Poor, Enoch

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Poor, Enoch

POOR, ENOCH. (1736–1780). Continental general. Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Great-grandson of an English immigrant who settled at Newbury, Massachusetts, he was reared on the family farm in North Andover, Massachusetts, had little education, and was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker. In 1755 he took part in Colonel John Winslow's expedition to Acadia. Around 1760 he moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, where he established himself as a merchant and shipbuilder. After holding various public offices and being elected to sit in two of New Hampshire's provincial congresses, on 24 May 1775 he was named colonel of the Second New Hampshire Regiment. His regiment's first mission was to build fire rafts to protect Exeter and to work on coastal defenses. Poor then led his force to the Boston lines, moved to New York City in the spring of 1776, and was later sent to strengthen the forces withdrawing up Lake Champlain. In the council of war on 5 July 1776, he argued against the abandonment of Crown Point and organized a protest by twenty-one field grade officers (including John Stark and William Maxwell) to Washington when Schuyler wisely decided the place was untenable. He was president of the court-martial that acquitted Moses Hazen and ordered the arrest of Benedict Arnold. In December 1776 he went south to join Washington's army for operations at Trenton and Princeton, and on 21 February 1777 he was promoted to brigadier general. Although his record had been as good as many others promoted to general officer rank, he owed his advancement partly to a factional dispute brought about through Colonel John Stark's abrupt departure from command due to what he thought was Congress's inept process of promotion.

After the perplexing British movements that preceded the Philadelphia campaign, his brigade and Varnum's were detached to Peekskill. Poor subsequently took part in the operations at Ticonderoga on 5 July 1777. His brigade of eight hundred men moved forward on the American right to open the Second Battle of Saratoga on 7 October 1777, and the men performed well. He then rejoined Washington for winter quarters at Valley Forge and had a prominent part in the action at Barren Hill on 20 May 1778. As part of Charles Lee's command, he marched with the first troops to leave Valley Forge for the Monmouth campaign, and he led one of the final movements of the battle of 28 June.

During the winter of 1779–1780, his brigade was posted at Danbury, Connecticut. Ordered to join Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois, his troops figured prominently in the Battle at Newtown, New York, on 29 August 1779, which was the only major action of the campaign. In 1780 his brigade was incorporated into Lafayette's Light Infantry Division. He died 8 September 1780 at Paramus, New Jersey, of typhus (then called putrid fever).

SEE ALSO Barren Hill, Pennsylvania; Monmouth, New Jersey; Newtown, New York.


Fischer, Joseph R. A Well-Executed Failure: The Sullivan Campaign against the Iroquois, July-September 1779. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Potter, Chandler E. The Military History of the State of New-Hampshire, 1623–1861. 1868. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1972.

Thompson, Dorothea M. "Enoch Poor." In New Hampshire: Years of Revolution. Edited by Peter E. Randall. Portsmouth, N.H.: Profiles Publishing, 1976.

Upton, Richard Francis. Revolutionary New Hampshire. 1936. Reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1971.

                          revised by Frank C. Mevers