Revolutionary War Historical Article

Diary of Private Elijah Fisher of the Commander-in-Chief Guards

by Donald N. Moran

The Sons of Liberty Chapter, SAR, has transcribed this important diary, detailing the daily life of a soldier in General Washington’s personal guard. It is an abridgement as the earlier Chapters denote his service in other Regiments of the Continental Army. The diary covers a time period from March 19th, 1778, until Private Fisher’s honorable discharge on January 7th, 1780.

Click Here to Read His Diary

We left the grammar and spelling as found in the original diary, adding bracketed explanation only when necessary. It can be a bit difficult to read, and underscores how historians can misinterpret such documents. The phonic spelling also demonstrates the "down east" accent Elijah had. We have footnoted various entries to enhance the information that Private Fisher left us. Unfortunately we are working from a previously printed work, and not the original manuscript,.therefore it is highly possible that the original transcriber corrected some of the spelling. We did change his dating system, as Elijah was very inconsistent and it was confusing.


Elijah Fisher was born on June 18th, 1758, at Norton, Massachusetts. He was the son of John and Mary (Balcom) fisher. His occupation was a farmer. After the war, on December 14th 1785 he married Jerusha Keen of Taunton, Massachusetts. They had eight children. Elijah, a Baptist Deacon, passed away in January 1842. His wife proceeded him on August 20th, 1840. Some of Elijah’s descendants have joined the
Daughters of the American Revolution.

Their children were:
1. John Fisher .........b. 27 August 1786 married:Jerusha Packard d. 13 January 1854
2. Jerusha Fisher.... b. 01 June l788 .....married:John Keen,Jr. ..........d. 08 May 1851
3. Mary Fisher ........b. 28 June 1798 ....married:Moses Berry ......d. 27 October 1878
4. Elijah Fisher........ b. 16 July 1793 ................................died unmarried 18 June 1855
5. Grinfill Fisher...... b. 28 June 1795 ....married: Mary A. Foloon d. 29 October 1873
6. Sarah (Sally) Fisher b. 17 June 1798 ....married: Moses Berry d. 27 October 1878
7. Pricilla Fisher...... b. 09 January 1801 married: Isaac Livermore... d. 12 Sept. 1893
8. Salome Fisher......b. 22 March 1806..married: Jacob Woodsom d. 28 October 1879

A few days after the Battle of Lexington/Concord/Battle Road, on May 5th, 1775, Elijah answered his country’s call and enlisted in Captain Moses Knapp’s Company, 12th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry commanded by Colonel James Reed. On his 17th birthday, June 18th, he and his regiment saw action at Breed’s (Bunker) Hill, the regiment suffering 5 killed and 21 wounded.

After the battle of White Plains, on November 27th, 1776, Elijah was discharged as being ill. He recovered his health, and reenlisted for three years on January 7th, 1777, again in Captain Knapp’s Company, but in the newly formed 4th Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Colonel William Sherpard. With this unit of the Continental Line, Elijah saw action at the engagement at Stillwater, New York.

On March 19th, 1778, at Valley Forge, General Washington increased the size of the Commander-in-Chief Guards from fifty to one hundred and fifty men. Orders were issued for volunteers, meeting certain strict standards. The portion of Elijah’s diary starts here.

After being discharged at Morristown from the Commander-in-Chief’s Guards, at the conclusion of his enlistment, on January 6th, 1780, Elijah went home. He reenlisted on October 10th, 1780, for six months, and served in the 8th company, 1st Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Line, commanded by Colonel Benjamin Tupper. On December 15th, 1780, while serving in this regiment he was promoted to First Sergeant, With his six month enlisted over, he was discharged on April 10th 1781, at West Point, New York. Having served the cause of American Independence for six years, he returned to civilian life.

He returned to his home town, married and raised his family. He received a pension for his service and lived out his life on his farm in Livermore, Maine.

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