22 May 2011

James Newcomb 1756-1838

From B.M. Newcomb's book:

James Newcomb served actively in the War of the Revolution for nearly seven years. "He served in 6th Co. Capt. James Clark, 3rd Regt.; Genl. Putnam, May 11, to Dec. 11, 1775, and was at the Battle of Bunker Hill." He served as a private, also as a corporal, in Capt. William Richard's Co., 1st Connecticut Regt. Col. Josiah Starr, from 15 May 1777, to 15 May 1780.

Near the close of the war he was captured by the Indians under Brandt, in the Genesee country, western New York; was marched with his hands tied behind him, in company with 60 other white men, under Lieut. Phelps, to the St. Lawrence River, and from there conveyed by boat to Montreal and sold to the British for blankets, guns, ammunition, tomahawks, scalping knives, whiskey, etc. He was kept in prison at Montreal for some time, during which a British officer came to the prison and called for the two strongest men among the 600 prisoners. Mr. Newcomb and an Irishman named Halstead were selected to work on the fortifications, carrying stone on a hand-barrow.

After working for a few days they broke guard and escaped south into the wilderness, eluding pursuit by the British and Indians. They traveled for 29 days as nearly south as they could, subsisting on 1 loaf of bread, 1 rabbit, 2 frogs, and what bark and roots they could find. They often became so famished and exhausted that they would lie down, believing that they must die. On the 19th day of wandering they were found by three hunters, and were so famished they could hardly crawl on their hands and knees.

The first salutation of the hunters was: "Are you for George Washington or King George?" The answered, "George Washington!" upon which the hunters approached them and, viewing their bruised, emaciated and naked condition, wept like children. Their shoes were gone, and they had torn their clothes piecemeal to wrap up and save their bleeding feet. The hunters carried them about three miles, reaching a colonial settlement at the Upper Cowas or Oxbow, near the head of the Connecticut River. They reached home about the time that peace was concluded between the Colonies and Great Britain.

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