Capt Titus Watson 1743-1820Leave a Comment
Biography of Capt. Titus Watson March-27-2012 by Roland Foster Miller
Birth: 29 Jan. 1743, Woodbury (Litchfield) CT [Barbour CT VR; www.Find-a-Grave.com].
Death: 14 Dec. 1820, Ballston (Saratoga) NY [Find-a-Grave; Revolutionary War Pension File W18271, Titus Watson, Connecticut: A.D. Hiller, letter, Pension Office, War Department, 12 Aug. 1939, hereinafter “Pension File.”].
Marriage: Mercy Merrill, 22 Sept. 1772, New Hartford, Litchfield County, CT [Pension File; sworn statement to Pension Office by James Merrill, brother-in-law of Capt. Watson, in support of a pension application by Mercy Merrill, the captain’s widow].
Education: Details of his education are not known, but his correspondence to Gen. George Washington challenging the promotion of another officer to the rank of major in his stead shows a clear hand and proper grammar [George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799, Titus Watson to George Washington, June 26, 1779.]
Military: Capt. Watson fought in the Revolutionary War from Chambly, Quebec, to Monmouth, NJ. He entered service in the Lexington Alarm in April 1775 as a sergeant from the town of Bethlehem, CT, in the march to Boston. [The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783, Henry P. Johnston, editor, Hartford, CT, 1889, p. 18, hereinafter “The Record”] “Titus Watson was commissioned lieutenant in Captain John Watson’s company in Col. Benjamin Hinman’s Connecticut regiment and served as such from April 1775 until February 1776, and was at the Siege of St. Johns, Montreal and Chambly. He was then commissioned captain and served as such in Col. Charles Burrall’s Connecticut regiment from February 1776 until February 1777. He then served as captain in Col. Heman Swift’s Connecticut regiment until February 1781,” when he was honorably discharged by Gen. Washington at West Point, NY, “having been in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth” [Pension File; The Record].
As a captain in Huntington’s Brigade of the 7th Connecticut, he took the Oath of Allegiance at Valley Forge in the spring of 1778 [Valley Forge Legacy, the Muster Roll Project] .
Occupation: Farmer, soldier.
Discussion: Capt. Watson experienced many hardships during the Revolutionary War, from the devastating smallpox epidemic in the Northern Department in the early years of the war to the Battle at Monmouth, where nearly as many Americans died from heat stroke as from enemy contact. But one of Capt. Watson’s most daring actions was saving Gen. Israel Putnam from a trap being sprung by Gov. William Tryon of New York in Horseneck, CT (Greenwich). “On Feb. 25, 1779, a small force under command of Capt. Titus Watson was reconnoitering in Westchester County, almost to New Rochelle. Between 8 and 9 o’clock in the evening, they came in touch with Simcoe’s Rangers, who were in the advance of Tryon’s body of over 2,000 troops.” [The Old Boston Post Road, Stephen Jenkins, New York, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, p. 165]. “Captain Watson was closely pursued by a light horseman who he had the good fortune to kill, and by the…made his escape.” [Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich, Spencer P. Mead, Knickerbocker Press, 1911, p. 162-3, hereinafter “Historie”] “Watson and his surviving men were driven from the Post Road into Milton, where under the cover of darkness they managed to keep away from the pursuers, some of them hiding in the swamps. A number of others, including Captain Watson, by crossing the heads of the creeks which indented the shore along Long Island Sound, succeeded in reaching Byram Bridge. This they had time to take up before the enemy came in sight again. Captain Watson and his men then rode directly to Horseneck with the company of Tories in full pursuit.” Capt. Watson warned Gen. Putnam of the approaching troops. The general later wrote: “We discharged some old field pieces which were there a few times, and gave them a small fire of musketry but without any considerable effect. The superior force of the enemy soon obliged our small detachment to abandon the place.” [Historie, p. 165] Gen. Putnam was recognized and chased to a precipice today known as Put’s Hill, where he plunged his horse headlong down this “rocky steep” to safety.
Capt. Watson was an early settler of Ballston, NY, circa 1772. “With the earliest settlers in Balls-town came many Freemasons. The membership roll of the first Masonic Lodge, now in the possession of Franklin Lodge, of Ballston Spa, contains the names of many men prominent in the new settlement.” [Centennial History of the Village of Ballston Spa, Edward F. Grose, The Ballston Journal, 1907, p. 15.] On this roll was Titus Watson. Capt. Watson’s youngest brother, James Watson, was United States Senator from New York and served in the Fifth and Sixth Congress, from Dec. 11, 1798, to March 19, 1800, when he resigned to accept an appointment by President John Adams as Naval Officer of the Port of New York.
Capt. Watson was granted a pension in 1818; his widow, Mercy, was allowed pension on her application executed 25 Oct. 1836, at which time she was 87 and living in Watervliet, Albany County, NY. She died 14 May, 1838 [Pension File].