The Roger Sherman Watch

“The watch usually called Lepine was first made in Paris… and I believe that Lepine, a celebrated maker at that time, was the inventor, from whom they are so called. The object of having the wheels held by bars and screws, which any person having opened one has seen, was to make the watch flatter than the English could make theirs.” -Image courtesy of, The Library of Congress, “The watch; its construction, its merits and defects, how to choose it, and how to use it,” by Henry F. Piaget, 1860

“An interesting ‘household good’ was recently shown to us. It was a primitive-looking silver watch, made in France in 1760, that belonged to Roger Sherman — was in his fob when he stood with Jefferson, &c., before Hancock, reporting ‘The Declaration of Independence.’ In 1775 it was presented by Roger Sherman to his nephew, Roger Minot Sherman, for his high collegiate attainments, by whom it was worn until shortly before his death, when he presented it to his warm personal friend, Doctor Charles Rowland, of Brooklyn, who, after wearing it twenty-five years, with a discriminating and patriotic sense of the ‘fitness of things,’ is about to present this eminently historical relic to a descendant, who is not only worthy of, but has added lustre to the name of the signers of the Declaration of Independence — General Sherman, whose memorable march inscribes his name upon the tablet of fame next to those of Hannibal and Napoleon. — N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, December 16, 1867. (top) “A small card displaying an engraved portrait of William Tecumseh Sherman. He is turned slightly to the right. His hairline is receding, and his remaining short hair is combed down in a side part. He wears the jacket of his military uniform over a white shirt with a standing collar and a black bowtie. Only the second buttons are done on his jacket, pinning open the lapel. The jacket is topped with shoulder boards displaying a shield flanked by two stars. The portrait is in a loose oval composition with the edges engraved to have the appearance of an ink wash. ‘Gen’l W. T. Sherman’ is printed below the image in typeface script.” Image courtesy of the New Haven Museum, Museum Collections, Bureau, Printing, & Engraving, “General W. T. Sherman,” 19th Century

Presentation to General Sherman

“By invitation of the Hon. John A. Griswold, of New York, a large and select company assembled at his residence this evening, to witness the presentation of the Roger Sherman watch to Lieutenant-General Sherman. There were present distinguished officers of the army, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Members of both Houses of Congress, and gentlemen representing the judiciary and other departments of the government.

Senator Ferry, of Connecticut, during the evening, addressing Lieutenant-General Sherman, said: — He was deputed by his friend, Dr. Charles Rowland, of Brooklyn, New York, to present to him the watch owned by Roger Sherman, a hundred years ago, and he was at the same time deputed by his friend, Col. William S. Rowland, to present to General Sherman an engraving of Roger Sherman, from an original portrait by Trumbull.

Senator Ferry said he supposed he had been selected for this pleasant duty because he represented in some measure the Commonwealth of Connecticut, which Roger Sherman did so much to honor. He then gave a history of the Sherman family of Connecticut, to which the Lieutenant-General was related and which had sustained so important a part in the Revolutionary war. In his daily walks, as he passed the old homestead, the people pointed to it as associated with glorious memories.

He then added, take the memorials and transmit them to your children and children’s children, and when you show them, remind them that Roger Sherman’s polar star was duty to his country, and that during the Revolution, as well as the late conflict, the members of that family had well performed their duty.

The Hon. Senator’s remarks were frequently applauded.

Lieutenant-General Sherman, in reply, said it was somewhat embarrassing for him to follow one so skilled in words. He could only return thanks for the beautiful presents. He then spoke of the emigration of the Sherman family to Ohio from Connecticut. His father, who was Judge of the Superior Court, left his family poor in land but rich in friends. He should hand these memorials to Thomas Ewing Sherman, who was named after his godfather, Thomas Ewing.

He was a fine boy in his estimation, being twelve years of age (laughter and applause); should this boy fail him, another still remained, about a year old (Laughter.) So if these should neglect to appreciate these tokens of friendship it would not be the fault of the father or mother. Those who have watched the history of Connecticut will have no cause to blush for those who have gone out from that State. He had traveled a great deal over the continent, and had found plenty of Yankees of true Connecticut stock.

His remarks were frequently interrupted by applause. The above is merely a notice of the interesting proceedings.

The watch is silver-cased; a Lepine, with the date 1795; a double-timer. The plate on the box inclosing it bears the name of Charles Rowland, M. D., and also that of Roger Sherman, with the monogram of W. T. Sherman. After the ceremonies Mr. Griswold invited the large and distinguished company to partake of the supper which he had sumptuously provided.”
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, January 22, 1868

Presentation of the Roger Sherman Watch to General W. T. Sherman.

“The presentation of the Roger Sherman watch to General W. T. Sherman, at the residence of Hon. John A. Griswold, on I street, last evening, will long be remembered by those present on this memorable occasion.

Invitations had been extended to the members of the Cabinet, Supreme Court, officers of the army and navy now in Washington, to all the Senators, the New York and Connecticut delegations in the House of Representatives, and almost every gentleman of prominence now in this city.

The guests began to assemble about eight o’clock, and by nine o’clock the spacious parlors were thronged with gentlemen representing every sphere of life.

The watch to be presented to General Sherman was placed on a centre table, inclosed in a rich gilt box, on the lid of which was a silver plate, inscribed W. T. S., and on the marginal scrolls the names of the former owners: Roger Sherman, who wore it as a member of the Convention at the time of signing the Declaration of Independence; by him presented to the Alumni of Yale College, and presented by the Alumni of this college to Roger Minot Sherman, nephew of Roger Sherman, for proficiency in scholarship; and by him presented to Dr. Charles Rowland, of Brooklyn, New York, his attending physician; and now to be presented by Dr. Rowland to General Sherman.

This watch was ordered by Roger Sherman from Paris, and is a genuine type of finished workmanship — still in perfect running order, keeping accurate time, indicating the day of the month, week, and having an independent second hand graduating the time to a fourth part of a second. The size of the watch is that of an ordinary time-keeper; the case of silver. In addition to the watch, a fine photograph of Roger Sherman was also on the table, recently taken in Philadelphia from the original painting by Trumbull, and presented by Colonel Rowland.

The imposing assemblage of three hundred gentlemen was called to order by the Hon. John A. Griswold, with Lieutenant-General Sherman on his right and Dr. C. Rowland on his left. The orator on this select occasion was Senator Ferry, of Connecticut, who made the presentation speech on behalf of Dr. Rowland. The honorable Senator seemed to be most eloquently inspired with the subject and the spirit of ’76, holding the close and almost breathless attention of his audience. He eloquently alluded to the prominent part taken by Roger Sherman in the affairs of the Government of the United States from the adoption of the Constitution to the day of his death, and he also spoke of his patriotic action as a member of the Convention signing the Declaration of Independence. Senator Ferry, in conclusion, said it was eminently fitting that the watch that kept time for one of the great leaders of the Revolutionary party should be presented for preservation to the great soldier of the present day, and that he would hand it down to his children and children’s children, that they may remember, too, the great events which cluster about its history.

In reply, General Sherman said that he would accept the beautiful gifts, and would transmit them as directed. He alluded to his ancestors, and, in conclusion, thanked the donors for these valuable gifts.

The speeches of both Senator Ferry and General Sherman were enthusiastically received.

At the conclusion of the speeches the supper-room was opened, and the table, spread with every luxury, invited the appetites of the numerous guests, who did ample justice to the bountiful entertainment, prepared in the usual admirable style of the well-known caterer, Mr. Welcker. — Washington Intelligencer 22d inst.
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Brooklyn Union, Monday, January 27, 1868

“The watch… was a flat gold one, manufactured by Lepine, ‘watchmaker to the king.’ Washington purchased one for his own use… it being much more agreeable in the pocket than the old-fashioned bulky English watch.” -Image courtesy of, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, “The home of Washington; or, Mount Vernon and its associations, historical, biographical, and pictorial,” by John Benson Lossing, 1870

John Morrissey’s Boy

“Gen. Sherman in his speech on receiving the Roger Sherman watch, Friday evening, closed by saying that he thought and his wife thought, that their son, Thomas Ewing Sherman, now twelve years of age, who would eventually receive the watch, was the best boy in the country. John Morrissey, who stood very near, with a diamond stud on his shirt front as big as a coat button, remarked that they were both mistaken. He said he had a boy twelve years old, whom he called the ‘best boy;’ he would go any money on him that he could whip any boy of his age in the country. This was said very pleasantly and pleased Sherman as much as anybody. The general, Speaker Colfax and some of the others retired before the supper was begun, but most of the guests continued the festivities until a late hour. Morrissey also left quite early. He does not drink any intoxicating beverages, not even wine, at least he says he does not, and I have him seen refuse upon two occasions. — Saturday Gazette.
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Vermont Standard (Woodstock, Vermont), Thursday, Feburary 6, 1868


P. T. Sherman Presents it to New Haven Historical Society.

“Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. NEW HAVEN, Conn., May 8. — Philomen Tecumseh Sherman, Yale ’88, a New York lawyer, has presented to the New Haven Colony Historical Society through Judge A. McClellan Matthewson, a watch owned and carried by Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who was a resident of this city from June 30, 1731, until his death in 1793.

The watch is in a wooden box on which is a silver plate bearing scrolls. One of those is marked ‘Roger Sherman,’ another ‘Roger Minot Sherman,’ and a third ‘Charles Rowland, M. D.’ In the centre of the plate is the monogram W. T. S., the initials of General William Tecumseh Sherman.”
-Excerpt courtesy of The New York Times, Times Machine, Monday, May 9, 1932

Roger Sherman Watch Given Elm City Society

“New Haven, May 8. — AP. — The New Haven Colony Historical Society has been given a watch once owned by Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

It was given by Philomen Tecumseh Sherman, New York lawyer and Yale graduate who was the fifth owner of the watch since Roger Sherman.”
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Hartford Courant, Monday, May 9, 1932

Sherman Neckties

“Gen. Sherman, master of the art of destruction, developed an unkind attitude toward his cavalry-men and set the more plodding infantry to work on the railroad. They burned the ties, used the fires to heat the rails white hot and then looped the rails about convenient trees. Such rails were known as Sherman Neckties, and they weren’t laid down again.”
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Detroit Free Press, “Finns Unlikely to Break Up Red Railway for Very Long,” by Royce Howes, Saturday, December 30, 1939


Patriots Inspire Their Descendants

“On this 177th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of American Independence, we pause to turn our thoughts to the birth of freedom in our great nation.

In this picturesque Spanish town of Santa Barbara, we find the influence of those 56 signers of that momentous document. We write with pride that of the 36 signers who had issue, over a third have descendants in the Channel City and they represent eight of the 13 colonies…

Famed Thacher School in the Ojai Valley was founded by a descendant of a signer — Roger Sherman. Today we find there the second generation born in the Valley; their roots have shifted westward.

Other descendants of Sherman include Hugh and Roger Sherman Gates Boutell, Roger Jr., and Avis Ann and Henry Sherman Boutell III and in Montecito Valley, Mrs. Frederick Cowles and her daughter Barbara, now Mrs. Douglass Parshall, wife of the prominent artist.

“‘SIGN OF A NATION, GREAT AND STRONG…’ Wolcott Tuckerman refreshes his family with history of the Flag. Standing with the descendants of a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Oliver Wolcott) are, from left, Mrs. Tuckerman, Mrs. Robert Hyde (Florence Tuckerman) and Oliver Wolcott Andews holding his little son Christopher. Mrs. Tuckerman’s signer ancestor was the Maryland intellectual, Samuel Chase.” -Image courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Times photo by Bob Jakobsen, Saturday, July 4, 1953
“THE JEFFRIES, 96-year-old Mrs. John Amory Jeffires, and son John are descendants of William Ellery. Signer Ellery was also an antecedent of Richard Henry Dane, whose ‘Two Years Bfore the Mast’ is classic reading for Channel City and California.” -Image courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Times photo by Bob Jakobsen, Saturday, July 4, 1953
“BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S great-great-granddaughter, Mrs. Henry Tilghman Bull, holds spirit lamp given Ambassador Franklin in France. The Santa Barbaran is named for Sarah (Sally) Franklin, daughter of the great diplomat, and famous American patriot.” -Image courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Hal Boucher photo, Saturday, July 4, 1953
“THIS BUST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, by Houdon, was presented to Jonathan Russell, ancestor of this little boy, John Russell Rivers. John is another Santa Barbara descendant of William Ellery of Rhode Island, a distinguished American Patriot.” -Image courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Times photo by Bob Jakobsen, Saturday, July 4, 1953
“WASHINGTON SAT HERE and these two descendants of Signer Roger Sherman are extremely proud that their family has inherited the chair. Henry Sherman Boutell and Avis Ann Boutell know, also, that Gen. Lafayette rested in the historic chair.” -Image courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Times photo by Bob Jakobsen, Saturday, July 4, 1953

‘The Minister’s Chair’

The Boutells are among the few Signers’ descendants living on the West Coast who have historic objects among their treasures. They point with justifiable pride to what they term ‘the Minister’s Chair’ that belonged to their eminent ancestor and in which Lafayette and Washington are said to have sat. Then there is the shell of Roger Sherman’s silver watch which some descendant who is now an ancestor tried to fix, then gave up when all the insides could not be fitted together!

Roger Sherman, whom his contemporaries called ‘cunning as the devil,’ was the only one who achieved the distinction of signing all four great documents of this republic; the Declaration of Rights of the Colonies, the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Gen. W. Tecumseh Sherman, a descendant, served his early Army days in California at the romantic presidio of Monterey.”
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Los Angeles Times, “Patriots Inspire Their Descendants,” by Rosario Curletti, Saturday, July 4, 1953

Exhibit sheds light on the ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta

“The words from Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman flow across the page in a steady hand. The writing, in graceful penmanship, is clear, and the message is harsh.

‘If the people raise a howl against the barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking,’ Sherman wrote to one of his generals two days after Atlanta surrendered on Sept. 2, 1864, and weeks before the city’s destruction. ‘If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war.’ That declaration is among the 52 hand-written documents from Sherman, including field orders and other correspondence, on display at the Atlanta History Center through Sept. 5.

The exhibit intersperses Sherman’s field orders with maps and illustrations, and photographs taken shortly after the city fell. The photos were shot by George N. Barnard, who was hired by the Union army and trailed behind the front lines mainly to take pictures of Confederate defenses.

‘The photographs are so contemporary that you’re seeing the actual battlefields, but without the bodies,’ said Jim Bruns, president of the history center.

“Three pieced-together photos provided by the Atlanta History Center show downtown Atlanta in autumn 1864. Civilians had been ordered to evacuate the city.” -Image courtesy of, The Atlanta Constitution, “Exhibit sheds light on ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta,” by David Pendered, Sunday, July 30, 2006
“Three pieced-together photos provided by the Atlanta History Center show downtown Atlanta in autumn 1864. Civilians had been ordered to evacuate the city.” -Image courtesy of, The Atlanta Constitution, “Exhibit sheds light on ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta,” by David Pendered, Sunday, July 30, 2006
“Three pieced-together photos provided by the Atlanta History Center show downtown Atlanta in autumn 1864. Civilians had been ordered to evacuate the city.” -Image courtesy of, The Atlanta Constitution, “Exhibit sheds light on ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta,” by David Pendered, Sunday, July 30, 2006

The collection, marking the 142nd anniversary of the assault on Atlanta by federal troops during the Civil War, makes plain that Sherman had no intention of occupying Atlanta. That meant the railroads, factories and business district would be demolished so Sherman could advance with all his troops without fear that Atlanta’s war resources could be rebuilt.

‘I had seen Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans, all captured from the enemy, and each at once was garrisoned by a full division of troops, if not more; so that success was actually crippling our armies in the field by detachments to guard and protect the interests of a hostile population,’ Sherman wrote after the campaign for Atlanta.

The center bought the papers from New York broker Seth Kaller after more than a year of negotiations.

As part of the deal, valued at about $400,000, the center paid cash and traded Confederate notes that were discovered in a bundle of trash atop a bank vault in Roswell, Kaller said. Developer Dick Myrick donated the 3,000 old notes and bonds after finding them, wrapped in newspaper and tied with a string, in a building he was renovating in 1972.

Sherman began writing his special field orders shortly after he took charge of about 110,000 soldiers. His own orders from Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, according to the display, were to march into ‘the enemy’s country… inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.’

The political stakes of Sherman’s eventual March to the Sea could not have been higher. The country was growing weary of the Civil War, and President Lincoln needed a big victory to win re-election, Bruns said. Atlanta was the logical target for the Union army because it was a major rail hub and manufacturing center.

In a letter he dispatched from Decatur as the Union army prepared to invade the city in July 1864, Sherman wrote, ‘If fired on from the forts or building of Atlanta no consideration must be paid to the fact that they are occupied by families but the place must be cannonaded without the formality of demand.’ The fall of Atlanta would all but ensure the defeat of the Confederacy.

“On Dec. 20, 1864, Sherman completed his March to the Sea across the South and to Savannah.” -Image courtesy of, The Atlanta Constitution, “Exhibit sheds light on ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta,” by David Pendered, Sunday, July 30, 2006

The exhibit includes the order in which Sherman gave precise instructions for creating ‘Sherman’s neckties,’ railroad rails that were torn from the ground and twisted so that the Confederates could not use them to rebuild a rail line.

‘Bars, simply bent may be used again, but if when red hot they are twisted out of line they cannot be used again. Pile the [railroad cross] ties into shape for a bond [sic] fire, put the rails across and when red hot in the middle, let a man at each end twist the bar so that its surface is spiral,’ Sherman wrote July 18, 1864.”
-Excerpt courtesy of, The Atlanta Constitution, “Exhibit sheds light on ravages of war during the fall of Atlanta,” by David Pendered, Sunday, July 30, 2006

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s