Retracing an ancestor's steps with Continental Army

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It was the humble request of a weary soldier who had served in the Continental Army for five years and had just survived the most severe winter of the Revolutionary War, weathering 23 snowstorms in wooden huts at Jockey Hollow in Morristown.

Dated: "Camp near Morristown April 16th 1780,'' Cpl. John Allison, a 25-year-old soldier in the 5th New York Regiment, sought the highest commander's relief to his plight, asking to be discharged as his three-year enlistment had expired.

"To His Excellancy Genl Washington Commander and Chief of the United States of North America -- Now Please your Excellancy I implore that you would deeme justice done in this affair and your Petitioner in Duty bound shall Pray.''

Robert A. Mayers, 79, of Watchung, found the letter -- which was written by his
great-great-great-grandfather -- in New York Public Library archives.

"I am amazed by this evidence that common soldiers believed that they had a personal relationship with the commander in chief,'' Mayers said.

The letter appears in Mayers' book, "The War Man,'' published by Westholme Publishing last year, which chronicles his ancestor's eight years in the Continental Army. A retired human resources executive, Mayers also served in as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict....

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