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Daniel Whiting (1732-1807)
Daniel Whiting was born on the family homestead Springfield parrish/precinct, Massachusetts in 1732, the fourth generation of Whitings in America, having immigrated from Lincolnshire, England [i] in 1638. His father, Jonathan, was a mill owner. His mother, Anna Bullard, also came from a long line in America ; her ancestors were the original signers of the Dedham Compact. The family lived near the center of town on what is somewhat recently known as the McNamara place on Springfield (or Springdale) Avenue.[i] His brothers and sisters were William, Anna, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Abigail, Nathan, Ithamar, Jemima, Hannah and Aaron.
French and Indian War
He served in the French and Indian War at Ticonderoga, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry, in the Canadas , at the Bay of Fundy and at Louisburg. [ii] Daniel served in the militia as early as 1754. He is listed as being a private in the Company under Captain Joseph Richards, Springfield Parish along with his two brothers William and Jonathan and a nephew Jonathan Jr. He served in the Crown Point expedition in Captain William Bacon’s company from Sept 15, 1755 to December 16, 1755. It is most likely that he was present at the Louisburg victory in 1758 with the rest of his unit.[iii] He was an ensign in Capt. Nathaniel Bailey’s company from February 26, 1760 to December 6, 1760 and went into the New York campaign.[iv] He was reported to have achieved the rank of Lieutenant.[ii]
In 1761 he returned to Springfield Parrish and married Mehitable Haven. The Haven family came from England in 1644. Their children were Mehitable, Paul, Fanny, Roger and Nancy. Daniel and Mehitable “Hattie” or “Hettie” built a house at the bottom of the hill from the meetinghouse and operated a Tavern in it. The tavern was destroyed by fire January 21, 1908. The site is marked by a stone and plaque near the green where the militia once trained. The cemetery where Daniel and Mehitable are buried lies just across the green from the tavern site.
The SpringfieldParish finished its meeting house in 1761. This was the most important institution in the Parish. The same year Daniel Whiting completed the needs of the Parish, in the erection, on Dedham Street, of the tavern, a structure which is still standing,  and is of great interest as the last one of the pre-revolutionary taverns in this vicinity. Like all early tavern keepers, Daniel Whiting was a prominent man, and in his life and deeds reflected credit on the Parish. He continued to be the proprietor of this tavern until the breaking out of the revolution, and during the contest he sold this property and loaned every dollar to the state, without security, so great was her necessity. The Revolution had no greater heroes than those who did such things. There was a small dance hall, and a bar-room in this tavern, and it is believed he also had a small store in connection. In the bar-room of Whiting’s Tavern the ‘Sons of Liberty’ assembled and discussed those mighty questions which came up for consideration before the breaking out of the Revolution, and after the war was over the old soldiers assembled there for many years and fought their battles o’er. (Pamphlet “Col. Daniel Whiting” Frank Smith, 1907)
This was later known as the Whiting-Williams Tavern. Daniel built the part that fronted on Dedham Street and occupied that as his residence. In the early days of the war, Daniel sold the tavern and lent the money to the state to help the war effort. John Williams operated the tavern after Whiting went to war. The soldiers’ memorial in Dover rests on stones from the tavern.
Daniel and Hattie had five children; Mehitable, Paul, Fanny, Roger and Anna, all born in the tavern. From 1761 to 1775, the family was together in Springfield . On the green outside the tavern, Lt. Daniel Whiting trained the local minutemen of Captain Ebeneezer Battle’s company. Training was often twice a week.
The morning of April 19th, 1775 , at about 9:00, a messenger passed through on his way to Dedhamand announced the British were marching. The militia minutemen were quickly summoned. Daniel left his wife and 5 children (aged 13, 10, 9, 7 and 4) and with the minutemen marched to Watertown then to the road to Menotomy (now Arlington). There occurred the deadliest fight of the day. 22 minutemen were killed at that skirmish. Elias Haven, Daniel’s brother-in-law, was killed. Daniel served as a Lieutenant.[v]
On April 24th Daniel was promoted to Captain in Col. Jonathan Brewer’s regiment. The British had been pushed back into Boston . Daniel’s company consisted of 56 men, of whom 17 were residents of Springfield parish. His brother, Aaron was a member of the company. During his absence, on June 2, his wife Hattie died from a sudden attack of apoplexy. For the rest of the war, the family would care for Daniel’s children. On the night of June 16th it was decided to occupy the neck of the Charlestown peninsula at a place named Breed’s Hill, later called “Bunker Hill”, and Daniel’s company was given the task of erecting fortifications. Thus, under fire from British warships, the men from Springfield built and manned the diagonal line between Colonel Prescott’s redoubt and the rail fence. In the battle, from the regiment of 150, seven men were killed and eleven wounded. “…it is said that the officers conducted themselves with great bravery, …”[vi] Daniel’s commission in the Continental army was effective June 17, 1775. He served in Col. Brewer’s regiment until December 1775. His brother, Aaron, served as a sergeant in Daniel’s company at Bunker Hill.
Siege of Boston
Daniel then took part in the siege of Boston , but apparently did not play a role in the fortifying of Dorchester heights. Daniel’s unit was stationed at Prospect Hill for some period of time [vii]. January 1, 1776 he was appointed Captain in Col. Asa Whitcomb’s regiment, the 6th Massachusetts Continental Infantry. March 20, 1776 the regiment marched into Boston . Smallpox was present in the city which caused inoculations to be ordered. General Artemis Ward commanded the forces at Boston.
On July 9th, General Washington ordered three regiments from Boston to Ticonderoga to augment the Northern Army. Whitcomb’s regiment was one of those chosen, but was delayed due to small pox. [viii] By August 5th they were recovered by inoculation. On the 8th the regiment marched, but without Daniel, who departed for Ticonderoga on August 20t with 15 other men left behind due to illness. [ix] The route took him through Worchester, Springfield, Charlestown N.H. and over the Green Mountains to Skeensboro where they rendezvoused with others destined for Ticonderoga. On September 6th he was taken by boat up Lake Champlain to Fort Ticonderoga , arriving the same day. His pay was $40 per month. Officers were allowed taking one soldier from the ranks to serve as a waiter. [x] The daily ration was one pound of beef or pork, one pound of bread or flour, a small quantity of vegetables when available and one gill of rum or whisky. A small allowance each week provided vinegar, salt, soap and candles.[xi] Major General Horatio Gates was the commander. Benedict Arnold commanded the naval attachment. On November 6th, Daniel was promoted to Major in Col. Ichabod Alden’s regiment (6th Massachusetts) but was to remain with Whitcomb’s regiment until Dec 31, 1776. The term of Whitcomb’s regiment expired in March and disbanded.
Early 1777 the regiment, now a part of Brigadier General John Nixon’s brigade, was stationed at Peekskill, NY with recruiting continuing in Massachusetts. In early July the brigade moved north to reinforce the Northern Army. July 12th they arrived at Fort Edward. The British were advancing from the North pursuing Major General St. Claire’s troops who had abandoned Ticonderoga. Major General Schuyler Commander of the Northern Army ordered a withdrawal to the south. The 6th was part of the rear guard. Their job was to delay the advance of the enemy by creating obstacles by felling trees and burning bridges. They were constantly harassed by Indians and Tories during the retreat. By the 4th of August, Schuyler had halted and began defensive positions. There, at Bemis heights, the regiment helped construct defensive breastworks. During the first battle of Saratoga, the 6th was held in reserve. In the second battle October 7, 1777, the 6th played an important combat role:
Alden’s 6th regiment [xii] , a part of John Nixon’s brigade, was a part of the right wing of the American army. At about 3:30 in the afternoon of the battle, the regiment was ordered in to reinforce the attack. Moving to a position to the right of Col.Morgan’s riflemen, the 6th poured heavy fire into the fort. When the German troops manning the redoubt began to give way, the regiment charged and took the fort[xiii]. At that same time, General Benedict Arnold capitalized on a weakness on the flank of the redoubt, charged in and came up in the rear of the enemy. With this the enemy’s line was broken and the British fell back; the Americans had the day. The battle of Saratoga is considered one of the 50 most important battles of the world.
The winter of 1777-8 was spent garrisoning in Albany under command of Brigadier General John Stark. This duty involved guarding prisoners and supplies as well as dealing with marauding Tories. “As the artillery stores, hospital and prisoners of war are now removed, or removing from Albany , I think Alden’s regiment should be without delay sent from thence….” (Gen Gates to Gen Stark) [xiv] .
In March 1778 the regiment was detached from the Massachusetts line and became an orphan unit. On July 9, 1778 the regiment was ordered to Fort Schuyler to help with the defense against an impending enemy attack. [xv] Throughout June and July ominous warnings of an Indian attack were coming from a small town of Cherry Valley, NY . (In the meantime, what was going on with Col Alden to cause this comment from Gen Gates to Gen Stark :” Col. Alden’s behavior is exactly what is was last year. Be assured that he shall be made to answer for his conduct.”) [xvi] Stark wanted to replace Alden with Col Butler at Cherry Valley but this was not to happen.
July 24, 1778 the unit marched for Cherry Valley with orders to garrison the fort there for protection against Indian attacks against the populace. The quartermaster general had failed to supply the regiment with tents “…by which neglect, Col. Alden’s regiment is in a suffering condition, with no probability of their wants being supplied.”for which Stark complained to Gen Washington[xvii]. The commander, Col. Ichabod Alden, believed that with this show of force by the continentals, the Indians would not attack. Throughout the fall there were numerous skirmishes with the Indians. The fort was garrisoned by about 250 soldiers.
On November 8 Colonel Alden received word from Fort Schuylerthat the fort was about to be attacked. Daniel Whiting, of the Springfield Parish, was an officer under Colonel Alden. For several days previous to the attack Captain [sb. Major] Whiting had traversed the land far and wide to discover some trace of the Indians. On the morning of November 11, 1778, Judge Wells, in whose house some of the officers lived, barely escaped an Indian arrow. Captain Whiting ran to the fort, bolted the doors, and fired upon the pursuing foe. Colonel Alden, who remained long enough in the house to put on his boots, was struck down by an Indian tomahawk; and Colonel Stacey was captured. When all attempts to gain the fort were found to be in vain, the Indians surrounded the house and perpetrated the most fiendish cruelties upon many of the inhabitants.[xviii]
On the morning of November 11, about 650 loyalist forces led by Tory William Butler and Mohawk leader Joseph Brandt fell upon the inhabitants of the community. Col. Alden was killed by Brandt and Col Stacey, (2nd in command) was captured. Major Whiting made it to the fort and took charge of the defenses. The carnage continued outside the fort for several hours. From the regiment there were 11 dead and 18 missing. The civilian casualties consisted of 2 men killed, two men wounded, thirty women and children killed, and thirty of different ages and sexes missing[xix]. Major Whiting, the surviving ranking officer, took command of the regiment.
A letter from Major Daniel Whiting to Brigadier General Edward Hand, dated 13 Nov 1778 reads:
I embrace the earliest Opportunity the present Situation of our Affairs would admit to inform you of the State of the Garrison. On the 11th Intt the Enemy notwithstands all our Endeavors to the contrary surprised us having taken a Scout of a Serjeant and 8 of ours and took one and compelled him to pilot them to the Officers Quarters they pushed vigorously for the Fort and had it not been for the great Activity and Alertness of the Troops they had rushed within the lines. The Colonel fell attempting getting to the Fort the Lt Colo. (Stacy) was made Prisoner together with one Lieut. One Ensign the Surgeon’s Mate and a few Privates we had about 6 or 8 of the Regt killed, some missing. The Enemy was very numerous burnt the Buildings in the Settlement killed a great Number of the Inhabitants. Men Women and Children, carried off many Prisoners some few that hid in the woods have got into the Fort. They collected all the Cattle Horses and Sheep they cod & drove off they paid us a second visit yesterday but nothing of them has been discovered this Day. Notwithstanding the earliest and repeated Dispatches to the River have had no Reinforcement from there. When we were first attacked we had not a Pound of Bread per Man in the Garrison & had it not been for a Barrel of Powder and half a box of Cartriges belonging to the Town our Ammunition wod have failed us –one Scout a Serjt & 8 men that went by the Battlements has not been heard of yet…P.S. We have a Soldier with his Leg broken that’s necessary to be amputated the Surgeon has no Instruments request a Case be sent if possible.[xx]
In December Major Whiting wrote to General Clinton requesting the unit be relieved [xxi] . In December 1778 the return listed 280 men in the Regiment at Cherry Valley . The unit remained there until June 1779 when it was assigned to the main army. On June 18 th, 1779, the regiment, under command of Major [xxii] Whiting, marched for Lake Otsago with orders to join Gen. Clinton’s Brigade. [xxiii]
The regiment arrived at Lake Otsago (NY) at 3pm on the 19th and immediately began work on a dam to block the lake outflow. July 2nd , General James Clinton arrived with his army.
The outlet of this lake is narrow. General Clinton having passed his boats through, caused a dam to be thrown across; the lake was raised several feet; a party was sent forward to clear the river of drift-wood; when ready to move, the dam was broken up, and the boats glided swiftly down with the current. On the 22d of August, this division arrived at Tioga, and joined the main army under General Sullivan. On the 26th of August, the whole army moved from Tioga up the river of that name, and on the 29th fell in with the enemy at Newtown. Here a spirited engagement took place, in which the enemy was routed; this was the only battle.[xxiv]
Initially assigned to B.Gnl. Clinton’s 4th Brigade, the 6th Massachusetts was assigned to B.Gnl. Poor’s 2nd Brigade in August.
At the battle of Newtown Brigadier General Enoch Poor’s Brigade, including Whiting’s regiment, made up the right flanking division, which attacked the enemy’s left flank and seized the hill.
On October 8, 1779 , General Sullivan received orders from Genl Washington stating that Count de E’staing (sp) is on the coast of NY with a fleet and an army in consequence of which Sullivan was to move his army to Headquarters at West Point.
Whiting’s Regiment moved with the army to West Point in October 1779. General Washington made West Point his headquarters. General Arnold was given command of the fort. January 1, 1780 LtCol Whiting joined Col. Thomas Nixon’s Regiment in 1780 and served until January 1781.
At the close of 1780 the army was re-organized and the regiment was combined with another. Many officers became “supernumerary” and were granted half pay and a grant of land. [xxv] After 5 ½ years of continuous service in which he participated in 16 battles, Lt Col Whiting was ready to retire.[xxvi] Daniel chose to return to Dover to reassemble his family and rebuild all that he had lost over the war years. He had sold the tavern and lent the money to the government for the war effort. The bonds went unpaid. Congress was on the verge of bankruptcy so most of the backpay was never to materialize. In 1780, he had received only 3 months pay for the entire year. The bonds were worthless for borrowing money against. January of 1881 he left the service and went to Natick. Being destitute, he was warned out of town “lest be become a public charge.”[xxvii] He was able to remain and in 1787 was elected a town Warden.
On April 18, 1782, he petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for part of his back wages and for repayment of money he lent to the state during the war: Your petitioner humbly showeth:
That in April, 1775, he enlisted into the militia service of the State in defence of the lives, liberties and property of the invaded and injured inhabitants of this part of North America, and continued in the service of this and the United States of America, without intermission or impeachment, and to universal acceptance, until the close of the year 1780, at which time the regiment was reduced, and your petitioner obtained a permission to retire from the army, to resume the care, education, and direction of his five motherless children, who were bereaved in his absence, in which time your petitioner sold his real estate and lent the whole proceeds to this State, a very small part excepted, and for a considerable part of his wages while in service received depreciated notes, and for the last year’s service, 1780, has received no more than three months wages, the nominal sum in Continental paper money of the old emission, and when returning from the army was obliged to borrow money from an inhabitant at West Point to defray his expenses home, being in want of forage in the public stables, both which debts are now due from your petitioner, and he has received no allowance for the deficiency of forage, etc.
And now all the estate of your petitioner that has not consumed by the mutation of the currency, etc., is in public securities; and his debts contracted for the support of his family, and some debts he owed before the war, - which he was not so unjust as to pay from paper currency, - remain unpaid, and he is taxed and classed from time to time, and hath not wherewith to purchase or hire a place of residence for himself and his family, and replace some necessary personal estate, and purchase some necessary provisions and clothing for upholding life. That he hath such public securities and depreciated notes, one or more of which were due about a year ago, but cannot pay his debts or taxes with any of these, nor procure any necessaries of life upon these, nor obtain any money for services on said securities or depreciated notes without the aid of the Honorable Court.
It is well known that many in this State who now retain their real estate in their own possession, never would lend the public any part of their property, nor perform any actual service in person, were at home with their families, took every advantage, and were increasing their substances, while your petitioner was in many perils in the Indian country, and other parts, many times without any food, tent, barrack, or covering at the same time. And they even now have recourse to complain of oppression, injustice, etc.
All your petitioner hath is in the hands of this Commonwealth. Might he, shall he, pay all debts, charges, taxes, etc., and not be able to obtain any part that is due him, because the whole State is his debtor? If his securities were against individuals in private life, he would not so much deplore his circumstances. But your petitioner cannot anticipate the thought that when the whole Commonwealth or United States are justly indebted to him for his services, and suffering in the army as well as the whole of his real estate, and himself and his children are reduced to a great strait, and not for the want of charity or a gift, but equitable payment of part of his just dues, the Honorable Court will treat this petition with any degree of neglect.
Therefore your petitioner prays this Honorable Court to take his very singularly distressing circumstances into consideration and order one or more of his said notes to be paid, and part of his last year wages, and as in duty bound shall ever pray.
(signed) Daniel Whiting [xxviii]
He later received a grant of land in Ohio , under the Ohio Grant program. Officers of the Continental Army had petitioned Congress to allow them a tract of land in exchange for a million dollars of public debt (wages). When his children went to acquire deed, they found that someone presenting himself as Daniel Whiting had taken the deed and disposed of the land and this fraud could not be rectified.[xxix]
Finally he recovered some money from the state and bought property in South Natick where his daughter Mehitable Newell lived. He lived there until the last few years of his life when he resided with his daughter until his death in 1807 at the age of 75. He was buried at Highland Cemetery in Dover, next to his wife Hattie. Their graves front the green where the militia drilled and next to which once stood their home. His epitaph; In this war there is no discharge.
references to Daniel Whiting story
[i] Biographical Sketches Dover, Massachusetts, by Frank Smith, Dover, Mass. 1909.,pg 13
[ii] Biographical Sketches, Dover, Massachusetts, Smith, pg 13.
[i] Genealogical History of Dover, Mass. , Frank Smith,pp240-241
[ii] Sketch of the Life of Daniel Whiting, Mehitable Davenport, 1881,
[iii] History of Dover, Smith, 1897, pg82
[iv] Pamphlet “Col. Daniel Whiting” Frank Smith, 1907
[v] Historical register of Officers of the Continental Army 1775-1783, Heitman, 1914, pg 588
[vi] Sketch of the Life of Daniel Whiting, Mehitable Davenport, 1881, p 97
[vii] NARA M804 (Rev War Pension file) Thos Morse. Pension S. 30595
[viii] Papers of George Washington July 1776 p 255, 427
[ix] Military Journal, James Thatcher, MD [internet source: http://footgards.tripod.com/08HISTORY/08_thatcher.htm]
[x] Military Journal , James Thacher, MD, 1862, p 60
[xii] Important note: Alden’s Regiment, designated the 6th Massachusetts at the organization of the Continental Army in late 1776, was re-designated the 7th Massachusetts in 1779 to avoid confusion. There were two “6th Massachusetts ” regiments; one commanded by Col Alden, the other by Col Thomas Nixon. Both were at Saratoga and both under BG John Nixon. Some histories have labeled Alden’s regiment the 7th in retrospect. As to the question Which 6th Massachusetts stormed the Breymanns redoubt, it was Alden’s.
[xiii] Diary of Captain Benjamin Warren, published in the Journal of American History, Vol III, #2. 1909
[xiv] Memoir and Official Correspondence of General John Stark, Caleb Stark, Heritage Books, 2007, p.155
[xv] The George Washington Papers, Vol. 16, pgs 65, 75. See also Memoir and Official Correspondence of General John Stark pp 176-7
[xvi] Memoir and Official Correspondence of General John Stark, Caleb Stark, Heritage Books, 2007, p.181
[xvii] ibid. p188
[xviii] History of Dover, Smith, 1897, pp 104-5
[xix] The George Washington Papers, Vol. 18, Nov. 18, 1778 Gen. Hand to GW. (ed.itors notes)
[xx] Ibid. p 181
[xxi] The George Washington Papers, Vol 13, Nov 21, 23 and Dec 31.
[xxii] His promotion to Lt Col. Was September 1778 but not made official until a year later.
[xxiii] Journal of Lt. Wm McKendry; Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan, (1887) pg 199
[xxiv] Lecture on the Life and Military Services of General James Clinton. Read before the New York Historical Society, Feb. 1839. By William A. Campbell internet: www.rootsweb.com/~nyalbany/book/App14.html
[xxv] Military Journal , James Thacher, MD, Hulbert Williams & Co, 1862, p 52
[xxvi] Sketch of the Life of Daniel Whiting, Mehitable Davenport, 1881, p 13
[xxvii] History of Dover, (Narative History) Smith, 1897, 111-2
[xxviii] Ibid., pp111-113.
[xxix] Ibid. p 113, and Sketch of the Life of Daniel Whiting pg15