An American Family History

Ashley's Regiment


"[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported.
We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us,
at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."

-- John Adams, 1765


Europeans first settled New Hampshire in the 1620s.

During the American Revolution in 1776, the house of representatives voted to raise four companies of fifty men each to guard the western frontier. Colonel Samuel Ashley led one of these companies from Cheshire County, New Hampshire.

Ashley's Regiment was sent to reinforce the American army at Fort Ticonderoga from October 21st to November 16, 1776. In May, 1775, Americans under Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the fort in a surprise attack. Captain Isaac Davis died on November 28, 1776 after he was released from service.

They held it until June, 1777, when British forces under General John Burgoyne occupied the high ground above the fort. At that time, Ashley's Regiment with 109 men again marched from Westmoreland, Chesterfield and Hinsdale in Cheshire County to Fort Ticonderoga on the alarm of May 8, 1777. They were present at the evacuation of Ticonderoga by the American forces.

The only direct attack on the fort took place in September 1777, when John Brown led 500 Americans in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort from about 100 British defenders.


A militia is a military unit composed of citizens who are called up in time of need.


Europeans first settled New Hampshire in the 1620s.

from Rolls and Documents Relating to Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, compiled and edited by Isaac W. Hammond

Muster and pay roll of officers and men belonging to Colonel Samuel Ashley's Regiment of Militia in the State of New Hampshire who marched from the county of Cheshire at the requisition of Major General Gates to reinforce the Army of Ticonderoga. Engaged October 21 and returned November 16, 1776.

Ashley, Samuel- Colonel
Burt, Joseph- Captain
Pierce, Amos -Lieutenant
Britton, Ebenezer- Ensign
Cole, John-Adjut.
Keys, Leonard-Quartermaster (should be Leonard Keep 1742-1829)
Hutchins, William-Sergeant
Britton, Seth-Sergeant
Amesbury, Israel-Sergeant
Sawyer, Ephraim-Corporal
Cole, Jonathan-Corporal

Aldrich, Benjamin
Baley, Luther
Bennett, Moses
Britton, Job.
Brockaway, William
Butterfield, James
Butterfield, Jonas
Dutton, Stephen
Eddy, Abiel
Goodenow, Israel
Hackett, Josiah
How, Caleb
Johnson, Willis
Keys, Daniel
Packard, Gideon
Pierce, Daniel
Pierce, David
Robbins, David
Robbins, John
Robbins, Jonas
Snow, Daniel
Tinkham, Jeremiah
Warner, Job.
Welbourne, David
Willis, Jonathan
Witherall, Ephraim
Works, Samuel

Davis, Isaac-Captain
Griswold, Stephen-Lieutenant
Kelbourn (Kilburn), Ebenezer-Ensign
Hubbard, Ephriam-Sergeant
Young, Ichabod-Sergeant
Davis, Jonas-Corporal
Bill, Ebenezer-Corporal
Merrill, John-Fifer
Lamb, Josiah
McMitchell, Patrick
Farr, Thomas
Cobleigh, Daniel
Coburn, Ezekiel
Farr, Aaron
Davis, Jonathan
Whitney, Ithamar
Metcalf, Nathan
Graves, Reuben
Farr, Samuel

New Hampshire was first settled by Europeans in 1623. It was separated from Massachusetts in 1679.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

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From A History of the Town of Keene

...in October, Cols. Ashely and Bellows marched from Cheshire county to reinforce Gen. Gates, each with six companies of his regiment of militia. Col. Chase of Cornish also marched with two companies of his regiment and Col. Enoch hale of Rindge sent two of his companies, under. Lt. Col. Thomas Heald.

The men from Keene in that campaign were Stephen Griswold, lieutenant, and Thomas Morse, private, in the company of Capt. Isaac Davis;

Michael Metcalf, lieutenant,
Timothy Ellis, Jr., sergeant,
David Wilson, corporal,

Cephas Clark,
John Balch,
Jacob Town,
Michael Sprout,
Aaron Gray,
Silas French,
Thomas Field,
Adin Holbrook,
Reuben Partridge,
Robert Spencer,
Abraham Wheeler, and
Jonathan Wheeler,
privates in the company of Capt. Joseph Whitcomb of Swanzey;

and Ephraim Witherell and Daniel Snow, Jr., in the company of Capt. Joseph Burt; all in Col. Ashley's regiment. ...

Capt. Davis Howlett of Keene commanded the first company, of fifty men, with

Elisha Mack of Gilsum, lieutenant,

and the enlisted men from Keene in that company were

Jotham Metcalf, sergeant;
David Willson and Obadiah Blake, corporals; and
Benjamin Archer,
Samuel Bassett,
Simeon Clark,
Jesse Dassance,
Ebenezer Day,
Simeon Ellis,
David Foster,
Silas French and
Tilly Howe, privates.

Ephraim Witherell was in the company of Capt. Waitstill Scott in the same regiment. The regiment marched to Ticonderoga, but the alarm had subsided and it returned, and the men were discharged, June 17th to the 24th.

Gen. Burgoyne now commanded the British army of the north, 10,000 strong—7,000 of them

choice troops sent from England, with the finest train of brass artillery (42 pieces), that had ever been seen in America

— besides thousands of Indians employed as allies "to use as instruments of terror." Exaggerated reports of the strength of his army and the rapidity of his advance reached the states and caused great alarm throughout New England, for it was feared that these eastern states were to be invaded by an irresistible force of regular troops and savages.

Again the militia was ordered to the front, and turned out in larger numbers than before. Col. Ashley marched on the 29th of June, with about 400 men, taking Lt. Col. Joseph Hammond, of Swanzey, with him, and leaving Major Ellis in command of the regiment at home. Dr. Thomas Frink of Keene went as regimental surgeon, and was allowed two horses to carry his baggage and medicines. Capt. Davis Howlett, with Daniel Kingsbury as his second lieutenant, raised another company of eighty men.

The enlisted men from Keene were Asahel Blake and Dan Guild, sergeants, Timothy Ellis, Jr., corporal, and Nathan Blake, Robert Spencer, Jonathan Heaton, Tilly Howe, Benjamin Nurse, Aaron Wilson, Samuel Osgood, Royal Blake, Jesse Hall, Ebenezer Carpenter, Joseph Thatcher, Zadock Nims, Abraham Wheeler, Jonathan Wheeler, Ebenezer Newton, Benjamin Balch, Aaron Gray, Thomas Dwinnell, Joseph Blake, Samuel Woods, Gideon Ellis, John Daniels, Nathaniel Kingsbury, John Day, Reuben Partridge, William Woods, Isaac Griswold, John Le Bourveau, John Balch, Benjamin Archer, and Israel Houghton, privates;

and in the company of Capt. Elisha Mack, of Gilsum, were Charles Rice, Thomas Morse and Joseph Ellis; and Ephraim Witherell was in that of Capt. John Cole, of Westmoreland.

The Keene company marched a part of the distance, was met by an express with the information that the alarm was false and started to return, but was overtaken by a second courier ordering the troops forward in all haste. They marched as far as Otter creek, where they met a part of the army in retreat—Ticonderoga having been abandoned — and returned home.

European and indiginous American fought fierce battles as the Europeans expanded their territory.

Surgeons in colonial America were often barbers who used their cutting tools to perform surgery.
Physicians were university trained.
Midwives assisted women in childbirth.

Smallpox is caused by of two viruses: Variola major and Variola minor. Symptoms include a rash and blisters. The mortality rate for V. major is 30–35% and for V. minor is about 1%. Long-term complications include scars, blindness, and limb deformities.
Diseases have transformed history and the lives of our ancestors.

Colonel Samuel Ashley, son of Daniel and Thankful (Hawks) Ashley, was born March 20, 1720, in Westfield, and died February 18, 1792, in Claremont, New Hampshire. He was about seven years old when his father died, and went with his mother and stepfather to Northfield, Massachusetts.

He saw military service at Fort Dummer, under Captain Josiah Kellogg from August 7 to November 20, 1740, and enlisted the next day in Captain Josiah Willard's company for duty at the same place. He was discharged March 4, 1742, and subsequently served under the same captain from May 25 to November 21, 1742, and from February 12, 1748. to June 7, 1749.

With his brother Martin and others he was one of the original grantees, under the Massachusetts charter, of Winchester, which is now in New Hampshire. The settlement of the boundary line shows this to be in the latter colony, and the charter conferring to the original grantees was obtained from Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. Samuel Ashley settled there with his stepfather, Captain Willard, and others.

While in Northfield he had occupied lands which proved to be in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and was one of the petitioners for that town, August 29, 1753. He was a petitioner and grantee of the town of Windsor. Vermont, in 1761, Shrewsbury, Vermont, in 1763, and Claremont, New Hampshire, in 1784. It thus appears that at the age of forty years he was an influential citizen and large land owner, a wealthy man for those days. He was an officer in the militia and a justice of the peace and one of three men in Cheshire county authorized to record deeds.

After the age of fifty-three he came into special prominence by espousing the patriot cause in the revolution. He had been a delegate to the provincial congress, and as representative from Winchester was at the session which met May 1, 1774, at Portsmouth, when a committee of correspondence was formed for exchanging information with similar committees from other colonies. He was a delegate to the convention at Exeter, New Hampshire, July 21, 1774, which appointed representatives to the first continental congress at Philadelphia and two later conventions at the same point, and was one of the famous committee of safety, composed of nine members appointed by the first provisional congress, May 17, 1775. From June 29 to October 31 he was absent in the service of the state, during which time he acted as mustering officer and was commissioned August 24 as colonel of the first part of the regiment, lately commanded by Colonel Josiah Willard. Samuel Ashley was appointed June 10, 1776, first justice of the inferior court of common pleas of Cheshire county.

In 1776 the house of representatives voted to raise four companies of fifty men each to guard the western frontier, and Colonel Ashley was delegated to enlist, muster and pay one of these companies and deliver the commission to the officers whom the company might elect. In the following July, Colonel Ashley was appointed to muster men for the reinforcement of the army in Canada, and on the requisition of General Gates he marched his regiment October 21 to reinforce the army at Ticonderoga.

On May 3, 1777, he was requested to raise as much of the militia as possible and march to Ticonderoga. Accordingly, on May 7 he proceeded with one hundred and nine men. and served until June 18, when he was discharged. He enlisted June 29. and was present at the evacuation of Ticonderoga by the American forces, receiving his discharge July 11. By this action the subjection of New England was threatened.

Colonel Ashley immediately volunteered on General Stark's staff and served as brigade major at the battle of Bennington, receiving his discharge September 25. He continued in the service under General Gates at Saratoga until Burgoyne's surrender. He received from General Gates a letter of thanks for the spirit and expedition with which he in common with others came to the support of the Northern army. From this letter is quoted,

I now dismiss you with the honor you have so well deserved. I also certify that neither you nor any under your command have received any pay or reward from me for your service on this occasion. That I leave to be settled by the general congress with the convention of your state.

Colonel Ashley continued in command of his regiment, the 13th, afterwards the 6th New Hampshire, until he resigned, June 18, 1779. On March 24 of that year he had been chosen a representative to the continental congress, but did not accept. About 1782 he removed to Claremont. He had been associate justice of the court of common pleas for Cheshire county from 1776 until then, and about that time was appointed chief justice, a position he filled until July, 1791.

Colonel Ashley had a strong sense of humor, as indicated by nicknames he gave his sons Snarling Oliver, Social Samuel, Xoble Daniel, Numhead Luther. From his monument in West Claremont cemetery:

Blessed with good natural talents and a heart rightly to improve them, he in various departments of civil and military life exhibited a character honorable to himself and useful to others, having presided for several years in the lower court of his county. Probity and fidelity displayed the virtues of the patriot and Christian, as well in public as in domestic life. The smallpox put a period to his earthly course, February 18, 1792, aged seventy-one years.

He married, in 1742, in Norfolk, Eunice, daughter of Rev. Benjamin and Lydia (Todd) Doolittle, born July 24. 1724, in Northfield, died 1807, in Claremont (see Doolittle IV).

Children recorded in Winchester:
Tirzah, born December 24, 1745;
Samuel, September 27, 1747;
Oliver. October 20, 1748;
Thankful, November 10, 1749:
Eunice, December 17, 1751;
Daniel, mentioned below;
Luther, April 27, 1762 (died young) ;
Luther, August 19, 1764;
Susannah, December 16, 1766.

Some Puritans gave their children hortatory names (from the Latin for “encourage”) like Thankful, hoping that the children would live up to them. The names were used for several generations.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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