On May 4th, 1775, my 4th great grandfather enlisted in the Revolutionary War. Asa Benjamin joined at Worthington, MA. He served eight months as a private and was discharged on December 23, 1775. He re-enlisted and was discharged six times from first enlistment to his final discharge in 1781.
Asa was born in Preston, New London, CT in 1754. He descended from the Benjamin family that came to America with John Winthrop and the Great Puritan Migration in 1632.
It was during one of his re-enlistments that Benjamin transferred to Valley Forge, PA on March 19, 1778 and served in the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard protecting George Washington. The Guard was an elite group of soldiers who were chosen to protect against a surprise raid on Washington’s headquarters.
On March 11, 1776, General Washington issued the following orders:
“Head-Quarters, Cambridge March 11, 1776
The General is desirous of selecting a particular number of men as a guard for himself and baggage. The Colonel or Commanding Officer of each of the established regiments, the artillery and riflemen excepted, will furnish him with four, that the number of wanted may be chosen out of them. His Excellency depends upon the Colonels for good men, such as they can recommend for their sobriety, honesty and good behavior. He wishes them to be from five feet eight inches to five feet ten inches, handsomely and well made, and as there is nothing in his eyes more desirable than cleanliness in a soldier, he desires that particular attention be made in the choice of such men as are clean and spruce. They are to be at headquarters tomorrow precisely at 12 o’clock at noon, when the number wanted will be fixed upon. The General neither wants them with uniforms nor arms, nor does he desire any man to be sent to him that is not perfectly willing or desirous of being in this Guard. – They should be drilled men.”
After serving for a few months in the Guard, Benjamin returned home to work on his farm. He soon re-enlisted and eventually earned the rank of lieutenant.
An historian talked to Asa’s great grandson, Reuben, who recalled having seen the old uniform that his ancestor had worn. “It was moth-eaten and worn and was hung in the barn. It was finally torn up as rags for some use around the farm. It may have been used in wiping off the spindles of the carriage when grease anew.”
Asa Benjamin and his family moved to Pierpont, Ashtabula Co., OH in 1811. He died on December 28, 1825 and is buried in the family plot in Pierpont’s Hall Rd. (Sam Brown) Cemetery.