Sins of Omission

The Man Who Won the Revolution

Every history textbook has a paragraph or more devoted to Crispus Attucks, who, besides being half black and half Indian and one of those killed in the Boston Massacre, was of little historical significance.  Nearly everything else said about him is a matter of speculation.  In these same textbooks there is no mention of Timothy Murphy, a real hero who could be called the man who won the Revolution.

Timothy Murphy was born in Pennsylvania in 1751 shortly after his parents arrived from County Donegal, Ireland.  The Murphys settled on the frontier, where land was cheap, but so was life.  Indian raids were frequent and bloody.  White families had to adapt quickly or be annihilated.  By the time Timothy Murphy was in his mid-teens he had a widespread reputation for extraordinary marksmanship and fierceness in battle.

In June 1775, Murphy and his brother John enlisted in Capt. John Lowdon’s Company of Northumberland County Riflemen.  To qualify for service with the company, a rifleman had to hit a seven-inch target repeatedly at 250 yards—remarkable shooting even with the finest Kentucky rifles.  Lowdon’s company of crack riflemen was soon ordered north.

Murphy fought in the Siege of Boston, then in the battles of Long Island and Westchester.  By 1776 he was a sergeant in the 12th Regiment of Pennsylvania Line and fought at Trenton, Princeton, and New Brunswick. ...

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