J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

David Coy Remembers His Service in April 1777

On 11 Mar 1853 a man named David Coy appeared before a magistrate in Kendall, New York, and swore that in 1777 at the age of eighteen he was drafted from “a Regiment of Militia to go and serve as a soldier in Rhode Island…, to serve as he believes for three months.” His commanding officer was Capt. Ezra Parsons.

But Coy admitted “That he has no dockumentary evidence; that he knows of no person whose testimony he can procure who can testify to his service.” All he had to convince the officials overseeing the pension system that he had genuinely served was the vivid authenticity of his memories.

Coy therefore offered up details of his weeks in military service more than three-quarters of a century before. For example, David Coy recalled that the date when his unit arrived in Providence was 1 Apr 1777 because of this recollection:

A boy came up to the Capt. and said, gentlemen, you have lost your kneebuckle,

the Captain looking said, no, I have not.

“on the other knee said the boy”

no that is not lost said the capt.

the boy running off said “April fool”.
Even Judge Samuel Sewall would have to acknowledge that April Fools’ joke ended up having some value.

Coy also recalled “That the General commanding at the time of his serving on that station he thinks was Spencer, who was at Providence and he thinks was not a brave man as they used to call him granny Spencer.” More on Joseph Spencer’s nickname here.

(I first met up with David Coy’s pension record as transcribed by Paula Naujalis. This week I checked the file and transcribed it myself.)


John Johnson said...

Did he get his pension?

J. L. Bell said...

I believe he did. He didn't serve for long, but he was applying so late that the law didn't require as much service in the Continental forces as previous laws. Just to make it interesting, another David Coy from another New York county has another pension file.