A Biography of John Cralle


Sergeant John Cralle, Fifth Virginia Reg. Continental Line


John Cralle was born 8 September 1724 to Thomas Cralle and Hannah Kenner Cralle. John's family had lived in the Northern Neck of Virginia for almost 100 years. His father had served as Justice of the Peace Northumberland County, Overseer of highways in Cherry Point Neck, and Collector of Tithables in Upper St. Stephens Parish. His mother's family had 3 State Burgesses in the previous 2 generations. He was landed and prosperous. John had served as High Sheriff of Northumberland County and had been a Justice. He was a Captain in the Northumberland County Militia. In 1775, the Virginia General Assembly voted to increase the size of the Army. The Fifth Virginia Regiment of Foot was Authorized 28 December 1775. On 27 February 1776 the Fifth Virginia was assigned to the Southern Department. And finally, on 28 February 1776 the Fifth was organized from volunteers at Richmond County Courthouse. John volunteered to serve Virginia at the age of 51. He knew it meant leaving all he had. He knew it meant treason. John made Sergeant of Captain Thomas Gaskins' Company, under Lieutenant Colonel Josiah Parker and General William Peachy. He received $8 a month pay. The Fifth's movements from 3 March to 10 July 1776 are documented in Captain George Stubblefield's Orderly Book. The Fifth was charged with protection of the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. The Orderly Book speaks of drill, parades, and discipline. Headquarters shifts accross the Neck from Williamsburg to Richmond County Courthouse to Sabine Hall to Suffolk to Kemp's Landing and finally to Norfolk . This period is known as the Chesapeake Campaign and ends 31 August 1776. On 3 September 1776 the Fifth is reassigned to Stephen's Brigade, Washington 's Main Army and moves North. It is in New Jersey in time to participate in the Northern New Jersey Campaign 20 November 1776 to 26 June 1777. This includes Washington 's crossing of the Delaware and the 26 December 1776 attack on Trenton . The Fifth's responsibility was advance guard and control of the shoreline during the crossing at McConkey's Ferry. The Fifth then continued into Trenton and was involved in the street fighting with the Hessians. The Fifth was present at the battle of Princeton on 3 January 1777. On 22 May 1777, the Fifth was assigned to the 1 st Virginia Brigade under General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Lord Stirling's Divison. Muhlenberg's Orderly Book documents the 1 st Virginia Brigade's activities from 26 March 1777 to 20 December of 1777. The Defense of Philadelphia was the main concern of the Army from 25 August to 19 December 1777. During this period the Army maneuvered as the British sought to cut off the American Capitol. The Fifth fought at Brandywine on 11 September 1777 and at Germantown on 4 October 1777. At Germantown Muhlenberg's Brigade was involved in a bayonet charge that penetrated the British lines and pushed them back 1000 yards. The Fifth went into Winter Camp having ended the 1777 Campaign with the loss of Philadelphia . Valley Forge presented a harsh reality so far from home. John's death is recorded 1 February 1778. It is unknown where he died. The sick were removed from camp to protect the healthy. John's resting place is in the Pennsylvania countryside, at the home of a Patriot willing to take in a sick soldier.

John's son finished what his father started. Lieutenant Samuel Cralle was with the Northumberland County Militia when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown on 19 October 1781.

John had 2 wives and 7 children. His estate was proven in Northumberland County 12 October 1778. John had only 2 children survive him. Samuel Cralle married to Mary Jane Claughton and Spelman Frances Cralle married to John Claughton.




Sergeant Fifth Virginia Regiment Continental Line


Originally under Capt Thomas Gaskins, then Capt Samuel Colston's company, Lt. Col Josiah Parker ( Col July 1777). (Comp Mil Serv Recs in Data file, Company Muster & Pay roll). Died LODD 1 Feb 1778. Time of Service 2-28-1776 to 2-1-1778.

History of unit activation. NCHSB 1992 pg 3.

Valley Forge, Died in Service



Chesapeake Bay 4 September 1775 to 31 August 1776

Northern New Jersey 20 November 1776 to 26 June 1777

Trenton-Princeton 8 December 1776 to 6 January 1777

Defense of Philadelphia 25 August to 19 December 1777

Valley Forge Winter 1777



Trenton 26 December 1776

Princeton 3 January 1777

Brandywine 11 September 1777

Germantown 4 October 1777


5 th VA Cont Line Lineage:

Authorized 28 Dec 1775

Assigned to Southern Department 27 Feb 1776 10 Co

Organized at RC Courthouse 28 Feb 1776 10 Co

Gen. William Peachey

Assigned to Stephen's Brigade 3 Sept 1776 (Main Army) 10 Co

Assigned to 1 st VA Brigade 22 May 1777 (Main Army) 10 Co

Muhlenberg's Brigade

Lord Sterlings Division

Reorganized 1 Nov 1777 (Main Army) 8 Co

Consolidated with 3 rd VA Reg 12 May 1779 (Main Army) 9 Co


Orderly Books

Captain George Stubblefield 3 March to 10 July 1776

General Peter Muhlenberg's 26 March to 20 December 1777


Enlisted Feb 1776 Captain Thomas Gaskins Co, 5 th VA Reg of Foot Com Lt Col Parker

Pay April 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month

Pay May 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month

Pay and Muster June 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month

Pay and Muster July 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month Col Parker

Pay and Muster Aug 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month Sick Wilmington , DE

Pay and Muster Sept 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month

Pay and Muster Oct 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month Absent Sick

Pay and Muster Nov 1777 Capt Gaskins Co Sgt $8/Month Absent Sick

Pay and Muster Dec 1777 Capt Samuel Colston Co Sgt $8/Month Absent Sick

Pay and Muster Jan 1778 Capt Samuel Colston Co Sgt $8/Month Died

Account of Money Due Capt Gaskins Co Sgt Dead

Card #'s 35725074, 35725107, 35725178, 35725214, 35725255, 35725302, 35725370, 35725438, 35725495, 35725561, 35725630, 35725692, 35725755, 35725806, 35725869, 35725920, 35725981, 35726097, 35726036, 37418173


Present on 11 October 1777 (date of September Muster)

Absent on 7 November 1777 (date of October Muster)


b. 8 September 1724 Northumberland County , Virginia

d. 1 February1778 In Service

m. Spelman Garner on 4 July 1759

m. (1 st ) Judith Ball 17 Jan 1750 d. 1759


children: Samuel , Frances , Elizabeth , Kenner , Thomas

children: (1 st ) Spencer, John

Only Samuel and Frances survived John




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Web Page Created:

18 January 2009


Web Page Updated:

14 February 2009