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Who was Col John Crane?

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2006-05-17 23:57:40

I am a 9th generation decendant directly from Col. John Crane,

and have complied an extensive history on my grandfather(x9). Some

of it is here for your education, knowledge, and enjoyment. Share

it with your family. scrane212@msn.com. ************ For the

following sketch I am indebted to the Hon. William Eustis, a highly

respectable surgeon in the hospital department during the

revolutionary war: COLONEL JOHN CRANE, AND OTHERS. The mechanics of

Boston and its vicinity may take a just pride in having furnished

from their ranks some of the bravest and most useful officers of

the revolutionary army, and, among them, no one more brave or more

useful than John Crane. In adverting to the sources whence they

derived their knowledge of discipline and of service, our first

object is to show, from facts and experience, the utility and

importance of a well-organized militia, and to defend this

invaluable institution from the reproaches of the ignorant and

assuming, who would sap the foundation of the national defence; and

secondly, to inspire the young mechanics with zeal in the military

profession, that like their predecessors they may become the able

and substantial defenders of their country. Previous to the war of

the revolution, there was in Boston a company of artillery,

commanded by Captain Adino Paddock, by profession a chaise-maker.

It was composed principally, if not altogether, of the mechanics of

Boston, and was distinguishing by its superior discipline, by the

exactness of its manoeuvres and the accuracy of its firings.

Paddock had tory connexions, adhered to the British, went to

England, was consulted repeatedly by the British ministry, and was

invested with the military command of the island of Guernsey. In

this company were raised Colonel John Crane, Colonel (now General)

Ebenezer Stevens, with others, all of whose names are not

recollected. Crane and Stevens were house-carpenters, Perkins was a

shoe-maker, Seward a hatter, Popkins a tailor, Allen a sail-maker,

Carnes a rope-maker, Lillie a cooper, Johnson a painter, Treat a

cooper, Burbeck a -, Hall a mason, D. Bryant a chair-maker, Cook a

butcher, Thomas a cooper, and Allen a sail-maker. The greater part

of these with others formed a regiment of artillery, not exceeded

in discipline, valor, and usefulness by any regiment in service.

Crane was made a major in 1776. An uneducated man, he had all the

pride and ambition of a soldier. He was constitutionally bold and

daring, courting danger wherever it was to be found. In 1775, when

Boston was beseiged, his station was in Roxbury. On Boston neck a

breastwork was constructed, and so soon as cannon could be procured

they were mounted. Crane had the command, spent a great part of his

time there, and was never more delighted than when he was permitted

to fire on the British intrenchment. Our stock of powder was then

small. It was on this theatre that he first displayed an undaunted

courage, and a knowledge of the art of gunnery, not often displayed

by old artillery officers. He repeatedly dismounted the cannon in

the embrasures of the British works, killing and wounding their

men. After the evacuation of Boston, he marched to New York.

Whenever a British ship-of war appeared in the East or North

rivers, or any firing was heard, Crane was on horseback, and

galloped to the scene of action. Being reproached on an occasion

when he exposed himself alone, riding through Greenwich-street,

under the constant broadsides of a passing ship, he replied, "The

shot is not cast which is to kill me." Not long after, a frigate

run up the East river, and anchored on the Long Island side, near

Corlaer's Hook. Four field-pieces were ordered to annoy her. They

were only six-pounders. Crane, as usual, was present, and pointed

the pieces. His sight was remarkably true - his aim was sure. He

had from habit and the acuteness of his vision the faculty of

seeing a cannonball on its passage through the air. A falling shot

from the ship he kenned in a direction to strike him, as be

thought, the lower part of his body. Not having time to change his

position in any other way, he whirled himself round on one foot;

and the ball struck the other foot while raised it in the air,

carrying away the great toe and ball of the foot. Thus ended his

usefulness for the campaign. He was afterwards removed to New

Jersey, and, surviving the perils of a partial jaw-lock, so far

recovered as to go home on furlough. He returned the next spring,

and continued in service till the peace. The nature of this work

will not allow us to follow him through the remainder of his

career; but we cannot refrain from stating a closing anecdote,

illustrative of his independent spirit. He had been among the

number of those who thought the army had been neglected by the

country, and spake as he felt, indignantly, at the treatment they

had received. A board of general and field officers, with two

hospital surgeons, were appointed to examine the wounded officers

and soldiers in camp at the close of the war, and to report the

rate of compensation to which they were severally entitled. A

friend and brother-officer, who well knew the nature of his wound,

waited on Colonel Crane, represented to him that, on his return to

private life, his activity of mind and body would lead him to some

kind of labor, and that having lost the ball of his foot, the bones

would come through the cicatrix (scar tissue), and his wound open

again, asking the favor of him to walk over, and suffer his foot to

be inspected. Stamping the wounded foot on the floor, he replied,

indignantly, "No sir; they never shall say that I eat their bread

when I have done serving them." He entered afterwards on active and

laborious business, and prospered for a number of years, met with

adverse circumstances, his wound broke out again, he could no

longer labor. After many years he came to the friend who had

admonished him of the consequences of his wound, and said to him,

with tears in his eyes, "My friend, I am now a humbled man, you may

do with me as you please." He was immediately placed on the

pension-list, but did not live a year to enjoy his pension.


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