Huntington, Jedediah

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Huntington, Jedediah

HUNTINGTON, JEDEDIAH. (1743–1818). Continental general. Connecticut. Born at Norwich, Connecticut, on 4 August 1743 and reared amid wealth and great social prominence, Jedediah Huntington graduated from Harvard College in 1763, joined the mercantile business of his father, Jabez Huntington, and became an active Son of Liberty. He was elected ensign of the local militia company in 1769, lieutenant in 1771, and captain in May 1774. The General Assembly appointed him colonel of the Twentieth Militia Regiment in October 1774. On 26 April 1775 he reached Cambridge with elements of his militia regiment and remained for twenty-three days while the New England army was organized to maintain the Boston Siege. The Assembly named him colonel of the Eighth Connecticut Regiment in July 1775, and he led it to Boston in mid-September, where it remained until its enlistment expired on 10 December 1775. He was named colonel of the reorganized unit (Seventeenth Continental Regiment) and led it to New York in April 1776. The regiment fought at Long Island, where it suffered heavily, although Huntington himself was absent sick, and in subsequent skirmishes of the New York Campaign. He was named to command the First Connecticut Regiment (1777) on 1 January 1777 and was ordered to Peekskill in April. He took a detachment to guard Danbury, Connecticut, and participated in skirmishing against the British troops who raided the depot at the end of the month. Congress promoted him to brigadier general on 12 May 1777; he joined Israel Putnam at Peekskill in July but saw no action when Sir Henry Clinton seized Forts Montgomery and Clinton on 6 October. He rejoined the main army near Philadelphia in mid-October, and sat on the court-martial that acquitted Anthony Wayne of dereliction of duty for the surprise attack on his command at Paoli, Pennsylvania. After suffering through the hard winter at Valley Forge, he was part of Charles Lee's advanced force that fought at Monmouth on 28 June 1778. He was a member of the court-martial that convicted Lee of "shameful" conduct and disrespect to Washington (12 August). The regiment spent the winter of 1778–1779 at Danbury while Huntington went home on leave. In 1779 and 1780 he served in the Hudson Highlands and New Jersey, and was a member of the board of general officers that convicted Major John André on 29 September 1780. He remained in the Highlands during the Yorktown campaign, spent much of 1782 recruiting in Connecticut, and helped to found the Society of the Cincinnati at Newburgh, New York, in 1783. Breveted major general on 30 September 1783, he resumed his commercial affairs at Norwich after 3 November.

Although Huntington was an able officer and was in the field throughout most of the war, he had spent his military career largely in the management of the army and did not see a great deal of combat. After the war he served as state treasurer and, as a delegate to the state convention, voted to ratify the federal Constitution. President Washington, a personal friend, appointed him collector of customs at New London in 1789, a post he held for twenty-six years. He died at New London on 25 September 1818.

SEE ALSO André, John; Cincinnati, Society of the; Danbury Raid, Connecticut; Huntington, Jabez; Monmouth, New Jersey.

                          revised by Harold E. Selesky