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The Parsons

Thomas (3) Parsons: 1730-1804

Thomas (3) was born in 1730, in Moorefield, Virginia, a son of Thomas (2) Parsons, Jr. and his wife, Parthenia Baldwin.  In the early 1770s, Thomas (3) and his brother, James, moved further west establishing homesteads along the Cheat River near what today is the town of St. George.

Flag of the 11th Virginia RegimentWhen war broke out between the colonies and Great Britain, Thomas (3) was 46 years old.  Regardless, in November of 1776, he enlisted for a three year tour and began his service the following January as private in Captain George Rice's Company of riflemen, which was assigned to the 11th Virginia Regiment, commanded by Colonel Daniel Morgan.   The regiment's uniform had a distinctively rugged look, consisting of a neutral woodsman's fringed tunic and pants, white shirt, dark neck scarf, and large black hat.  Of course, all of the men were armed with American long rifles and tomahawks.

Colonel Morgan's riflemen were legendary sharpshooters.  Some have noted that to become a member, a man had to be able to consistently hit a seven inch square at a distance of 250 yards.  Perhaps apocryphal, it is also said that Morgan instituted a quick test to determine eligibility.  He would post broadside with a picture of KingVirginia Rifleman George or--if copies were not available--any British officer one hundred yards away.  Only those men who could hit the head with their first shot were allowed to join.  Needless to say, this test did not sit well with the British forces who considered Morgan to be a war criminal.

Thomas (3) served with the regiment in at the Battle of Saratoga where the riflemen's systematic shooting of British officers, including General Burgoyne's second-in-command, Simon Fraser, from hiding places in the trees was instrumental in the victory.  He also served at Battle of Trenton, the Battle of Princeton, the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Germantown, Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois, and possibly the Battle of Monmouth.  He spent the brutal winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, where the 11th Virginia Regiment patrolled the area between Washington's encampment and the British forces.  Luckily for Thomas (3), when his enlistment expired in 1779, he returned to his Virginia homestead on the Cheat River near St. George at the age of 49, for all of the Virginia regiments would be either captured at the disastrous Seige of Charleston or killed at the Waxhaw Massacre in 1780.

11th Virginia at Saratoga