Pension Application for Joseph Johnson or Thomas Rosekrans
Declaration of Joseph Johnson (alias) Thomas Rondecrants in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress of the 7th of June 1832.
State of Connecticut
Court of Probate within and for the District of Litchfield SS.
On this first day of September A.D. 1832 personally appeared in open court before the Hon. Frederick Wolcott Judge of the court of Probate in and for said District now sitting Joseph Johnson (alias) Thomas Rondecrants a colored man & resident of the Town of Bethlehem in the County of Litchfield & state aforesaid aged seventy five years, who being duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
That he enlisted into the service of the United States at a place called Continental Village in the State of New York in the fall of 1778, as a substitute for Thomas Johnson to serve during the war with or under Captain James Rosencrants, after wards Major James Rosencrants in a Regiment of Infantry commanded by Col. Lewis Debois or Deboze in the New York Line Genl James Clinton’s Brigade, which he thinks was the 1st New York Brigade under the following ANemd officers—
I was born in Fishkill in the State of New York and resided in that place until I entered the service of the United States, my parents were both coloured persons, my father’s name was Thomas and he sometimes was called Thomas Peters, I was named Joseph and was called by that name without the addition of Peters (the name which my father had assumed) I lived with Col. Harry Rosencrants of s’d Fishkill from a child until I entered the service of the Untied States.
In the fall, I think, of 1778 or at least as early as the fall of 1778 (the exact time I cannot state) I was requested by Captain or Major James Rosekrants (who was the son of the s’d Col. Harry Rosencrants with whom I resided, and whether a Captain or Major at that time I cannot say) to enlist in to the service of the United States as a substitute for Thomas Johnson to serve during the war, in pursuance of his request I went to a place called Continental Village and there enlisted into the service of the United States as a substitute for Thomas Johnson to serve during the war, in a company which I think was at that time commanded by the said James Rosencrants, (afterwards Major James Rosencrants) as I have before remarked I cannot say state positively whether the said James Rosencrants was a Captain or Major at the time of my enlistment, if he was a Captain at that time he was soon promoted to the office of Major and Captain Henry Debois or Dubose commanded the same company into which I enlisted in Col. Lewis Debois or Dubose, Regiment in Genl James Clainton’s Brigade which I think was the 1st New York Brigade, Henry or Harry Dodge I think was for a time adjutant of said Regt & I believe he was afterwards appointed Captain, Captain Hamtrammick Captain Devier and Captain Steward or Stewart belonged to, either the Regiment or Brigade to which I belonged I served as a Waiter to Major James Rosencrants and continued in the service of the United States until the close of the war of the Revolution, at the time I enlisted I recollect that an officer took hold of my hand and made me write my name that I would serve during the war and that I would be true to my country & that when I had enlisted the said Thomas Johnson whom substitute I was, was then discharged, and I was then called Joseph Johnson on account (as I suppose) of my having taken Thomas Johnson’s place, and I think that I was entered upon the roll Joseph Johnson, I know that I was so called during the time I was in the service.
Soon after my enlistment I went with the regiment to which I belonged to Albany and remained a short time at that place & while there I recollect that a soldier was shot on the hill near the barracks, for desertion, we then went to Schoharrie about thirty miles from Albany at which place we remained through the winter, Major James Rondecrants remained with the troops through the winter & took Quarters in a house belonging to George Mann who was a Tory & at that time confined in Albany Goal—
In the Spring of 1779 we were ordered to go into the western country (as it was then called) to fight the Indians, I went with the Regt to which I belonged & with other troops, under the command of Genl James Clinton to Lake Otsego, then to Tioga & near Tioga we joined the troops under the command of Genl Sullivan, we then marched in pursuit of the Indians and at a place or near a place called Newtown a few miles from Chemung we had a battle with the Indians Genl Sullivan commanded, Genl Clinton, Genl Poor and I believe another Genl whose names I do not now recollect was in the Battle. The Indians were commanded by Col. Butler. The Battle continued a considerable length of time at length the Indians discovering that they were liken to be surrounded by our troops fled & were defeated, Major James Rondecrants was engaged in the battle, he gave me and us to stay with the pack horses, I did so a short time, but becoming uneasy I left the horses, took my gun and engaged in the battle for which I was [?] by Major Rondecrants we pursued the Indians through the country to the Genesee River, burnt their Towns, destroyed their cornfields, gardens & fruit trees wherever we found them, we burnt an Indian Town or settlement at the Genesee river containing I should think two or three hundred Indians huts or houses, called Genesee Town. When we arrived at the Genesee river we were told that we were to go to Niagara, General Sullivan soon [?] not to go to Niagara & was then marched back & went to Easton in Pennsylvania & soon joined the army, we then went to New Jersey and spent the winter at or near MorrisTown, several of the officers took quarters at a place called Westfield, Major Roncecrants, with whom I lived put up at Captain Meckers, I remained with Maj’r Rondecrants & others at Westfield until sometime in the winter I should think in the month of January 1780, I then went with Major Rondecrants & others on to Staten Island after we got on to the Island Maj’r Rondecrants sent me back to our Quarters & the next day he & others with him returned to Westfield & brought with them many valuable articles which they had taken from the inhabitants who had submitted to the British Government. He remained at West field until sometime in the spring or early part of the summer, the British then landed at Elizabeth Town & went to a place called Continental Town where they burnt several houses one of which was a meeting house the troops at MorrisTown were ordered out to oppose them, the British soon returned to Elizabeth Town I believe General green had a battle with the British but I was not in the action. We soon after this went to Peekskill in the State of New York and remained there & at the highlands through the summer & fall & went into Winter Quarters at the Highlands. In the spring & summer of 1781 we had very little to do, Lord Cornwallis was (I believe) taken this year at York Town, I was not engaged in any battle after this but was stationed at different places on the Hudson river at & in the neighborhood of the highland until the war was closed.
I do not recollect whether I received a written discharge or not if one was made out for me. Major Rondecrats probably took it I do not recollect was to have seen it, I could not read it if I had.
After the close of the War I returned to Fishkill with Major James Rondecrants & lived with & laboured for him until he died which event happened nearly thirty years ago. After the decease of Major Rondecrants I left Fishkill & went to Litchfield in Litchfield County Connecticut & I resided in Litchfield from the time I left Fishkill until about six years ago (with the exception of a few months), I think when to the Town of Bethlehem in Litchfield county & State aforesaid at which place I have resided until the present time. Soon after I took up my resident in Litchfield with whom I had become acquainted was in the habit of calling me Tom. I was very soon called Thomas and after it became known that I had been a waiter to Major James Rondecrant. I was called Thomas Rondecrants, by which last mentioned name I am better known in Litchfield & in [Bethlem Bethlehem?] where I now reside than by any other.
I hereby relinquish every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present, and I declare that my name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state. (Signed with his mark) Joseph Johnson
Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid before m Frederick Wolcott, Justice of Probate Litchfield District Court.
Note: in later documents the name is spelled Rosekrans of Bethlem.
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