Militia & Associated Companies of Bucks County Pennsylvania
Officers of the Flying Camp
The "Flying Camp" was originally conceived by General George Washington as a 10,000 man strategic mobile reserve. Under the command of Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, of Virginia, the flying camp was to be comprised of militia units from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Headquartered in Perth Amboy, this force would be expected to perform a number of vital functions in New Jersey while Washington''s army was preoccupied with the defense of New York. Its duties would include guarding the vulnerable the Jersey coast, protecting the Continental Army's supply lines, suppressing roving bands of Tories and acting as a ready reserve should Washington have need of reinforcements.
On June 3, 1776, the Continental Congress resolved, "That a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies." For its part, Pennsylvania was called upon to provide a force of some 6,000 men. Delegations of one officer and two enlisted men from each of Pennsylvania's fifty-three associated battalions met in Lancaster, on July 4, 1776, for the purpose of selecting this force. Then, on July 10, 1776, the Bucks County Committee of Safety, citing "the Resolve of the late Provincial Conference for imbodying [sic] four hundred of the Associators of this County," appointed the following officers to command their contingent:
Colonel. Joseph HART
Adjutant, John JOHNSON
Surgeon, Joseph FENTON, Jr.
Quartermaster, Alexander BENSTEAD
In contrast, both the Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Vol. V, and Davis', History of Bucks County, list the following officers for the county's Flying Camp battalion, near Amboy:
Colonel. Joseph HART
Lieutenant Colonel. William BAXTER
Matthew BENNETT, taken prisoner at Fort Washington.
John ERWIN, taken prisoner at Fort Washington.
Adjutant. John JOHNSON, taken prisoner at Fort Washington.
Surgeon. Joseph FENTON, Jr.
Quartermaster. Alexander BENSTEAD
Ensign. William BOOROM
The flying camp received little support from New Jersey. Pennsylvania sent some 2,000 associators, many of whom were quickly drafted into service by Gen. WASHINGTON in New York. More men soon arrived from Maryland and Delaware, but despite the best efforts of Gen. MERCER the flying camp was fraught with difficulties almost from its inception, and never realizing its full potential was disbanded by the end of November, shortly after the fall of Fort Washington.
Archives, 5th Series, Vol. V;
History of Bucks County, Davis;
and Beyond Philadelphia, Frantz and Pencak.
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