PICTORIAL FIELD BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
Poughkeepsie. – Origin of its Name. – Condition of the State in 1777. – Meeting of the Legislature at Kingston and Poughkeepsie. – State Convention. – Federal Constitution. – Ann Lee. – Huddlestone. – State Convention at Poughkeepsie. – Patriot Pledge. – Federal Constitution. – The Federalist. – The Livingston Mansion. – Henry A. Livingston, Esq. – Kingston, or Esopus. – Its Dutch Name. – Early Settlement at Kingston. – Indian Troubles. – The Huguenots. – Formation of the State Constitution. – Completion and Adoption of the Constitution. – Its Character. – Subsequent Constitutions. – Effects of a Mixture of Races. – Marauding Expedition up the Hudson. – Landing at Kingston. – Burning of the Town. – Rhinebeck Flats. – Livingston’s Manor. – An Advantage thrown away. – Gates’s Letter. – Loyalists. – Rondout. – An Octogenarian. – Landing-places of the British. – A frightened Dutchman. – Departure for the North. – Ride to the Hoosick Valley. – Van Schaick’s Mills. – Place of the Bennington Battle-ground. – Baume’s Dispatch. – Foraging Expedition to Bennington. – Burgoyne’s Instructions. – Baume’s Indian Allies. – Skirmish near Cambridge. – Measure for defending New Hampshire. – Langdon’s Patriotism. – Raising of Troops. – General Stark. – Stark’s Refusal to accompany Lincoln. – Censure of Congress. – The Result. – Movements to oppose Baume. – Life of Stark. – Preparations for Battle. – Disposition of the Enemy’s Troops. – English Plans of Battles. – Errors, and Difficulties in Correction. – Skirmishing in the Rain. – The Hessian Encampment. – A bellicose Clergyman. – Stark’s Promise and Fulfillment. – Commencement of the Battle of Bennington. – Terror and Flight of the Indians. – Victory for the Americans. – Second Battle. – Pursuit of the Enemy. – Loss in the Battle. – Stark’s Popularity. – Visit to the Battle-ground. – Anecdotes. – View of the Walloomscoick Valley. – Incident while Sketching. – Insurrection in that Vicinity. – Its Suppression. – Stark and Governor Chittenden. – End of the Insurrection. – Ride to Troy. – The Housatonic Valley. – Danbury.
"I glory in the sages
To New England, the nursery of the Revolutionary spirit, I next turned my attention, and to that interesting field of research I proceeded, after visiting the battle-ground of Bennington, upon the Walloomscoick. I went up the Hudson on the morning of the 25th of September[1848.] as far as Poughkeepsie, 1 where I passed the afternoon, and in the evening proceeded to Kingston, or Esopus, memorable in our Revolutionary annals for its destruction by the British.
Poughkeepsie is one of the finest villages in New York. It lies principally upon an elevated plain, half a mile from the east bank of the river, and in the midst of a region remarkable for its beauty and fertility. Although an old town, having been founded by the Dutch more than one hundred and fifty years ago, and lying directly in the path of travel between New York and Canada, it was spared the infliction of miseries which other places far more isolated suffered during the Revolution; and it has but little history of general interest beyond the fact that a session of the state Legislature was held there in 1778, and that, ten years afterward, the state Convention to consider the Federal Constitution assembled there.
When the state government was organized, in 1777, by the adoption of a Constitution, the city of New York was in the possession of the enemy, and the first session of the Legislature under the new order of things was appointed to be held at Kingston, in July of that year. But the invasion of the state at several points – by Burgoyne on the north, by St. Leger and his Tory and Indian associates on the west, and by Sir Henry Clinton on the south – compelled Governor Clinton to prorogue that body until the 1st of September. Greater still, however, was the excitement in the state at that time, for Burgoyne was pressing triumphantly toward Albany, and General Clinton was making active preparations to form a junction with him. No quorum was present until the 9th, and early in October, before any laws could be matured, the session was broken up, on the rapid approach of the enemy up the Hudson, after the fall of the forts in the Highlands. Kingston was laid in ashes, and all was confusion. About the same time Burgoyne was conquered and captured, and Sir Henry Clinton retired to New York. As soon as the alarm had subsided, Governor Clinton called a meeting of the Legislature at Poughkeepsie.
THE VANKLEEK HOUSE.2
It assembled in the old stone building known as the Van Kleek House (then a tavern), early in January, 1778. Various acts, to complete the organization of the state government, were passed; provisions were made for strengthening the civil and military powers of the state; and it was during that session[February 6, 1778.] that the state gave its assent to the Articles of Confederation, the organic law of the Federal Union until our present Constitution was formed and adopted. This building was the meeting-place of the inhabitants to consult upon the public welfare, when the Boston Port Bill and kindred measures awakened a spirit of resistance throughout the country. 3 There the Committee of Correspondence of Dutchess held their meetings, and there the pledge to sustain the Continental Congress and the Provincial Assembly was signed by the inhabitants of Poughkeepsie, in June and July, 1775. 4
Huddlestone, the famous spy, who was captured upon Wild Boar Hill, near Yonkers, in West Chester county, was tried, condemned, and hung at Poughkeepsie in April, 1780. The place of his execution was upon a verge of the plain on which the town stands, known as Forbus’s Hill. I have heard the late venerable Abel Gunn, of Poughkeepsie, who was a drum major in the Continental army, speak of Huddlestone and of his execution. He described him as a small man, with a large head and thick neck. He was accompanied to the scaffold by the county officers and a small guard of militia enrolled for the purpose.
The state Convention to consider the Federal Constitution assembled at the Vankleek House, in Poughkeepsie, on the 17th of June, 1788. There were fifty-seven delegates present, and Governor George Clinton was chosen the president of the Convention. In that Assembly were some of the most distinguished men of the Revolution, and the debates were of the most interesting character. In no state in the Union was hostility to the Federal Constitution more extensive and violent than in the state of New York. Forty-six of the fifty-seven delegates, including the governor, were anti-Federalists, or opposed to the Constitution. The principal advocates of the instrument were John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Robert Livingston. Mr. Hamilton had been a leading member of the National Convention that framed the Constitution, and also one of the principal writers of the Federalist.5 He felt the responsibility of his situation, and the Convention readily acknowledged the value of his judgment. He was perfectly familiar with every topic included in the wide range which the debates embraced, and he was nobly sustained by his colleagues, Jay and Livingston. The hostile feelings of many of the anti-Federalists gradually yielded, and on the 26th of July the final question of ratification was carried in the affirmative by a majority of three votes.
THE LIVINGSTON MANSION.
A little more than a mile below Poughkeepsie, on the bank of the Hudson, is the residence of the late Colonel Henry A. Livingston, a grandson of Philip Livingston, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and son of the late John H. Livingston, D. D., president of the College of New Brunswick. It was built by his paternal grandfather, Henry Livingston, in 1714, and is a fine specimen of a country mansion of that period. The situation is delightful, completely imbosomed in venerable trees, and far removed from the bustle of the highway.6 The late occupant, in the exercise of his good taste and patriotism, preserved the old mansion from the invasion of modern improvements, and kept up that generous hospitality which marked the character of the "gentleman of the old school." Even the orifice in the side of the house, under the piazza, which was made by a cannon-ball fired from one of the British ships that conveyed the troops up the river, who burned Kingston, seventy-two years ago, is preserved with care, and shown to visitors as a token of the spite of the enemy against active Whigs. The last time I visited the mansion the late proprietor was living, possessing apparently all the vigor and cheerfulness of a man of fifty, though then past three score and ten years. 7 In the room which contained his valuable library I passed several hours, copying the portraits of John and Mary Livingston, the parents of Robert Livingston, the first emigrant of that name to America; and also an interesting genealogical tree, illustrative of the family growth and connections, which Colonel Livingston kindly placed at my disposal. I have referred to these before, and they will be found in another part of this work. 7a
I left Poughkeepsie at ten in the evening, and reached Kingston village, ninety-three miles north of New York, a little past midnight. The landing is upon a rocky island separated from the main land by a morass, crossed by a causeway. It is nearly three miles from the village, which lies upon an elevated plain, several miles in extent, and is surrounded by high hills on all sides except toward the Hudson. On the northwest the Catskill range rises grand and beautiful, and far enough distant to present an azure hue. I think I never saw a more imposing display of distant mountain scenery than is presented at Kingston, toward sunset, when the higher peaks and bold projections cast their long shadows over the agricultural districts below, reflecting, at the same time, from their southwestern declivities, the mellow light of departing day.
Kingston was settled by the Dutch as early as 1663, as appears from an account of troubles between the white settlers and the Indians there, and was called Wiltwyck – literally Wild Witch, or Indian Witch. The Dutch built a redoubt upon the bank of the creek, near the ancient landing-place. The creek was called Redoubt Kill, or Creek, and is now known by the corrupted name of Rondout Creek.8 The Esopus Indians then occupied the beautiful flats extending from the creek northward nearly to the present town of Saugerties, and, becoming dissatisfied with their white neighbors, resolved to destroy them. For this purpose they fell upon the settlement while the men were abroad in the fields, and killed or carried off sixty-five persons. The survivors retreated to the redoubt, and the Indians began to erect a stockade near it. A message was sent to Nieu Amsterdam (New York), and Governor Stuyvesant immediately forwarded a body of troops, under Martin Crygier, who drove the Indians back to the mountains. During the summer, parties of the Dutch made inroads among the hill fastnesses, destroyed the Indian villages and forts, laid waste and burned their fields and stores of maize, killed many of their warriors, released twenty-two of the Dutch captives, and captured eleven of the enemy. This chastisement caused a truce in December [1663-4.], and a treaty of peace in May following.
The Dutch settlement at Kingston received a valuable accession, toward the close of the century, by the arrival of a company of Huguenots,9 who, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, fled from persecution to America. They were a fragment of the resolute Christian band of eight hundred thousand who escaped from France into Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and England. They settled in the fertile valleys of Ulster and Orange, but that repose which they coveted was a long time denied them, for the Indians, jealous of the encroachments of the pale faces, harassed them continually. The school of suffering in which they had been tutored before leaving Europe had given them patience and perseverance, and they succeeded in planting the Gospel of Peace in the midst of the heathen, and gave many hardy sons to do battle in the council and the field for American independence.
Kingston and the neighboring region suffered much from the Indians and Tories during the Revolution, for this was emphatically a Whig district; and when Kingston became so presumptuous as to harbor rebel legislators, it was marked for severe chastisement by the enemy.
In 1776, after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the General Assembly of New York changed its title from the "Provincial Congress of the colony" to the "Convention of the Representatives of the state of New York." The Assembly was to meet in the city of New York on the 8th of July, the special object of the session being the forming of a state Constitution. But before that day arrived, the fleet of Admiral Howe, with a British army, appeared near Sandy Hook, and the new Congress assembled at White Plains, in West Chester county, twenty-five miles from the city. At the moment of meeting it received intelligence of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and its first act was to approve that measure by a unanimous vote. On the 1st of August a committee was appointed to draw up and report a Constitution.10 John Jay was the chairman of the committee, and the duty of drafting the instrument was assigned to him.
"THE CONSTITUTION HOUSE," KINGSTON.11
During the autumn the labors of the Convention were greatly disturbed by military events. The enemy had taken possession of New York city and island; had spread over the lower part of West Chester county, and expelled the American troops, and Washington and his army had fled before them to the Delaware. The Convention migrated from place to place, and held brief sessions at Harlaem, White Plains, and Fishkill in Dutchess county. At the latter place the members armed themselves for defense against the British or Tories who should assail them.12 Finally they retreated to Kingston, where they continued in session from February, 1777, until May of that year. There, undisturbed, the committee pursued its labors, and on the 12th of March reported the draft of a Constitution. It was under consideration more than a month, and was finally adopted on the 20th of April [1777.]. It is a document of great merit, and exhibits a clear apprehension of the just functions of government, which distinguished the mind of its author. Its preamble sets forth explicitly the cause which demanded the erection of a new government; and its first article declared that no authority should be exercised in the state but such as should be derived from, and granted by, the people. Great wisdom was manifested in all its provisions for regulating the civil, military, and judicial powers of the state. It was highly approved throughout the country, and English jurists spoke of it in terms of praise. Under it the government of the state was organized by an ordinance of the Convention, passed in May [May 8, 1777.], and, as we have noticed, the first session of the Legislature was appointed to be held at Kingston in July. 13 This Constitution remained in force, with a few amendments, until 1823, when a new one was formed by a state Convention. This, in time, was submitted to the action of a Convention to revise it, and a third was formed and became law in 1846.
In the history of these movements toward perfecting the organic law of the state of New York is developed much of the philosophy of that progress which marks so distinctly the career of our republic. From the old Dutch laws, sometimes narrow and despotic, but marked by a sound and expansive policy, to the enlightened features of the Constitution of 1846, we may trace the growth of the benevolent principles of equality, and a correct appreciation in the public mind of human rights. "We may see," says Butler, "in the provisions of our several Constitutions, the effects of the intermixture of the different races: the Dutch; the English, Scotch, and Irish; the French, Swedes, and Germans; the Anglo-American from the eastern colonies, from whom our people have been derived. To this cause, and to the great number and diversity of religious sects and opinions which have flowed from it, may especially be ascribed the absolute freedom and perfect equality in matters of religion, and the utter separation of the Church from the State, secured by these instruments."14
Kingston (or Esopus), being the capital of the state when Sir Henry Clinton gained possession of the forts in the Hudson Highlands[October 6, 1777.], was marked by the conqueror for special vengeance. Having demolished the chevaux-de-frise at Fort Montgomery, the British fleet proceeded up the Hudson; the massive iron chain was not yet stretched across the river at West Point. 15 All impediments being removed, a flying squadron of light frigates, under Sir James Wallace, bearing three thousand six hundred men, under the command of General Vaughan, sailed up the river. They were instructed to scatter desolation in their track, and well did they perform their mission. Every vessel upon the river was burned or otherwise destroyed; the houses of known Whigs, such as Henry Livingston, at Poughkeepsie, were fired upon from the ships; and small parties, landing from the vessels, desolated neighborhoods with fire and sword. They penetrated as far northward as Kingston, where they landed on the 13th of October [1777.]. The frigates were anchored a little above the present landing on Kingston Point, and a portion of the invaders debarked in the cove north of the steam-boat wharf. Another division, in small boats, proceeded to the mouth of Esopus (now Rondout) Creek, and landed at a place a little northeast of Rondout village, called Ponkhocken Point. The people at the creek fled, affrighted, to Marbletown, seven miles southwest of Kingston, and their houses were destroyed. The two divisions then marched toward the village, one by the upper road and the other by the Esopus Creek Road.
THE YEOMAN HOUSE.16
Near the house of a Mr. Yeoman, who was in the army at Stillwater, they seized a negro, and made him pilot them directly to the town. The detachments joined upon a gentle eminence near the village, a few rods south of the Rondout Road, and, after a brief consultation, proceeded to apply the torch. Almost every house was laid in ashes, and a large quantity of provisions and stores situated there and at the landing was destroyed. The town then contained between three and four thousand inhabitants, many of whom were wealthy, and most of the houses were built of stone.17 Warned of the approach of the enemy, a few saved their most valuable effects, but many lost all their possessions, and were driven back upon the interior settlements upon the Wallkill. Governor Clinton, with the members of the Legislature, was there, and efforts were made to raise a sufficient number of militia for the protection of the town, but without success. The enemy, however, fearing their wanton cruelty would bring the people in mass upon them, hastily retreated after destroying the village. A detachment crossed the river and marched to Rhinebeck Flats, 18 two miles eastward, where they burned several houses; and, after penetrating northward as far as Livingston’s Manor, and burning some houses there, they rejoined the main body, and the fleet returned to New York.
This wanton and apparently useless expedition excited great indignation. It was supposed that the destination of the enemy was, according to arrangement, Albany, and a junction with Burgoyne, then hemmed in by Americans at Saratoga, and anxiously awaiting the promised aid from Clinton. When Vaughan and his troops were at Livingston’s Mills (which they destroyed), a flood tide would have carried them to Albany in five hours; and so completely had the army of Gates drained the country, in that vicinity, of men, that they might easily have burned the stores at Albany, and taken possession of that city. Gates afterward declared that, had such an event occurred, he must have retreated into New England, and Burgoyne would have escaped. But, instead of becoming honorable victors, Vaughan and his party appeared content to fulfill the office and earn the renown of successful marauders. They may have thought that their operations would divert Gates’s attention, and cause him to detach troops for the defense of the country below, and thus so weaken his force as to enable Burgoyne to conquer or escape. But this effect was not produced, and the expedition was fruitless of good to the cause of the king. Gates at that very time was making the most honorable propositions to Burgoyne for a surrender, and, when he heard of Vaughan’s operations, he wrote that officer a letter replete with just severity.19
Kingston was the scene of the execution of several Loyalists during the Revolution, and there Sir Henry Clinton’s spy, who was caught at New Windsor, with a dispatch for Burgoyne in a silver bullet(of which I shall hereafter write), was hung upon the limb of an apple-tree [October 12, 1777.]. Several Tories saved their lives by consenting to enlist in the Continental army.
The depredations of the Indians and Tories in the Warwasing and Mamakating Valleys, and other portions of Ulster county, from 1778 till near the close of the war, will be noticed hereafter,in connection with the Minisink massacre. Let us now make a flying visit to the Revolutionary localities in the vicinity of Kingston, and then pass on to the battle-ground of Bennington.
With the exception of the "Constitution House" (depicted on page 387) and two or three other stone buildings, and the venerable tomb-stones in the old Dutch burying-ground, Kingston presents little attraction to the seeker of Revolutionary relics. 20 Its hills, and rich plains, and distant mountain scenery are still there, but greatly modified by cultivation. I passed the morning in the village, with General Smith, and at about noon proceeded to Rondout. This thriving little village is nestled in a secluded nook near the mouth of the Rondout Creek, which here comes flowing through a deep and narrow gorge among the hills, and mingles its waters with the Hudson. Mr. Gossman, the editor of the Courier, kindly offered to accompany me to points of interest connected with the Revolution, and I passed the remainder of the day in a pleasant ramble with him. Crossing the creek in a skiff to its southwestern side, we called upon the venerable John Sleight, now eighty years old, who lives in the dwelling of his father, on the slope of a high hill near the water. He had a clear recollection of the landing of the British, and directed us to the different localities at the mouth of the creek. He said there were only three houses where Rondout now is, and they were burned. The occupants fled to Marbletown, and the few soldiers stationed at the redoubt on the hill, a little northeast of the village, with a single cannon, followed the flying inhabitants. The enemy did not cross the creek, and the house of Mr. Sleight was spared.
VIEW AT THE MOUTH OF THE RONDOUT.
From the high hills a quarter of a mile from Mr. Sleight’s we had a fine view of the landing-places of both divisions of the enemy as seen in the engraving. The water extending on the left is Rondout Creek, and that on the right and beyond the long point is the Hudson River, the spectator looking northeast. The high point on the left is the place where the redoubt was thrown up. The small building beyond, standing upon the water’s edge, is upon Ponkhocken Point,21 and in the cove between it and the redoubt is the place where the enemy landed. The long point in the distance is the present landing, immediately above which, in a sandy cove, the main division of the British army debarked. An amusing anecdote was related to me, connected with that event. Between the point and Ponkhocken are extensive flats, bare at low water, and yielding much coarse grass. When the enemy landed, some Dutchmen were at work just below the point, and were not aware of the fact until they saw the dreaded red-coats near them. It was low water, and across the flats toward Ponkhocken they fled as fast as their legs could carry them, not presuming to look behind them, lest, like Lot’s wife, they might be detained. The summer hay-makers had left a rake on the marsh meadow, and upon this one of the fugitives trod. The handle flew up behind him, and gave him a severe blow on the back of his head. Not doubting that a "Britisher" was close upon his heels, he stopped short, and, throwing up his hands imploringly, exclaimed, "O, mein Cot! mein Cot! I kivs up. Hoorah for King Shorge!" The innocent rake was all the enemy that was near, and the Dutchman’s sudden conversion to loyalty was known only to a companion in the race, who had outstripped him a few paces.
Passing along the river road to the upper point, we visited the landing-place of the British. A large portion of the cove is now filled by a mass of earth, rocks, and trees that slid down from the high shore a few years ago. The heaps of blue clay have the appearance of huge rocks, and will doubtless become such in time, by induration. Returning to Rondout, I rode over to Kingston at about sunset, passed the evening with Mr. Vanderlyn22 the painter, and at midnight embarked in a steamer for Albany.
The morning[September 27, 1848.] was cold, and every thing without was white with hoar frost. I was in Troy a little after sunrise, and at eight o’clock, seated with the driver upon a mail-coach, was ascending the long hills on the road to Hoosick, in Rensselaer county, 23 about twenty-five miles east of the Hudson. The country is very elevated and hilly, and, when three miles east of Troy, the Green Mountains were seen in the distance. Before the Hoosick Valley is reached, the country becomes extremely broken and picturesque. We descended by a romantic mountain road into the valley, a little past noon, and halted at Richmond’s, at Hoosick Four Corners. This is the nearest point, on the turnpike, to the Bennington battle-ground. The road thither skirted the Hoosick River northward for three miles, to the falls, 24 where we turned eastward, and passed through North Hoosick, situated at the junction of the Walloomscoick and White Creeks.
VAN SCHAICK’S MILL25
Here is still standing the old mill, known as Van Schaick’s in the Revolution. It was occupied by a party of Americans when Baume and his Hessians approached; and here the memorable battle of Bennington ended. From this mill, along the hills and the valley on the right bank of the Walloomscoick, to the bridge near the house of Mr. Barnet, two miles above, is the scene of the battle; and the hottest of the fight (which occurred when the Hessians retreated from the heights) took place between the little factory village of Starkville and the house of Mr. Taber. These allusions will be better understood after consulting the history. The conflict called the battle of Bennington26 was a part of the operations connected with Burgoyne’s invasion from Canada, in the summer and autumn of 1777. The delay which he had experienced at Skenesborough and on his way to Fort Edward had so reduced his stores and provisions, that a replenishment was necessary. Informed that the Americans had a large quantity of these, and of cattle and horses, at Bennington and in the vicinity, he resolved, with the advice of Major Skene, to send a detachment of his army thither to capture them. Both Phillips and Reidesel, the most experienced of his generals, were opposed to the measure; but Burgoyne, actuated by an overweening confidence in his strength, and deceived as to the extent of the Royalist party in the colonies, 27 dispatched Lieutenant-colonel Baume thither with five hundred Hessians, Canadians, and Tories, and one hundred Indians. Burgoyne’s instructions to the commander of the expedition, dated August 9th, 1777, 28 declared the objects to be to try the affections of the county, to disconcert the councils of the enemy, to mount Reidesel’s dragoons, to complete Peters’s corps [of Loyalists], and to obtain large supplies of cattle, horses, and carriages. Baume was directed "to scour the country from Rockingham to Otter Creek," to go down Connecticut River as far as Brattleborough, and return by the great road to Albany, there to meet General Burgoyne, and to endeavor to make the country believe his corps was the advanced body of the general’s army, who was to cross Connecticut River and proceed to Boston. He ordered that "all officers, civil and military, acting under the Congress, should be made prisoners." Baume was also instructed "to tax the towns where they halted with such articles as they wanted, and take hostages for the performance, &c.; to bring all horses fit to mount the dragoons or to serve as battalion horses for the troops, with as many saddles and bridles as could be found." Burgoyne stipulated the number of horses to be brought at thirteen hundred at least, and more if they could be obtained, and directed them to be "tied in strings of ten each, in order that one man might lead ten horses." Dr. Thatcher, in his Journal, says, "This redoubtable commander surely must be one of the happiest men of the age, to imagine such prodigious achievements were at his command; that such invaluable resources were within his grasp. But, alas! the wisest of men are liable to disappointment in their sanguine calculations, and to have their favorite projects frustrated by the casualties of war. This is remarkably verified in the present instance." 29
With these full instructions, Baume left his encampment on the 13th[August, 1777.], and the next day arrived at the mill on the Walloomscoick. He reached Cambridge on the evening previous, near which place an advanced guard of Tories and Indians attacked a small party of Americans who were guarding some cattle. The patriots, after delivering a well-directed fire, retreated to the woods, leaving five of their number behind, prisoners. Some horses were captured, but, according to a dispatch from Baume to Burgoyne, the Indians who secured them destroyed or drove away all that were not paid for in ready cash. In his whole expedition Burgoyne found the savages more trouble than profit. Let us leave the invader at "Sancoik’s," while we take a retrospect of relative events on the part of the Americans.
On the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and the advance of Burgoyne toward the Hudson, the Eastern States were filled with alarm. Burgoyne’s destination was not certainly known, and when he was at Skenesborough it was thought that Boston might be the point to which he would march. The whole frontier of New Hampshire and Massachusetts was uncovered, and strenuous efforts were at once made for the defense of these states, particularly New Hampshire, which was lying nearest the scene of danger. The Committee of Safety of the New Hampshire Grants (now Vermont) wrote to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety at Exeter, apprising them of the pressing danger near, and imploring their assistance. The Provincial Assembly had finished their session, and had gone home, but a summons from the committee brought them together again in three days. Despondency seemed to pervade the whole convention when they met, until the patriotic John Langdon,30 then Speaker of the Assembly, thus addressed them: "I have three thousand dollars in hard money. I will pledge my plate for three thousand more. I have seventy hogsheads of Tobago rum, which shall be sold for the most it will bring. These are at the service of the state. If we succeed in defending our firesides and homes, I may be remunerated; if we do not, the property will be of no value to me. Our old friend Stark, who so nobly sustained the honor of our state at Bunker Hill, may be safely intrusted with the conduct of the enterprise, and we will check the progress of Burgoyne."
Langdon’s patriotic spirit seemed to be infused into the Assembly, for the most energetic measures were planned and put in operation. The whole militia of the state was formed into two brigades. The first was placed under the command of William Whipple (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), and the second, of John Stark. They ordered one fourth part of Stark’s brigade and one fourth of three regiments of Whipple’s to march immediately, under the command of the former, to the frontiers of the state, and confront the enemy. The militia officers were empowered to disarm the Tories. A day of fasting and prayer was ordered and observed.
Stark was then a private citizen. He had been a brigadier with Washington at Trenton and Princeton, and, when the army went into winter-quarters at Morristown, returned to New Hampshire on a recruiting expedition. Having filled his regiments, he returned to Exeter to await orders, and there learned that several junior officers had been promoted by Congress, while he was left out of the list. Feeling greatly aggrieved, he resigned his commission and left the army[March, 1777.], not, however, to desert his country in the hour of peril, for, like General Schuyler, he was active for good while divested of military authority. He was very popular, and the Assembly regarded him as a pillar of strength in upholding the confidence and courage of the militia of the state. That body offered him the command, and, laying aside his private griefs, he once more donned his armor and went to the field, stipulating, however, that he should not be obliged to join the main army, but hang upon the wing of the enemy on the borders of his state, strike when opportunity should offer, according to his own discretion, and be accountable to no one but the Assembly of New Hampshire.
Joy pervaded the militia when their favorite commander was announced as their chief, and they cheerfully flocked to his standard, which was raised, first at Charleston and then at Manchester, twenty miles north of Bennington, where Colonel Seth Warner, with his Massachusetts men, was posted. This was only the remnant of the regiment that so gallantly opposed the enemy at Hubbardton on the 7th of July, and was then recruiting at Manchester[August, 1777.]. There Stark met General Lincoln, who had been sent by General Schuyler, then in command of the Northern Department, to conduct him and his recruits to the Hudson. Stark positively refused to go, and exhibited the written terms upon which he had consented to appear in the field at all. His refusal was communicated to Congress, and that body resolved that the Assembly of New Hampshire should be informed that the instructions which they had given General Stark were "destructive of military subordination, and highly prejudicial to the common cause;" and the Assembly was desired "to instruct General Stark to conform himself to the same rules which other general officers of the militia were subject to whenever they were called out at the expense of the United States." 31 This was sound military logic, but was not adapted to the circumstances in question. General Stark, as well as the Assembly of New Hampshire, knew better than Congress what policy, in the premises, was most conducive to the general good, and the sequel proved that the apparent insubordination, which seemed so "highly prejudicial to the common cause," was productive of great benefits to the country. It was at this very juncture that Burgoyne was planning his expedition to Bennington, and on the day of the date of Baume’s instructions [August 9.] Stark arrived at that place.
Informed of the presence of Indians at Cambridge, twelve miles north of Bennington, and of their attack upon the party of Americans there[August 13.], he detached Lieutenant-colonel Gregg, with two hundred men, to oppose their march. Toward night he received information that a large body of the enemy, with a train of artillery, was in the rear of the Indians, and in full march for Bennington. Stark immediately rallied his brigade, with all the militia that had collected at Bennington, and sent out an urgent call for the militia in the vicinity. He also sent an order to the officer in command of Colonel Warner’s regiment, at Manchester, to march his men to Bennington immediately. The order was promptly obeyed, and they arrived in the night, thoroughly drenched with rain. On the morning of the 14th, about the time when Baume was at Van Schaick’s Mills, Stark, 32 with his whole force, was moving forward to support Colonel Gregg. He was accompanied by Colonels Warner, Williams, and Brush. The regiment of the former was not with him; they remained at Bennington, to dry themselves and prepare their arms for action. After marching about five miles, they met Gregg retreating, and the enemy within a mile of him. Stark immediately disposed his army for battle, and Baume and his men, halting advantageously upon high ground near a bend in the Walloomscoick River, began to intrench themselves. Perceiving this, Stark fell back about a mile, to wait for re-enforcements and arrange a plan of attack. Baume, in the mean time, alarmed at the strength of the Americans, sent an express to Burgoyne for aid. Colonel Breyman was immediately dispatched with about five hundred men, but he did not arrive in time to render essential service.
NOTE. – The map here given is a copy, reduced, of one drawn by Lieutenant Durnford, and published in Burgoyne’s "State of the Expedition," &c. The Walloomscoick is there erroneously called Hosack (meaning Hoosick), that river being nearly three miles distant from the place of the Hessian intrenchments. I would here remark that we are obliged to rely almost solely upon British authorities for plans of our Revolutionary battles. They are, in general, correct, so far as relates to the disposition and movement of British troops, but are full of errors respecting the movements of the Americans, and also concerning the topography of the country, with which they were necessarily little acquainted. It is too late now to correct many of these errors, for the living witnesses have departed, and the hearsay evidence of a younger generation is not sufficiently certain to justify any important corrections in the published plans of the battles. I have, therefore, copied such maps as seemed most trustworthy, and endeavored, by slight alterations, and by descriptions in the text, to make them as correct as possible, as guides to a full understanding of the military operations of the time. In this particular, as well as in local traditions, great caution is necessary in receiving testimony; and, where the subject has historical importance, I have uniformly rejected traditions, unless supported by other and concurrent authority, or the strongest probability.
The group upon this map, composed of a drum without a head, a musket, sword, and grenadier’s cap, is a representation of those objects thus arranged and hanging over the door of the Massachusetts Senate Chamber at Boston. They are trophies of the Bennington battle, and were presented by General Stark to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The grenadier’s cap is made of a coarse fabric resembling flannel, dyed red, and on the front is a large figured brass plate. The drum is brass; the sword has an enormous brass guard and hilt; and the bayonet attached to the musket is blunted and bent.
The 15th[August, 1777.] was August, rainy, and both parties employed the time in preparing for battle. The Hessians and a corps of Rangers were strongly intrenched upon the high ground north of the Walloomscoick, and a party of Rangers and German grenadiers were posted at a ford (now the bridge near Mr. Barnet’s), where the road to Bennington crossed the stream. Some Canadians, and Peters’s corps of Tories, were posted on the south side of the river, near the ford. At the foot of the declivity, on the east, near the mouth of a small creek, some chasseurs were posted, and about a mile distant from the main intrenchments on the height, on the south side of the river, Peters’s American volunteers, or Tories, cast up a breast-work. On the same side, upon the Bennington Road, Stark and the main body of his army were encamped. The Walloomscoick, though called a river, is a small stream, every where fordable when the water is of ordinary depth. Lying in the midst of high hills, its volume is often suddenly increased by rains.
Notwithstanding the rain fell copiously on the 15th, there was some skirmishing. The Americans, in small parties, fell upon detachments of the enemy; and so annoying did this mode of warfare become, that the Indians began to desert Colonel Baume, "because," as they told him, "the woods were filled with Yankees." The Hessians continued their works upon the hill. By night they were strongly intrenched, and had mounted two pieces of ordnance which they brought with them.
THE BENNINGTON BATTLE-GROUND.33
During the night of the 15th, Colonel Symonds, with a body of Berkshire militia, arrived. Among them was the Rev. Mr. Allen, of Pittsfield, whose bellicose ardor was of the most glowing kind. Before daylight, and while the rain was yet falling, the impatient shepherd, who had many of his flock with him, went to Stark, and said, "General, the people of Berkshire have often been summoned to the field without being allowed to fight, and, if you do not now give them a chance, they have resolved never to turn out again." "Well," said Stark, "do you wish to march now, while it is dark and raining?" "No, not just this moment," replied the minister of peace. "Then," said the general, "if the Lord shall once more give us sunshine, and I do not give you fighting enough, I’ll never ask you to come out again." Sunshine did indeed come with the morrow, for at the opening of the dawn the clouds broke away, and soon all Nature lay smiling in the warm sunlight of a clear August morning; and "fighting enough" was also given the parson and his men, for it was a day of fierce conflict.
Early in the morning[August 16, 1777.] the troops of both parties prepared for action. Stark had arranged a plan of attack, and, after carefully reconnoitering the enemy at the distance of a mile, proceeded to act upon it. Colonel Nichols, with two hundred men, was detached up the little creek that empties into the Walloomscoick above the bridge, to attack the enemy’s left in the rear, and Colonel Herrick was sent with three hundred to fall upon the rear of their right, with orders to form a junction with Nichols before making a general assault. Colonels Hubbard and Stickney were ordered to march down the Walloomscoick with two hundred men, to the right of the enemy, and with one hundred men in front, near Peters’s intrenched corps, in order to divert Baume’s attention to that point. Thus arranged, the action commenced at three o’clock in the afternoon, on the rear of the enemy’s left, by Colonel Nichols, who marched up from the deep-wooded valley, and fell furiously upon the Hessian intrenchments. At the same moment the other portions of the American army advanced to the attack. As soon as the first volley from Nichols’s detachment was heard, Stark, who remained with the main body at his camp, sprang to his saddle and gave the word "Forward!" They pressed onward to the hill above the Tory intrenchments, and there the whole field of action was open to their view. The heights were wreathed in the smoke of the cannon and musketry, and along the slopes and upon the plains the enemy was forming into battle order. 34 The Americans rushed down upon the Tories, drove them across the stream, and, following after them, the whole of both armies was soon engaged in the fight. "It lasted," says Stark, in his official account, "two hours, and was the hottest I ever saw. It was like one continued clap of thunder." The Tories, who were driven across the river, were thrown in confusion on the Hessians, who were forced from their breast-works on the heights. The Indians, alarmed at the prospect of being surrounded, fled at the commencement of the action, between the corps of Nichols and Herrick, with horrid yells and the jingling of cow-bells, and the weight of the conflict finally fell upon the brave corps of Reidesel’s dragoons, led by Colonel Baume in person. They kept their column unbroken, and, when their ammunition was exhausted, were led to the charge with the sword. But they were finally overpowered, and gave way, leaving their artillery and baggage on the field. The Americans, like the dragoons, displayed the most indomitable courage. With their brown firelocks, scarce a bayonet, little discipline, and not a single piece of cannon, they ventured to attack five hundred well-trained regulars, furnished with the best and most complete arms and accouterments, having two pieces of artillery, advantageously posted, and accompanied by one hundred Indians. The mingled incentives of a defense of homes and promises of plunder 35 made the American militia fight with the bravery of disciplined veterans.
As soon as the field was won, the Americans dispersed to collect plunder. This nearly proved fatal to them, for at that moment Colonel Breyman arrived with his re-enforcements for Baume. They had approached within two miles before Stark was apprised of their proximity. The heavy rain on the preceding day had kept them back, and, although their march had been accelerated on hearing the noise of the battle just ended, they could not reach the field in time to join in the action. They met the flying party of Baume, which made a rally, and the whole body pushed forward toward the abandoned intrenchments on the heights. Stark endeavored to rally his militia, but they were too much scattered to be well arranged for battle, and the fortunes of the day were, for a moment, in suspense. Happily the corps of Colonel Warner, which was left at Bennington in the morning, arrived at this juncture, fresh and well armed, and fell vigorously upon the enemy. Stark, with what men he had been able to collect, pushed forward to his assistance. The battle continued with obstinacy until sunset. It was a sort of running conflict, partly on the plains and partly on the hills, from the heights to Van Schaick’s, where the enemy made his last stand, and then fled toward the Hoosick. The Americans pursued them until dark, and Stark was then obliged to draw off his men to prevent them from firing upon each other in the gloom of evening. Seven hundred of the enemy were made prisoners, among whom was Colonel Baume. He was wounded, and died soon afterward. "Another hour of daylight," said Stark, in his official report, "and I would have captured the whole body." Besides the prisoners, four pieces of brass cannon, two hundred and fifty dragoon swords, several hundred stand of arms, eight brass drums, and four ammunition wagons were secured. Two hundred and seven of the enemy were killed. The loss of the Americans was about one hundred killed, and as many wounded. General Stark had a horse killed under him, but was not injured himself. The total loss of the enemy in killed, wounded, and prisoners was nine hundred and thirty-four, including one hundred and fifty-seven Tories.36
This victory was hailed with great joy throughout the land. It was another evidence of the spirit and courage of the American militia when led to the field by a good commander.37 It also crippled the strong arm of Burgoyne, and revived the spirits of the American army at Cohoes and Stillwater. The loud commendatory voice of the people forced Congress to overlook the insubordination of General Stark, which seemed so "highly prejudicial to the common cause," and on the 4th of October [1777.] resolved, "That the thanks of Congress be presented to General Stark, of the New Hampshire militia, and the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful attack upon, and signal victory over, the enemy in their lines at Bennington; and that Brigadier Stark be appointed a brigadier general in the army of the United States." 38
When I visited the Bennington battle-ground, every ancient resident in the vicinity, who had been familiar with the locality, had departed, and I was unable to find a person who could point out the exact place of the German intrenchments. A vendue, a few miles distant, had attracted the men from home; but, through the general familiarity with the scenes of Mr. Richmond, of Hoosick Four Corners, who accompanied me, and aided by the map of Lieutenant Durnford, which I had with me, the points of interest were easily recognized.
Ascending the rough hills northeast of Mr. Barnet’s, we soon found, upon the highest knoll on the crown of the timbered heights, traces of the German intrenchments. Portions of the banks and ditches are quite prominent, and for several rods on all sides the timber is young, the spot having been cleared by the enemy. Descending the gentle slope northward, we emerged into cleared fields, whence we had a fine view of the valleys of the White Creek on the north and of the Walloomscoick39 on the east. Here was the place where Colonel Nichols made his first attack upon the rear of the enemy’s left. The view of the Walloomscoick Valley was one of the finest I ever beheld. From our point of vision it stretched away to the eastward, its extremity bounded by the lofty Green Mountains, about nine miles distant, which formed a line of deeper blue than the sky, the tint broken a little by gray cliffs and bald summits reflecting occasional gleams of the evening sun. Through the rich intervales of the broad basin, the winding Walloomscoick, traversed by the highway, glistened at various points among the groves that shade its banks; and the whole valley, dotted with farm-houses, presents one picture of peaceful industry. On the right, seven miles distant, and nestled among the hills near the Green Mountains, lies Bennington, the white spire of whose church was seen above the intervening forests. From the heights we could plainly discern a brick house in the valley, that belonged, during the Revolution, to a Tory named Mathews. It is remarkable only for its position, and the consequences which sometimes resulted therefrom. It stands upon the line between New York and Vermont, and in it center the corner points of four towns – Bennington, Shaftsbury, Hoosick, and White Creek; also, those of the counties of Bennington, Washington, and Rensselaer. The occupant had only to step from one room to another, to avoid the operation of a legal process that might be issued against him in any one of the counties or four towns.
Descending the heights, we crossed the bridge at the old ford, near Barnet’s, and went down the river, on its southern side, to Starkville. From the hill a few rods south of the place where Peters’s Tories were intrenched (slight traces of the mounds were still visible) we had a fine view of the whole battle-ground. I tarried long enough upon the brow of the hill, near the river, to make thesketch on page 396. While thus engaged, a low bellow, frequently repeated, attracted my attention, and, seeming to approach nearer, induced me to reconnoiter. Toward the foot of the hill a huge bull was pawing the earth, and making menacing advances up the slope. He had mistaken my cloak, fluttering in the wind, for a formal challenge to combat, and seemed about advancing to the charge. Regarding an honorable retreat as a wiser measure than the risk of a probable defeat, I gathered up my "implements of trade," and retired to the fence, thinking all the way of the similarly-chased negro’s use of Henry Laurens’s motto, "Millions for de fence." It was sunset when we reached Van Schaick’s on our return, and I had barely light sufficient to complete the drawing of the old mill on page 391, for heavy clouds were gathering. The twilight was brief, and darkness was upon us when we arrived at Hoosick Four Corners.
There was an insurrectionary movement among the militia in this vicinity in 1781. Situated above the north line of Massachusetts, the country was within the claimed jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Grants. The animosities between the state government of New York and the people of the Grants, which the active Revolutionary operations in that quarter had, for a time, quieted, now that those operations had ceased, were renewed in all their former vigor. So warm became the controversy, that, on the 1st of December[1781.], an insurrection broke out in the regiments of Colonels John and Henry K. Van Rensselaer. The regiment of Colonel Peter Yates also became disaffected, and, indeed, a large portion of the militia between the Batten Kill and the Hoosick seemed disposed to take sides with the lawless people of the Grants, who disregarded the urgent demands of patriotism at that juncture. These disturbances arose in "Scaghticoke, St. Coych, 40 and parts adjacent." The insurgent regiments belonged to General Gansevoort’s brigade. He heard of the defection on the 5th, and immediately directed Colonels Yates, Van Vechten, and Henry K. Van Rensselaer, whose regiments were the least tainted, to collect such troops as they could, and march to St. Coych, to quell the insurrection. An express was sent to Governor Clinton, at Poughkeepsie, who readily perceived that the movement had its origin among the people of the Grants. With his usual promptness, he ordered the brigade of General Robert Van Rensselaer to the assistance of Gansevoort, and gave the latter all necessary latitude in raising troops for the exigency. Gansevoort repaired to Saratoga, and solicited troops and a field piece from General Stark, who was stationed there. The latter declined compliance, on the plea that his troops were too poorly clad to leave their quarters at that season, and also that he thought it improper to interfere without an order from General Heath, his superior. Governor Chittenden, of the Grants, had just addressed a letter to Stark, requesting him not to interfere; and, as his sympathies were with the Vermonters, that was doubtless the true cause of his withholding aid from Gansevoort. The latter, with what volunteers he could raise, pushed on to St. Coych, where he discovered a motley force of about five hundred men, advancing to sustain the insurgent militia. Having only eighty men with him, Gansevoort retired about five miles, and attempted to open a correspondence with the leaders of the rebellion. He was unsuccessful, and the rebels remained undisturbed. Early in January following [1782.], Washington wrote a calm and powerful letter to Governor Chittenden, which had great effect in quelling disturbances there, and no serious consequences grew out of the movement.
I left Hoosick at nine on the morning of the 28th[September, 1848.], on the Bennington mail-coach, for Troy. It was full inside, and the driver was flanked by a couple of passengers. The only vacant seat was one covered by a sheep-skin, upon the coach-roof – a delightful place on a pleasant morning, but now the lowering clouds betokened a storm. It was "Hobson’s choice," however, and, mounting the perch, I had a fine view of a portion of the Hoosick Valley. The high hills that border it are cultivated to their summits, and on every side large flocks of Saxony sheep were grazing. 41 As we moved slowly up the ravine, the clouds broke, the wind changed, and, when we reached the high rolling table-land west of the valley, a bleak nor’wester came sweeping over the hills from the distant peaks of the Adirondack and other lofty ranges near the sources of the Hudson. Detained on the road by the cracking of an axle, it was nearly sunset when we reached Troy. I had intended to start for Connecticut that evening, but, as the cars had left, I rode to Albany, and departed in the early morning train for the Housatonic Valley and Danbury.
The country from Albany to the State Line,42 where the Housatonic and Western Rail-roads unite, is quite broken, but generally fertile. Sweeping down the valley at the rate of twenty miles an hour, stopping for a few minutes only to take in wood and water, the traveler has very little opportunity to estimate the character of the region through which he is passing. The picture in my memory represents a narrow, tortuous valley, sometimes dwindling to a rocky ravine a few rods wide, and then expanding into cultivated flats half a mile in breadth, with a rapid stream, broken into riffs and small cascades, running parallel with our course, and the whole surrounded on all sides by lofty hills, densely wooded with maples, oaks, hickories, and chestnuts. At New Milford the narrow valley spreads out into a broad and beautiful plain, whereon the charming village stands. Thence to Hawleyville the country is again very broken, but more generally redeemed from barrenness by cultivation.
At Hawleyville I left the rail-road, and took the mail-coach for Danbury, seven and a half miles westward, where we arrived at two o’clock. This village, one of the oldest in the state, is pleasantly situated upon a plain on the banks of a small stream, about twenty miles north from Long Island Sound. Its Indian name was Pahquioque, and the first eight families that settled there, in 1685, purchased the land from the aboriginal proprietors.43 There is nothing remarkable in its early history, aside from the struggles, privations, and alarms incident to a new Christian settlement in the midst of pagans. In truth, it seems to have enjoyed more than ordinary prosperity and repose through the colonial period, but a terrible blight fell upon it during our war for independence.
1 Poughkeepsie is a corruption of the Iroquois word Ap-o-keep-sinck, which signifies safe harbor. On an old map of the Hudson River in my possession it is spelled Pocapsey; and I have heard many of the old inhabitants of Dutchess pronounce it as if so spelled, the a in the penultimate having the long sound, as in ape.
2 This is from a sketch which I made in 1835, a few weeks before the venerable building was demolished by the hand of improvement. It stood upon Mill Street, on the land of Matthew Vassar, Esq., a short distance from the Congregational Church. It was built by Myndert Vankleek, one of the first settlers in Dutchess county, in 1702, and was the first substantial house erected upon the site of Poughkeepsie. Its walls were very thick, and near the eaves they were pierced with lancet loop-holes for musketry. It was here that Ann Lee, the founder of the sect called Shaking Quakers, in this country, was lodged the night previous to her commitment to the Poughkeepsie jail, in 1776. She was a native of Manchester, England. During her youth she was employed in a cotton factory, and afterward as a cook in the Manchester Infirmary. She married a blacksmith named Stanley; became acquainted with James and Jane Wardley, the originators of the sect in England, and in 1758 joined the small society they had formed. In 1770 she pretended to have received a revelation, while confined in prison on account of her religious fanaticism; and so great were the spiritual gifts she was believed to possess, that she was soon acknowledged a spiritual mother in Christ. Hence her name of Mother Ann. She and her husband came to New York in 1774. He soon afterward abandoned her and her faith, and married another woman. She collected a few followers, and in 1776 took up her abode in the woods of Watervliet, near Niskayuna, in the neighborhood of Troy. By some she was charged with witchcraft; and, because she was opposed to war, she was accused of secret correspondence with the British. A charge of high treason was preferred against her, and she was imprisoned in Albany during the summer. In the fall it was concluded to send her to New York, and banish her to the British army, but circumstances prevented the accomplishment of the design, and she was imprisoned in the Poughkeepsie jail until Governor Clinton, in 1777, hearing of her situation, released her. She returned to Watervliet, and her followers greatly increased. She died there in 1784, aged eighty-four years. Her followers sincerely believe that she now occupies that form or figure which John saw in his vision, standing beside the Savior. In a poem entitled "A Memorial to Mother Ann," contained in a book called "Christ’s Second Appearing," the following stanza occurs:
"How much they are mistaken who think that mother’s dead,
When through her ministrations so many souls are saved.
In union with the Father, she is the second Eve,
Dispensing full salvation to all who do believe."
3 The city of New York elected James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low, and John Alsop delegates to the first Continental Congress, in 1774. The Dutchess county committee, whose meetings upon the subject were held in the Van Kleek House, adopted those delegates as representatives for their district. – See Journals of Congress, i., 7.
4 On the 29th of April, 1775, ten days after the skirmish at Lexington, a meeting of the inhabitants of the city of New York, called to consider the alarming state of public affairs, formed a general Association, or fraternized, to use a popular term, and adopted a pledge. The Association and pledge were approved by the Provincial Assembly, and copies of the latter were sent to every county in the state for signatures. The following was the form of the pledge:
"Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants in a rigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety; and convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion, which attend the dissolution of the powers of government, we, the freemen, freeholders, inhabitants of ----------, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in MASSACHUSETTS BAY, do, in the most solemn manner, resolve never to become slaves; and do associate, under all the ties of religion, honor, and love to our country, to adopt, and endeavor to carry into execution, whatever measures may be recommended by the CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention for the purpose of preserving our CONSTITUTION, and opposing the execution of the several arbitrary Acts of the British Parliament, until a reconciliation between Great Britain and America, on constitutional principles (which we most ardently desire), can be obtained; and that we will in all things follow the advice of our General Committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individuals and property."
The list of signers, and the names of those who refused to sign in Poughkeepsie, have been preserved. The number of signers was two hundred and thirteen; the number who refused to sign was eighty-two. A list of the names of the signers, and those who refused to sign, in the various precincts in the county, may be found in Blake’s History of Putnam County, p. 102-143 inclusive.
5 When the Constitution, adopted by the National Convention, was submitted to the consideration of the people, extensive and violent opposition was observed, founded principally upon the undue jealousy with which the doctrine of state rights was regarded. The friends of the Constitution saw that general public enlightenment upon the subject was necessary to secure the ratification of the instrument by the requisite number of states to make it the organic law of the republic. To this end Jay, Hamilton, and Madison commenced a series of essays in explanation and vindication of the principles of government. They appeared successively every week in the New York papers, between October, 1787, and the spring of 1788. The whole work, which is called The Federalist, consists of eighty-five numbers. Mr. Jay wrote six numbers,* Mr. Madison twenty-five, and Mr. Hamilton the residue. They had a powerful effect upon the public mind, and contributed largely to the success which finally crowned the efforts of the friends of the Constitution.
* Mr. Jay and other gentlemen armed and placed themselves under the command of Colonel Hamilton, to suppress a riot in New York known as The Doctors’ Mob. He was nearly killed by a stone thrown by one of the rioters, and was confined to his bed for some time. He had written the fifth number of the Federalist essays when that event occurred. He recovered in time to write the sixty-fourth.
6 Since my visit the quiet and beauty of the place have been invaded by the Hudson River Rail-road. which passes within a few feet of the mansion, and in whose construction the beautiful cove has been destroyed, and some of the venerable willows, planted by the first owner, have been uprooted. In our country the beautiful has but a feather’s weight in the scale against the useful.
7 Colonel Livingston died June 9th, 1849. Although living in the retirement of a gentleman of wealth and leisure, he often consented to serve the public in offices requiring judgment, industry, and integrity. He was a member of the state Senate one term; and it is a remarkable fact that he was never absent a day from his post in the Senate Chamber or in the hall of the Court of Errors. He will long be remembered in Poughkeepsie as one of its best citizens.
7a TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE – The portraits mentioned are not included in The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution. A very incomplete genealogical overview of the Livingston family is included withthe biographical sketch of Governor William Livingston of New Jersey. WDC, 05/18/01.
8 Benson’s Memoirs, in the Collections of the New York Historical Society, vol. i., part ii., p. 119.
9 These people occupy a conspicuous place in the history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and, as will be observed hereafter, formed an essential element in the machinery of our Revolution, particularly in the Carolinas. On the 26th of August, 1572, the festival of St. Bartholomew, seventy thousand Protestants were butchered in France by royal and papal authority. Terrible persecutions continued until 1598, when Henry IV. issued an edict, called the Edict of Nantes, granting toleration to his Protestant subjects. For nearly a century this edict was in force, but in 1685 Louis XIV. revoked it, and persecutions began anew. This cruel and injudicious policy lost France eight hundred thousand of her best subjects, who were Protestants, fifty thousand of whom made their way to England, where they introduced silk weaving, the manufacture of jewelry, and other elegant employments then monopolized by France. Of those who settled in Ulster county the names of twelve are preserved, whose descendants are numerous, and among the most respectable citizens of that and Orange county. The following are the names: Lewis Dubois, Andre Lefevre, Louis Bevier, Hugues Frere [Frear], Christian Deyo, Jean Hasbrouck, Anthony Crispell, Isaac Dubois, Abraham Hasbrouck, Pierre Deyo, Abraham Dubois, Lyman Lefevre.
10 The following are the names of the gentlemen who composed that committee: John Jay, John Sloss Hobart, William Smith, William Duer, Gouverneur Morris, Robert R. Livingston, John Broome, John Morris Scott, Abraham Yates, Jr., Henry Wisner, Sen., Samuel Townsend, Charles De Witt, and Robert Yates. James Duane was subsequently placed on the committee, and, Mr. Jay being absent when the draft of the Constitution was reported, it was submitted to the Assembly by him – Journal of the Convention, p. 552 and 833.
11 This house, the property and residence of James W. Baldwin, Esq., was used for the session of the state Convention in 1777. It is built of blue limestone, and stands on the southwest corner of Maiden Lane and Fair Street. It is one of the few houses that survived the conflagration of the village.
12 Lives of Gouverneur Morris and John Jay.
13 Popular elections for members of the Legislature were held in all the counties except New York, Kings, Queens, and Suffolk, which were then in possession of the enemy. George Clinton, then a brigadier general in the Continental army, was elected to the offices of governor and lieutenant governor. The former office he held by successive elections for eighteen years, and afterward for three years. Pierre Van Courtlandt, who was president of the Senate, became lieutenant governor; Robert R. Livingston was appointed chancellor; John Jay, chief justice; Robert Yates and John Sloss Hobart, judges of the Supreme Court; and Egbert Benson, attorney general. – Journals of the Convention, p. 916-918.
14 Outline of the Constitutional History of New York, a discourse delivered at the annual meeting of the New York Historical Society, in 1847, by Benjamin F. Butler, late attorney general of the United States.
15A detail of this event, and a drawing of the remains of the chain now at West Point, may be found on page 700 of this volume.
16 This view is from the road, looking north. An attempt was made by a soldier to burn the house, but so rapid was the march of the invaders that the flames had made but little progress before the troops were far on their road to the village. A negro woman, who was concealed under some corn-stalks near, extinguished the flames. The house is about half a mile from the river, on the right side of the road from the landing to Kingston village.
17 Governor Clinton, writing to Captain Machin on the subject of erecting works for the defense of Kingston, says, "I do not conceive it necessary to inclose the town, as the houses are stone, and will form (if the windows are properly secured) good lines of defense."
18 Rhinebeck Flats village is in Dutchess county, about seventeen miles north of Poughkeepsie. It was eminently a Whig place during the Revolution. There was the residence of the widow of General Montgomery, who had been killed at Quebec two years before, and of many of her numerous relatives, the Livingstons, all of whom were friends of the patriot cause.
19 He concluded his letter by saying, "Is it thus that the generals of the king expect to make converts to the royal cause? Their cruelties operate as a contrary effect: independence is founded upon the universal disgust of the people. The fortune of war has delivered into my hands older and abler generals than General Vaughan is reputed to be: their condition may one day become his, and then no human power can save him from the just vengeance of an offended people." The friends of the king were also displeased at the movement. One of the leading loyalists of New York, writing to Joseph Galloway, said, "Why a delay was made of seven days after Clinton had taken the forts, we are ignorant of. The Highland forts were taken on the 6th of October; Esopus was burned on the 13th; Burgoyne’s convention was signed on the 17th. There was no force to oppose even open boats on the river. Why, then, did not the boats proceed immediately to Albany? Had Clinton gone forward, Burgoyne’s army had been saved. Putnam could not have crossed to Albany. The army amused themselves by burning Esopus, and the houses of individuals on the river bank." Clinton and the brothers Howe seem to have been perfect malaprops, striking at the wrong time, and withholding a blow when most appropriate and promising the best success.
20 In the old grave-yard rest the remains of some of the Huguenots and of many of their descendants; and there repose the bodies of not a few who suffered during the war for independence. Some of the earlier grave-stones are rude monuments. One of them, at the head of the grave of Abraham De Witt, is delineated in the engraving. The inscription is rudely carved. The tall and slender slate stone is supported by a cedar post, which was probably set up when the stone was erected, yet it is perfectly preserved, and retains its odor. I saw it there fifteen years ago, and then "the oldest inhabitant" remembered it from his boyhood. The meaning of IVLY may need to be explained to young readers. I was used for J and V for U in former times, and the letters, therefore, make the word JULY.
21 The ferry to Rhinebeck was from Ponkhocken Point until 1814, when the causeway was constructed at the upper point, and the ferry and landing established there.
22 Mr. Vanderlyn is a native of Kingston. He resided many years in Europe, where he painted his large picture of the Landing of Columbus, for the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. It was completed about three years ago (1846), and now occupies its appropriate place.
23 The original Manor of Rensselaer, or Rensselaerwyck, included all of Rensselaer county except Hoosick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown, and also the greater part of Albany county. The city of Albany is near the center of the manor. This domain was granted to Killian Van Rensselaer by patent from the States-General of Holland, after he had purchased the native right to the soil in 1641, and was twenty-four miles wide, on both sides of the river, and about forty-two miles long east and west. When the English came into possession of the country, the right to his domain of the proprietor of Rensselaerwyck, who was called the patroon,* was not questioned, and on the 4th of March, 1685, it was confirmed by letters patent under the great seal of the state of New York.
* This title was given to those Dutch purchasers of lands who bought the soil fairly from the natives, and planted a colony. There were several patroon estates, but that of Van Rensselaer is the only one not disturbed by political changes. This, however, is now on the verge of extinction, and, for several years past, anti-rentism, as the opposition to the patroon privilege is called, has been working a change in the public mind unfavorable to such vast landed monopolies.
24 At the Hoosick Falls is a manufacturing village containing about one hundred dwellings. The river here falls about forty feet, and affords very extensive water power. Near the factories I observed a handsome octagonal edifice, on the road side, on the front of which, in prominent letters, is the following:
"SACRED TO SCIENCE.
In sea, earth, and sky, what are untold
Of God’s handiwork, both modern and old."
It contains, I was told, a large collection of natural curiosities, which the wealthy and tasteful proprietor takes pleasure in exhibiting freely.
25 This view is taken from the left bank of the Walloomscoick, a little below the bridge. The mill belonged to a Whig named Van Schaick, who had joined General Stark’s collecting forces at Bennington. Lieutenant-colonel Baume wrote the following dispatch to Burgoyne from this place:
"Sancoik,† 14th August 1777, 9 o’clock.
"Sir – I have the honor to inform your excellency that I arrived here at eight in the morning, having had intelligence of a party of the enemy being in possession of a mill, which they abandoned at our approach; but, in their usual way, fired from the bushes, and took their road to Bennington. A savage was slightly wounded; they broke down the bridge, which has retarded our march above an hour; they left in the mill about seventy-eight barrels of very fine flour, one thousand bushels of wheat, twenty barrels of salt, and about £1000 worth of pearlash and potash. I have ordered thirty provincials and an officer to guard the provisions and the pass of the bridge. By five prisoners taken here, they agree that from fifteen to eighteen hundred are at Bennington, but are supposed to leave it on our approach. I will proceed so far to-day as to fall on the enemy early to-morrow, and make such disposition as I may think necessary, from the intelligence I may receive. People [Tories] are flocking in hourly, but want to be armed. The savages can not be controlled; they ruin and take every thing they please.
"I am your excellency’s most humble servant,
† SeeEndnote 40 respecting this name on page 399.
26 This battle was fought within the town of Hoosick, and five or six miles from Bennington. At that time the boundary line between New York and New Hampshire (Vermont, as a state, not being then in existence) was at the Green Mountains, and Bennington was claimed to be within the borders of New York.
27 Major Skene assured him that "the friends to the British cause were as five to one, and that they wanted only the appearance of a protecting power to show themselves." – Gordon, ii., 242.
28 The original of these instructions is in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
29 Military Journal, p. 92.
30 John Langdon was born at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1740. He received a mercantile education, and for several years prosecuted business upon the sea, and, when the Revolution broke out, was a leading merchant in Portsmouth. He espoused the republican cause, and was one of the party which removed the powder and military stores from Fort William and Mary, at New Castle, in 1774. He was a delegate in the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776. For a short time he commanded a company of volunteers in Vermont and on Rhode Island. He was Speaker of the Provincial Assembly of New Hampshire, and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1776 and 1777. He was Continental agent in New Hampshire in 1779, and was again elected a delegate to Congress in 1783. He served in the Legislature of his state for several years, and in 1788 was chosen President of New Hampshire. The next year he was elected a member of the United States Senate, and in 1794 was re-elected for another term of six years. From 1805 till 1811 he was four years governor of the state, and then retired into private life. He was of Jefferson’s political school, and in 1812 the majority in Congress selected him for Vice-president of the United States, but he declined the honor. He died at Portsmouth, September 18th, 1819, aged seventy-eight years.
31 Journals of Congress, vol. iii., 273.
32 John Stark was the son of a native of Glasgow, in Scotland, and was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, August 28th, 1728. His father removed to Derryfield (now Manchester), on the Merrimac, in 1736. While on a hunting expedition in 1752, young Stark was taken prisoner and carried off by a party of St. Francis Indians. He was redeemed by a Boston friend for the sum of one hundred and three dollars, to pay which he went on another hunting expedition on the Androscoggin. He served in Rogers’s company of Rangers during the French and Indian war, and was made a captain in 1756. Repairing to Cambridge on hearing of the battle of Lexington, he received a colonel’s commission, and on the same day enlisted eight hundred men. He fought bravely on Bunker Hill, his regiment forming a portion of the left of the American line, and its only defense being a rail inclosure covered with hay. He went to Canada in the Spring of 1776, and in the attack at Trenton commanded the van of the right wing. He was also in the battle of Princeton. In March, 1777, he resigned his commission, and retired to his farm. He commanded the New Hampshire militia at the battle of Bennington, in August, 1777, and in September enlisted a new and larger force, and joined the Continental army, under Gates, with the rank of major general. He served in Rhode Island in 1778 and 1779, and in New Jersey in 1780. In 1781 he had the command of the Northern Department at Saratoga. At the close of the war he left all public employments. In 1818 Congress voted him a pension of sixty dollars a month. He died on the 8th of May, 1822, in the ninety-third year of his age. He was buried on a small hill near the Merrimac, at Manchester, and over his remains is a granite obelisk, inscribed with the words MAJOR GENERAL STARK. A costly monument is now in contemplation.
33 This view is from the hill on the southwest bank of the Walloomscoick, a little west of the road from the bridge to Starkville, looking northeast. The road over this hill existed at the time of the battle, and is laid down on themap, page 395. The river, which here makes a sudden bend, is seen at two points – near the cattle, and at the bridge, in the distance, on the right. The house on the left, near the bridge, is Mr. Barnet’s, and the road that crosses the center of the picture from right to left is the road from Bennington to Van Schaick’s or North Hoosick. It passes along the river flat, at the foot of the hills where the battle occurred. The highest point on the distant hills, covered with woods, is the place where the Hessians were intrenched. From that point, along the hills to the left, for about two miles, the conflict was carried on; and upon the slopes, now cultivated, musket-balls and other relics of the battle have been plowed up.
34 It was at this moment that Stark made the laconic speech to his men, which popular tradition has preserved: "See there, men! there are the red-coats. Before night they are ours, or Molly Stark will be a widow!" This speech, it is said, brought forth a tremendous shout of applause from the eager troops, which greatly alarmed the Loyalists in their works below.
35 General Stark, in his orders in the morning, promised his soldiers all the plunder that should be taken in the enemy’s camp. – Gordon, ii., 241.
36 Gordon, Ramsay, Thacher, Marshall, Allen, Burgoyne’s Defense, Stedman, Everett’s Life of Stark.
37 There are several anecdotes related in connection with this battle, which exhibit the spirit of the people and the soldiers. Thacher says that an old man had five sons in the battle. On being told that one of them was unfortunate, he exclaimed, "What, has he misbehaved? Did he desert his post or shrink from the charge?" "Worse than that," replied his informant. "He was slain, but he was fighting nobly." "Then I am satisfied," replied the old man; "bring him to me." After the battle the body of his son was brought to him. The aged father wiped the blood from the wound, and said, while a tear glistened in his eyes, "This is the happiest day of my life, to know that my five Sons fought nobly for freedom, though one has fallen in the conflict." This was an exhibition of old Spartan patriotism.
When Warner’s regiment came into the field, Stark rode up and ordered a captain to lead his men into action. "Where’s the colonel [Warner]? I want to see him first," he coolly replied. The colonel was sent for, and the captain, in a nasal tone, said, "Well, colonel, what d’ye want I should do?" "Drive those red-coats from the hill yonder," replied Warner. "Well, it shall be done," said the captain, and in an instant himself and men were on the run for the thickest of the battle.
38 Journal of Congress, iii., 327. In passing the last clause of the resolution, the yeas and nays were required and taken. There was but one dissenting voice, Mr. Chase, of Maryland. The delegates from Virginia did not vote.
39 This is said to be a Dutch word, signifying Walloom’s Patent. It is variously spelled. On Durnford’s map it is Walmscock. On Tryon’s map of the state of New York, 1779, it is Wallamschock; and others spell it Wallamsac, Wolmseec, and Walmsook. The orthography which I have adopted is that which the New York records exhibit, and is doubtless correct.
40 This place was Van Schaick’s Mill, now North Hoosick. The name was variously written by the early historians – St. Coych, Sancoix, Saintcoix, &c.
41 Wool is the staple production of this region. The first flock of Saxony sheep in Hoosick was introduced by a German named H. De Grove, about 1820. The price at which these sheep were then held was enormous, some bucks having been sold as high as five hundred dollars. But the great losses incurred in speculations in merino sheep, a few years previous, made people cautious, and the Saxony sheep soon commanded only their fair value. In 1845 the number of sheep of this fine breed in the town of Hoosick was fifty-six thousand.
42 The State Line station is upon the boundary between New York and Massachusetts, thirty-eight miles from Albany and eleven from Pittsfield.
43 Their names were Taylor, Bushnell, Barnum, Hoyt, two Benedicts, Beebe, and Gregory. They were all from Norwalk, on the Sound, except Beebe, who came from Stratford – See Robbins’s Century Sermon, 1801.
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