Ensign Joseph Fay, Sr., 3rd Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line
Joseph Fay, Sr. was born September 27, 1738 in Westborough, Massachusetts. He was the son of Gershom, Jr. and Hannah (Oaks) Fay. John married Lucy Warren, daughter of Thomas and Lydia (Mixer) Warren on July 24, 1762 in Westborough. The happy couple’s family expanded with the birth of their first child, Joseph Jr., that December. Eight children followed, the last being born in April 1776. The couple had removed north to Walpole, New Hampshire by this point and were in the process of settling in with their seven living children.
Joseph Fay, Sr. initially enlisted in Colonel Bedel’s New Hampshire Rangers in February 1776 and was promoted to Sergeant. Sergeant Fay was commissioned as an Ensign in Captain John Gregg’s Company in the 3rd Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line on November 8, 1776.
By the spring of 1777, Ensign Fay and his regiment were stationed at Fort Ticonderoga / Mount Independence and awaiting a probable British invasion from Canada. Joseph Fay, Jr. joined his father at this time – in March 1777. Joseph, Jr. had enlisted for a 3-year term as the company’s fifer, at age 14.
The British invasion manifested in late June and the Ticonderoga / Mount Independence garrisons were evacuated. The Northern Army retreated south throughout the summer until, finally, it set up defenses at Bemis Heights (about 25 miles north of Albany) and awaited the British attack. The British advanced on September 19 and the subsequent Battle of Freeman’s Farm was fought. The 3rd New Hampshire Regiment was hotly engaged and took a great number of casualties in the fighting, including Ensign Joseph who was severely wounded in the thigh. He was “shortly after carried to Albany.”
It was in Albany’s General Hospital that Joseph’s leg was deemed unable to be saved and had to be amputated. Many people who endured the pain and trauma of this type of surgery survived and indeed, Joseph “was thought to be recovering” after the surgery. However, his condition took a terrifying turn in the dark hours of November 2, when his “ligatures slipped off the stump, and he bled to death.”
Joseph, Jr. was extremely traumatized with what happened to his father that he was immediately furloughed home. He remained there for about a year, after which he rejoined his regiment and served out the remainder of his term.
Ensign Joseph Fay, Sr. was probably buried in Albany. He was 39 years old. Lucy later petitioned New Hampshire for support due to Officer’s widows. She was granted seven (7) years half-pay for an Ensign amounting to Two Hundred and Fifty-two Pounds on December 1, 1786.
A memorial to Ensign Joseph Fay, Sr. and his wife, Lucy (née Warren), exists in Village Cemetery, Walpole, New Hampshire.
Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914), 223; Pension of Ensign Joseph Fay, Sr.; The State of New Hampshire, State Papers, Volume XVI, (Manchester, 1887) pp. 20, 22, 191, 212, 333, 382; Selected Wartime Service Records for Ensign Joseph Fay, Sr.