So far, I’ve found a few ancestors of mine that fought in the Revolutionary War – and Johann Matthias Flach (aka Mathias Flaugh) was the first I found. I wasn’t the first to find him though, a family genealogist (Sara E. Flaugh) in the past did some major work and actually traced him back to Germany.
It turns out that Mathias (that’s what I’ll call him because most of his military paperwork goes by that), was born of a baker in Rimhorn, Germany in 1752. But he never met his dad, since he died a few weeks before Mathias was born.
The next we see of Mathias is him coming to America via Rotterdam on the ship Union on September 27, 1773. And we can see that he was registered on October 4, 1773 as an indentured servant to a John Peter in Philadelphia for 3 years and 3 months for a total of 20£ (pounds).
Wikipedia states that Indentured servitude was a labor system whereby young people paid for their passage to the New World by working for an employer for a certain number of years. It was widely employed in the 18th century in the British colonies in North America and elsewhere.
But… I think he paid off his debt early or John Peter let him go; because he joined the Continental Army on July 13, 1776. Most of the file in the previous link are several pieces of correspondence discussing Mathias and his service. Pages 8, 9, & 34 basically summarize the entire file. He was originally under Colonel Nicholas Haussegger (check out his story – turns out he was thought to have been a traitor at one point) and he fought in these battles:
- Trenton – January 2, 1777 (Interesting that Mathias was a Hessian and he fought in America’s first major victory against Hessian troops).
- Brandywine – September 11, 1777 (Our side wasn’t victorious all the time – we lost this battle).
- Germantown – October 4, 1777 (And we lost this battle).
- Monmouth – June 28, 1778 (This one seems to be mostly a draw until the British withdrew from the battle at night).
- Sullivan’s Expedition against the Iroquois – Summer of 1779 (Continued fighting against Tory Loyalists and the Iroquois Confederacy).
We know he survived because he got his final pay in June of 1791.
We can also find that he had a land warrant for 100 acres that was surveyed in Apr 1793 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Sometime after this (by the 1800 Census) he had moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Later, in 1818, he started receiving a pension for his war service while living in Crawford, Pennsylvania. Thankfully, even his wife continued to get the pension as can be seen by this Congressional report in 1838.
After the war (from 1783 to 1803) he and his wife, Anna (Arnold) Flach, had at least six children. He is buried in Peiffer Cemetery in Saegertown, Pennsylvania. And, over 250 years later, his ancestors are still going strong!