I’ll Be Home By

“Forest” pen sketch by Wendy Harty 2021, Garrett Miller would have travelled untamed forests to fight for the British who had given his family a refugee in 1709. He would stay loyal.

Two questions I ask today. Did you ever say, “I’ll be home by” such as I’ll be home before supper or I’ll be home before you know it. And the second question: “Did anyone come into your life that changed it completely, and you took a different path than what your vision of your future looked like.

My 6th Great grandfather Garrett Miller and his wife, Elizabeth Switzer, could answer each of these questions in their story and history would be changed forever!

The man who entered Camden Valley and came into their lives was Justus Sherwood. Justus was one of Ethan Allan’s Green Mountain Boys, a very hardy lot. Ethan Allan at first tried to keep Vermont loyal to Britain, but when talks broke down, his militia served in the Revolutionary War. Justus agreed but he didn’t support the Green Mountain Boys brutal tactics and their pre revolutionary war activities, and spoke out. In 1776, these local Patriots raided his home, destroyed his belongings and arrested him. He was condemned to life imprisonment. He spent a month in the dark and dank Simsbury Mine. Justus escaped and fled to Bennington, Vermont, where his wife had fled to her family. Justus Sherwood’s name is found on a list of confiscation. Vermont issued an act to prevent the return to the state of certain persons who have left and joined the enemy. It said, “If they return they will be whipped on the naked back not less than 20 or more than 40 stripes punishment inflicted and ordered to leave. If they continue to stay they will be convicted before the Supreme Court and put to death.”

Justus Sherwood was flogged and left but he didn’t go far. He stopped in the Camden Valley and rallied 300 men to the British cause. They had tried to stay neutral, even had been induced to sign a bond of allegiance to the Continental Congress on April 29, 1776. But not liking the mob rule and the confiscations Justus changed their minds. My 6th great grandfather Garrett Miller, with his brothers, Jacob and Peter, and my 6th great grandmother’s brother, Philip Switzer, with the other Irish-Palatines, shouldered their muskets. Can you hear Garrett say to Elizabeth his wife, I won’t be gone long, I’ll be home before spring planting!

Under the guidance of Justus Sherwood, the men travelled 200 miles through the forests to Crown Point, a British fort on Lake Champlain. On a later loyalist claim Garrett Miller stated he joined the British at Crown Point in October, 1776, and joined the King’s Royal Regiment of New York serving in Canada. Garrett Miller was made a quartermaster, in charge of supplies. From their Carleton, the commander of the British forces in North America, took them to Quebec, where On August 16, 1777, the next year he was promoted to Captain. At Quebec, General Burgoyne was given the command of the northern expedition to divide the rebel colonies.

I muse whether he communicated to Elizabeth as he clearly wasn’t home by spring planting, but caught up in a viscous war. And the path Garret chose when following Justus Sherwood will show you how the history of Canada changed.

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