Discharge of the Battalion

By Kyle Willyard

More and more men were volunteering service in the new regular companies that were being formed. As these companies were being formed, they were sent to Williamsburg and Norfolk. The resulting shortage of weapons forced a partial disarming of the minutemen. On February 14, 1776, the Committee of Safety sent a message of thanks to the Culpeper battalion and ordered Colonel Howe to discharge the companies on guard at Norfolk and Hampton. However, due to a delay in sending regular troops to the area, the committee was forced to countermand the order and to postpone the discharge until March. Late in the spring of 1776, most of the minutemen finally were released from active duty. They turned their equipment over to their replacements and marched home. Some of the Minute Battalion remained on call until August.

By mid-summer most former members of the Minute Battalion had joined the regular Continental forces. Many of the subalterns, noncommissioned officers and privates of the Minute Battalion enlisted in Colonel Daniel Morgan's 11th Virginia Continental Regiment.

Many who served in the Minute Battalion would go on to see some of the toughest campaigns and greatest victors of the war. Young Philip Slaughter, who was present at the formation of the Culpeper Minutemen and recorded it in his journal so that we might have a glimpse of what it was like, soon returned home and later joined Morgan's elite rifle corps, and rose to command a detachment of it in 1777. Slaughter served in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Stony Point, and was also with Washington's troops at Valley Forge during the winter of 77-78. Slaughter fared better than many of his fellow officers, however, and often accepted dinner invitations with General Washington when many had to decline because they did not have sufficient clothing. In 1781, he retired with the rank of captain. (Greene, p.4)

John Marshall, also present at Valley Forge during the harsh winters was a messmate with Phillip Slaughter and James Jamerson. Slaughter relates an incident in his journal when Marshall, was awaken in the middle of the night. He had raked up a pile of leaves to sleep on, and pulled off his stockings. When Marshall, who had the only pair of silk stockings in the regiment, was awaken in the middle of the night, he was unable to find the stockings. He then unwittingly set fire to the leaves and before he saw it burned a large hole in one of the pair. Thenafter, Marshall wore the pitiful looking stockings while on parade as a sort of joke. (Greene, p.47-48)

Edward Stevens, who had been named Lieutenant Colonel of the Minutemen and who was appointed over the detachment under Woodford, eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General. General Stevens fought with distinction at the battles of Great Bridge, Brandywine, Germantown, Camden, Guilford Court House and Yorktown.

John Jameson, who was Captain of one of the original companies, would help to prevent one of the most treasonous acts ever to be conceived in our country. Jameson, now a colonel, was the officer responsible for capturing British Major, John Andre. A letter dated September 23, 1780 would reveal to General Washington details concerning the capture of Major Andre. This led to the exposure of Benedict Arnold's plot to betray General Washington and strategic forts at West Point. After Arnold's capture, Jameson was placed in command of the forts.

These are only a few of the more famous out of the original three hundred or so men that served in the Minute Battalion. Certainly others served with equal dedication, although history has long ago forgot their deeds. However, many of their names stlll exist from petition records in the Virginia State Library. Their names are listed below.

Copyright 1995 by Kyle Willyard


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