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French and Indian War Campaign Chest


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#1 Steve Rogers

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 11:03 AM

This campaign chest predates the American Revolution, but since the officer it belonged to had some interesting experiences during that period as well, I thought I would post it here. It had been in a D.A.R. chapter and was identified in a rather confused way as being Revolutionary War, but actually belonged to Lt. James Grant of Montgomery's Highlanders in the French and Indian War, and Pontiac's Rebellion. There were several officers by that name in the unit. Our man is James Grant #3 in the roster assembled by McCulloch in Volume 2 of Sons of the Mountains.

This campaign chest descended in the Grant family until the death of Lt. James Grant’s great-great-granddaughter in 1950, after which it was donated by her step-daughter to a D.A.R. chapter. A catalog index card from the chapter lists the chest, names the donor and links her through her stepmother to the Grant family of Wayne County, NY, formerly of Dutchess County. A direct line of descent connects the step-mother with Lt. James Grant, a British officer on half-pay, living on the Beekman Patent in Dutchess County from ca.1764 to 1796.

Lt. Grant served in the 77th Regiment from 1757 to 1763. He came out with the regiment as a “Gentleman Volunteer,” was commissioned ensign to date September 1758, lieutenant as of March 1762, and retired upon half-pay on December 24, 1763, on the disbanding of the regiment. Tracing service history for the period is difficult, but Grant is documented as present with the regiment on its two campaigns on the Forbes Road in 1758 and 1763. In recommending Grant for a commission as ensign, Col. Montgomery notes that he was, “a relation of Major Grant’s,” and specifically states he “was in the Late action,” referring to Major Grant’s disastrous raid on Fort Duquesne September 13, 1758.

Grant is a likely participant in Amherst’s 1759 expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, the 1760 march from Fort Oswego to capture Montreal and the 1761 West Indies expedition. (His 1796 will specifically covers any property in the West Indies.) Many of the same companies participated in all three campaigns and ended up in the camps around New York, from which the relief forces later set out to aid Bouquet in suppressing Pontiac's Rebellion, and we know Grant was back on the Forbes Road with the regiment for that campaign. An Oct. 24, 1763, letter to Bouquet from “Lt. James Grant” of the 77th Regiment (the only lieutenant of that name in the regiment at the time) shows him to be in command of Fort Bedford, struggling to keep supply lines open. This suggests he may also be the “Lt. Grant” of the 77th sent as a messenger to Bouquet on June 14 from the commander of the highland light battalion hastily composed and rushed to Bouquet's aid. The dispatch he carried notified Bouquet of the unit’s march and requested further orders. In any case, he is a strong candidate as a participant in the Battle of Bushy Run.

With the disbanding of the 77th Regiment, Lt. Grant elected to remain in America. He petitioned for land grants due former soldiers in 1764 and 1765, and was one of the early settlers on the Beekman Patent in Dutchess County, N.Y. The name of his first wife is unknown, but she bore him James Grant, Jr., in 1770. A second wife, Christine McPherson, bore him the first of several more children in February 1777.

As a British officer on half-pay in New York during the Revolution, Grant had to tread carefully. Neighbors (and possibly relatives) had returned to duty in the British army or with loyalist units and he naturally fell under suspicion. Called before a committee in May, 1776, and offered the chance to sign a parole, he declined on the grounds that he was not an enemy to their principles, later noting, “the Professions of the Committee,” were then still “great to King and Country.” Instead, he struck a bargain to remain while on good behavior. After the Declaration Independence, however, there was less leeway. The agreement was modified in February, 1777, by the condition that he consider himself a prisoner of war to the State of New York on parole and limit his travels to a range of six miles. Occasional charges made by informers brought his name up before committees on conspiracies, but he kept his end of the bargain, earning the trust of Governor Clinton, who even gave him a pass for thirty days into New York City on private business in 1779.

In September, 1781, Grant petitioned Governor Clinton for relief from some conditions of his parole, with unknown results, but he successfully avoided any of the confiscations or sterner measures taken against loyalists. Indeed, he engaged in further land purchases and farming after the war. In his 1796 will he divides some 4,000 acres of land in Washington and Dutchess Counties.

 

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#2 Bill Scott

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 12:34 PM

Now that is why we love IDed items.What a neat piece of early United States history thank you for taking the time to share it with us all.Scotty



#3 capa

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 01:27 PM

One of my favorite eras of American history! Great object!



#4 BagmanL6

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 03:33 PM

Great research.  I really enjoy these vignettes of history.  Thank you.



#5 dunmore1774

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 03:26 PM

Have you checked the Dalhousie Muniments?  Some good info from Montgomery in there, returns, correspondence etc. from the Forbes Campaign


Edited by dunmore1774, 19 March 2016 - 03:26 PM.


#6 BILL THE PATCH

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 03:40 PM

I live up in the area mentioned in his engagements. If anyone has not visited upstate NY , fort ti, ft wm Henry, or the Saratoga battlefield just to name a few. Put it on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed. You get this feeling of wow this is where history happened and I'm standing right on the spot. Hard to describe in just typed words. What a wonderful chest!

Edited by BILL THE PATCH, 19 March 2016 - 03:41 PM.


#7 doyler

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 11:15 PM

THis is an outstanding example of a chest.THanks for posting this and the history.People do not realize with out posts like this many items of such historical value would not been seen or its history shared.

 

I hope more will view this  post.Rarely will anyone have the opportunity to see something like this.



#8 pchepurko

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 03:03 AM

Very  interesting and thanks for posting this.



#9 Steve Rogers

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for all the comments! Thanks dunmore1774 for the reference. I'll take a look.

I add a shot of the catalog index card from the D.A.R. chapter listing the chest. You can lose track counting the errors, but each element had a kernal of truth to it. The writer probably set down the information as she remembered it some time after the death of the donor in 1976 since the donor would certainly not have named her step-aunt as her grandmother. It took about a week to untangle everything. (The reference to "Lt. Bronk" (third line from the bottom) was a slip of the pen, the writer having just written that name at the end of the preceding line.)

 

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#10 dunmore1774

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:38 PM

If I remember correctly, he was in charge of Ft. Bedford when Smith and the Black Boys had their uprising.  Anyway, very nice piece.



#11 Steve Rogers

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 01:57 PM

That was a different officer. There were a number of officers named Grant in the outfit, often serving at the same time and sometimes with the same rank, including three named James!



#12 VenitHora

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 06:14 PM

Amazing!




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