Sometimes there are moments that really help solidify who you are, where you’re supposed to be and what you should be doing with your life. Since moving to New York, I’ve had more of these types of serendipitous moments than ever before and most of those have had to do with genealogy (as in my Woodhull posts) and historical research. Through those two avenues, I seem to have found the most wonderful, kindred souls right at the exact times I needed them and some even in the strangest, most random of circumstances. No matter how odd, weird or inconsequential it may have seemed at the time, everything has since fallen into place like it was “meant to be.”
For this story, let me give a bit of backstory. My DAR patriot was John Wickham and at one point, he was at Fort Montgomery. On this past 4th of July, I decided after living in New York for 6 years, I’d like to go see the fort and learn more about where he had been stationed. That, and they were letting off the cannon!
While I was there,we walked the grounds and talked to one of the colonial reenactors. He was really cool and knew A LOT about the fort and the troops who had been there. He casually mentions something that struck me – they have no real idea how many fought or died there at the two forts when they were overtaken by the British, let alone all their names. I mentioned that I had John Wickham’s pension application where he gives a sworn statement he was at Fort Montgomery, though I had no idea if he actually fought in the invasion or not. The re-encactor said they’d love to have a copy of the will and I agreed to forward it on. (It was only later did I discover the re-enactor was actually a supervisor with the NY state park department there at the fort!) I sent it on and they let me know from the dates provided and the additional information in his pension application that my patriot was at Bemis Heights/Saratoga at the time and was NOT present at the fort’s battle but they were still happy to have a copy to show he was actually there at one time. Nifty! …. John Wickham will be associated with Fort Montgomery then and his name would be preserved in its history, if not its actual fall.
So, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I do some volunteer research work for the Fishkill Supply Depot by going through the muster rolls by hand, re-examining them and trying to identify potential soldier who died there and might be buried at the Depot site still. Well, awhile back, I lost my records that I had been working on and had to restart from the very beginning all over again. I thought it kinda sucked having to start over but, as George was keen to say, “Providence” seemed to have graced me.
As I was going back through ALL the 5th NY Regiment muster rolls the other day I came across a name & notation I hadn’t realized the first time around. Muster roll folders on Fold3 are kind of a weird mix of documents where sometimes you’ll find payroll and other miscellaneous papers. This one included a list of deserters, dead and prisoners of war from June 1777 to August 1778 where I found a George Tongue with the notation that he died at Fort Montgomery.
Remembering that Fort didn’t have a list of names, I sent the information I had on George Tongue over and today, the people at the fort sent me an email…
… we weren’t aware of George Tongue! One of my coworkers did some sleuthing and found out that he was indeed in killed during the battle here. We’ve added him to our list of soldiers KIA. Good luck with the rest of your research and yes please keep us posted on any new discoveries.
Like I said, serendipity! Here I was looking for Fishkill notations and I stumbled upon one for Fort Montgomery totally out of the blue. I’m sure somebody, someday would have been able to connect the two but I am so positively proud that little old me contributed something meaningful to the Revolutionary War history at Fort Montgomery and added, even in the smallest of means, to its historic tale. Now future researchers will be able to see that a Private George Tongue perished there on that fateful day, October 6th, 1777, and his name has found its recorded place there on the list with his brothers in arms.