Historic Valley Forge

Who Served Here?

General Jedediah Huntington

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Painting by John Trumbull
engraved by A.H. Ritchie
from a Genealogical Memoir of the Huntington Family; 1863

Jedediah Huntington was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1745 to General Jabez Huntington, a prosperous merchant in trade with the West Indies. Jedediah graduated from Harvard College in 1763, and delivered the first English oration at his graduation commencement. After graduation, he went into business with his father.

As the unrest between England and the colonies grew, Jedediah joined the Sons of Liberty in 1769. He was a member of the first Norwich military company and the Connecticut Assembly made him an ensign. By 1771 he was promoted to lieutenant and three years later in 1774 was appointed captain. Later he was chosen to serve as colonel of the 20th regiment of militia. In the early spring of 1775 his regiment was ordered to Boston, and he served there until the British evacuated in 1776.

In June of 1775, Huntington's wife, Faith, witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill, and fell into a serious depression upon witnessing the true horrors of war. Huntington, stationed in Boston with his troops, brought his despondent wife to the nearby community of Dedham where he could visit. Sadly, her depression grew worse and on November 24, she hanged herself.

When the orders came that the American army was to proceed to New York, Huntington entertained Washington and Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut at his home. Throughout the Revolution, Huntington entertained various famous personages at his home including Lafayette, Steuben, Pulaski, Lauzen (aka Biron) and Chastellux.

Boats in the harbor during the battle of Long Island

From Harpers, 1876

In 1776 he became colonel of the 17th regiment of the Continental Army, which fought in the Battle of Long Island, the first major battle of the Revolution to occur after the United States declared their independence. Although the Americans put up a spirited defense, the British eventually won the battle and took control of the island, while Washington, Huntington and the rest of the remaining American army escaped to Manhatten.

During the spring of 1777, Huntington and Benedict Arnold were part of an expedition to harass the British near Danbury. In May of the same year Congress appointed him Brigadier General in the Continental Army.

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After the Battle of Germantown on October 4, Washington moved around the Philadelphia region. On October 11, the Continental Army was located at Towamensing, and it was there that Huntington joined them from Peekskill, New York. His troops were brigaded with other troops, but he retained command. The historical sequence of his service at Valley Forge is best found in the pages of General Weedon's Orderly Book of Valley Forge.

The Trial of Anthony Wayne

On October 19th, 1777, Huntington oversaw the trial of several non-commissioned officers. Headquarters were established in Upper Dublin as of October 24th. It was here that a reluctant Washington issued the following orders yielding to the request of Anthony Wayne for a Court Martial trial regarding the Paoli Massacre (September 20, 1777):

The General Court Martial whereof General Sullivan is appointed President is to sit tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock at the President's Quarters for the trial of Brigadier General Wayne upon the charge against him — That he had timely notice of the enemy's intention to attack the troops under his command on the night of the 20th ult. And notwithstanding that intelligence neglected making a disposition until it was too late; either to annoy the enemy, or make a retreat without the utmost danger and confusion.

In addition to Huntington, Washington appointed as members of the court: Generals Muhlenberg, Weedon and Conway, Colonels Stephens, Dayton, McClennachan, Stewart, Bradley, Davis, DeHart and Thackston. After careful examination Wayne was acquitted with the highest honor and Washington approved the verdict.


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