John Baxter Carr, Seaman

John Baxter Carr. Born in Arundel, York County, ME on 6 May 1760 to Mary Baxter and Benjamin M. Carr, John Baxter Carr was named after his maternal grandfather. Mary Baxter’s mother Mary had been the second wife to John Baxter, his first wife and their only son John having been killed by Indians in 1726. According to genealogical sources, John Baxter Carr had two siblings, Eliphalet and Ruth. Carr first enlisted on 8 May 1775 as Private in Captain Jesse Dorman’s Company of Col. James Scammon’s 30th Regiment of Massachusetts Troops, serving through the first of August when his name appears on a muster roll. The recently authorized oath of allegiance would have been administered to the new recruit- “I, John Baxter Carr, swear I will truly and faithfully serve in the Massachusetts army, to which I belong, for the defense and security of the estates, lives and liberties of the good people of this and the sister colonies of America, in opposition to the ministerial tyranny by which they are or may be oppressed, and to all other enemies and opposers whatsoever; that I will adhere to the rules and regulations of said army, observe and obey the generals and other officers set over me; and disclose and make known to said officers all traitorous conspiracies, attempts and designs whatsoever which I shall know to be made against said army or any of the English American colonies, so help me God.” Officers of the company included Captain Jesse Dorman, Lieutenant Daniel Merrill and Ensign Jacob Curtis, all hailing from Arundel. All but five of the sixty York County men reported for duty with their own guns, seven of the men equipped with bayonets. The soldiers were paid two pounds in advance wages from which amount issued shoes were charged. The men from Arundel were allowed payment for 110 miles of travel which covered their march to Cambridge, MA ordered on 10 May 1775. The troops spent at least four days in travel before all three companies under Scammon’s command totaling over five hundred men were in camp on 23 May. One week prior to the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775, the regiment mustered 396 men fit for duty. During the battle, Scammon was ordered to march his men to the fighting at Bunker Hill but instead went to Lechmere Point. While ordered to the hill, the colonel claimed he understood the orders to mean Cobble Hill instead. Owing to his delay, the regiment did not reach the battlefield in time to be placed into service, resulting in General Washington’s accusation of “Backwardness in the execution of his duty in the late Action upon Bunkers-hill”. As a consequence Col. Scammon was court martialed, however ultimately exonerated. With Washington’s organization of the Continental Army in July 1777, most of Scammon’s Massachusetts Regiment was attached to General William Heath’s 2nd Brigade of Major General Israel Putnam’s 3rd Division. The regiment was stationed at Cambridge where it manned Fort No. 1 on the Charles River and a redoubt to the south of Fort No. 2 nearer Cambridge village. During the fall of 1775 the Continental Army attempted to bring uniformity to dress by issuing undyed cloth coats with pewter buttons and regimental designation. If a soldier already owned a suitable coat, he was not required to take the government issue and could draw money from the treasury instead. John Baxter Carr’s order for a bounty coat or its equivalent in cash is dated at Cambridge on 27 October 1775. Colonel Scammon’s regiment served until 31 December 1775, however many of the men re-enlisted with the unit when it was consolidated with Col. Edmund Phinney’s 26th Massachusetts Regiment and reorganized as the 18th Continental Regiment in 1776. According to the pension application of his widow filed thirty years after his death, John Baxter Carr’s first enlistment was for the term of eight months and at its conclusion, Carr re-enlisted for one additional year. The pension application further indicates John Baxter Carr continued to serve with the army until the fall of 1776 when he was “taken sick”, discharged and returned home. It is likely of this event which friend Jacob Merrill of Kennebunkport later describes, testifying “Carr during his life time told me of his suffering in the service at Montreal or the neighborhood where he had the small pox.” A careful examination of muster rolls published in the “History of Colonel Edmund Phinney’s Eighteenth Continental Regiment” by Nathan Goold (1898) does not find John Baxter Carr listed. Instead, the pension record suggests Carr might have been in service with Benedict Arnold’s troops which converged with Richard Montgomery’s at Montreal in November 1775. Carr’s post-war attraction to northeastern Maine suggests he may have been one of the six hundred soldiers who survived the harsh winter wilderness expedition through that area for the purpose of attacking Quebec. On the last day of 1775, American troops were defeated in a battle that left Gen. Montgomery dead, Col. Arnold wounded and four hundred men prisoners-of-war. For a time, surviving American troops remained on the outskirts of Quebec before withdrawing in the spring of 1776 after smallpox ravaged their camp and the siege of the city was broken. The army retreated to Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point where they spent the summer reinforcing fortifications. A British invasion aimed at splitting the American colonies and army in two along the Hudson River Valley was thwarted by Arnold’s naval defense of Lake Champlain at the Battle of Valcour Island on 11 October 1776. Although tactically defeated, the Continentals scored a strategic victory by delaying the British long enough to stall their winter offensive. If in fact attached to Benedict Arnold’s command, it is possible that John Baxter Carr may have also participated in this early naval action despite lack of evidential documentation. According to Jacob Merrill’s pension testimony, Carr also served alongside him for three months during the spring of 1777 in Captain William Holbrook’s Company of Col. John Frost’s 2nd York County Militia which marched to the Continental Army supply depot at Danbury, CT and then on to Tarrytown, NY near West Point. These troops were enlisted in December 1776 for three months and were eventually discharged at Peekskill in March 1777, one month before the British burning of Danbury on 25 April. Carr likely returned with Holbrook and Frost to their hometown of Kittery from whence John Baxter Carr would next sign on with the Continental Navy. On 9 July 1777, the 5 feet 6-1/2″ tall dark haired John Baxter Carr enlisted as Ordinary Seaman on the Continental frigate Raleigh then crewing near Portsmouth, NH. His name appears on a list of the officers and crew originally transcribed by Barbara Hanscom Stuart and published in Oliver P. Remick’s “A Record of the Services of the Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Men of Kittery and Eliot, Maine: who served their Country on Land and Sea in the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1783” (1901). Carr’s hometown is noted as Cape Porpoise, just two miles from his native Arundel, and his wages noted as $ 6-2/3 per month. John Baxter Carr sailed from the Piscataqua River with the 32-gun frigate Raleigh under the command of Captain Thomas Thompson on her maiden voyage on 12 August 1777. In consort with the 24-gun Alfred, the two Continental Navy vessels sailed for France, capturing a schooner carrying counterfeit Massachusetts money three days out of port. The frigate next took the British brig Nancy. Using signals captured on the Nancy, the Raleigh next engaged the 20-gun Druid, damaging her but not taking the prize. The two American ships then continued on to France, sailing home-ward bound from L’Orient on 29 December 1777. After taking a British prize off Senegal, the two ships returned to the Americas where on 9 March 1778 the Alfred was captured by the British warships Ariadne and Ceres. On 6 April, the frigate Raleigh returned to Boston where Thomas Thompson, accused of cowardice and dereliction of duty, was relieved of command despite having taken six prizes on the cruise- five of which made port. John Baxter Carr was discharged from the ship at Boston on 1 May 1778. In pension testimony, Jacob Merrill states “After her (Raleigh’s) return he (Carr) opened his chest and shew me some very good broadcloth which was taken from one of the prises.” Later that month on 30 May, Captain John Barry was appointed to replace Thompson as commander of the Raleigh. Arriving in Boston to assume his new command in late June, it would not be until 25 September 1778 that the Raleigh would sail again. It is not known if Carr enlisted a second time with the vessel now under Barry’s command as the records for this disastrous next cruise are scant; limited largely to Barry’s own apologetic for the loss of his ship, a Boston newspaper article describing the events surrounding the chase and capture of the Raleigh and official British records of their victory. A number of the officers and crew were captured after the frigate was grounded off the Maine coast. However, many others escaped with Captain Barry in the ship’s three boats which were sailed and rowed to Boston, arriving on 7 October 1778. No records concerning John Baxter Carr’s later wartime exploits have been so far uncovered, however continued sea service on naval vessels or privateers is suspected. Friend Jonathan Stone of Kennebuckport testifies in the pension application of the veteran’s widow, “Carr was in the naval service a long while- and made a great deal of money. It was commonly talked of that he was as rich as Mayor Sunell, who was as rich as anybody in town.” Soon after the peace, twenty-three year old veteran John Baxter Carr was married to nineteen year old Susanna Currier by the Rev. Daniel Little at the home of her parents, Edmund Currier and Susannah Kimball, on Christmas Day 25 December 1783. The bridegroom is erroneously noted as Robert Carr in the marriage record. The house in which the bride grew up and the marriage took place stood on the Saco Road opposite the old Barnard Inn in Wells, just a couple miles down the road from the old Baxter homestead, also on the Saco Road in Kennebunk. The couple’s intentions were published at Wells earlier on 1 November 1783. Dominicus Lord, husband of Susannah’s sister Mary, remembers in Susannah’s pension application #W-23165 of the wedding, “It was a severe cold day and I traveled three miles to get the fiddler.” Lord adds that the newlyweds “moved to the eastward” the following year. According to the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790 at Bucksport, ME John B. Carr presided over a household of one free white male under the age of 16 and two free white females. At the time his family included pregnant wife Susannah, a second female- probably an elderly mother and four year old son Edmund Currier Carr born in Orland on 26 February 1786. Second son Hugh Hill Carr would be born at Bucksport, then known as Buckston or Buckstown, after the census on 5 November 1790. According to “Family history, Anthony Taylor of Hampton, New Hampshire, founder, pioneer, town father, and some of his descendants, 1635-1935”, John Baxter Carr was a sea captain and later a farmer. Carr is mentioned in a daybook penned by Major Robert Treat between 1786-1790, now located in the Bangor Historical Society. A Bangor merchant, Treat owned mills in Bangor, Orland and Frankford, ME. In the two years prior to his death, John Baxter Carr would witness the wedding day of both his sons. Twenty-six year old farmer Edmund Currier Carr (1786-1847) married seventeen year old Catherine Soper (1795-1880), daughter of Justus Sanford Soper and Elizabeth Viles, on 27 June 1812 at Bucksport. This marriage apparently produced twelve children. Twenty-two younger brother Hugh Hill Carr (1790-1864) was married to Catherine’s little sister Mary S. Soper (1797-1869) by Rev. Isaac Perry the following year on 21 October 1813. It is believed the couple shared nine children. John Baxter Carr died on 12 December 1814 in Bucksport, Hancock County, ME and was buried in the churchyard cemetery of the First Methodist Church where he was a member. His widow Susanna, also a member, appears on a 1820 list of Methodist Episcopal church members in the Orrington circuit at Bucksport. Although Carr’s remains are still interred at the Old Methodist Church Cemetery site, all of the stones from that graveyard were relocated to the nearby Riverview Cemetery. Six and a half years after the death of her first husband, the widow Susannah Currier Carr was married a second time to John B. Grindle of Sedgewick, ME on the nation’s birthday 4 July 1821. In his sixties and in the care of several of his large brood including eight year old youngest daughter Joanna, Grindle had lost his wife of many years Joanna Hutchins the previous July. John Grindle was well known in eastern Maine as the first postal route agent east of the Penobscot River. As early as 1795, Grindle contracted to carry the mail from what is now Eastport to Castine in a boat along the coast as there were no inland roads- completing the 300 mile round trip delivery route every two weeks while stopping at Machias, Gouldsborough, Sullivan, Trenton and Bluehill along the way. After the death of her second husband Deacon John B. Grindle in 1841 and with the assistance of her son Hugh Carr, eighty-year old Susannah Grindle made application for a pension in the name of Revolutionary War veteran John Baxter Carr on 3 December 1844. Less than three years later, Susannah Currier Carr Grindle died at Orland on 5 August 1847. While one genealogical source suggests Susannah was buried with her first husband at Bucksport, she was in fact interred with her second husband of twenty years in Hilltop Cemetery at Orland where her gravestone can be viewed online at:

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