Alexander Smith – Militia Service

Alexander Smith, a local Militia Soldier, gave a narrative for his Pension in 1832. In it, he indicates that he served with “Glode Boatman.” This is also an interesting, contemporary accounting of what it was like to be in the Militia. i

Big Runaway Map

Big Runaway Map

“In the year 1778 nearly all the inhabitants along the west branch of the Susquehannah River were driven from their homes by the indians who then invaded that district of country and were obliged to fly for refuge to the country below. This was called? the “Great run-away.”. In April I think, of the spring after I entered the service of the country as a drafted militia, now under Captain John Nelson who commanded this company to which I belonged who’s headquarters was then at my Father’s farm, about a half a mile below ? of Milton ? on the west branch of the Susquehannah. During this summer, many of the families who had left returned to their homes, but the country, which was then entirely a frontier, was altogether opposed to the depredation of the indians and the inhabitants left in continual terror and dread of savage cruelty.

Fort Freeland on Warrior Run Creek about 4 1/2 miles above where it empties into the Susquehanna

Fort Freeland on Warrior Run Creek about 4 1/2 miles above where it empties into the Susquehanna

Captain Nelson & company was divided into two divisions, and their duty generally arranged as follows: One division would leave the head quarters on Monday, reconnoiter the country, then nearly a wilderness, watch the haunts & paths of the indians and their movements, cut off their marches, pursue them, give the inhabitants notice of danger when necessary, and after being absent three days and sometimes more ? return to camp when the other division would then go out & perform the same duty.

The Scouting parties, or as then called ? generally traversed the woods near the river from ? run to Muddy run, Warren run, Muncy ?, Muncy creek and up to Lycoming. In this service I continued till the winter set in, during which we were not called out.

In the following Spring, I was again called out under Captain Nelson and continued to perform the same duties as before, until the winter set in again – the indians still continuing ? I was also out the summer under captain Nelson – the whole time of my actual service. I think about ten months. During this time, many lives were lost, many men & women were killed by the indians, but most of the west side of the river, which was not so well protected as our side. Farmers who’s names I do not now recollect were killed, I saw them after their scalps were taken off. One Michael Wheland, who I understood, drew a pension, was shot in the chin but survived.

About the same time, a family living on the west side of the river opposite my father was driven from their ?.  They took to their canoes and four men were wounded while floating down the river, one, James Tom was also killed.

I was acquainted with Cap’t Thomas Kempleton who raised a company of 7 months men. He & his son Jon Kempleton were both killed near Muncy and thrown in the river.  They were both scalped. I helped to bury the son, who was taken out of the water near Milton. There was a fort near Warrior Run, called Fresland Fort, which was taken by the indians. I was then thought there was some British soldiers with them. The next morning after the fort was taken, Captain Doughaty with about 25 men volunteered to go after the indians. ? brother, Nathan Smith, was amongst them and was killed – only about 9 of the 25 men returned – the rest were killed.

Map Showing Winfield, Limestone, Sunbury

Map Showing Winfield, Limestone, Sunbury

I was stationed for a short time at Menegars Fort near where Watson’s Town now stands. This Fort was vacated and another raised near Muddy run, called Whitacres fort at which I was stationed. At this time, John Morrison ?? Command of the ?? After remaining here ??? We were relieved by some militia men from down the county. (I think from near ?? Or Hanover) – after this I was stationed at the Forth Bofoly? About 12 miles ? Chillisquaque creek – this fort had been supplied by militia men from down the county – after remaining here awhile, we were relieved by some regular soldiers from a regiment which was at that time stationed at Northern ? Maybe lowlands – I think Sullivan was in command there.

Then was a company of light horse at that place, which was ?? Led by Captain Carbury – about twenty five of them came up so stayed at my father’s for a short time. His farm was the place of rendezvous for the soldiers when not out after the Indians. We drew all our Ammunition from the Northumberland’s a magazine? Was kept there. I have no documentary evidence of my service, nor do I know of any person who is living that could testify to my service.  Glode Boatman, John Cambell (who died at Pine creek in this county) Samuel Blair, Aaron Henrod? and Wm Doyle all belong to our company, Van drude?? I was acquainted with Bethrian ? Vincent an Daniel Crincut? who was both taken prisoner at Fresland Fort by the indians.”

The “Forts” mentioned in this narrative are not forts as we tend to think of them today. They were usually simply homes that were a bit larger or more sturdily constructed than others, sometimes with hastily thrown together pickets or fences around the perimeter. If you’d like to read more about Forts on the West Branch of the Susquehanna and the stories of those inside, read “Frontier Forts on the West and North Branches of the Susquehanna River.” Just fyi: In the Alexander’s Smith original accounting, the word “Indian” was never capitalized.

Split from Pennsylvania Revolutionary Service on Oct 2013.  I’ve had a lot of fun researching Claudius, and am pleased to share everything I’ve learned, much of it due to other researchers before me – please feel free to use anything on this site – I do ask you to source it, though, so others may find it. And please, share what you know in the same spirit this has been shared – I welcome all thoughts and discussion. mvkirby – I can be emailed directly at


i The National Archives, Publication Number: M804 , Publication Title: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application files, Publisher: NARA, National Archives Catalog ID: 300022,National Archives Catalog Title: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900, Record Group: 15, Short Description: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. State: Pennsylvania, Veteran Surname: Smith, Veteran Given Name: Alexander, Pensioner Surname: Smith, Pensioner Given Name: Rebecca, Service: Penn. Pension Number: W. 2011, Veteran Surname Starts With: S

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