Ephraim Cleaveland

Captain Ephraim Cleaveland (1737-1822), 8th Regiment Massachusetts Continental Line

Ephraim Cleaveland was born in Dedham, Massachusetts on 13 September 1737 to Ephraim Cleaveland Sr. (1712-1781) and Abigail Curtis Cleaveland (1716-1738).  During the French and Indian War, he enlisted on 2 May 1758 as a private in Capt. Eliphalet Fales’ Company, Col. Ebenezer Nichols’ Regiment, and served at Lake George until his discharge on 18 October 1758. Around that time, he moved to Hardwick, Massachusetts and married Dorothy “Dolly” Whipple on 15 November 1770.  During the American Revolution’s early stages, he enlisted on 1 July 1775 as a lieutenant in Capt. George Gould’s Company, Col. Paul Dudley Sargent’s Regiment, and served during the Siege of Boston for the rest of the year. In 1776, he was a first lieutenant in Col. Paul Dudley Sargent’s 16th Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Line, and was also on detached service (in fall 1776) as a first lieutenant in Knowlton’s Rangers. During this time, he saw action in the New York Campaign as well as at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.

On 1 January 1777, Ephraim Cleaveland was appointed a captain in Col. Michael Jackson’s 8th Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Line, in which his distant cousin, Ebenezer Cleaveland, was also a captain.  With the rest of the 8th Massachusetts, he was part of the force led by Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold that lifted the August 1777 British Siege of Fort Stanwix in upstate New York. He later fought at the Battles of Saratoga with the 8th Massachusetts and was among those led by General Arnold who captured Breymann’s Redoubt during the second battle on 7 October 1777. Following Saratoga, he spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge in Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Learned’s Brigade. It appears that Ephraim Cleaveland also served at the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, and was listed as sick at Peekskill (New York) in the weeks following the battle – possibly from heat exhaustion.

It is not entirely clear when Ephraim Cleaveland left the Continental Army service. Heitman’s Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army claims that he was deranged on 30 October 1778, while Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War claims that he was reported “arranged out” on 1 April 1779. Regardless of the specific departure date, he returned home to Hardwick, Massachusetts, where he served on the local Committee of Correspondence in 1779.  In 1780, it appears that he served for eight months as a captain in the Massachusetts Militia, charged with supervising guards at Rutland Barracks (a Massachusetts prison camp which housed captured British and Hessian troops). After the war, he continued to reside in Hardwick and passed away there on 9 April 1822.

Sources: Keith Brough and Frank Gardner, General Ward’s Colonial Army (Rehoboth, MA, 2015), n.p.; Hamilton Child, Gazetteer of Berkshire County, Mass., 1725-1885 (Syracuse, NY, 1885), 131; Edmund Cleveland and Horace Cleveland, The Genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland Families (Hartford, CT, 1899), 2270-2271; Francis Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army (Washington DC, 1893), 127; Henry Johnston, The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783 (Hartford, 1889), 122; Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, 3:610; Selected Wartime Service Records of Captain Ephraim Cleaveland.   

Compiled by Sean Michael Heuvel, Ph.D. who has represented Ephraim Cleaveland in the New Hampshire Society since 2018.