Tag Archives: Potomac River

Bennett Greenwell Revolutionary War Pension Application

Sacred to the memory of Bennett Greenwell, born December 7, 1761, died July 12, 1838, aged 77 years.  ‘May he rest in peace.’  Revolutionary Soldier, Bennett Greenwell, 1777-1781, placed by Lady Washington Chapter, DAR, Houston, Texas.  St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, Scott County, Kentucky.

Bennett Greenwell, a citizen of Scott County, Kentucky, was born in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, in 1761, and served his country during the American Revolution years of 1777 to the close of the war in 1781.

During those years, at the age of 16-21, he risked his life guarding a portion of the Maryland coast along the Potomac River – from Poplar Hill Creek to Flood’s Creek (notated in purple in the middle of the photo).  He kept horses at the ready to take expresses of information to those troops nearby.  The British gun vessel Roebuck was very detrimental to American navy ships, so it was important to know its location.  I could not find information on the Foy, but Mr. Greenwell’s spelling of its name may not have been correct.  This was the most interesting revolutionary account by a pensioner that I have read.

State of Kentucky, Franklin County

On this 6th day of February 1833, personally appeared before the Honorable Samuel Todd, sole Judge of the Franklin Circuit Court, now in session in the capital in Frankfort, Bennett Greenwell, a resident of the County of Scott and State of Kentucky, aged seventy-one years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June the 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States and served as herein stated:

That, on the 8th day of December 1777, he entered the service of the United States as a volunteer, in Captain John Greenwell’s company of volunteer militia, who acted as

minute men in the Maryland Militia, that Captain John Greenwell, with his company, was engaged from December 1777, until the close of the Revolutionary War, in guarding that part of Maryland, which lies between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers on the Chesapeake Bay; that the said Bennet Greenwell was stationed, by Captain John Greenwell, on that part of the Potomac which lies between Poplar Hill Creek and Flood’s Creek, being about two miles on said river; that the duty assigned to him was to guard that portion of the Potomac, keep a good lookout for the British rebels and give immediate notice to Captain John Greenwell’s company of militia, or to Captain Shelton’s company of light horse, or to any other troops that might be nearest to his station when it should become necessary for him to give the alarm; that he kept two horses constantly in the stable, to be always ready to carry the expresses

during the whole of the time he was in the service, which was from the 8th of December 1777 until the close of the war, in October 1781; that he frequently carried expresses during the period intervened between December 1777 and October 1781; that whilst he as engaged in watching the Potomac and carrying expresses as aforesaid, several British vessels sailed up the Potomac and committed depredations on the inhabitants upon the Maryland shore, that he recollects particularly two British 174 gun vessels, the Roebuck and the Foy, which frequently sailed up the Potomac, that on one occasion they burnt the house of Hubert Blackstone at the mouth of Clement’s Bay (the other purple line), which empties in to the Potomac at Blackstone’s Island (the green island circled) and the crew took a great many beeves and nails from the island; at another time they burnt William Gwider’s house at Piney Point neck (circled bottom right); that on all of these occasions he carried his expresses to the nearest company to his said station; several of these expresses were carried to Captain John Greenwell,

several to Captain Charles Shelton, who commanded the light horse; several to Bennet Raighly, the lieutenant in said troop of horse and several to Bennett Coombs, the lieutenant of Captain John Greenwell’s company of volunteer militia.  During the whole of the period from December 1777 until the close of the war, as aforesaid, he was engaged as one of Captain Greenwell’s company, and by his orders, in watching the two miles on the Potomac and in all necessary occasions carrying expresses.  He further states that he never received any written discharge from the service; but that after the news was received of the capture of Cornwallis, Captain John Greenwell, who was his relative, told him that the war was over and that he was discharged.  He has no documentary evidence and knows of no person by whom he can positively prove the aforesaid services, except William Fenwick of Franklin County, Kentucky, who is about seventy-five years of age; whose testimony he will attach to this statement.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or

annuity, except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency of the United States.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.

Bennett Greenwell

Questions put to the applicant by the Court:

Where and in what year were you born?  Answer, I was born in the County of St. Mary in the State of Maryland on the 7th day of December 1761.

Have you any record of your age and if so where is it?  Answer, I have none, but my father had which was in the possession of my brother Joseph in 1810 when I was last in Maryland, and I then took a copy from it, which I have examined and know it to be as stated above.

Where were you living when called into the service?  Where have you lived since the revolution?  And where do you now live?  Answer, I lived when called into the service in St. Mary’s County in Maryland, where I resided until 1795, when I moved to Kentucky and settled on the

waters of Elkhorn in Scott County, Kentucky, where I have resided ever since.

How were you called into the service?  Were you drafted?  Or did you volunteer?  Or were you a substitute and, if so, for whom?  Answer, I volunteered.

State the names of some of the regular officers, who were with the troops where you served; such continental and militia regiments as you can recollect, and the general circumstances of your service.  Answer, there were no regular officers with the troops where I served and no regiments wither of continental troops or militia.  The only troops where I served were the light horse cavalry, and volunteers or militia, to act as light troops, to fly from point to point, as occasion might require, to repel the predatory invasions from the British shipping along the Maryland shore of the Chesapeake Bay, between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, and also along the Maryland shore of both those rivers.

Did you ever receive a discharge for the service, and if so, by whom was it given and what has become of it?  Answer, I never received any other discharge than a verbal one from Captain John Greenwell

at the close of the war.

State the names of persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood, and who can testify as to your character for veracity, and their belief of your services as a soldier of the revolution.  Answer, I am well acquainted with Col. Richard M. Johnson, who is now in congress; I am acquainted with Mr. William Fenwick, who can testify as to my service as a soldier in the revolution, and with Mr. Samuel P. Weisiger, Major J. J. Belt, Stephen Fenwick and many others who can testify as to my character for veracity.

We, William Fenwick, Joseph J. Belt, Stephen Fenwick and Joseph Smith, citizens residing in the county of Franklin and State aforesaid, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Bennett Greenwell, who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration; that we believe him to be seventy-one years of age; that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we

concur in that opinion.

Sworn and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.

William Fenwick, J. Smith, Joseph J. Belt, Stephen Fenwick

And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion after the investigation of the matter and putting the interrogations prescribed by the War Department; that the above named applicant, was a revolutionary soldier and served as he stated, and the Court further certifies that it appears to them that William Fenwick, Joseph Smith, Joseph Belt and Stephen Fenwick, who have signed the preceding certificate are residents of the County of Franklin and state aforesaid, and as credible persons and that their statement is entitled to credit.

State of Kentucky, Franklin County

I, Philip Sargent, clerk of the Franklin Circuit Court, in the State of Kentucky, do certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of Bennet Greenwell for a pension.

In testimony whereof, I have hereto set my hand as clerk and affixed the seal of said Court this 6th day of February 1833.

Philip Sargent.

Bennett Greenwell received a pension of $40 per year for his military service during the Revolutionary War.

Chopawamsic Farm

from They Called Stafford Home

The Development of Stafford County, Virginia, from 1600 until 1865

On April 12, 1709 Bryant Folio, Stafford County planter, and his wife, Mary, sold to George Mason (II) for 5,000 pounds “good tobacco and twenty shillings Sterling” a tract of land along both sides of Chopawamsic Creek, “being part of a patent of 2,066 acres formerly granted to John Matthews the grandfather of the said Mary”.  This property ran from about Boswell’s Corner on the west to John Moncure’s Clermont on the east.

On this property George Mason built a large home using blocks of local sandstone, although it is likely that there was an earlier residence there.  He planted a large orchard and opened great fields on which to graze sheep and cattle.  Mason lived at Chopawamsic for an unknown period of time.  Like his father, he amassed tremendous land holdings in Stafford, Prince William, Fauquier and Fairfax Counties.  We do know that he leased the Chopawamsic property and was living in Fairfax County when he drowned in the Potomac in 1735.

On July 10, 1728 a deed between George Mason (III) and John Peyton was recorded in Stafford for “land lying on Acquia Run in Overwharton Parish where the said George Mason now dwells: 150 acres being part of 1,000 acres patented to Valentine Peyton on June 6, 1654 who conveyed to Henry Peyton on May 26, 1657 who conveyed to George Mason (II) on July 8, 1694 and was inherited by George Mason (III)”.  Obviously, Mason felt at home at Chopawamsic for he added to the end of the deed, “Before signing the aforesaid George Mason doth reserve to himself twenty foot square of land in the Orchard for a burying place exclusive of fruit trees”.

After the death of her husband in 1735, Ann Thomson Mason moved back to Chopawamsic to raise her three children.  She never remarried.  Ann deeded the farm to her son, Thomson, “One hundred and fifty acres of Land part of the said Tract of five hundred acres of Land to be laid out as the said Ann Mason shall think proper so as to include the houses and plantation known by the name of the Ordinary”.  This is the only known reference to the property by this name and it probably indicates that it had, at one time, been used as an ordinary.

Apparently, Thomson Mason had financial difficulties later in life for he twice advertised the sale of Chopawamsic Farm, although he never actually sold it.

The first advertisement for the sale of Chopawamsic appeared in The Alexandria Gazette on September 11, 1769; “Chopawamsic.  In order to satisfy the subscriber’s debts will be SOLD, to the highest bidder . . . on Monday the 4th day of December, the house and 38 slaves.”  The farm was not sold at this time, and another ad appeared in The Virginia Gazette in Mary 1773 describing 2,600 acres in Prince William and Stafford situated four miles above Aquia Warehouse.  The property included a  mill seat with a “large and never failing stream . . . There is a great appearance of iron ore and a large quantity of white oak and pine timber, a tolerable commodious dwellinghouse, a great number of convenient outhouses, good orchards, and several tenements in order for cropping”.  The ad continued, stating that if Mason could amass twice the value of the property, he would not have to sell it.

Mason never sold Chopawamsic for in his will, proved in 1785, he left it to his wife, Elizabeth, for her lifetime and then to his son.

In 1850 Major William H. Fitzhugh purchased and surveyed Chopawamsic Farm.  The accompanying plat is beautifully detailed and shows the orchard mentioned by Mason as well as the house, two barns, various outbuildings, a garden, forests, pastures, and marsh.  This is a small map which encompasses a tremendous amount of acreage.  The Dumfries Road marked on the plat is the present-day Mason Road just north of Boswell’s corner (U.S. Route 1).  Today this old road dead-ends, but it originally ran through Chopawamsic Farm, Clermont, Richland, and on to the Potomac River.  The Moncure property on the east side of the farm was Clermont and the Ford property was Bloomington.

It is unknown what became of the early stone house.  In all likelihood it was abandoned after the Civil War and the stone probably ended up in the foundations of nearby buildings.  It is also possible that the stone was sold to the builders of the National Cathedral, a fate of numerous other stone buildlings in Stafford.  By the time of the Quantico expansion, however, the house site was occupied by a basic white frame farmhouse.