Another Fourth of July, another Independence Day. What are your thoughts on this most auspicious day of our country?
During my childhood the best part of the day was going to visit my grandmother who lived in Springfield, Washington County. Grandmother lived across the street from the movie theater. Once darkness settled, and after the ‘show’, the most fantastic fireworks would be on display. We were so very close you could hear the deep sound when the firework was lit, then the whoosh as it was hurtled into the sky. Then the loud crack and you knew the bounty of colors would light up the sky. It was magical! I still enjoy fireworks to this day, from that simple experience of sitting on my grandmother’s front steps and looking into the night sky. I was mesmerized!
Now that I am older, I understand the sacrifices it took to make us an independent country. My ancestor, Captain John Hancock Linton, was a member of the Loudoun County militia. He was first recommended as lieutenant in 1778, then a captain in 1781. The militia were generally on a three-month tour of duty. How many times did he serve three months? Was he a member of the militia before he became lieutenant? If so, it is quite probable he served from 1776 to 1781 – even later. I do not know. Were the county militia on a rotating three-month basis? Three on, three off?
He is not listed in any military records that I can find, he did not apply for a pension. However in the pension records of others, he is mentioned as their captain. The pension records of John Connelly, living in Nelson County in 1839, say that in ‘1781 he lived in Loudoun County, Virginia, and in July was drafted for three months in the company of Captain John Linton, Lt. William Debell and Ens. Francis Adams under Col George Summers and Maj. Risby who took command when they rendezvoused at West’s Town in Loudoun County.’ They marched to the old magazine near Williamsburg. In October (three months), they were dismissed and returned home. The Battle of Yorktown began September 28, 1781. John Linton was there, then his unit was dismissed. Was he there when General Cornwallis surrendered? Or was his unit on the way home at that point? Either way, he and his men had great stories to tell when they reached home.
Yes, he is listed as being part of the militia, but he has no records, was given no land and accepted no payment for his service in the way of a pension. Did he feel that it was his duty to serve our country? Did he feel he needed no other reimbursement than a free county, a democratic country, free from the tyranny of England? I cannot say, there is nothing he wrote to identify his feelings before, during or after the war.
Captain John was one of approximately 231,000 men who served during the fight for Independence (145,000 of whom served in colonial militias). Think of all those stories, the battles won and lost, the lives given for our freedom, the lives saved by these brave men. The country, our country, that was formed and has existed for the last 246 years. What would our Revolutionary War ancestors think about our country today?
Categories: Family Stories