(1714–89) Revolutionary War army officer, born into a wealthy Connecticut family, Spencer studied law and entered state politics, winning election to the colonial assembly in 1750. He also held a commission in the militia, fighting in King George's War (1744–48) and in the French and Indian War (1754–63). He was a leading advocate of independence in his colony and, after the first fighting in Massachusetts in 1775, formed a regiment in Connecticut and led his troops to Roxbury to fight with the patriots. He was named a brigadier general and placed in charge of defense for Connecticut; his unit was later incorporated into the Continental army. Unhappy about his rank, he left his unit but was persuaded to return. He was a counselor to Gen. George Washington in the battle of New York (1776); his advice, and that of Washington's other advisers, resulted in a major defeat for the Continentals.
From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.