Tupper, Benjamin

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Tupper, Benjamin

TUPPER, BENJAMIN. (1738–1792). Continental officer. Massachusetts. Born in Stoughton (later Sharon), Massachusetts, on 11 March 1738, Tupper's father died when he was young, and after a common school education, the boy was apprenticed to a Dorchester tanner until he was sixteen years old. During the French and Indian War he served in the company commanded by his uncle, Captain Nathaniel Perry, and became a sergeant in 1759. After a few years as a school-teacher in Easton, Massachusetts, he married in 1762, and moved to Chesterfield, in the western part of the province, two years later. In 1774 he served as a militia lieutenant in ridding his area of Tory influence. On 25 April 1775 he became major of Colonel John Fellows's Massachusetts Regiment. Early on the morning of 8 July, he and Captain John Crane led a party of volunteers and two guns in a raid that routed the British from an outpost on Boston Neck. On 31 July he led a highly successful raid to Great Brewster Island to destroy the Boston lighthouse. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 4 November, and in the reorganization of 1 January 1776, he became lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-first Continental Regiment. Commanding a flotilla of gunboats and galleys on the Hudson River, on 3 August he attacked the British ships that had penetrated to the Tappan Sea on 12-18 July. After taking part in the Battle of Long Island on 27 August, he was named lieutenant colonel of the Second Massachusetts Regiment on 1 November 1776 and colonel of the Eleventh Massachusetts Regiment on 7 July 1777.

He fought in the campaign against Burgoyne as part of John Paterson's Third Massachusetts Brigade and spent the winter of 1777–1778 with the main army at Valley Forge. He participated in the Monmouth Campaign (June 1778), worked on the defenses of West Point, and served on the New York frontier. In the reorganization of 1 January 1781 he assumed command of the Tenth Massachusetts, and in the reorganization of 1 January 1783 he was transferred to the Sixth Massachusetts. He retired from the army on 12 June and was breveted brigadier general on 30 September 1783.

Returning to Chesterfield, he was elected to the state legislature. During Shays's Rebellion of 1786–1787 he had an active part in the defense of nearby Springfield. Having signed the Newburgh Petition of 1783 asking Congress to give western lands to veterans, he was intimately involved during the last ten years of his life with the westward movement. He represented Massachusetts in the corps of state surveyors under Thomas Hutchins sent west by Congress in 1785 and joined Rufus Putnam in forming the Ohio Company of Associates in January 1786. In early 1788 they led the first settlers to what became Marietta, Ohio. Both veterans took a leading part in the affairs of the new settlement. Tupper died at Marietta on 7 June 1792.

SEE ALSO Great Brewster Island, Massachusetts.

                        revised by Harold E. Selesky