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Thomas Palmer (1760 - 1852)
SAR #P-265019(Pension S3651 28 November 1832 /age 72)
Born 1760 Loudoun County, Virginia
Thomas Palmer applied for revolutionary pension while living in Cocke County, Tennessee, November 28, 1832. He had hearing in Claim# S3651 on 27 February 1833.
He was born in 1760 in Loudon County, Virginia. At age 17 he enlisted for three years in the Captain John Winston’s Company of Col. Charles Lewis’ 14thVirginia Continental Infantry Regiment of the Virginia Line 24 March 1777. He would have joined the Regiment at Morristown NJ during the winter encampment of 1776 to 1777. The 14th Virginian Continentals were part of Brigadier General Weedon’s 2nd Virginia Brigade and took part in the 1777 Battles of Brandywine (11 SEP 1777) and Germantown (4 COT 1777) prior to going into the Valley Forge Winter Encampment. Thomas notes that he served under Lafayette and may have been part of the recon in force Lafayette was in command of resulting in the Battle of Barren Hill 20 MAY 1778. Thomas’ regiment now under command of Col. William Davies was part of the Army’s reserve under Major General von Steuben during the Battle of Monmouth 28 JUN 1778. The Virginia Line underwent a major reorganization after the Battle of Monmouth and during the winter encampment of 1778 to 1779 at Middlebrook, NJ. Captain Winston’s Company was reassigned to the 10th Virginia. It is not clear that Thomas Palmer was part of the reassignment. During this period many men who were superior rifleman and consider active were being selected for elite Light Infantry duty with ultimate service in the Light Infantry Corps organized 12 JUN 1779 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne. A company of men from Louden Co., Virginia made up one of the six companies of the 1st Regiment of Light Infantry. Gen Wayne’s command stormed the British position in the Battle of Stoney Point on 16 JUL 1779. Thomas specifically noted he was part of this action. Thomas Palmer’s three-year enlistment would have expired during the Army’s winter encampment of 1779 to 1780 at Morristown, NJ.
Family legend claims that Thomas fought at the Battle of Cowpens on 17 JAN 1781. It is possible he was part of one of the small Virginia commands, but no record can be found to prove this either way. He himself in his pension application does not note the battle.
Lord Cornwallis continued his march toward Virginia in early 1781 while other British forces began making raids into the state. The new British General Benedict Arnold began a raid on Richmond 1 to 19 JAN 1781. In March 1781 Thomas drafted to serve under Captain Thomas Humphreys in the 2nd Virginia State Regiment. In this three month tour of duty he was engaged in the skirmish at Burwell's Ferry (Hog Island on James River) in a failed attempt to prevent the British from landing; in a skirmish with the British at Williamsburg were his officer Lt. Joseph Lewis was wounded by a shot in the shoulder and several Americans were killed and wounded. Thomas Palmer had two bullet holes through his clothes. Later he was then engaged in a skirmish at the Richard Ship- Yards, which prevented the British from landing. Cornwallis joined Arnold at Petersburg 20-24 MAY 1781 and Washington sends Lafayette to Virginia to keep the British engaged, but not to fight a major engagement. The Virginia militia calls up more men to counter the increased British threat. The new callup resulted in Thomas assuming another three-month tour of duty as a Substitute for his brother, John Palmer, in the company of Captain John Henry under Major Samuel Cox a field officer under the command of Gen. George Weedon. Thomas’ unit may have been part of Lafayette’s overall command and participated in the actions of 25 JUN against the British rear guard, 26 JUN at Spencer’s Ordinary and then 6 JUL 1781 at the Green Spring Farm in an effort to disrupt the British crossing of the James River.
Most likely in early September 1781 the Louden County militia sent additional men to BG Weedon’s Brigade. It appears Thomas was again drafted for another three-month tour. Now under Captain White, and was commanded by Col. John Niscwanger. On 28 SEP 1781 Weedon’s Brigade moved to reinforce the Luzon’s French Legion at Gloucester across from Yorktown. On 30 SEP 1781 the British withdrew into their inner defensive positions. The British at Gloucester began to run short of supplies and executed a forging raid lead by Tarleton’s Legion on 3 OCT 1781. Tarleton was forced to fight a rear guard action to make sure his wagon train escaped capture. The skirmish was initially a cavalry action in which Tarleton was almost captured by Luzon, but British reinforcements saved him. The British were next out flanked and forced to withdrawal by what was reported as a Veteran militia battalion. It is most likely Thomas Palmer was part of this command. The siege ended with Cornwallis’ surrender on 19 October 1781. Thomas Palmer was detached to serve near Winchester, Virginia, to guard the prisoners of Cornwallis' Army who joined the prisoners of Burgoyne’s Army. He re-enlisted as a Regular Soldier for the remainder of the full year under Captain Henry Bowyers, in Major John Watts’ command.
Thomas Palmer having an excellent constitution and possessing uncommon muscular power, young, bold and ardent, perhaps no soldier of the Revolution rendered to his country more effective service in this humble sphere than he did. Nor did it cease with the war. He continued his usefulness and exercised his courage and prowess as one of the first pioneers of the territory of Tennessee – having emigrated to Greene County in 1795, thence to Cocke County, where he raised a large family and remained until 1836, when he removed to Hamilton County, then occupied by the Cherokees.
He married Emily Atkins in Winchester, Virginia. Their children were: Thomas Palmer, Jr., who married Lydia Doughty; William Palmer; John Palmer and Maria Palmer. It is said that he told his children he stood very near Gen. Washington when Cornwallis surrendered.
Thomas’ long life had been one of uncommon vicissitudes and usefulness. He is buried here in Birchwood in Hamilton County, Tennessee.
Patriot Ancestor of Mr. Gene F. Johnson
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
We descendants of the heroes of the American Revolution who, by their sacrifices, established the United States of America, reaffirm our faith in the principles of liberty and our Constitutional Republic, and solemnly pledge ourselves to defend them against every foe.
Until we meet again, let us remember our obligations to our forefathers who gave us our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, an independent Supreme Court and a nation of Free Men.
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We honor our patriot ancestors by telling their stories. Lets help preserve our history and reduce the danger of it being lost to the ages. The Patriot Ancestor Biography project is just one avenue where we can make a difference. In the 1894 Kentucky Society Yearbook, Thomas Page Grant wrote about the establishment of the Sons of the American Revolution, “The men whose forefathers took part in the establishment of the Nation were naturally drawn together, and in some of the older States formed themselves into societies to gather scatter bits of history and save them for coming generations; to preserve alive a memory of the men who gave so much for country and paid so dear a price for liberty; to inculcate in the minds of the rising generations a knowledge of what they fought for, and a love of the principles they held so dear. “
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