Smallpox by Inoculation: The Tragedy of New York’s Rosewell Beebe

The War Years (1775-1783)

November 17, 2022
by Philip D. Weaver Also by this Author


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The day following the legendary taking of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775, Lt. Col. Ethan Allen reported the successful mission to New York’s Albany County Committee of Safety, as well as plead for their immediate assistance:

I have the inexpressible satisfaction to acquaint you that at day-break of the tenth instant, pursuant to my directions from sundry leading gentlemen of Massachusetts-Bay and Connecticut, I took the fortress of Ticonderoga, with about one hundred and thirty Green Mountain Boys. Colonel Easton with about forty-seven, valiant soldiers, distinguished themselves in the action, Colonel Arnold entered the fortress with me side by side. The guard was so surprised, that contrary to expectation they did not fire on us, but fled with precipitancy. We immediately entered the fortress, and took the garrison prisoners, without bloodshed, or any opposition. They consisted of one Captain, and a Lieutenant and forty-two men.
Little more need be said. You know Governor Carleton of Canada will exert himself to retake it; and as your County is nearer than any other part of the Colonies, and as your inhabitants have thoroughly manifested their zeal in the cause of their Country, I expect immediate assistance from you both in men and provisions. You cannot exert yourselves too much in so glorious a cause. The number of men need be more at first, till the other Colonies can have time to muster. I am apprensive of a sudden and quick attack. Pray be quick to our relief, and send us five hundred men immediately—fail not.[1]

The Albany Committee noted on May 12, that

We received a Letter Signed Ethan Allen by the Hands of Mr. [John] Brown acquainting us of the taking Ticonderoga, upon which we wrote a Letter to the Committee of New York by Captn. Barent Ten Eyck express and each of us paid him a Dollar a piece for going—The Draft of Letter is on fyle.[2]

The following day, the Albany Committee recorded the receipt of two letters from the New York Committee of Safety, which went into session when the New York Provincial Congress was out of session. These letters prompted the Albany Committee to reply to Allen via John Brown, who was still in town:

We have now received an Answer from our Brethren at New York, who agree with us to use their own Words, that the Powers invested in them and us, are too limitted to permit either Body to take an Active step in the Matters proposed, before we have the Opinion of the Provincial or Continental Congress.[3]

On May 18, Brown delivered to the Continental Congress a quantity of letters that provided them important intelligence. At their request, Brown also presented them his observations regarding “the disposition of the Canadians, the taking of Ticonderogo and the importance of that post.” The resulting resolution, states in part:

Resolved, Whereas there is indubitable evidence that a design is formed by the British Ministry of making a cruel invasion from the province of Quebec, upon these colonies . . . this Congress earnestly recommend it to the committees of the cities and counties of New York and Albany, immediately to cause the said cannon and military stores to be removed from Ticonderogo to the south end and of Lake George; and if necessary to apply to the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, and Connecticut, for such an additional body of forces as will be sufficient to establish a strong post at that place and effectually to secure the sd. cannon and stores or so many of them as it may be judged proper to keep there.[4]

A week later, on May 25, the Albany Committee passed a resolution to send troops to Fort Ticonderoga:

Agreeable to a recommendation from the Continental Congress—It is resolved that a sufficient Body of Forces be raised and enlisted under the Command of such officers as shall be approved of by this Board and that they with all possible dispatch proceed to Ticonderoga.[5]

Records are sparse, but five companies of the “Albany County Provincials Employed for the Common Defense of the Continent of North America” were raised to aid Allen. Capt. Hezekiah Baldwin commanded one of these. It was regionally recruited in southeastern Albany County, which today is southern Rensselaer County. Second in command was 1st Lt. Nathaniel Rowley, who was backed up by 2nd Lt. Rosewell Beebe. These three officers were commissioned “by authority from the Committee of Albany” on May 25 and ultimately “by Warrant from the Congress” on June 28.[6] It was not until October that the New York Provincial Congress requested the dates of service and the names of the troops who were “raised by the Committee of Albany & went on Service before the 28th of June” in order “that their Commissions may be so dated as to save their pay.” The Albany Committee confirmed these men were paid thru June 23 and that Baldwin, Rowley, and Beebe actually went into service on June 3.[7]

Meanwhile, in a June 2 letter to the New York Provincial Congress, the Albany Committee noted that they had

raised several companies to go up to Ticonderoga, &c, two of which are on their way up. This we did in consequence, first, of the resolution of the Continental Congress of the 10th ulto.; secondly, of the letter from the New-York committee enclosing said resolve dated 20th ult.; and thirdly, Col. Arnold’s letter to us requiring immediate assistance; but on our receipt of the above letter from Govr. Trumbull, we are in great doubts with respect to our men already raised in this county, and those who stand ready to march up. As we know not the nature of the resolve you have sent to Govr, Trumbull, and his letter contains a clause that these one thousand forces are to continue at Ticonderoga, &c. until relieved by troops from this Colony, &c. We should be extremely glad to have plain explicit instructions from time to time, that we need not wander astray and act counter to your intentions and the general good of the public.[8]

Moses Myer, a private soldier in Capt. Joel Pratt’s company, notes that while his company arrived at Albany from Hillsdale, New York, “they were joined by the three companies under the command of Capt Fisher [Visscher], Capt White and Capt Baldwin.”[9] These four companies set out for Fort Ticonderoga, but on June 6 were ordered by the Albany Committee to stop their advance at the south end of Lake George until further orders.[10]

Baldwin and Capt. George White were among the officers at a council of war at Crown Point on June 10 who signed a letter to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia reporting how the advance force was doing in the fight against the British.

We, whose names are prefixed above, do in council approve of and nominate Colonel Ethan Allen, Captain Seth Warmer, and Captain Remember Baker, to meet you in Congress, to consult and have your advice upon this move, which we have understood that you have approved; we are now in possession of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. And this day, at five o’clock, our armed sloop and schooners arrived here and furnished us with intelligence, that about three hundred of the Regular forces were at St. John’s, fortifying and intrenchingupon the Grants, near this place. We think it might be practicable, in case of emergency, to raise about five hundred men, in case (as they are poor) of encouragement. Colonel Allen has behaved, in this affair, very singularly remarkable for his courage, and must, in duty, recommend him to you and the whole Continent.[11]

With the front line pushing the advantage following the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, it seemed illogical to call back the companies, especially Baldwin’s and White’s who were already there. This is easily discerned in one of three barely legible letters Beebe’s wife retained from her husband. He wrote on June 16 that “our Company [Baldwin’s] is now encamped in the woods on the East Side of Lake George . . . We have been to Ticonderoga and by orders have returned back again to this place until having orders from the Committee of New York in order for the Yorkers to be in Regiments.”[12]

In late June, the New-York Provincial Congress started the process of arranging 3,000 men into four infantry battalions as part of the Continental army establishment of 1775. Each battalion was divided into ten companies recruited regionally. The companies from the Albany area were named the 2nd battalion, whose field officers were to be Col. Goose Van Schaick, Lt. Col. Peter Yates, and Maj. Peter Gansevoort “Jr.” Their companies, together with Cornelius Van Dyck’s, formed the nucleus of the unit.[13]

About a month later, Van Schaick sent an accounting of the number of troops recruited for his regiment to the Provincial Congress. In the report he noted that

Transcription of a return of the Second Provincial Regiment in the Colony of New-York, July 24, 1775, found in Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York: 1775-1775-1777 (Albany, NY: Thurlow Weed, 1842), 2:68.

The five first companies on this return, are those raised by the committee of this city and county, who are now on actual service at Lake George and the posts adjacent, from whence General Schuyler has ordered an officer out of each company down the country to complete the levies of those companies. The officers of the last five companies on this return, have but lately received their warrants, and are now raising men in this and the neighbouring counties. . . . It is impossible for me at present to say when my regiment will be ready to take the field, as I cannot determine with what success the recruiting officers will meet.
You may depend upon me that nothing will be wanting on my part to expedite the completing of the Regiment as I am convinced that the circumstances of the country admit of no delay.[14]

The chart included with this report shows that Baldwin’s company was comprised of just thirty-two rank and file, plus three sergeants, the two lieutenants, and the captain.[15] As these numbers were roughly half the desired seventy-two for a company in the new 2nd New York, they needed to recruit.

As the junior lieutenant, Rosewell Beebe was likely to be tasked with increasing the number of recruits needed to fill the ranks. There is nothing of this duty in any official records, but one of Beebe’s men, Samuel Doty, mentioned a leave that Beebe was on where he would, indeed, do some recruiting afterwards:

Lieut. Rosewell Beebe, after an absence of some weeks returned home to Kings district with recruiting orders; this deponent having now obtained liberty from his master immediately enlisted as a private in the aforesaid company and on the return of Lieut. Beebe to the Army this Deponent accompanied him and in the regiment commanded by Colo. Goose Van Schaick. Sometime in the month of August at Fort George; at this place this deponent and the aforesaid Lieut. Beebe continued to perform the duties of soldiers until late in the fall when they took the Lakes and went by water to Montreal in Canada.[16]

Beebe’s wife confirmed his recruiting trip to his home district saying that “her husband after being absent for about a month or six weeks returned home with recruiting orders, and did enlist a number of men in the vicinity of New Concord, after remaining with his family and friends for about two weeks he left . . . .”[17]

Plan of Part of Fort George with the Barracks &c., 1759, Mary Ann Roque. Original Source: A Set of Plans and Forts in America, 1765, Capt. Hezekiah Baldwin’s company was stationed here most of the Summer of 1775

This would not be Beebe’s only leave. Baldwin’s company muster roll, dated October 13 at Fort George, lists Beebe as being “Absent by Leave” with no explanation.[18]

Beebe himself does not appear again in the documentary record until November 2, when Yates, second in command of the 2nd New York and ranking officer at Fort George, sent him north from there with a parcel of watch coats for the use of the New York forces located between there and Fort Ticonderoga. With five coats to be distributed per company, it had to have been a good-sized parcel.[19]

In addition, Yates wrote to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to inform him of the plan and that he, and apparently Beebe, were open to sending the watch coats to the army to the north. Yates also gave Beebe a nice little compliment in his memo to the general.

I send in Charge of Lieut Roswell Beebe a parcell of Watch Coats for the use of the New York forces if you think fit to forward them to the army the Bearer Being a Carfull & Deligent officer & deserious of proceeding if you should think proper.[20]

Following the fall of Fort Chambly to the Congressional forces on October 18, the area in and around Montreal became a hotbed of activity. Troop movements between locations were not uncommon. Companies of the 2nd Battalion of Yorkers could find themselves arriving at one location only to move to another the next day.

Baldwin’s company finally moved north again and arrived at Fort Ticonderoga on November 13, joining White’s company which had arrived the day prior. Both companies “imbarked” for St. Jean on November 14.[21]

Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery’s branch of the Continental army’s Canadian campaign strategy had not been going well. Despite the brief and successful siege of Fort Chambly that ended on October 18, the siege of Fort St. Jean took two and a half months. Ending on November 3, the St. Jean siege was an accomplishment that had taken far too long to achieve. The assault on the walled city of Quebec was yet to come and it was getting colder every day. Enlistments were expiring. Exact dates varied, but most of the men would be out of the army by year’s end.

In an attempt to combat this, Montgomery made an announcement through his aide-de-camp, James Van Rensselaer:

The General embraces this happy occasion of making his acknowledgments to the troops, for their patience and perseverance during the course of a fatiguing campaign. They have merited the applause of their grateful countrymen. He is now ready to fulfil the engagements of the publick. Passes, together with boats and provisions, shall be furnished, upon application to commanding officers of Regiments, for such as choose to return home. Yet he entreats the troops not to lay him under the necessity of abandoning Canada; of undoing in one day what has been the work of months, and of restoring to an enraged and hitherto disappointed enemy the means of carrying a cruel war into the very bowels of their Country. Impressed with a just sense of the spirit of the troops, their attachment to the interest of the United Colonies, and of their regard to their own honour, he flatters himself that none will leave him at this critical juncture, but such whose affairs or health absolutely require their return home. He has still hopes, notwithstanding the advanced season of the year, should he be seconded by the generous valour of the troops, hitherto highly favoured by Providence, to reduce Quebeck, in conjunction with the troops which have penetrated by way of the Kennebeck River and thereby deprive the Ministerial Army of all the footing in this important Province.
Those who engage in this honourable cause shall be furnished completely with every article of clothing necessary for the rigour of the climate, viz: a blanket coat, coat, vest, breeches, one pair stockings, two shirts, leggins, socks, shoes, mitts, and cap, at the Continental charge, and one dollar bounty. The troops are only requested to engage till the 15th of April. They shall be discharged sooner, if the expected re-enforcements arrive before that time.[22]

Those who did not take Montgomery’s offer to extend their enlistments were left to their own devices when their original enlistments expired. One of the officers who missed out on the extension opportunity was Beebe, but instead of going home, he re-engaged on January 1, 1776 for an additional four months with the Connecticut forces. Doty explained that

Their time of engagement and service having expired on the first of January 1776, at this time Captain Hezekiah Baldwin and Lieut. Nathaniel Rowley, having returned home Lieut. Rosewell Beebe was promoted to the Rank of Captain and [Sergeant] Lathrop Allen to a Lieut. Captain Rosewell Beebe raised a company for 4 months to this company, this Deponent immediately enlisted and performed the duties of a private in the aforesaid Rosewell Beebe’s Company . . . .[23]

From Montreal on January 1, Beebe wrote to his wife explaining his extended enlistment and his hope for a future with her upon returning home in the Spring:

I once more write to let you know that I am well and healthy I was never So fat in my Life as I am at this present time. I am Returned in our morning Reports Present fit for Duty thanks bee to God that I can thus Write with truth and I hope these Lines will find you and our Children in as good a State of health as they Leave me . . . . I have nothing strange to write at present But what Capt. Baldwin as he is Coming home can Relate. I have Engaged to Serve my Country till the fifteenth of April Next to Be Dismist Sonnor if the Service will admit. I am in hope to come home Some time this winter if the troops arrive which are expected if not I shall return home in April if alive and well. I want to [hear] from you But don’t Expect I shall Before I Return as we are a great Distance from Each other —[24]

Beebe was to command the ninth company of Brig. Gen. David Wooster’s new Provisional regiment.[25] This short-term understrength regiment would serve as a landing place for soldiers who wanted to continue serving through the winter, but whose enlistments had expired. It consisted mostly of Connecticut troops, but also some New Yorkers. A number of Baldwin’s old company, like Doty, would follow Beebe into the new regiment.[26]

Historians generally agree that the December 31 assault on Quebec City was a complete disaster. Many of the troops under Col. Benedict Arnold’s command were killed or captured, while those under Montgomery retreated after he and a number of others were killed by an opening cannon shot.

The newly organized Canadian department of the Continental army, often referred to as the “army in Canada,” was in deep trouble after failing to capture Quebec.[27] Their intended commander, Montgomery, who unbeknownst to him had been promoted to major general on December 9, was now dead.[28] The British were expected to send a relief force to break through to the now besieged Quebec and, with many not taking Montgomery’s reenlistment offer, most of the troops were leaving the theater.

Even though they were far away in Philadelphia, Congress was fully aware of these issues. On January 8, they resolved to consolidate the rest of the regiments remaining in Canada and to start moving fresh troops into the area. The attempt to hold the line was on.[29]

While Arnold commanded the forward areas surrounding Quebec, the lesser-known Wooster, from Connecticut, was in charge at Montreal. Well into his mid-sixties, Wooster was a bit of an enigma. He was a brigadier in the Continental army, while at the same time a major general of Connecticut’s forces. He also simultaneously commanded a regiment, initially the 1st Connecticut regiment in 1775 and then the aforementioned provisional regiment in early 1776.[30]

In the midst of all this, smallpox was spreading thru the ranks of the Continental army. This was not an ideal situation for starting a revolution, but concern about a smallpox epidemic was already growing throughout colonial America. Given the limited technology of the day, there were only two options for protecting against the contagion: quarantine and inoculation.

As early as December 1775, the New York Provincial Congress made it clear what option they preferred:

Ordered, That no person whatsoever do inoculate for the Small-Pox within this Colony, until the further order of this Congress; and that the several Committees in this Colony, within their respective Districts, carefully observe that there be a punctual compliance with this order.[31]

General orders to the Continental troops before Quebec on February 11, probably issued by Arnold, indicated the concern about the spread of smallpox:

Whereas the repeated orders given to prevent the spreading of that fatal disorder the Small-Pox, have been in a great measure disregarded; it is ordered that the commanding officer of every company immediately send such of his company as are seized with it to the Hospital; and all soldiers who shall know of any persons with that disorder in their private quarters, and do not make immediate complaint thereof to the Barrackmaster, shall be treated as neglecting their duty, and guilty of a breach of orders.[32]

Arnold also submitted a status report to John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. In that report, he explained that

We have been reinforced with only one hundred and seventy-five men; our whole force is about eight hundred effective men. We have about two hundred sick and unfit for duty, near fifty of them with the small-pox. The Canadians, in most of the Parishes, mount for their own safety.[33]

Two weeks later, Arnold sent a similar report to Gen. George Washington with the main army outside Boston. In this one, he indicated that the smallpox numbers were quickly changing. He also added his concerns about the command situation.

I am sorry to inform you, notwithstanding every precaution that could be used, the small-pox has crept in among the troops; we have near one hundred men in the Hospital; in general it is favourable, very few have died. I have moved the inhabitants of the vicinity of Quebeck into the country, and hope to prevent its spreading any further . . . . As General Schuyler’s ill state of health will not permit his coming this way, I was in hopes General Lee, or some experienced officer, would have been sent to take the command here. The service requires a person of greater abilities and experience than I can pretend to. General Wooster writes me his intention of coming down here; I am afraid he will not be able to leave Montreal. I have the pleasure to inform you my wound is entirely healed, and I am able to hobble about my room, though my leg is a little contracted and weak. I hope soon to be fit for action.[34]

By March 15, things were still changing. Another general order, presumably from Arnold, was issued. This one, however, noted that some of the officers and men were defying orders and getting inoculated.

As the spreading the Small-Pox at this juncture will probably prove the, entire ruin of the Army, the officers are desired to take all possible care to prevent it, by keeping the men from strolling from their quarters.
The Surgeons of the Army are forbid, under the severest penalty, to inoculate any person. And as many officers and men are preparing for the small-pox, it is said with an intention of taking it by inoculation; to prevent the fatal consequences attending such conduct, those who are found guilty, if officers, will be immediately cashiered; if private soldiers, punished at the discretion of a Court-Martial.[35]

In “A Return of the Troops before Quebeck . . . ,” dated March 30, Arnold numbered 2,505 men spread among fifteen regiments, with 786 of them sick. At least 501 of them were reported sick from “Small-Pox by inoculation.” Clearly someone had not gotten the word from Arnold about only quarantining.[36]

“A Return of Troops before Quebeck, in the service of the United Colonies, March 30, 1776,” Transcription of enclosure in a letter from Col. Benedict Arnold to Gen. George Washington, April 20, 1776, Peter Force, ed., American Archives (Washington, DC: 1837-53), 4th Series, 5:1098-1100. The listing for Van Schaick’s is for the remnants of the old 2nd New York (1775) and not his new battalion.

Further investigation will be necessary to determine where these regiments were located at the time, but it is unlikely they were all specifically at Quebec. Since fifty of these men were from Wooster’s regiment in Montreal; the suspicion is that some were at, or transferred from, Montreal, and were probably inoculated there. It remains an open question if this was done per orders, doctor’s instructions, or by the men themselves.

Beebe was not among the men counted on that list as being sick from “Small-Pox by inoculation.” Doty explained that he was

under his [Beebe’s] command till the smallpox [illeg.] in the Continental Army, Captain Rosewell Beebe was there [Montreal] inoculated with it and died of the same on or about the 23 day of March 1776. The command then fell on Lieut. Lathrop Allen under him This deponent served until the 2 Day of May 1776 completing his engagement–Lieut. Allen was made Captain and this deponent continued in his Company and Joined Colo. Samuel Elmores Regiment of the Connecticut line some time in the month of June 1776 this Deponet subsequently marched to Fort Stanwix and continued in Lathrop Allen’s company and Elmore’s Regiment for one year.”[37]

Following the campaign, Beebe’s name was included in an official document that named the New York officers who were erased from the rolls “either on the account of promotion, resignation or death.” The undated list has Beebe twenty-second out of the forty original second lieutenants in the 1775 New York Continental line.[38]

Outside of the information found in his federal pension application and some official documents, there appears to be no recognized record of Beebe’s brief service in 1776 and his tragic death. He is listed in Heitman’s Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, but only for his service with the 2nd New York in 1775.[39]

The Society of the Cincinnati was organized in 1783 as the first veterans’ fraternal organization established in the United States. Its original purpose was to facilitate fellowship, friendship and recognition for veteran officers of the Continental army and navy. They also lobbied Congress for promised benefits, such as land-grants and back-pay. Veteran infantry and artillery officers were eligible to belong if they had served to the end of the war, resigned honorably after a minimum of three-year’s service, were downsized out of the army (known as “derangement”), or died in the service. After a member’s death, the Society provided for his eldest direct male descendant to replace him. If an officer had no son, they provided for the admission of the closest male relative. The Society also allowed for the admission of “the eldest male branches” of officers who had died in service on the same basis as the children of members.

The Society continues today as a multi-branch not-for-profit organization that supports American history education, as well as cultural and literary activities.[40]

Having quietly passed away while in the service, Beebe was understandably overlooked for posthumous membership by the Society of Cincinnati. As a New-York resident he could have been inducted into the New York branch, or because he was a Connecticut officer at the time of his death, he could have been made a posthumous member of Connecticut’s branch.Either way they chose, he deserves recognition by the Society.


[1]Ethan Allen to Abraham Yates, Chairman of the Albany Committee of Safety, May 11, 1775, Peter Force, ed., American Archives (Washington, DC: 1837-53), 4th Series, 2:606 (American Archives).

[2]Meeting Minutes, May 12, 1775, Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence 1775-1778(Albany, NY: The University of the State of New York, 1923), 1:31 (Minutes of the Albany Committee). John Brown was a Massachusetts attorney who took part in the taking of Ticonderoga. Known as Major John Brown, he would command the forces that besieged Fort Chambly in the fall of 1775. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of Samuel Elmore’s (unnumbered) continental regiment in 1776, but later resigned his commission. He returned to the Massachusetts militia and was later killed at the Battle of Stone Arabia (New York) in 1780. For more on Barent Ten Eyck see

[3]Meeting Minutes, May 13, 1775, ibid., 1:32.

[4]Congressional Resolution, May 18, 1775, Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905), 2:55-56 (Journals of the Continental Congress). The message delivered by Brown was presumably from either Allen or, perhaps, Philip Schuyler, but that has yet to be determined.

[5]Meeting Minutes, May 25, 1775, Minutes of the Albany Committee, 1:40.

[6]A Muster Roll of Captain Hezekiah Baldwins Company of the Second Regiment of the New York Forces . . . at Fort George, October 13, 1775, Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783, National Archives Microfilm Publications, M246, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Records Group 93, Roll 67, Folder 19 (Baldwin’s Muster Roll). Commissary receipts, Henry I Bogart Papers, Folder 8, New York State Library, Albany, NY. Receipts signed by company officers themselves are the source for this unusual aggregate name. There appears to be no official correspondence, from the Albany Committee, regarding this company until they took the field.

[7]Proceedings—October 1775, Entry for October 13, 1775, Minutes of the Albany Committee, 1:269-273. Letter from the Albany Committee, enclosing a memorandum of the Officers elected, October 21, 1775, Correspondence of the Provincial Congress, &c., Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York: 1775-1775-1777 (Albany, NY: Thurlow Weed, 1842), 2:97 (Journals of the Provincial Congress).

[8]Albany Committee to the Provincial Congress, June 2, 1775, ibid., 1:29.

[9]Deposition of Moses Myer, August 22, 1832, S.14002, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, Record Group 15, National Archives Building, Washington, DC (National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, Roll 1798), (Pensions).

[10]The Militia, Albany County, New York in the Revolution, Berthold Fernow, ed., (Cottonport, LA: Polyanthos, Inc., 1972), 261, previously published as Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Co., 1853–1887), 15:261 (Documents Relating). Meeting Minutes, June 6, 1775, Minutes of the Albany Committee, 1:66-67. These captains were Joel Pratt (, John Visscher (a.k.a. Fisher), George White, and Hezekiah Baldwin.

[11]Letter to the Continental Congress of North America, June 10, 1775, Force,American Archives, 4th Series, 2:957-958. Baldwin’s name is spelled “Baulding” due to an obvious transcription error. The other Albany captain in the council was George White. Rosewell Beebe’s future commanding officer, Samuel Elmore, is listed as president of the council. See also

[12]Beebe to his wife Sarah, June 16, 1775, W.16997, Pensions, Roll 200.

[13]Entries for June 28-30, 1775 and The New York Line on the Continental Establishment of 1775, Fernow, Documents Relating, 15:12-13, 527-528.Baldwin’s Muster Roll. In rare cases, an infantry regiment might be split into two or more battalions, but during the American Revolution, most regiments were a single battalion. Thus, the terms regiment and battalion became interchangeable.

[14]Goose Van Schaick to the Provincial Congress, July 24, 1775,Journals of the Provincial Congress, 2:68.


[16]Samuel Doty’s deposition, May 27, 1837, W.16997, Pensions, Roll 200 (Doty Deposition). With so many veterans being lost to the ravages of time, Sarah Beebe Frisbee, who re-married to Philip Frisbee in 1779 and survived him as well, was lucky to have an eighty-four-year-old Samuel Doty available to provide a deposition for her pension application in the name of her late first husband, Rosewell Beebe. This deposition is full of important details and is remarkable for its time. Few men lived to be his age and even fewer had so many details readily at hand.

[17]Sarah Beebe Frisbee’s deposition, May 3, 1832, W.16997, Pensions, Roll 200.

[18]Baldwin’s Muster Roll. Fort George was a single bastion of an incomplete fort and support buildings located at the south eastern end of Lake George.

[19]Yates to Beebe, November 2, 1775, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library, Philip Schuyler Papers, MssCol 2701, Box 40, Reel 20, Letters O-Z, courtesy of Donald M. Londahl-Smidt (Schuyler Papers). New York Public Library Digital Collections accessed February 2, 2022.

[20]Yates to Schuyler, November 2, 1775, Schuyler Papers, Box 26, Reel 12, Letters to Schuyler. Source courtesy if Don Londahl-Smidt. New York Public Library Digital Collections accessed February 2, 2022.

[21]Entries for November 12, 13, and 14, William Yarrington Diary, 1759-1776, MS 2958.11299, The New-York Historical Society’s manuscript collection.The New-York Historical Society Digital Collections, accessed April 3, 2022. Thank you to Robert Winowitch for providing the digital source originally provided by Alan C. Aimone. The entries refer to “headquarters,” not “Fort Ticonderoga,” but at this time they were one-in-the-same.

[22]General Order from Montreal, November 15, 1775, Force, American Archives, 4th Series, 3:1683-1684.

[23]Doty Deposition.

[24]Beebe to his Wife Sarah, January 1, 1776, W.16997, Pensions, Roll 200.

[25]Arrangement of Officers in the Regiment rais’d at Montreal 18th Novr 1775 to serve ‘till ye 15th April 1776 Commanded by Brigadier Genl. Wooster, George Washington Papers, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. Source courtesy of Donald M. Londahl-Smidt. The undated list was filed at the end of July 1776, but does not reference Beebe’s passing. This regiment is often confused with Wooster’s old 1st Connecticut from 1775 that had already disbanded. In addition, this regiment and subsequently Samuel Elmore’s Connecticut regiment included two additional companies commanded by former 2nd New York officers Israel Spencer and John Tillman, plus and Theodore Woodbridge’s Connecticut company that included a number of former 2nd New Yorkers.

[26]Some of these men include federal pensioners Lathrop Allen, S.42898, Pensions, Roll 1586; Samuel Doty, S.43351, Roll 837; Jerimiah Griffith, W.19532, Pensions, Roll 1133; and Timothy Lord, S.42898, Pensions, Roll 1586 plus non-pensionersPalmer Cady, Asa Chapman, and Josiah Fuller.

[27]Congressional Resolution, February 17, 1776, Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:156

[28]Congressional Resolution, December 9, 1775, ibid., 3:418.

[29]Congressional Resolutions, January 8, 1776, ibid., 4:39-40.

[30]Entry for David Wooster, Frances B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, Reprint of the New, Revised, and Enlarged Edition of 1914, With Addenda by Robert H. Kelby, 1932 (Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing company, 1982), 606 (Historical Register of Officers).

[31]Congressional order, December 13, 1775, Force, American Archives, 4th Series, 4:406.

[32]General Orders beforeQuebec, February 11, 1776, ibid., 5:550.

[33]Arnold to President of Congress, February 12, 1776, ibid., 4:1017.

[34]Arnold to Washington, February 27, 1776, ibid., 4:1513-1514.

[35]General Orders beforeQuebec, March 15, 1776, ibid., 5:551.

[36]Arnold to Schuyler, April 20, 1776, ibid., 5:1098-1100. The chart was an enclosure in this letter.

[37]Doty Deposition. Muster roll, Capt. Lathrop Allen’s company, Col. Samuel Elmore’s Battalion, 1777 January 13, Revolutionary War Rolls 1775–1783, (National Archives Microfilm Publications, M246), War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93, Roll 27, Jacket 206.

[38]State of the Rank of the Officers raised in the Colony of New York in the Year 1775, Calendar of Historical Manuscripts Relating to the War of the Revolution, in the Office of the Secretary of State (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1898), 2:42-43.

[39]Entry for Rosewell Beebe, Historical Register of Officers, 96.



  • Thanks to Mr. Weaver’s scholarship, Roswell Beebe is now an approved propositus for the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut. We are a lineage society of members who represent the officers that served in the American Revolution. A male descendant of Lt. Beebe can contact the Connecticut Society for more information on representing him (see website link). Thanks again to Mr. Weaver and the Journal of the American Revolution.

  • Interesting piece, Phil, documenting the effects of an individual case of small pox. Thanks for putting it together.

    Inoculation continued to be against regulations for some time to come. In transcribing James Roberts’ Orderly Book for Ticonderoga, I just came across the following (note the date–I transcribed it 247 years to the day after originally entered into the book) :
    “Head Quarters Augt. 19th. 1776
    Parole Rutlidge C. Sign Dear
    The Commanding Officers of Regiments & Corps are to be Answerable that every Officer, non Commissioned Officer & Soldier who shall here after be infected with the Small Pox, be immediately Sent to the Genl. Hospital at Lake George, but previous to their being Sent, they are to Make Oath as follows
    I. AB. Do Solemnly Swear by the ever living God, that I have not Received the Infection of the Small Pox by Innoculation or any Application Internal or external, but have taken the same in Amanner intirely unknown to me, and I so firmly believe, by the Oath I now take in the Natural Way, and no other, and so help me God [[“God” is emphasized by being circled]]——— In Case any man refuses the Above Oath his Conscience Accusing him that it would be perjury so to do, he is to Declare the Names of the persons who inoculated him, and the place where it was done, that the Perpetrator of so Infamous an act may be immediately brought to Condeign Punishment.”

  • Editorial comment: In endnote 16, it is written, “Sarah Beebe Frisbee, whore-married to Philip Frisbee.” I assume you mean, “who re-married.” Spell-check challenge?

    1. Thanks Mike. You are correct, but it is not in the original manuscript. Apparently the dropping of spaces happens occasionally to articles that post on the JAR. I have been told that it is a “bug.” It has happened to me before – and probably you, as well. This time it was in a most inappropriate place.

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