SHELDON, ELISHA. (1740–1796). Colonel of the Second Dragoons. Connecticut. Little is known of Sheldon's early life other than that he was born in Lyme, Connecticut, 6 Mar 1740. After commanding a battalion of Connecticut light cavalry from June 1776, he was commissioned as a colonel on 12 December 1776 and commanded the Second Dragoons, known as "Sheldon's Light Dragoons," from then until the end of the war. In the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 he performed the normal cavalry tasks of reconnoitering the enemy's movements. Thereafter he served on the east side of the Hudson River. General Banastre Tarleton made an unsuccessful attempt to defeat him at Poundridge, New York, on 2 July 1779. As part of his preparations to give West Point to the British, Benedict Arnold had to hoodwink Sheldon into permitting "John Anderson" (John André) to enter the American lines. Sheldon had been temporarily succeeded by his lieutenant colonel, John Jameson, when "John Anderson" arrived.
Sheldon was brevetted as a brigadier general on 30 September 1780. In the operations against Manhattan preceding the Yorktown campaign, Sheldon took part in the unsuccessful attempt on 3 July 1781 to surprise Oliver De Lancey's Loyalist forces near Morrisania, New York. When the allies marched to Virginia he remained under William Heath, serving in in the Highlands Department (around the Hudson River). After the war Sheldon moved to Vermont, where the town of Sheldon Springs was named in his honor.
revised by Michael Bellesiles