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

Part 1c:
Moses Grimes- Jersey Gondola, Isaiah Simmons- Providence Gondola

by Stephen Darley

MOSES GRIMES, JERSEY GONDOLA

Moses Grimes was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire on June 7, 1732. He married Rachael Todd and settled in Hancock, New Hampshire prior to the birth of his son, Andrew, in 1770. A Moses Grimes was in the French and Indian War in a New Hampshire Regiment that served in the Crown Point Expedition in 1757 from March through November. Based on his date of birth, it is possible that our Moses Grimes was on that expedition. There is no indication as to where Grimes might have gained experience in navigating or captaining a sailing vessel prior to the Revolution.

Moses Grimes entered the Revolutionary War as a Sergeant in Sartell’s Company of Prescott’s Regiment on April 24, 1775 and was a Sergeant in Captain Correy’s Company in October of 1775. In July of 1776, Grimes was an Ensign in the New Hampshire Company of Daniel Emerson of Colonel Wingate’s Regiment. That regiment was directed to repair to Charlestown on the Connecticut River and “proceed to join the northern army wherever it might be found.” The Wingate Regiment was then assigned to the Fort Ticonderoga area and the regiment was at Fort Ticonderoga by August of 1776. At that time, Grimes was assigned as the captain for the Jersey gondola in Arnold’s navy.

In October of 1781, Moses Grimes was one of five men who petitioned the Governor of Vermont for a grant of 930 acres of land in an area then known as Kent, which was part of the ancient town of Londonderry, originally founded by James Rogers, brother of Robert Rogers, the famous ranger.  At the time of the petition, Grimes was a Selectman of the Town of Londonderry so he had moved from Hancock to Londonderry Vermont by 1781. By 1788, he was a Surveyor of Highways in Londonderry and he continued to serve in that capacity until 1790. There is no record of his date of death but he signed a deed in 1804 to convey land to George Hewes, so it must have been after that time.[5]

ISAIAH SIMMONS, PROVIDENCE GONDOLA

There is no specific information on the birth date and early life of Isaiah Simmons, although there is good reason to think that he was born in Boston in 1750. He was in the Revolutionary War as a 2nd Lieutenant in Henry Knox’s Artillery Regiment on December 10, 1775 and served until November 24, 1776, when he was discharged by Colonel Anthony Wayne. He was still a 2nd lieutenant in Knox’s Regiment as of March 16, 1776. He is listed on an undated 1776 return of the officers in two companies of artillery in Henry Knox’s Regiment, where he is designated as vacant because he was “commanding a Gondola.” Another muster roll shows him in Captain Ebenezer Stevens’ Company of Artillery at the Camp at Ticonderoga in 1776. Stevens’ company was assigned to reinforce the northern army in Canada in March of 1776. His company was in the retreat from Canada and stayed on at Fort Ticonderoga during the rest of 1776. On September 15, Ebenezer Stevens was appointed by Gates to command all of the artillery on the west side of Lake Champlain.

It is clear Simmons commanded a gondola on Lake Champlain and that he was the Captain Simmons referred to as the commander of the Providence Gondola on the various lists of commanders of the vessels in Arnold’s fleet. According to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Arnold wrote the following letter to Simmons on July 8, 1776: “Reposing especial trust and confidence in your courage, Patriotism and good conduct, in consequence of the power and authority vested in me, I do hereby appoint you Captain of the Gundalo Providence.” The Providence was active in the initial action at Valcour Island on October 12th and in the retreat towards Crown Point, the Providence was so damaged that it was sunk at Schuyler’s Island on the morning of October 12th.

Simmons was the subject of a petition from Boston on June 25, 1778 asking that he be commissioned as commander of the schooner General Heath, which was to be commissioned as a privateer. The commission was approved and on November 2, 1779, he was the subject of another petition asking that he be commissioned as the commander of the brig America, which was approved the same day. On September 25, 1780, he was again commissioned as commander of the sloop Providence and on October 11, 1781 as commander of the sloop General Green. His ship was captured by the British in November of 1782 and he was taken to St. Augustine, Florida to be imprisoned. There is no record of his release, which most likely occurred when the war ended.

Isaiah Simmons married Sarah Casneau on July 29, 1781 at the New North Church in Boston and the record shows that they had at least one child. One family history suggests that Simmons died in March of 1842, which would have made him approximately ninety years old at the time of his death.[6]

CONTINUED HERE


[5] Isaac W. Hammond, comp. Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to May 1777. Concord, N.H.: State of New Hampshire, 1885,181, 289; Edward L. Parker. The History of Londonderry: comprising the towns of Derry and Londonderry, N.H. Boston: Perkins & Whipple, 1851, 18-19, 100, 107-110, 212; Moses Grimes. www.ancestry.com.

[6] Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, Vol. 14, 229; Heitman, 497; National Archives & Records Administration. Revolutionary War Service Records, image 11832493. Boston Marriages, 1762-73, www.ancestry.com.

Date this page was last edited: 11/10/2012

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