On Saturday, April 27, 2019 the Cincinnati Chapter SAR participated in a remarkable event hosted by the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Ohio Society that honored Revolutionary War Patriot Sergeant William Brown. The Nolan Carson Memorial Color Guard posted the Colors and performed a musket salute for the event.
Please read more about Sergeant William Brown below in the article written by Charles G. Edwards on June 25, 2004.
Musket Salute and Mourn Arms
Some Photos After the Event
SGT. WILLIAM BROWN
ONE OF FIRST TWO RECIPIENTS OF THE PURPLE HEART
(BADGE OF MILITARY MERIT)
(Written by Charles G. Edwards, Revolutionary War Graves Chairman. Cincinnati Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution — June 25, 2004)
Sgt. Brown was the first American soldier to be appointed a non-commissioned officer by General George Washington, and one of the first two American soldiers to receive the Purple Heart, then called the Badge of Military Merit, pinned on him by George Washington. The ceremony was witnessed by General Anthony Wayne. Tradition says that Martha Washington made the ribbon for Sgt. Brown’s medal.
Brown was a Presbyterian, an early settler and large property owner in the community, a founder of one of its first schools, father of nine children and active in all aspects of life in Columbia, including protecting the settlement from hostile Indians as an officer of the Ohio militia. One of Brown’s daughters, Ruth, was the first girl born in the Columbia settlement. Ruth Brown’s descendants include the Outcalt family, who have been prominent in Cincinnati judicial life.
Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Sgt. Brown was only 16 when he enlisted with the 5th Connecticut Regiment in 1777. He later was a member of Captain Samuel Comstock’s Company of the 8th Regiment, Connecticut Line. These men fought at Germantown October 4, 1777 and wintered at Valley Forge. In the campaign of 1778 they took part in the Battle of Monmouth, June 28th, later encamped at White Plains and wintered at Redding. In the summer of 1779 the troops were stationed on the east side of the Hudson and when General Washington laid plans for the storming of Stony Point and called General Anthony Wayne in to take charge of this attack some of the brave boys from Connecticut were picked and detached to Meig’s Light Regiment for this expedition which took place on the night of July 15, 1779.
After wintering at Morristown the 8th Regiment, Connecticut Line, summered with the main army on the Hudson and after wintering, 1780-1, at “Camp Connecticut Village”, above Robinson’s House, it was consolidated with the 5th Connecticut for formation in the big and final campaign of the war. Sergeant William Brown’s name was still on the roll of Captain Comstock’s Company in February 1783.
At Yorktown, in 1781, Brown, now a sergeant, was chosen to lead a hand-picked group of soldiers, called the “Forlorn Hope” because of small chance they would succeed, who assaulted an important British redoubt (Redoubt Number 10), in a daring night attack on October 14, 1781 at the siege of Yorktown this was so successful that Lafayette and George Washington and their troops could enter and conquer the British under Cornwallis. Brown was wounded. For that action, he was one of two soldiers selected to receive a new award, established in 1782, to honor the nation’s foremost soldier. It was then called the Badge of Military Merit, but later became known as the Purple Heart because it was heart-shaped and of purple cloth. It was the forerunner of the Medal of Honor, first given in 1862. The Purple Heart, as we know it today, was revived in 1932 as a decoration to honor the wounded or killed in action. Sgt. Brown received the Badge of Military Merit from General George Washington on May 3, 1783 at Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh.
During “Forlorn Hope” at Yorktown, instead of cutting down the barriers — the sharp sticks the enemy used instead of barbed wire — Sgt. Brown led them through it in hand to-hand battle. It was their unconventional assault that confused the British. They were able to take the thing in less than a half-hour.
Sgt. Brown also served as Lt. of the Spies under Anthony Wayne against the British and Indians at Fallen Timbers.
Following six years of service, Brown returned to Connecticut where he married his young cousin, Ruth Hanford. They brought their growing family to the Columbia settlement, the first in Cincinnati, in 1789. There, Brown, a shoemaker by trade. became an important member of the community, owning considerable property, helping to found a school, build roads and serving in the Ohio militia throughout his years until his death October 22, 1804. At that time, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the militia. He is buried in Pioneer Cemetery on Wilmer Avenue across from Lunken Airport.