General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Wharton Nunn


 Wharton Nunn was born in 1755 in Virginia. As a child Nunn lived in King George County VA. In 1777, Nunn was living in Winchester Virginia when he applied for service in the Virginia 5th continental line.

In August 1777, Nunn was ordered to ship much needed supplies to Vermont. On August 16, 1777, Nunn witnessed the battle of Bennington while shipping supplies there. At Bennington, the Vermont Militia had several storehouses of supplies there. Lt. Col. Baum, of the British army had been ordered to capture these supplies. At Bennington, the British were defeated and lost 10 percent of their men trying to capture the storehouses.

 Nunn’s next battle was at the battle of Brandywine fought on September 11, 1777.

The Virginia line was stationed near Birmingham Meeting house, a Quaker church in the region. The Americans tried to form a solid line of defense around the Birmingham meeting House, but gaps occurred in the line due to two American blunders. The blunders were as follows: 1) Sullivan marched his troops farther north than Washington wanted and 2) A French General, General Deborre was placed in command of the right flank of Sullivan’s men.   The American resented serving under a French commander and refused to fight. When the British attacked, Deborre fled the scene as fast as possible leaving the right flank with no commander temporarily.

    The only blunder Howe, the British Commander made at Brandywine was to take a tea break at noon before he attacked the Birmingham house. Had Howe started the battle earlier without delay, the British would have taken the house with ease without having been beat back 5 times by the Virginians before taking it.

   At the battle of Germantown fought on October 4, 1777, Nunn was wounded in the arm during the battle making him unable to fight the rest of the battle that day. The British won this battle after the American started firing on their own men in a deep fog.

 Nunn’s pension claims he fought in the battle of White Plains (October 1776), but this battle occurred over a year before Nunn ever enlisted. It is my opinion Nunn meant to say he was at White Marsh. On December 6, 1777, Nunn participated in the battle of White Marsh. Howe had planned to destroy the American army here after being blamed for the defeat o Burgoyne at Saratoga. He probably would have had it not been for Daniel Morgan and his rifle corps. Morgan’s rifle corps forced the British to retreat.

From December 1777 until June 1778, Nunn was at Valley Forge. At Valley Forge, the American suffered greatly. Over 4000 men hospitalized with over 2500 men dying in the infirmary.  Over 3000 Men had no shoes during the winter. Over 3000 men deserted with 2000 of them joining the British army in Philadelphia. By the end of February half of the troops that had went in had either died or left, leaving a standing army of only 6000 men.

 Between April and June 1778, a miracle happened. Over 14000 new recruits enlisted in the continental army. When Washington left Valley Forge in June 1778, he had an army of over 20000 men.

 On June 28, 1778, Nunn participated in the battle of Monmouth NJ. The Virginians supported Morgan’s rifle corps and was placed in charge of protecting the artillery from the British. At Brandywine, the British had captured 11 cannons. The Americans couldn’t afford for this to happen again.

  During the months of January- April 1779, Nunn was stationed at Morristown. Morristown’s winter quarters weren’t as bad as Valley Forge, but still had its problems. There the Americans faced temperatures below freezing every day during the winter except for one day in January. They faced food shortages. They went 6 days without food one week. Some men were caught eating the horse’s grain saying the horses were eating better than the men. Over 11, 500 men were placed in the infirmary compared to 4000 at Valley Forge. Only 86 men would die at Morristown compared to 2500 at valley Forge

 In August 1780, Nunn left the army and moved to Surry county NC. In 1783, Nunn met Elizabeth Breeding and were married. They had 9 children from this union.

 Nunn later moved back to Virginia living in Winchester awhile before moving to Claiborne County in 1818. In 1838, Nunn applied for his pension. Nunn died on April 8, 1842.


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