John Back: Revolutionary War Soldier from the Little Fork
The Revolutionary War pension application of John Back for his service contains information about his birth, places he lived and how long he lived in each place in addition to his military service.
Back was a descendant of Harman Back who arrived in 1738 from Siegen and was living in the Little Fork as early as 1741.
John Back was born in June 1760 in Culpeper County, Virginia, where he lived for twelve years. He moved with his father to Washington County, Virginia where he lived until he was about thirty-four years old.
While John Back was living in Washington County, he enlisted in the “army of the United States” in March, 1778 for twelve months as a private.
He served in the regiment commanded by Captain Thomas Quirk, Colonel John Montgomery and General George Rogers Clark.
His service began with a march lasting three months to Long Island of the Holston River [present day Kingston, Tennessee] where they traveled by water down to the French Broad River then on to the Chickimogee towns on the Tennessee River.
The soldiers burned the towns and drove the Indians away.
The regiment marched on to the mouth of the Tennessee River, down the Ohio River to the mouth and up the Mississippi River to Caskaski [Kaskaskia, Illinois] where they remained on garrison duty for some time.
John Back’s regiment marched to the Outpost and remained there for three months before returning to Caskaski for two months. Leaving Caskaski, they marched upriver to Coho where they remained until the British and Indians attacked.
John Back stated in his pension application that “they had considerable skirmishes with them.”
After returning to Caskaski, John Back was discharged in writing with a credit of fifteen months having served his enlistment.
He enlisted again as a volunteer private and went with the army four hundred miles up the Mississippi River and then one hundred miles by land to an Indian town.
The British and Indians fled the area as soon as the army arrived. The soldiers burned the town and destroyed the corn.
After destroying the town, the soldiers returned to Caskaski, having been gone for two months on the expedition. John Back was discharged a second time with a credit of two more months of service.
John Back tells the story of his return home.
“I was now very unwell and almost naked. And resolved to come home as soon as I was able, I started down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Ohio, thence to the mouth of the Tennessee, thence to where is now Nashville, thence to the Crab orchard in Kentucky, thence home to my father’s in Washington County, Virginia. Being absent two years and three months.”
At the age of thirty-four years, John Back moved to lands in Floyd County, Kentucky, where he remained for ten years.
He then moved on to Wayne County, Kentucky, where he lived for twenty-four years before moving to Monroe County, Indiana.
He remained in Monroe County, Indiana for six years before returning to Wayne County, Kentucky.
On May 26, 1835, in Wayne County, Kentucky, John Back applied for a pension based on his service in the army.
His application was approved and certificate #29963 was issued June 15, 1835.
He received $46 per year beginning March 4, 1831 based on the Act of June 7, 1832.
Source: S32103 pension application of John Back, Virginia, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, M804, NARA, Washington, DC.