1776 ID’d Patriot Officers Cane Owned By Major Polhemus: Raynor's Historical Collectible Auctions

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1776 ID’d Patriot Officers Cane Owned By Major Polhemus

Raynor's Historical Collectible Auctions
1687 West Buck Hill Road
Burlington, NC 27215 phone: 336.584.3330
fax: 336.584.3383

     Wood Cane with bone handle, 37”, with brass tip, VG. On the tip of the bone handle is an engraved plate with words, “Major, John Polhemus, a Patriot of 1776.” Major John Polhemus was born in Hopewell, New Jersey, May 25th 1738, only a few miles from what would become Washington Crossing. He was a great-grandson of Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemus who had arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654, and who was a leader of the Dutch Reformed Church in the colony of New Amsterdam.


     Major Polhemus was the son-in-law of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. As a young man of 17 John Polhemus entered into British colonial military service. He fought in the colonial wars which included the French and Indian Wars. In those wars he joined Braddock's Campaign against Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) in western Pennsylvania in 1755 and in the West Indies (Carribean), including the attack on Moro Castle, Havana, Cuba in 1762. John Polhemus was an early and strong advocate of the patriot cause. During the revolution he more than once mortgaged his own property to pay for troops and supplies. In early 1776 he and his company fought Tories in Long Island and later that year joined the American campaign against the British in Canada, fighting in of the Battle of Three Rivers. His company returned from that campaign in retreat through New Jersey, and joined General Washington's forces in Newtown, Pennsylvania in late December 1776. He and his company crossed the Delaware with Washington on Chistmas night and marched to Trenton where the surprise dawn attack on the 26th completely routed the British and Hessian garrison there and was the turning point of the Revolution. The Major fought in many actions and battles of the Revolution including one battle alongside the Marquis de Lafayette. In 1778 shortly after the Battle of Monmouth he was captured by Tories and held as a prisoner of war under brutally harsh conditions until his release in the spring of 1780. His captivity had left him severely twisted and crippled with rheumatism.

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*Passed Time would like to thank Bob Raynor of Raynors' Historical Collectible Auctions for allowing us to use his article and image. Thank you. 


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