The unit was with Washington at Valley Forge, and played an important role in the victory at Yorktown
Colonel John Lamb commanded the most legendary artillery unit in the Continental Army. Initially known as Lamb’s New York Artillery and later as the 2nd or New York Regiment of Continental Artillery, it served in the abortive campaign into Canada in 1775-6. In 1777 it participated in the battles of Brandywine, Freeman’s...
Colonel John Lamb commanded the most legendary artillery unit in the Continental Army. Initially known as Lamb’s New York Artillery and later as the 2nd or New York Regiment of Continental Artillery, it served in the abortive campaign into Canada in 1775-6. In 1777 it participated in the battles of Brandywine, Freeman’s Farm, and Germantown, and then went into the encampment at Valley Forge. In 1778 it was at Monmouth and the Morristown encampment, and in 1779 was sent on Sullivan’s Indian Campaign. The unit was at West Point when Benedict Arnold fled and the next year participated in the New Jersey Summer Campaign. But it is best remembered for, and has a famed re-enactor regiment because of, the part it played at Yorktown. There, utilizing siege cannon, seasoned American gunners and professional French artillerists fired over 15,000 rounds into British lines during the nine day bombardment. Their effectiveness, accuracy, and destructiveness helped convince Britain’s Lord Cornwallis to surrender. A favorite unit of General Henry Knox, chief of artillery for the Continental army, General George Washington issued a General Order relaying his thanks and appreciation to Lamb’s 2nd Continental Artillery.
Hugh Polley was a stalwart of the unit, enlisting in Lamb’s regiment in 1777, and serving until he was discharged in 1783. His records appear in the “Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War”. Thus he was with Lamb for some six years, seeing the American cause from its darkest days through to victory.
Document Signed, Head-Quarters, June 9, 1783, being Polley’s discharge. It states: “By His Excellency George Washington, Esq; General and Commander in Chief of the Forces of the United States of America. These are to Certify that the Bearer hereof Hugh Polley, gunner in the 2nd New York Artillery, having faithfully served the United States from 29 July 1777, until the present period, and being inlisted for the War only, is hereby Discharged from the American Army.” It is also endorsed by Washington’s aide, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., and by James Bradford, adjutant, indicating that the document was “Registered in the Books of the Regiment”.
The story is that Washington signed these discharges himself because he wanted each soldier of the Continental Army to know that he was personally grateful for his service. Many of the discharged soldiers carried these precious discharges around with them, and those that reach the market are often in poor condition. This is in good condition, and bears a strong signature.
On the top of the verso is the printed statement that “The Certificate shall not avail the Bearer as a Discharge until the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of Peace; previous to which time; and until Proclamation thereof shall be made, He is considered as being on Furlough.” Below Washington’s printed signature, are details of a transaction wherein Polley transfer his right to land due him for his service. “For value received of William Bell, I hereby make over and grant…unto the said William Bell his heirs and executors my right and claim on the public for 600 acres of land… on this the 16th day of March 1784.” Polley has signed with an X. The state of New York had guaranteed every fighting man in the Revolution a bounty of acreage of public land.
This document is dated June 9, 1783. On December 23, 1783, General Washington himself resigned his commission and left for home. The American Revolution was over.
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