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Notes on The Military Journal of George Ewing

Thomas Ewing Jr. (born 21 May 1862, Leavenworth, Kansas,) Great Grandson of George Ewing, transcribed George's Military Journal in 1928.  The following are the notes he wrote regarding that process:

The journal is here presented in full, the spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lining and paging being strictly reproduced. The pages of the original are not numbered. It is written on twenty four sheets of rag paper which are bound together at the shorter edge by a rough cord inserted five times, the distance between the insertions being about one inch. The size of the sheets is five and one-half by seven and a quarter inches.

The Journal is now (1928) owned by the Honorable George Ewing of Columbus, Ohio, to whom it was given by his father Hugh Boyle Ewing who had received it as a gift from his father Thomas Ewing while on a visit to the home in Lancaster, Ohio, during the Civil War. The manuscript is in a very good state of preservation but the two outside pages are much faded and the first page is somewhat blurred and torn.

The first twenty five pages are written in a small and uniform hand, and straight lines. From there on the writing is freer and larger and on some of the pages e. g., twenty-seven, thirty-one, the lines are not straight. Page thirty-six is irregular and from there on the handwriting is quite open and free and not very uniform, excepting page fifty-one which is in the earlier style of writing.

The ink is all faded to a brown excepting on pages twenty-eight (following "Tomlinson") twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one and thirty-two through the first five entries. The ink here is black. It would seem that he found a better quality of ink in Greenwich than he had elsewhere and took enough of it back to camp to write the entries of March 20th and 21st. This page, being illustrative of the two styles of handwriting, is reproduced herewith. I have reproduced, also, page four.

In the latter part of 1864 my uncle General Hugh Boyle Ewing made a copy with his own hand and published the Journal in a small pamphlet of family history. In 1911 my cousin the late John Gillespie Ewing made from the original a complete type-written copy, line for line. He used the earlier copy and consulted a handwriting expert to clear up certain difficulties. A few years ago my brother the late William Cox Ewing made from the original a copy with his own hand.

I have, in the main, relied upon and followed the typewritten copy. This I compared with that of my brother and checked all points of difference by reference to the original. The differences were not of importance. Speaking generally they arose out of the fact that my brother in his reading of the original inclined toward the correct or modern spelling; and he also took the character used at the close of words ending in "ed" as being ed, whereas John G. treated it as d. Upon these points I have followed the typewritten copy. Some of the words are clipped at the ends of lines, e. g., Perkiomg for Perkioming on page twenty three, commd for command on page forty-two; and on page fifty-two the final d seems to have been reduced to an a (line 7). I mention these points merely to show that I have tried to be exact but do not find anything demanding minute exactness.

The reader of this printed COPY would gain little or nothing by having the original before him.

The only passage where the sense is difficult to follow is on the 35th page. In the edition printed by my uncle the passage is made to read as follows: This evening some roguish chaps tied a sheaf of straw to the tail of Joseph Anderson's (Brigade Quartermaster, commonly called "leg and a piece" or "five pound ten") horse and set it on fire and let him run, which very much offended him and he set out to the General to enter a complaint.

As to the Proper names, I have left the spelling as I have found it in the typewritten copy excepting where I doubted whether the copyist had not mistaken the name which the author intended to set down. In such instances I have checked up the names in Stryker's Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War and Heitman's Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army. By reason of what I found and did not find in these two works, I have made the following substitutions:

Page15, I prefer Barber to Barker;

Page17, Hagan. This was read Heagan by my cousin and Henyon by my brother. He served under both Captain Hagan and Captain Hennion. In a letter to his son Thomas dated April 23, 1819, referring to the same period, he gives the name as Hagan.

Pages 26, 35, 37, I have written Elmer for Elmore;

Page 30 and elsewhere, I have preferred Duclos to Duclas;

Page 32 and elsewhere, I have preferred Catouch to Caterich

Page 38, I have preferred Kersey to Hensey or Henry, as others have read it.

Page 52, 1 have preferred Doughty for Doubtty.

The name VanSwiks which appears on page 42 should I think be VanSlyke.

The persons mentioned below are not found in either of the works referred to. Some of them certainly should be added to the roll. The names are:

Lieut.Tomlinson, page 14;

David Sayre, page 26;

Philip Statham, page 31;

John Vail, Elisha Hoobs and Benj. Shurman, page 32;

Mr. Rucastle, page 37.

I do not find, also, James Connolly or Robert Johnston. Doubtless in addition to their terrible punishment for desertion (pages 41-42) their names were stricken from the roll.

Of the three British Colone!s mentioned on page 20, I find none in Worthington C. Ford's British Officers of the American Revolution. There are two Lawrences, one Gerrard, a Captain, and one Thomas, an Ensign and Lieutenant, but no Colonel.

On the 27th page there is a statement that Col. Coates of the militia was captured at Smithfield by a party of the enemy coming out from Philadelphia. Heitman's Historical Register (p,162) records "Coates, William (Pa.) Col. Pennsylvania militia; was a prisoner; when and where taken, not stated."

I have not found Smithfield. Probably Springfield was meant.

After the Revolutionary War George Ewing moved from New Jersey to Ohio, leaving the Journal with his brother-in-law Abijah Harris, who in the year 1819, stated that it had been in his possession for "upwards of thirty years", and that George Ewing had not seen it during that time. On April 13, 1820, George Ewing from his then home in Perry County, Indiana, wrote to his son Thomas at Lancaster: My Military journal you will bring with you when you come." I conclude from the handwriting and the ink that two insertions were made by him at a late date, possibly after the summer of 1820. These are the words "march with them" on page 4, and "long" page 10. There is no change anywhere of importance, excepting the obliteration of certain words

on page36, done by some unknown hand in the interest of temperance. My brother thought that he could read "a quart of Peach Brandy" and "whiskey jug and spilt all the stuff", but to my eye the obliteration is complete, and the words are omitted from the copies (other than my brother's) above referred to.

The accompanying maps have been prepared for me by Mr. Samuel W. Balch of Montclair, New Jersey. We have had some advice about points of the geography from Mr. Lawrence J. Morris of Philadelphia. I close with a brief note from him dated July 30, 1928:

"I am deeply indebted to you for your letter of the 27th inst. enclosing proof of the Diary of George Ewing 1775-8, which I have read with very great interest. He was evidently observant, and the whole diary gives accurate details of that most important period by a participant. I hope further search may disclose further journals."

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1998-2006 Marilyn Price-Mitchell.  Permission to copy all or part of this page granted for non-commercial use only.  Send mail to ewingfamily(at)sandcastles.net.  Instead of (at), use the @ symbol normally found in an email address. Last modified: September 16, 2006