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Notes on the Captains of the Vessels in the Battle of Valcour Island under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

Part 1d:
Joshua Grant- Connecticut Gondola, Samuel Mansfield- New Haven Gondola

by Stephen Darley


Joshua Grant was born in York, Maine on November 9, 1748. His father was also named Joshua Grant. Joshua Jr. married Abigail in 1765 and they had five children. After the death of his first wife, he married Judith Fall in 1771 and then Elizabeth Horsum on February 9, 1784. It appears that he had over fifteen children with his three wives.

According to his pension application, Joshua Grant joined the army in April of 1775 as an orderly sergeant in the company of Captain Samuel Derby of York, and was in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was first lieutenant in the New Hampshire Company of Captain James Arnold, which marched to Fort Ticonderoga with Colonel Joshua Wingate’s Regiment and his name appears on a roll dated July 20, 1776. The Grant pension application contains a letter from six citizens of the Town of York, Maine, stating that Joshua Grant “was in the engagement on Bunker Hill, was with Gen. Arnold on the Lakes and in many hazardous enterprises in the course of his long and faithful services.”

By August 18th, he was in command of the Continental Gondola Connecticut under Benedict Arnold. Because there was more than one man named Joshua Grant, it is difficult to confirm his service record subsequent to the action on Lake Champlain. There was a Joshua Grant in the Penobscot expedition in 1779 and a Joshua Grant who served from 1780 through 1782 as a private in the Massachusetts militia company of Captain David Holbrook. Because of the rank, it is unlikely that either of these men was Captain Joshua Grant of Valcour Island.[7]


Samuel Mansfield was born in 1757 or 58 in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Mansfield, who was the High Sheriff of New Haven. He was the brother-in-law of Major General Benedict Arnold, who was the commander of the American fleet at Valcour Island, through Arnold’s first wife, Margaret Mansfield. Arnold had a business partnership with his father-in-law, and most likely provided a position and training in the trading business for his much younger brother-in-law, Samuel.

According to Heitman, Samuel Mansfield was a volunteer in the Canadian expedition to reinforce the American Army in 1776, undoubtedly with the concurrence of Benedict Arnold, who would have wanted his eighteen year old brother-in-law to be under his supervision. Mansfield was in the retreat from Canada with his brother-in-law, Benedict Arnold, and stayed on at Fort Ticonderoga during 1776. In early August, Mansfield was assigned as a commander of the New Haven Gondola, and his name is on the list of American vessels, dated August 18, as the commander of that gondola. The New Haven was one of the vessels burned by Arnold at Ferris Bay on October 13.

In a letter to Washington, written on January 13, 1777, Arnold recommended Samuel Mansfield to command a company of artillery stating that he had been a lieutenant of artillery “last summer” and was afterwards “captain of a galley”.  The pension application of Benjamin Murray from Norfolk, Connecticut also confirms that Samuel Mansfield was the captain of the New Haven. Mansfield was commissioned as a captain in John Lamb’s artillery regiment with an effective date of January 1, 1777. He subsequently commanded his own company in Lamb’s Regiment as shown by a muster roll, dated February 1778. Mansfield served in the artillery until he became disaffected with the assignment of officers, including someone placed over him who had less seniority. On November 6, 1778, he wrote a letter of resignation from the service explaining that he could no longer serve under such a condition.

Heitman lists him as a volunteer Aide-de-Camp to Governor Walton of Georgian during the siege of Savannah in 1779, although there is no record of how and when he went from Connecticut to Georgia. This author believes that the aide to Governor Walton was another person with the name of Samuel Mansfield. Our Samuel Mansfield moved to New York after the war because he was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati from 1783, and his family is listed in the census of Hudson, New York in 1790. Samuel Mansfield died on February 3, 1810 in Hudson, New York. He married Elizabeth Greene in 1783 and they had three children.[8] 


[7] Hammond, 289; Joshua Grant Pension Application, W23143,; Joshua Grant Family Tree,; Revolutionary War Soldiers of York County, Maine. New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol. 65, 1911, 109; Arnold to Simmons, Lake Champlain Museum, Gunboat Management Plan.

[8] Isaac Q. Leake. Memoir of the Life and Times of John Lamb,  Glendale, N.Y.: Benchmark Publishing Co, 1970,150; NARA, Revolutionary War Service Records for Samuel Mansfield; Heitman, 379; Samuel Mansfield Family Tree,; Arnold to Washington, January 13, 1777.Wshington Papers, LOC; Benjamin Murray Pension Application W24021, image 25343682.

Date this page was last edited: 1/23/2016

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