ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 01368 3450
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
SKETCH OF THE LIFE
H ON. TIMOTHY HINMAN.
1 )i:livkrf.d uefork thk
Orleans County Historical SocIety,
Df.ruy, V r., Si.it. i, 1S01;
Also Genealogy of His Descendants,
XOlUfAN 1 1'. BINGHAM.
SOM !'K\ II. 1. 1'., MASS.
llfccc of the §omrrtoilIc Cttnrn.
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JUL. l,s ^» ; ,„ ,-<'''
u Sketch of the Life of Hon. Timothy Hinman,
""jVTOTHING will more naturally engage the attention of
^ ^ those interested in the history of Derby than the
faithful story of the life of its father and first settler, lion.
It is for the inhabitants of towns as well as nations a great
cause of congratulation if they can dwell with pride upon the
record of the lives of those who were the earl)' architects of
their municipal or national growth and destiny. The names
of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin and Adams are
cherished with pride and affection throughout the nation's
length and breadth. Vermonters glory in the lives of Ethan
and Neman Allen, of Seth Warner and Remember Baker. It
is the enviable fortune of Derby that the town was settled
bv no common man or men, hut by one upon whose life
and character its people will rolled with glowing pride and
satisfaction so long as patriotism is a virtue, and justice, faith
and fortitude are held in high esteem.
Much of what is contained herein was taken from the lips
of the venerable man in his old age more than forty-five years
ago, and all that relates to his military record is given as far
as possible in his own language. The original manuscript has
been preserved, and from it most of the facts are taken. So
far as it goes, therefore, it is authentic and reliable.
It is to be regretted that no more has been gathered and
preserved by which to perpetuate the history of his eventful
and useful life.
Gleaning, however, from what was learned from his own
lips, and from what has been taken from the lips and pens
4 THE HON. TIMOTHY HINMAN.
of others, I am persuaded that I can give a fairly accurate
account of the leading and many of the more interesting
incidents in his life.
Timothy Hinman was born Jul}- 21, 1762, in that section
of ancient Woodbury, Conn., that is now called Southbury.
He was of Anglo-Saxon and Puritan stock, the fourth in
descent from Edward Hinman, a member of the military
household of Charles I, one of the King's body-guard holding
the high and honorable position in the royal force of Ser-
geant-at-arms. It is a remarkable faet that of the officers
serving in the American Revolution thirteen were descend-
ants ot this noble man, who came to this country to escape
the vengeance of Cromwell, after the execution of his king.
Timothy's grandfather, Judge Noan Hinman, was a prominent
and distinguished man, both in matters of Church and State.
He represented his town in the legislature for eight years,
and served as Judge for five years with honor.
Adam Hinman, the lather of Timothy, was born in the
same town and served with distinction as lieutenant of infantry
in the French and Indian war of 1755, and, in an engage-
ment in the vicinity of St. George, was seriously wounded
with grape shot while acting as commander, leading his com-
pany in a gallant and desperate assault. He married Sarah
Porter who bore him six children, Isaac, Marshy, Martha,
Timothy, Adam ami Sarah.
Timothy, as was well and truthfully stated in an able and
interesting article upon the histon of Derby bv 13. F. D.
Carpenter, Esq., grew up under the stern and uncompromis-
ing influences oJ a Puritan theocracy, where the clergyman
and soldier alike were the two great privileged figures in the
community, and who autocratically decided all questions of
Church and State. From the one he acquired that deep and
wholesome reverence for religious subjects that characterized
him through a long, eventful and honorable life; and from
the other courage, patience, plain living, love of country and
neighborhood, and the grit and gristle which are the best
ingredients and most productive yield of such examples. From
his mother's lips he eagerly drank in the romance and stories
of border wars and his boyhood was passed in that intensely
exciting condition oi mind and sentiment that pervaded the
THE HON. TIMOTHY HINMAN. 5
community in those times and up to the time of the Decla-
ration of Independence, when it reached its supreme height
In 1776, immediately after the Declaration of Independ-
ence, he enlisted under the command of Capt. Elihu Trow-
bridge, but, for some cause or other, the company was not
called together. Failing in this attempt, in the same season
he again enlisted under the command of Joel Hinman (a dis-
tant relative), but his father thought him too young and inex-
perienced. Nothing daunted, in the fall of the same season,
he, for the third time, enlisted under the command of Capt.
David Hinman. This time he was successful, fur the Captain
was determined that he should go, ami, uniting their persua-
sions, they finally gained his father's consent.
It has been noticed that at this time he was but fourteen
years of 'age, yet at this early period in his lite the remarka-
ble traits of character, which render him so worthy of the
remembrance of an admiring and grateful posterity, seemed
"to cast their shadows before." Soon after his enlistment
his company was called together and stationed in the easterly
part of New York, and during the winter, he was moved from
one military post to another without being brought in contact
with the enemy. This was that winter long to be remem-
bered, when the prospects of the American people were so
dark, and despair and discouragement was universal.
In the spring of 1777 his company was dismissed and he
immediately returned home. Thus in his first term ot enlist-
ment he saw but little of military service, but learned the
stern lessons of camp life, the object of the officers seeming
to be to harass the enemy as much as possible, without bring-
ing on a general attack until the arrival ot fresh recruits
would justify it.
In April of the same season, while at home, the report
came of the attack of the British under Gen. Tryon upon the
village of Danbury. He immediately borrowed a gun of one
of the neighbors and started with his father and a few others
to assist their friends in that place. When within sight ot
Danbury they beheld the surrounding hills begirt with a dense
cloud of smoke, and the beautiful village wrapt in flames.
Then they knew that they had come too late to assist in the
THE HON. TIMOTHY IUXMAN.
attempt to rescue; still they hurried on; arriving at the vil-
lage, they found it in ruins, and everything ol value to a
defending people either plundered or destroyed. They then
followed on alter the enemy until they had re-embarked upon
their vessels. When within a short distance ol Ridgefield he
met Gen. Wooster, mortally woun le 1, sitting upon his saddle,
steadied by two men, while a third was leading his horse.
Alder seeing the mismanagement and want ol union in
the efforts of the yeomanry to defend themselves, he returned
home, sick enough, as he says, of the militia, and in May,
the following month, he enlisted for three years into what
was called the Continental Line, under (.'apt. Klihu Trow-
bridge, and was stationed at old Stamford, Conn.
Not a great while after this, he went with a party of
volunteers under ("apt. Parsons on a foraging expedition to
King's Bridge, near New York. After capturing a great num-
ber of cattle and wagons, together with a quantity of provis-
ions, they set out to return ; while on their way hack, they
heard of a drove of cattle being taken to the British troops
stationed in New York; he, with a small party under Lieut.
Fenton, volunteered to pursue them; they followed on for
awhile when they were warned of danger by a woman, and
looking in the direction in which sin- pointed, they saw the
Red Coats close at hand, some two thousand strong. There-
upon his part) - took the White Plains road and when near
White Plains, a man upon horseback came at lull speed bring-
ing the information that the British were entering the town;
hearing this, and having been continually under arms for two
clays and nights, they secreted themselves behind an intrench-
ment, recently thrown up, and remained tin re until dark',
when they made their escape and arrived again at headquar-
ters, thoroughly exhausted. The rest of the company, who
were left to guard the captured property, shared a worse late,
for the party under Fenton had been gone but a short time,
when the British tame suddenly upon the remaining force,
re-captured the booty, and took many of them prisoners,
among them being their commander, so that about half ol
the Woodbury boys were missing when they arrived at cam]).
Soon after this his company was removed to Peekskill and
was quartered in the meeting house at that place. While
THE HON TIMOTHY HIN.MAN.
there, some time in October, some British ships came up
the Hudson, for the purpose of joining Burgoyne, who was
approaching Saratoga from the north; when they arrived in
sight, he. with others of his company, asked for leave to
cross the river for the purpose ol re-enforcing their friends
in Kurt Montgomery, but Gen. Putnam, who was with them,
opposed it, declaring that the British would take the fort at
any cost, as otherwise their great plan ol forming a contin-
uous line from the Canadas down the Hudson to New York
would be deteatecl. The English soon made an attack upon
tlio fort, and, after a gallant defence lasting until dark, it
surrendered. .Alter taking possession of the fort, the Eng-
lish, with the exception oi a garrison, moved up the river;
the American troops took the same course by land, keeping
near them, but out oi the way ol their fire, until the news
came of Burgoyne's surrender, when the ships dropped down
the river, the .Americans following and menacing them.
Later on they commenced the celebrated forced march
through Xew Jersey. The sufferings ol that terrible march
in the dead of winter cannot be exaggerated. Scantily clothed
and poorly ia\ % the patient army wrote their sufferings in
silent but eloquent lines by the bloody footprints that marked
their course. Worn and weary and bleeding, and unsustained
by the thought of victories achieved, or Mattel ing prospects
for the future; behind them were their desolate homes, the
ashes of ruined villages, their ensanguined pathwav ; before
them doubt and uncertainty, except the certainty ol priva-
tion and danger, and ol having to encounter a powerful and
well disciplined foe; thus they marched towards the scanty
quarters and further suffering that awaited them in the en-
campment at Valley Forge.
On the 29th of December, 1777, his regiment joined the
Pennsylvania militia, and the officers concocted the plan of
decoying the enemy, who were encamped a short distance
from them upon what was called Chestnut Hill, into ambush,
and with his company he set out to accomplish the purpose.
They were directed to march, shoulder to shoulder, to the
enemy, but not to lire. As they approached, the English
opened lire with deadly effect, and among the killed was his
mess-mate who stood next to him on the right. The enemy
Tin; iion. timothy
continued firing and at the same time deploying, with the
evident purpose of surrounding them. Seeing this they com-
menced to retreat, but the foe, suspecting the snare set for
them, followed but a short distance. The following night,
wishing to make as much show as possible, they built fires
of fence rails and everything else that would give light, ami
walked in front of the fires until midnight, when they with-
On the last day of December, which was Sunday, occurred
the battle of White Marsh, so-called, in which he was en-
gaged, and was one of the company that was surrounded by
the English, and was saved only by the resolution of Capt.
Morgan and his riflemen, who succeeded in keeping a way
open until they made their escape. Alter this battle, they
moved to Ship Neck Creek, and he and his regiment were
stationed in a stone mill at that place. While there, the
English came in sight, viewed the American camp with their
spy-glasses and withdrew.
Shortly after tins, his regiment marched to Valley Forge,
Washington's headquarters, and joined his arm)-. While there,
he volunteered, under Gen. Sullivan, to help to build a bridge
across the Schuylkill River, ami afterwards was sent in charge
of cannon to be delivered to Gen. Lafayette. On Ins return,
he slept in the swamp one night, ami arrived at the camp
about midnight of the following clay. lie had hardly fallen
asleep when a hie of men marched in ami put him under
guard for not attending the morning call, such was the strict
discipline of the army.
On or about the 20th of June, 1778, the American army
commenced its march back through New Jersey, and met
the British forces on the plains of Monmouth. During the
engagement at this place his sufferings were intense. The
heat was excessive, ami they were without water, and greatly
fatigued by their hurried march. The incidents of that mem-
orable battle; the treacherous action of Lee in retreating at
the opening of the fight, the subsequent rally under the inspi-
ration and presence and the commanding influence of Wash-
ington, and the final discomfiture of the enemy after a blood}'
and desperate struggle, have been fully set forth in history.
The division in which young Hinman was engaged turned
Til !•; ITOX. TIMOTHY
the tide of battle, and gave to the American forces their
victory. They made the decisive charge; at first they were
repulsed, but rallying, they drove the enemy from the field.
At the close of the day, the worst, and the last on earth
to many brave men, he, with a company under Major Wood-
bridge was sent to plant a picket on an eminence upon the
right. When they drew near they found the English in pos-
session. They were hailed, and replied, and were answered
by the enemy, who discharged a volley of grape-shot from
their held pieces, but, as often before, the aim was too high,
and the missiles were thrown without injury to a single one
of the men. The English, as if frightened at what they
had done, immediately lied, leaving their blankets and many
other valuables, and he and his comrades quietly took posses-
sion of the important spot. On the following morning, he
assisted in burying the dead, alter which, he', with a consid-
erable portion of the army, was removed to Burlington Heights,
and ere long he was chosen to join what was called Scott's
Infantry, • and stationed on the lines. It was considered a
select company, but he found, as many others have found
since, that select companies are not always the best, and on
the whole he was not well pleased with the change; there
was more rebellion than love among the troops, and more
disorder than anything else, except whipping, lie saw twenty-
eight young men for trifling offences tied up, one at a time,
to the posts of an old gallows, and given one hundred laches
each upon their bare backs. Determined never to witness
another scene like this, his sergeant soon alter having received
the sentence of one hundred lashes and a reduction to the
ranks, he and a few others planned a mutiny, which was con-
ducted as follows: Beneath an agreement to defend their com-
rade at whatever cost, they drew a circle, and signed their
names around it, so that no signature should appear as the
first. This is what is called a "Round Robin." All under-
stood the order of the da) r , and the several words ol command,
and the)' arranged responsive actions lor each, so that when
the sentence was pronounced, they all at once shouldered
their muskets, and at the order to strip the prisoner the)' all
fixed their bayonets. Seeing this, the officers were alarmed,
and hurried to Gen. Scott's headquarters, reported a mutiny,
THE ITOX. TIMOTHY
and asked leave to pardon the sergeant ; this the General
refused, but granted a respite. Subsequently the sergeant was
plaeed for the time under the fore-guard, and shortly alter was
pardoned by Gen. Washington.
Young Hinman was sent one night, in 1778, with three
others, making a part)' of four, on a patrol ; they were hardly
a mile from camp when they heard the well-known tread of
an armed force approaching at some distance; they listened
for a moment, and looked in the direction of the sound, but
could see nothing, it being quite dark ; they started to return
and give the alarm to the comrades who lay quietly in the
camp, not in I lie least suspecting danger, but on a second
thought they changed their plan, because they saw that they
would only throw the American forces into confusion, without
giving them time to prepare lor resistance, so, coming to a
place where the road branched off at an acute angle leaving
a narrow point of land between the two mads at their junc-
tion, around the front of which was a stone wall, the)' sprang
over the wall and secreted themselves behind it, and there
concocted the stratagem which miraculously rescued the unsus-
pecting forces of Gen. Scott. Silently those lour men lav
upon the ground in darkness; approaching at but a short
distance was a force ol the enemy composed of well-trained
soldiers. The)' heard the regular tramping el the soldiery,
and the significant clattering ol the horses' hoofs; nearer and
.still more near the enemy approached ; alreach thev could see
through the darkness the mass as it moved towards them;
when within a few rods ol the wall, the four men suddenly
sprang up, fired into the ranks of the enemy, at the same
time pushing down a portion ol the wall, and shouting at
the top ot their voices, "Come on boys," and then tell back
. again behind the wall. Instantly a hundred bullets rattled
against their rude breastwork, and the report of as many
muskets burst upon their ears, and echoed from the distant
hills; the enemy, frightened at their own noise, fled in con-
fusion, and the danger to the camp was over.
In the fall of 1 7 7 S , the infantry broke up, and he joined
the brigade at Reading and went into winter quarters in a
wild woodland spot called by them the Devil's Den.
In the spring of 1779, he was again drafted into a com-
THE HON. TIMOTHY IIIN'MAN.
pany of infantry under the command of Gen. Anthony Wayne.
Soon after lie assisted in the storming of Stony Point. The
regiment arrived within two miles of the fort about daybreak,
altera long and tedious march through the forest ami, by order,
they all laid down upon their arms until dark. The com-
mander, whose carelessness and recent defeat had gained for
him the sobriquet of "Granny Wayne," -came before them
about eleven o'clock at night and addressed them upon the
proposed undertaking, in which he set forth not only the
dangers and difficulties to encounter, hut the consequences
which woidd follow defeat, lie then said that if anyone was
afraid to go he might step out of the ranks, hut, no one
doing so, he proceeded to give the orders and plan of attack,
and especial instructions to the forlorn hope, and directed
that if any man faltered he was to receive the bayonet as
if he were an enemy; no quarter was to be given until the
fort surrendered. Previous to this, five privates had deserted,
and, making their way to the fort, gave informal ion of the
intended attack, so that all their precautions of silence and
secrecy would seem to have been lost ami their great project
defeated ; but, instead ol injuring their cause, it was turned
to good account, tor the pickets being doubled weakened the
force within the fort.
Out of the attacking force was selected the forlorn hope,
who were to rush past the pickets, receive, but not answer
their fire, make for the gateways or sally ports, and, if possi-
ble, keep them open until the main body of the assaulting
forces could enter. These brave men were divided into two
squads of twenty-two men each, with directions to approach
the fort from opposite directions and thus secure one or both
of the gates. Young Hinman was selected as one of those
who were to make the deadly charge. Of his party, seven-
teen were either killed or wounded, several of whom fell
before reaching the gateway, which had been thrown open to
admit the retreating pickets. Before and within the gate
there was a terrible hand to hand conflict. On the one hand
the fight was with bayonets alone, for they had been required
to leave their cartridges behind. Idle other side fought with
the advantage of both bayonets and bullets. The little band,
with heroic valor, held their ground, and when all but five
TIIF. HON. TIMOTHY IIIXMAX.
had fallen the main assaulting column arrived, passed through
the gateways and the garrison surrendered.
This midnight attack is conceded by historians to have
been the bravest and most gallant achievement of the war,
and unsurpassed in bravery by any event either in ancient
or modern times. It was honorably recognized by Congress
and the Press; the commanding general, however, as usual,
was the only person named in commendation.
The beardless boy, scarce seventeen, came out of this des-
perate encounter without a wound. Indeed, throughout his
whole military service he seemed to have borne a charmed
life. After the surrender of the fort, he was detailed with
others to destroy it. During the engagement the commander
received a wound upon his temple which temporarily turned
his brain, on account of which he was thereafter called by
l he men, "Mad Anthony."
The following winter was exceedingly cold, and its severity
greatly increased the sufferings ot the halt-clad soldiers.
Young Hinman's term of service expired in June, 1780,
and though earnestly solicited by his captain to re-enlist, he
declined and returned to his native town. As a token ot
especial merit, he was presented by his commander with his
gun and equipments.
After staying at home for a few months, he again enlisted
under Capt. David Porter and served a six months' term,
after which he returned home and remained there until the
next summer, when the alarm came from Middlesex ot the
attack by a company of Knglish soldiers who, coming sud-
denly upon them on Sunday, captured and carried away the
entire male portion of the congregation, when, tor the last
time, he .shouldered his musket l<» go forth in delence ot his
Such is a brief outline of the career of a private soldier
in that great struggle lor liberty. The historian records the
deeds ot the commanding officers, and a grateful people crown
them with laurels, but the devoted patriot, who in the ranks
braves danger and death for his country, usually passes on
unhonored and unknown to find Ids reward ot honor it ever,
in the world beyond the grave. Fortunate, indeed, is he ot
the ereat army of brave but untitled soldiers, if the record
THE HON. TIMOTHY ITINMAN.
of his valiant deeds and sacrifices is rescued from the obliv-
ion, to which, in the ungrateful currents of the world's history,
they are usually consigned.
In the fall of 1784 he went on a visit to Stockbridge,
Massachusetts, and was considered, by the good people there,
so much ot a disciplinarian that they engaged him to keep
the town school tor the ensuing winter. The school num-
bered about two hundred. At its close, the authorities gave
him a recommendation as a teacher. About this time he had
the offer of a commission under Gen. St. Clair, in what was
styled the "Peace Establishment," but he concluded rather
to enlist into the more common service of matrimony, which
he did on December 10, 17S6, with Phcebe Stoddard, daugh-
ter of Capt. Stoddard, a soldier oi the Revolution. Capt.
Stoddard was killed while defending Fort Mifflin; he was a
lineal descendent of William Stoddard, a cousin and the
standard bearer of William the Conquerer. In her ances-
tral line and its immediate branches were many eminent
divines, distinguished statesmen and prominent soldiers, among
whom were Rev. Solomon Stoddard, the first librarian of Har-