Monday, November 11, 2013

Military Monday: James Houston's Travels in Revolutionary Times

Map of Military Travels of James Houston, 1776-1780

Every once in a while, I stumble upon someone who turns out to be one interesting individual.  That has been the case with researching James Houston, the brother of Margaret Peggy Houston, my husband's third Great Grand Aunt.  I have been trying to learn more about Margaret and her family, and I kept coming across information about brother James when I was really just seeking more about Margaret.  Now I'm glad he kept popping up.

The areas where James traveled are taken from the original Revolutionary War Pension Application filed by James Houston in 1832.(1)  In his application he described his travels as a soldier during those years; I saw the names of many familiar places.  If you look at the map, my hometown of Johnson City, TN, is about in its center.  It turns out that James and his travels took him all around the area where I live and have visited for many years.  

Veterans Day seems an appropriate time to look at James and his service with the colonial forces.  His pension application provides sufficient details for me to be able to make the map above as well as locate the photographs below.  All quotes below regarding a specific place or area are taken from his application using the transcription found on the Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters web site.

Point A  Spring, 1776, Augusta County, Virginia -- "He entered the service in the spring season ... in the year 1776 under Captain William Buchanan as a volunteer in a patrolling Company, -- [he] resided in the County of Augusta in the State of Virginia at the time he entered the service."

Point B  September, 1777, Washington County, Virginia -- "Declarant removed from Augusta County ... to Washington County in Western Virginia in the month of September 1777, and in the month of February 1778 again entered the Service in said County of Washington, Virginia ... in a volunteer Company commanded by Captain Aaron Lewis.

Point C  February, 1778, Long Island on the Holston River, Tennessee, present day Kingsport, TN -- "Said Company belonged to a Regiment of Infantry who embodied at Long Island on Holston River commanded by Colonel Evan Shelby.

South Long Island, Kingsport, TN

Point D  1778, Holston River at its junction with the Tennessee, present day Knoxville, TN -- "From Long Island on Holston the Army proceeded in canoes down Holston River to its junction with the Tennessee ... "

Holston and French Broad Rivers join in Knoxville to form the Tennessee River

Point E 1778, Mouth of Chickamauga Creek, present day Chattanooga, TN -- " ... then down the Tennessee River to the Mouth of Chickamauga Creek, where we proceeded to destroy the encampments and provisions of a part of the Cherokee Indians, called Chickamaugas, but had no encounter with the Indians."

Chickamauga Creek, Chattanooga, TN
photo source:

Point F and Point G October, 1778 to January, 1779, Powell Valley [There is a present day Powell Valley, TN and a Powell Valley, KY.  The state line between Tennessee and Kentucky may not have been widely known at the time of James' application] -- "About the first day of October 1778 again entered the service as a volunteer in the Company commanded by Captain Nathaniel Williams being a Company of Guards to reconnoiter the frontiers, and marched to Powels [sic Powell's] Valley in Kentucky and continued in service on the frontiers of Kentucky protecting the interior from the incursions of the hostile Indians until the month of January 1779."

Point H  April 1779 to October 1779, head of the New River, VA -- "Entered the service in Washington County, Virginia as Ensign in the Volunteer Company commanded by Captain William Edmondson.  ... said company reconnoitered as a company of discovery and guards on the frontiers of Washington, Virginia and on the head of New River, for the purpose of suppressing the disaffected and Tories."
New River in southwest Virginia
photo source:

Point I  October, 1779 [sic, 1780] at Watauga River, Carter County, Tennessee, present day site of Sycamore Shoals State Park -- " ... said Company joined the Regiment of volunteers commanded by Colonel William Campbell at Watauga River in what is now Carter or Sullivan County in the State of Tennessee ... "
Overmountain Men reenactment at Sycamore Shoals State Park, Elizabethton, TN
photo source:

Point J  1780, Battle of King's Mountain, NC / SC -- " ... from thence the Army were marched under the command of Colonel Campbell into the State of South Carolina [for] the defeat of the British and Tories at King's Mountain. ... from King's Mountain said Regiment returned home to Washington County and were discharged."

Monument at Kings Mountain National Military Park
photo source: Wikimedia Commons
Houston's return to Washington County apparently ended his military service.  His later life saw him playing various roles in the history of the young state of Tennessee, and that is definitely the subject for another post. 

(1)  "U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900," database and images.; citing Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls). Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C.


  1. Very interesting blog post. I did two posts on a Civil War ancestor and was surprised at all the information available on the events that surrounded him in the war. You never know what you will find and that is part of the fun of doing family history.

    Regards, Grant