The Lost Journal of Private Freeman Judd

The War Years (1775-1783)

September 25, 2018
by Mark Sullivan Also by this Author


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Over the years, historians have located about thirty first-hand accounts of the American expedition into Canada in the fall of 1775. These accounts detail the hardships encountered as the Americans marched through the wilderness in an attempt to capture the British stronghold at Quebec. There may be other journals that have not yet been discovered; the originals in private collections or lost with the passage of time. One that may exist but has yet to be found is the journal of Pvt. Freeman Judd.

Freeman Judd was born in Watertown, Litchfield County, Connecticut, on August 10, 1755, one of ten children of Stephen Judd. Freeman followed his father’s trade as a carpenter and joiner. Not long after the Battle of Lexington, he enlisted on April 25, 1775 with two of his brothers, Daniel and Eben, in Capt. Benedict Arnold’s company of Connecticut militia. He volunteered for the Quebec expedition as a private in Capt. Oliver Hanchett’s Company and continued in the service up until 1781, serving in the Connecticut Continental line and the militia.

After the war, Freeman moved to Norwalk, Connecticut, and married Deborah Boughton on September 7, 1786. He next removed to Catskill, then to Harpersfield, and around 1791, to Blenheim, Schoharie County, all in the state of New York. Many relatives of Freeman also relocated to the Blenheim area including his four brothers, Thomas, Erastus, Eben and Stephen Judd.[1] In 1816, Freeman removed to Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1818 to North East, Erie Co., Pennsylvania, and finally in 1838, he settled in Lockport, New York. He died at the house of his son, Alfred B. Judd,[2] on March 5, 1840, in his eighty-fifth year.[3]

Freeman became deeply interested in religion about 1791, and attached himself to the Methodist church. He preached in various places,[4] and at the same time supported his family by his trade. He was known as being eccentric in some of his opinions and habits.[5] His obituary gives some insight to his life and death.

In this village on the 5th instat. The Rev Freeman Judd, age 85 years. Notwithstanding the deceased had arrived at an age far beyond the ordinary duration of human life, his health and vigor were but little impaired; his death was occasioned by scalding his feet in an attempt to lift a kettle of soap from the fire. The scald was a severe one, and baffled all attempts at cure, or allaying the inflammation it had excited. The deceased was a soldier of the revolution, and at the time of his death was in receipt of a first sergeant’s pension. He to be sure, received a small pension, but with valid claims for property lost, he has been unsuccessful in his applications to Congress. Within the last ten years, he has made three journeys on horseback to Washington besides several journeys to Philadelphia and Connecticut, on business connected with his pension and claims for beef cattle furnished to the army at Trenton, and a negro slave killed at Yorktown. Several of these journeys were taken in the most inclement season of the year.[6]

Freeman filed a disposition for a Revolutionary War pension claiming that

In the year of the Lord 1775 in April not long after the Boston battle Freeman Judd of Watertown did enlist in the Revolutionary War at New Haven and marched to Grofton and joined the regiment at Roxsbury and did duty there. Entered the continental expedition for Quebec and marched through the wilderness where we got out of provisions and ate our dogs and the broth of our cartridge boxes with every other things that men in a state of starvation could make out of. Walked several days barefooted in the snow. Some perished. Marched to Quebec. Was in the engagement when Montgomery fell. After the defeat of the American Army and capture of most of Arnold’s regiment who survived, took the small pox, and surviving that calamity, his term of service having expired again, he joined Capt. Smiths Company and was discharged and got home the last of June 1776.
He enlisted in July 1776 as a sergeant in Col Bradley’s Connecticut Regiment. Was in the battles of Norwalk when that place was burned by the British. Also in the Battle of West Chester, 1779.
In March 1780 enlisted as a SGT in Captain Stodard’s Company in the continental troops for three years. I was engaged in recruiting in the western part of Connecticut. I was very successful in recruiting and sending a number of recruits to the Army. Late in the fall then went to the army with a negro that I purchased with my own money.[7]

The pension application of Freeman Judd. (Author)

His brother, Eben Judd, furnished support to Freeman’s claim, saying “When Col. B. Arnold took the detachment from Washington’s army to pass the wilderness for Quebec, two of the brothers, Daniel and Freeman, joined the detachments in Capt. Hanchett’s Company. They passed the wilderness and both were in the action in the attempt to storm Quebec on 31 December 1775. Freeman returned the last days of June 1776.”

Phinehas Buckingham also provided a supporting statement. Buckingham said he served with Freeman and moved to Schoharie County after the War. “The said Freeman and his brother marched through the wilderness with Col. Arnold; they ate dogs, had lost their rations, and went through all that can be expected from inclement weather above the 45 degree of N. So latitude. Marching without shoes or stockings. Freeman and Daniel were in the battle before the walls of Quebec. Daniel never returned; Freeman returned about June 1776.”

Freeman also filed a claim to the House of Representatives seeking reimbursement for his losses.[8] He claimed that “he was a recruiting sergeant in the revolutionary war. In the year 1778 he purchased a negro in Darby, Connecticut, of Mr. Mays with his own money by the name of Robben and gave about three hundred dollars in good money and took him with other recruits to the continental army and enlisted in Col. Swifts regiment[9] for the war and to be free at peace. He further testifies that the said Robben, the negro, died in the army at Valley Forge.”

The Lost Journal
Did Freeman Judd write an account of his expedition to Quebec? That is the unanswered question that remains even today. The first reference to a possible journal was made by Freeman Judd in a letter to the Mr. James L. Edwards, Commissioner of Pensions, in 1828.[10] Freeman was inquiring about his pension and he made reference to a “woods book containing my voyage through the woods” with Arnold in 1775.

To Mr. Edwards, who has the care of the pensions,
You will remember that seven years ago I was at Washington and left my woods book with Mr Eaton, Sec of War. I wrote to you to locate the book. I am informed by Capt. Brigers of the US Army that Mr. Eaton will visit Washington and beg that you get the book from him and get it for me.

This implies that Freeman used the woods book to justify his claim. Judd initially thought he had given it to Edwards but then subsequently realized that he had given it to Secretary of War John H. Eaton. He is asking Mr. Edwards, Commissioner of Pensions, to get the book from Eaton when he comes to Washington.

In another letter written to Mr. Edwards on May 5, 1830, Freeman asks about “my 1775 journal that my brother and Mr. Stocking kept through the woods when I was with Arnold. It was at Mr. Eaton’s office. I let him have it. It is in print. If it is not too much trouble if you can get it and send it to me.” The Mr. Stocking referred to is Abner Stocking who was in the same company headed up by Captain Hanchett with the Judd brothers. Stocking did keep a journal which was published in 1810 by his relatives in Catskill, New York.[11] Freeman Judd was living in Schoharie County at this time. He may have seen a copy of it.[12]

The next reference to a journal was made in 1856. Sylvester Judd published a family history of Thomas Judd and his descendants. Thomas Judd settled in the Hampton area of Connecticut in 1633 or 1634. In his book Sylvester Judd traces the Judd family and says: “Freeman and his brother Daniel volunteered in the Quebec expedition under Col. Arnold, and were in the attack upon Quebec, Dec. 31, 1775. They kept a journal of their proceedings from Boston to Quebec, which was printed.”[13]

Finally, there was a reference to a journal of Freeman and Daniel Judd in the November 12, 1949 edition of the Antiquarian Bookman. It has the following listing from the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston: “Freeman and Daniel Judd. Journal of the Expedition to Quebec (Under Benedict Arnold, 1775-1776).” Some copies of the journal were published and sold to the public and the Old Corner Bookstore may have had a copy for sale.[14]

Recent Search
In 2016 the author was researching the Old Jefferson Cemetery in the town of Jefferson, Schoharie County, New York. Buried in this cemetery are several Revolutionary War soldiers and their families. The Judd family has many ancestors buried in the cemetery, including Stephen Judd, a younger brother of Freeman. A son and daughter of Freeman are also buried there, Mary Judd (died 1795, aged six), and Infant Judd (died 1796). Further research on Freeman Judd found the references to a possible revolutionary war journal, and an extensive search was started to locate it.

Many historical societies, museums, and libraries were contacted inquiring about locating the actual Freeman journal, including the Boston Public Library, Massachusetts Historical Society Library, Massachusetts Archives (Boston), the American Antiquarian Society, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, The Library of Congress, and the Connecticut State Library to name a few.

The author also contacted the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, which contains the collections of author Sylvester Judd. The fifty-six volume collection consists of handwritten copies of original documents including Connecticut state and town records and papers, portions of diaries, genealogical materials, military papers, account book excerpts, religious records, Native American materials, and other significant records of the period from roughly 1630 to 1800. Each volume runs 200 pages or more and is packed with original documents which Judd copied by hand. Elise Bernier-Feeley, Local History and Genealogy Librarian, Forbes Library, said “I have checked the existing indexes and find no journal or diary listed under Freeman Judd, Daniel Judd, Stephen Judd, Judd Family-Military Service, Westbury, Capt. Hanchet, Quebec, Canada, Quebec Expedition, Military Expeditions, Battles, American Revolution, War of the Revolution, Diaries, Journals, Notebooks, or Military Affairs.”[15]

Also contacted was the prominent historian on the expedition to Quebec, Stephen Darley, author of Voices from a Wilderness Expedition: The Journals and Men of Benedict Arnold’s Expedition to Quebec in 1775. This is the definitive history which provides details on the lives of the men who participated and the journals that recorded the hardships of the march. Darley searched around the world trying to locate the extant journals written by participants of this military operation. He had not heard of any diary or account written by Freeman or Daniel Judd. “In my research, I did not find any journal, diary, or letter of Freeman Judd regarding his experiences on the expedition. If such a record exists, I was unable to find it. I did extensive research so if it is in any library or historical society I would have found it. It is possible that one of his descendants may have it in their private collection.”[16]

Mr. Darley was extremely helpful in the author’s research, with suggestions on other possible locations to search. One area he suggested was the Lockport and Niagara, New York, region, the area where Freeman spent his final days, hoping to locate an ancestor who might have some knowledge on Freeman Judd.[17] The author contacted the Niagara County Historian’s Office, the Niagara County Historical Society, Niagara County Genealogical Society, the Lockport Irondequoit DAR Chapter, the Lockport SAR chapter, and the Buffalo & Erie Co. Historical Society.

On a long shot, the author joined the Niagara County Genealogical Society (NCGS). A benefit of being a member of NCGS is the one-time “Look-up Program” offered to new members. A search of the NCGS files and library was requested for anything on Freeman Judd. About a month later a letter arrived from NCGS.

“My Brother and I”
In the files of the NCGS is a seven page document entitled, “Autobiographical Notes of Freeman Judd. A Diversionary Expedition.” It was typed up by A. Milne Judd in October 31, 1981. Albert Milne Judd (1906–1996) was a great-great grandson of Freeman Judd, the ancestor line passing through Freeman Judd’s son, Albert B. Judd. A. Milne Judd was a prominent businessman in the Lockport area, purchasing agent for the Simonds Saw and Steel Company, and president of the Chamber of Commerce. He wrote a weekly column in the newspaper on business topics and local history.

The “Notes” contain an end note stating that “All dates and places are accurate. Freeman’s thoughts are conjectures but in light of circumstances are entirely probable. Memories passed by word of mouth through four generations.”

Freeman Judd began his account:

My brother and I were stationed at Boston during the stalemate preceding the Battle of Breed’s Hill. We had enlisted on 6 May 1775 and were serving under General Wooster in his regiment of Connecticut volunteers when a call came for a thousand or so men to perform a diversionary attack upon the citadel of Quebec. The group chosen for the Quebec strike was to be under the command of Colonel Benedict Arnold, a leader of unquestioned courage and daring. He was enthusiastic, bold, and very athletic, and appealed to Daniel and me as a man who could lead us in and out of the gates of hell, if need be. We volunteered and soon found ourselves en route to Newburyport, Mass with about 1,100 others, many of whom were destined to remain forever on Canadian soil.

Freeman continued that the “little group” set out from Cambridge en route to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where they embarked and set sail to the mouth of the Kennebec River. There they ascended the river by canoes and bateaux as far as the Dead River. They then cut a trail through the wilderness to the Chain Ponds until reaching the Chaudière River which flows into the St Lawrence, a few miles south of Quebec.

Men died along the long march passing the Chain of Ponds on the way north to Chaudière. Shallow graves were dug and passages read from the Bible over departed comrades. I had Daniel and he had me. Had either of us been alone I am quite sure we would have perished. Dysentery and flux were our enemy as we had lost all medical supplies days ago. How I wished we were back home in Waterbury with our father and mother!

There was no game to be seen, either on the ground or overhead, as birds in the sky and all other small game had been driven into hiding by the rain and wind. It was about this time that some of the men began to eye Captain Dearborn’s big black dog. He was a faithful companion to the captain and had on many nights slept close to his master to keep him warm. The captain was a compassionate man and realized the importance of the survival of his men. Reluctantly he turned the animal over to them. This sad meal, shared by all except the captain, must have saved many men from starvation as it was the last solid food they received before reaching the St. Lawrence.[18]

On November 8th, after a march of six miles, we reached Point Levi on the Saint Lawrence directly opposite Quebec. The total march had taken six long weeks and the survivors, 650 in all, were mostly barefoot, uniforms in tattered rags, scant coverings for bodies emaciated and hardly recognizable from starvation and exposure. No officer other than Benedict Arnold could have led us so heroically.

Men in our sad condition were not fit to fight and orders came down the chain of command that we would await the arrival of Gen Montgomery, Schuyler having been removed because of bad health, before making any move against the enemy.

Word finally came that the General was on his way from Montreal with a force of 400 men, all that could be spared from that beleaguered post. The two armies met at Pointe aux Tremble, a little way above Quebec, on Dec 2, 1775. We were issued new uniforms and after cleaning ourselves up, our morale was, to some extent, restored.

The two armies were to join in the heart of the Lowertown driving up the steep, twisting slope into Uppertown. The time was set for the attack was just after dawn on the last day of the year, Dec 31, 1775. The reason this date was picked was that many of the six months enlistments expired on that date. Daniel’s and mine, however, were up on December 20 when we were along the Chaudière River. Our thoughts at the time were more concerned with lack of food than with the expiration of our enlistment. Perhaps at that moment had I the gift of clairvoyance I would have encouraged Daniel to join me in the long trek back to Connecticut. But we had come to fight and it seemed pointless to go home on a flimsy excuse. Daniel and I discussed this point of ethics and we agreed that our true course lay in holding to our original resolve.

Freeman described the attempt to take Quebec, feeling very disappointed that the attack failed. He said that “only a single shot was fired but Gen Montgomery had been leader of the advance party and now lay lifeless in the roadway. His men, now leaderless, filed in panic and confusion.” He did not say if he was captured and taken prisoner. He remained in Quebec with others awaiting further orders.

Thus ended the attempt at taking Quebec by a band of enthusiastic young Americans whose destiny was disillusionment or death. Daniel and I, though lucky to be alive, lived in misery within sight of our dream. Under a flag of truce attempts were made to negotiate release of the prisoners and it was during this time that the British sent out from the city a prostitute who was infected with smallpox. Soon two or three of the men came down with the dread disease which raged through our miserable camp like a grass fire. Our medical supplies were almost nonexistent and none could be begged from the British.

During the third week of January Daniel took sick. He never rallied and on the second day of February, 1776, he died. We laid him to rest in a quiet spot not far from where he and I had spoken many times of home. He was just two weeks past the age of twenty-four.[19] My chief reason for remaining at Quebec City was now gone and, after clearing with the new adjutant, I, with a few others, left for Montreal. When I reached headquarters in that city I gave my musket, two bayonets and my cartouche box to the sergeant in charge there. These items were my personal property and were worth four pounds, New York money. I was given a receipt for them dated April 26, 1776.[20]

The search for the actual Freeman Judd account will continue. Hopefully one day it can be added to the list of accounts of the expedition to Quebec in the fall of 1775.

Grave stone of Freeman Judd at Cold Springs cemetery, Lockport, New York. (Author)

[1]Last Will and Testament of Stephen Judd, Town of Jefferson, Schoharie County, New York, February 7, 1816. Stephen Judd was one of the founders of the Town of Jefferson. He donated land to the town for the creation of Jefferson Academy “in promoting the education of youth.” He was a colonel in the militia, a justice of the peace, and a judge of the county court. He died June 8, 1821 and is buried in the Old Jefferson Cemetery.

[2]Alfred B. Judd (1835 – November 1904) kept a store near the head of the locks on Canal Street. He was a lieutenant in the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry, Company G, during the Civil War, “wounded seriously in the right side at the battle of Cedar Mountain, Va., Aug 9, 1862.” Civil War pension, 817555.

[3]“My grandfather, Freeman Judd, was a soldier of the revolution and is buried in the Cold Springs cemetery at Lockport. His grave is near the southwest corner of the cemetery and can be easily found, having a fair sized headstone giving his name, etc. A. B. Judd.” Union Sun, January 30, 1904.

[4]“A Society Class met at the log house of Freeman Judd, near ‘The Hollow,’ in West Jefferson.” Troy Conf. Methodist Archives, Delaware Circuit Record Book.

[5]It is said he was expelled from church at one time, so he made himself a pair of stilts over twenty feet long, got upon them and walked around the church during the service, attracting the congregation all out the door and breaking up the meeting.

[6]Freeman Judd obituary, Union-Sun and Journal.

[7]Revolutionary War Pension Files, National Records and Archives Administration, M804, Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration, Freeman Judd pension, W21500.

[8]Private Claims Presented to the House of Representatives from the 20th and 21st Congress, file code HR21A-G19.1 and 21A-G12. Both claims were rejected, adversely reported by the House.

[9]Heman Swift was a Revolutionary War hero and was known as General Washington’s Colonel. He carried the wounded Lafayette off the Brandywine battlefield. Colonel of the Connecticut State Regiment, July to December 1776, Colonel of the 7th Connecticut from 1777 till June 1783 and brevetted brigadier-general on September 30, 1783, he served until December 1783.

[10]Freeman Judd pension, W21500.

[11]An interesting journal of Abner Stocking of Chatham, Connecticut (Catskill, NY: Eagle Office, 1810).

[12]See J. Smith’s Arnold’s March from Cambridge to Quebec: A Critical Study Together with a Reprint of Arnold’s Journal on the timeline for Abner Stocking’s journal, 41-42.

[13]Sylvester Judd spent most of his life pursuing the history and genealogy of the area. He was known to walk twenty to thirty miles in a day. He talked to families along the way about their homes and their family histories. He created family genealogies from those conversations and town records. Upon his death, he left fifty-six volumes, “The Judd Manuscript,” which is available on microfilm and in the genealogy room of the Forbes Library, Northampton.

[14]Antiquarian Bookman, Vol 4 (Newark, NJ: R. R. Bowker Company, 1949).

[15]Email from Elise Feeley, Monday, May 15, 2017.

[16]Email from Stephen Darby, Friday, March 24, 2017.

[17]Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, March 20, 1904: “ANOTHER ‘REAL’ DAUGHTER. Margaret Judd Hovey, celebrated her eighty-ninth Birthday. Mrs. George D. Forsyth yesterday celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday of her mother, Mrs. Margaret Judd Hovey. Mrs. Hovey’s father, the late Captain Freeman Judd, served in the War of the Revolution. The ‘real’ daughter of the Revolution received her friends in a room adorned with the Stars and Stripes. Margaret Judd was born in Jefferson. In childhood she removed with her parents to Erie, Pa., where the former captain followed his calling, that of Methodist minister. There Miss Judd married to John L. Hovey. The young couple took up their abode in Lockport, N. Y.”

[18]Journal of Captain Henry Dearborn in the Quebec expedition, 1775 (Cambridge, MA: J. Wilson and Son, 1886). Dearborn mentions that two dogs were eaten here including his own black dog.

[19]In Thomas Judd and His Descendants, Daniel Judd’s date of birth is given as January 17, 1752, making him two weeks past his twenty-fourth birthday.

[20]Freeman Judd is one of those reported as “having lost a musket in Arnold’s detachment,” Rolls and Lists of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, 1775-1783 (Hartford, CT: Connecticut Historical Society, 1901), 92.


  • Excellent article Mark. You have uncovered a story of an unknown journal of the Arnold expedition to Quebec. Just when we thought all known journals had been identified. Good work!

  • In my notes of items to look for someday I have a reference to the Jonathan Judd Diary, vol. 2 1773-1782, at the Forbes Library. Don’t know where I picked this up.

  • Mark,
    Interesting article. Following up on the sentence: “After the defeat of the American Army and capture of most of Arnold’s regiment who survived, took the small pox, and surviving that calamity, his term of service having expired again, he joined Capt. Smith’s Company and was discharged and got home the last of June 1776.” Could you share anything more in reference to Judd’s service in Smith’s Company? Smith would be Matthew Smith of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, commanding one of the three rifle companies in Arnold’s Army. The other two were Hendrick’s, also from PA, and Morgan’s from Virginia. Smith was likely one of over a 100 soldiers who were ill and unable to participate in the 31 Dec attack. Smith assumed responsibility for many of the survivors in a task organized command during the winter of 1776, but there is little available on this command. Your sentence referencing Smith is one of the few in print, and based on the source, could be a primary source document. Smith, an interesting man, has become a long-term research project for me. Thanks.

    1. Sir,
      That sentence came from Freeman Judd’s pension application. Freeman did not give any more details on his service with Cpt Smith, just said that he joined “Captain Smith’s company.” Steve Darley has a detailed list of Soldiers with Arnold in 1775/76.

  • Mark,
    Thank you. Very interesting article about Freeman Judd. I am a direct descendant of Oliver Hanchett. I have a copy of his commission from the Continental Congress and some information about the expedition to Quebec and would like to know more. I have the Kenneth Roberts books and some information from a family genealogy. If a diary is discovered, Mr. Judd may have written comments about Oliver. I hope the diary will surface.
    Thanks again.

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