General Joseph Martin Chapter
Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap Patriot
Timothy Bigelo was born on August 12, 1739 in Worcester
MA. In April 1775, after the battle of Lexington and Concord, Bigelo
joined the Massachusetts line of the Continental army,and marched off to
Cambridge MA. At Cambridge some 20,372 soldiers from all over New
England gathered to form the Continental army. Washington arrived on
July 3, 1775,with one of his concerns being, How to get the men to
enlist for longer terms. There were New Hampshire regiments at Cambridge
that had signed up for as little as 8 days.
In September,1775,Bigelo joined the Arnold Expedition to Quebec led by Benedict Arnold. The purpose of this expedition was to capture the city Quebec Canada,and take Canada from the British to make it the fourteenth Colony. On September 11, 1775, over 1100 soldiers including Bigelo sailed from Newburyport MA to Pittston ME.. Here in Maine, the soldiers got in flat bottom boats,and rowed up the Kennebec River to the Chaudiere Trail.
The expedition soon suffered setbacks. Canoes overturned with supplies, Soldiers developed Hypothermia, smallpox during the march. Weather also effected the expedition. Soldiers were struck by lighting while others woke to find their clothes frozen to the ground. Hurricane force winds blew into the camp destroying the tents forcing the men to sleep without shelter. One historian said that very few men have experienced greater depravity,misery and despair as the soldiers of this expedition faced while at the same time even fewer soldiers have ever shown such courage and endurance.
Bigelo arrived on the outskirts of Quebec on November 9, 1775. Arnold attacked the city of Quebec in a blizzard on December 31, 1775. Arnold was wounded and gave the command to Daniel Morgan who was finally forced to surrender his sword to a French priest, only because Morgan refused to surrender to the British. The expedition failed because the continental army had failed to bring siege cannons. also the ground was frozen, making it impossible to build entrenchments which allowed Arnold's army to be shot down like sitting ducks.
Bigelo was captured and forced to stay in a Quebec prison for almost 6 months. In June 1776 Biegelo was released.
In October 1777, Bigelo was given the command of the Massachusetts 15th regiment at Saratoga. Bigelo also fought in the battles of Monmouth and Yorktown .On June 1783 the Massachusetts line wasdemobilized and sent home.
In 1790, Bigelo was sent to a debtors prison because he failed to pay a debt. Why Bigelo failed to pay the debt owed is one of the biggest mysteries of Bigelo's life. Bigelo owned thousands of acres of land in Vermont ,and his wife was from one of the wealthiest families in Connecticut, so why he refused to pay the debt remains a mystery. Bigelo died in debtors prison on March 31, 1790.
Bigelo had a son named Timothey Jr who later became Speaker of the Massachusetts State house. In 1814, Timothy Jr was a delegate to the Hartford convention where the subject of secession was discussed. New engalnd came very close to seceding from the Union because they were upset over the embargo act and the ongoing war with England. it was soon decided not to secede , but try and amend the US Constitution. Between 1789 and 1850, Secession would be discussed in the Massachusetts State house on four different occasions, with each time voting not to secede.
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