With Thanksgiving 2012 days away, I count many blessings. Not least of which is that my forefather, Avery Mustain, lived through 5 years of Revolutionary War battles, so that I could one day be born.
Until I found the sworn statement of Avery’s war experience, I had no details of his service or that he was present at the Siege of Yorktown. I wonder if he was aware of George Washington’s presence or the greatness of this event. Avery was 20 years old when he volunteered on Jul 11, 1776 and was detailed to march to Noland’s Ferry on the Potomac river with the prisoners from the Siege of Yorktown. At Leesburg he received a discharge about the last of Nov 1781.
The Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown, or Surrender of Yorktown, the latter taking place on October 19, 1781, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, it proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in North America, as the surrender by Cornwallis of his army prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.
Avery (born Feb 26, 1756 to Thomas and Mary Haley Mustain) served in the Revolutionary War and was allowed pension on his application executed Aug. 22, 1832. STATE OF VIRGINIA – COUNTY OF PITTSYLVANIA (National Archives File 7488 Rev. War). Avery had lost his discharge papers from Nov. 1781 and did not file for pension benefits until age 76. He forfeited all claim to back payments. From this online post, it seems that Avery’s delay was not his own, but the U.S. government’s inaction to accept pension applications. “The government waited until 50 years after the war (1832) to accept pension applications.”
Reproduced below is the full text of Avery’s pension application statement, which can be found in PDF form at this site. I have not altered spelling or punctuation of the statement. Nowhere in the document is Avery’s regiment name. We know he enlisted under Captain Thomas Dillard. In this family history by Lucy Henderson, we read on page 58 that in June of 1776, Captain Dillard’s force marched in hunting shirts to Gwynne’s Island. Avery would have been on that march, since he volunteered about June 1 of 1776. Lucy writes that Captain Thomas Dillard was of “the Continential line of the Pittsylvania County regulars.” I’ve found no online match for that term.
Pension Application of Avery Mustain: W7488
Transcribed and annotated by C. Leon Harris
State of Virginia}
County of Pittsylvania} Sct
On this 22nd day of August 1832 personally appeared in open Court before David H. Clark, Wm S. Pannill, Coleman D. Bennett & John A. Clark the Court of Pittsylvania County now sitting Avery Mustain a resident of Camden Parish in the County of Pittsylvania and State of Virginia aged 76 years who being first duly sworn according to Law doth on his Oath make the following declaration in Order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. That he was born 26th February 1756 near where he now lives, about 1st June 1776 he volunteered under Thomas Dilliard [Dillard] Capt., John Heard Lieut, Robert Dalton Ensign and marched to Guyns [sic: Gwynn] Island Va near the mouth of the Peanketank [sic: Piankatank] River and assisted in driving off Lord Dunmore, the then Governor of Va [11 July 1776]. There was no officer of higher grade than Capt. on the side of the River he was stationed. While there an express arrived and he marched with his Company to the Tennessee River in the [now] state of Tennessee against the Cherokee nation of Indians. in this expedition Heard was Capt. (Capt. Dilliard having thrown up) Dalton was Lieut. & Turly [sic: Tully] Choice Ensign.
After arriving at New London Va. [in present Campbell County] they were attached to the command of Colo. Charles Lewis of Albemarle Va. He forgets his Maj’r. Capt. [Joseph] Martin (afterwards Gen’l. Martin of Henry Cty Va.) commanded a company in the expedition. After arriving on the Holston River, Colo Wm Christian being the oldest officer was first in command. after arriving in the Indian Territory (the enemy having deserted their homes) they burnt up their Houses and Corn and Eat their Potatoes. all of his Company returned thence home. No discharges were given and all returned with their Captain a few days before Christmass 1776.
About the first of May 1780 he was drafted to go to the South. Isaac Clement Capt (forgets the name of Lieut. and Ensign) he marched by Peter Perkins on Dan River Va where he met several companys, by Hilsboro [sic: Hillsborough] N.C. where he met with manny troops and the following officers, General [Edward] Stevens who was the Commander, Colonels Richerson [sic: Holt Richardson] & [Ralph] Faulkner and Maj’r Henry Conway. thence he marched towards Camden S.C. crossing the Big & Little Peedee [sic: Pee Dee] and a few miles this side of Camden he met with General’s [Horatio] Gates, DeKalb and [William] Smallwood and next day was in the Battle in which the Americans were defeated [Battle of Camden, 16 Aug 1780]. He then returned home about the last of August 1780 and received a discharge.
In February 1781 he volunteered under Gabriel Shelton Capt., James Waid Lieut. & Vincent Shelton Ensign. Capt Shelton left his company and he was then commanded by Capt Thomas Smith, crossed Dan River at Boyds Ferry, crossed Haw river in North Carolina & after marching to & fro for a while returned home after being absent 4 or 5 weeks & was not in the Battle of Guilford [15 March 1781]. In August 1781 he was drafted to go to the siege of York Town Va [28 Sep - 19 Oct 1781]. William Dix Capt., David Hurt Lieut, Clem McDaniel Ensign. after arriving at York Town, Capt Dix was succeeded by Capt. Charles Willliams. He assisted in raising breast works & Batterys; after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, he was detailed and marched to Nolands Ferry on the Potowmac [sic: Potomac] river with the Prisoners and at Leesburg he received a discharge about the last of November 1781 which he has lost. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a Pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the Pension roll of the Agency of any state – Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid – Avery Mustain
NOTE: On 18 Mar 1839 Mary Mustain, 74, applied for a pension stating that she married Avery Mustain in March 1783, and he died 31 Aug 1833. A typed summary states that her maiden name was Mary Barber. With her application is a family record with the names and dates of birth of their children and apparently some grandchildren.
Avery’s Grave Stone and Location
This Find a Grave link has a photo of Avery’s headstone, with name misspelled, and details about the cemetery.
Please note that it’s on private land.
Cemetery notes and/or description:
Located on private property down behind the barn.
36 56.673N 79 18.520 W
Thanks to Mike K. Williams for the GPS coordinates.
According to a pittsylvaniacountyhistory.com, Avery’s grave is located at 2277 Rockford School Road in Gretna, VA. (5 mi. N of Ray’s Mill). This discussion thread from ancestry.com gives details from someone who has visited the grave.
I have to wonder why Avery’s spouse, Mary, waited until 1839 to file for her rights to Avery’s pension, after he died in 1833. Here are other online references to Avery’s war service:
Roster of Revolutionary War soldiers from Pittsylvania Co., in alphabetical order:
Littleberry Patterson, Molley Mustain’s Father-in-Law Also Was in the Revolution
According to Delores M. Mustaine’s book, The descendents of Thomas Mustain of Pittsylvania County, Virginia; Thomas’ daughter Molley’s father-in-law, Littleberry Patterson, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War. So far, I’ve found this reference. The online photo archive of Delores’ book does not show numbers on each page. If you begin with the page titled “Pioneer, Thomas Mustain of Virginia,” details about Molley and the Patterson family begin in the middle of the 5th page.