the same geographical area.

From the  earliest muster roll available, John was listed in Capt. John Symes Company of  Foot of the 10th Virginia Regiment. These muster cards begin in May  of 1777 but pay cards may have indicated earlier involvement. From May-June  there is no indication of where this company was located.┬  According to  Sanchez-Saavedra, they were on the road and this could account for no rolls  recorded.┬  Sanchez-Saavedra states that the regiment marched north in the spring  of 1777. By April two companies were reported on the road--four at Baltimore and  four at Newcastle, Delaware. After reaching the main army in June the regiment  was placed in General George Weedons brigade.2

On the  June-July card, we find the first term of enlistment given was listed as for  the War.┬  Also on the July-August muster roll, it lists John in the hospital.  For the month of August he does not show up as ill but is back in the hospital  from September until December of 1777.┬  On 31 Dec 1777, Capt. Nathan Lamme╠? was  commissioned to serve when John Syme resigned. 

The February  1778 pay roll shows John McMullin in the company of Lieut. Lamme╠? of the 10th Virginia Regiment, commanded by Major Samuel Hawes. A footnote on the pay card  and muster card states that this company was designated at various times as  Capt. David Lairds and Lieut. Nathan Lamme╠?s Company. John was also back in  the hospital.

For the first  time, in March of 1778, we find a location given on the muster card. It states  that Lt. Nathan Lamme╠?s Co. was at Valley Forge [Pennsylvania]. John also is  listed on two more muster cards as being at Valley Forge but is out of the  hospital at this time.3┬ ┬  Thus our John McMullan, soldier of the  American Revolution, was a soldier with George Washington at Valley Forge during  that terrible winter, although he is listed as in the hospital one month. The  hospital at that time most likely was a tent and thus he would have suffered as  greatly as any soldier in Pennsylvania during that terrible winter.

There is a  card dated 8 April 1778, that is simply named Roll. It is for the 10th Virginia and John McMullen is listed as a private in Lieut. Thomas Barbees  compy. This is unusual since the other cards, the muster cards, have him in  Lamme╠?s company. There is a printed note on the card which reads:

    N.B. The men were Inlisted in Decr 76 and Jany and they  were mostly for
    three years the Remainder for to Serve During the war which are about
    four of them.

The May-June  muster card gives his terms of enlistment as 3 years. This is the first time his  enlistment has appeared this way. In June Lamme╠?s company was in Brunswick, New  Jersey, and the word comd is listed in Remarks. In July the company was in  White Plains, New York, and again the 3-year enlistment is given and under  remarks, On comd. Mower. I have no idea what this means.

August finds  the company still in White Plains, New York, but now under Lieut. Thomas Barbee  and the command of Col. William Russell. In September they are at Camp Robertson  which may be in White Plains but it is not stated that way.

On 14 Sept  1778, the 10th Virginia Regiment was re-organized with the rest of  the Virginia Continental units at White Plains, New York. It was renumbered the  6th Virginia Regiment, and the 14th Virginia Regiment was  renumbered the 10th .4 ┬ And so October through December of  1778 finds John in Lieut. Col. Samuel Hawes company of Foot belonging to the 6th Continental Virginia Regiment commanded by Col. William Russell. This is the  first time we see John moved from the 10th to the 6th Regiment of Virginia and Sanchez-Saavedra has explained why.

This company  under Lieut. Samuel Hawes (now under the command of Col. John Green), remained  at Camp Middlebrook, New Jersey, until May of 1779. In May they were located in  Smith Clove and John is listed as on duty. It was not until July that we see  another place, Camp Ramepan [but it could be Ramapo as there are mountains by  this name nearby] and they are listed in Smith Clove in August and Camp Ramepan  in September. It is very probable that is the same place, one card listing the  place and another the camps name. In July it is stated he was on comd and in August on duty. Possibly these mean the same thing.5

October 1779  we find the company in Haverstraw, New York6 and in November in Camp  ??, also listed as Morristown┬  (New Jersey).7┬  These cards all state  his enlistment is for the war. The last muster roll we find is the one dated  Nov 1779 - 9 Dec 1779. No more are listed. No more pay rolls or muster rolls are  on the microfilm.

It seems  likely to this writer that John had served his three years, which was his  commitment when he signed up in December 1776, and he went home. Discharge  papers were not given at this time and with no muster rolls or pay cards beyond  December 1779, it is unlikely he was still in service. If conditions at  Morristown were worse than Valley Forge where John had spent a number of months,  this may have hastened his decision to return home when his three years were up.

According to  Sanchez-Saavedra, the 10th regiment served at Brandywine and through  the remainder of the campaigns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.8

In reading  the description of the Regiments from Sanchez-Saavedra, it is easy to make an  error. The 10th was renamed the 6th but then the 14th became the 10th. At this point when following the regiment John would  have served in, you must follow the 6th and I do not find anything in  the Sanchez-Saavedra book that tells of the location of the 6th after  1779. All references are to the 10th [the old 14th] and  the officers are all different from the ones who were in the old 10th,  now the 6th. Sanchez-Saavedra only states that the new 10th Virginia Regiment was part of Muhlenburgs Brigade in 1778-1779 and part of  Scotts Brigade in 1779. In May 1779 the regiment was combined with the 1st Virginia Regiment.

I have seen  written that John served until the end of the American Revolution, but there is  nothing to support this. Perhaps the person who wrote this overlooked the  renumbering of these regiments. But it appears to this writer that in December  of 1779, John McMullan ended his service and went home.

For the  entire duration of the war, John remained a private. And he was either in the  hospital or on duty each and every month at the muster roll. There are no  furloughs ever listed. He fulfilled his duty to his country, helping fight for  independence and enduring many hardships in doing so.



1 Continental Congress resolution, Sept. 16, 1776, Governors Office, Letters  Received, Executive Department, Archives Division, VSL (This item was calendared  as Resolutions. Re: revolutionary army in Claudia B. Grundman, comp., Calendar  of Continental Congress Papers [Richmond, 1973], 1). See also Dixon and Hunters  Va. Gaz. (Williamsburg) Feb 28, 1777.

2 ┬ A  General Return of the 10th Continental Virg[ini]a Regiment, Commanded  by Colo. Edward Stevens, April the 10th 1777, folder 13, William H.  Cabell Papers, Executive Papers, Executive Department, Archives Division, VSL.

3Illness,  not musket balls, was the great killer. Dysentery and typhus were rampant. Many  makeshift hospitals were set up in the region. The Army's medical department  used at least 50 barns, dwellings, churches or meeting houses throughout a wide  area of Eastern Pennsylvania as temporary hospitals. These places were mostly  understaffed, fetid breeding grounds of disease. All were chronically short of  medical supplies.

4 A Guide to Virginia Military  Organizations in the American Revolution, 1774-1787. Compiled by E. M.  Sanzhez-Saavedra. Virginia State Library 1978.

5Smith's  Clove is a narrow valley south of West Point and about due west of Fort  Montgomery. Since the main north-south road leading to the West Point area from  north Jersey ran through the Clove, the region was almost constantly occupied by  Continentals and/or New York militia from late 1776 on.┬  Smith's Clove runs from  Suffern to Monroe NY.┬  Thatcher's Diary refers to it as "Smith's Clove is a fine  level plain of rich land, situated at the foot of the high mountains on the west  side of Hudson River. It is about fourteen miles in the rear of the garrison at  West Point, and surrounded on all sides by the highlands."

As mentioned, "clove" is based in the Dutch term for "pass," other related  English words found in the verb "cleave" and, of course, "cleavage." GW's  headquarters noted in the dateline was Galloway's Tavern, a frequently used  ordinary. Galloway's was used throughout nearly the entire summer of 1779 as  Lord Stirling's HQ, his division remaining in the Clove after the departure of  the PA division from its camp north of Smith's Tavern, and of the MD division  from just south of it.

The dating of the orders as July 22 reflects that period during which GW was  particularly devoid of intelligence as to the destination of Howe's transport  fleet, the army's pausing in the Clove being his best compromise between  anticipated moves to New England or Philadelphia. As reports of the fleet moving  southward began to arrive, the C-I-C responded by moving the troops to the  Neshaminy camp, again halting at a position short of fully committing to a move  to Philly.

I received  this information from Scott Smith, Am Revolutionary War researcher from  information he received from other AM War researchers.

Head Quarters, Slott's, 71  Sunday, June 6, 1779.

[Note 71: Stephen Slows (Slot). He was a captain in the Orange County militia.  His place was about 6 miles south of Galloway's on the fork of the Clove road,  which led to Suffern's.] Parole Philadelphia. Countersigns Peeks Kill, Poland.

The Pennsylvania division is to take post at June's or in the Vicinity according  to the situation of ground &c. and send a light party of three or four hundred  men into the passage of the mountain, at the cross roads,72 where Colo. Malcom  is, there to remain 'till further orders.

6[Note 72: The Haverstraw road entered the Clove from the east and  joined the Clove road at June's.]

The Virginia  division to move to Smith's tavern.73 Baron DeKalb's Division (except the two  companies of Light Infantry ordered there from, which are to remain at  Suffren's) to move on by way of Slott's and Galloway's and join the other  troops. The whole to move at the rising of the moon.

[Note 73: Smith's Tavern, in Smith's Clove, named from the "Horseblock" Smiths,  notorious Tories, of whom Austin Smith, Claudius Smith, and Richard, son of  Claudius, were the principal ones at this period.] Scott Smith also supplied  this from a fellow American Revolutionary War researcher.

Another  researcher shared with Scott who shared with the author:

I'm just  making guesses that it could be Haverstraw NY and could Ramepan be Ramapo?
The reason I ask all of these are in an area on the New York/New Jersey border  (Rockland and Bergen Counties...and a little north), where there was a LOT of  Continental Army activity.┬  This area is part of the Ramapo Mountains and  Haverstraw NY is not too far away.┬

7 At Morristown, New Jersey, in the winter of  1779-80 the army suffered worse hardships than at Valley Forge. Congress could  do little but attempt to shift its responsibilities onto the states, giving each  the task of providing clothing for its own troops and furnishing certain quotas  of specific supplies for the entire Army. The system of "specific supplies"  worked not at all. Not only were the states laggard in furnishing supplies, but  when they did it was seldom at the time or place they were needed. This  breakdown in the supply system was more than even General Greene, as  Quartermaster General, could cope with, and in early 1780, under heavy criticism  in Congress, he resigned his position. US Army Center of Military History.

8 A  Guide to Virginia Military Organizations in the American Revolution, 1774-1787.  Compiled by E. M. Sanzhez-Saavedra. Virginia State Library 1978

John  McMullans Company Pay Roll, Company Muster Roll and other military records,  copied from microfilm records at Wallace State College Library, Hanceville, AL.  This microfilm is from the compiled military records of the Soldiers of the  American Revolution.

 Copyright for these pages and  the information contained thereon lies with the writer of this document.  Reproduction or commercial use of any kind is strictly and expressly prohibited  without permission of the author.


John  McMullan's Trunk
By Ann Hunter Burkes

Many  families have a story that passes relatively unchanged from generation to  generation. Sometimes that story relates a daring deed performed by a family  many generations ago. Other family stories tell of the historical importance of  family-owned property. In the John McMullan family, the story concerns a trunk.

I  first learned about the trunk from reading the story in Albert McMullans The  History of┬  McMullan and Allied Families. John McMullan came to America from  Ireland about 1760. John had followed his brothers from their birthplace of  Tralee to Dublin. In Dublin, John served as an apprentice, probably as a tailor,  before coming to Virginia. In Virginia John married and began a family. During  the Revolutionary War, this patriot served as a junior officer in the 11th Virginia Regiment. After the war, John was granted 400 acres of land in Orange  County Virginia and lived there until he moved to Elbert County, Georgia.

When  he traveled to the new world, John McMullan brought with him a trunk (or  tailors chest) made of cypress, which he used to hold the tools of his trade.  After the death of John McMullan, the trunk became the property of his son  Patrick McMullan and was then passed to his son William McMullan. William Marion  McMullan, the son of William McMullan, was the next owner of the trunk, and it  was then passed to his son William Jesse (Willie) McMullan. Miley McMullan owned  the trunk for many years and it now it is in the care of Grayson and Bonnie  McMullan of Hickory.

It  seems incredible that one object could remain in a family for so many years, but  a letter written by William Jesse McMullan on March 10, 1912, will help explain  the care taken to see that the trunk remained in the McMullan family. The letter  states:

History of the McMullan Chest brought from Ireland to  Richmond, Virginia in 1760 1

    It  was carried on a wagon from Virginia to Elbert County, Georgia in the fall of  the year 1797. After the death of John the 1st., it fell into the  hands of Patrick his second son who used it for keeping his papers & money &  whiskey, when he had but little.

    At  Patricks death, Aug. 31st. and after his burial Sept. 1, 1836, his  children held a consultation. When the business of the estate was turned over to  his oldest son William, and as the chest contained his papers & valuables,  William demanded of the widow (Stowers) his 2nd wife, the keys and he  took the chest home with him. He, William, afterwards repaired the lid, hinges  and lock and painted it.

    At  Williams death, December 20th 1855, it was taken in charge of, by  his older son Jessie Pemberton who brought it from Elbert Co., to Newton Co.,  Miss. in the 1st of 1866. He took the partitions or pigeon holes out  and made a provisions box out of it on the trip, using the lid for a dining  table. He afterwards used it to put clothing in and after his death 1879 his  widow used it as before his death. Her home burned March 23, 1901. Her son  Robert saved the chest the first article though nearly all of their goods was  consumed. On the 10th of November she agreed to exchange the chest  with W. J. McMullan for a nice trunk and November 18th the exchange was made,  all parties being satisfied.

    This is the record given by W. M. McMullan, my father, at the age of 76 years,  he being the last and only one that knew its history, or where it came from. It  was his father that got possession of it in 1836 and he knew it well several  years before. In the past since he could recollect, his father William was well  up on the family history, having been born in 1792 and his son William Marion  remembered most of it distinctly. Age of the chest 152 years this March 10th,  1912 and now it is to my heirs.

    This is my will concerning the old chest. Preserve it as best you can. Never  allow it to be sold unless it be among yourselves. If ever the house gets on  fire, by all means save the chest.

    Your Father W. J. McMullan, March 10th. A.D. 1912.

Through a prized possession such as the trunk, members of the McMullan family  will be constantly reminded of their heritage; however, the real mystery  concerning the trunk is: Did my great-great-great-great grandfather John  McMullan REALLY use the tools stored in the trunk to make the first uniform worn  by General George Washington after he became Commander-in-Chief of the Army?He was in approximately the right place at approximately the right time and  was trained as a tailor but whether he made the uniform or not remains  unproven. Perhaps not knowing the truth is really part of the treasure left to  us by John McMullan. As his descendants we can still take great pride in the  service he gave to our country and dedicate ourselves to continuing to serve our  communities and our great nation.

[1] Edited only for clarity.


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