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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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tions aforesaid. But since the breaking up of the
County Committee, it has been suggested to the
committee of correspondence and observation, by
some worthy people of that persuasion, that all
such applications would be fruitless, as those people
equally scruple subscribing as bearing arms, but
apprehend that if the Commissioners and Asssessors
would lay a reasonable sum as a tax on those who
refuse or cannot, consistent with their consciences,
bear arms, that it would be submitted to witliout
reluctance, and consecxuently requested the commit-
tee to reccommend that step to the Commissioners
and Assessors.

In so delicate an affair, where on the one hand
any harsh measures might tend to infringe the rights
of conscience & be construed to be taking money
out of our brethren's pockets without their con-
sent ; and on the other the impropriety of one part
of thecommunity defending the whole, in a struggle
where everything dear to freedom is at stake, added
to this the danger of the militia laying down their
arms, finding the burthen so unequally borne &
that others won't so much as touch it with theii-
little finger ; others (they say) who have as much at
stake & are in many instances abler than themselves
to assist in the public conflict.

The committee thought it of too much importance
for them to proceed without the direction of Con-
gress, or at least of the delegates of this Province,
more especially as the same difficulty must occur in
every county of the Province ; and we doubt not
but the subject has been thought of by those so
much more capable than the Committee of framing
an expedient to avoid the evils on the one hand &
the other. That suggested to us would be agreeable
here, & the Committee wish that the same or some
other might be speedily recommended, to quiet the
minds oi people here & prevent inevitable con-

We are. Gentlemen,

Your most obed't h'ble Servants-

(Signed by order of Committee) .Lvmes Smith,

Michael Swope to Committee of Safety of
Pennsylvania, 1775 :

YoRKTOWN, August the 2nd, t775.

Gentlemen: On Friday last the Militia Officers
and Committee of the County of York, besides a
number of the most reputable free holders of the
County met here, and proceeded as in the enclosed
paper is mentioned ; the Field Officers they have
chosen for the several Battalions of the County are
very agreeable to the people, and are the persons
that ought to be commissioned ; the choice in gen-
eral is very judicious, as well as being acceptable to
the militia. The most of us have our discipline
and military skill yet to acquire, but are willing to
be as serviceable sis we can to our country. There
is a sufficient number of men associated already
(and more are daily associating) to form five good
Battalions. The conveniency of the inhabitants
has been considered in forming the Battalions, so
that they have not too great a distance to march to
muster in Battalions. The Fi«!d Officers for the
Minute Men, which we had formed into a Battalion
to meet upon proper occasions, were chosen b3' the
officers of the Militia, and the Committee, and the
people depend upon them to command them : the


companies of Minute men are to be increased, as it
may be found convenient, so thatwe hope to have a
very respectable Battallion of them ; the Privates
are to be engaged for six months, for the Officers
have no time limited, unless they choose to resign
after six months. As the Congress have directed
the Committee of Safety, in case of the recess of
the Assembly, to commission the Field OfHcers, I
would be glad if you would as soon as possible send
commissions to the persons chosen as aforesaid in
this County, which I apprehend would tend much
to the service of the common cause.
I am, Gentlemen,
Your most humble Servt,

Mich. Swope.*

Michael Swope, to Committoe of Safety,
York, August 12, 1775 : The Colonel of the
Fifth Batallion of the York County Militia,
Matthew Dill, Esq., and Lieutenant-Colonel,
William Rankin, Esq. : The greatest part of
the minute-men directed to be raised in this
county by the committee has already enrolled
themselves and signed attestations. "lex
pect to be able in a few days to inform you
that we have a body of upward oE 400 men,
composed of some of the most respectable
inhabitants of the county, ready to march
where their country may call them on the
shortest notice." He says, minute- men are
absolutely necessary to raise troops.f


To regulate the military organization known
as the Associators of Pennsylvania, articles
were adopted by the Committee of Safety on
the lUth of August, 1775, the character of
which and of the organization is indicated
by the following preamble : " Vie, the officers
and soldiers, engaged in the present associa-
tion for the defense of American liberty,
being fitlly sensible that the strength and
security of any body of men, acting together,
consists in just regularity, due subordination,
and exact obedience to command, without
which no individual can have that confidence
in the support of those about him, that is
so necessary to give firmness and resolution
to the whole, do voluntarily and freely, after
consideration of the following articles, adopt
the same as the rules by which we agree and
resolve to be governed in all our military
concerns and operations until the same, or
any of them, shall be changed or dissolved
by the assembly, or Provincial Convention,
or, in their recess, by the Committee of
Safety, or a happy reconciliation shall take
place between Great Britain and the col-
onies. I

These articles then provide for the fines or
disgrace that shall attend insubordination,

*IV Archives, 642.

tl Archives, N. S , 545.

XX Col. Eec, 308. I

and for courts martial, and that all officers '
and soldiers of every battalion, troop, com-
pany, or party of associators, who shall be
called into actual service, and be on pay,
shall be subject to all the rules and articles
made by Congress for the government of the
continental troops.

The Committee of Safety, on the 26th of
August, 1775, adopted rules, for establishing
rank or precedence amongst the Pennsyl-
vania Associators, in which it is provided
that " all officers already chosen or appointed
in York County, to rank before officers of equal
dignity, in any other than Lancaster, Ches-
ter, Bucks and Philadelphia County, Phila-
delphia City and districts. And as there may
happen occasions wherein it may be neces-
sary to call out a part of the associators to
actual though temporary service, it was rec-
ommended that the battalion and companies
be numbered by Lots 1, 2,3, 4, so that orders
may issue to send the first or second, or any
number of companies as shall be wanted,
each serving on such calls in its turn.*

Inhabitants of York County to Committee
of Safety of Pennsylvania, 1775:

YoRKTOWN, September 14, 1775.
Oentlemen: — We take this opportunity of return-
ing to you an account of the number of Associations,
and a list of the Officers names of this county; The
number of Associators that has been received by
the Committee is 3,349. There is a greater number
of Associates than the foregoing whose names we
have not received; for the present we mention that
number. There were about 900 non-Associators
returned to the committee on the 28th of July last,
many of whom have since associated; we cannot at
this time undertake to return an exact list of the
non-Associators, but shall do the same as soon as
possible. The Associators and the non-Associators
that we have an account of are chiefly taxable.
We enclose you the proceedings of the Committee
and Officers of the Militia Companies of this county.
The divisions or battalions were formed and the
seniority of each battalion fixed on by a unanimous
vote; the mode fallen on was that each battalion
shsuld take rank according to the time of a major-
itj' of its companies having associated — this gave
universal satisfaction. We, who now address you.
are members of one or another of the Battalions,
and are very sensible that if seniority were now to
be fixed by lot, it would tend to create confusion
and injure the common cause, therefore, hope that
commissions may be granted agreeable to the regu-
ations of the committe and officers. In forming
these battalions, great regard was had to the sit-
uation of the County and convenience of the inhab-
itants. The battalions do not all consist of an
equal number, but none of less than 500 men, which
you will see by the enclosed papers — the three first
battalions are large enough for regiments, but you
may give them what names you think proper.
In the said list we return 3'ou the names of the offi-
cers according to seniority, agreed to in their re-
spective battalions, in order to be commissioned.
One of these battalions has but five companies, yet
they are so very large that a single company niay
act as a grand division until they can be divided
*X Col. Eec, 320.



with satisfaction and conveniency to the inhabi-
tants, in which the field officers, when commissioned
can very much assist. The particular townships of
each battalion are to be regarded. The persons
appointed for officers are generally agreeable to the
people. We have been given to understand that
Capt. James Dill, the officers of his company, and
some others, are dissatisfied with the choice of
Matthew Dill, Esq., for Colonel of the Fifth Bat-
talion, that they were desirous of a new election
and had written to you for that purpose. As to this,
we can inform you, that without any confusion or
disputation, and with the greatest fairness, Mat-
thew Dill, Esq., was chosen Colonel of that divis-
ion. A new election would answer no good pur-
pose, but would tend to encourage faction, which we
have happily avoided in this County. We also enclose
you a list of the officers' names in the Minute men of
this County, raised in pursuance of the direction of
the Assembly of this province, and the recommend-
ation of the Continental Congress. These are the offi-
cers and men raised by them— the persons that are
ready to be first called forth from this County for
the service of the Common Cause. AVe are also of
opinion that in the country it will not be so con-
venient to cast lots for whole companies that are to
march in case of a call, as the discipline of all the
companies are not alike; many have not the same
advantages or opportunities to be taught, and a
number "in every company could not possibly go,
so that lot might often fall on companies that the
community could have no reliance on; we therefore
apprehend it will do betterto fix on individuals that
are to act in the first instance as Minute men. We
have hitherto been unanimous, and hope that the
conduct of this County will receive your counte-
nance and approbation. There are nearly 100 per-
sons associated in Germany Township, but as there
is some little confusion concerning their officers,
we shall defer sending their names for some time.
We are, gentlemen,

Your very humble servants,
George Eichelberger, Martin Eichelberger,

Baltzer Spangler, Joseph Jeffries,

Archibald :McClean, Michael Smyser,

John Kean, Nicholas Bittinger,

George Slake, John Finly,

James Smith, Philip Albright,

Richard McAlister, Daniel Messerly,

Thomas Hartlev, John Hay,

William Rankin, And others.

Directed to Benjamin Franklin, Esq., and to the
Committee of Safety of the Province of Pennsyl-
vania. *

On the 3d of November, 1775, the returns of twen-
ty-si.x townships were received at York, whereby
the following gentlemen appear to be chosen as a
committee for York County, to coniinuefor the
space of one year, unless they shall think it expe-
dient to dissolve themselves sooner, viz.:

Michael Swope. James Smith, Thomas Hartley,
John Hay, Charles Lukens, David Grier, Joseph
Donaldson, George Irwin, John Kean, William
Lease, William Scott, Geoi;g-e Eichelberger, Philip
Albright, Michael Hahn, David Candler, Baltzer
Spangler, John Huston, Thomas Armor, John
Schultz, Christopher Slagle. Andrew Rutter, Peter
Wolfe, Philip Jacob King, Zackariah Shugart, John
Herbach, William Johnston, John Spangler, James
Dickson, Francis Crezart, George Brenkerhoof,
John Semple, Robert McPherson, Samuel Edie,
William McClellan, Thomas Douglass, John Ag-
new, David Kennedy, George Klinger, George Kerr,
Abraham Banta, John Mickle, Jr., Samuel McCon-
aughy, John Blackburn, William Walker, Richard
M'AUister. Christian GrafE, Jacob Will, Henry Sla-

*IV Archives, 636.

gle, John Hamilton, John Minteeth, Thomas Lilley,
Richard Parsel, Charles Gilwix, John M'Clure,
William Shakly, Frederick Gilwix, John Hinkel,
John Hoover. Patrick M'Sherry, James Leeper,
Joseph Reed, Patrick Scott, James Egan, Benjamin
Savage, Andrew Thompson, Peter Baker, Jacob
Kasel, William Mitchell, John Williams, Lewis
Williams, William Rankin, James Nailer, Baltzer
Kuertzer, Henry Mathias, George Stough, Daniel
Messerle, John Nesbit, William Wakely, John
Chamberlin, Andrew Thompson, Alexander Sand-

On the same day the committee met at the court
house in York , when James Smith was chosen
President, and Thomas Hartley Vice-President of
the commitiee.


The following gentlemen were unanimously elect-
ed as a Committee of Correspondence for York
County, viz. : James Smith, Michael Swope, Thomas
Hartley, Joseph Donaldson, George Eichelberger.
Charles Lukens, David Grier, George Irwin,
Thomas Armor, William Lease, George Clinger,
John Nesbit, James Leeper, Francis Crezart. Peter
Wolfe, David M'Conaughy, and five or more of them
were empowered to act.

The committee adjourned to the first Thursday in
December next, to meet at the court house in York.
Thomas Armor, Clerk.^


At a meeting of the Committee of Correspond-
ence for the county of York, the oth of February,

The committee taking into consideration the state
of the county, are of opinion that several companies,
beside the two already ordered, might be immedi-
ately raised in this county for the Continental serv-
ice, provided they were officered in this county.
That, considering the zeal and patriotic spirit of the
people, we think that in the late appointment of
officers in the troops to be raised in this province,
this county has not had its proportion. Therefore,

Resolved, That the chairman of this committee
do write a letter to the Delegates of this province
in Congress inclosing this resolution, to be laid be-
fore the Congress, and expressing the willingness of
this county to exert themselves to the utmost in de-
fence of the Common Cause, with the request that
if any more troops are soon necessary to be raised
in this province in the Continental service, that
this county be honored with the officering six com-
panies, and recommending the Field Officers of the
battalion, as we make no doubt but the greater part
of the men for the companies might be raised in
York County. „ .

Resolved, That a letter be written by the Chair-
man to the Committee of Safety, requesting their
weight and concurrence with the Congress in favor
of the above application.

Thomas Armor, Clerk.\

Oenilemen:— The inhabitants of this county, who
have been always ready to grant their assistance in
favor of liberty since the commencement of the
present unhappy dispute bet^veen GreatBritain and
these Colonies, consider that on account of the
shortness of the notice given liy the board, that
they have not their proportion of the officers ap-
pointed in the different battalions. The service


sufEers by this. The best men and the flower of the
youth will not engage with strangers. The two
Companies ordered in this county are already near-
ly completed; but Officers from other counties will
not be equally successful. Had mor* companies
been ordered in York County, and the Officers rec-
ommended from hence, we apprehend they would
have been in great forwardness. This county is not
very ambitious of having officers, but still it gives
disgust to many persons to see numbers in the
other counties, not even equally qualified, and who
have done nothing in the common cause preferred,
and themselves unnoticed.

The Committee of Correspondence met on the 5th
inst.. and came to the resolutions, which I beg
leave to inclose, and hope that they will meet with
your approbation and weight. As it is probable
from the present situation of Mr. Swope's family
that he will not be able to attend you soon, Mr.
Hartley, the bearer, will be ready to wait on the
Board, and give them some material information
relating to the above, as also some other matters of

I am. Gentlemen, with

the greatest Respect.

Your most Humble Serv't,
James Smith, Chairman*


In March, 1776, Capt. Squires, the com-
mander of the British sloop of *ar Otter,
who had been cruising about in various parts
of the bay, made a demonstration in the Pat-
apsco Riverwith various boats which produced
a very great alarm in the town. Capt. Nich-
olson, the commander of the Defense, a ship
belonging to the State of Maryland, was at
that time in Baltimore. He soon got under
weigh to drive these marauders from the river,
which he did in a short time, and captured
four or five of the boats. It was the occasion
of this alarm that rise to the necessity
of throwing up batteries on Fell's Point; the
fortifying of Whetstone Point f with eigh-
teen guns and the sinking of vessels at the
fort. These defenses were considered at the
time as invulnerable, and the aid which the
militia of the sm-rounding country afforded
called for the grateful thanks of the people.
From Harvard County a battalion marched
to Baltimore, whose services it afterward be-
came necessary to accept. J

Nor was this devotion to Baltimore con-
fined in the hour of her need, to the citizens
of her own State. The borough of York
wrote on the 10th of March to the committee:
" Our committee resolved instantly to raise a
good rifle company, to be ready to make
march on an hour's warning to your province,
in case you should judge it necessary, and sig-
nify the same to our committee. " This is not
a solitary instance of this patriotic borough's

«IV Archi-ves, 710.
tFort JMcHenry now.

1-1 narrative of events which occurred in Baltimore
Town during theHevolutionary war. By Robert Pur

offering her valuable aid to Baltimore, In
the war of 1812, a company sent by her
united with the Baltimore troops, on the day
of her celebrated battle with the British
army near North Point, and no troops on
that day were more entitled to the honors
which their valor won than those from York.
The following letters were exchanged:

YORKTOWN, March 10, 1776.

Gentlemen: — This moment we received Mr. Alex-
ander Donaldson's letter of the 9th inst. At the
time of writing our former letter to him it was un-
certain, from the intelligence, what force might be
sent against Baltimore, and judged it would be
proper for this county to have in readiness detach-
ments from the several militia battalions to the
amount of five hundred men

We are glad to hear that it is only the buccaneer
Squire that payed you a visit, of whom we hope
to hear Capt. Nicholson give a good accouiit. But
as a greater force may be sent to harass you in re-
venge for Capt. Squire's bad success, in pursuance
of the desire of your committee, communicated to
us by Capt. Donaldson, our committee resolved in-
stantly to raise a good rifle company, to be ready to
march on an hour's warning to your province, in
case you should judge it necessary and signify the
same to our committee.

The officers chosen are, Joseph Donaldson. Cap-
tain; William Rankin, First Lieutenant; JohnKean,
Second Lieutenant; Wm. Baillie, Third Lieutenant,
and Jacob Holtzinger, Fourth Lieutenant, and none
are to be admitted but expert riflemen.

By order of the Committee,

James Smith, Ghairmii?i.*

To the Committee of Inspection, Baltimore;
Baltimore, March 12, 1776.

Oentlemen: We have just now received 3'our ac-
ceptable favor of the 10th, per Mr. Donaldson, and
return you our wannest thtinks for your ready of-
fers of succour in defending us from the incursions
of Capt. Squire, who, after taking many prizes at
the mouth of our river, was obliged to relinquish
the most valuable on the appearance of the gallant
Capt. Nicholson, of the ship Defence, who has first
had the honor of displaying the continental colors
to a British-man-of-war without a return.

The County of York have always stood in the
foremost rank for zeal and attachment in the glori-
ous cause of liberty, and this comniittee would do
them an injury in refusing the rifle company to
march at the first notice: they cheerfully accept
then, the generous offer, and will, on any appear-
ance of danger, inform them by express.

By order of the Committee,
Wm. Ltjx, Deputy Chairman.
To the Committee of York:


The following account of the companies
from York County and of the Flying Camp
is taken from Glassbrenner's History:

As early as December, 1774, a company
was formed in the town of York, the object
of which was to make soldiers who would be
well disciplined for battle in case the disaf-
fection then existing toward England, should
proceed to open hostilities. The officei-g of
this company were James Smith. Captain;


Thomas Hartley, First Lieutenant; David
Green, Second Lieutenant; and Henry Miller,
Ensign. Each of those ofScers thus early
attached to the cause of liberty, wa.s much
distinguished in the subsequent history of
our country. The first was a signer of the
Declaration of Independence; the second was
a Colonel in the Kevolution, and for eleven
years a member of Congress; and the third
and forth were each distinguished officers,
and "acquired a fame and a name" con-
nected with the cause they supported.

The second company formed in the town
of York was in February, 1775, the officers
of which were Hartman Deustch, Captain;
Mr. Gr abb, First Lieutenant; Phillip Entler,
Second Lieutenant, and Luke Eause, En-

In December, 1775, the third company was
formed in Yorktown, entitled "The Inde
pendent Light Infantry (Company belonging
to the first battalion of York County." This
company drew up and signed a constitution
consisting of thirty-two articles, the original
manuscript of which, with the signatures of
all the officers and soldiers, lies now before
us. It was signed on the 16th of December
by the following persons : James Smith,
Colonel; Thomas Hartley, Lieutenant Col-
onel; Joseph Donaldson, Major; Michael
Swoope, Major; George Irwin, Captain; John
Hay, First Lieutenant ; William Baily,
Second Lieutenant; Christoph Lauman, En-
sign; Paul Metzgar, Henry Walter, Jacob
Gardner, and John Shultz, Sergeants; and
W^illiam Scott.Clerk; then followed the names
of 122 persons, private soldiers, a catalogue
of which would be too lengthy. The company
was commanded in 1777, by William Baily,
Captain; Christoph Lauman, First Lieuten- :'
ant; and William Scott, Second Lieutenant.
Mr. John Hay being elected a member of the \
State Convention held in that year. j

Companies were already formed through- |
out the country, and everything spoke of
freemen under arms for liberty. But contin-
ing ourselves to Yorktown, we will mention
the other companies which vfere formed here
at the commencement of the Revolution. The
fourth company was formed in the spring of
1776, and its officers, Michael Hahn, Captain;
Baltzer Spengler, First Lieutenant; Michael
Billmeyer, Second Lieutenant; and George
Michael Spengler, Ensign. The fifth com-
pany was likewise formed in the spring of
1776, whereof Charles Lukens was Captain;
Christian Stake, First Lieutenant; and Cor-
nelius Sheriff, Second Lieutenant. The sixth
company was formed in May of the same
year, and was commanded by Captain

Rudolph Spangler. The first and second
companies formed in town, had long since
been dissolved, and the soldier.s thereof joined
and became a part of the fifth andsi.\:th com-
panies; so that in June, 1776, there were
four different railitarv associations in the
town of York. The third, fourth, fifth and
sixth companies constituted a part of those
five battalions which marched to New Jersey
in 1776 to form the flying camp. Though
they thus marched oat of the county, yet it

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 27 of 218)