My 7th week in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.
The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.
This week’s ancestor is my husband’s 5th great grandfather, William Henry Pace (1745-1815). I have not spent much of my own time researching this line of my husband’s lineage because it has already been heavily documented and DAR certified by other family historians due to the family’s, and in particular, this ancestor’s, role in the Revolutionary War.
But, in honor of yesterday’s federal holiday celebrating the birthday of President George Washington, I am sharing this particular era in William Henry Pace’s history. Because it is possible that were it not for my husband’s ancestor, Washington might not have lived to become our nation’s founding President.
Joining the Continental Army
William Henry Pace, from Goochland, Virginia, enlisted 23 January 1777 for a 3-year stint in the 14th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army (Godfrey, 1904) as a Private under the command of Captain Henry Conway and Colonel Charles Lewis (Godfrey and DAR). According to the FamilySearch Wiki, Captain Conway was in charge of the 4th Company.
Formation of the Commander-In-Chief’s Guard
Almost a year prior, on 11 March 1776, General George Washington–while overseeing the Siege of Boston–issued a General Order to his commanding officers directing them to select four men from each Continental Army regiment to form Washington’s personal guard (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association).
The unit was to assemble the next day at Army headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Washington’s Order gave specific instructions as to what type of men he was looking for.
His Excellency depends upon the Colonels for good Men, such as they can recommend for their sobriety, honesty, and good behaviour; he wishes them to be from five feet, eight Inches high, to five feet, ten Inches; handsomely and well made, and as there is nothing in his eyes more desireable, than Cleanliness in a Soldier, he desires that particular attention may be made, in the choice of such men, as are neat, and spruce.(General Order)
This elite bodyguard unit has been referred to by many titles. But the most common seem to be the formal name of Commander-In-Chief’s Guard used by the commanding officer, and the less formal name of Life Guard used by the enlisted men.
Most of the original Life Guard did not re-up for this assignment after the initial required one year term. Only a few volunteers remained by January 1777 when the Army was encamped at their Morristown, New Jersey winter quarters, requiring Washington to call up the formation of another guard unit (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association).
Joining the Commander-In-Chief’s Guard
Just three months after enlisting in the regular Continental Army, William Henry Pace was transferred on 6 May 1777 to to join this new guard unit in Morristown, New Jersey, under the command of Captain Caleb Gibbs (DAR and Godfrey).
Godfrey provides a detailed account of Pace’s service in the Guard unit:
- (June and July 1777): Sick in the hospital.
- (11 September 1777): Battle of Brandywine in Delaware.
- (4 October 1777): Battle of Germantown in Pennsylvania.
- (28 June 1778): Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.
- (18 January 1779): Reenlisted and took a 110 day furlough.
- (1 September 1779): Returned from furlough.
- (7 June 1780): Battle of Connecticut Farms in New Jersey.
- (3 July 1781): Skirmish of King’s Bridge in New Jersey.
- (19 October 1781): Battle of Yorktown, in Virginia
- (4 June 1783): Promoted to Sergeant.
- (6 June 1783): Furloughed in Newburgh, New York, until ratification of the peace treaty.
- (3 November 1783): Discharged.
Pace, along with the Guard unit, wintered with Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the brutal winter of 1777-1778 (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association).
“General Order, 11 March 1776,” The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 4, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office).
Godfrey, C. E. (1904). The Commander-in-chief’s Guard, Revolutionary War. Washington, D. C.: Stevenson-Smith company. Retrieved from http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008555358
Lossing, B. J. (1852). The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution: Or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence. Harper & Bros.
Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. (n.d.). Life Guards. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://www.mountvernon.org/educational-resources/encyclopedia/life-guards
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. (n.d.). Ancestor Search | Pace, William. DAR Genealogical Research System. Database. Retrieved from http://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/default.cfm
Genealogy SnapshotName: Pace, William (1745-1815)
Parents: John Pace and Susannah Hutchings
Spouse: Mary Winegar
Surnames: Hutchings, Pace
Relationship to CJRoots: [Alleged] 5th Great Grandfather
- Pace, William (1745-1815)
- William Williamson Henry Pace
- David Pace
- William Franklin Pace
- Andrew Jackson Pace
- Roy Delmar Pace
- Betty Pace