• William Barton Jr. Holds His Claim On Father's Presentation Sword, One Of The First Awarded By Congress in 1777, For His Bold Capture Of Gen. Prescott And Aide-De-Camp

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    WILLIAM BARTON (1748-1831) was an officer in the Continental Army who fought at Bunker Hill.  He was a lieutenant colonel who later served as adjutant general of the Rhode Island Militia.  By Resolution of Congress on July 25, 1777, Barton was awarded an “elegant sword” to be presented for his capturing British General Richard Prescott and Major William Barrington, his Aide-de-Camp.

     

    Offering a one-page, ALS, Providence, Feby 15th, 1810, by his son Wm Barton Jr. The content references a deed to his property in Vermont, but specifies that this property purchase does not include this Congressional Presentation Sword.  Barton Jr. writes, “I acknowledge to have received of William Barton Esqr of Providence a deed of four lots of land in the township of Barton in the County of Orleans and State of Vermont...which four lots of land William Barton estimates as a full proportion of his estate which he intended to give me per will, Now therefore for this Consideration, I relinquish & yield all claim which I may have to this the said William’s estate...except as to a claim I may have on the Sword presented to him by the Congress of the United States for the Capture of Genl Prescott of which Sword he has made a provisional disposition by will...Wm Barton Jr.”  Witnessed by John B. Barton and Anna Maria Cushman.  Wafer seal intact. Docket on the verso reads, “Wm Barton, RI – For Proportion of Estate of his Father – July 15, 1810”

     

    An extraordinary, original Post-Revolutionary War letter regarding the fate of one of America’s very first Congressional Authorized Presentation Swords. William Barton’s Presentation Sword, authorized July 25, 1777 by the Continental Congress being just the third such Congressional Sword in American history.  According to Thatcher’s Military Journal, August 3, 1777: “Lieutenant-Colonel Barton of the Rhode Island Militia, planned a bolt exploit for the purpose of surprising and taking Major-General Prescott, the commanding officer of the royal army at Newport. Taking with him, in the night, about forty-men, in two boats, with oars muffled, he had the address to elude the vigilance of the ships of war and guard boats, and having arrived undiscovered at the General’s quarters, they were taken for the sentinels, and the General was not alarmed till his captors were at the door of his lodging chamber, which was fast closed. A negro man named Prince instantly thrust his head through the panel door and seized the victim in his bed. The General’s Aide-de-Camp leaped from a window undressed and attempted to escape, but was taken and, with the General, brought off in safety.”

     

    Folds, toning. One small fold tear reinforced with archival tape.

     

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