Vose, Joseph

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Vose, Joseph

VOSE, JOSEPH. (1738–1816). Continental officer. Massachusetts. Eldest brother in a large, extended kinship of Voses in Milton, Massachusetts, Joseph was major in General William Heath's Massachusetts Regiment from 1 May to December 1775, serving with his brothers, Captain Elijah Vose and Lieutenant Bill Vose. Joseph distinguished himself in the raid on Great Brewster Island on 21 July, and his promotion to lieutenant colonel was backdated to 1 July. In the army's reorganization of 1 January 1776 he became lieutenant colonel of Colonel John Greaton's Twenty-Fourth Continental Regiment, and served with it in the Canada campaign. By 8 December, he was at Peekskill, New York, on his way to join General George Washington's main army, in command of a single unit made up of the remnants of the Twenty-Fourth, Colonel William Bond's Twenty-Fourth Continental Regiment, and Colonel Elisha Porter's Massachusetts state regiment. In the next reorganization (1 January 1777), he was named lieutenant colonel of the First Massachusetts (6 November 1776) and promoted to colonel on 22 April 1777 when the original colonel, John Paterson, became a brigadier general. He was rejoined in the regiment by his brother Elijah (now a lieutenant colonel); brother Bill continued as a staff officer (paymaster). The First Massachusetts Regiment was part of John Glover's Second Massachusetts Brigade that held the American right flank at Saratoga, after which Vose led it south to join the main army for the winter of 1777–1778 at Valley Forge. He took part in the Monmouth, New Jersey, campaign of June-July 1778, and then marched east for the operations under John Sullivan at Newport, Rhode Island, the next month. He was back in the Hudson Highlands in the summer of 1779.

On 17 February 1781, "the eight eldest companies" (in the words of William Heath) of the Massachusetts line were formed into a battalion under Colonel Vose and Major Caleb Gibbs (Memoirs, p. 288). This elite unit formed part of the Marquis de Lafayette's force that marched south from West Point for Military operations in Virginia in the summer of 1781. During the Yorktown campaign it was in John P. G. Muhlenberg's First Brigade of Lafayette's light infantry division. In the reorganization of 13 June 1783 Vose was continued in command of one of the four Massachusetts regiments formed of men whose enlistments had not expired. As a brevet brigadier general (promoted to the rank on 30 September 1783), he led his unit into New York City on Evacuation Day, 25 November 1783. After the war he returned to his farm in Milton, Massachusetts.

SEE ALSO Great Brewster Island, Massachusetts.


Heath, William. Memoirs of Major General William Heath. Boston: I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews, 1798.

                            revised by Harold E. Selesky