Brigadier General Jacob Bayley, Commissary General, Northern Department
Jacob Bayley was born July 19, 1726 in Newbury, Massachusetts. He was the son of Joshua and Sarah (Coffin) Bayley. On October 16, 1745, he married Prudence Noyes, daughter of Ephraim and Prudence (Stickney) Noyes.
The family removed to Hampstead, New Hampshire. During the French and Indian War, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the New Hampshire Provisional Regiment, and spent the fall of 1755 scouting the area around Lake Champlain. He was promoted to Captain and raised a company that was among the defenders at the siege of Fort William Henry in August of 1757. When the British surrendered, the French promised that their Indian Allies would honor the agreement and not attack. However, the terms of capitulation were violated and the Native Americans attacked the British soldiers and their dependents as they withdrew, killing many soldiers and capturing women, children, servants and slaves. Captain Bayley was among those who managed to escape. The Provincial Assembly of New Hampshire awarded him £14, 11s, 6p for his losses during the retreat, which included his shoes.
Gradually, the war turned in favor of the British. Captain Bayley participated in General Amherst’s capture of Fort Carillon and of Montreal in New France, which essentially ended the fighting in North America. By the end of the war, Bayley had been promoted Colonel
With the war over, in the fall of 1760 Bayley and three hometown friends and fellow officers – Captain John Hazen and Lieutenants Jacob Kent and Timothy Bedel – left Montreal to go home. On their travels, they found a location at the Oxbow, an extension of the Connecticut River, that they decided to make their new home. In the summer of 1761, Bayley, Hazen and some hired hands cleared the fields around the Oxbow. The first four permanent settlers arrived in February of 1762. On May 18, 1763, Benning Wentworth, colonial governor of the Province of New Hampshire, granted them charters for Newbury (named after the hometown of Bayley and the others) and Haverhill, on opposite sides of the Oxbow. A dispute over land titles, which found Bayley and Ethan Allen on opposing sides, exacerbated by religious and other differences, resulted in mutual animosity between the men.
On May 22, 1776, the Committees of the Counties of Cumberland and Gloucester, New York, nominated then Colonel Bayley for the position of Brigadier General of the state militia of those counties. The promotion was approved was approved by the New York Provincial Congress on August 1, 1776.
During the Revolutionary War, Brigadier General Bayley, corresponded with George Washington on numerous occasions (63 letters can be read in their entirety at Founders Online, an official website of the United States government administered by the National Archives and Records Administration), first regarding constructing the Bayley Hazen Military Road, then about the situation in Canada and a possible second invasion attempt.
Brigadier General Bayley and Colonel Moses Hazen built the Bayley Hazen Military Road, starting in 1776, to support a second invasion of Canada that never materialized. In the fall of 1777, Brigadier General Bayley was appointed Commissary General of the Northern Department of the Continental Army. He had maintained friendly relations with the St. Francis Indians since the French and Indian War. This aided in the Patriot cause since they provided him important intelligence on Burgoyne’s army during the Saratoga Campaign. This enabled Brigadier General Bayley to keep Generals Schuyler and Gates informed about the size and movement of Burgoyne’s force, which played a role in Continental Army’s victory at the Battles of Saratoga.
In the early 1780s, the British were conducting the secret Haldimand Negotiations with the Vermont Republic. Because of Bayley’s implacable opposition to negotiations with the British, an attempt was made to take him prisoner and take him to Canada, but it narrowly failed. Bayley’s neighbor, Colonel Thomas Johnson, had earlier been captured by the British and released on parole, but he violated his parole in 1782 to forewarn Bayley. To make matters worse, Ethan Allen was one of the Haldimand negotiators, which further exacerbated his relationship with Bayley.
Brigadier General Bayley served to the close of the war. After the war, Brigadier General Bayley served as a Judge for a number of years and on the Vermont Governor’s Council.
Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914) p. 92; State of New Hampshire, Provincial and State Papers, Volume XVIII, (Manchester, 1890) pp. 558, 683, 712; Founders Online; Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, ( New York, 2011), 532; J. & J. M. Poland, Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont: General conventions in the New Hampshire grants … July, 1775 to December, 1777. The first constitution of the State of Vermont. Council of Safety … July 8, 1777, to March 12, 1778. Record of the Governor and Council, 1778-1779. (New York, 1873), 373; “In 1781, Vermont’s Thomas Johnson Got Trapped Between the Americans and the British,”; United States Congressional Serial Set. 4431. United States Government Publishing Office. 1903, 390; Jacob Bayley, Newbury, VT, Founder & Revolutionary General; Selected Wartime Service Records for Brigadier General Jacob Bayley.