Saturday, February 17, 2018

Charles Duncan, Revolutionary War Service

© Kathy Duncan, 2018

My cousin Debra just asked me how we know that among all of the Charles Duncans in Virginia during the Revolutionary War that our Charles Duncan is, in fact, one of those Charles Duncans who served during the war. In other words, how do we, without a shadow of a doubt, correctly match our Charles to his service records? In essence, this question boils down to "how do we know what we know?"

That is the best question to ask, and one that we should never stop asking. Tradition says that our Charles Duncan of Culpeper County, Virginia served as "a Private in Company 6, Captain Blackwell's Regiment. He was granted land warrant #1473 on August 1, 1783 for 100 acres for three years service as a soldier on the Virginia Continental Line" (Charles Duncan, Wiki Tree). This source also provides a reference to the service records of Michael Burk, which supposedly state the Michael Burk and Charles Duncan served together under Capt. James Browning.

That sent me in search of Michael Burk's pension records, which are readily available in Heritage Quest.

In Michael Burk's pension S1174, there is an affidavit given by John A. Wright of Madison County, Kentucky on 9 January 1833 on behalf of Michael Burk. John A.Wright stated that Michael Burk and Charles Duncan, the father-in-law of Robert Covington of Madison County, Kentucky served together under Capt. James Browning. The following is the second page of his affidavit:

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The portion of the letter that pertains to Charles Duncan reads as follows:

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"He [John A. Wright] knows that said Burk served in the militia from said county of Culpepper in the service of the United States with Charles Duncan who is now dead, and who was father in law to Robert Covington a resident of said county of Madison. That said Charles Duncan was a messmate of said Burke and a man of unexceptional good character, that said Duncan and Burke were commanded by a Capt James Browning --"

Robert Covington also provided an affidavit for Michael Burk. Checking the actual file yielded yet another bonus nugget of information--Isaac Duncan, a son of Charles Duncan's, provided an affidavit as well. Isaac Duncan happens to be my great-great-great-great grandfather.

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This affidavit is pretty standard stuff, but it appears to have Isaac Duncan's actual signature: 

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Plus, as an added bonus, this document places Isaac Duncan in Madison County, Kentucky as late as 6 May 1833. Since I know Isaac was in Cooper County, Missouri by 1840, this bit of information helps me with determining when he left Madison County, Kentucky...some time after May of 1833.

This document does not, however, tell me that Charles Duncan served in company 6 of Capt. Blackwell's Regiment although he is likely to have done so. It does suggest that he served for a time in Pendleton's Regiment of which Capt. James Browning was a part. Since Michael Burk served several enlistments for three months at a time, I would expect that is likely also the case with Charles Duncan.

This leaves more research to be done...

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