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Illuminated Shade

May 2024
1min read


In “Shades of Rebellion” (June/July, 1979) we presented a charming trio of lifelike silhouettes done at the time of the Revolutionary War. One of the silhouettes (shown here) portrayed Major Hugh Maxwell. “We have no details of Maxwell’s service,” we noted.

We do now. Reader Frederic D. H. Gilbert of Briarcliff Manor, New York, has written to give us the outline of a long and meritorious career: “Born in the north of Ireland of staunch Presbyterian parents, Maxwell was brought to America as an infant. As a young man, he served in the French and Indian War, and in 1773, with a wife and five children, he settled in Heath, then part of the town of Charlemont in northwestern Massachusetts.…

“On the 21st of April, 1775, two days after the Battle of Lexington and three days after the birth of his youngest son, he began his service in the Revolutionary War by leading the local contingent of Minute Men to Cambridge. He took a ball in the shoulder at Breed’s Hill and, when he was able to travel, spent a short furlough at home. Then back to the war, not to return for nine years.

“He participated in almost every major engagement in the war outside the South. He was at the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, Bennington, Saratoga; he was at Valley Forge; he was at West Point when Benedict Arnold’s treachery was discovered.… He was discharged in 1784 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and at long last returned to his family farm, became a leader in the community, and was one of the prime movers in the establishment of Heath as a separate town.… He died in 1799 on the way back from the West Indies, and was buried at sea.”

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