On the morning of July 7, 1779, some 2,000 British soldiers made landfall on Fairfield Beach. Over the course of the next two days, the British raided and almost completely burned the town of Fairfield over a two-day period. The British sent Parson Sayre, the town’s Presbyterian minister, to the militia with an entreaty to surrender. Militia Col. Samuel Whiting firmly refused.
The important historical document offers here shows evidence of an Express Rider taking the news of the British to four towns two days after the invasion. – Stratford, Woodbury, New Fairfield, Reding.
2 pp, 6 7/8 x 8, being a superb Revolutionary War document enumerating the “Riding Express” stops of John E. Olcott, July 9, 1779, in Connecticut.
The document begins: “To John E. Olcott
“To Riding Express by Col. Whiting’s Orders from Stratford
“To Col. Moosley at Woodbury from there to Col. Beardslee
“at New Fairfield from there to Capt. George & Capt. Moorehouse
“at Reding in the time of three days 10.16.0
“To horse hire 66 Miles 9.18.0
“To Expences on the Rode 9.14.0
“Errors Excepted 30.0.0
“Stratford July 9, 1779
“In Fairfield County at Stratford Aug. 11th, 1779, the above John E. Olcott made Oath that the foregoing articles of acct. were all justly & entirely Charg’d and that he never therefore been paid – and Order the Treasurer to pay Olcott on orders the Sum accordingly – Robert Fairchild, Daniel Judson, Justices of Peace
Cross signed by Samuel Wyllys, Auditor
“To John Lawrence, Esq. Treasurer”
Verso: “Stratford July 9th, 1779
“This certify that I employ’d the win Nam’d
“John E. Olcott to go Express to the within Nam’d
“Officer he performed the Service According to Orders
“Saml Whiting, Col Command
“Rec’d of John Lawrence by the hands of John Benjamin Collector of the Town of Stratford the within Bill & Order in full
“John E. Olcott”
Olcott rode through the four towns, which made up a square like boundary, undoubtedly intending to reach the swath of the British devastation.
The document is cross signed by Samuel Wyllys, who was appointed lieutenant colonel in Col. Joseph Spencer’s 2nd Connecticut Regiment on July 1, 1775. He commanded the regiment until January 1, 1776, when the 2nd Connecticut was reorganized as the 22nd Continental Regiment. Wyllys remained in the regiment and served in the Siege of Boston until the British evacuation on March 17 and then marched with George Washington to New York. He saw action in the Battle of Long Island and served in the New York vicinity until the end of the year.
Folds, toning. Quite readable and a wonderful example of Revolutionary War history.
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