Remembrance Philley

Revolutionary Soldier

 

 

 

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n June 15, 1753 Abiah Millington Philley gave birth to her tenth child and named him Remembrance. Our first notice of him after this is about the time of the Revolutionary War. At age 19 he married Anna Cyrena Gleason on Aug 20, 1774, and had two children by her, namely William and Arunah. Of these two children, nothing is know positively. They seem to have perished in the early days of the Revolutionary War, perhaps in a fire. The couple divorced and she remarried. So did he. Hannah Hubbard became his bride December 28, 1783. This followed his war service. By vicariously following the career of the gallant Captain Roger Welles we can see what action Remembrance faced at that time.  I quote here from the History of Ancient Wethersfield, a 1904 history by Henry M. Stiles:

   "We have been considering the honor reflected upon Wethersfield, during this campaign of 1781, by the presence in her midst, of Gen. Washington and the distinguished allies of America from La Belle France. We have now, to consider the honor  directly conferred upon the old town by one of her sons, and his Wethersfield compatriots, who served with him and under him, in the Southern Campaign, which ended before Yorktown. We refer to Capt. Roger Welles, of Newington Parish, whom we have previously mentioned as one of the five Wethersfield Captains in the 3rd Conn. Reg't of the "formation of 1781."Five Companies from the "Conn. Line" went to Virginia with LaFayette in February, in the battalion under the command of Col. Gimat, a French officer, and Maj. John Palgrave Wyllys of Hartford.... These five Companies formed part of the battalion that stormed the enemy's redoubt at Yorktown on the night of Oct. 14, 1781, and thereby hastened the surrender of Cornwallis on Oct. 19. Capt. Welles was wounded by a bayonet thrust in his leg  in that assault. He was a tall man and of commanding presence, standing six feet and two inches in his stockings. In this night assault be led his Company and was the first to mount the enemy's works, and in the intense excitement of clearing the way with his sword for his men to follow, he did not fully realize that he was wounded till the redoubt was taken, when he discovered that his boot was partly filled with blood. His wound was not so serious, however, but that he was present at the surrender of Cornwallis on Oct. 19, and saw the English army march out between the two long lines of the French and American forces, Yorktown Surrenderas he afterwards wrote to his father, "the most pleasing sight I ever beheld—to see those haughty fellows march out of their strong fortifications, and ground their arms." 

"We here insert the pay roll of Capt. Welles' Company for June, 1781. (ed. I have not included the whole list of thirty privates and several officers. The list includes private Remembrance Filley) These men were drafted from the Third Conn. Reg't, and none were less than six feet tall, according to tradition."  

"Sec. 85. Pay Roll of Capt. Welles' Company of the Third Conn. Reg't, serving in Col. Gimat's Reg't June, 1781. "Received of Capt. Heart the several sums annexed to our names in full of one month's pay, in hard money, advanced to the officers ($20-$40) and men ($6.60) In the 3d Connecticut Regiment, serving in the Light Infantry Company in Colonel Gimat's Regiment, advanced from the avails of confiscated estates. Rec'd as witness our hands. Roger Welles." (State Archives, Rev. War, Vol. 25, Doc.28.) The American troops soon returned to the North, Capt. Welles wrote  from "Camp Highlands, Dec. 10, 1781," announcing their arrival at that point, on Dec. 8, saying: "After a very fatiguing march we arrived at this place the 8th instant, not a little pleased to find such comfortable quarters, for we are permitted to occupy the huts we built the last year." Here the Connecticut troops spent the winter quietly, many of them visiting their homes in furlough, among whom was Capt. Welles."

Another person, a Filley relative, states a somewhat more complete war record. It has no documentation, but includes the following:" . . . he saw considerable service during the Revolutionary War, first as a Minute Man. His war record in Washington, D.C. and Litchfield, Connecticut shows that on May 4, 1776 he was one of 30 men under a Captain Beebe who was chosen to go with General Lafayette down into Virginia and take the British General Cornwallis.( As we have seen, this expedition did not take place until 1781.) His war record reads as follows:

      • Volunteer at the Batt1e of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1777.
      • Volunteer at the Battle of Danbury, Connecticut, on April 26 1777.
      • Regularly enlisted May 4, 1777, and served in the Connecticut section of the Continental Army with Captain Walker of the Third Regiment, residence Winchester, Connecticut.
      • Went into camp at Peekskill, New York in May of  1777 and served in Parsons' First Brigade under Putnam along the Hudson until January, 1778 .
      • Took post at West Point and later began, with the Brigade, to build the permanent buildings for the West Point Academy.
      • Was present at the hanging of Major Andre as a spy, and assisted in the capture of General Burgoyne."

All of this must be seen in the light of Remembrance's own account of his service found in his application for a pension. In the words of his signed deposition of 1818:

"Remembrance Filley enlisted at Winchester Connecticut in Captain Walker’s Company in the 3rd Regiment of the Connecticut line under Colonel Webb. That he enlisted for and served during the war - that he thinks he enlisted in 1778 - that he was discharged at West Point in New York - that he served in the militia previous to his enlistment - that he assisted in the capture of Burgoyne - that he served under Lafayette at the southward - that he was never in any general engagement but in a number of skirmishes."

A look at the history books will show that his brief account would allow for all the activity claimed above if the dates are corrected.  The forces of LaFayette were small and dodged a direct confrontation with the much superior forces of Cornwallis but keeping him busy in Virginia until Washington's reenforcements and the French fleet closed off Yorktown and virtually ending the war. He may not have seen himself in any "general engagements" but the final surrender at Yorktown seems more than a skirmish. 

It should be pointed out that his "enlistment" dates refer to Remembrance's service in the Continental Army, that was only a part of his total service. Militia early on made up the bulk of the army. Remembrance was awarded a pension for his service of $8 per month and an arrears payment of $131.43.  

Remembrance appears again in the pages of Boyd's 1871 Annals and Families of Winchester, Ct. Boyd quotes the records of the selectmen of Winchester for 1791 that report: "Voted that the selectmen be directed to take charge of Remembrance Filley and conduct with him as they shall think most for his comfort, and will be least expensive to the town, whilst he remains in his present state of delirium, either to set him up at vendue to the person who will keep him the cheapest, or to dispose of him in any other way which may to the selectmen more convenient, or for any such time as they may think reasonable, and on the cost of the town... Ensign Bronson bid off Remembrance Filley for eight shillings per week for two weeks and Samuel Wetmore second bid him off at ten shillings per week for two weeks."   

This remarkable passage shows how towns took care of their own before the days of social service agencies. Although Boyd assumes that they considered Remembrance insane a closer look reveals a better interpretation. He was expected to be in need for two weeks. At that time Hannah had just given birth to their third daughter and had three children under four and a farm to run. I suspect that while on service in the south, Remembrance contracted malaria as did so many soldiers. This recurring disease could indeed render him delirious and in need of nursing care for two weeks; care beyond Hannah's ability to provide. The fact that she and Remembrance went on the have eight more children and move to a farm in New York argues against him being mentally ill. It may also be significant that another veteran bid to care for him.

Here is the family that Remembrance and Hannah brought into the world:

  • Charlotte b. 2.28.1787 m. Daniel Marble
  • Abigail b. 4/24/1789 m.(1) David Perry (2) Joel Call
  • Hannah b. 6/29/1791 d. 1/10/1876 m. Peter Andress
  • Nancy b. 2/17/1793 m. Phillip Helms
  • Jeremiah b. 3/28/1795 d. 9/6/1881 m. Lucy Ann Morgan
  • Isaac b. 8/28/1797 d. 4/12/1853 m. Eliza Perkins
  • Roxanna b. 3/28/1800 d. 7/13/1872 m. Daniel Barnum
  • Nelly b. 2/18/1802 m. Henry Fitch
  • Uriah b. 5/29/1804 d. 9/27/1867 m. Eleanor Bliven
  • Elijah b. 1/6/1806 d. 4/8/1885 m. (1) Jerusha Perkins (2) Harriet Hotchkiss Perkins
  • Sarah b. 9/10/1808 d. 5/5/1893 m. Israel Kenyon

The family came, around the turn of the nineteenth century to Chenango County, New York. They settled first in Sidney, then Guilford, and finally in McDonough where Remembrance and his three sons, Isaac, Uriah, and Elijah had farms. The 11 children had 47 of their own that I know of so far. There are some interesting stories about them. It is there though, in McDonough, that Remembrance and Hannah's earthly story ended.

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