General Joseph Martin Chapter
Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap Patriot
Felix McIlhenney, Revolutionary war soldier at the
battle of Trois
Rivieres, was born in Derry County Ireland in 1756. Sometime before
1770, McIlhenny came to York County PA. In 1776, McIlhenny joined the
Pennsylvania 7th Regiment. On March, 17, 1776, McIlhenney along with the
rest of the 7th Regiment marched to New York city. On April 26th, The
7th was ordered to Albany NY, where they joined the command General John
After the defeat of Benedict Arnold At Quebec in December 1775,Sullivan
was wanting to put together a force to Conquer Canada. At Albany
Sullivan put together a 6000 man army, and they soon began their march
to the St. Lawrence River. When Sullivan arrived at the St. Lawrence
River in May 1776, Sullivan found what American Troops that had been in
Canada fleeing for their lives. Britain had sent reinforcements of
Hessian soldiers and British Soldiers to help relieve the siege going on
at Quebec by Arnold and his men. Since Arnold could not defeat the
British earlier in December 1775, Arnold had started a siege of the city
Of Quebec in hopes of forcing it to surrender. Now Arnold and his men
were forced to flee for their lives.
This should have been enough to make Sullivan turn back , and forget his
conquest of Canada, but it seemed to make him more determined than ever
to become the conqueror of Canada. Sullivan continued on with the
expedition. On June 7th, 1776, Sullivan, and his men arrived at the
Sorel River in Quebec, and formed a camp. Here Sullivan made plans to
attack a British garrison at the Trois Rivieres manned by over 12000
British troops. here they found a local guide who promised to take them
to the British camp. Sullivan wanted to arrive at the British garrison at
3 am for a surprise attack. However unknown to Sullivan the guide was
sympathetic to the British and led the American soldiers to a swamp. Had
British troops been in the swamp waiting for ambush, Sullivan and his
men may been annihilated.
Sullivan finally arrived at the British camp at Trois Rivieres at 8am,
five hours later than expected with the British troops waiting for him.
Trois Rivieres was the first battle that the PA line participated in
during the Revolutionary war. Most of the 6000 troops had never seen or
fought in a battle before. Sullivan ordered Anthony Wayne to attack the
flanks while William Thompson attacked the center.
Mcilhenney was apart of Thompson's line. Out numbered 2 to 1, Thompson
ordered a bayonet charge on the British center, but was soon repulsed
after heavy fighting.
The British soon defeated the Americans killing 25, wounding 140 and
capturing 236. McIlhenney was one of the 236 captured and was sent to a
prison in Quebec.
At Quebec, Most of the American prisoners were held at a Jesuit college
which had earlier benn turned into a prison camp. Conditions were
horrible at the Quebec prison. Most starved to death. Sir Guy Carleton,
British commander of the Canadian forces even wrote a letter to England
complaining about the conditions at the prison camp.
In January 1777, the Quebec prison made news again when it sent 16
American prisoners to Senegal, a British colony in Africa. This caused
outrage in the Continental Congress and with Benjamin Franklin, who was
in Paris at the time trying to get French aid.
McIlhenney was soon sent to a British Prison ship, and later paroled
four months later. McIlhenney made his way back to York Pa where he
lived until the end of the war. McIlhenney soon met a girl named Jane
Orr, who he married in 1777. They soon had 11 children from this union.
McIlhenney moved to Harrison county Kentucky in 1800. In 1828, after his
wife died, McIlhenney moved to Franklin county Ohio, where he died on
August 7, 1841.
McIlhenney had a son named Joseph who Fought in the Ohio militia during
the war of 1812. The Ohio Militia was suppose to prevent the British and
Indians from attacking Ohio settlements, but were unable to do so.
a call went out for help. On September 3, 1812, thousands of Kentucky
militia crossed the Ohio River in response to this call of help.
William Henry Harrison, commander of the Ohio forces sent the KY militia
to Fort Wayne located on the Maumee River. Harrison sent a message to
the fort commander at Fort Wayne, saying "the KY militia was coming,
and they are as numerous as the trees of Ohio". By the end of the war KY
would send nearly 24000 troops to aid Ohio in the defense of the British.
The KY militia also suffered the most casualties of any state militia
during the War of 1812 with over 15,360 casualties. Sixty Four percent of
all American troops killed during the War of 1812 were from KY. KY paid
a high price of sacrifice in the defense of her country.
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