52 Ancestors II, Week 57: David McQueen

View from the British positions at the Battle of White Marsh.
Ink on paper, by cartographer Johann Martin Will

David McQueen was born in about 1746, one of three brothers. His father John McQueen, arrived from Derry, Northern Ireland, first in Boston in 1731, and went on to Lancaster County, PA.

David was a Revolutionary War Patriot.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775.  Less than a month later, "in May 1775, David is listed as an Ensign, "Liberty Company", Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Captain Jacob Cook commanding."(1)

This was a local volunteer "association." These associations were formed into battalions by county and were known as "Flying Camps" that served on active duty until November 30, 1776.

"In early 1777,  Pennsylvania's new Assembly passed Pennsylvania's first militia law requiring compulsory military service:"(2)

"In July 1777, David is in command of 4th company, 3rd battalion, Col. Alexander Lowery commanding." (1)

"This militia provided a significant defensive force patrolling the south side of the Schuylkill River and engaged in occasional clashes with British outposts and scouting parties including heavy skirmishes at Whitemarsh on December 7." (2)

"The Battle of White Marsh was a battle fought December 5–8, 1777, in the area surrounding Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania.

George Washington was encamped with the Continental Army just north of British-occupied Philadelphia. From here, Washington monitored British troop movements in Philadelphia and evaluated his options.

On December 4, Gen. Sir William Howe, the commander-in-chief of British forces, led a sizable contingent of troops out of Philadelphia in one last attempt to destroy Washington and the Continental Army before the onset of winter. After a series of skirmishes, Howe called off the attack and returned to Philadelphia without engaging Washington in a decisive conflict. With the British back in Philadelphia, Washington was able to march his troops to winter quarters at Valley Forge."(3)

We know that David was at the above mentioned Battle of White Marsh from this document:

"Petition of Christina Little, widow of Nathaniel Little, states the late Nathaniel Little was First Sergeant in Capt David McQueen’s Company, Fourth Battalion of Lancaster County Militia. December 5, 1777 in an engagement with the British at Chestnut Hill was wounded by a musket ball, of which wound he died next day.  One child one year of age survives him, the other having died since his death. Pension Granted.” (4)  

"It is known that no Pennsylvania militia served at Valley Forge, Monmouth, or Yorktown.

Occasionally, militia reinforcements from Lancaster county would be brought in to reinforce the frontiers in the Western part of Pennsylvania in the summer of 1778.

Lancaster County militia duty also provided guards for supply depots and at various prisoner of war camps." (2)

David (33) married Margaret Tate (25) on 28 Mar 1779.  They had 2 girls:
  • Jane on 29 Jan 1780 (our ancestor)
  • Mary on 7 Jul 1781
When his 3 year enlistment term was up, he reenlisted:
  • August, 1780, Captain, 4th company, 7th battalion, PA Militia, Col. Alexander Lowery commanding.
And when that 3 year term was up, he reenlisted again:
  • April, 1783, Captain, 4th company, 4th battalion, PA Militia, Col. Jacob Cook commanding. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris signed on 3 Sep 1783 (1)
Margaret (31) died in 1785 (in childbirth?),  and three years later, David (42) died in 1788.  Their girls would have been 8 and 7 years old when they became orphans. Margaret had 6 siblings and her mother was still living, so perhaps they went to live with relatives. (and David had two brothers, so that is possible as well)

It’s amazing that David was involved in the Revolutionary War from the very beginning to the very end, and yet died 5 years after the war at a young age.

(1) PA Archives, 2nd series, Vol X111, pages 301, 355, 370, 378. "Historical Sketches" of Lancaster, PA, by Samuel Evans


(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_White_Marsh

(4)Pennsylvania Archives › ... Series 5 › Volume IV › Abstracts of Pension Applications on File in the Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania State Library


  1. It's a shame that David did not have a long life in the new nation he served so many years to liberate. Four enlistments show an amazing selfless dedication to the cause. At least he and Margaret had two children who could live in the new America.


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