William Scott

Major William Scott,1st Regiment New Hampshire Continental Line

William Scott was born in May 1743. He was the son of Alexander Scott who was one of the earliest settlers of Peterborough, New Hampshire. William was born in Townsend, Massachusetts where he and his mother were living while Alexander was preparing their residence in Peterborough.

            When he was seventeen years old in 1760, William Scott enlisted in the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment under the command of Colonel John Goffe. He was discharged December 8, 1760. He re-enlisted into Captain Farrington’s company of the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment on June 2, 1761, and served till January 1, 1762. William Scott’s total service in the French and Indian War was one year and over three months.

When he heard of the Lexington battle, he was on a journey stopping in Groton, Massachusetts. He enrolled a company of “minutemen” from New Hampshire and was elected their captain. Captain Scott assisted his cousin, also named William Scott, in recruiting a company at Cambridge, in April, 1775. William Scott was commissioned a First Lieutenant in Colonel James Reed’s 3rd New Hampshire Regiment.

In the Battle of Bunker Hill he was severely wounded. He was sent to Breed’s Hill on the night of June 16th to assist in the construction of the redoubt. Early in the action his leg was broken by a grape shot, but he continued to fight, and encourage his men, and when he could stand no longer, sat on the ground and pared bullets to fit the guns of his soldiers. When the enemy were within a few feet of him he attempted to retreat, but getting hit by four more balls in his body and limbs, he fainted from loss of blood, was taken prisoner and carried to Boston.

When the British evacuated the city in March 1776, his wounds were partially healed, but he was placed in irons, taken to Halifax and thrust into jail. In July, with several of his companions, and equipped with a gimlet, bayonet and an old knife, they broke jail by digging out under the walls. The group took to the woods where they separated. Six of them, including William Scott, reached Tours, at the head of the Connecticut River, and procured a boat to sail away. Four others, who escaped with them, took the road to Windsor, but were recaptured and returned to jail. Lieutenant Scott and his companions reached Boston about July 25. He rejoined the Continental Army near New York City. He was part of the garrison of Fort Washington when it was taken. He tied to sword to his neck and his watch to his hatband. He swam nearly a mile and a half to Fort Lee and was one of the few defenders who evaded capture. He was offered a Captaincy in Colonel Henry Jackson’s Additional Continental Regiment (also known as the 16th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment) but preferred to stay in the New Hampshire Line. William Scott was commissioned as a Captain in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, Continental Line on November 8, 1776. He was charged with raising a company from in and around Peterborough, New Hampshire.

When Major Jeremiah Gilman was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and transferred to the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment on September 20, 1777, Captain William Scott was promoted to Major and assumed Gilman’s former billet.

In one source, it is stated that Major William Scott left the service of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment and entered the Continental Navy aboard the Frigate Dean. This is erroneous as Major Scott appears on the 1st New Hampshire’s payrolls up to January 1, 1783, and in his official position as a Major in the regiment. Furthermore, the following letter was written by him in the Autumn of 1783 to the Paymaster of the New Hampshire Line, First Lieutenant Thomas Blake, asking him to dispose of his horse that he had left at Albany:

Albany, Nov 13th, 1783

Sir: I send my horse and saddle and bridle by Mr. Connely. If you are not supplied he is at your service, at your own price. If you do not need him, please to dispose of him, and whatever your trouble may be I will endeavor to reward you. Enclosed is one of Beadle’s certificates which if you can convert to any use will add to the many obligations I have already experienced.

I am sir, yours, etc.,

Wm. Scott

P.S. Please present the compliments of this family to John. Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Betsey present their best compliments to you and hope to see you in a few days.

To Lieut. Thomas Blake,

West Point

This letter serves to show that Major Scott must have continued with the 1st New Hampshire Regiment until after the peace.

He never returned to Peterborough, New Hampshire. On retirement from the army he settled in Schenectady, New York and opened up a general store. He remained there for 1784, 1785, and part of 1786. Major Scott then moved to Saratoga County and became a farmer, though he was disabled from manual labor due to the numerous wounds he received in the service of his country. He applied for a pension in 1792, but it was not granted until 1807.

His first wife was Rosanna Tait (Tate) and his second wife was Charity Gilliard who he married in 1790. He had two children, John and Lewis, who were both born in Peterborough and were by his first wife. After the war, both sons went with him to New York. He died in Greenfield, New York in 1815.           

Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914), 359; Frederic Kidder, History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Revolution (Albany, 1868), 105-09; Jonathan Smith, Peterborough New Hampshire in the American Revolution, (Clinton, Mass. 1913), 316-24; Selected Wartime Service Records for Major William Scott.