Capt David Dorrance 1750-1822Leave a Comment
David Dorrance was born November 5, 1750 in that part of Scituate, RI which is now the extreme SW corner of Foster, RI near the CT border. His parents were Samuel (1709-1788) and Margaret Trumbull (1726-1795) Dorrance, Scots-Irish whose families came to SE CT in the 1720s from Northern Ireland. Samuel was a carpenter and ran a sawmill; he later ran a tavern and moved about 20 miles west in 1771 to Sterling Hill, CT where he ran a tavern noted by Chastellux in his Travels in North America. The first-born son, John Dorrance (1749-1813), moved to Providence where he became a lawyer and judge. Dorrance Street in downtown Providence is named for him.
When war came, David immediately enlisted (May 1775) at Plainfield, CT as a Sergeant in Waterman Clift’s Company (6th Regiment). He was promoted to Ensign in January 1776 at Roxbury, MA while on duty around Boston. He served in Parson’s 10th Regiment at the Battle of New York (August-September 1776) and the record is then silent until November of 1777 when he is a 2nd Lt. in Huntington’s 1st Regiment at White Marsh, PA. He is twice on the rolls at Valley Forge as a 1st Lt. in Huntington’s 1st, and stayed with that Regiment through 1778 (Monmouth, White Plains, Danbury, Reading), 1779 (Reading, Cortland Manor, Nelson Point), and 1780 when he was promoted to Captain Lieutenant.
Early in 1781 he was promoted to Captain and reorganized into Isaac Sherman’s 5th Regiment. On January 22, 1781 he participated in a raid on British camps at Morrisania, NY, now part of the Bronx, where he was wounded in the groin by a musket ball. He took 17 months to recover, returning to garrison duty near West Point (New Boston Huts) where he served out the end of the war in Samuel Webb’s 3rd Regiment. In the Papers of the Continental Congress is a June 10, 1783 letter from Henry Knox to George Washington noting Dorrance’s wounds and recommending him for a pension.
David Dorrance was an Original Member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, joining at West Point when the Society was formed on July 4, 1783 and signing the roll book. He is on the roster as attending the March 1784 CT Society meeting in Hartford. Subsequent meeting minutes only list the number of attendees, so his further participation cannot be tracked.
He married Anna Hurlburt (1764-1836) at Windham, CT on February 2, 1786. She was the daughter of Elisha and Phebe Carter Hurlburt of Windham, and her older sister Lydia married Dr. Albigence Waldo, the surgeon and diarist of the CT troops at Valley Forge. David and Anna had ten children: Elisha, John, Benjamin, Samuel, George, Nancy, Frances, Catherine, David, and Charles.
Dorrance moved his family to Mamakating (now Wurtsboro), Sullivan County, NY in the early 1790s where he lived for the rest of his life. He farmed, timbered, and speculated in land. In 1818 he filed for a pension, and his application is moving for the description of his wound, his difficulties in life, and his resulting poverty. He died June 23, 1822, and he and Anna are buried in Sylvan Cemetery in Wurtsboro, NY.
Ross Gamble Perry
September 3, 2012