MAJOR Moses SEYMOUR, of Litchfield, Conn., born at Hartford, Conn., 23 July 1742, died at Litchfield, 17 Sept. 1826 in 85th year; married at Litchfield, 7 Nov. 1771, MOLLY MARSH, born at Litchfield, 24 Nov. 1752, died there 17 July 1826, daughter of Col. Ebenezer and Deborah (Buell).
His education was obtained in the common and grammar schools of Hartford. The grammar school was an exceedingly good one endowed by Governor Hopkins. He early left school to learn the business of furrier and hatter as an apprentice. About the year 1765 or 1766, he removed to Litchfield where he carried on the same business in conjunction with that of general merchandising and farming, until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when he gave up the greater part of his own business and devoted himself almost exclusively to military and public affairs.
Speaking of Litchfield in those days, Kilbourn in his history, page 113, says: “Litchfield was the home of a remarkable number of highly educated and leading men, some of whom were already distinguished and others who were destined to act an important part in their country’s history. Indeed, no town in the State could boast of a community more refined, intelligent or patriotic. Within our present town limits resided Oliver Wolcott, Andrew Adams, Reynold Marvin, Taping Reeve, Isaac Baldwin, Samuel Lyman, Isaac Baldwin, Jr., Elisha Sheldon, John Pierce, Jr., Dr. Adam Little, Lynde Lord, Rev. Timothy Collins, Rev. Judah Champion, Dr. Samuel Hopkins, Dr. Reuben Smith, Moses Seymour, Timothy Skinner, Abram Bradley, William Stanton, Ambrose Collins, Elijah Wadsworth and Ephraim Kirby, all of whom and many more were conspicuous as public men and patriots. To this goodly company were soon added Oliver Wolcott Jr., Ashbel Baldwin, Ezekiel Woodrufi, Col. Benjamin Tallmadge, Julius Deming, Senator Uriah Tracy, Aaron Burr and Dr. Daniel Shelton, all of whom became residents here before the close of the war. Sixteen of the above number were graduates of Yale College, and one, Judge Reeve, of the College of New Jersey; three were members of the State Council; four were members of the National Congress or became such; seven were captains of the Revolutionary Army, and four arose to the rank of general officers; two became Chief Justices and two, Governors of the State.” . . . . Of the ladies of the town, their melting into bullets the leaden statue of George the Third, is a matter of common history, and one incident only will be added. Mrs. Chauncey Goodrich was a daughter of Governor Wolcott and a sister of Oliver Wolcott, Jr. Of the people of the town of Litchfield, there were in attendance upon Congress and other duties at the National Capitol, Senators Tracy and Allen, Goodrich and Governor Wolcott. At a reception of Mrs. Washington’s, Mr. Liston, the then British Ambassador, who was thoroughly English in his ideas, said to Senator Tracy, “Your countrywoman, Mrs. Goodrich, would be admired even at St. James.” Senator Tracy retorted, “She is admired even on Litchfield Hill.”
It was in such a community and surrounded by persons of such character and ability, that Major Moses Seymour began his public career, and it is no small tribute to his own attainments that he so quickly obtained and retained recognition as a leader. As early as 1774, he became identified with the town as one of its officers, and continued almost uninterruptedly in some public office until his death. In 1789, he was elected Town Clerk, an office to which he was annually re-elected for thirty-seven years. He also served as a member of the House of Representatives from Litchfield from 1795 to 1811. He was greatly interested in securing for this State that portion of Ohio called “Western Reserve,” and subsequently creating the “School Fund” from the sale of those lands.
In May, 1775, the General Court of Connecticut reorganized its military department. The troops in the towns of Litchfield, Goshen, Torrington and Winchester were constituted a regiment by themselves, called the Seventeenth Regiment, which regiment subsequently became a part of Connecticut’s quota of the Continental Army. Of this regiment, Jedediah Huntington was appointed colonel and Moses Seymour captain of a troop of horse attached to the regiment. At this time Connecticut had no cavalry regiments as such, but there was attached to each infantry regiment a troop of horse.
At the Lexington alarm in April, 1775, all of the Connecticut regiments east of the Connecticut River were ordered out and hurried forward to Concord. At the same time the regiments west of the Connecticut River were ordered to be in readiness to march at a moment’s notice. August llth, 1776, when the British troops were concentrating around Long Island and New York, at the urgent request of General Washington, Governor Trumbull and the Committee of Safety of Connecticut ordered all the regiments west of the Connecticut River to proceed at once to New York and place themselves under the immediate command of General Washington. The Seventeenth Regiment in which Moses Seymour was Captain of a troop of horse, in obedience to this command, marched immediately to New York and were participants in the Battle of Long Island, August 27th, 1776, being in General Parson’s Brigade in General Spencer’s Division, and also in the attack on Fort Washington in November of the same year, where many of them were captured and for a long time held in confinement as prisoners of war.
During the Fall of 1776, the Council of Safety detached the several companies of light horse from the various infantry regiments to which they were attached, and formed a regiment of Cavalry or Light-Horse, which was placed under the command of Colonel Elisha Sheldon of Litchfield. In this troop, Captain Seymour commanded a company, and during November and December, 1776, was with his company under Colonel Sheldon protecting General Washington’s retreat through New Jersey.
In the following year, April, 1777, the British having attacked and burned Danbury, Captain Seymour hastened from Litchfield with his troop of horse, and followed and overtook the foe in their retreat just below Bethel, and repeatedly attacked and pursued them until their re-embarkation at Norwalk. In the Fall of 1777, General Wolcott, upon a requisition from General Gates, sent all the unemployed regiments and troops in Connecticut an exhortation rather than a command to join him “in going Northward” to the assistance of General Gates. In explanation of his conduct to Governor Trumbull, he frankly admits that “it was without law or precedent,” but that he deemed the crushing of Burgoyne of the utmost consequence, not only in the cause of the Revolution, but particularly so for the protection of New England. In obedience to this summons, Captain Seymour with his company of light horse joined General Wolcott, and fought through the Battle of Bemis Heights, Stillwater and Saratoga, taking a conspicuous part in the entire campaign. Returning one day from a skirmish with the British troops, Captain Seymour came across an English officer, who had been wounded and left on the field by his countrymen. Captain Seymour not only relieved his necessities, but finally took him into his own tent and cared for him. Soon after the officer inquired of Captain Seymour the result of the day’s fighting, and on learning that the British had been repulsed, he remarked, “Then the contest is no longer doubtful, America will be independent.”
So far as the writer has been able to discover, it was through Captain Seymour that the world was given the following story: The officers of General Gates’ Army gave an entertainment to General Burgoyne and his staff after the surrender at Saratoga. During the supper, being pressed for a toast, General Burgoyne finally arose amid expectant silence and said, “America and Great Britain against the world.”
In July, 1779, when Governor Tryon made his attack on New Haven and Fairfield, Captain Seymour, again with his company of light-horse, went from Litchfield to the defence of these places. During the entire war, Litchfield was a military depot of supplies of considerable importance, and a station where prisoners of war were kept confined. It was constantly kept guarded by a considerable military force. It was on one of the main lines of communication between Philadelphia and Boston after the capture of New York. The seacoast was practically at the mercy of the English Navy, and everything was removed inland as far from the coast as practicable in order to be secure from a Naval attack and the incursion of the English landing from their ships of war.
This military depot was first under the command of General Joseph Trumbull, who was alike the first Commissary General of the Committee of Safety of Connecticut, and of the Continental Congress. Ashbel Baldwin, Oliver Wolcott, ]r., and General William Richards of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, were at various times the quartermasters and commissary generals under General Trumbull and his successors in command of this depot.
During the entire war, when not engaged as hereinbefore described, Captain Seymour was stationed at Litchfield as Assistant-Deputy Quartermaster General and Assistant-Deputy Commissary—General in charge of these supplies and the prisoners of war there confined. There was confined in his own house for some time the loyal Mayor of New York, David Matthews, and the latter’s letters to his wife and others, printed in Force’s Archives give a pleasant picture of both Major Seymour and his wife. He says, “Ever since my arrival here, I have been at the house of Captain Moses Seymour, who together with his wife, have behaved in the most genteel, kind manner, and have done everything in their power to make my time as agreeable as possible. They have nothing of the Yankee about them. He is a fine merry fellow, and she is a warm protestant (puritan?), and if it was not that the thoughts of home were constantly in my mind, I might be happy with my good landlord and his family to whom I wish you could send some tea, if it were possible, as there is none to be bought here.”
Governor Franklin, New Jersey’s traitor governor, and Mrs. Theodosia Provost, wife of Colonel Provost, a distinguished British officer,who subsequently became the wife of Aaron Burr, were among the most noted prisoners confined at Litchfield. There was at one time a large body of Hessian troops, who had been captured, also detained there.
Captain Seymour was employed, not only in storing and guarding supplies, but in the purchase of them, and in the superintendence of their transportation to whatever point they might be ordered by competent authority. In the early part of the war, probably 1776, he built a large addition or shed attached to his house for storing of provisions and ammunitions of war, which remained until the house was torn down in 1859.
In September, 1781, we find him with his dragoons guarding a train of wagons loaded with supplies for the French Army, from Litchfield to Fishkill. In the Comptroller’s office in Hartford is a very interesting document, given by Jujardy N. Granville, who was the French Commissary General in the Army of Rochambeau, in which the General not only acknowledges the receipt of certain supplies, but “Certifies beside, that the said Captain Moses has taken a great care for the security of our convoy and baggage while he stay with us, till this place. Dated at Fishkill, September 22nd, 1781.” In 1783 he retired with the rank of Major.
Of Major Seymour’s personal appearance, one well acquainted with him wrote about the time of his death, “In personal appearance, he was little above the ordinary height, somewhat slender but otherwise well proportioned, with a countenance marked by a quick piercing eye and by a mouth expressive of uncommon cheerfulness. His habits were regular and temperate, and the first glance at him discovers a happy air of health, bodily activity and strength. His dress was studiously neat, plain and carefully adjusted. He pertinaciously adhered through life to the queue, small clothes, shoe buckles, with white top boots, which belonged to the style of the last century.”
About the year 1800, bitter controversies arose among the Presbyterians, and Major Seymour took refuge from them in the Episcopal Church, to which he continued warmly devoted through life.
He died at Litchfield in 1826, having reached the ripe old age of eighty-five years. He lived to see his country independent and prosperous, his children respected and honored; one a United States Senator from Vermont, one a Canal Commissioner of the State of New York, constructing the Erie Canal with DeWitt Clinton, two high sheriffs of their native county, and his only daughter the wife of a distinguished Episcopal clergyman.
Will of Moses Seymour of Litchfield, dated 27 Feb. 1821, proved 17 Oct. 1826, named wife Molly and six children, viz.——Clarissa Marsh, Moses Seymour, ]r., Ozias Seymour, Horatio Seymour, Henry Seymour, and Epaphroditus Seymour. Charles Seymour was a witness. Codicil dated 11 May 1826 stated that his son Moses had deceased and directed that his children should receive their father’s share; Samuel Seymour was a witness.
[The foregoing account of Major Moses Seymour is substantially that compiled by his great-grandson, the late Morris W. Seymour, of Litchfield, who was greatly interested in the history of the family and justifiably proud of the achievements of his forbears. Major Moses lived in what came to be known as the “Old Seymour Homestead” on South Street in Litchfield. On his marriage to Molly Marsh in 1771, they went to live in this large, comfortable, frame house built in 1735 either by Colonel Ebenezer Marsh, Sr., Molly’s father, or by Thomas Grant, and here in this house they thereafter lived until they died, and here all their children were born. The house, which was demolished in 1855, was plain to bareness, but had an engaging air of simplicity and solidity. A reproduction of a daguerreotype made of the house shortly before it was demolished, is included in this volume, also portraits by Ralph Earl (1751-1801), of Major Moses, Molly Marsh his wife, their son Moses, and their daughter Clarissa, who married the Rev. Truman Marsh. The originals of these portraits, except that of Moses Seymour, ]r., hang in the long parlor of the Chief-Justice Seymour house on South Street, Litchfield.—G. D. S.]
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On 23 Feb 2019 at 17:25 GMT Don Osborn wrote: