Remembering an American Patriot

John McMullan, Soldier Continental Line in the American Revolution

© Gale McDonnell Fuller
Used by Permission

In searching for information on John McMullan's 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 McMullen is written McMullen, McMullen and McMullin. There are other McMullins, McMillons and McMullons who served, but they do not connect to the line of John McMullen 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 Virginia's 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 McMullen 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 Henry's 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 Syme's 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 Weedon's 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 Lammé was commissioned to serve when John Syme resigned.

The February 1778 pay roll shows John McMullin in the company of Lieut. Lammé 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 Laird's and Lieut. Nathan Lammé'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 Lammé'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 Barbee's "compy." This is unusual since the other cards, the muster cards, have him in Lammé's company. There is a printed note on the card which reads:

N. B. The men were Inlisted in Dec' 76 and Jan' 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 Lammé's company was in Brunswick, New Jersey, and the word "com'd" 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 camp's 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 Muhlenburg's Brigade in 1778-1779 and part of Scott's 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.


1Continental Congress resolution, Sept. 16, 1776, Governor's 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 Hunter's Va. Gaz (Williamsburg) Feb. 28, 1777

2"A General Return of the 10th Continental Virginia Regiment, Commanded by Colo. Edward Stevens, April the 10" 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 meetinghouses 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.

4A 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 Suffem'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.

8A Guide to Virginia Militarv Organizations in the American Revolution. 1774-1787. Compiled by E. M. SanzhezSaavedra. Virginia State Library 1978

John McMullan's 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.

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