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Sarah Osborn Recollections – Part 2

Posted on: September 1st, 2008 by hauleymusic No Comments

This account comes from a deposition Sarah filed in 1837, at the age of eighty-one, as part of a claim under the first pension act for Revolutionary war veterans and their widows. Part 1 ended as the British surrendered at Yorktown.
….The drums continued beating, and all at once the officers hurrahed and swung their hats, and I asked them, “What is the matter now?”

One of them replied, “Are not you soldier enough to know what it means?”

I replied, “No.”

They then replied, “The British have surrendered.”


Having provisions ready, I carried them down to the entrenchments that morning, and four of the soldiers whom I was in the habit of cooking for ate their breakfasts.
I stood on one side of the road and the American officers upon the other side when the British officers came out of the town and rode up to the American officers and delivered up their swords, which then I think were returned again, and the British officers rode right on before the army, who marched out beating and playing a melancholy tune, their drums covered with black handkerchiefs and their fifes with black ribbands tied around them, into an old field and there grounded their arms and then returned into town again to await their destiny. Seeing a great many American officers, some on horseback and some on foot, but cannot call them all by name. Washington, Lafayette, and Clinton were among the number. The British general at the head of the army was a large, portly man, full face, and the tears rolled down his cheeks as he passed along. I do not recollect his name, but it was not Cornwallis. I saw the him afterwards and noticed his being a man of diminutive appearance and having cross eyes. . . .

After two or three days, me and my husband, Captain Gregg, and others who were sick or complaining embarked on board a vessel from Yorktown, not the same we came down in, and set sail up the Chesapeake Bay and continued to the Head of Elk, where we landed. The main body of the army remained behind but came on soon afterwards. Me and my husband proceeded with the commissary’s teams from the Head of Elk, leaving Philadelphia to the right, and continued day after day till we arrived at Pompton Plains in New Jersey. I do not recollect the county. We were joined by the main body of the army under General Clinton’s command, and they set down for winter quarters. Me and my husband lived a part of the time in a tent made of logs but covered with cloth, and a part of the time at a Mr. Manuel’s near Pompton Meetinghouse. I busied myself during the winter in cooking and sewing as usual. My husband was on duty among the rest of the army and held the station of corporal from the time he left West Point.

In the opening of spring, we marched to West Point and remained there during the summer. In the fall we came up a little back of New-burgh to a place called New Windsor and put up huts on Ellis’s lands and again sat down for winter quarters. The York troops and Connecticut troops were there. In the following spring or autumn we were all discharged. Me and my husband remained in New Windsor in a log house built by the army until the spring following. Some of the soldiers boarded at our house and worked round among the farmers, as did my husband also.

In the winter before the army were disbanded at New Windsor, on the twentieth of February, I had a child by the name of Phebe Osborn. A year and five months afterwards, on the ninth day of August at the same place, I had another child by the name of Aaron Osborn, Jr.

About three months after the birth of Aaron Osborn, Jr., my husband left New Windsor and never returned. He had been absent at intervals before this and at one time I understood he was married to a girl by the name of Polly Sloat above Newburgh about fifteen or sixteen miles. I got a horse and rode up to inquire into the truth of the story. I arrived at the girl’s father’s and there found my husband, and Polly Sloat, and her parents. I was kindly treated by the inmates of the house but ascertained for a truth that my husband was married to this girl. After remaining overnight, I determined to return home and abandon my husband forever, as I found he had conducted in such a way as to leave no hope of reclaiming. About two weeks afterwards, my husband came to see me in New Windsor and offered to take me and the children to the northward, but I declined going, under a firm belief that he would conduct no better. The same night he absconded with two others, crossed the river at Newburgh, and I never saw him afterwards. This was about a year and a half after his discharge….

After this, I moved from New Windsor to Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York, about fifty years ago, where I had been born and brought up, and, having married Mr. [John] Benjamin . . .I continued to reside there perhaps thirty-five years, when me and my husband Benjamin moved to Pleasant Mount, Wayne County, Pennsylvania, and there we resided to this day. My husband, John Benjamin, died there ten years ago last April, from which time I have continued to be and am now a widow.

Source: Sarah Osborn’s application for Revolutionary War pension, Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration, National Archives, Washington, D.C.