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First Name: Joseph

Last Name: Durfee

Birthplace: Fall River, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Militia - Revolutionary War

Date of Birth: 1750

Date of Death: 1842


Years Served:
Joseph Durfee

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)


Joseph Durfee
Lieutenant Colonel, Militia

Joseph Durfee was born in 1750 in Fall River, MA.

During the Revolutionary War, Fall River, like most of Southeastern New England, was under torment by the British. English troops anchored their ships at strategic spots at key waterways and would enter towns to burn and plunder at their whim. Fall River was victim to such tactics and was to be saved from them by its own native son. Durfee, the eldest son of prominent Judge Thomas Durfee had previously served as a Lieutenant Colonel of Light Infantry in the Battle of Brooklyn, (known also as the battle of Long Island) which took place 27-30 August 1776 and the Battle of White Plains (28 October 1776), both times under the command of General George Washington against troops commanded by British General William Howe.

The spring of 1778 found him back in his home town. He obtained permission from General John Sullivan in Providence to reorganize the local militia to stop the British. By 27 May 1778, tensions had run high, which brought the British to move across Narragansett Bay and attack at the southern tip of the city of Freetown (now called Fall River). In the predawn hours a sentinel discovered a boat slowly approaching shore and fired his musket. The Town Guard, thus alarmed, formed behind a stone wall and gave battle. The enemy then opened fire, and Colonel Durfee and his men climbed up the hill until they reached a bridge that crossed the Quequechan River. The volunteer militia organized by Durfee from Fall River and Tiverton, RI, fought valiantly and feverishly and soon the British sounded the retreat.

Colonel Durfee was not as successful during the Battle of Rhode Island in August of 1778 but his heroic efforts in driving the British out of Fall River mark his place in the history of the township battles of New England. He later served as City Selectmen in 1780. He later built the first textile mill in Fall River. Using the same idea that industrialists such as Samuel Slater used in other areas to power weaving machines by water, he built his mill on the Quequechan River. While this very first mill, the "Globe Manufactuary" which ultimately failed, it planted a seed in the industrial revolution and was the first operation of its kind in Fall River, which would later be known as "The Mill City."

Death and Burial

Colonel Joseph Durfee died in 1842. He is buried at North Burial Ground in Fall River, MA.

Honoree ID: 2448   Created by: MHOH




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