The soldier, George Springsteen, was at Saratoga in 1777, Monmouth in 1778, Yorktown in 1781, and served through to war’s end in 1783.
The Springsteen family emigrated from the Netherlands to the colony of New Netherlands when it was still under Dutch rule, prior to the 1660s. The center of Dutch settlement was New York and New Jersey, and their governor was Peter Stuyvesant. The population was just 9,000, and their descendants came to be...
The Springsteen family emigrated from the Netherlands to the colony of New Netherlands when it was still under Dutch rule, prior to the 1660s. The center of Dutch settlement was New York and New Jersey, and their governor was Peter Stuyvesant. The population was just 9,000, and their descendants came to be known as Knickerbockers. The most famous descendant to retain the Springsteen name is composer/singer Bruce Springsteen.
Established on January 19, 1776, the 2nd New York Regiment was one of the stalwart units in the Continental Army. It took part in numerous major battles, including Saratoga and Monmouth. In 1781, it went with Washington to Yorktown, where it was assigned to Gen. Lafayette's command, and was with Washington and Lafayette throughout that victorious campaign. The 2nd New York was led by Colonel Philip van Cortlandt, who received a promotion to general as a result of his services at Yorktown. He was later a U.S. Congressman and a charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati. The regiment was furloughed on June 2, 1783, and disbanded November 15, 1783.
George Springstein joined the regiment in 1777, and was with it until it was discharged. Document Signed, Head-Quarters, June 9, 1783, being his discharge. It states: “These are to Certify that the Bearer hereof George Springsteen, soldier in the 2nd New York Regiment, having faithfully served the United States for six years and 3 months, and being enlisted for the War only, is hereby Discharged from the American Army.” The document is also endorsed by Washington’s aide, Jonathan Trumbull. Capt. Christopher Hutton was the adjutant of the regiment at the time it was disbanded. Hutton was for a time on Washington’s staff, and, like van Cordtland, became a member of the Society of the Cincinnati. He has certified that Springsteen’s name was “Registered in the books of the Regiment.” 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.” It is signed in type by George Washington,
After the Revolutionary War, the Federal and state governments awarded bounty lands to soldiers of the Continental Army for services rendered. Some of these soldiers took the granted land and settled on it. Others sold the land, preferring the cash to the property. Springsteen was one of the latter. On the verso of the discharge, below Washington’s printed signature, are details of the transaction. Springsteen has had written “These are to certify that I George Springsteen Soldier in the Second New York Regiment do bargain, sell, and quit claim and sign over to Jonathan Owen all right, title, claim, or demand which I have to the land which I am entitled to from the state of New York, he having paid me the sum of 13 pounds in consideration… on this the 21st day of November in the year 1783.” Owen was a fellow soldier from New York. Springsteen, evidently illiterate, has signed with his mark.
Gilbert Livingston was a member of the powerful landholding and political Livingston family of New York State. He was a lawyer, a member of New York's Provincial Convention, a delegate to New York's convention to ratify the United States Constitution, and a member of the New York Assembly. Under Springsteen’s oath, he has signed a statement dated 1795 attesting that Springsteen appeared before him and testified that he had indeed signed this document and that is therefore legitimate. The docket for the transaction appears at upper left of the front, as well.
The story is that Washington signed these discharges himself (unlike President Lincoln who used a form with a printed signature) because he wanted soldiers of the Continental Army to know that he was personally grateful for their service. Many of the discharged soldiers carried these precious discharges around with them, and the ever-decreasing number that reach the market are often in awful condition. This is a particularly fine one with a strong signature, and uncommonly, an interesting story illustrating how soldiers were rewarded for their service after the war.
On December 23, 1783, General Washington himself resigned his commission and left for home. The American Revolution was over.
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