Sunday’s Salute #35 ~ John Ennis Jr. ~ Revolutionary War

John Ennis Jr, my 5th Great Grandfather, was born in 1736 in Albemarle County, Virginia. His father, John Ennis Sr. emigrated from Athlone, Westmeath County, Ireland, when he was 6 years old arriving in Boston in 1716. They settled in Virginia. John Jr married Mary Ann Whitlock (1740-1827) in 1763 in Albemarle County. They had 5 children, 2 sons, and 3 daughters. John was a man of prominence in Virginia having inherited a sizable estate from his parents.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, John mustered in as a Private to the 4th Virginia Regiment on December 28, 1775, at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Virginia. He served in this regiment until 1783. He participated in 6 major battles over that time, with the last one being the Siege of Charleston in North Carolina.

The siege of Charleston was a major engagement and major British victory, fought between March 29 to May 12, 1780, during the American Revolutionary War. The British, following the collapse of their northern strategy in late 1777, and their withdrawal from Philadelphia in 1778, shifted their focus to the American Southern Colonies.

After approximately six weeks of siege, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, commanding the Charleston garrison, surrendered his forces to the British. It was one of the worst American defeats of the war. The British captured some 5,266 prisoners, 311 artillery pieces, 9,178 artillery rounds, 5,916 muskets, 33,000 rounds of ammunition, 15 Regimental colors, 49 ships and 120 boats, plus 376 barrels of flour, and a large storehouse of rum, rice and indigo. Following the surrender, the captured soldiers were brought to a powder storehouse. A Hessian officer warned that some of the guns might still be loaded, but he was ignored. One prematurely fired, detonating 180 barrels of powder, further discharging 5,000 muskets in the storehouse. The accident killed approximately 200 people and destroyed six houses. The prisoners of the siege were diverted to multiple locations, including prison shops, the old barracks where the College of Charleston is today, and the Old Exchange and Provost “Dungeon”. Prison hulks awaited the majority of the 2,571 Continental prisoners, while parole was granted to the militia and civilians who promised not to take up arms. This ended the power of an American army in the South.

John and a few of his fellow soldiers were able to escape. They had been starved and treated horribly however, when they returned home he rejoined the fight. He mustered out on January 1, 1783.

Around 1805, John and most of his grown children trekked to Warren County, Kentucky from Amherst County, Virginia. There they bought several adjoining properties and began farming. John died in Warren County on January 15, 1829, at the age of 89.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.