NH's first regiment leader,
By Charles W. Brewster
Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.
Pierce Long - Early history - Revolutionary sketch - Family.
THE successor as occupant of the Clarkson house was one who has been overlooked by the annalist, but who is more deserving of honorable notice than many who have passed away. We refer to Hon. Pierse Long, who spent many years of his life and its closing hours in the mansion, which, after his death in 1789, was known as the Chauncy House.
Pierce Long (the father of Col. Pierse Long of Revolutionary memory) was born in Limerick, Ireland, about the commencement of the eighteenth century, and served an apprenticeship with one who did business with America; and by him was sent out with goods, the manufacture of Ireland, to this town, in the year 1730. For the most convenient sale of goods, he opened a store in State (formerly Buck) street, and continued receiving consignments from Ireland of both ships and goods, for the purpose of purchasing cargoes of lumber and such other articles as the country produced that suited the West India market; to which islands the ships carried and sold their cargoes and took freights of sugar, cotton, etc., for London. This was the usual course of business from year to year, during Pierse Long's lifetime. Two years after his arrival in America, he married Abigail Sheafe, of Portsmouth or Newcastle, and my her had three children: Abigail, Pierse and Mary. Pierse Long, the senior, died in 1740, leaving two children, Mary and Pierse; Abigail having died previously, and single. Mary, also, was never married, and died at the house of her nephew, George Long, about the year 1800.
Pierse Long, Jr., (afterwards Col. Long), was born in 1739. He received instruction in the elements of education from the celebrated teacher, Samuel Hale. At the age of fourteen, Pierse was apprenticed as a clerk to Robert Trail, an emigrant from Scotland, and a distinguished merchant of Portsmouth. At the close of his apprenticeship, Pierse Long was established in business by Mr. Trail, as a shipping merchant, which he continued to prosecute with success until the war of the Revolution. In this Mr. Long took an early and decided part, and in 1775 was chosen one of the delegates to the first provincial Congress, convened at Exeter. In this office he continued for some time, acting also about this period as one of the Committee of Safety for Portsmouth, and was engaged with Langdon, Pickering, Drown, and about forty other citizens, in surprising and capturing the fort at the mouth of Portsmouth harbor.
Merchant to Military Leader
Pierse Long continued to fill different offices under the then province and town until May, 1776, when the Provincial Legislature appointed him to the command of the first New Hampshire regiment, with Mooney as Lieut. Colonel; Hodgdon, as Major; Noah Emery, paymaster; Edward Evans, chaplain; James M'Clure, adjutant; captains, Hilton, Sanborn and others. This regiment continued in the service of the Province until July 15, 1776, when it being determined by the general government to receive into the service no more provincial troops, it was disbanded, but immediately re-enlisted into the Continental service, under Pierse Long as Colonel and commander.
This regiment continued to be stationed at the forts around Portsmouth harbor (a company in Portsmouth being stationed near the Old South) until October, 1776, when it received orders to march to the Canada border, near Lake Champlain. It reached there safely in about twenty days; and reporting for duty to Gen. St. Clair, Col. Long was assigned to the command of Fort Independence, across the Lake, with his own and Col. Carleton's regiments; and at the same time was made Brigadier General, by brevet. The Lake being closed with ice during the latter part of the fall, the winter and part of the spring, nothing of note occurred until about the middle of June, 1777, when the English flotilla of many guns advancing by water, to be joined by Gen. Burgoyne, with ten thousand English, Canadians, tories and Indians, by land, it was determined by Gen. St. Clair, in a council of officers, to abandon his position with his small army of three thousand men, and retreat with the American flotilla up through Lake George, towards Fort Edward.
From Saratoga to the US Senate
Col. Long was entrusted with the command of the flotilla, consisting of one schooner of sixteen guns, one of ten, and several smaller crafts, with orders to blow up the vessels to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy,--which was accomplished after they had disembarked his own and Col. Carleton's regiment at Skensborough. Leaving Skensborough, the troops proceeded on towards Saratoga, and the next day (July 6) Col. Long, with his command, was overtaken at Fort Ann by the British ninth regiment, under the command of Col. Hayes. An action ensued, in which the British were beaten, and retreating left the field in possession of the Americans.
At about this time, the period for which the troops had enlisted having expired, they all asked and received their discharge, officers as well as men, excepting Edward Evans, chaplain; Noah Emery, paymaster; and Lieut. or Col. Meshach Bell, and Col. Long's servant, James Mullen. These, with Col. Long, continued on to Saratoga, and there volunteered their services to the commander-in-chief, and assisted in the capture of Gen. Burgoyne and his army. Col. Long being ill, arrived in Portsmouth December 6, and continued confined to his house for six months with the disorder usual to camps; nor did he entirely recover till a year had expired. As soon as he had sufficiently recovered his health he resumed his mercantile pursuits, but at the same time suffered from attacks of the gout, and sometimes could not move without the aid of crutches.
In 1784 he was appointed by the State of New Hampshire a delegate to the old Congress, which post he filled through three or four successive years, till 1786. From the year 1786 to 1789 he was elected State Senator or Councillor, and in 1788 was delegate to the convention to adopt the present constitution, and gave his influence and vote for its reception by New Hampshire. When Washington was chosen President, he appointed Col. Long Collector of the Customs at Portsmouth; but before he had taken possession of his office, he was found dead in his bed. He retired in apparent health, but died without any previous warning, of (as it was supposed) gout in the stomach, at the early age of fifty, April 3, 1789. His remains are interred in the lot in the Proprietors' burying ground, belonging to his son, at the western end of the granite monuments. Col. Long was a handsome, portly man, of unblemished christian character, amiable and courteous, a correct merchant and a good soldier.
Col. Long was twice married. The only child by his first marriage was a son, George, and by his second wife two daughters, Mary and Abigail. Abigail married George W. Prescott, and died at St. Bartholomews. Mary married Col. Tobias Lear, private secretary to Gen. Washington, and died of yellow fever in the family of Gen. Washington, at Philadelphia, in 1795. The sisters were remarkable for their personal beauty. George Long, the only son of Col. Pierse Long, was born July 4, 1762. He received instruction from Samuel Hale, the instructor of his father, Col. Long. His mother dying when he was an infant, the early care of him fell chiefly to his grandmother. It is not probable that he was apprenticed to any merchant, as the Revolutionary war breaking out when he was but twelve years of age, most commercial business was suspended. He was a successful ship master till 1789, when he left the sea for mercantile pursuits at home, and acquired much wealth. He carried an almost youthful vigor to the close of his life. He died in 1849, at the age of eighty-seven. His surviving children [in 1858] are Com. John Collings Long, now of the U. S. Navy, Samuel Pierse Long, Mrs. Charles Tappan and Mrs. Henry H. Ladd.
The history of the later occupants of the old house will be given in another ramble.
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