Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
In 2010-2018 Iserved in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Family Divided by the American Revolution

I find the story of Thomas Sherwood and his family especially interesting. The American revolution has sometimes been called "the first American civil war", and this was very obvious in the case of the Sherwood family. The three brothers moved from Fairfield, Connecticut to a place 5 miles north of Fort Edward NY, to begin farming.

When the revolution broke out, brothers Seth and Adiel joined the rebels. But Thomas read in his Bible that he should fear God and honor the king. And in obedience to the scripture, he moved his family north to Quebec and joined the British cause. Various Sherwood cousins joined one faction or the other.

A family story that I find rather touching is that Thomas was given a letter from Seth's wife requesting financial help, as her husband was a prisoner of war and was unable to help. Thomas protested loudly that there must be a mistake as "No brother of mine would be a traitor to his king!" but somehow the sister-in-law received the help she had asked for. Even in the midst of war, family was most important.

His cousin, Captain Justus Sherwood was more famous, but this account mentions them both:

"On October 4, 1777....Towards dusk the Queen's Loyal Rangers and the other provincials were sent to reinforce Colonel von Breymann --- the officer who had been leading the reinforcements near Bennington --- at a redoubt on the north side of the British camp. The Germans were under attack by the Kentuckian Daniel Morgan and his corps of rifleman, and a few snipers of provincials might help turn the tide. As night fell the rebels overran the men at von Breymann's redoubt. Justus was ordering his men back within the camp when he felt hot iron pierce his thigh and he staggered and lost his balance. Lieutenant John Dulmage, swimming before his eyes, aided by a German soldier, was lifting him from the redoubt. As the second Battle of Freeman's Farm was ending, Dulmage, aided by men from the company, carried Justus past Burgoyne's own headquarters to the hospital tents on the north side of the camp, near the bank of the Hudson where the provision of bateaux were tied up.

"The hospital was a madhouse of shrieking men, surgeons sawing shattered  limbs on tables slimy with blood. Dlumage found an empty straw palliasse [straw mattress], and joined by Thomas Sherwood and Elijah Bothum, both very alarmed, they laid Justus down gently. With a knife his lieutenant cut away the breeches from around the bloody hole. In his agony Justus heard John say that he had stopped a musket ball but the bone was intact. Elijah brought a tumbler full of rum, which Justus sipped while awaiting a surgeon to attend to him.

Dulmage left to look after the company, while Thomas and Elijah sat with Justus and held him steady until the surgeon had extracted the ball. With teeth clenched, Justus wondered why the rum was doing so little good.

"Throughout the night Justus lay comforted by more doses of rum. In the morning Thomas Sherwood came in, and on asking about Brigadier Fraser, Justus was saddened to learn that he had died before dawn at the house where the Baroness von Riedesel was staying. The army's present predicament was not Fraser's doing. After a moment's silence Thomas reported that Burgoyne had ordered a withdrawal up the Hudson. The vanguard was leaving, although rain teemed down, beating on the walls of the tent. Outside the road was a sea of mud, guns towed by emaciated horses and oxen, pushed by men who had scarcely the strength to walk, let alone salvage the artillery. The most severely wounded men would be left behind, but John Dulmage had men making a litter for Justus. All refused to forsake their captain."

Loren Kelly

Buckskin Pimpernel: The Exploits of Justus Sherwood, Loyalist Spy by Mary Beacock Fryer - 1981 - 288 pages Page 18


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