Washington and His Generals - Vol. 1

By Joel Tyler Headley | Go to book overview
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JOSEPH SPENCER was one of the eight brigadier-generals appointed by Congress, at the instance of General Washington, on the 22d of June, 1775. He was born at East Haddam, Connecticut, in 1714. He was an officer of the militia, and rose to the rank of colonel in the French war of 1758. An older officer in the provincial service than Putnam, and yielding to no one in devotion to the popular cause, he was offended when the latter was placed over him, by his appointment as a major-general, and retired from the army. The commissions for the general officers were forwarded to Washington, who had delivered Putnam's before he was apprized of the feeling the new appointments occasioned, and in his letter to Congress, of the 10th July, 1775, he says, "I am very sorry to observe, that the appointment of general officers, in the provinces of Massachusetts and Connecticut, has not corresponded with the wishes or judgment of either the civil or military." The dissatisfaction was general, and Washington withheld the commissions until the difficulties about rank were adjusted by Pomroy's declining to accept in Massachusetts, and Spencer's consenting to serve under Putnam, rather than quit the service at such a critical period. He remained with the army near Boston, until the enemy evacuated the city, and marched with the division, ordered soon after to the defence of New York. On the 9th of August, 1776, he was appointed a majorgeneral. He opposed the evacuation of New York in September, when the forces of the enemy were concentrating to the attack, but the event justified the course adopted by the commander in chief.

A fleet having appeared off New London in December,


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Washington and His Generals - Vol. 1


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