Monday, July 4, 2016

Revisiting Daniel Mitchell, Patriot

On 4 July 2015 I wrote a post entitled Daniel Mitchell, Patriot. Thanks to a comment from a reader on that post, I learned much of the information I had was incorrect and since then I have learned much more about the Daniel Mitchell who served in the Revolutionary War on the side of his nascent country. Though I added a lengthy update to the original post, I would like to set the record straight on the day that honors our independence from Great Britain.

Daniel Mitchell (c1750-c1822) was the grandson of Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell and Mary Innes, who immigrated to Philadelphia sometime in the 1730s. The Mitchell family was of Scottish origin but lived in Londonderry, Ireland. They originally settled in Pequea, Pennsylvania, which is in Lancaster County on the banks of the Susquehanna River. At least two sons -- Daniel and Robert -- came to the colonies with their parents. For several generations the Mitchell family followed the Scottish naming convention, spawning a slew of men named Robert and Daniel Mitchell.

Scottish naming convention; created using Microsoft Excel

Another point of confusion was the name of son Robert Mitchell's wife, which was Mary Enos. Many have combined Mary Innes, mother of Robert, and Mary Enos, wife of Robert into one person; therefore, also combining two men named Robert Mitchell into one person when they are actually father and son.

Three generations of men named Daniel and Robert Mitchell; created using
Microsoft Powerpoint

As young men, the sons of Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell and Mary Innes migrated south and west from Lancaster County to Bedford County, Virginia, where several generations of descendants remained.

Daniel's son, also named Daniel Mitchell (I call him the Traveler), served as an Ensign in the Bedford County Militia in 1779. This was typically the lowest rank of commissioned office in a milita. If you are familiar with the officer ranks in the modern army, an ensign's responsibilities would be similar to those of a 2nd lieutenant.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, Bedford County was considered a frontier county, an area with scattered log cabins and primitive farming and industry. The greatest danger was from Indians which the British used against civilians. Defending the county was difficult as it was so sparsely populated. According to David Bushnell, Jr., in his The Virginia Frontier in History, "The winter of 1777-1778 was one of the darkest periods in the history of the western frontier of Virginia and Pennsylvania." It was the responsibility to the Bedford Militia to defend their county.

The county became very involved in the war in 1779, the year Daniel Mitchell served. An important lead mine was located in the county and it became a target for direct military action by the British. It was also a staging area for treks to the Far West, which at the time was Illinois country. So the county militia was likely very active conducting marches, skirmishes, and establishing fortifications.

Daniel and Robert Mitchell, the sons of Daniel "the Elder" Mitchell, eventually removed to Kentucky shortly after the Revolutionary War. During the trip the party was attacked by Indians and Naomi (Shipley) Mitchell died and her daughter was kidnapped.

NOTE: I should mention that the nicknames "the Immigrant" and "the Elder" where not used at the time these men lived. They have been created in order to distinguish between men with the same names.

Kidnapped by Indians
Daniel Mitchell, Patriot

No comments:

Post a Comment