Col William R. Whiteley


Col William R. Whiteley

Whiteleysburg, Caroline County, Maryland, USA
Death 19 Aug 1815 (aged 62–63)
Whiteleysburg, Kent County, Delaware, USA
Burial Whiteleysburg, Kent County, Delaware, USA
Memorial ID 119372053 View Source

1.) From James Gustavos Whiteley's application for membership in the U.S., Sons of the American Revolution; National #23966, State #540; April 1912.
William Whiteley served as Lt. Colonel of the Fourth Maryland Battalion of the "Flying Camp"; Aug 16th to Dec 1st, 1776.
United States Agent for forwarding troops; Dec 1776 to ----- .
a.) Flying Camp:After the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776, General George Washington met with members of the Continental Congress to determine future military strategy.
Faced with defending a huge amount of territory from potential British operations, Washington recommended forming a "flying camp", which in the military terminology of the day referred to a mobile, strategic reserve of troops. Congress agreed and on June 3, 1776, passed a resolution "that a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies and that it consist of 10,000 men ...."

The men recruited for the Flying Camp were to be militiamen from three colonies: 6000 from Pennsylvania, 3400 from Maryland, and 600 from Delaware. They were to serve until December 1, 1776, unless discharged sooner by Congress, and to be paid and fed in the same manner as regular soldiers of the Continental Army.[In military strategy, a flying camp, or camp-volant, was a small but strong army of horsemen and dragoons, to which were sometimes added foot soldiers. Such an army was usually commanded by a lieutenant general, and was always in motion, both to cover the garrisons in possession, and to keep the adversary in continual alarm] Brigadier-General Hugh Mercer of Virginia was commissioned as its commandant.

       The time of William Whitely's leaving Delaware and coming to Maryland is not definitely known but we do know that when the first gun of the Revolution was fired, April 19, 1775, he was a citizen of Caroline County, well established, of some note and ready to take up arms in defense of his country. 
He at once became active in the military organization for the defense of his country and the subjugation of Tories; and entered the Eastern Shore militia where he was immediately made Lieutenant. 
        That he was probably in active service with the Maryland Line is shown by a report (1776) of Col. Wm. Richardson who says,- "Col. Whitely will set off on Monday next and I hope will head the first Division of our Battalion at Philadelphia."

        His most important military position, however, was that of Commander-in-chief of the Militia of Caroline County.  As Commander-in-chief it was his business to see that all male citizens between the ages of sixteen and fifty were enrolled in the militia and drilled for service. This position was much more important than would seem to us at the present day, and for a youth in his early twenties it was certainly a responsible one. His Revolutionary work continued in some capacity throughout the war and was productive of much good both for his state and nation.

        After the close of the war he left the military field and soon became prominent in politics, taking part in the many meetings called at Hillsboro and Denton prior to the War of 1812. Among these was the remonstrance meeting held at Denton relative to the Chesapeake-Leopard trouble at which Whitely acted as chairman, and was voted a member of the Committee of Correspondence which was "Empowered by the meeting to represent Caroline in any subsequent measures taken by her sister counties in vindication of the national honor." Later he became (1811) senator from this district and was a co-worker with Thomas Culbreth, signing the remonstrance against the compensation Bill of 1816.

        Always a staunch Democrat, he continued for some time after this in local politics, acting as a member of Democratic Caucuses and chairman of important committees, etc.; but when a comparatively young man he withdrew entirely from public life. 
While speaking of William Whitely as a military man and a prominent citizen we must not forget to land him as a member of his immediate vicinity.  His wealth made him a prominent figure of his day.

         His holdings included 1,500 acres immediately surrounding Whitelysburg, $30,000 in stocks as well as a number of minor possessions while the ownership of 30 pieces of solid silver table service indicates his mode of living.

        Yet he was a liberal supporter of all religious work, giving freely to such causes and with his family was a regular attendant of the Presbyterian Church then organized in Greensboro. Of this church he was one of the founders as well as a member of the first Board of Trustees.

        His religion was practical as was evidenced by the readiness and generosity with which he extended a helping hand to his friends.

        Col. Whitely, retiring entirely from public life at a comparatively early age, returned to Delaware from whence the family came, and there he died, Aug.19, 1815, aged 63 years.

        He has gone! Death took him.  The Whitely mansion is gone, fire destroyed it many years ago. His tomb alone remains, a colonial structure in the Whitely burying ground which marks his last resting place. The tomb is covered by a marble slab inscribed with his name and a beautiful tribute

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