Illuminations, Epiphanies, & Reflections
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.
When 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 King 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
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.