Theodorick Bland Leads Prisoners Across The Colonies
Theodorick Bland was one of the early cavalry leaders in the Continental Army.
Bland was tasked with moving the ‘Convention Army’ of captured British soldiers from Boston to Charlottesville.
He followed this up with almost a decade of Congressional work.
Theodorick Bland had been educated as a doctor in Europe but quickly abandoned this trade due to ill health. As a member of one of the wealthiest families in Virginia, he fell into the business of agriculture.
Theodorick took after his uncle, Richard Bland, with his disdain for Parliament’s presumptions that the American colonies would simply fall in line with any new taxes.
An equine enthusiast, Theo was recruited by George Washington to raise a cavalry.
Bland’s militia was quickly absorbed into the Continental Army as the 1st Continental Light Dragoons. These men on horseback became extremely important to Washington and were used primarily as scouts.
A letter from Washington to Bland in the days after the Battle of Trenton make this clear. Bland was transporting prisoners north, but the General told him to leave them somewhere safe, perhaps with a state militia, because he, “would not have a Horse Man left behind.”
The Convention Army
After the British lost at the Battle of Saratoga, the captured Redcoats were formed into the ‘Convention Army.’ These men were first brought to Boston and were under the watchful eye of Major General William Heath.
A major port city, Boston was swiftly deemed a poor place to hold an entire army prisoner. The decision was made to move them south.
Theodorick Bland was chosen to march the Convention Army seven hundred miles south to Charlottesville, VA. This was done and, although hundreds of prisoners escaped along the way, the trip was considered a success.
Bland spent the better part of the next year overseeing this prison camp. Eventually, he resigned his post due to his enduring sickness.
Theodorick was elected to the Continental Congress immediately upon his return home. He remained in Congress for the next three years.
After attending the Virginia Ratifying Convention (where he voted against the Constitution), he was elected as an inaugural member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia.
Bland traveled to New York City where he served in the House for just fifteen months when, at the age of 49, he passed away. Theodorick has the dubious distinction of being the first member of Congress to die in office.
If you are interested in learning more about the use of horses in the American Revolution, check out ‘Cavalry of the American Revolution.’ Although, admittedly, there is more focus put on Casimir Pulaski (article to come) than Theodorick Bland, this is a great tale. If you get it through the link below, our affiliate Amazon will give us a small kickback at no additional cost to you.
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