no name but, attributed to "awiatsea.com". "Chevalier de La Luzerne", (americanwarofindependenceatsea. com, 21 September 2014).
Berg, Fred Anderson. Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiments and Independent Corps, (Stackpole Books, 1972).
Kaminkow, Marion and Jack. Mariners of the American Revolution, (Magna Carta Book Company, 1967).
Lesser, Charles H., editor. The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army, (The University of Chicago Press, 1976).
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina During the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
Middlebrook, Louis. The Frigate South Carolina: A Famous Revolutionary War Ship, (Essex Institute, 1923).
Segelquist, Dennis. "Men of New York on Navy Ships, New York Pension Rolls", (rootsweb.com, April 8, 2007).
Slane, Mel. "Hunt Brothers Abijah, James, David and Josiah of Sussex County, NJ", (ancestry.com, October 2, 2002).
Slane, Mel. "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers - Parents ??", (rootsweb.com, March 15, 2005).
Slane, Mel. "Find a Grave Memorial" for Abijah Hunt, (at findagravememorial.com, September 16, 2009).
Pension Application for Abijah Hunt S23271
Over the course of this blog, information on individual officers, crewmen or marines have occasionally been discovered and recorded. As a result, a considerable amount of information on specific men (or women) who served on board the frigate South Carolina has been collected. Since, the individual lives of these men (or women) make up the life and story of the frigate South Carolina, these bits and pieces of information have been dutifully documented and recorded in this blog. This effort will hopefully make the story of the frigate South Carolina fuller and more comprehensive in the end. This blog will continue this collection and recording of information until as many as possible of the crew and marines have had their lives documented to whatever degree the available information provides. This particular post will deal with the life of a single officer who served on board the frigate South Carolina, Midshipman Abijah Hunt.
According to existing, contemporary documents from the period of the American Revolution, Abijah Hunt was already experienced militarily when he entered the service of the state of South Carolina as a midshipman on board the frigate South Carolina. Initially, he served as a soldier in the Continental forces of New Jersey. Numerous sources confirm that he was born on March 17, 1762 in the town of Newton, Sussex County , state of New Jersey. His pension application, "Pension Application of Abijah Hunt S23271", cites that "...in the year 1776 he enlisted as a volunteer in Capt. Brittain's Company & Col. Spencer's Regiment in the Service of the United States & marched from Chatham to a place called Connecticut Farms..." His pension application states that he was involved in the Battle of Connecticut Farms and later the patriot occupation of Elizabethtown, NJ "...and this declarer having been stationed there with the Regiment continued to do duty there until his enlistment had Expired, and then was discharged and returned home..." His pension application goes on to state that "...in the winter of 1776/7, when General Washington was with the Army at Valley Forge, this Declarer volunteered and served in the place of his said Brother (who was sick) for 3 months; and upon his recovery, was relieved by him, after the Expiration thereof..." Slane's article, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers...", page 1, states that "...Josiah (the brother Abijah substituted for at Valley Forge) is listed on the rolls there that winter but, not Abijah who was not "officially" there. Thus, in his rather short experience as a land soldier in the Continental forces of the state of New Jersey at the Battle of Connecticut Farms and then went on to serve at what has been called "the most famous encampment in the world" - Valley Forge.
(Note: According to Berg's work, Encyclopedia of Continental Army, page 113, the earlier reference to "...Col. Spencer's Regiment..." by Hunt means that he was enlisted in Colonel Oliver Spencer's Additional Continental Regiment which was initially raised in New Jersey but later became the 5th New Jersey Regiment of Foot. Also, according to Lesser's work, Sinew's of Independence, pages 58-69, confirm that Spencer's Additional Continental Regiment was indeed at the Valley Forge encampment and was "brigaded" with the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th Pennsylvania Continental Regiments as well as Malcolm's Additional Continental Regiment, all under the command of Brigadier General Thomas Conway. For each of the months that a return exists for the regiment, the location of the regiment is cited as "Valley Forge, PA". The regiment's totals for this period of time are only 170-191 fit for duty, meaning that the regiment had been seriously depleted by battlefield deaths, sickness and desertions. Thus, Abijah Hunt appears to be one of the few members of the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina who had regular Continental Line experience, even if for a brief period of time.)
(Note: Also, the dates recorded in Lesser's work, Sinew's of Independence, pages 58-69, indicate that the encampment at Valley Forge were from the winter of 1777 to the spring of 1778 rather than "...in the winter of 1776/7..." as cited by Abijah Hunt in his pension application. At the time he made this sworn statement before "...Joseph L. Richardson first Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Cayuga County (NY) and the Other associate Judges of said Court now in Session...", Abijah Hunt was 70 years old. He was attempting to recall events and times that had happened when he was a teenager. He discrepancy of a single winter from the actual time frame of the events at Valley Forge are understandable and pardonable.)
(Note: According to Slane's artcile, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers..." page 1, at the time of Abijah Hunt's enlistment, "... the family was living in Morristown, NJ when Abijah enlisted in the militia at age 11 or 13 (with a broken musket and bricks to stand on to increase his height)..." Hunt's pension application makes no mention whatsoever of service in the militia nor does it make any mention of any type of earlier military service prior to his enlistment in "Col. Spencer's Regiment". Also, if Abijah Hunt was indeed born in 1762, at his time of enlistment in the Continental forces of New Jersey, he would have been fourteen years old, not "...age 11 or 13..." Also, too, with all due respect to Abijah Hunt's descendants, the story of his enlisting "...with a broken musket and bricks to stand on to increase his height..." sounds a bit like "family lore" and might not warrant trust.)
(Final, Ironic Note: On the muster rolls of Washington's troops at Valley Forge, a "James Hunt" of New Jersey, a member of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment of Foot, does appear as having served at Valley Forge. According to Slane's article, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers...", page 1, it was Josiah Hunt who was sick and Abijah Hunt served as his substitute for the duration of the encampment. But, there is no mention of Abijah Hunt having served there, even though it was Abijah who served as a "substitute" for his older brother who was sick at home at the time of the encampment and was not "officially" at the Valley Forge encampment.)
In a military sense, we next encounter Abijah Hunt as he has signed onto a ship as a crewman, along with his brother, James Hunt. According to his pension application, "...in the fall of 1779, this declarer, in company with his Brother James Hunt shipped on board the Luzerne Letter of Marque, at Philadelphia, Carrying 18 Guns, commanded by Capt. Thomas Bell; that sometime in the ensuing spring, the Luzerne, being then on her homeward bound voyage from France, was captured by an English Frigate of 32 Guns; that he this declarer with the rest of the Crew of the Luzerne, was landed at Limerick in Ireland, and after being there about 3 weeks were sent to the Cove of Dork, and there put on board of the Lenox an English 74 gun Ship, and there remained a prisoner, until he landed at Plymouth in England, and was then Confined to the Mill prison form alleged piracy and high treason, there to remain until the King should be pleased to order them for trial..." The ship that Abijah Hunt refers to as the "Luzerne", according to the article ascribed to "awiatsea.com" and dated "21 September 2014", this vessel of war is more properly referred to as Chevalier de La Luzerne and was a sloop-of-war operating as a privateer vessel out of Philadelphia, PA. She was armed with eighteen 6-pounder cannons and carried a crew of seventy-six. Interestingly, her owners were "...Robert Morris and William Bingham & Co., all of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." Also, according to this same article, the British ship-of-war which captured the Chevalier de La Luzerne, only referred to by Hunt as "...an English Frigate of 32 Guns..." was the privateer ship Enterprize. Again, according to this same article, the capture of the Chevalier de La Luzerne by the British privateer ship Enterprize took place on April 4, 1781.
According to the pension application of Abijah Hunt, the prisoners of the Chevalier de La Luzerne were initially landed at Limerick, Ireland and held there "...about 3 weeks..." It is interesting to note that the article attributed to "awiatsea.com" states that "...many of the crew [of the Chevalier de La Luzerne] entered aboard the British privateer [Enterprize] so that only thirty-seven men remained of the crew". After some period of time, according to Hunt's pension application, they were transported on board the HMS Lenox to Plymouth, England where they were placed in Old Mill Prison. The article attributed to "awiatsea.com" confirms this by stating that "...eventually they were transferred to Old Mill Prison in England, where twenty-two were committed on 6 July 1781". This is further confirmed in Abijah Hunt's pension application when he stated that "...he landed at Plymouth in England, and was then Confined in the Mill prison for alleged piracy and high treason..." This fact is also confirmed by Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, page 214, when it states that "...Abijah Hunt was committed to Old Mill Prison on July 7, 1781."
As to the length of his incarceration, according to Abijah Hunt's pension application, "...this declarer was thus Confined for one year lacking 15 days; when after the cpature of Lord Cornwallis and his Army, the Declare with the other American prisoners were suffered to be exchanged, and sailed in a Cartill [sic, cartel], and arrived in Philadelphia after an absence of one year and 9 months,..." The article attributed to "awiatsea.com" states that "...from then [6 July 1781] until they were released was about seventeen months." The difference of time could easily have been the chronological length of passage across the Atlantic Ocean to Philadelphia, PA.
(Note: Just as an aside, according to the article attributed to "awiatsea.com", the captain of the Chevalier de La Luzerne, Thomas Bell, was exchanged early in his imprisonment and was in L'Orient, France on September 28, 1781. One would think that as an officer, his exchange should have gone off without a hitch and he should have been rapidly sent to America. But, due to an unfortunate series of events, one being the untimely death of the American commissary handling his case, he did not reach America by way of a cartel until 1783.)
(Note: As to the final fate of the Pennsylvania privateer sloop-of-war Chevalier de La Luzerne according to the article attributed to "awiatsea. com" "...she was tried and condemned in the High Court of Admiralty in 1781. She is described there as an American merchant ship with etranger." The phrase "tried and condemned" means that the Chevalier de La Luzerne was put on the auction block for sale to a private individual. No more information is given as to her final disposition after sale nor to whom it was sold.)
According to Abijah Hunt's pension application, "...that soon, or within a few weeks thereafter, he the Declarer shipped himself on board the Frigate South Carolina of 40 guns & 783 men Commanded by Capt. John Joiner as a midshipman of the first Class Capable of Navigating a vessel of the first Class into any port, and lay at the port of Philadelphia, and in the River, about 2 months and then put to sea on a cruise..." According to Slane's article, "Hunt Brothers Abijah, James, David and Josiah of Sussex County, NJ", page 1, midshipman Abijah Hunt actually signed on the the frigate South Carolina in July 1782. There is a striking discrepancy in the length of time attributed to Abijah Hunt's first imprisonment with the British and his signing on board the frigate South Carolina. The length's of time of Abijah Hunt's first imprisonment are variously given as seventeen and twenty-one months, both which would have placed Abijah Hunt in Philadelphia, PA after the frigate South Carolina had sailed on her final, fateful voyage. Yet, the article cited above states clearly that Abijah Hunt signed on to the frigate South Carolina in July 1782. Abijah Hunt's pension application also clearly states "...he the Declarer [Abijah Hunt] shipped himself on board the Frigate South Carolina of 40 guns & 783 men..." The writer of this blog thinks that possibly this issue of the proper time frame can be resolved in the following manner. In Abijah Hunt's pension application it clearly states that he "...sailed in a Cartill [sic, cartel], and arrived at Philadelphia after an absence of one year and nine months..." But, the article attributed to "awiatsea.com" also states that the Chevalier de La Luzerne left Philadelphia, PA on November 7, 1780 for France and was captured as she was returning from this voyage. Measuring from November 1780, the departure of the Chevalier de La Luzerne from Philadelphia, PA, twenty-one months would be some time around August 1782 for the arrival of the prisoner cartel in Philadelphia, PA. Abijah Hunt's pension application goes on to state "...That Soon, or within a few weeks thereafter, he the Declarer shipped himself on board the Frigate South Carolina..." If Abijah Hunt did indeed wait about one month before shipping with the frigate South Carolina, then he would have signed on some time around September 1782. Abijah Hunt's pension application goes on to cite that the frigate South Carolina "...lay at the port of Philadelphia, and in the River , about 2 months and then put to sea on a cruise..." This would have placed the frigate South Carolina leaving the port of Philadelphia, PA around November 1782. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, pages 85-95, places the frigate departing the port of Philadelphia, PA on December 19, 1782 with her capture on December 20, 1782. As stated much earlier in this specific post, Abijah Hunt was seventy years old when he filed his pension application and there needs to be room for allowances of memory after the passage of several decades of time between the actual events and Abijah Hunt's pension application being prepared and filed in Cayuga County, NY "...on this 23rd day of January 1833..."
After capture by the British on December 20, 1782, Midshipman Abijah Hunt and the rest of the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina were transported to New York City harbor. According to Abijah Hunt's pension application, he and the rest of the prisoners "...were put on board the Prison Ship and there confined, until paroled, and continued on parole until the peace was declared." According to Slane's article, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers...", page 1, after capture Abijah Hunt "...spent the rest of the war on the prison ship Skorpion [Scorpion] in NYC harbor." A supporting statement filed by Joshua Mersereau and attached to the pension application of Abijah Hunt, states that Abijah Hunt "...who with the rest of the prisoners were transferred on board of the Scorpion prison ship Here their sufferings were severe being plundered of their blankets and clothing and without fire and on short allowance of provisions of the poorest quality." Whereas Abijah Hunt had been an enlisted man when he served as a soldier in Colonel Spencer's Additional Regiment, now he was an officer on board the frigate South Carolina and would have been treated accordingly. He would have been , and according to his pension application he was, paroled which means he was released from the prison ship Scorpion and would have had a certain area of New York City or Long Island that he could move freely about but, not leave on account of his pledge of honor to not do so. Thus, his sufferings would have been at an end of the war and his repatriation to the patriots. According to Slane's article, "Hunt Brothers Abijah, James, David and Josiah of Sussex County, NJ", page 1, Abijah Hunt spent one month on board the prison "hulk" before receiving his parole, which would have released him for the prison ship. Now, he only had to wait for the declaration of peace, his exchange to the patriots, and then he could go home. Abijah Hunt's military service in support of the patriot cause during the American Revolution was over.
Sources agree that after the war, Abijah Hunt married Mary Ann Dunn about 1782, either in the vicinity of New York City or Albany, NY. They raised a family of either seven children (Slane's article, "Hunt Brothers Abijah, James, David and Josiah of Sussex County, NJ) or "...at least 11 children." (Slane's article, "Find a Grave Memorial - Abijah Hunt). According to the pension application of Abijah Hunt, "...he has resided in the city of Albany for 30 years and now [at the time of filing his pension application] resides in Sterling in the County of Cayuga--" According to the Segelquist article, "Men of New York on Navy Ships, New York Pension Rolls", page 6, Abijah Hunt's "...allowance was $100 dollars a year..." and he was "...placed on the pension rolls on February 3, 1834, commencement of his pension was on March 4, 1831." This last phrase meant that even though he was placed on the pension rolls on February 3, 1834, his pension was backdated to March 4, 1831, meaning that he received a sum of $300 immediately and $100 every year after that. The article also notes that Abijah Hunt was 71 years old at the time of his being placed on the pension rolls.
Both Slane articles, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers..." and "Hunt Brothers Abijah, James, David and Josiah of Sussex County, NJ", state that "...sometime around 1845, he moved back to New Jersey..." He lived in Belvidere, NJ for the remainder of his life. According to the sources, the date of his death is in some small degree of dispute. According to a note placed in his pension application, "...veteran died March 4, 1852." But, the Slane article, "Find a Grave Memorial - Abijah Hunt" indicates that he died on April 10, 1852. He is interred in Belvidere Cemetery located in Warren County, New Jersey. It is interesting to note that, according to the Slane article, "Abijah Hunt, one of Seven Brothers...", Abijah Hunt is buried in a double plot next to a Dr. William P. Clark rather than next to his wife, Mary Ann Dunn Hunt. As of the writing of that article in March 2005, the actual burial place of Mary Ann Dunn Hunt was unknown but, suspected to be somewhere in New York.
There is one, final tantalizing aspect of Abijah Hunt's Revolutionary War service, especially on board the frigate South Carolina. This in particular deals with the transportation of the prisoners-of-war of the captured frigate South Carolina on board the three British men-of-war -HMS Diomede, HMS Quebec, and HMS Astrea - into New York City harbor on December 20, 1782. All three of the British men-of-war arrived in the harbor between December 23-24, 1782. According to Middelbrook's work, The Frigate South Carolina, pages 18-25, each one of these British men-of-war carried detailed captive lists, documenting each and every of the prisoners carried on board that specific ship, both commissioned and enlisted personnel. One name does not appear on any of these three captive's lists - Midshipman Abijah Hunt. Numerous other naval and marine officers of all rank, including Captain John Joyner, are cited as being on board one or the other of the British men-of-war but, not Midshipman Abijah Hunt. A careful check of the posts dated, respectively, "03/24/2015", "03/25/2015", and "03/26/2015" find this to be true that Midshipman Abijah Hunt's name does indeed not appear on any of the three lists of prisoners -of-war carried by each of the British men-of-war into New York City harbor. The only explanation that can be even considered by the writer of this blog is that of exclusion - Midshipman Abijah Hunt was simply not recorded, either due to oversight or for some purpose not known to this writer. Each list is quite lengthy, very thorough, and seem to be exhaustive in nature. So, if he was on board the frigate South Carolina when it was captured off Cape Henlopen, DE on December 20, 1782, as all the above cited sources attest to, why does Midshipman Abijah Hunt's name not appear?
Abijah Hunt of New Jersey lead a very interesting and eventful life, especially between the ages of fourteen and twenty-two when he served in both the ground and naval forces of the fledgling United States of America. At the age of fourteen, he actively participated in the Battle of Connecticut Farms and the occupation of Elizabethtown, NJ after it was evacuated by the British Army. A little over one year later, at the ages of fifteen and sixteen, he would suffer through the grueling winter at the famous Valley Forge encampment. Again, a little over a year later, at the age of seventeen, he would sign on board the Pennsylvania privateer sloop-of-war Chevalier de La Luzerne and serve faithfully on board her until she was captured in April 1781, after which he was incarcerated in Old Mill Prison until he was released in a prisoner cartel to America at the age of twenty. Almost immediately after reaching America at Philadelphia, PA, Abijah Hunt signed on board the frigate South Carolina as a midshipman and was on board her when she was captured on December 20, 1782, off Cape Henlopen, DE. He would be imprisoned or on parole on Long Island until the end of the war, at which time he had just turned twenty-two years of age. He went on in the post-war years to marry and raise a sizable family. When he finally filed for a pension application, he was about seventy years old. At the time of his death, he was about to turn or had just turned ninety years of age. In fact, Abijah Hunt had enjoyed the life he had struggled so hard for and suffered so much for in the name of freedom. This writer feels completely humbled and inordinately blessed to have had the privilege to honor Midshipman Abijah Hunt through his paltry efforts to write about his bravery, courage and sacrifice. Aye, there were giants in the earth in those days!