Pennsylvania was Quaker and therefore a pacifist State with a religious conviction against the authorizing and use of military forces. Nonetheless, being one of the more populous states, the Pennsylvania Legislature fielded one of the largest continental armies participating in the War. The 8th Regiment was authorized by the State government July 15, 1776 and was chartered to defend against western frontier Indian attacks. (PA) They were recruited to man forts at Presque Isle, Le Boeuf, and Kittanning located in western Pennsylvania. Seven companies were recruited from Westmoreland County and eight companies from Bedford County. Joseph Hancock enlisted August 20, 1776, six weeks after the Declaration of Independence. The first commander of the 8th Regiment was Colonel Aeneas Mackey, who had been an officer in the British Army and served in the French Indian War. He died, according to Trussell February 14, 1777 and was replaced by Daniel Brodhead who was promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel, transferred from the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, and given command until Jan 17, 1781.
Lieutenant Colonel, George Wilson, died in February of 1777. The second Lieutenant Colonel, Richard Butler, was transferred to Colonel Daniel Morgan’s special task force of riflemen June 9, 1777. Morgan and his men supported General Gates in New York and were returned that winter to Valley Forge. The third Lieutenant Colonel, James Ross, transferred in grade from the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment and resigned September 22, 1777. The fourth Lieutenant Colonel, Stephen Bayard, remained in that position until January 17, 1781. Bayard’s promotion to Lieutenant Colonel brought the promotion and transfer of Frederick Vernon from Captain, 5th Penn. Regiment to Major. He served with the 8th Regiment until January 17, 1781. Rosters indicate Joseph served under Vernon and signed his discharge from the 8th Regiment on April 3, 1780. (PA)
Joseph was initially attached to a company under the command of Captain Andrew Mann, referenced by Trussell as Company E. Mann was listed as sick and in quarters May 2, 1777 and reported to have died in June of 1777. This was contradicted in a History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, published in 1884, in a footnote that states as follows:
“In 1730 the brothers Jacob, Andrew, and Bernard Mann emigrated from the German side of the Rhine and landed at Philadelphia. Soon afterward they settled in the “Tolonoway settlement” a region now embraced by Fulton County, Pennsylvania……..(the two brothers moved) Andrew alone remaining an inhabitant of Bedford county. He was married to Rachel Egnor, a native of Wurtemburg, Germany, in 1760. He was commissioned captain in Col. Mackey’s regiment September 14, 1776, and he died January 13, 1818.”
This agrees with family oral history. Trussell’s account states Mann was replaced by Thomas T. Cook, supernumerary. He left the army October 11, 1777, just after the Battle of German Town. The Pennsylvania Archives indicates “Mann, Andrew; on return of June 9, 1777, is marked sick in quarters since May 2”. He apparently returned home shortly thereafter.
In Company F, Nehemiah Stokely became supernumerary January 31, 1779, replacing Captain Wendal Query. Records indicate that Joseph served under Stokely when sent to the frontier. Since there was no replacement for Cook, it would appear that Companies E and F were combined (the letter of the companies’ designations being Trussells). The 8th Regiment was consolidated with the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment January 17, 1781 and remained on the frontier. The companies assigned to the regiment that were assigned to Fort Pitt were disbanded November 15, 1783.
The 8th Regiment was one of two regiments of the Continental Army under Washington that fought on the seaboard as well as the frontier during the War. The men were exposed to the extremes of conventional warfare on the seaboard and guerilla tactics in the west. Characteristic of the military at the time, command was loose and the men highly undisciplined, at least at the beginning of their service. Recruiting at the frontier was difficult due to the small population and the fact that the frontier men were needed to defend and operate their homesteads. Low recruitment meant there was no justification for new officers, which in turn seriously hurt the morale of the existing officers. The provisioning of the 8th Regiment, after it went to the frontier, was even more deplorable than the depravity suffered by the Main Army. If the abnormal mortality rate for non-combat deaths of officers is any indication, this was a deadly outfit in which to serve.