Wednesday, July 3, 2013


How much do you remember about the Revolutionary War? 
Do you tend to think, as I did, “stuff in general but not very much specifically?”  But when you learn that someone in your family fought in it, you want to know more.  So when I discovered a paper that said my great-great-great-great grandpa Leonard Keeling Bradley became a prisoner of the British in that war, I wanted to know more. 

The document above is a bit hard to read here.  If you double-click on it, it will enlarge.  It says this:

I do hereby acknowledge myself to be a Prisoner of War, upon my Parole, to his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton and that I am thereby engaged until I shall be exchanged, or otherwise released therefrom, to remain at my plantation in the Parish of St. Jude in the county of Surry in the province of North Carolina and that I shall not in the mean Time do, or cause any Thing to be done, prejudicial to the Success of His Majesty’s Arms, or have Intercourse or hold Correspondence with his Enemies; and that upon a Summons from his Excellency, or other Person having Authority thereto, that I will surrender myself to him or them at such Time and Place as I shall hereafter be required.  Witness my hand this 20th Day of May 1780.
                                                             Signed:  Leo’d Bradley Lt.

I’d had this document a long time and I thought I had read it carefully, but I never paid any attention to the dates to see what was going on when he was taken prisoner.  Come to find out, it was dated May 20, 1780, right after the famous Siege of Charleston.  The loss of the city and its 5,000 troops was a serious blow to the American cause.
Later I found a copy of a court document in Missouri, written for the federal government when Leonard Keeling Bradley was 77 years old as a prerequisite for getting a military pension.  I read it with renewed interest. 

A portion of it says: “March 1780 - at this period an attack upon Charleston was daily expected.  In order to prepare for its defense, Gov. Rutledge applied to Col. Litle to raise a regiment out of Eaton’s Brigade, N. C. Militia.  The battalion was raised and this applicant [Bradley] again entered the service as Lieutenant…under Col. Archy Litle and Major Benjamin Harbishan, continental officers.  There we remained and stood the siege of Charleston, under Gen. Lincoln, until the 12th day of May, when we were surrendered prisoners of War, and the regiment under Col. Litle were parolled on the 20th day of May 1780… until the General Exchange of Prisoners in the summer of 1781…”
It goes on to note that my 4 times great-grandpa Leonard Keeling Bradley served during the long years of the Revolutionary War seven different times for a total time of 44 months, not counting the year he was a prisoner.  And as an aside, I learaned from other court documents that it wasn’t until after the war, in 1785, that Bradley married and began his family.

Our 4th of July festivities happen because July 4, 1775 is when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  There were plenty of skirmishes and fighting going before that date on that caused our forefathers to decide to declare our independence from Great Britain, and much more fighting for many years afterwards to secure it.  My heritage includes people in it that helped make it happen. 
I suspect that many of you have those same kinds of people, Patriots all; you just don’t know about them. 

1 comment:

Olga said...

I know that my family history in this country only goes back to the early 1900's, but not much else. I don't even know where to begin to try to find out more.