Timothy Murphy

From Academic Kids

Timothy Murphy (1751 - 1818) was a sniper in the American Revolutionary War.

At the Battle of Bemis Heights (Second Battle of Saratoga), 7 October 1777, Murphy is reputed to have shot and killed Sir Francis Clerke and General Simon Fraser.

Little is known of Timothy Murphy's early life. Born in 1751 near the Delaware Water Gap to parents who had only recently immigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, when he was eight his family moved to Shamokin Flats (now Sunbury) in Pennsylvania. Some years after that he was apprenticed to the Van Campen family, and with them relocated to the Wyoming Valley frontier.

On 29 June 1775, Murphy and his brother John enlisted in Captain John Lowdon's Company of Northumberland County Riflemen, and subsequently served in the Siege of Boston, the Battle of Long Island, and skirmishing in Westchester. Later, he became a Sergeant in the 12th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line and served at Trenton, Princeton, and New Brunswick. An expert marksman (able to hit a seven inch target at 250 yards), Murphy qualified for Morgan's Rifle Corps, and was transferred to that elite organization in July 1777, shortly after its inception. In August of the same year, Murphy was one of 500 hand-picked riflemen sent north to reinforce the Continental forces opposing General Sir John Burgoyne's invasion of Northern New York.

It was at the Battle of Bemis Heights (Second Battle of Saratoga), 7 October 1777, that Murphy is reputed to have fired the shots that killed Sir Francis Clerke and General Simon Fraser, throwing the British command of the battle into disarray.

Returning to the main army, Murphy suffered through Valley Forge and was involved in harassing the British withdrawal from Philadelphia before General Washington again ordered the northern dispatch of three companies of riflemen in July 1778, in response to attacks on the New York frontier. Murphy and his fellow riflemen garrisoned the Schoharie Valley forts and conducted long range patrols of Indian lands to the south and west. He participated in the attack on Unadilla in October, 1778, and was a part of Sullivan's Expedition against the Iroquois.

Upon the expiration of his service late in 1779, he returned to the Schoharie Valley to settle. Among with several other riflemen, Murphy enlisted in Captain Jacob Hager's Company of Colonel Peter Vrooman's 15th Regiment of the Albany County Militia. Murphy resumed his patrolling through what are now Schoharie, Otsego, Delaware, and Greene Counties, confirming his reputation as “The terror of the Tories and Indians', as one historian has put it.

It was during this period the Murphy also became the terror of one of the more prosperous Dutch farmers of the valley, Johannes Feeck. Murphy took to scouting more frequently in the direction of his farm, and at first was highly welcome. However, when the farmer and his wife realized that the real reason was a growing attraction between the Irishman and their daughter Margaret (Peggy), Murphy was told not to return. Undeterred, Murphy secured leave from his sympathetic commander, and eloped with Peggy to Duanesburgh to be married by the nearest available Dominie. The father became reconciled to the marriage when Murphy let it be known he would otherwise take his new bride to Pennsylvania.

And shortly thereafter, when the British raided the Schoharie Valley, and Murphy ‘s fame among his neighbors reached its zenith at the defense of the Middle Fort (see sidebar), Peggy was with him, molding bullets, loading muskets, and swearing to take up a spear when the ammunition ran out.

Early in 1781, Murphy reenlisted in the Pennsylvania Line under General Wayne and was present for the final battle of Yorktown. He returned to Fultonham in the Schoharie at the war's end.

By his first wife, Murphy had five sons and four daughters. Several years after Peggy died in 1807, he married Mary Robertson, and with her relocated to Charlottesville and there by her had four more sons. Murphy never learned to read or write, nor applied for a veteran's grant or pension, but nonetheless was able to acquire a number of farms and a grist mill, and become a local political power. Later, he returned to Fultonham, where he died in 1818, at age 67, of cancer.

Murphy was buried there next to his first wife. In 1872, he was reinterred at Middleburgh cemetery. Although the State Legislature voted to erect monument to Murphy in 1819, none was built until some of his descendants purchased one to be placed in the cemetery in 1910. In 1913, the Ancient Order of Hibernians placed a marker commemorating Murphy at the Saratoga Battlefield, and the state put up its own marker there in 1929. In dedicating that monument, Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt said:

"This country has been made by Timothy Murphys, the men in the ranks. Conditions here called for the qualities of the heart and head that Tim Murphy had in abundance. Our histories should tell us more of the men in the ranks, for it was to them, more than to the generals, that we were indebted for our military victories."

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools