Vermont History and Genealogy

January 20, 2007

Men of Vermont – Robert Cochran

Filed under: Famous Vermont Residents, Robert Cochran — thedarwinexception @ 4:26 am

Cochran, Robert.–Who was honored as one of the eight outlawed by New York in 1774, and who was one of the recognized leaders in the “beech seal” days, came from Coleraine, Mass., to Bennington about 1768, but soon moved to Rupert. He was a captain among the Green Mountain Boys before the Revolution, and after the Westminster massacre, appeared within forty-eight hours at the head of forty men to fight the cause of the people against the “Court party.” With a file of twenty-five he assisted in conveying the prisoners taken the next day to the jail at Northampton. He was a captain in the Ticonderoga expedition in the May following, and assisted Warner in the capture of Crown Point. He afterwards joined Colonel Elmore’s regiment, where he held a commision as captain until July 29, ’76, when he was promoted to be major by resolution of Congress. The next October we find him on the frontier in Tryon County, N. Y., commanding at Fort Dayton. He served with reputation in the ’77 campaign, probably on Gates’ staff. He certainly bore dispatches from the general to the committee of safety on the Grants. The next year he had an adventurous trip to Canada, where he was sent to obtain information of the military situation, and narrowly escaped arrest and execution as a spy. A large reward was offered for his capture, and he was taken ill while hiding in a brush-heap from his pursuers. Hunger and disease at length compelled him to venture to approach a log cabin, where he heard three men conversing about the reward and planning his capture. When the men left he crawled into the presence of the woman of the house, frankly told her his name and plight, and threw himself on her mercy. She gave him food and a bed, and kept him hid in the house until the men had returned and left again, [p.53] and then directed him to a place of concealment a little off, and she stealthily fed and nursed him there until he was able to travel, knowing all the time how much money it would be worth to her to betray him. Years afterward he met her and rewarded her generously for her womanly ministration.

In September, 1778, Cochran was in command of Fort Schuyler and did active and efficient work on the frontier. In 1780 he was promoted to a lieutenant-colonelcy. He came out of the war like most of the heroes who had fought through it, deeply in debt, and Sparks, in his life of Baron Steuben, gives a pathetic account of Cochran’s distress, as he viewed the circumstances in which his services to his country had left him and the empty-handedness with which he must go to the wife and children who were awaiting him in the garret of a wretched tavern. It is a scene to which, for the credit of human nature, attention cannot be too often directed, showing what man with all his littleness and imperfections is capable of doing and sacrificing for an idea.

Later years, however, brought deserved prosperity to Cochran. He lived after the war at Ticonderoga and Sandy Hook, N. Y., dying at the latter place July 3, 1812, at the age of seventy-three, and being buried near Fort Edward.

Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont.


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