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Benjamin Hammond
Joseph Harris
Capt. John Hopkins
Justin Jacobs
Joseph Jencks
Hezekiah Kinnicut
John Kilton
Abner Luther
John Mawney
Simeon Olney
Ezra Ormsbee
Benjamin Page
Capt. S. Potter
Barzilla Richmond
Nath. Salisbury
Capt. Chris. Sheldon
Capt. Shepard
James Smith
Turpin Smith
Capt Swan
Robert Sutton
Capt. Jos.Tillinghast
Capt. Abr.Whipple
Qualification for List
Boat Captains
Raider Connections
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At age 21 Ezra Ormsbee was forcibly taken to be a sailor on an English Man of War, then deserted, then was a part of a group from Warren, RI, that attacked the English Navy ship Gaspee in the raid of 1772.

Ezra Ormsbee applied for a Revolutionary War veteran's pension, from his home in Warren, RI, on 24 August 1833.  Ezra included the following item in that application. 

"When I was a young man, before the Revolutionary War, I [illegible] the seas, and about four years before the war as near as I can remember I was pressed in Boston on board of the English Man of War Somerset, then in Boston.... I staid on board 8 months and fourteen days, when I run away in Boston Harbour. In June 1772 when the English Revenue Cutter Gaspee was burnt in Providence River, I was one that went from this town and helped do it. Capt John Greenwood, James Smith, Abner Luther, Abel Easterbrooks, Nathaniel Easterbrooks, Hezekiah Kinnicut and myself went together in a whale boat and we helped burn her. I mention this merely as a revolutionary incident and not as connected with my pension claim. All the above named persons who were with me in burning the Gaspee have a long time now decd."

This discovery, in 2005, with follow-up work by the Jospeh Bucklin Society and others of the Gaspee Scholars, was the first time that historical evidence has been found that the Gaspee attack included a boat from Warren. Credit for discovering the above pension entry goes to Pam Thompson, who found it in the Revolutionary War Pension File, # #S21404, for Ezra Ormsbee. There is supporting paperwork to the application which attests to Ormsbee as being a truthful man. Among other things, the internal facts that are given in the petition regarding Ormsbee's army service are verified by other documents, as is the fact of the existence of the Somerset in Boston at the time Ormsbee recounts.  It does appear that Ormsbee's account is credible.

There are three points of particular notice raised by this pension request of Ormsby:

  • There was a boat from Warren, a fact which otherwise was unknown.  This Warran boat arrived to join the boats from Providence, and the boat from Bristol. The existence of the boat from Warren suggests a good degree of pre-arrangement and planning for the Gaspee before the actual grounding of the Gaspee.  One can nourish the suspicion that Joseph Brown had a horseman who galloped from Providence in the afternoon in time to alert at least two prearranged groups of men (from Warren and Bristol) that they needed to row and rendezvous with the attacking group at midnight at the point at which the Gaspee was grounded. Just like the other attacking boats, there was one experienced sea captain in charge of the boat, and the rest were young men.
  • Although Warren is just north of Bristol, the boat captained by Captain Greenwood (from Warren) was not in company of the boat captained by Captain Simon Potter (from Bristol). [See statement by Arron Briggs.] The boat from Warren, unlike the boats from Providence and Bristol, was a whaleboat, a particular design unlike a ship's longboat, which could be rowed at a much faster pace than the longboats of the others in the attack.However, both boats arrived at the prearranged point in Narrangansett Bay, which was about 11 miles North-NorthWest of Bristol and about 9 miles West-Northwest of Warren, at the time appointed to join the eight boats which had rowed about eight miles South from Providence.  Again, this feat of seamanship suggests that John Brown had issued some strict planning orders.
  • Ormsby thought mentioning his being in the Gaspee attack was a matter of distinction among his fellow Rhode Islanders, and something that would help him in his application for a pension from the government.
     
Note on the impressment mentioned by Ormsby: The Somerset was a Man of War (one of the superior battleships of the time).  In common with all English Navy ships, the Somerset had a constant need for replacements for the desertions, serious sickness, and deaths on board the ship. Replacements were found by the simple device of sending ashore a party of ship's personnel into England or any of its colonies to forcibly "impress" able-bodied young men into service. Impression was a recognized and legal method of the naval forces of the King being able to continue to do the service required by the king. Of course, impression was much resented by the Americans. Impression was regulated by various acts of Parliament, from the time of the reigns of Phillip and Mary up to George III, generally seeking to protect landsmen from impression if there was a seaman or river-water man available, and seeking to prevent forcible entry into homes by the navy crew searching for able-bodied men.

Ezra Ormsbee (sometimes spelled Ormsby) was born 30 March 1751 in Warren, RI.  He was the third of seven children born to Ebenezer Ormsbee. (b. 1714) and Hannah Cole (b. 1716).

Ezra enlisted immediately after Lexington in Apr 1775 from his home in Killingly, CT (near the border with Rhode Island)  as a private in the Company of Captain Elliot of the Regiment of Colonel Daggett in the Rhode Island Line. for one month.  In common with many Rhode Islanders, Ezra returned home for a few days and then reenlisted.  Ezra was home two days and then reenlisted in May 1775 for an additional eight months.  Ezra Ormsbee was discharged in Jan1776 from No. 2 Fort in Cambridge and returned home to Killingly. He moved his family in February 1776 to Richmond, NH. From there he enlisted again in March 1776 into Capt Ingall's Company of Major Ormsbee's Regiment.  Major Ormsby (b. 1734, d. 1796) was the uncle (1734-96) of Ezra.  In 1776, Ezra is listed as the captain of the Capt. Ezra Ormsbee's Company of Militia in the Town Warren, 1776. See, The History of Warren, Rhode Island, in the War of The Revolution, 1776 - 1783 by Virginia Baker, Warren, RI, 1901, p38.  However, since Ezra's service was otherwise listed solely as an enlisted man, and not as an officer, such captaincy is in doubt.

Ezra and his company were at Mount Independence (VT), across Lake Champlain from Fort Ticonderoga, for eight months through Nov. 1776, under the command of General Gates.  At the conclusion of his eight month enlistment, Ezra then immediately reenlisted into Capt. Josiah Fish's Company of General Fletcher's Regiment, and continued at Mount Independence, building additional fortifications.

Ezra served until February 1777, then returned to Richmond, NH for the task of moving his family about  20 miles northwest to Putney, VT.  Each of the moves of his family brought them closer to his post at Mount Independence, suggesting the moves were at least in part for convenience in seeing his family or assisting them.

Ezra reenlisted back into Capt. Fish's Company in March 1777, serving until November 1777.  During 1777, his brigade came under the command of General St. Clair. The British and Canadian forces eventually overran the Lake Champlain area forts, and Ormsbee along with the remaining American forces retreated to Hubberton, VT.  Ormsby described the Battle of Hubberton thus:

...the English and Canadians coming up with us, we had a brush, and lost a considerable number of men, but the enemy lost more, though we retreated. From here we marched uo Bennington & Fort Edward on the Hudson River, and then to Saratoga and Stillwater. [I] was in the first Battle of Stillwater on Friday, and in the Great Battle [Saratoga] on Tuesday, besides skirmishes. [I] saw General Gates, and Gen. Starks, and Genl. Arnold, & Col. Brooks and Col. Livingston, and many more whose names [I] can no longer remember. [I] served my time out and was discharged at Stillwater in Novr 1777.

After a brief time at home, Ezra once again enlisted for a year back into Capt. Fish's Company, apparently as an enlisted man only for the officers of the company are listed as Ensign Caselton, Lt. Ingalls, Major Ormsbee) at Stillwater and was marched to Castleton, VT, from where he was discharged in 1778.

A formal Statement of Elisha Phelps, Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Connecticut, who on January 22, 1834 sent an authenticated copy of the payroll of the 8th Co. of the 3rd Regt, included a statement of the necessary number of days served to qualify for a pension as follows. 

" I find that Ezra Ormsbee inlisted (sic) into said company on the 11th day of May and served [] as a private until the 14th day of December 1775 being seven months & three days. Of the company Joseph Elliot was Captain, Benoni Calter 1st Lt., David Perry 2nd Lt., & Elisha Lawrence Ens; & of the Regiment General Putnam was the Comdt.

I further certify that upon an authentic copy of an account headed "Marked from Killingly for relief of Boston & in the [] Alarm April 1775, I find the name Ezra Ormsbee, & in the column headed time of service, I find twenty days against the name of said Ormsbee. It appears by this document that the company, or corps, was commanded by William Danielson, Major; Joseph Cady, Captain; Elihu Laurence, Ensign; Oliver Richmond, Simeon Lee, & Asa Laurence were Sergeants.

The spelling of the name Ormsbee is used as upon the two rolls."