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History for Rush Milam (1759 - ca 1845)

The Life of Rush Milam in Historical and Cultural Context

Rush Milam was the youngest son of Thomas Milam and was my ancestor. He was born in Culpeper County in the Dominion and Colony of Virginia in 1759, according to his Revolutionary War pension declaration. Rush married Elizabeth Fowler on 16 JUL 1783 in Bedford County, Virginia. Elizabeth was the daughter of William and Amanda Ann Fowler.

Rush Milam lived to be 85+ years old and died sometime between Sept 1844 and 1850 in Kanawha County, Virginia, where he had lived since about 1812 according to the same declaration. Kanawha County was in the far western portion of Virginia which became West Virginia when it seceded from the Confederacy to join the Union in 1863 at the start of the Civil War.

His father, Thomas, passed away during the Winter of 1775; his Will was recorded on 27 MAR 1775. According to that Will, Rush inhereited one half of his father's two hundred acre farm "lying and being on both sides of Hurricane Creek (being a branch of Meminick Creek) ": [427]

"...First I give and bequeath to my two Youngest Sons: Viz: Solomon and Rush Millam, all and singular my Lands, Messuages (link) and Tenements to be equally Divided between them, and by them and their Heirs to be possessed and enjoyed forever."

Please see these images of Thomas' Will here (link) and here (link). [434]

At that time Rush was 16 years old. He would have lived on the farm with his mother, Mary Rush Milam, and Solomon. There are no records of any kind for Solomon so we have no idea of his age but he died before 1782 when the first Virginia personal property tax was required. Rush Milam apparently acquired Solomon's half since there was no deed of sale of Milam land along Hurricane Creek until 1801 when an Adam Milam sold 167 acres to Thomas Sale. [550] This Adam Milam, born ca 1775, was the second son of William Milam, the eldest of Thomas Milam's sons.

This is not surprising since court records show several connections between Rush and William. For example, on 23 AUG 1781 it was Rush Milam who witnessed the deed when William Milam purchased 150 acres "on  Reedy Creek, a Branch of the James River" from John Crews. And, in 1785 when William became Security (link) and posted bond for Rush when Rush was sued by the Trustees of the Town of Liberty for debt. See the details of these Bedford County court cases in my "Chronology of Rush Milam's Life in Court Records" here (link).

Rush Milam's Signature from Road Petition of June 1785
Image of Rush Milam's Signature 1785

On 1 MAY 1777, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Act of Oath of Affirmation which may be viewed here (link). The following is the Oath of Affirmation, sometimes referred to as the Oath of Alligence, that the men affirmed with their signatures:

"I do swear or affirm, that I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain, his heirs and successours, and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia, as free and independent state, and that I will not, at any time, do, or cause to be done, any matter or thing that will be prejudicial or injurious to the freedom and independence thereof, as declared by Congress; and also, that I will discover and make known to some one Justice of the Peace (link) for the said state, all treasons or traiterous conspiracies which I now or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the United States of America."

The Bedford County Court on 28 JUL 1777 proscribed the manner in which the Oath would be administered in the county:

"Agreeable to an Act of the General Assembly of this State, this Court doth appoint the following Gentlemen to administer the Oath of Alligence to the Inhabitants of this County (viz.) John Ward Gent. in the bounds of his Company, ....William Callaway Gent. in his own Company, ....Charles Gwatkins Gent in Capt. Gwatkins' Company,....Isham Talbot Gent. in Capt. Henry Buford's Company....etc." [492]

You may read the entire court order here (link).

20 SEP 1777: Benjamin Milam, Rush Milam, William Milam and Zachariah Milam signed the Oath of Affirmation administered by Justice William Callaway to his Company. [480] You may view a typed copy here (link).

During our Revolutionary War, 1781 was the most turbulent year for Virginia. Rush Milam was drafted for active service from the Bedford County Militia three times. You may read a transcription of his entire Revolutionary War pension application file here (link).

1781 - The Final Year of the Revolutionary War

At this point I urge readers to first read my histories for his brothers' John here (link) and Benjamin here (link) to gain an understanding of our Revolutionary War from Virginia's viewpoint. With the Lieutenant John Milam vignette we were able to look at the beginning of the Revolution from the Boston Tea Party in November 1773 through the defense of Boonesborough in the Winter of 1777 - 1778. With Benjamin and Lieutenant William Milam we were able to study the major battles of the Southern Campaign from the arrival of British Lieutenant General Lord Charles Cornwallis in Charleston, SC, in April 1780 through the critical Battle of Guilford Court House, NC, on 15 MAR 1781. Recall that the Battle of Guilford Court House was the turning point not only of the Southern Campaign but also of the entire War. [509, 517]

While the Southern Campaign was reaching its climax, Great Britain sent an expeditionary force from New York under the command of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold - the British / American hero of the Battle of Saratoga who remained loyal to Great Britain - to invade Virginia with a fleet of 27 ships "including 18 Square Rigged Vessels" and 1600 soldiers / sailors. On 29 DEC 1780 it rounded Cape Henry to enter the Chesapeake Bay and on the 30th reached Hampton Roads and the mouth of the James River. [553]

This was not the first invasion of Virginia by a British naval force. On 10 MAY 1779 Sir George Collier invaded with a fleet of 7 large ships and 28 smaller transports and 1800 men. He occupied Portsmouth, Norfolk and Suffolk for three weeks; burned or captured 130 vessels, and destroyed warehouses, burned thousands of casks of tobacco and captured valuable goods. [554]

On 21 OCT 1780 General Alexander Leslie arrived at Portsmouth with a fleet of seven ships and 2200 men with the British goal to occupy Norfolk and Portsmouth, to cut off the main sea supply route to US forces in the Carolinas and to tie up Virginia troops. His army soon occupied Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News and captured or destroyed invaluable supplies. But abruptly on 15 NOV he was ordered to embark for Charlestown to support Cornwallis. [555]

British General Benedict Arnold Invades Virginia

With Arnold's New Year's Eve invasion, the British planned to permanently hold Portsmouth and gather together as many Loyalists as possible thereby to draw militias from the Southern Campaign and again to block shipping to the Carolinas. Typical of Arnold, he had a grander and self-serving plan. Arnold ordered a swift strike upon Williamsburg, the former capital, and then upon Richmond before even attempting to seize Portsmouth. On the morning of 2 JAN they arrived at Kings Mill just south of Williamsburg with 23 ships and were met by 170 rag tag militiamen. The bravado of militia commander Thomas Nelson made Arnold hesitate and reconsider how many men might be hiding in the nearby woods. Arnold decided an attack on Williamsburg was not worth the risks. [556]

With the a strong breeze and incoming tide, Arnold sailed further up the James River toward Richmond and made camp at the grand plantations along the northern shore centered around Robert Byrd's Westover (link) and Benjamin Harrison's Berkeley (link) on the evening of the 4th. With less than a day's rest and during a rainstorm, Arnold lead an army of 1100 experienced soldiers on a 30 mile march to Richmond that very night. Richmond, although the capital of the largest state in America, was a trading post of only 300 inhabitants plus a similar number of slaves. [557]

Although the militia had been called out, only 300 were gathered in the shadow of Henrico Parish Church atop Church Hill - the very church in which Patrick Henry famously declared: "Give me liberty, or give me death!" After firing one volley killing one British soldier, the militia were facing a charge from several directions. Before they could re-load the British were upon them. The debels "retreated into the woods in great confusion". The white men of Richmond vanished and it was now firmly in the control of Benedict Arnold.

The British set about plunderng the city. Arnold declared that all the goods in warehouses were their prize. Shops were robbed and the homes of officials burned. The British carried off rum, wine, sugar, molasses, tobacco and sail cloth to 30 ships they had confiscated. Arnold sent a patrol West along the James raiding several grand houses on their way to Tuckahoe where Governor Thomas Jefferson's family had been lodging. He also sent forces to the major weapons foundry at Westham and destroyed it by blowing up the gun powder magazine. Everywhere they captured slaves. Yet the greatest prize, Jefferson, had escaped. Members of the legislature and the Governor's Council had fled Richmond to their families. [558]

The traitor, Arnold, sailed his armada with captured goods and ships to Portsmouth to establish a fortress on 12 JAN 1781. It was during this week that Virginia militias were urgently called out. Rush Milam first entered service on 15 JAN 1781 before the Battle of Guilford CH but did not participate in that battle because he was marched East, not South, to first defend Petersburg - a key transit point with stores of amunition, weapons and supplies - and then to beseige Portsmouth. Meanwhile on the Southern front following the Battle of Cowpens on 17 JAN, Gen Cornwallis' army persued the retreating rebels north across the Dan River to enter Virginia on 14 FEB provoking great alarm. Virginia's survival was threatened with war on two fronts. That's when Benjamin and William Milam were drafted and marched South into North Carolina for the historic battle at Guilford Court House. Three of Thomas Milam's sons were now at war in the defense of our Independence and John Milam had died eight months before probably of battle wounds at age 38. [509, 519]

Gov Jefferson and Baron General Friedrich von Steuben hatched a plan to lay seige to Portsmouth and capture Arnold. The Marquis de Lafayette was leading a force of 900+ soldiers from Baltimore to Yorktown when his ships were run ashore by "Privatiers". Lafayette and only 12 men arrived in Yorktown by foot on 14 MAR and were greeted by Gen Von Steuben. By the 20th, militias under the command of General Peter Muhlenburg advanced to Suffolk, 12 miles west of Portsmouth, then on to Great Bridge, 6 miles south where there were skirmishes with the British. But on the 23rd they learned that the French fleet of 8 vessels was met at the mouth of the Chesepeake Bay by an equal number of British ships on 16 MAR. After an exchange of cannon fire 3 French ships were seriously damaged as were 2 British ships. The French decided that they were outgunned and that it was better to survive to fight another day. Thus ended the seige of Portsmouth and Gen Muhlenburg withdrew to Suffolk on the 25th. [559, 571]

Plan of Portsmouth Harbour in the Province of Virginia showing British Defensive Works, 1781
Created 1782; Library of Congress
Map of the Bristish Defenses of Portsmouth 1781

British General William Phillips Brings 2200 Troops to Aid Gen. Arnold

As if that wasn't disappointment enough, on the 25 MAR another British fleet arrived at Lynnhaven carrying 2200 men commanded by General William Phillips. The British now had a combined force of more than than 3800. [581] Meanwhile as the British made their prepartions, the three month drafts of most militiamen were expiring thus diminishing the Virginia forces. Rush Milam was discharged about 14 APR. According to Gen Muhlenburg the loss of "800 rifle men from the back country was particularly acute, depriving the state of its best marksmen". [559]

During this time of peril the British invaded Williamsburg and occupied it without resistence. Next they destroyed the state's small shipyard at Chickahominy. On the 25th they attacked the arms and stores at Petersburg. Von Steuben and Muhlenberg had gathered about 1000 militiamen to defend it. The 90 minute battle was fierce with cannons fired by both sides. But against the larger British force the Americans had to withdraw. They suffered about 100 men killer, wounded or captured. The British went on to destroy stores of supplies and weapons at Chesterfield Court House on the 27th and at Manchester on the 30th. [560, 582]

On 29 APR Lafayette and his 900 Continental troops from NY and NJ arrived in Richmond but without his artillery and wagons for lack of available horses - Virginians were unwilling to donate their horses to the cause!! The following morning knowing that Arnold's army had moved north to Manchester across the James River from Richmond, Lafayette arrayed his troops on Shockoe Hill making them appear a larger force. The British, knowing that Gen Lafayette and Continental troops had arrived, retreated down river to torch warehouses at Warwick. [561, 572]

Campagne en Virginie du Major Général M'is de LaFayette 1781
By Capitaine Michel du Chesnoy, 1746-1804; Library of Congress
Map of Battle of Petersburg  25 APR 1781_

On 6 MAY Gen Phillips received a message from Lt General Charles Cornwallis in Wilmington, NC, that he was coming north with his 2000+ soldiers to join Arnold and Phillips' 3800 in Petersburg. [583] Meanwhile in late April and May farmers all over Virginia were resisting the 3 month draft call ups and rioting against enlisting in the Continental Army for 18 months, especially in Western counties far from Richmond. Furthermore legislators were refusing to come to beseiged Richmond to make crucial decisions about raising militias and funding the war. The truth was that Virginia's constitution severely limited Governor Jefferson's executive powers to respond to the invasion. But the blame for Virginia's weak response to the invasion must be shared by the Assemblymen who wouldn't meet or refused to act aggresively and by the thousands of draft resisters. On 10 May it was decided the Assembly would meet in Charlottesville on 24 MAY. On about 16 MAY Rush Milam was drafted for the second time. [562]

Lt Gen Cornwallis Invades Virginia from the Carolinas with 2000+ Troops

Up until this point, the war in Virginia had been conducted by the cautious Arnold and Phillips who never strayed too far from their ships. Virginia's next experience was to be with the battle-scarred and fast moving General Cornwallis who arrived in Petersburg on 20 MAY.

On 24 MAY the British army once again made the Westover Plantation of Mary Byrd their headquaters. General Phillips had rather quickly died of a fever on 13 MAY and Brigadier General Arnold had sailed to New York for unclear reasons. Thus Cornwallis took command of the British campaign. His plan was to dislodge Lafayette from Richmond and destroy the remaining military supplies. Thus Lafayette retreated from Richmond when Cornwallis' greatly superior force threatened. Ordinary Virginians also fled taking their cattle, horses, Negroes, etc. The legislature had already removed to Charlottesville. To avoid the superior force, Lafayette moved north and west to await the arrival of Brigadier General Anthony "Mad Dog" Wayne's 1100 Continentals from Pennsylvania. Lafayette and Jefferson agreed to move "all public stores" to Point of Fork 45 miles northwest on the James River. [563, 573]

Hearing that Jefferson and the Assembly would convein in Charlottesville, Cornwallis on 3 JUN decided on a three prong attack: 1) Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton with 180 Dragons and 70 mounted infantry were to "disturb the Assembly" in Charlottesville and along the way send troops in search for Governor Jefferson at Monticello; 2) Lieutenant Colonel John Simcoe would ride Southwest with 500 Queen's Rangers to destroy the arms and stores at Point of Fork; and 3) Cornwallis would take the bulk of his army Southwest to Jefferson's Elk Hill plantation where all these forces would later rendezvous.

Lt Colonel Banastre Tarleton's Cavalry Advances on Charlottesville

Rumors of the British and especially Tarleton's approach sewed panic among Viginians in their path. A young man, Jack Jouett, spotted Tarleton's cavalry at Louisa Court House and road through the night to warn Jefferson at 4:30 AM on 4 JUN then rode on to warn the legislators in Charlottesville. Jefferson escaped with 15 minutes to spare. As it evolved, Tarleton captured only seven assembymen who had tarried. Although the British ransacked the village and destroyed weapons and supplies, he was generous with the legislators and released them after a few days. Tarleton's also did not damage Jefferson's Monticello; the same could not be said for Jefferson's plantation at Elk Hill which was sacked and his 30 slaves taken. [564, 579]

Meanwhile, Governor Jefferson had informed the Assembly that he would not serve another term when his expired on 31 MAY but they failed to elect anyone before Tarleton arrived on the 4 JUN. The Assembly reconvened over the Blue Ridge Mountains at Staunton and finally elected a new governor on the 12th - Yorktown militia General Thomas Nelson Jr. who was Jefferson's recommendation. They also increased the militias' pay and shortened their tours to two months to encourage turnout and decrease desertions. Thomas Jefferson, having escaped from Monticello, took his family to Poplar Forest, his plantation in Bedford County where Thomas Milam's sons lived. [565, 568]

On 4 JUN Jefferson received a letter from the Bedford militia leader, Col James Callaway: [566]

"...the militia was unable to meet a demand to raise two companies despite a month's effort. Some men who were court martialed for failing to serve escaped their guards. Another forty who enlisted for eighteen months "have long since deserted".

In early MAY Gen Nathaniel Greene, the Commander of the Southern Campaign, had ordered General von Steuben to train as many 18 month Continental recruits as possible. His base became the barracks at Point of Fork, the supply depot. Steuben had 450 poorly clothed - some in fact shoeless - and poorly equipped Continental trainees when on 3 JUN he was allerted to the approach of the British. He ordered the munitions, military supplies and troops moved to the south shore of the James River. On 4 JUN General Robert Lawson and 300+ militiamen joined him including Rush Milam's Bedford riflemen under Capt Alexander Cummins. On the 5th Lt Col John Simcoe with 500 Queen's Rangers attacked and captured a detachment of Steuben's dragoons sent to reconnoiter and the remaining supplies at Point of Fork. Believing that Simcoe had a much larger force, after dark Steuben retreated South. Capt Alexander Cummins' company of riflemen including Rush Milam was ordered to protect the rear of Steuben's withdrawing troops. [Samuel Mitchell's pension declaration here (link). On the 10th Steuben received orders to meet up with Lafayette which he did on the 19th in Hanover County. [567, 574, 579]

Battle of Point of Fork, Campagne en Virginie du Major Général M'is de LaFayette 1781
By Capitaine Michel du Chesnoy, 1746-1804; Library of Congress
Map of Battle of Point of Fork

Gen Anthony Wayne Brings 800 Continentals to Aid Gen. Lafayette

Also on 10 JUN General Anthony "Mad Dog" Wayne's Pennsylvania Continentals joined Lafayette but with only 800 soldiers. He was delayed for two months because his troops' mutinied for they were kept in service longer than their enlistment, for poor clothing and shelter, and for payment in depreciated Continental script which was worth only one-seventh its face value. Many merchants wouldn't accept such script. Governor Joseph Reed of Pennsylvania negotiated a reasonable settlement with the mutineers which was approved by General George Washington and Congress. Wayne finally headed South on 20 MAY. [575, 584]

The Journal of Lieutenant William Feltman of the First Pennsylvania Regiment [551 ]

"June 9th - Took up the line of march at 6 o'clock A. M., crossed the south branch of the Rappahannock River and proceeded 6 miles into the country. The county very poor and the buildings very small - 14 miles.

10th - Took up the line of march at 5 o'clock in the morning - and joined the Marquis' {de Lafayette} troops this day and passed a body of militia (Virginia) of 1800 men. We had a very severe march of 23 miles this day. (Orange County)

12th - Took up the line of march at 6 o'clock A. M., march through a thicket of fine woods, nothing but a foot path, through which we got with great difficulty especially our artillery. At last we arrived on the main road to Richmond {Route 33 today} which I long wished for and encamped.... (Louisa County) - 14 miles.

14th - Took up the line of march at 5 o'clock; marched through a damn poor county, the water being very scarce. This day see a number of Negroes, the greater part of them being naked. - 12 miles."

Cornwallis' entire British army left Elk Hill on 13 JUN, returned to Richmond on the 18th, arrived at Bottom's Bridge over the Chickahominy River on the 22nd, and New Kent Courthouse on the 23rd. Meanwhile Lafayette's reconstituted army of perhaps 5000 [577] began to follow Cornwallis moving through Richmond on the 22rd. Cornwallis camped at Williamsburg on 25 JUN to await orders from General Clinton in New York. After Layfayette's arrival at New Kent Court House on the 26th, skirmishes began. Then all was quiet until Cornwallis received orders from Clinton that he wished 3000 British troops to return to New York for its defense. [568, 576]

Again, The Journal of Lt. William Feltman: [552]

"June 22nd - Marched at 2 o'clock through a well inhabited county though I can give no account of the people as I have not been inside a house (but one or two ornerys { Ordinaries}). They sometimes come to the road side in order to take a view of us as we pass by, but a person can scarcely discern any part of them but the nose and eyes, as they have themselves muffled up with linens, &c, to prevent the sun from burning their face (I mean the female sex)....

This day we passed through Richmond in twenty hours after the enemy evacuated it - a number of houses being destroyed by the enemy. They also destroyed a great quantity of Tobacco which they threw into the streets and set fire to it.

23rd - ...Our Light Horse brought us intelligence that the enemy was within one mile of us. The army immediately formed for action and an universal joy prevailed that certain success was before us. We lay on our arms for ten hours, hourly receiving accounts of their advance, but to our great mortification it turned out to be false (our intelligence on this whole march was exceedingly bad).

24th - ...This day one of our soldiers belonging to the 4th Regiment, PA, was taken deserting to the enemy. At 3 o'clock P. M. he was tried and sentenced to be shot which soon he received in the evening at roll-call. At the same time we received orders to stike our tents, which we did, and marched at dark in order to surprise Tarleton's Horse. He got intelligence of our advancing (which he always did, more than we) and retired. - 12 miles (James City County).

25th -...At dark took up our line of march in order to overtake Col. Simes' Horse { Col Simcoe's}, who lead the rear guard with a great number of cattle, plundering as he made his way towards James Town; left one Negroe man with small-pox lying along the road side in order to prevent the Virginia militia from persuing them, which the enemy frequently did; left numbers in that condition starving and helpless, begging of us as we passed them for God's sake to kill them, as they were in great pain and misery.

26th - At 6 o'clock in the morning we were informed that a covering party of Horse were but a small distance before us....We had a severe skirmish with their Horse and Infantry, in which we took a number of their horse and cattle, killing forty of their Infantry. Our loss was trifling....I expected every moment that they would attack our small party of Infantry, which was posted on a small knoll, in order to cover the Light Dragoons.

July 4th - Wet morning; cleared up at 10 o'clock. This day we had a Feu de Joie {Fire of Joy} in celebration of the Independency of America. After that was over the Pennsylvania performed several manoeuvres, in which we fired; had the thanks of the Marquis. The Feu de Joie was with a running firing from right to left of the army."

On 5 JUL the British moved to Jamestown Island preparing to cross the wide James River on the way to Portsmouth. The same day Layfayette sent Gen Wayne with 500 Pennsylvanians to attack Cornwallis' rear as they were crossing. Knowing the Americans would do this, Cornwallis set a trap hidding forces in the woods near the crossing site.

The Journal of Lt. William Feltman: [552]

"5th July - At sunrise we took up the line of march for Jamestown....our battalion (the 1st PA) was then ordered to close column and advance, when we had information that the 2nd and 3rd ballalions were....in sight of us; we then formed again...., the 3rd batallion on our right and the 2nd on our left; being then formed, brought on a general engagement, our advance regular at a charge till we got within eighty yards of their whole army, they being regularly formed, standing one yard distance from each other, their Light Infantry being in front of our batallion. We advanced under a very heavy fire of grape-shot, at which distance we opened our musquetry. Then I received a wound from a canister shot in my left breast, but did not retreat until the whole of us retreated, which was very rapidly. Upon our retreat I felt very faintish, but the thoughts of falling into the enemies hands made me push on as hard as I possibly could for about 5 miles....

The number of our killed and wounded and taken being 97 Rank and File."

The cost was heavy for Wayne: at least 28 killed, 99 wounded and 12 missing. It's often referred to as the battle of Green Spring Farm. Cornwallis crossed the James to Cobham on the 6th and moved on to Suffolk on the 16th. Lafayette and Wayne moved west to Malvern Hill on the 17th. [568, 578]

Rush Milam was discharged around 7 JUL "after 6 or 7 weeks" duty, as he declared.

Battle of Green Spring, Campagne en Virginie du Major Général M'is de LaFayette 1781
By Capitaine Michel du Chesnoy, 1746-1804; Library of Congress
Map of Battle of Green Spring 1781

Lt Colonel Tarleton's Cavalry Advances on Bedford County

On 9 JUL 1781 Lt Colonel Tarleton and his 320 member cavalry galloped west from Suffolk passing through Prince Edward Court House (13 - 15 JUL) to Bedford (19 - 20 JUL). This was when Rush Milam was drafted for the third time to defend New London and its weapons stores. On route they stole fine horses and destroyed supplies while fending off the Virginia militia. The target in Bedford County was a major militia arsenal at New London. The local militia was sucessfully rallied and Tarleton never found the hidden arms. Tarleton was back in Petersburg by the 23rd and Suffolk on the 25th . [566]

Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton's journal: [580]

"The stores destroyed, either of public or private nature, were not in quantity or value equivalent to the damage sustained in the skirmishes on the route, and the loss of men and horses by the excessive heat of the climate. The intelligence which occasioned this march was exceedingly imprefect: The stores, which were the principal object of this expedition, had been conveyed from Prince Edward Court House, and all that quarter of the country, to Hillsborough {NC} and General Greene's army upwards of a month before the British light troops commenced to move. A halt of two days in Bedford County discovered that General Greene had made no detachment northward, but that he was engaged in the Seige of Ninety Six (link)."

On 25 JUL Tarleton joined Cornwallis at Suffolk and on the 28th they moved to Portsmouth. On the orders of General Clinton in New York, Cornwallis moved his entire army to York Town on 19 AUG and furiously began to build up its defenses.

The Seige of Yorktown

In late 1780, ~ 5,500 French soldiers under Lt Gen Comte de Rochambeau landed in Rhode Island to aid the Americans against British-controlled New York City. During the Summer of 1781 General George Washington in consultation with Rochambeau asked that the French navy in the West Indies aid in a blockade of Yorktown. On 19 AUG Washington with ~ 3000 Continentals and Rochambeau with ~ 4000 French soldiers began their long march to Virginia.

On 5 SEP the French navy under Admiral De Grasse defeated the British navy lead by Admiral Thomas Graves in the Chesapeake Bay cutting off Cornwallis's access to the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, De Grasse disembarked ~ 2500 French troops at Norfolk to join Rochambeau. [569]

By late SEP 1781 Cornwallis's ~ 7000 British were surrounded by ~ 7500 French under Rochambeau and ~ 8800 Americans under Washington including ~ 5000 Continentals and ~ 3000 Virginia militia. On the 29 SEP the seige began. After three weeks of shelling, Cornwallis surrended on 19 OCT. [570] For a detailed account of this climatic battle please see this Wikipedia article here (link).


Rush Milam's Revolutionary War Service

First Tour: 15 JAN to ~ 15 APR 1781

The following quote is from Rush Milam's pension declaration first provided on 11 MAR 1833 at the age of 74 before the Justices of Kanawha County, West Virginia. You may read a transcript of Rush's entire pension file here (link). He was drafted into the Bedford County Militia on three occasions. His first tour was of the standard three months from 15 JAN to 14 APR 1781. Rush was marched initially to protect the barracks and arms depot at Petersburg then to the Portsmouth area where the Americans planned to surround and capture the traitor, British General Benedict Arnold, and his forces.

"He entered the service under Capt Alexander Cummins by whose command this declarant was marched from Bedford County to Petersburg and his company was there attached to the regular troops under the command of General Friedrich von Steuben and annexed to the regiment commanded by Col Thomas Meriwether and Major Christian De Klauman, a Dane. From Petersburg he was marched to the Town of Suffolk on Suffolk river {12 miles southwest of Portsmouth}. From this place he was marched to a place called Green Sea {Edmund's Hill}. From Green Sea this Declarant was conducted to some fortifications or breast works commanded by Gen Gregory {Brigadier General Isaac Gregory of the North Carolina Militia at North West River Bridge on the Elizabeth River on present day Route 168 just north of the NC / VA line}. From this place he was marched to Prince George Court House where he was regularly discharged by Capt Cummins, having served a term of three months."

The following Revolutionary War pension applications provide additional details since these riflemen were also with Colonel Thomas Meriwether, Major Christian de Klauman & Captain Alexander Cummins during the same time and battles:

John Hudnall recounted:

"Again in January...1781, he was drafted into the service of the United States from the militia of Bedford County Va. & served at least three months. The men...rendezvoused at New London, then in Bedford, now in Campbell County...about the 15th January 1781 & marched from thence thro’ Prince Edward, Dinwiddie & Petersburg to...Cabin Point in Surry County, under the command of John Trigg, Captain... & one Cummings perhaps ensign. At Cabin Point they were placed...under the command of Gen’l. Peter Muhlenburg....He thinks at a place called Cobb’s old field the army was drawn up in line & volunteers invited out to go & watch the movements of the British, then in possession of Portsmouth & Norfolk. He was one of the number who volunteered on the occasion...& marched from thence to the lower part of Virginia some distance south east of Portsmouth to a place called Edmund’s Hill near to a fort in which the British were stationed. His field officers in this volunteer expedition were Col Thomas Meriwether & Maj Christian de Klauman....At one time the American troops were drawn up in line of battle within cannon shot of the fort & offered a fight, but the enemy would not come out, tho’ they fired a few shots. The troops then went back into quarters & kept up scouting parties until near the end of the tour. They suffered every kind of hardship. He marched across the Dismal Swamp, 8 or 10 miles on logs to Prince George Court House where he was discharged...sometime in April 1781."

You may read a transcription of his declaration here (link).


Frederick Felts added more details:

"His general and field officers were Gen Muhlenberg, Col Thomas Meriwether and Major {Christian} de Klauman.

"He went into service about Christmas {1780}....From thence down to Edmund’s Hill some where in the neighborhood of Portsmouth where we staid about four weeks....and he the deponent was put under Capt Cummins in the same regiment. He then went with the company to the North West Landing {North West River commanded by Brig Gen Isaac Gregory} where he made a short stay near the enemy and then returned with the company to Edmund’s Hill where he remained a short time. The company then crossed....the Dismal Swamp and encamped in Babb’s Old Field on the North West side {near Suffolk}. Remained there a few days....He was in no actions but the duty to which he was assigned was very harassing as the force he was attached to was often in hearing and almost in sight of the enemy. The whole time of its stay at Edmund’s Hill some of our men had frequent skirmishes with their {the British} outer guard."

You may read a transcription of his entire declaration here (link).

More details are in this letter of General Robert Lawson to Governor Thomas Jefferson here (link).

Second Tour: ~ 17 MAY to ~ 7 JUL 1781

"After being home four weeks and a day" - about the 17th of May 1781 - Rush was drafted a second time to initially protect an arms depot at nearby New London then the depot at Point of Fork and then to persue Cornwallis' army east across the state to Williamsburg. By this time, militia tours were officially only two months in length:

"between the 15th and 20th of May 1781 this affiant was again drafted from Bedford County to serve a second tour and under the same Capt Alexander Cummins. At this time he was first marched to the Town of New London....which was then threatened with an attack by the British. He was thence conducted to the James River to a place called Point of Fork at the confluence with Rivanna River {4 JUN} and from thence to near Charlotte Court House. From this place the troops crossed the James River and were marched to Goochland Court House and from thence to Bottoms Bridge below Richmond on the Chickahominy River. He was thence conducted to New Kent Court House then to Williams Burg when his time expired. We were drafted for 3 mo. as before stated, but were permitted to go home after having been in service for 6 or 7 weeks to Attend to our crops of corn, which we had planted before leaving. All his officers during this service are not distinctly remembered except his Major whose name was Love {? Maj William Lewis Lovely} and the Chief in command was General Robert Lawson of the Virginia militia."

You may read details of the Point of Fork battle here (link).

The following Revolutionary War pension declarations suppliment Rush Milam's since these militiamen were also in Capt Alexander Cummins company during the same time.

Samuel Mitchell recounted:

"...marched directly to Point of Fork of North {Rivanna} and James Rivers....and joined the army at that place commanded by Gen’l. Lawson and Baron Steuben. The day they arrived there....{British Col Simcoe} with a corps of horse made his appearance & fired one cannon at them & they retreated without injury, except the loss of a mare of one of the officers, which was shot through. The Americans cut their boats and sunk their arms in the river.

The main army marched from Point of Forks in the evening {5 JUN} for Cole’s Ferry on the Roanoke River and left Capt Cummins company, of which he was one, to cover the retreat. Cummins and company followed the army to Charlotte Court House, VA where we met them {Gen Steuben} returning. They rejoined the main army {Steuben's} and marched through Cumberland to Carter’s Ferry on the James river where they crossed and marched through Goochland & Hanover counties....and joined the army under La Fayette and {General Anthony} Wayne {19 JUN}...."

You may read a transcription of his entire declaration here (link).

William Hancock added details:

"In the Month of May one thousand seven hundred and eighty one He was drafted for three months and served in Captain Alexander Cummins company of riflemen....under the command of General Lawson. Were marched down upon James River to a place called Point of Fork....from there was marched to Carters ferry upon James River. There crossed the river and were marched from there to about twenty miles above Richmond {Colonel Dandridge's plantation in Hanover County} where we joined the Marquis Lafayette. From there were marched in pursuit of Lord Cornwallace who was but a short distance ahead; after several days march this applicant with about two hundred others were detached and marched down upon the Chickahominy to Guard a store {arms storehouse} under the Command of Captain {William Lewis} Lovely – there this applicant remained until his time of three months expired and was relieved and sent home."

You may read a transcription of his declaration here (link).

It's interesting that both Mitchell and Hancock swore that they served tours of three months while Rush stated that his tour was only six to seven weeks - especially since Generals Lafayette and Wayne launched a major assault on Gen Cornwallis's army massed at Jamestown on 5 JUL.

Third Tour: ~ 15 JUL to ~ 23 JUL 1781

Rush Milam's pension statement declared that on the 14th or 15th JUL 1781, he was enlisted to defend his own county, Bedford:

"...after being at home about a week I was called out to guard the town of Bedford {called New London in 1781} from an attack threatened by Lt Col Banastre Tarleton (19 - 20 JUL)....and was in this service about one week. It apprehended that the British army would make a demonstration upon that place. He was not kept under arms the whole of this tour but was subject to march at a moments warning, and had this exemption from constant duty from his officers. His officers were Capt. Charles Gwatkins and Col James Callaway. There was about 1500 in the guard under the command of Col. Callaway & thus ended my services."

I note that Rush Milam's pension declaration stated that he was drafted for the third time "on 24 August" but it must have been in July because Rush also declared that he was "home about a week" after the end of his second tour before he was called up again and because Lt Col Tarleton's cavalry was in Bedford County on July 19th to 20th - not in August. But one has to remember that all these pension statements were made by men in their seventies.

Ultimately, Rush Milam was denied a pension because the total service which he could prove was "less than six months which was the minimum provision of the Revolutionary Claim Act of 7 June 1832".

In the 1782 Rush is listed in the Bedford County, Virginia, Property Tax List on page 18 with l tithe, 1 white over 21, 12 blacks, 3 horses and 6 cattle.

On 24 FEB 1783, Rush Milam qualified as a Bedford County Constable (link) [585] and a few months later on 16 JUL 1783 Rush married Ann Elizabeth FOWLER (daughter of William B. FOWLER and Amanda Ann HOFFMAN) in Bedford County. She was born about 1765 most likely in Virginia.

In the same year he is listed in the Property Tax List in Bedford County with 1 free male over 21, 2 horses, 6 cattle, and 1 white tithe above 16. On the Property Tax List in 1784 in Bedford County Rush Milam is found on page 25 with 1 tithe, 1 white over 21, 4 horses and 8 nell. cattle.

On May 24, 1785, Rush Milam purchased from the Trustees of the Town of Liberty, two 1/2 acre lots - numbers 2 and 3 - in the Town of Liberty for 57 pounds Current money. This purchase resulted in four years of litigation when Rush couldn't pay the mortgage; William Millam co-signed a Security (link) bond with him. Matters became very serious for them when on 28 MAY 1788 this occured:

28 MAY 1788 BEDFORD COUNTY, ORDER BOOK 9, Page171. In Chancery (link), Trustees vs Milams. On the motion of the Contempts by their attorney, the decree made in this suit at March Court last, the same is set aside & It is Ordered & Decreed that the Mortgaged Premisdes To Wit one hundred acres of land on Read Creek it being the whole of the track of land whereon the said William Milam now lives together with one hundred acres of land whereon the said Rush Milam now lives, likewise a bay horse.....a bay mare.....a grey horse.....a bay mare.....a bay horse....and another bay horse.....be sold by the Sheriff of this County after the 28th day of June next for the best price that can be got for the same to satisfy the Complaintents seventy Pounds 2 Shillings with Legal interest from the seventh day of March 1787 giving Legal notice and the overplus (if any) after Paying the Defts aforesaid and all costs accrued in the Prosecution of this suit to be Refunded to the Defendants & that the Defendants shall be for ever barred of their Right of Equity of Redemption of Mortgaged Premises.

The case was eventually appealed to the Chancery Court (link) on 27 MAR 1788. You may read this important series of cases here (link) .

Chancery Causes (link) are cases that are decided on the basis of equity and fairness as opposed to the formulated rules of English Common Law. Some of the more common types of chancery causes involve divisions of the estate of a person who died intestate; divorces; settlements of dissolved business partnerships; and resolutions of land disputes.

In June 1785 Rush and Zachariah Milam and neighbors petitioned for a change of the road to Poteat's Gap which was signed by Rush Milam and Zachariah Milam but not by Benjamin Kelly who was still a prisoner of the Shawnee Indians as I discuss in the chapter on Lt John Milam here (link).

"To the Gentlemen appointed by the Worshipful Court of Bedford to view the road from Holley's Gap to Poteeth's Gap ~

We Your Petitioners beg leave to inform that we labour under great Inconveniences by the Old Roads as they Now run, and beg You will view the way from Major Gwatkins along a Rolling Road Cleared by Francis Holley and by the Fork Field belonging to Charles Rice into the other Road and keeping the same to Poteeth's Gap ~" { Signed by sixteen men. } You may view a larger image and transcription of this petition here (link) .

Zachariah and Rush Millam signed a Road Petition in JUN 1785
Zachariah Milam Road Petition 1785

Rush is listed on the Property Tax List in 1787 in Bedford with 4 horses and 8 cattle. On the Property Tax List in 1788 in Bedford County, dated April 28, finds Rush Milam with 1 white tithe and 4 horses.

He is listed in the Property Tax List in 1789 in Bedford County, dated April 4, with 1 white male tithe above 21 and 1 horse. On the Property Tax List in 1790 in Bedford, dated March 19, finds Rush Milam with 1 white male tithe above 21. The same is true for his listings in 1791 and 1792.

On 26 Jul 1803, after removing to Botetourt County, Rush Milam and Elizabeth, his wife, sold their two town lots numbers 2 and 3, in the Town of Liberty, Bedford County, to William Mitchell for $500.

We know that they were in Botetourt County then because on 14 MAY 1804: "The Bedford Court orders William Quarles and James Otey, Gents., Justices of the County of Bedford to examine Elizabeth Milam in Botetourt County to see if she will relinguish her right of dower"..... on the sale of the two lots. { BEDFORD COUNTY DEED BOOK 11, pages 1028. }

In 1810 Rush Milam appeared on page 641 of the Virginia census in Botetourt County. In his household are 3 males under 10 years of age, 1 male between 10 and 16, 2 males between 16 and 26, 1 male over 45, 1 female between 16 and 26 and 1 female between 26 and 45.

On the 1820 Virginia census Rush Milam appeared in Kanawha County, also in Virginia at the time. This census lists Rush Milam on page 3. In his household are 1 male under 10, 1 male between 10 and 16, 2 males between 16 and 26, 1 male over 45, 1 female under 10, 1 female between 26 and 45 and 1 female over 45.

In 1835 Rush applied for a Revolutionary War Veteran's Pension as a resident of Kanawha County. You may read a transcript of this application here (link).

The 1840 Virginia census lists Rush Milam in Kanawha County, page 45, next door to a Benjamin Milam, who is age 30 to 40. Benjamin is probably a son. In Rush's household is one male between 70 and 80 years of age, 1 female between 15 and 20, and 1 female between 70 and 80.

On 14 AUG 1844 a Rush Milam bought 75 acres on Tyler's Creek of the Pocatalico River for $50 from George Wilson. [744] However given Rush's elderly age (85), this purchase was probably made by Simeon Milam Sr's son, Rush Milam. Rush Milam didn't have a Land Grant either. So it appears that Rush leased land in Kanawha County, as he had in Botetourt County.

Rush Milam lived to be 85+ years old dying sometime between 1845 and 1850 in Kanawha County as did his wife Ann Elizabeth. There is no Will recorded for him in Kanawha County will books. If Rush Milam had owned land, there should have been at least a property appraisal and probate after his death but there was not.

Issue of Rush and Elizabeth (Fowler) Milam ( Robert Wilbanks IV ):

I. Simeon Milam Born between 1784 and 1790, Bedford County, Virginia

II. James Milam Born between 1784 and 1794, Bedford County, Virginia

III. Moses B. Milam Born 1792, Bedford County, Virginia

IV. John Milam Born between 1794 and 1800, Virginia

V. Lindsey Milam Born circa 1801, Botetourt County, Virginia

VI. Benjamin R. Milam - Born circa 1805, Botetourt County, Virginia. Details and photo for him here (link).


~~~~~~~~~~Please see the records chronology for many more records here (link) . ~~~~~~~~~


NOTE TO READERS: Most all the words in bold type face are links to images, maps or word definitions in the Glossary. The Citations and Glossary are available under the Resources tab or here (link) .

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