John (1760-1837) and Nathaniel (1755/56-1840) Burrows, Co-Ancestor No. 49

John Burrows II was married to my 7th great-grand aunt, Lois Hubbell, sister of Rev. Nathaniel Hubbell. (ANOTHER minister, but Presbyterian this time – not Methodist!) Together they had five sons – Nathaniel, John III, and three whose names seem to have been erased from the records entirely.

Thank you, Internet! – the actual words of Nathaniel and John Burrows can be read and reviewed anytime with just a few mouse clicks. Nathaniel’s exploits live on in the series of affidavits and correspondence that constitutes his Revolutionary War Pension file (available at fold3.com).  And John actually wrote a memoir – “Sketch of the Life of Gen. John Burrows of Lycoming County – Furnished by himself at the request of his family and republished by his Great-Grandson Nathaniel Burrows Bubb of Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania in 1917” (downloadable at archive.org, and other sites).

Gen John Burrows

From what I have gathered, the five Burrows boys all enlisted upon hearing news of the British landing at Long Island – which action also facilitated their liberation from a home crowded with a wailing pack of new step- and half-siblings.

All five brothers survived the disastrous Battle of Long Island, but two were taken at Fort Washington and held in one of the notorious British Sugar House prisons. (One died there in 1777; the other was released in a prisoner exchange, then went South and fell in the Battle of Camden in South Carolina in 1780. A third brother was lost when the USS Randolph exploded, the result of a stray spark in a powder magazine, during the “Battle off Barbados” in 1778.)

Now – General Burrows writes of a crazy-famous event he witnessed:

Gen. Washington lay about two weeks at my father’s [house] opposite Trenton; then removed to Newtown, the county seat of Bucks, from which place he marched with his little army on Christmas morning, 1776, and crossed the Delaware that night, nine miles above Trenton. I crossed with him, and assisted in taking the Hessians next morning.

Emanuel_Leutze_(American,_Schwäbisch_Gmünd_1816–1868_Washington,_D.C.)_-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_Project

Yes – that crossing of the Delaware. He was 16.

John also took part, as did Nathaniel, in the various battles of Washington’s Philadelphia Campaign in 1777, culminating in the Battle of Germantown. From Nathaniel’s viewpoint, this was the Campaign (specifically, the Battle of White Horse Tavern) in which his company captain and lieutenant were each captured, leaving him to command his company.

At Germantown, the relative inexperience of Washington’s army thwarted his plans – but his reputation as a tactician was made in this ultimately losing battle. More even than the victory at Saratoga, the defeat at Germantown convinced the French (a) of Washington’s brilliance, and (b) that the Colonists’ struggle was one worth supporting and even emulating.

Meanwhile…

I returned back to the Valley Forge, and when it was known that the British were about to leave Philadelphia and go by land through Jersey to New York, we left the Valley Forge, crossed the Delaware and came up with the enemy at Monmouth [June 1778], where during the action, my horse fell dead under me, and Gen. Washington presented me with another very good one; and when I informed him that I wished to leave the army, he gave me a certificate of my good behavior while with him, which, like a foolish boy, I did not take care to preserve. During fourteen months that I was with him in this capacity I was a member of his household, (except when I was conveying his dispatches,) and witnessed traits of the great, the good, the prudent, and the virtuous man, that would be vanity in me to attempt, with my feeble pen, to describe, and do justice to his character.

Now as for the “General” thing, He was appointed Major General of the 9th Division of Pennsylvania Militia in 1811 by Governor Snyder.  The initial term was seven years, at the close of which he was re-appointed for an additional four years. Of course, his commission coincided with the War of 1812, but I don’t believe he led his men into any of those battles.

And a closing sentiment…

To conclude – let me again urge it upon you, (as a father’s advice,) always to support, with your voice, votes and influence, the equal rights of your fellow men. These are the principles that carried us triumphantly through a bloody war against one of the most powerful monarchies on earth – principles that the sages of the revolution pledged “their lives, their fortune, and their sacred honors,” to support.

Pretty dang cool.

2 comments

  1. Hi —I just came upon your site and the painting of John Burrows. I am researching my husband’s Torbert family, and John and Nathaniel each married a Torbert sister. I am going to make a short presentation about these folks in Bucks and their involvement in the Revolution, and was searching to see whether John Burrows Sr. actually did host General Washington. What I have read says he stayed at “Summerseat” in Morrisville, but they have a different owner of that property. Did you ever find anything that proves that Washington stayed with John Burrows? I think I saw it marked on a map, but can’t lay my hands on it. The owners of the Summerseat property are referred to as Clymer and then Thomas Barclay. Thanks! I did find the autobiography of John Burrows the son, and it is fascinating!

    • Hello Bobbie – Thanks for the note. This was a fun story to do!
      It’s been nearly a year since the post was done, so I’m not remembering everything. But I’ll dig around and see if I had some super-special resource.
      My gut feeling is that I got pretty much everything from the autobiography – but like I said, it’s been awhile. I’ll check the files and let you know.
      -Brad

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