Patriot Ancestor: Robert Burnett Sr.

Patriot Ancestor / Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Robert Burnett Sr.                                                                                           SAR #94319

Robert Burnett was born 19 July 1755 in Chester City, Pennsylvania, son of John S Burnett who was one of Washington’s Buckskins at Braddock’s Defeat. He married Susannah Hollingworth on 12 June 1778.  She was the 3x great granddaughter of Valentine Hollingworth who arrived in America in 1682 with William Penn and helped establish the Quaker religion in the new world.  The couple had seven children: Samuel, Amor, Mary Fiend, Robert Jr. (married Susanna Bush), Thomas (married Rachel Bush), Susan, Henry (married Magdalene Bush),

In the summer of 1776 Burnett was a volunteer in the 2nd Company Concord Township, Chester County Regiment (Militia) (Col James Moore), Ewing’s Brigade, Pennsylvania Militia of the Flying Camp (Brigadier General James Ewing). * Congress called for more troops to be raised to form a “Flying Camp.” The Flying Camp was not militia, as all Flying Camp recruits signed six-month enlistments (many served an additional six months). They were called by Congress to fight directly under Washington, and thus were Continental troops. On 26 December 1776, Ewing’s Brigade was tasked to cross the Delaware at the Trenton Ferry, directly across from the town, to cut off British forces retreating from Trenton. However, Ewing was unable to cross any of his troops due to difficult icy conditions at the Trenton Ferry, so it is unlikely that Burnett crossed the Delaware.   (Source: Ketchum, Richard M (1973). The Winter Soldiers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-05490-4. OCLC 640266.)

Pennsylvania volunteers typically served 60 days, went home, and in 60 days returned to the same unit.  However, the unit designation changed with leadership.  On 11 September 1777 at the Battle of Brandywine, in the area of Pyle’s Ford on Washington’s left flank, Burnett was a teamster with 2nd Company Concord Township (Capt. Daniel McCoy) Chester County Regiment (Militia), (Col. William Evans), Pennsylvania Militia Brigade (Brigadier General James Irvine), Pennsylvania Armstrong’s Division (Major General John Armstrong Sr), and hauled baggage from Brandywine back to Chester after the battle. (Source: page 796, Volume 6, Pennsylvania Archives, fifth Series, and DAR Papers of Helen Frances Redman Black, #529555.)  While his father, William was also a teamster along with Robert, two of Robert’s uncles served with the British forces under Cornwallis.

By 1780 the war had moved South, and the Pennsylvania forces were left to defend the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.   During this time,  Burnett was a member of the 4th Company Concord and Bethel Township (Capt Alexander Lockhard) (same company as the 2nd Company Concord Township), 7th Battalion, (LtCol George Price), Chester County Regiment (Militia), (Reference: Pennsylvania Archive S 5, Volume 5, page 197) There is no indication he saw any more combat after Brandywine and he likely was mustered out at this time,  as most of the muster rolls that have survived were made up just before the men were discharged from duty**  (Source:  although one unconfirmed source says that he remained enlisted in this company in 1782.

After the war, he moved to Pendleton County, West Virginia near the Blackthorn River. In 1789 he was elected the Pendleton County sheriff. In 1818 Robert and Susanne moved to Ohio with their son Thomas and lived there until they died.  John died 2 February 1820, Fayette County, Ohio and was buried in the Bush Cemetery near Sugar Creek.  Susannah died 7 September 1824, age 66 and was buried next to her husband, but in 1932 they were reinterred into another cemetery. (Source: Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots; Volume: 1; Serial: 12172; Volume: 4)

*The individuals who volunteered at this time were formed into battalions by county and were known as “Flying Camps” that served on active duty until November 30, 1776. The “Act to Regulate the Militia of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” passed 17 March 1777, and the subsequent Militia Act passed March 20, 1780, together with their amendments, required all white men between the ages of 18 and 53 capable of bearing arms to serve two months of militia duty on a rotating basis.

**Some of the muster rolls provide the date when duty began, and in the case of officers, the date of their commission, and perhaps some additional comments indicating such types of information as whether they were detached on special duty or the dates of any desertions. Most of the muster rolls that have survived were made up just before the men were discharged from duty.