Sons of Liberty

The American Revolution was a war waged on the home-front as horrific battles were fought in each of the thirteen colonial states. The American Revolution was also personal as many American families sacrificed for their newly emerging country. My sixth great-grandparents James and Sarah Spaulding were such a family. How did they sacrifice? They proudly yielded all four of their sons to serve in the war of independence from Great Britain.

Here are the stories of the American patriot sons of James and Anna Spaulding—brothers in arms—sons of liberty.

Captain Benjamin Spaulding

As I draft this post, I’m remembering my fifth great-grandfather, Benjamin Spaulding, as today is the 284th anniversary of his birth on March 15, 1738. Benjamin was the oldest son of James and Anna Spaulding of Westford, Massachusetts.

In 1776, Benjamin Spaulding was commissioned as a lieutenant during the American Revolution. He served in Westchester Country, New York, at Dobb’s Ferry, Tarrytown, and North Castle. The notorious British spy, Major John André, was captured at Tarrytown with detailed plans of West Point provided to him by American traitor, General Benedict Arnold.

Westchester County was the site of numerous battles throughout the seven years of the American Revolution due to its strategic location between New York City, controlled by the British, and the Hudson River Highlands, controlled by American forces.

Promoted to captain in 1780, Benjamin Spaulding then raised up and led a company of New Hampshire Militia in Colonel Moses Nichols’ regiment that joined with the Continental Army at West Point, New York. West Point is located on a plateau on the west side of the Hudson River about sixty miles north of New York City. The tactical location of the high ground at West Point was greatly valued by the Americans. General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America and he endeavored to keep it under patriot control throughout the war.2 West Point went on to become the home of the United States Military Academy in 1802.

Private James Spaulding Jr.

Benjamin’s younger brother, James Spaulding Jr. (my sixth great-uncle), was born on August 31, 1748. James Jr. put down his plow and picked up his musket, joining the fight for independence at age twenty-six. When the Concord Alarm was sounded, Private James Spaulding Jr. headed immediately to the scene of the action. James Spaulding Jr.’s wife, Hannah, and their eldest child, Jonathan, watched the battle unfold on the summit of Mount Watatic, where they could see the smoke of burning buildings and hear the sounds of British cannons off in the distance.

Private James Spaulding Jr. was assigned to Colonel William Prescott’s Seventh Continental Regiment from April 1775 to February 1777. Colonel Prescott’s Regiment was formed on April 23, 1775, as a Massachusetts militia just five days after Concord. The regiment then joined the Continental Army in June 1775. On January 1, 1777, the regiment was disbanded, and volunteers from the regiment joined other units. Private James Spaulding Jr. was then assigned to the Tenth Massachusetts Regiment under the command of Colonel Marshall, where he served in February and March of 1777.

Private Silas Spaulding

James and Anna Spaulding’s son, Silas (my sixth great-uncle), was born on March 25, 1757. Private Silas Spaulding joined the fight for freedom on April 19, 1775, at age eighteen, when he also answered the Concord Alarm. He marched with a group of fellow minutemen from Westford, Massachusetts, in Captain Oliver Bates’ company under Colonel James Prescott’s Regiment of Militia to aid in the pursuit of British forces in the aftermath of the Battle of Concord.

Silas went on to fight at the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, on August 16, 1777, in which a force of New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen decisively defeated British troops led by General John Burgoyne. Private Silas Spaulding was present at the surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777.

Private Phineas Spaulding

James and Anna Spaulding’s youngest son, Phineas (my sixth great-uncle), was born on June 4, 1759. Private Phineas Spaulding joined the Massachusetts Militia on December 16, 1776. He served in Captain Reuben Butterfield’s company. Like his brother Silas, Private Phineas Spaulding was present at the surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777. Phineas was assigned as one of the guards placed over British prisoners captured at the Battle of Saratoga.

Private Phineas Spaulding’s unit moved south and wintered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, with General George Washington in December 1777. The 1777-1778 winter encampment at Valley Forge was particularly challenging due to harsh weather, a lack of supplies, and numerous deaths from disease. It was said at Valley Forge that the blood of shoeless men reddened the snow and ice.

The brave patriots at Valley Forge remained faithful to the cause of freedom and loyal to their leader, General Washington, who stayed with his men throughout that severe winter. Imagine the remarkable stories that Phineas Spaulding could tell as he witnessed General George Washington riding tall upon his war-mount, Nelson, among the troops at Valley Forge, inspiring them to press on to victory.

In 1790, a year after George Washington became the first president of the United States, James Spaulding (my sixth great-grandfather), died in Westford, Massachusetts at age seventy-six. James was an eyewitness to the birth of our nation. He and his wife, Anna, answered the call to freedom by proudly giving their four sons, Benjamin, James Jr., Silas and Phineas, to fight in the American Revolution that birthed the United States of America.

You can read more on the compelling stories of Benjamin Spaulding and his brothers James Jr., Silas, and Phineas in my book Fortitude.


Notes

  1. “Sons of the American Revolution” image by mark6mauno is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse&atype=rich
  2. U.S. Military Academy West Point. A Brief History of West Point, https://www.westpoint.edu/about/history-of-west-point (accessed December 23, 2021).

Published by Dale Spaulding

Family historian and author of Fortitude.

One thought on “Sons of Liberty

  1. For you, Dale Spaulding, “Yea, I have a goodly heritage.”….to use a line from Daughters of the American Revolution. Nice job, shows lots of research hours. Love it! 🙂

    Like

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