FRYE, JOSEPH. (1712–1794). Colonial Wars veteran, Continental general. Massachusetts (Maine). Born on 19 March 1712 in Andover, Massachusetts, Fraye served as an ensign in Hale's Fifth Massachusetts Regiment, took part in the capture of Louisburg in February 1745, and was a lieutenant colonel in John Winslow's Kennebec expedition in 1754. He spent the following year burning the houses of the dispossessed people of Acadia. He served under Lieutenant Colonel George Munroe when this officer was surrounded near Fort William Henry and forced to surrender on 9 August 1757 to General Marquis de Montcalm. Frye escaped after killing his Indian guard, making his way to Fort Edward. Under the terms of the British surrender of Fort William Henry, he was placed on parole for 18 months. After this, from March 1759 to the end of 1760, he was commander at Fort Cumberland (near modern Amherst, Nova Scotia).
On 3 March 1762, in response to his petitioning, he was granted a township in Maine, and in 1770 he moved there and opened a store in Fryeburg. On 21 June 1775 he was named to the post of major general of the Massachusetts militia and served in this capacity for about three months, before being appointed a brigadier general of the Continental army on 10 January 1776. On 23 April of that year he resigned for ill health, to use the popular euphemism. In fact, the aged warrior was useless to General George Washington, who wrote Joseph Reed that Frye "has not, and I doubt will not, do much service to the cause; at present he keeps his room and talks learnedly of emetics, cathartics, &c. For my own part, I see nothing but a declining life that matters [to?] him." (Freeman, vol. 4, p. 41). He returned to Fryeburg, where he died on 25 July 1794.
revised by Michael Bellesiles