Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter XXIII.







Landing of the British. – General De Heister. – Alarm in New York. – General Putnam. – General John Morin Scott. – The "Passes." – Miles and Woodhull. – Fortifications near Brooklyn. – March of the British. – Advantage gained. – Advance of Grant toward Gowanus. – Sketch of Lord Stirling. – The construction of Beacons. – Skirmish between Grant and Stirling. – Storming of the Flatbush Redoubt. – Descent of Clinton. – Surrender of the Americans. – Battle between Stirling and Cornwallis. – Retreat across the Gowanus. – Defeat and Capture of Stirling. – Capture, Treatment, and Death of General Woodhull. – Preparations to Besiege the Works at Brooklyn. – Situation of the Two Armies. – Council of War. – Retreat of the Americans to New York. – British first aware of the Retreat. – Condition of the Army. – Disposition of the British Army. – Howe’s proposition for a Conference. – Meeting with a Committee of Congress. – Bushnell’s "Marine Turtle" or Torpedo. – Evacuation of the City by the Americans. – Washington’s Quarters. – Captain Hale. – Beekman’s Green-house. – Preparation to invade New York. – Revolutionary Fortifications on the north part of the Island. – Flight of the Americans on the Landing of the British. – Washington’s Mortification. – Evacuation of the City. – Americans on Harlem Heights. – Battle on Harlem Plains. – Death of Knowlton and Lietch. – Great Fire in New York. – Departure of the British Army for West Chester. – Landing upon Throck’s Neck. – Landing-place of the Hessians. – Howe confronted. – Skirmish near New Rochelle. – General Heath. – American Army in West Chester. – Skirmishes. – Fort Lee. – Condition of the Army. – The two Armies at White Plains. – The Battle there. – The Intrenchments. – Retreat of the Americans. – The Loss. – Withdrawal to North Castle. – Conflagration. – Retreat to New Jersey. – Fort Washington menaced. – A Surrender refused. – Re-enforced. – Disposition of the Garrison. – Plan of Attack. – Knyphausen’s Assault. – Attack of Stirling and Percy. – Surrender of the Fort. – The Loss. – Mr. Battin. – Washington’s Disappointment. – Wayne’s Expedition near Bull’s Ferry. – Lee’s Attack on Paulus’s Hook. – Medal awarded to Lee. – American and British near King’s Bridge. – Events near Tippett’s Creek. – Loyalist Patrols. – The Delanceys and their Movements. – Operations near King’s Bridge. – Valentine’s Hill and its Associations. – Attempted Invasion of New York. – Vigilance of the British. – Yonkers and its Associations. – Operations upon Lloyd’s Neck. – Simcoe’s Fortified Camp at Oyster Bay. – Capture of Fort George. – Destruction of Stores at Corum. – Capture of Fort Slongo. – Badge of Military Merit. – British occupation of New York City. – Residences of several of the Officers. – Prisons and Hospitals. – Counterfeit Continental Bills. – Expedition to Staten Island. – Second great Fire in New York. – Treaties for Peace. – The Continental Army. – Congress at Princeton. – Mutiny. – Washington’s Circular Letter. – British prepare to Evacuate New York. – Washington’s Farewell Address to the Army. – The Evacuation. – Clinton and Knox. – Entrance of the Americans. – Parting of Washington with his Officers. – Rejoicings in New York. – Washington’s Departure for, and Journey to Annapolis. – His account current of Expenses. – Lady Washington. – Addresses to Washington. – Resignation of his Commission. – Thomas Mifflin. – Addresses of Washington and Mifflin. – Conclusion.


"In the year seventy-six came the two noble brothers,

With an army and fleet fit to conquer a world;
And Cornwallis, and Rawdon, and Tarleton, and others –
And murder and rapine on our country were hurl’d."

"There the old-fashioned colonel galloped through the white infernal
Powder cloud;
And his broad sword was swinging, and his brazen throat was ringing
Trumpet loud:
There the blue bullets flew,
And the trooper jackets redden at the touch of the leaden
Rifle breath;
And rounder, rounder, rounder, roared the iron six-pounder,
Hurling Death!"


On Thursday morning, the twenty-second of August, 1776, the British troops under General William Howe landed upon Long Island, in the vicinity of New Utrecht. Four thousand men crossed the ferry from Staten Island, at the Quarantine Ground, to Denyse’s strong stone house, where Fort Hamilton now stands, and landed under cover of the guns of the Rainbow, anchored where Fort La Fayette looms up in the center of the Narrows. Some riflemen, under Colonel Edward Hand, posted on the hill above, retired toward Flatbush. An hour afterward, British and Hessian troops poured over the sides of the English ships and transports, and in long rows of boats, directed by Commodore Hotham, five thousand more soldiers landed upon Long Island, in the bow of Gravesend Bay (at a place known as Bath, in front of New Utrecht), under cover of the guns of the Phœnix, Rose, 1 and Greyhound. The chief commanders of the English were Sir Henry Clinton, Earls Cornwallis and Percy, and Generals Grant and Sir William Erskine. Count Donop, who was killed at Red Bank in 1777, landed, with some Hessians, with the first division, and on the twenty-fifth [August, 1776.], the veteran commander, De Heister, 2 with two full Hessian brigades, also landed near New Utrecht. The whole invading force was about ten thousand men well armed, with forty cannons. Lieutenant-colonel Dalrymple remained to keep Staten Island.


When this movement of the enemy was known in New York, alarm and confusion prevailed. 4 Re-enforcements were sent to General Sullivan, then encamped at Brooklyn, and the next day the veteran General Putnam 5 was ordered thither by Washington, to take the supreme command there.

The military works on Long Island had been constructed under the immediate direction of General Greene, who made himself acquainted with every important point between Hell Gate and the Narrows. Unfortunately, he fell sick, and none knew so well as he the importance of certain passes in the rear of Brooklyn. The chief fortifications were within the limits of the present city, 6 while at the passes alluded to breast-works were cast up. These passes were in a range of hills extending from the Narrows to the Jamaica road, the present East New York, and in broken elevations further on. There were several roads traversing the flat country in the rear of these hills. These Colonel Miles, of Pennsylvania, was directed to reconnoiter with his regiment, to watch and report upon the progress of the enemy. To Sullivan was intrusted the command of the troops without the lines, assisted by Brigadier-general Lord Stirling; General Woodhull (late president of the Provincial Congress), now in arms, was commissioned to deprive the invaders of provisions by removing the live stock to the plains of Hempstead.

The invading army prepared for marching soon after the debarkation. The Hessians, under De Heister, formed the center or main body; the English, under General Grant, composed the left wing, which rested on New York Bay; and the right wing, designed for the principal performance in the drama about to be opened, was composed of choice battalions, under the command of Clinton, Cornwallis, and Percy, accompanied by Howe, the commander-in-chief. While Grant and De Heister were diverting the Americans on the left and center, the right was to make a circuitous march by the way of Flatlands, to secure the roads and passes between that village and Jamaica, and to gain the American left, if possible. This division, under the general command of Clinton, moved from Flatlands on the evening of the twenty-sixth [August, 1776.], and, guided by a Tory, passed the narrow causeway, over a marsh near the scattered village of New Lots, 7 called Shoemaker’s Bridge. At two o’clock in the morning they gained the high wooded hills within half a mile of the present village of East New York, unobserved by Colonel Miles and the American patroles, except some subaltern officers on horseback, whom they captured. Informed that the Jamaica road was unguarded, Clinton hastened to secure the pass, and before daylight that important post and the Bedford pass 8 were in his possession, and yet General Sullivan was ignorant of the departure of the enemy from Flatlands. Expecting an attack upon his right, in the vicinity of Gowanus, all his vigilance seems to have been turned in that direction, and he did not send fresh scouts in the direction of Jamaica. The advantage thus gained by Clinton decided the fortunes of the day.

While the British right wing was gaining this vantage ground, General Grant, with the left, composed of two brigades, one regiment, and a battalion of New York Loyalists raised by Tryon, made a forward movement toward Brooklyn, along the coast road, 9 by way of Martense’s Lane – "the road from Flatbush to the Red Lion" (4) mentioned by Lord Stirling. The guard at the lower pass (3) gave the alarm, and at three o’clock in the morning [Aug. 27.]

Putnam detached Lord Stirling, 10 with Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland regiments, commanded by Atlee, Haslet, and Smallwood, to oppose Grant. The militia guard at Martense’s Lane were driven back by Grant to the hills of Greenwood Cemetery, a little north of Sylvan Water, where they were rallied by Parsons, and maintained a conflict until the arrival of Stirling 11 at daybreak, with fifteen hundred men. Stirling took position upon the slopes a little northwest of "Battle Hill," in Greenwood, and Atlee ambuscaded in the woods on the left of Martense’s Lane, near the Firemen’s Monument, to attack Grant on his approach. This was done, Atlee fell back to the left of Stirling, on the top of the hills. At this moment Kichline and his riflemen, De Haas and his battalion, and Captain Carpenter, with two field-pieces, arrived. Grant advanced and took post in an orchard, 12 within one hundred and fifty yards of Stirling, and a severe skirmish ensued. Grant had also two field-pieces, but neither party made much use of their cannons. In that position the belligerents remained, without severe fighting, until eleven o’clock in the forenoon, 13 when events on the left wing of the American army changed the whole aspect of affairs.

While Grant and Stirling were thus engaged, De Heister and his Hessians moved from Flatbush, and cannonaded the works at the Flatbush pass, where Sullivan was in command with the regiments of Colonels Wyllys and Miles. In the mean while, Clinton had descended from the wooded hills and attacked the extreme left of the Americans on the plain at Bedford. The firing was understood by De Heister, who immediately ordered Count Donop to storm the redoubt at the pass, while he pressed forward with the main body of the Hessians. A fierce and bloody combat ensued, 14 when Sullivan, perceiving the peril of his little army (for Clinton was rapidly gaining his rear), ordered a retreat to the lines at Brooklyn. The opportunity was gone, and on descending the rough slope from Mount Prospect, they were met by Clinton’s light infantry and dragoons, who drove them back in confusion upon the Hessian bayonets. Sullivan and his ensnared soldiers fought desperately, hand to hand, with the foe, while driven backward and forward between the full ranks of the assailants. Many broke through the gleaming fence of bayonets and sabers, and escaped to Fort Putnam, 15 while their less fortunate companions died upon the field or were made prisoners. Among the latter were General Sullivan and several subordinate officers. Those who escaped were followed up to the verge of the American lines, and the pursuing grenadiers were with difficulty restrained from storming Fort Putnam. An easy victory would doubtless have been the result.


Stirling was not aware of the disasters on the left until Cornwallis had marched down the Port or Mill road (9), took position near the ancient dwelling known as "the Cortelyou House," near Gowanus, and fired two guns as a signal for Grant to press forward. That officer immediately attacked the Americans, and in the engagement Colonel Atlee was made a prisoner. Hemmed in by the foe, Stirling saw no opportunity for escape except across the Gowanus Creek, at the dam of the "Yellow Mill," and other places below Brower’s Mill.


To effect this, it was necessary to attack Cornwallis, and while a few – a forlorn hope – should keep him at bay, a large part of the Americans might escape. No time was to be lost, for the tide was rising, and soon the creek would be impassable. Changing his front, and leaving his main body in conflict with Grant, Stirling, at the head of a part of Smallwood’s battalion, commanded by Major (afterward General) Gist, fell upon Cornwallis, and blood flowed freely. For twenty minutes the conflict was terrible. Stirling endeavored to drive the earl up the Port road, get between him and Fort Box, and under cover of its guns escape across Brower’s dam. He was successful, but while with his handful of brave young men he was keeping the invader in check, a large part of his companions in arms, consisting now chiefly of Haslet’s Delawares and a part of Smallwood’s Marylanders, reached the creek. All but one man passed it in safety. The remainder narrowly escaped a grave beneath those turbid waters. Stirling was obliged to yield when despoiled of nearly all of his brave men. 18 He became a prisoner, and was sent immediately on board the Eagle, Lord Howe’s flag-ship. Thus ended the battle, when the sun was at meridian; when it disappeared behind the low hills of New Jersey, one third of the five thousand patriots who had contended for victory were lost to their country – dead, wounded, or prisoners. 19 Soon many of the latter were festering with disease in the loathsome prisons in New York, or in the more loathsome prison-ships at the Wallabout. 20 General Woodhull was made a prisoner at Jamaica the next day, 21 and at the close of summer no man was in arms against the crown in Kings, Queens, and Richmond counties.

The victors encamped in front of the patriot lines, and reposed until the morning of the twenty-eighth [August, 1776.], when they broke ground within six hundred yards of Fort Putnam, cast up a redoubt (18), and cannonaded the American works. Washington was there, and joyfully perceived the design of Howe to commence regular approaches instead of rapid assaults. This fact was a ray of light in the midst of surrounding gloom. The chief had crossed from New York early in the morning, and had witnessed the destruction of some of his finest troops, without ability to send them aid except at the peril of the safety of the camp or of the city, and his whole army. Ignorant of his real strength, Howe dared not attempt an assault, and Washington had time to conceive and execute measures for the safety of his troops.

The morning of the twenty-eighth [August, 1776.] dawned drearily. Heavy masses of vapor rolled up from the sea, and at ten o’clock, when the British cannonade commenced, a fine mist was falling. Although half dead with fatigue, the Americans had slumbered little, for it was a night of fearful anxiety to them. At five in the morning, General Mifflin, who had come down from King’s Bridge and Fort Washington with the regiments of Shee, Magaw, and Glover, a thousand strong, in obedience to an order sent the day before, crossed the East River, and took post at the Wallabout. The outposts of the patriots were immediately strengthened, and during the rainy day which succeeded there were frequent skirmishes. Rain fell copiously during the afternoon, and that night the Americans, possessing neither tents nor barracks, suffered dreadfully. A heavy fog fell upon the hostile camps at midnight, and all the next day [Aug. 29.] it hung like a funeral pall over that sanguinary battle-field. Toward evening, while Adjutant-general Reed, accompanied by Mifflin and Colonel Grayson, were reconnoitering near Red Hook, a light breeze arose and gently lifted the fog from Staten Island. There they beheld the British fleet lying within the Narrows, and boats passing rapidly from ship to ship, in evident preparation for a movement toward the city. Reed hastened to the camp with the information, and at five o’clock that evening the commander-in-chief held a council of war. 22 An evacuation of Long Island, and a retreat to New York, was the unanimous resolve of the council. Colonel Glover, whose regiment was composed chiefly of sailors and fishermen from Marblehead and vicinity, 23 was ordered to collect and man boats for the purpose, and General M‘Dougal was directed to superintend the embarkation. The fog still rested heavily upon the island, the harbor, and the adjacent city, like a shield of the Almighty to cover the patriots from the peril of discovery. Although lying within a few hundred yards of the American lines, the enemy had no suspicion of the movement. 24

At eight o’clock in the evening the patriot regiments were silently paraded, the soldiers ignorant of the intent; but, owing to delay on account of unfavorable wind, and some confusion in orders, it was near midnight when the embarkation commenced at the Ferry Stairs, foot of Fulton Street, Brooklyn. For six hours those fishermen-soldiers plied their muffled oars; and boat after boat, filled with the champions of freedom, touched at the various wharves from Fulton Ferry to Whitehall, and left their precious burdens. At six in the morning, nine thousand men, with their baggage and munitions, except heavy artillery, had crossed. Mifflin, with his Pennsylvania battalions and the remains of the regiments of Smallwood and Haslet, formed the covering party, and Washington and his staff, who had been in the saddle all night, remained until the last company had embarked. 25 At dawn the fog lifted from the city, but remained dark and dreary upon the deserted camp and the serried ranks of the foe, until the last boat left the Long Island shore. Surely, if "the stars in their courses fought against Sisera," in the time of Deborah, the wings of the Cherubim of Mercy and Hope were over the Americans on this occasion.

Intelligence of this movement reached the British commander-in-chief at half past four in the morning. Cautiously Captain Montressor and a small party climbed the embankments of Fort Putnam and were certified of the fact. 26 It was too late for successful pursuit, for when battalion after battalion was called to arms, and a troop of horsemen sped toward the East River, the last boat was beyond pistol shot; and as the fog rolled away and the sunlight burst upon the scene, the Union flag was waving over the motley host of Continentals and militia marching toward the hills of Rutgers’ farm, beyond the present Catharine Street. 27 Howe was greatly mortified by the event, for he felt certain that his prey could not escape his meshes.

Although the American army was safe in New York, yet sectional feelings, want of discipline, general insubordination of inferior officers and men, and prevailing immorality, appeared ominous of great evils. Never was the hopeful mind of Washington more clouded with doubts than when he wrote his dispatches to the president of Congress, in the month of September [1776.]. Those dispatches and the known perils which menaced the effort for independence led to the establishment of a permanent army. 28


On the evacuation of Long Island, the British took possession of the American works, and, leaving some English and Hessian troops to garrison them, Howe posted the remainder of his army at Bushwick, Newtown, Hell Gate, and Flushing. Howe made his head-quarters at a house in Newtown (yet standing), now the property of Augustus Bretonnier, and there, on the third of September, he wrote his dispatch, concerning the battle, to the British ministry. On the thirtieth [August, 1776.], Admiral Howe sailed up the bay with his fleet and anchored near Governor’s Island, within cannon-shot of the city. During the night after the battle, a forty-gun ship had passed the batteries and anchored in Turtle Bay, somewhat damaged by round shot from Burnt Mill or Stuyvesant’s Point, the site of the Novelty Iron-works. 29 Other vessels went around Long Island, and passed into the East River from the Sound, and on the third of September the whole British land force was upon Long Island, except four thousand men left upon Staten Island to awe the patriots of New Jersey. A blow was evidently in preparation for the republican army in the city. Perceiving it, Washington made arrangements for evacuating New York, if necessary. 30


Lord Howe now offered the olive-branch as a commissioner to treat for peace, not doubting the result of the late battle to be favorable to success. General Sullivan and Lord Stirling were both prisoners on board his flag-ship, the Eagle. The former was paroled, 31 and sent with a verbal message from Howe to the Continental Congress, proposing an informal conference with persons whom that body might appoint. Impressed with the belief that Lord Howe possessed more ample powers than Parliament expressed in his appointment, Congress consented to a conference, after debating the subject four days. A committee, composed of three members of that body, was appointed, and the conference was held [Sept. 11, 1776.] at the house of Captain Billop, formerly of the British navy, situated upon the high shore of Staten Island, opposite Perth Amboy. 32 The event was barren of expected fruit, yet it convinced the Americans that Britain had determined upon the absolute submission of the colonies. This conviction increased the zeal of the patriots, and planted the standard of resistance firmer than before.


At a council of war held on the seventh [Sept., 1776.], a majority of officers were in favor of retaining the city; but on the twelfth, another council, with only three dissenting voices (Heath, Spencer, and Clinton), resolved on an evacuation. The movement was immediately commenced, under the general superintendence of Colonel Glover.

The sick were taken to New Jersey, and the public stores were conveyed to Dobbs’s Ferry, twenty miles from the city. The main body of the army moved toward Mount Washington and King’s Bridge on the thirteenth, accompanied by a large number of Whigs and their families and effects. 33 A rear-guard of four thousand men, under Putnam, was left in the city, with orders to follow, if necessary, and on the sixteenth Washington made his head-quarters at the deserted mansion of Colonel Roger Morris, 34 on the heights of Harlem River, about ten miles from the city. Every muscle and implement was now put in vigorous action, and before the British had taken possession of the city the Americans were quite strongly intrenched. 35


Howe now prepared to invade the island and take possession of the city of New York. Large detachments were sent in boats from Hallet’s Point to occupy Buchanan’s and Montressor’s (now Ward’s and Randall’s) Islands, at the mouth of the Harlem River, and early on Sunday morning the fifteenth [Sept., 1776.], Sir Henry Clinton, with four thousand men, crossed the river in flat bottomed boats from the mouth of Newtown Creek, and landed at Kip’s Bay (foot of Thirty-fourth Street) under cover of a severe cannonade from ten ships of war, which had sailed up and anchored opposite the present House of Refuge, at the foot of Twenty-third Street. 36 Another division, consisting chiefly of Hessians, embarked a little above, and landed near the same place. The brigades of Parsons and Fellows, panic-stricken by the cannonade and the martial array, fled in confusion (many without firing a gun) when the advanced guard of only fifty men landed. Washington, at Harlem, heard the cannonade, leaped into the saddle, and approached Kip’s Bay in time to meet the frightened fugitives. Their generals were trying in vain to rally them, and the commander-in-chief was equally unsuccessful. Mortified, almost despairing, at this exhibition of cowardice in the face of the enemy, Washington’s feelings mastered his judgment, and casting his chapeau to the ground, and drawing his sword, he spurred toward the enemy, and sought death rather than life. One of his aids caught his bridle-rein and drew him from danger, when reason resumed its power. 37 Unopposed, the British landed in full force, and, after skirmishing in the rear of Kip’s house with the advance of Glover’s brigade, who had reached the scene, they marched almost to the center of the island, and encamped upon the Incleberg, an eminence between the present Fifth and Sixth Avenues and Thirty-fifth and Thirty-eighth Streets. The Americans retreated to Bloomingdale, and Washington sent an express to Putnam in the city, ordering him to evacuate it immediately. Howe, with Clinton, Tryon, and a few others, went to the house of Robert Murray, of Murray Hill (see page 582 {original text has "583".}), for refreshments and rest. With smiles and pleasant conversation, and a profusion of cake and wine, the good Whig lady detained the gallant Britons almost two hours; quite long enough for the bulk of Putnam’s division of four thousand men to leave the city and escape to the heights of Harlem by the Bloomingdale road, with the loss of only a few soldiers. 38


General Robertson, with a strong force, marched to take possession of the city, and Howe made his head-quarters at the elegant mansion of James Beckman, at Turtle Bay, then deserted by the owner and his family. 39 Before sunset his troops were encamped in a line extending from Horn’s Hook across the island to Bloomingdale. Harlem Plains divided the hostile camps. For seven years, two months, and ten days [Sept. 15, 1776, to Nov. 25, 1783.] from this time, the city of New York remained in possession of the British troops.


The wearied patriots from the city, drenched by a sudden shower, slept in the open air on the heights of Harlem that night. Early the next morning [Sept. 16.] intelligence came that a British force, under Brigadier Leslie, was making its way by M‘Gowan’s pass to Harlem Plains. The little garrisons at Mount Morris and Harlem Cove (Manhattanville) confronted them at the mouth of a deep rocky gorge, 40 and kept them in partial check until the arrival of re-enforcements. Washington was at Morris’s house, and hearing the firing, rode to his outpost, where the Convent of the Sacred Heart now stands. There he met Colonel Knowlton, of the Connecticut Rangers (Congress’s Own), who had been skirmishing with the advancing foe, and now came for orders. The enemy were about three hundred strong upon the plain, and had a reserve in the woods upon the heights. Knowlton was to hasten with his Rangers, and Major Leitch with three companies of Weedon’s Virginia regiment, to gain the rear of the advance, while a feigned attack was to be made in front. Perceiving this, the enemy rushed forward to gain an advantageous position on the plain, when they were attacked by Knowlton and Leitch on the flank. Re-enforcements now came down from the hills, when the enemy changed front and fell upon the Americans. A short but severe conflict ensued. Three bullets passed through the body of Leitch, and he was borne away. A few moments afterward, Knowlton received a bullet in his head, fell, and was borne off by his sorrowing companions. 41 Yet their men fought bravely, disputing the ground inch by inch as they fell back toward the American camp. The enemy pressed hard upon them, until a part of the Maryland regiments of Colonels Griffiths and Richardson re-enforced the patriots. The British were driven back across the plain, when Washington, fearing an ambush, ordered a retreat. The loss of the Americans was inconsiderable in numbers; that of the British was eighteen killed and about ninety wounded. This event inspirited the desponding Americans, and nerved them for the contest soon to take place upon the main.

The British strengthened M‘Gowan’s Pass, placed strong pickets in advance of their lines, and guarded their flanks by armed vessels in the East and North Rivers. General Robertson, in the mean while, had taken possession of the city, and commenced strengthening the intrenchments across the island there. He had scarcely pitched his tents upon the hills in the present Seventh and Tenth Wards, and began to look with complacency upon the city as snug winter quarters for the army, when columns of lurid smoke rolled up from the lower end of the town. It was midnight [September 20-21, 1776.]. Soon broad arrows of flame shot up from the darkness, and a terrible conflagration began. 42 It was stayed by the exertions of the troops and sailors from the ships, but not until about five hundred houses were consumed.

Perceiving the Americans to be too strongly intrenched upon Harlem Heights to promise a successful attack upon them, Howe attempted to get in their rear, to cut off their communication with the north and east, and hem them in upon the narrow head of Manhattan Island.


Leaving a sufficient force of British and Hessians, under Lord Percy, to guard the city, and others to man his lines toward Harlem, he embarked the remainder of his army upon ninety flat-boats, passed through the narrow and turbulent strait of Hell Gate, and landed upon Throck’s Neck [Oct. 12, 1776.], a low peninsula jutting into the East River from the main of West Chester county, sixteen miles from the city. 44 A few days afterward [Oct. 17.] other troops from Montressor’s Island 45 and Flushing landed there; and on the twenty-second, Knyphausen, with the second division of German hirelings, just arrived at New York, 46 landed upon Myers’s Point, now Davenport’s Neck, near New Rochelle. 47


When Washington perceived this movement, he sent strong detachments, under General Heath, 48 to oppose the landing of the British, and occupy lower West Chester. A redoubt had been thrown up on the hills, near William’s Bridge; all the passes to King’s Bridge were well guarded, and a detachment was at White Plains making intrenchments there. The causeways to Throck’s and Pell’s Necks were also guarded, the latter by Colonel Hand and his riflemen; and on the night of the first landing [Oct. 12.], the bridge was removed, and General Howe was left upon an island.

He suspected his Tory guides of treachery, but he soon ascertained the truth and decamped, after being driven back from the causeway by Hand, with the aid of Prescott (the hero of Breed’s Hill) and a three-pounder, under Lieutenant Bryant. 49 Howe crossed in his boats to Pell’s Point, a little above [Oct. 18.], and marched over Pelham Manor toward New Rochelle. After a hot skirmish with Glover’s brigade, of Sullivan’s division, in which the Americans were repulsed, Howe encamped upon high ground between Hutchinson’s River and New Rochelle village, where he remained until the twenty-first, when he took post upon the heights of New Rochelle, 50 north of the village, on the road to White Plains and Scarsdale. Knyphausen and his division arrived the next day, and encamped upon the land now owned by E. K. Collins, Esq., between New Rochelle and Mamaroneck.


Washington viewed this first planting of the British standard upon the main land in proclaimed free America with great anxiety, for clouds were gathering in the horizon of the future. Nominally, he had an army of nineteen thousand men, but in discipline, order, and all the concomitants of true soldiers 51 they were not one third of that number. The time of service of many of them was drawing to a close, and cold weather was approaching to chill the ardor of half-clad patriots. A powerful enemy, well provided, was crouched as a tiger within cannon-voice, ready to spring upon its prey. Yet Washington’s spirit did not quail, and he resolved to confront the foe with his motley troop, as if with a parity of veterans. He called a council of war at the quarters of General Lee [Oct. 16, 1776.], to decide upon the propriety of evacuating Manhattan Island. General Lee, fresh from the field of victory at Charleston, had just arrived and gave his weighty opinion in favor of a total abandonment of the island. The main army was speedily marched toward the Bronx, in West Chester, leaving a garrison, under Colonel Magaw, of Pennsylvania, sufficient to hold Fort Washington and its dependencies. In four divisions, under Generals Lee, Heath, Sullivan, and Lincoln, the American army moved slowly up the western side of the Bronx, and formed a series of intrenched camps upon the hills from the heights of Fordham to White Plains, a distance of about thirteen miles. While presenting a front parallel to that of Howe, frequent skirmishes occurred, in which the Americans were generally the winners. 52 General Greene with a small force garrisoned Fort Lee, situated upon the Palisades, 53 nearly opposite Fort Washington, and on the twenty-first of October the commander-in-chief left Morris’s house and made his head-quarters near White Plains, where, directed by a French engineer, the Americans cast up breast-works, rather as a defense for an intrenched camp in preparation upon the hills of North Castle two miles beyond than as permanent fortifications. 54


Both armies were near White Plains on the morning of the twenty-eighth of October [1776.]. The Americans were chiefly behind their breast-works near the village, and the British were upon the hills below, eastward of the Bronx. Chatterton’s Hill, a commanding eminence on the opposite side of the stream, was occupied on the evening of the twenty-seventh by Colonel Haslet, with his Delawares, some Maryland troops and militia, in all about sixteen hundred men. Early the next morning, M‘Dougal was ordered to reenforce Haslet with a small corps and two pieces of artillery under the charge of Captain Alexander Hamilton, and to take the general command there.

At ten o’clock the British army moved toward the village in two columns, the right commanded by General Clinton, the left by De Heister and Sir William Erskine; in all thirteen thousand strong. Howe was with the second division, and when near the village, he held a council of war on horseback, which resulted in a change in the point of attack. Inclining to the left, the British placed fifteen or twenty pieces of artillery upon the slope southeast of the rail-way station, and, under cover of their fire, constructed a rude bridge over the Bronx, and attempted to cross and ascend the steep wooded heights to dislodge the Americans from their hastily constructed breast-works upon Chatterton’s Hill.


Hamilton had placed his two guns in battery, on a rocky ledge, and these swept whole platoons from the margin of the hill they were attempting to ascend. The British recoiled, fell back to their artillery, and joined another division, under General Leslie (consisting of the second British brigade, the Hessian grenadiers under Colonel Rall, a battalion of Hessian infantry, and two hundred and fifty cavalry), who were then crossing the Bronx a quarter of a mile below. There the assailants joined, and the whole force pushed up the slopes and ravines along the southwestern declivities of Chatterton’s Hill. Gaining a gentle slope toward the top, they endeavored to turn M‘Dougal’s right flank.

His advance, under Smallwood and Ritzema, gallantly opposed them while slowly retreating toward the crown of the eminence, until the British cavalry attacked the American militia on the extreme right and dispersed them. M‘Dougal with only six hundred men, consisting chiefly of his own brigade and Haslet’s corps, sustained an obstinate conflict for an hour. Twice the British light infantry and cavalry were repulsed, when an attack upon his flank by Rall compelled M‘Dougal to give way and retreat to the intrenchments at White Plains. This was done in good order down the southeastern side of Chatterton’s Hill, and across the Bronx, near the present rail-way station, under cover of troops, led by Putnam.


M‘Dougal carried off his wounded and artillery, and left the victors in possession of only the inconsiderable breast-works upon the hill. The militia, who were scattered among the Greenburg hills, soon collected in the intrenched camp at the village, and there the American army rested, almost undisturbed, until the evening of the thirty-first [Oct., 1776.]. The British troops rested upon their arms all night after the battle, and the next day, after a skirmish with Glover’s brigade, they encamped within long cannon shot of the front of the American lines. Awed by the apparent strength of Washington’s intrenchments, Howe dared not attack him, but awaited the arrival of Lord Percy, with four battalions from New York and two from Mamaroneck. 58 The loss of the Americans, from the twenty-sixth to the twenty-ninth, did not exceed, probably, three hundred men, in killed, wounded, and prisoners; that of the British was about the same.

Earl Percy arrived in the evening of the thirtieth, and preparations were made to storm the American works the next morning. A tempest of wind and rain arose at midnight, and continued for twenty hours. All operations were delayed, and on the night of the thirty-first, while the storm clouds were breaking and the British host were slumbering, Washington withdrew, and encamped upon the heights of North Castle, toward the Croton River, where he had erected strong breast-works along the hills which loom up a hundred feet above the waters of the Bronx. 59 Howe was afraid to attack him there, and on the night of the fourth of November [1776.], he retreated toward the junction of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, and encamped upon the heights of Fordham, extending his left wing almost to King’s Bridge. 60

An attack upon Fort Washington, now environed by a hostile force, though at a distance, was to be the next scene in the drama. Washington called a council of war, and it was unanimously resolved to retreat into New Jersey with the larger portion of the army, leaving all the New England troops on the east side of the Hudson to defend the Highlands. This movement was speedily executed. By the twelfth [November.] the main army were in New Jersey, some crossing from Tarrytown to Paramus (Sneeden’s Landing), and others from Teller’s (Croton) Point to the mouth of Tappan Creek (Piermont). The chief, after inspecting places at Peekskill and vicinity, crossed King’s Ferry [Nov. 14, 1776.], and hastened to form his camp, with his head-quarters at Hackinsack, in the rear of Fort Lee. 61 General Heath was left in command in the Highlands, and General Lee, with a dissolving force 62 of more than eight thousand men, remained at North Castle, with orders to join the main army in New Jersey if the enemy should aim a blow in that quarter.

On the day of the battle at White Plains, Knyphausen, with six German battalions, marched from New Rochelle, crossed the head of Harlem River, at Dyckman’s Bridge, 63 took possession of the abandoned works in the vicinity of King’s Bridge, and encamped upon the plain [Nov. 2.] between there and Fort Washington. The Americans in Fort Independence and redoubts near, fled, on his approach, to Fort Washington, and now the whole country beyond Harlem, between Dobbs’s Ferry and Morrisania, west of the Bronx, was in the possession of the royal army. Fort Washington was completely environed by hostile forces. On the fifth, three British ships of war passed up the Hudson unharmed, and on the night of the fourteenth, a large number of flat-boats went up and were moored near King’s Bridge. The commander-in-chief would now have ordered the evacuation of Fort Washington, had not Greene urged the necessity of holding it, in connection with Fort Lee, for the defense of the river.

On the fifteenth [Nov., 1776.] Howe was informed of the real condition of the garrison and works at Fort Washington, by a deserter from Magaw’s battalion, and he immediately sent a messenger with a summons for the commander to surrender, or peril his garrison with the doom of massacre. Magaw, in a brief note, promptly refused compliance, and sent a copy of his answer to Washington at Hackinsack. Confident of success, Howe ordered a cannonade to be opened upon the American outworks from two British redoubts, situated upon the east side of the Harlem River, a little above the High Bridge. The cannonade commenced early on the morning of the sixteenth, to cover the landing of troops which crossed the Harlem there, preparatory to a combined attack at four different points. Expecting this, Magaw made a judicious disposition of his little force. 64 Colonel Rawling’s with his Maryland riflemen, was posted in a redoubt (Fort Tryon) upon a hill north of Fort Washington, and a few men were stationed at the outpost called Cock-hill Fort. Militia of the Flying Camp, under Colonel Baxter, were placed on the rough wooded hills east of the fort, along the Harlem River, and others, under Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, of Pennsylvania, manned the lines in the direction of New York.

Magaw commanded in the fort. The plan of attack was well arranged. Knyphausen, with five hundred Hessians and Waldeckers, was to move to the attack on the north simultaneously with a division of English and Hessian troops, under Lord Percy, who were to assail the lines on the south. At the same time, Brigadier Mathews, supported by Cornwallis, was to cross the Harlem River, with the guards, light infantry, and two battalions of grenadiers, and land above Fort Washington, under cover of the guns on the West Chester Hills, just mentioned, 65 while Colonel Stirling, with the 42d regiment, was to cross at a point a little above the High Bridge. These arrangements were carried out. Knyphausen divided his forces. One division, under Colonel Rall (killed at Trenton seventy days afterward), drove the Americans from Cock-hill Fort, while Knyphausen, with the remainder, penetrated the woods near Tubby Hook, and, after clambering over felled trees and other obstructions, attacked Rawlings in Fort Tryon. The fort was gallantly defended for some time, and many Hessians were slain.


Rawlings was finally forced to yield, and retreated to Fort Washington, under cover of its guns, when Knyphausen planted the Hessian flag upon Fort Tryon. In the mean while, Percy had crossed near Harlem, swept over the plain, drove in the American pickets at Harlem Cove (Manhattanville), and attacked Cadwalader at the advanced line of intrenchments. 67 Percy’s force was eight hundred strong; Cadwalader had only one hundred and fifty men, and one eighteen-pounder. Both parties fought bravely, and Percy, yielding, moved toward the American left, behind a wood, and the combat ceased for a while.


While Rawlings and Cadwalader were keeping the assailants at bay, Mathews and Stirling landed. The former pushed up the wooded heights, drove Baxter’s troops from their redoubt (Fort George) and rocky defense, and stood victor upon the hills overlooking the open fields around Fort Washington. Stirling, after making a feigned landing, dropped down to an estuary of the river, landed within the American lines, and, rushing up the acclivity by a sinuous road, attacked a redoubt on the summit, and made about two hundred prisoners. 69 Informed of this, and perceiving the peril of being placed between two fires, Cadwalader retreated along the road nearest the Hudson, closely pursued by Percy, and battling all the way. When near the upper border of Trinity Cemetery (One hundred and Fifty-fifth Street), he was attacked on the flank by Colonel Stirling, who was pressing across the island to intercept him. 70 He continued the retreat, and reached the fort, after losing a few killed, and about thirty made prisoners. On the border of the cemetery, and near the fort, severe skirmishes took place, and many of the Hessian pursuers were slain. The defense was gallant; but pike, ball, and bayonet, used by five thousand men, overpowered the weakened patriots, and at meridian they were nearly all gathered within the ramparts of the fort. General Howe now sent another summons to surrender. Perceiving further resistance to be vain, Magaw complied, 71 and at hall past one o’clock [Nov. 16, 1776.] the British flag was waving where the Union banner was unfurled defiantly in the morning. The garrison, amounting to more than two thousand men, were made prisoners of war, 72 and with these the jails of New York were speedily gorged. It was a terrible disaster for the little Republican army. Of all the gallant men who battled there on that day, not one is known among the living. Probably the last survivor of them all, and the last living relic of the British army in America, was the venerable JOHN BATTIN, who died at his residence in Greenwich Street, in the city of New York, on the twenty-ninth of June, 1852, at the age of one hundred years and four months. His body is entombed in Trinity Cemetery, upon the very ground where he fought for his king seventy-six years before. 73

Washington, standing upon Fort Lee with his general officers, and the author of "Common Sense," saw some of the slaughter near the doomed fortress, and with streaming eyes he beheld the meteor flag of England flashing above its ramparts in the bright November sun. The fort was lost forever, and its name was changed to Knyphausen. The chief now turned his thoughts toward the defense of the federal city of Philadelphia, for he penetrated the design of Howe to push thitherward. Fort Lee was abandoned, but before its stores could be removed, Cornwallis had crossed the Hudson with six thousand men, and was rapidly approaching it. 74 The garrison fled to the camp at Hackinsack, and now commenced the retreat of Washington across the Jerseys, toward the Delaware, noted on pages 14 and 15.

Before leaving these heights consecrated by valor and patriotism, let us turn toward the distant hills of West Chester, where almost every rood of earth is scarred by the intrencher’s mattock, or made memorable by deeds of daring and of suffering, and consider the most important military transactions which occurred within ten leagues of our point of observation. We can not tarry long; to the local historian we must refer for the whole story in detail.


General Knyphausen held Fort Washington and the neighboring works, while the main British army was operating elsewhere in 1777. The fortifications were strengthened, and King’s Bridge and vicinity presented a formidable barrier to the invasion of York Island by land. After the fall of Fort Washington, and the departure of both Americans and British to New Jersey, General Heath established a cordon of troops [January, 1777.] from the heights at Wepperham (Yonkers) to Mamaroneck, under the command of Brigadier John Morin Scott. That officer left the army two months later for civil employment, and the Americans retired, so that their left rested upon Byram River. While the strong detachments of the two armies were occupying their relative positions, many skirmishes took place, especially between the Americans and corps of Loyalists, formed under various leaders. The latter traversed Lower West Chester, annoyed the American outposts and patrols, and distressed the inhabitants. 76

In the summer of 1777, Washington, believing the post at New York to be weak, because the main army of the British was in New Jersey and a large detachment was on Rhode Island, ordered General Heath to approach King’s Bridge, and if circumstances appeared to promise success, to attack the fortifications there. The withdrawal of troops from New Jersey or Rhode Island, if not the possession of New York, were hoped for results. Heath advanced, and summoned Fort Independence, on Tetard’s Hill, to surrender. The commandant refused, and while preparing for attack, Heath received intelligence of movements in the East, which made it prudent to withdraw and watch his Highland camp and fortifications. In the succeeding autumn, Sir Henry Clinton captured Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and Kingston was destroyed. Several months before, a British detachment had destroyed stores at Peekskill (p. 741, vol. i.), and Tryon had desolated Danbury and vicinity. 77 These events, which have already been considered, directed the attention of Washington more to the security of the Highlands than offensive operations against New York.

After the battle at Monmouth [June {original text has "January".}, 1778.], and the retreat of the British army to New York, Knyphausen again took command near King’s Bridge, with his quarters at Morris’s house. The Queen’s Rangers, under Simcoe, and other Loyal corps, a troop of light horse under Emmerick, and Delancey’s battalions, now became active in patroling Lower West Chester. To oppose their incursions, General Charles Scott, of Virginia, with quite a strong force, took post on the Greenburg Hills, and extended his left toward New Rochelle. Sometimes he advanced as far as Valentine’s Hill, 78 and the foraging parties of the enemy were kept in check. Frequent skirmishes occurred, and the most vigilant and wary were the most successful.

When the French army, marching from New England in the summer of 1781, approached the Hudson, Washington was informed that a large detachment of British troops had left New York for a marauding incursion into New Jersey. Washington had long cherished a desire to drive the enemy from New York Island, and now there appeared to be a favorable opportunity to strike the garrison at King’s Bridge and vicinity. Arrangements were made to begin the attack on the night of the second of July [1781.], believing Rochambeau would arrive by that time. A part of the plan was to cut off Delancey’s light troops along the Harlem River. This enterprise was intrusted to the Duke De Lauzun, then approaching, to whose legion Sheldon’s dragoons and some Continental troops, under Colonel Waterbery, were to be attached.

On the night of the first of July, a strong detachment, under General Lincoln, went down the river from Tappan, in boats with muffled oars, and landed half a mile below the village of Yonkers, 79 upon the land now owned by Thomas W. Ludlow, Esq. 80 Lincoln marched cautiously over the hills to Tippett’s Brook, unobserved by Emmerick, who, with his light horse, was patrolling toward Boar Hill. Also avoiding Pruschanck’s corps, stationed upon Cortlandt’s Bridge, Lincoln reached the house of Montgomery, near King’s Bridge, before dawn, where he was discovered and fired upon by the enemy’s pickets. Delancey, at fort No. 8, ever on the alert, heard the firing, and retreated in time for safety, for Lauzun had not approached by West Farms as was intended. Washington had advanced to Valentine’s Hill, and when he heard the firing he pressed forward to the aid of Lincoln. The British troops immediately fell back, and withdrew behind their works, near King’s Bridge. Lincoln ascertained that the detachment had returned from New Jersey; that the British were re-enforced by some fresh troops; that a large party was on the north end of the island, and that a ship of war was watching at the mouth of the creek, near King’s Bridge. In view of these difficulties, Washington withdrew to Dobbs’s Ferry, where he was joined by Rochambeau on the sixth, and both armies were soon on their way to Virginia to capture Cornwallis. No other military operations of importance took place in this vicinity until the passage of King’s Bridge by American troops in the autumn of 1783, when the British were about to evacuate New York.

Stretching away eastward beyond the Sound, is Long Island, all clustered with historical associations. Almost every bay, creek, and inlet witnessed the whale-boat warfare while the British occupied the island. 81 In its swamps and broad forests partisan scouts lurked and ambushed, and almost every fertile field was trodden by the depredator’s foot. Local historians have made the record in detail; we will only glance at two or three of the most important military operations there, in which Major Benjamin Tallmadge was the chief leader. 82

On the fifth of September, 1779, Major Tallmadge proceeded from Shipan Point, near Stamford, Connecticut, with one hundred and thirty of his light dragoons, dismounted, and at ten o’clock at night attacked five hundred Tory marauders, who were quite strongly intrenched upon Lloyd’s Neck, on Long Island. 83 The surprise was complete, and before morning he landed upon the Connecticut shore with almost the whole garrison as prisoners. He did not lose a man.

EXPLANATION OF THE ABOVE PLAN OF OYSTER BAY ENCAMPMENT. – a, redoubt; b b b, fleches; c c c c c quarters separately fortified; d, quarters of the Hussars; e, Townsend’s house, Simcoe’s quarters.

In the autumn of 1780, some Rhode Island Tory refugees took possession of the manor-house of General John Smith, at Smith’s Point, fortified it and the grounds around it, and began cutting wood for the British army in New York. At the solicitation of General Smith, and with the approval of Washington, Major Tallmadge proceeded to dislodge them. They had named their fortress Fort George, and appeared too strongly intrenched to be in fear. 84 Tallmadge crossed the Sound from Fairfield with eighty dismounted dragoons, and landed in the evening at Old Man’s, now Woodville [Nov. 21, 1780.]. On account of a storm, he remained there until the next night, when, accompanied by Heathcote Muirson, he marched toward Fort George. At the mills, about two miles from the fort, he procured a faithful guide, 85 and at dawn he and his gallant soldiers burst through the stockade on the southwestern side, rushed across the parade, and, shouting " Washington and Glory!" they furiously assailed the redoubt upon three sides. The garrison surrendered without resistance. At that moment a volley was fired from the upper windows of the mansion. The incensed Americans burst open the doors, and would have killed every inmate, had not Major Tallmadge interfered.

Having secured his prisoners (three hundred in number), demolished the fort, and burned vessels lying at the wharf, laden with a great amount of stores, Tallmadge set out on his return at sunrise. On his way, leaving his corps in command of Captain Edgar, he proceeded with ten or twelve men to Corum, and there, after overpowering the guard, they destroyed three hundred tons of hay collected for the British army in New York. He arrived at Fairfield with his prisoners early in the evening, without losing a man. This brilliant exploit drew from Washington a very complimentary letter, and from Congress a gratifying resolution. 86

At Treadwell’s Neck, near Smithtown, a party of Tory wood-cutters (one hundred and fifty in number) erected a military work, which they called Fort Slongo. This Major Tallmadge determined to assail. On the evening of the ninth of October, 1781, he embarked one hundred and fifty of his dismounted dragoons, under Major Trescott at the mouth of the Saugatuck River. They landed at four o’clock the next morning, and at dawn assailed the fort. Some resistance was made, when the garrison yielded, and Trescott was victorious without losing a man. He destroyed the block-house and two iron four-pounders, made twenty-one prisoners, and carried off a brass three-pounder, the colors of the fort, seventy stand of arms, and a quantity of ammunition. 87 Every where eastward of Hempstead minor events of a similar character, but all having influence in the progress of the Revolution, were almost daily transpiring.

Let us now follow the British army into the city, and take a brief survey of the closing events of the war.

When the British felt themselves firmly seated on Manhattan Island after the fall of Fort Washington, they leisurely prepared for permanent occupation. General Robertson immediately strengthened the intrenchments across the island from Corlaer’s Hook, erected barracks along the line of Chambers Street from Broadway to Chatham, and speedily placed the army in comfortable winter quarters. Nearly all of the Whig families whose means permitted them had left the city, and their deserted houses were taken possession of by the officers of the army and refugee Loyalists. 88 The dissenting churches were generally devoted to military purposes, 89 and the spacious sugar-houses, then three in number, were made prisons for the American captives, when the cells of the City Hall and the provost prison were full. 90 Looking with contempt upon the rebels in field and council, the British felt no anxiety for their safety, and every pleasure that could be procured was freely indulged in by the army. A theatre was established, tennis courts and other kinds of amusements were prepared, and for seven years the city remained a prey to the licentiousness of strong and idle detachments of a well-provided army. This was the head-quarters of British power in America during that time, and here the most important schemes for operations against the patriots, military and otherwise, were planned and put in motion. The municipal government was overthrown, martial law prevailed, and the business of the city degenerated almost into the narrow operations of suttling.


Here many petty depredating expeditions were planned; and from Whitehall many a vessel departed with armed troops to distress the inhabitants of neighboring provinces, 91 or with secret emissaries to discover the weakness of patriot camps, to encourage disaffection in the Republican ranks, and, by the circulation of spurious paper money 92 and lying proclamations, to disgust the people and win their allegiance to the crown. A record of the stirring incidents of the armed occupation of New York would fill a volume. 93 It tempts the pen by many allurements, but I must leave the pleasure of such a task to the local historian, and hasten to a consideration of the final evacuation of the city by the British army, and the parting of Washington with his officers.

After protracted negotiations for a year and a half, a definitive treaty of peace was signed at Paris [Sept. 3, 1783.] between American and English commissioners. A provisional treaty had been signed about nine months previously [Nov. 20, 1782.], and in the mean while, preparations for a final adjustment of the dispute had been made. On account of the pecuniary embarrassments of Congress, the arrearages of pay due to the soldiers, and the prospect of a dissolution of the army without a liquidation of those claims, general gloom and discontent prevailed. We have seen its alarming manifestation at Newburgh in the spring of 1783 (p 674, vol. i.), and, though suppressed, it was never entirely subdued. It required all the personal influence and sagacity of Washington to keep the remnant of the Continental army in organization until the final evacuation of the British in the autumn of that year, and when that event took place the Republican troops were a mere handful. 94


In August, Washington was called to attend upon Congress, then sitting at Princeton. 96 He left General Knox in command of the little army at Newburgh and vicinity, and, with Mrs. Washington and a portion of his military family, he made his residence at Rocky Hill, near the Millstone River, about four miles from Princeton, where he remained until November, when he joined Knox and the remnant of the Continental army at West Point, preparatory to entering the city of New York. 97

On the seventh of August [1783.], Sir Guy Carleton, then in chief command of the British army, received instructions to evacuate the city of New York. This event was delayed in order to make arrangements for the benefit of the Loyalists in the city and state, 98 and it was not until late in October when Carleton notified Washington of his determination to leave our shores. On the second of November, Washington issued his "Farewell Address to the Armies of the United States" 99 from Rocky Hill, and on the fourteenth of the same month he conferred with Governor Clinton, 100 and made arrangements to enter and take possession of the city.

Clinton issued an appropriate proclamation on the fifteenth, and summoned the officers of the civil government to meet him in council at East Chester. A day or two afterward, Washington, Clinton, and Carleton held a conference at Dobbs’s Ferry (p. 763, vol. i.), and the twenty-fifth was fixed upon as the time for the exodus of the British troops. Both parties adopted measures for the preservation of order on the occasion. On the morning of that day – a cold, frosty, but clear and brilliant morning – the American troops, under General Knox, 101 who had come down from West Point and encamped at Harlem, marched to the Bowery Lane, and halted at the present junction of Third Avenue and the Bowery.

There they remained until about one o’clock in the afternoon, when the British left their posts in that vicinity and marched to Whitehall. 102 The American troops followed, 103 and before three o’clock General Knox took formal possession of Fort George amid the acclamations of thousands of emancipated freemen, and the roar of artillery upon the Battery. Washington repaired to his quarters at the spacious tavern of Samuel Fraunce, and there during the afternoon, Governor Clinton gave a public dinner to the officers of the army, and in the evening the town was brilliantly illuminated.


Rockets shot up from many private dwellings, and bonfires blazed at every corner. On Monday following [Dec. 1, 1783.], Governor Clinton gave an elegant entertainment to Luzerne (the French embassador), General Washington, the principal officers of the State of New York and of the army, and more than a hundred other gentlemen.

On Thursday [Dec. 4.] the principal officers of the army yet remaining in service assembled at Fraunce’s, to take a final leave of their beloved chief. The scene is described as one of great tenderness. Washington entered the room where they were all waiting, and taking a glass of wine in his hand, he said, "With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." Having drunk, he continued, "I can not come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged to you if each will come and take me by the hand." Knox, who stood nearest to him, turned and grasped his hand, and, while the tears flowed down the cheeks of each, the commander-in-chief kissed him. This he did to each of his officers, while tears and sobs stifled utterance. 105 Washington soon left the room, and passing through corps of light infantry, he walked in silence to Whitehall, followed by a vast procession, and at two o’clock entered a barge to proceed to Paulus’s Hook on his way to lay his commission at the feet of Congress, at Annapolis. 106 When he entered his barge, he turned to the people, took off his hat, and waved a silent adieu to the tearful multitude.

Washington remained a few days in Philadelphia, where he delivered in his accounts to the proper officers, 107 and then hastened, with his wife, to Annapolis, where he arrived on the evening of the nineteenth [Dec., 1783.]. The next day he informed Congress of his desire to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States. That body resolved that it should be done at a public audience the following Tuesday [Dec. 23.], at meridian. The day was fine, and around the State House (see page 196) a great concourse was assembled.

The little gallery of the Senate Chamber (see page 636) was filled with ladies, among whom was Mrs. Washington. 108 The members of Congress were seated and covered; the spectators were all uncovered. Washington entered, and was led to a chair by the venerable Secretary Thomson, when General Mifflin, 109 the president of Congress, arose and informed him that "the United States, in Congress assembled, were prepared to receive his communications" The chief arose, and with great dignity and much feeling delivered a brief speech, and then handed his commission to the president.

Mifflin received it, and made an eloquent reply. 110 When the whole business was closed, Washington and his lady set out for Mount Vernon, accompanied by the governor of Maryland and his suite, as far as South River. All the way from New York to Annapolis, and from thence to Mount Vernon, his progress was a triumphal march. He was escorted from place to place by mounted citizens and volunteer military corps, and was every where greeted with the most emphatic demonstrations of love and respect. 111 For more than eight years he had served his country faithfully and efficiently. Now that it was acknowledged free and independent, he crowned the glory of his patriotic devotion by resigning into the hands of his country’s representatives the instrument of his power, and as a plain untitled citizen he sat down in peace in the midst of his family, on the banks of the Potomac.

Here, reader-companion, at the earthly dwelling-place of the PATER PATRIÆ, we will part company for a season. We have had a long, and, I trust, a pleasant and instructive journey, to the consecrated places of our Revolutionary History. Should time deal gently with us, we may again go out with staff and scrip together upon the great highway of our country’s progress, to note the march of events there. Until then, adieu!



1 The Rose and Phœnix, after remaining in Haverstraw Bay five weeks, had passed the American batteries and joined the fleet. – See page 596.

2 Lieutenant-general De Heister was an old man, and warmly attached to his master, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel. The long voyage of almost fourteen weeks dispirited him, "and," says Sir George Collier, "his patience and tobacco became exhausted." A sniff of land breeze revived him. "He called for Hock, and swallowed large potations to the health of his friends."

3 This view is from the road on the high shore, a little below Fort Hamilton, looking southeast; the house in the center belonged to Simon Cortelyou, a Tory, during the Revolution, and has not been altered. Gravesend Bay is seen beyond the house, and the distant land is Coney Island beach.

4 Many Whig families left the city, and for seven long years of exile they endured privations with heroic fortitude. * Many of their houses were destroyed by fire, and others were ruined by military occupants.

* I have before me a manuscript letter, written by a daughter of General John Morin Scott, from Elizabethtown, three days after the landing of the British on Long Island, which exhibits the alarms and privations to which wealthy families, who had left the city, were subjected. After mentioning their hourly expectation of the landing of the British at Elizabethtown Point, she says: "We have our coach standing before our door every night, and the horses harnessed ready to make our escape, if we have time. We have hardly any clothes to wear: only a second change." Warned by Governor Livingston to leave Elizabethtown, the family of General Scott fled at night to Springfield, in the midst of a terrible thunder-storm. The writer continues: "We were obliged to stop on the road and stay all night, and all the lodging we could get was a dirty bed on the floor. How hard it seems for us, that have always been used to living comfortable! . . . . . Papa, with his brigade, has gone over to Long Island, which makes us very uneasy. Poor New York! I long to have the battle over, and yet I dread the consequences." This letter is in the possession of her grandson, Charles S. M‘Knight, Esq., of New York.

JOHN MORIN SCOTT was an early opponent of British oppression, the coadjutor of Sears, Lamb, Willett, and others. He was a descendant of the baronial family of Scott of Ancram, Teviotdale, Scotland, and was born in New York in 1730. He graduated at Yale College in 1746. He adopted the profession of the law, married Helena Rutgers, of New York, and made that city his field of active usefulness. With William Livingston, of New Jersey, his voice and pen boldly advocated extreme measures, and, because of his ultra Whig principles, the timid ones defeated his election to the General Congress in 1774. He was one of the most active and influential members of the General Committee of New York in 1775, and was a member of the Provincial Congress that year. On the ninth of June, 1776, he was commissioned a brigadier, which office he held until March, 1777. He was with his brigade in the battle of Long Island, and was one of the Council of War called by Washington to decide whether to fight longer or retreat. He was afterward with General Heath in the lower part of West Chester, but left the service in March, 1777, when he was appointed secretary of the State of New York. He was a member of the General Congress in 1782 and 1783. In 1784 he was elected an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati. He died on the fourteenth of September of the same year, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. His remains lie in Trinity church-yard with those of his ancestors, close by the railing on Broadway, north of the great entrance-door to the church. I am indebted to John Morin Scott, Esq., of Philadelphia, a grandson of the general, for the materials of this brief sketch.

5 Israel Putnam was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on the seventh of January, 1718. He was a vigorous, athletic lad, and in 1739 we find him cultivating land in Pomfret, Connecticut. He was appointed to the command of the first troops raised in Connecticut for the French and Indian war in 1755, in which capacity the reader has met him several times in these volumes. He returned to his farm after the peace, where he remained until he heard of the affair at Lexington. At the head of Connecticut troops, he distinguished himself in the battle of Bunker Hill. He was one of the four major generals appointed by Congress in 1775. His services during the war are mentioned in many portions of this work, and we will not repeat them here. His last military services were performed at West Point and vicinity in 1779, where he was chiefly engaged in strengthening the fortifications. Paralysis of one side impaired the activity of his body, but his mind retained its powers until his death. He lived in retirement after the war, and died at Brooklyn, Windham county, Connecticut, on the twenty-ninth of May, 1790, aged seventy-two years. His remains repose beneath a marble slab in the grave-yard south of the village, upon which is an appropriate inscription. *

* "This monument is erected to the memory of the Honorable ISRAEL PUTNAM, Esq., major general in the armies of the United States of America; who was born at Salem, in the Province of Massachusetts, on the seventh day of January, 1718, and died at Brooklyn, in the State of Connecticut, on the twenty-ninth day of May, A. D. 1790. Passenger, if thou art a soldier, go not away till thou hast dropped a tear over the dust of a Hero, who, ever tenderly attentive to the lives and happiness of his men, dared to lead where any one dared to follow. If thou art a patriot, remember with gratitude how much thou and thy country owe to the disinterested and gallant exertions of the patriot who sleeps beneath this marble. If thou art an honest, generous, and worthy man, render a sincere and cheerful tribute of respect to a man whose generosity was singular; whose honesty was proverbial; and who, with a slender education, with small advantages, and without powerful friends, raised himself to universal esteem, and to offices of eminent distinction by personal worth, and by the diligent services of a useful life."

6 Over all the sites of Revolutionary fortifications, near Brooklyn, the modern city is rapidly spreading. Streets and avenues reticulate the whole area, and it is difficult now to identify the consecrated places. By a careful comparison of maps, military plans, and other authorities, with maps of the modern city, I have endeavored to locate the various works. I am satisfied that there will be found no material errors in the statement. *

* The first work erected, after fortifying Red Hook and constructing Fort Stirling, on Brooklyn Heights (see page 593), was a redoubt called Fort Putnam, upon a wooded hill near the Wallabout, now known as Fort Greene and Washington Square. This was a redoubt with five guns; and when the trees were felled, it commanded the East River, and the roads approaching Brooklyn from the interior. An intrenchment extended from Fort Putnam northwesterly down the hill to a spring now (1852,) in a tanning-yard, with a pump in it, near the intersection of Portland Street and Flushing Avenue. This spring was then on the verge of the Wallabout. From the western side of the fort an intrenchment extended in zigzag course across the Flatbush road, near the junction of Flatbush Avenue and Power Street, to Freek’s mill-pond, at the head of Gowanus Creek, near the junction of Second Avenue and Carroll Street. Near the Intersection of Nevins and Dean Streets, about half way between Fort Putnam and the mill-pond, on the land of Debevoise and Vanbrunt, a redoubt was constructed with five guns, and called Fort Greene. A little southward of Fort Putnam, near the Jamaica road, was a small redoubt; and upon the slope of Bergen Hill (very near Boerum’s Hill), opposite Brower’s mill, was a small redoubt with four guns. It stood between Smith Street and First Avenue, not far from the termination of Hoyt Street at Carroll. This is supposed to be Box Fort. It was afterward strengthened by the British while a detachment lay encamped on Bergen Hill. Last year (1851) a friend of the writer picked up arrow heads, and buttons marked "42" (42d Highlanders), on the site of this redoubt. At the head of the tunnel of the Long Island rail-way, in the vicinity of Boerum and Atlantic Streets, was a high, conical hill, called Ponkiesbergh and Cobble Hill. A redoubt for three cannons was constructed on the top of this hill, and, from the circumstance that an intrenchment extended spirally from summit to base, it was called Cork-screw Fort. – (See Onderdonk’s Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island, ii., 118.) This redoubt remained until 1812, when it was strengthened and called Fort Swift. Fort Putnam was strengthened at the same time, and called Fort Greene. The banks then raised on those of the fort of the Revolution were very prominent until the present year (1852), when diluted patriotism and bad taste allowed them to be leveled so as to give the face of Washington Square a smooth appearance. To the eye of a true American there is more beauty in a single mound consecrated by patriotism than in a score of graveled walks trodden by the gay and thoughtless

These several fortifications, with other localities and events mentioned in the account of the battle, will be best understood by reference to the accompanying map, which is a reduced copy of one carefully prepared by Henry Onderdonk, Jr., and published in his valuable collection of Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island. Mr. Onderdonk has thoroughly explored the ground we are considering; and to him, as a cicerone, when visiting the field of conflict, I am much indebted for a knowledge of the various localities.


Figure 1, Gravesend beach, where the British landed; 2, Denyse’s (Fort Hamilton); 3, Martense’s Lane, along the southern boundary of Greenwood Cemetery, extending from Third Avenue, at the lower end of Gowanus Bay, to the Flatbush and New Utrecht road; 4, Red Lion tavern; 5, Grant’s forces; 6, Stirling’s forces; 7, Stirling’s last encounter; 8, Cortelyou’s house; 9, Port or Mill road; 10, Flatbush pass; 11, Americans retreating across the creek; 12, Party of Americans covering the retreat; 13, Box Fort; 14, Brower’s mill; 15, Fort Greene, near the mill-pond; 16, Cork-screw Fort; 17, Baker’s tavern, near the junction of Fulton and Flatbush Avenues; 18, British redoubt, cast up after the battle; 19, Fort Putnam, now Fort Greene; 20, Stone church, where Washington held a council of war; 21, Fort Stirling; 22, The ferry, foot of Fulton Street; 23, Fort at Red Hook; 24, Corlaer’s Hook; 25, Battery, foot of Catharine Street; 26, Paulus’ Hook; 27, Governor’s Island; 28, The Narrows; 29, Vandeventer’s Point; 30, Shoemaker’s Bridge, near New Lots. Bennet’s Cove is near figure 4, where, it is said, three thousand British troops landed on the morning of the twenty-seventh of August, the day of the battle, a a, track of the right wing of the British army, under the immediate command of General Howe, from Flatlands, by way of the present East New York (Howard’s half-way house) to Brooklyn.

While in possession of New York and vicinity, the British so strengthened Fort Stirling, on Brooklyn Heights, that it assumed the character of a regular fortification, with four bastions, similar to Fort George, in New York. They also cast up a line of intrenchments along the brow of the hill from the Heights to the present Navy Yard.

7 New Lots village is about a mile south of the rail-way station at East New York, upon the same plain. The morass at Shoemaker’s Bridge (30 on map, page 600) is now only a wet swale, with a small sluggish stream, and presents none of the difficulties of passage of former days. It is said that at the time in question a single regiment might have kept the whole British force at bay at Shoemaker’s Bridge.

8 There were four important passes through the hills which should have been well guarded, namely, at Martense’s Lane (3), on the southern border of Greenwood Cemetery; the Flatbush pass, at the junction of the present Brooklyn and Flatbush turnpike and the Coney Island Plank road; the Bedford pass, about half a mile eastward of the junction of the Flatbush and Bedford roads; and the Jamaica pass, a short distance from East New York, on the road to Williamsburgh, just at the entrance to the Cemetery of the Evergreens.

At East New York, "Howard’s half-way house" of the Revolution is yet standing, though much altered. William Howard, a son of the Whig tavern-keeper, is yet (1852) living there, at the age of ninety. * He told me that he remembers well seeing the British approaching from New Lots, and then taking his father a prisoner and compelling him to show them the Jamaica pass, and the best route over the hills east of it, to the open country toward Brooklyn. We sat in the room in which he was born eighty-nine years before.

* Died in 1854.

9 It must be remembered that the present road, along the verge of the high bank from Yellow Hook to Gowanus did not exist. The "coast road" was on the slopes further inland, and terminated at Martense’s Lane.

10 Lord Stirling was in the English House of Commons on the second of February, 1775, when this same General Grant declared in debate that the Americans "could not fight," and that he would "undertake to march from one end of the Continent to the other with five thousand men." – Duer’s Life of Lord Stirling, 162; Par. Reg., i., 135.

11 William Alexander, earl of Stirling, was born in the city of New York in 1726. His father, James Alexander, was a native of Scotland, and took refuge in America in 1716, after an active espousal of the cause of the pretender, in the rebellion the previous year. His mother was the widow of David Provoost, better known in the city of New York, a little more than a century ago, as "Ready-money Provoost." * Young Alexander joined the army during a portion of the French and Indian war, and was aid-de-camp and secretary to General Shirley. He accompanied that officer to England in 1755, and while there he made the acquaintance of some of the leading statesmen of the time. By the advice of many of them, he instituted legal proceedings to obtain the title of Earl of Stirling, to which his father was heir presumptive when he left Scotland. Although he did not obtain a legal recognition of the title, his right to it was generally conceded, and from that time he was addressed as Earl of Stirling. He returned to America in 1761, and soon afterward married the daughter of Philip Livingston (the second lord of the manor), a sister of Governor Livingston, of New Jersey, and built a fine mansion (yet standing) at Baskenridge, in that state. He was a member of the Provincial Council of New Jersey for several years. In 1775, the Provincial Convention of New Jersey appointed him colonel of the first regiment of militia, and in March, 1776, the Continental Congress gave him the commission of brigadier. Lee left him in command at New York in March. He was conspicuous in the battle near Brooklyn in August, and in February ensuing Congress appointed him a major general. He performed varied and active service until the summer of 1781, when he was ordered to the command of the Northern army, his head-quarters at Albany. An invasion from Canada was then expected. Quite a large British force was at Ticonderoga and vicinity, under St. Leger, who was repulsed at Fort Stanwix in 1777, and much alarm prevailed above the Highlands. We have already met detachments in the vicinity of Johnstown (see p. 290, vol. i.) and witnessed their reception by Colonel Willett. The vigorous and effective preparations made by Lord Stirling intimidated St. Leger, and he returned to Canada. Late in the autumn Stirling took the chief command in New Jersey, and the following summer he was again in command at Albany, with a general supervision of military affairs between that place and New York. Among other orders issued by him at that time were several respecting beacons and alarm posts.

From one of them, in possession of the son of Colonel Aaron Burr, I copied the annexed sketch, made by the pen of Lord Stirling, together with the full order. Lord Stirling died at Albany on the fifteenth of January, 1783, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. It is a singular fact that at different periods during the war, Lord Stirling had under his command every brigade of the American army except those of South Carolina and Georgia. His youngest daughter married Colonel William Duer, and became the mother of William A. Duer, late president of Columbia College, and Judge John Duer, of the city of New York – See Life of Lord Stirling, by his grandson, William A. Duer, LL.D.

* He acquired this title because he won riches rapidly by the illicit trade in which the colonists were then engaged. His family vault may now (1855) be seen a few rods from the bank of the East River, in "Jones’s Woods," between Seventieth and Seventy-first Streets. On the top is a large marble slab, placed there in memory of the wife of his son David.

The following is a copy of the order: "Each of the beacons are to be of the following dimensions: at bottom, fourteen feet square, to rise in a pyramidal form to about eighteen or twenty feet high, and then to terminate about six feet square, with a stout sapling in the center of about thirty feet high from the ground. In order to erect them, the officer who oversees the execution should proceed thus: he should order the following sized logs to be cut as near the place as possible: twenty logs of fourteen feet long and about one foot diameter; ten logs of about twelve feet long; ten logs of about ten feet long; ten logs of about nine feet long; ten logs of about eight feet long; twenty logs of about seven feet long; twenty logs of about six feet long. He should then sort his longest logs as to diameter, and place the four longest on the ground, parallel to each other, and about three feet apart from each other. He should then place the four next logs in size across these at right angles, and so proceed till all the logs of fourteen feet be placed. Then he is to go on in the same manner with logs of twelve feet long, and when they are all placed, with those of a lesser size, till the whole are placed, taking care, as he goes on, to fill the vacancies between the logs with old dry split wood or useless dry rails and brush, not too close, and leaving the fifth tier open for firing and air. In the beginning of his work, to place a good stout sapling in the center, with part of its top left, about ten or twelve feet above the whole work. The figure of the beacon will appear thus. [The sketch above given] The two upper rows of logs should be fastened in their places with good strong wooden plugs or trunnels." These beacons were erected upon hills from the Hudson Highlands through New Jersey by way of Morristown, Pluckemin, and Middlebrook, and upon the Neversink Hills at Sandy Hook. They were to be used as signals denoting the approach of the enemy, for the assembling of the militia at certain points, and to direct the movements of certain Continental battalions.

I have before me an old manuscript schedule of Lord Stirling’s wardrobe, in which the material and color of each article is given. I print the number as a curious example of the personal provisions of a gentleman of his class at that time, namely: Thirty-one coats, fifty-eight vests, forty-three pairs of breeches, six powdering gowns (used when powdering the hair), two pairs of trowsers, thirty shirts, seventeen handkerchiefs, twenty-seven stocks, twenty-seven cravats, eight razor cloths, one hundred and nineteen pairs of hose, six pairs of socks, fifteen night-caps, five pairs of drawers, two pairs of gloves, fourteen pairs of shoes, four pairs of boots; total, four hundred and twelve garments.

12 A few trees of this orchard yet remain in the southwest part of Greenwood Cemetery.

13 During the morning the Roebuck frigate approached Red Hook and cannonaded the battery there. This, like the movement of Grant, was intended to divert the Americans from the operations of Clinton on their left.

14 The Hessians fought with desperation, and gave no quarter. They had been told that the Americans would not suffer one of them to live, and their sentiment was total extermination. "Our Hessians and our brave Highlanders gave no quarter," wrote an officer of the 71st, "and it was a fine sight to see with what alacrity they dispatched the rebels with their bayonets, after we had surrounded them so they could not resist." – See Onderdonk’s Revolutionary Incidents, ii., 138.

15 The most sanguinary conflict occurred after the Americans had left the Flatbush pass, and attempted to retreat to the lines at Brooklyn. The place of severest contest, and where Sullivan and his men were made prisoners, was upon the slope between the Flatbush Avenue and the Long Island rail-way, between Bedford and Brooklyn, near "Baker’s Tavern" (17), at a little east of the junction of these avenues. The preceding map, compiled from those of the English engineers for Marshall’s Life of Washington, will assist the reader in obtaining a proper understanding of the movements of the two armies.

16 This house, built of stone, with a brick gable from eaves to peak, is yet (1855) standing upon the eastern side of the road leading from Brooklyn to Gowanus. It was built by Nicholas Vechte in 1699, and was one of the first houses erected between Brooklyn and New Utrecht.

17 This is a view of the old mill on the site of that of the Revolution, as it appeared when I made the sketch in 1850, before it was destroyed. The view is from the west side of Gowanus Creek, looking southeast. In the extreme distance is seen the "Yellow Mill," between which and the one in the foreground so many of the patriots perished. The upper mill was fired by Captain Ward on the 27th.

18 Smallwood’s regiment was composed chiefly of young men belonging to the most respectable and influential families in Maryland. Two hundred and fifty-nine of them perished in this conflict with Cornwallis’s grenadiers near the "Cortelyou House."

19 Dispatches of Washington and General Howe; Letter of R. H. Harrison, quoted by Sparks, Washington’s Writings, iv., 513; Letters of Haslet and Sullivan, ib., 516, 517; Duer’s Life of Lord Stirling, 163, Life and Correspondence of President Reed, i., 218-224; Gordon, ii., 96-101; Marshall, i., 87-91; Stedman, i., 191-196; Onderdonk, ii., 127-131. The loss of the Americans is not precisely known. Howe estimated it at 3300; it probably did not exceed 1650, of whom about 1100 were made prisoners. Howe stated his own loss at 367 killed, wounded, and made prisoners.

20 An account of the New York prisons and prison-ships may be found in the Supplement to this work.

21 Nathaniel Woodhull was born at Mastic, Long Island, December 30, 1722. Agriculture was the chief pursuit of his life. He was a major, under Abercrombie, in the attack upon Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and afterward accompanied Bradstreet against Fort Frontenac. He was a colonel, under Amherst, in 1760, and at the close of the campaign he returned home and married Ruth Floyd. He espoused the popular side in the Stamp Act movements, and, possessing the esteem of the people, he was elected, with William Nicoll, a representative of Suffolk county, in the Colonial Assembly in 1769. He represented Suffolk in the first Provincial Congress in 1775, and was elected president of that body. He was appointed a brigadier of militia in August of that year, and in July, 1776, he was summoned home to embody the militia of Suffolk and Queens, to assist in repelling invasion. He was engaged in this service when he was made a prisoner, * cruelly wounded by a British officer, and died of his injuries three weeks afterward, at New Utrecht. His wife, who was with him in his last moments, conveyed his body to Mastic, and there, in a secluded family cemetery, a short distance from his residence, his remains rest.


A marble slab marks his grave, and bears the following inscription: "In memory of General NATHANIEL WOODHULL, who, wounded and a prisoner, died on the twentieth of September, 1776, in the fifty-fourth year of his age; regretted by all who knew how to value his many private virtues, and that pure zeal for the rights of his country to which he perished a victim." The mansion of General Woodhull was burned in 1783, and in 1784, the present dwelling on the homestead farm was erected near the spot. It is now (1855) owned by Henry Nicoll, Esq., a great grandson of General Woodhull.

* In consequence of the tardy movements of others, on whom devolved the duty of furnishing him with a proper force to perform the labors assigned him, General Woodhull (Udell in many old accounts) did not participate in the battle on the twenty-seventh of August. He made his head-quarters at Jamaica, and with his inadequate force he scoured the country for miles around, watching the movements of the enemy, and driving large numbers of cattle to Hempstead plains. When he perceived the position of Clinton, near the Jamaica pass, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, he sent urgent messages to the Provincial Congress asking for re-enforcements. It was now too late, for the regiments of Smith and Remsen, of Kings and Queens counties, could not be spared from the lines at Brooklyn. With a soldier’s impatience he was obliged to listen to the distant roar of battle, for with a soldier’s strict discipline he would not move without orders. When apprised of the disasters of the day, he ordered his little band to fall back four miles beyond Jamaica, on the morning of the twenty-eighth, while he awaited orders from camp. In the afternoon, he left Jamaica with two companions, to join his soldiers, and while taking refuge from a thunder-storm in the inn of Increase Carpenter, two miles east of Jamaica village, he was made a prisoner by a party of British, under Captain Sir James Baird (whom we met at Savannah, page 526), piloted by some Tories. Tradition says that Baird ordered Woodhull to shout "God save the King!" and because instead he cried "God save us all!" he smote him with his broadsword, and would have killed him on the spot, if Major Delancey, who accompanied Baird, had not interfered. The blow badly wounded the head of the general, and mangled his left arm the whole length.


He and his companions were taken to Jamaica, confined until the next morning in the Presbyterian stone church, which stood at the head of Union Hall Street, and was demolished in 1813. Woodhull and his companions were then taken to the British camp at Brooklyn, and conveyed to a loathsome cattle transport in Gravesend Bay.


A humane British officer procured his removal to a house in the village of New Utrecht, where his arm was amputated at the elbow. Woodhull sent for his wife, with a request that she should bring with her all the money in her possession, and all she could borrow. This was distributed among his fellow-prisoners. His wife arrived in time to attend him in his last moments, for the unskillful amputation resulted in mortification, and he died in the fifty-fourth year of his age.

I am indebted to Mr. Onderdonk for the sketch of the old Jamaica church. With him I visited New Utrecht (1850) to make a drawing of the house wherein General Woodhull died. It had just been demolished, and a modern house placed on its site by the owner, Mr. Barent Wyckoff. To the patriotism and artistic skill of Miss C. Lott, living near, I am indebted for the sketch of that venerated edifice, probably the first house erected in that town. It was of stone, covered with red tiles, and answered the description of a dwelling erected in 1658, by De Sille, the attorney general of the province. – See Doc. Hist. of New York, i., 634. The New Utrecht church, which stood near, was of octagon form like one at Jamaica. The weather-cock from its steeple now graces the barn of Mr. Lott, and the gilt dove from the pulpit sounding-board is perched upon the roof of his well.

22 The council was held in the stone Dutch church (20), which stood near the junction of the present Fulton and Flatbush Avenues. This church was designated in the order for the evening as an alarm post during the night, where they might rendezvous, in the event of the movement being discovered by the British. The officers present at the council were Washington, Putnam, Spencer, Mifflin, M‘Dougal, Parsons, John Morin Scott, Wadsworth, and Fellows. – See Life, &c., of President Reed, i., 417.

23 The uniform of these men, until they were attached to the Continental line, consisted of blue round jackets and trowsers, trimmed with leather buttons. They were about five hundred in number.

24 A late English author complains bitterly of the apathy of the British general on this occasion. He says, his troops "kept digging their trenches on one side, while Washington was smuggling his forces out on the other, and ferrying them over the East River to the city of New York. . . . . . The high-feeding English general slept on, and his brother the admiral (Lord Howe), though not so apt to doze, did not move a single ship or boat, and was to all appearance unconscious of what was going on." – Pict. Hist. of the Reign of George the Third, i., 273. Notwithstanding his want of energy on this occasion, General Howe received the honors of knighthood from his king for this victory. The ceremony was performed by Knyphausen. Clinton, and Robertson, in November, 1776.

25 In his dispatches to the president of Congress, Washington said that he had scarcely been out of the lines from the twenty-seventh till the morning of the evacuation, and forty-eight hours preceding that had hardly been off his horse and never closed his eyes. Yet a popular English author of our day (see Pict. Hist. of the Reign of George the Third, i., 273) mendaciously says, "Washington kept his person safe in New York."

26 Onderdonk (ii., 131) says that a Mrs. Rapelye, living near the ferry, sent her servant to inform the British of the retreat. The negro was arrested by a Hessian guard, who could not understand a word that he uttered. He was detained until morning, when he was taken to head-quarters, and revealed the secret, but too late.

27 A cannonade was opened upon the pursuers from Waterbery’s battery, where Catharine Market now stands.

28 See page 18. In his letter of the second of September, Washington evidently foresaw his inability to retain his position in the city of New York. He asked the question, "If we should be obliged to abandon the town, ought it to stand as winter quarters for the enemy?" and added, "If Congress, therefore, should resolve upon the destruction of it, the resolution should be a profound secret, as a knowledge of it will make a capital change in their plans." General Greene and other military men, and John Jay and several leading civilians, were in favor of destroying New York. But Congress, by resolution of the third of September, ordered otherwise, because they hoped to regain it if it should be lost. – See Journal, ii., 321.

29 Washington sent Major Crane of the artillery to annoy her. With two guns, upon the high bank at Forty-sixth Street, he cannonaded her until she was obliged to take shelter in the channel east of Blackwell’s Island.

30 On the approach of the fleet, the little garrison on Governor’s Island and at Red Hook withdrew to New York. One man at Governor’s Island lost an arm by a ball from a British ship, just as he was embarking. *

* It was while the Eagle lay near Governor’s Island that an attempt was made to destroy her by an "infernal machine," called a "Marine Turtle," invented by a mechanic of Saybrook, Connecticut, named Bushnell. Washington approved of the machine, on examination, and desired General Parsons to select a competent man to attempt the hazardous enterprise. The machine was constructed so as to contain a living man, and to be navigated at will under water. A small magazine of gunpowder, so arranged as to be secured to a ship’s bottom, could be carried with it. This magazine was furnished with clockwork, constructed so as to operate a spring and communicate a blow to detonating powder, and ignite the gunpowder of the magazine. The motion of this clock-work was sufficiently slow to allow the submarine operator to escape to a safe distance, after securing the magazine to a ship’s bottom. General Parsons selected a daring young man, named Ezra Lee. He entered the water at Whitehall, at midnight on the sixth of September. Washington and a few officers watched anxiously until dawn for a result, but the calm waters of the bay were unruffled, and it was believed that the young man had perished. Just at dawn some barges were seen putting off from Governor’s Island toward an object near the Eagle, and suddenly to turn and pull for shore. In a few moments a column of water ascended a few yards from the Eagle, the cables of the British ships were instantly cut, and they went down the Bay with the ebbing tide, in great confusion. Lee had been under the Eagle two hours, trying in vain to penetrate the thick copper on her bottom. He could hear the sentinels above, and when they felt the shock of his "Turtle" striking against the bottom, they expressed a belief that a floating log had passed by. He visited other ships, but their sheathing was too thick to give him success. He came to the surface at dawn, but, attracting the attention of the bargemen at Governor’s Island, he descended, and made for Whitehall against a strong current. He came up out of reach of musket shot, was safely landed, and received the congratulations of the commander-in-chief and his officers. Young Lee was afterward employed by Washington in secret service, and was in the battles at Trenton, Brandywine, and Monmouth. He died at Lyme, Connecticut, on the twenty-ninth of October, 1821, aged seventy-two years.

31 Both officers were exchanged soon afterward, Sullivan for General Prescott, captured nine months before (see vol. i., page 645), and Lord Stirling for Governor Brown, of Providence Island, who had been captured by Commodore Hopkins. Lord Stirling was exchanged within a month after he was made prisoner.

32 The committee consisted of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. When they reached Perth Amboy, they found the barge of Lord Howe in waiting for them, with a British officer who was left as a hostage. The meeting was friendly, and Lord Howe, who was personally acquainted with Franklin, freely expressed to that statesman his abhorrence of the war, and his sincere personal desire for peace. * The whole interview was distinguished by courtesy and good feeling. Howe informed the committee that he would not recognize them as members of Congress, but as private gentlemen, and that the independence of the colonies could not be considered for a moment. They told him he might call them what he pleased, they were nevertheless representatives of a free and independent people, and would entertain no proposition which did not recognize the independence of the colonies. The gulf between them was evidently impassable, and the conference was soon terminated, for Howe had nothing acceptable to offer. He expressed his regret because of his obligation now to prosecute the war. Franklin assured him that the Americans would endeavor to lessen the pain he might feel on their account by taking good care of themselves. Thus ended the conference. In the third volume of the collected Writings of John Adams may be found an interesting sketch from the pen of that patriot, describing the events of a night passed in bed with Dr. Franklin at New Brunswick, on the night preceding this conference.

* RICHARD, Earl Howe, was born in 1725, and was next in age to his brother, the young Lord Howe, who fell at Ticonderoga in 1758 (see vol. 1., page 118). He sailed with Lord Anson to the Pacific as midshipman at the age of fourteen years, and had risen to the rank of lieutenant at twenty. He was appointed rear-admiral in 1770, and, before coming to America, he was promoted to Vice-admiral of the Blue. After the American war, he was made first Lord of the Admiralty. He commanded the English fleet successfully against the French in 1794. His death occurred in 1799, at the age of seventy-four years. In 1774, Lord Howe and his sister endeavored to draw from Franklin the real intentions of the Americans. The philosopher was invited to spend Christmas at the house of the lady, and it was supposed that in the course of indulgence in wine, chess, and other socialities, he would drop the reserve of the statesman and be incautiously communicative. The arts of the lady were unavailing, and they were no wiser on the question when Franklin left than when he came.

WILLIAM HOWE, brother of the earl, succeeded General Gage in the chief command of the British forces in America, and assumed his duties at Boston in 1775. He commanded at the attack on Breed’s Hill, and from that time until the spring of 1778, he mismanaged military affairs in America. He was then succeeded in command by Sir Henry Clinton, and soon afterward returned to England. He is represented as a good-natured, indolent man – "the most indolent of mortals," said General Lee, "and never took pains to examine the merits or demerits of the cause in which he was engaged."

The commissioners immediately afterward issued a proclamation similar in character to the one sent out in July. This proclamation, following the disasters upon Long Island, had great effect, and many timid Americans availed themselves of the supposed advantages of compliance. In the city of New York more than nine hundred persons, by petition to the commissioners, dated sixteenth of October, declared their allegiance to the British government. To counteract this, in a degree, Congress, on the twenty-first, provided an oath of allegiance to the American government.

33 Washington made the house of Robert Murray, on Murray Hill (see page 582), his quarters on the fourteenth, and on the fifteenth he was at Mott’s tavern, now the property of Mr. Pentz, near One hundred and Forty-third Street and Eighth Avenue. It was at Murray’s house that Captain Nathan Hale received his secret instructions for the expedition which cost him his life. *

* Anxious to know the exact condition and intentions of the British on Long Island, Washington called a council of officers, when it was determined to send a spy into their camp. Colonel Knowlton, who commanded a choice regiment called Congress’s Own, was directed to select a competent man from his corps. Captain Nathan Hale, of Coventry, Connecticut, volunteered for the service, and, bearing instructions from Washington to the commanders of all American armed vessels to convey him whithersoever be might desire to go, he crossed the Sound to Huntington (some say to Oyster Bay), and made his way to the British camp at Brooklyn and vicinity. There he made sketches and notes, and, unsuspected, returned to Huntington with valuable information. There he was recognized and exposed (tradition says by a Tory relative) and was taken immediately to Howe’s head quarters at Beekman s house at Turtle Bay.


He was confined in the green-house of the garden during the night of the twenty-first of September, and the next morning, without even the form of a regular trial, was delivered to Cunningham, the brutal provost marshal, to be executed as a spy. He was treated with great inhumanity by that monster. The services of a clergyman and the use of a Bible were denied him, and even the letters which he had been permitted by Howe to write to his mother and sisters during the night, were destroyed. He was hanged upon an apple-tree in Rutgers’ Orchard, near the present intersection of East Broadway and Market Streets. His last words were, "I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country!" His body was buried beneath the gibbet-tree. The name of this youthful patriot martyr appears luminous upon the pages of our country’s history, and the grateful citizens of his native town have erected a handsome monument to his memory there.

I made the above sketch of the green-house a few days before it fell, with all the glories of the beautiful garden of the Beckman mansion, at the touch of the street commissioner, in July, 1852. Its locality is now in the center of Fifty-second Street, a little east of First Avenue. It was erected, with the mansion delineated on page 611, in 1764. I am indebted to the Honorable James W. Beekman, the present owner of the grounds, for a copy of a curious document preserved among the family papers. It is a memorandum, kept by the gardener of James Beekman (the original proprietor) during the war, showing the time that several British officers, in succession, made the house their head-quarters. The following is a copy, with the heading by the pen of Beekman: "At the undermentioned time my country seat was occupied by the following generals" [the gardener’s report]: "General Howe commenced fifteenth of September, 1776 – seven and a half months. Commissary Loring the first of May, 1777 – one year and five months. General Clinton the twentieth of October, 1778 – three years and six months. General Robison [Robertson] May the first, 1782 – eleven and a half months. Mr. Beekman the sixteenth of April, 1783 – two months. General Carleton the sixteenth of June, 1783, to the evacuation, is seven years one and a half months." – For Hale’s capture and death, see Onderdonk’s Revolutionary Incidents, ii., 48, 53.

34 This elegant mansion is yet standing and unaltered, upon the high bank of the Harlem River, at One hundred and Sixty-ninth Street, a little below the High Bridge of the Croton Aqueduct. Its situation is one of the most picturesque on the island, commanding a fine view of the Harlem River and village, Long Island Sound, Flushing, and Astoria, with the green fields of Long Island beyond. Below are seen the plains of Harlem, toward which the population of the great city is flowing. Colonel Morris was Washington’s companion in arms at the defeat of Braddock, and his successful rival in claims for the hand of Mary Phillipse in 1756. Morris was a Loyalist, and at this time had fled, with his family, to the house of Beverly Robinson in the Highlands. The present owner is the widow of the celebrated Colonel Aaron Burr, better known as Madame Jumel, the name of her first husband.

35 At Turtle Bay, Horn’s Hook, Fort Washington and the heights in the vicinity, on the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, and near King’s Bridge, traces of these fortifications may yet be seen. *

*The Americans cast up a redoubt at Turtle Bay, on the East River, between Forty-fourth and Forty-sixth Streets; a breast-work at the Shot Tower, Fifty-fourth Street; another at the foot of Seventy-fourth Street; a third at the foot of Eighty-fifth, near Hell Gate Ferry; and a strong work called Thompson’s Battery, upon Horn’s Hook (now a beautifully shaded grassy point), at Eighty-ninth Street. This redoubt commanded the mouth of Harlem River and the narrow channel at Hell Gate. They also built a small work upon Snake Hill (now Mount Morris, in Mount Morris Square), near Harlem, and a line of breast-works near the Harlem River, extending from One hundred and Thirty-sixth Street to Bussing’s Point, near M‘Comb’s Dam. Upon each aide of "Harlem Cove," at Manhattanville, a battery was constructed (One hundred and Thirty-first and One hundred and Thirty-third Streets), and along the central hills whereon the Convent of the Sacred Heart stands was a line of works extending to One hundred and Fiftieth Street. These were small batteries, without connecting breast-works, and overlooked Harlem River. From near "The Grange" (the country residence of General Hamilton, yet standing), in the vicinity of One hundred and Fifty-first Street, was a line of intrenchments, with three batteries and abatis extending to the Hudson, a distance of almost a mile. The batteries of this line were upon three eminences. Almost upon the line of One hundred and Sixty-first and One hundred and Sixty-second Streets, was another line, with three batteries and abatis. These formed the "double lines of intrenchments," mentioned in the histories. The quite prominent outlines of a redoubt on the lofty bank of the Harlem River, at the foot of One hundred and Fifty-sixth Street, were pointed out to me by Henry O’Reilly, Esq., who resides near. From this redoubt, down the steep hill to the cove where Colonel Stirling landed (see page 621), the old road is yet (1852) open and passable. From Colonel Morris’s (Madame Jumel’s) house was a line of shallow intrenchments to the North River, with a single battery upon the eminence above the residence of the late Mr. Audobon the ornithologist, a little north of Trinity Cemetery. Upon the high west bank of the Harlem, yet rough and wooded, were two breast-works. These the British afterward strengthened, and called it Fort George. This was between One hundred and Ninety-second and One hundred and Ninety-sixth Streets. On the King’s Bridge road below, at Two hundred and Sixth Street, a strong four-gun battery was erected.


Fort Washington, situated between One hundred and Eighty-first and One hundred and Eighty-sixth Streets, upon the highest eminence on the island (between ten and eleven miles from the City Hall), was a strong earth-work of irregular form, covering, with its ravelins, several acres. It contained an inner work, a sort of citadel, within which was the magazine. About twenty heavy cannons were mounted upon it, besides several smaller pieces and mortars. Its chief strength consisted in its position. On the promontory below it (Jeffery’s Hook), where the Telegraph mast stands (between One hundred and Seventy-sixth and One hundred and Seventy-seventh Streets), was a redoubt, intended as a covering to chevaux de frise constructed in the channel there. The banks of this redoubt, among dwarf cedars upon the rocks, are yet (1855) very prominent. Northward of Fort Washington, on the same lofty bank of the Hudson, between One hundred and Ninety-fifth and One hundred and Ninty-eighth Streets, was a redoubt with two guns, which was afterward strengthened by the British and called Fort Tryon. Near the extreme point of this range, at Spyt den Dyvel Kill (Spite the Devil Creek), at Two hundred and Seventeenth Street, was a little redoubt of two guns, called Cock Hill Fort; and across the creek, on Tetard’s Hill, was a square redoubt, with bastions, called Fort Independence. At the point where the Hudson River rail-way strikes the West Chester shore, was a small battery, and upon a hill commanding King’s Bridge from the south side, between Two hundred and Twenty-fifth and Two hundred and Twenty-sixth Streets (just above the present mill), was a redoubt. This was strengthened in 1781 by the British, and called Fort Prince, in honor of Prince William (afterward William the Fourth), then in New York. The embankments of Fort Washington, and all of the works mentioned in this paragraph, are yet visible. Those of the Citadel of Fort Washington (indicated at the foot of the flag-staff, page 620 {original text has "826".}) are well defined. The military works mentioned in this note, with those in the note on page 593 {original text has "799".}, composed the whole of the Revolutionary fortifications upon Manhattan Island, except some breast-works at M‘Gowan’s Pass, between One hundred and Fifth and One hundred and Eighth Streets and the Fifth and Sixth Avenues, now known as Mount St. Vincent. The embankments now seen at M‘Gowan’s Pass, and the square excavation in the rock a few rods northwest of the Roman Catholic school, were constructed in 1812. Very few of the streets mentioned in this note have yet been opened; all of them have been surveyed and located upon the-city maps. The streets are generally opened and graded as far as the State Arsenal, Sixty-third Street.

36 The ships went up the Hudson, at the same time, as far as Bloomingdale. One of these vessels was the detested Asia, of sixty-four guns. Captain Talbot, anxious to be useful, attempted its destruction by a fire-ship. From near Fort Washington he proceeded cautiously, at two o’clock in the morning of the sixteenth, and soon he was alongside the enemy, with his ship in a blaze. Lingering too long, he was badly burned, but escaped to the Jersey shore in safety. The Asia managed to extricate herself from the peril. – See Tuckerman’s Life of Commodore Talbot, p. 24-29.

37 Gordon, ii., 111.

38 Putnam, Knox, and other officers in the city were quite ignorant of the island beyond the intrenchments. They were perplexed on learning that the enemy occupied the east and middle roads, for they knew of no other way among the woods and swamps of the island. Fortunately, Major Aaron Burr, then one of Putnam’s aids, knew the ground well, and under his direction the troops left Independent Battery, on Bunker Hill (where they were preparing for defense), and passing through the woods west of the present Broadway, they reached a road leading from Greenwich (the property of Sir Peter Warren) to Bloomingdale. They were discovered by a patrole, after passing the camp upon the Incleberg, and a detachment of light infantry were sent in pursuit. These overtook the rear of the Americans in a path extending from Bloomingdale to Harlem Lane, near M‘Gowan’s Pass, and a warm skirmish was the result. This skirmish was at about the intersection of One hundredth Street and Eighth Avenue.

39 See note on page 609. This view of Beekman’s mansion is from the grounds looking toward the East River. The fine lawns and blooming gardens are now reticulated by city streets, and in a few years, no doubt, this elegant specimen of the houses of "the olden time" will be swept away by the broom of improvement. The carved family arms have been removed from their long resting-place over the elaborately wrought chimney-piece of the drawing-room, and an ancient sun-dial, which marked the hours in the garden for almost a century, has been laid away in security. The elegant coach of the first proprietor, emblazoned with the Beekman arms, is yet there, a rich old relic of the aristocracy of New York a century ago. * There General Riedesel and his family resided during the summer of 1780.

* The family arms consist of an irregular broad line, representing running water, (Beekman signifies brook-man) drawn across a shield, and upon each side of it is a full-blown rose. The crest is a helmet, surmounted by spread wings: the legend, "Mens conscia recti." The Beekmans trace their family to Germany as early as 1470. William, the ancestor of the American branch of the family, came to America, with Stuyvesant, in 1647. He was appointed vice-governor on the Delaware in 1658, was afterward sheriff of Esopus, in Ulster county, and burgomaster and alderman In New Amsterdam. There were other Beekmans who settled in the vicinity of Albany – See Holgate’s American Genealogy, page 66.

40 This rocky gorge has not yet been touched by the hand of improvement. It remains in all its primal roughness, covered by low shrubbery, shoots from the roots of the ancient forest-trees. It extends on a line with and between the Fifth and Eighth Avenues, from the southern extremity of Harlem Plains.

41 Major Leitch died on the first of October. Knowlton was carried to the redoubt, near the Hudson, at One hundred and Fifty-sixth Street, where he expired before sunset, and was buried within the embankments. His death was a public loss. His bravery at Bunker Hill commanded the highest respect of Washington. In general orders in the morning after the battle on Harlem Plains, the commander-in-chief, alluding to the death of Knowlton, said, "He would have been an honor to any country."

42 Mr. David Grim, a merchant of New York, who saw the conflagration, has left a record of the event. He says the fire broke out in a low groggery and brothel, a wooden building on the wharf, near Whitehall Slip. It was discovered between one and two o’clock in the morning of the twenty-first of September. The wind was from the southwest. There were but few inhabitants in the city, and the flames, for a while unchecked, spread rapidly. All the houses between Whitehall and Broad Streets, up to Beaver Street, were consumed, when the wind veered to the southeast and drove the fire toward Broadway. It consumed all on each side of Beaver Street to the Bowling Green, a little above which it crossed Broadway, and swept all the buildings on both sides, as far as Exchange Street. On the west side it consumed almost every building from Morris Street to Partition (Fulton) Street, devouring Trinity church * in its way, and destroyed all the buildings toward the North River. For a long time the new (St. Paul’s) church was in peril, for the fire crept in its rear to Mortkile (Barclay) Street, and extended west of King’s (Columbia) College to Murray Street. The exact number of buildings consumed was four hundred and ninety-three. The city then contained about four thousand houses. "The ruins," says Dunlap (who wandered over the scene at the close of the war), "on the southeast side of the town were converted into dwelling places by using the chimneys and parts of walls which were firm, and adding pieces of spars with old canvas from the ships, forming hovels – part hut and part tent." This was called Canvas Town, and there the vilest of the army and Tory refugees congregated. The Tories, and British writers of the day attempted to fix the crime of incendiarism upon the Whigs, but could not. It was well known that the fire had an accidental origin, yet British historians continue to reproduce the libel.


*Trinity church was erected at the close of the seventeenth century. The first building was small and square. Queen Anne granted to the corporation in 1705 the land extending along the west side of Broadway to Christopher Street, known as the Queen’s Farm. The edifice was enlarged in 1737 to one hundred and forty-eight feet in length, including the tower and chancel, and seventy-two feet in breadth. The steeple was one hundred and seventy-five feet in height. This was the edifice consumed by the great fire in 1776. The sketch of the ruins is from a picture made on the spot, and published in Dr. Berrian’s History of Trinity Church. It was rebuilt in 1788, taken down In 1839, and on the twenty-first of May, 1846, the present edifice was consecrated to Christian worship.

43 The officer who went out to Lexington with re-enforcements in April, 1775. – See page 528, vol. i.

44 This is spelled Throck’s, Throg’s, and Frog’s, in different histories. It was originally owned by a man named Throckmorton, who was called Throck for the sake of brevity. On the extreme point of this peninsula, at the entrance to Long Island Sound, stands Fort Schuyler, a strong work completed in 1842.

45 On the twenty-fourth of September, Colonel Jackson, with Major Henly (aid-de-camp to General Heath), and two hundred and forty men, made a descent upon the British on Montressor’s Island, in flatboats. They were repulsed with a loss of twenty-two men. Among them was Major Henly, who was shot while at the head of his men. He was carried to the camp, and buried by the side of the brave Knowlton.

46 These re-enforcements arrived on the eighteenth of October. The fleet consisted of seventy-two sail, having on board four thousand Hessians, six thousand Waldeckers, two companies of chasseurs, two hundred English recruits, and two thousand baggage horses.

47 The main body of the Germans landed upon Bauffet’s Point, on the east side of Davenport’s Neck, where, it is said, the Huguenot settlers of New Rochelle first touched our shores. Davenport’s Neck is a beautiful fertile peninsula, jutting into the Sound near the village of New Rochelle. The view here given is from the high rocky bank at Bauffet’s Point, looking southeast upon the wooded islands which here dot the Sound. The shores of Long Island are seen in extreme distance.

48 William Heath was a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, near which some of his descendants still reside. He was appointed a provincial brigadier in 1775. The Continental Congress gave him the same commission, and on the ninth of August, 1776, made him a major general, together with Spencer, Sullivan, and Greene. He commanded near King’s Bridge after the Americans left New York, and in the following year he was in chief command in the Eastern department. Burgoyne’s captured army were in his custody. In 1779 he commanded on the Hudson, and there was the principal theater of his military life, until the close of the war. General Heath was a useful officer, but circumstances prevented his making much display. He published an interesting volume, entitled "Heath’s Memoirs," which is now much sought after by collectors of valuable American books. General Heath died in 1814, the last survivor of the major generals of the Revolution.

49 Heath’s Memoirs, page 67. For a sketch of Colonel Prescott, see page 539, vol. i.

50 These heights are now (1852) partly wooded and partly cultivated; then they were covered by the primitive forest, except around the house above delineated, where Howe made his quarters. That house is upon the eastern side of the highway from New Rochelle to White Plains, about a mile from the former village. It was very much dilapidated when I visited it, and was occupied by a colored family. Half a mile beyond this dwelling, on the same side of the road, is the marble monument erected to the memory of Thomas Paine. A sketch of this monument may be found in the Supplement, page 647.

51 Cotemporary writers give a sad picture of the army at that time. Among many of the subordinate officers, greed usurped the place of patriotism. Officers were elected on condition that they should throw their pay and rations into a joint stock for the benefit of a company; surgeons sold recommendations for furloughs, for able-bodied men, at sixpence each, and a captain was cashiered for stealing blankets from his soldiers. Men went out in squads to plunder from friend or foe, and immorality prevailed throughout the American army. Its appointments, too, were in a wretched condition. The surgeon’s department lacked instruments. According to a general return of fifteen regiments, there were not more than sufficient instruments for one battalion. – See Washington’s Letter to Congress, Sept. 24, 1776; Gordon, ii., 114.

52 On the night of the twenty-first of October, Lord Stirling sent Colonel Haslet, with Delaware and Maryland troops, to surprise some Loyalists then lying at Mamaroneck, under Colonel Rogers, the ranger during the French and Indian wars. These troops were the Queen’s Rangers, afterward commanded by Simcoe. Almost eighty men were killed or captured, and the spoils were sixty stand of arms, and provisions and clothing. Rogers escaped. On the twenty-third, Colonel Hand and his riflemen attacked two hundred and forty Hessian chasseurs near East Chester, and routed them; and almost nightly the British pickets were disturbed by the Americans. These events made Howe cautious and slow in his movements.

53 The high perpendicular rocks extending along the western bank of the Hudson from Weehawken north about twenty-three miles, are so called on account of their resemblance to palisades. Congress had ordered Washington, "by every art and whatever expense, to obstruct effectually the navigation of the North River, between Fort Washington and Mount Constitution [whereon Fort Lee stood], as well to prevent the regress of the enemy’s frigates lately gone up, as to hinder them from receiving succors." – Journals, ii., 385.

54 A square redoubt of earth was erected in the main street of the village, the remains of which may yet be seen a little northeast of Mr. Swinburn’s Literary Institution, and where now (1852) lies a shattered howitzer, dug up from the trenches a few years ago.


From this redoubt a line of breast-works extended westerly over the south side of Purdy’s Hill to the Bronx, and easterly across the hills to Horton’s Pond. These were not quite finished when the battle occurred on the twenty-eighth of October – See Address of J. W. Tompkins, 1845, quoted by Bolton, ii., 368.

55 The house occupied by Washington while the army was at White Plains is yet standing. It is a frame building, on the east side of the road, about two miles above the village. This view is from the road, looking northeast. When I last visited it (1851), Miss Jemima Miller, a maiden ninety-three years of age, and her sister, a few years her junior, were living therein, the home of their childhood. A chair and table, used by the chief, are carefully preserved by the family, and a register for the names of the numerous visitors is kept. This house was in the deep solitude of the forests, among the hills, when Washington was there; now the heights and the plain near by smile with cultivation. The present owner of the property is Abraham Miller.

56 This view is from the southeastern side of the Bronx, a little more than half a mile below the rail-way station at White Plains, looking north. The rail-way bridge is seen on the extreme right. Between that and the barn on the left the British ascended. In the field, seen a little to the left of the telegraph posts, toward the center, and the one on the summit beyond, the hottest of the engagement occurred. The latter is on the land of Mr. Cornelius Horton. In a hollow, near a large hickory-tree, on the southwest side of Chatterton’s Hill, are the graves of many of the slain.

57 This is a view of the southeastern side of Chatterton’s Hill, from the rail-way station. They crossed the Bronx at a point seen on the extreme right. On the top of the hill, in the edge of the woods on the left, Hamilton’s cannons were placed.

58 The intrenchments, which appeared so formidable through Howe’s telescope, were exceedingly weak, composed of earth and sods laid upon heaps of cornstalks. They were no protection against cannon-balls, and had Howe attacked these lines first, instead of the really stronger position on Chatterton’s Hill, the complete dispersion, if not loss of the American army, would doubtless have been the result. His caution was too faithful in its promptings, and he wasted time and energy, for two or three days, in attempts to gain Washington’s rear.

59 A little southeast of the house occupied by Washington (see sketch on page 615), on the brow of a steep hill overlooking an extensive region of country, are yet (1852) prominent remains of some of these breast-works. These are nearest the village of White Plains, and easiest of access for the student or antiquary.

Gordon relates that while the British were at White Plains, the garden of a widow was robbed at night. Her son, a mere boy, asked and obtained leave to catch the thief. With a loaded gun he concealed himself in some bushes, when a British grenadier, a strapping Highlander came, filled a bag with fruit, and placed it on his shoulder. The boy appeared behind him with his gun cocked, and threatened him with instant death if he attempted to lay down the bag. Thus the boy drove him into the American camp. When he laid down his bag, and saw that he had been driven in by a stripling, he was excessively mortified, and could not suppress the exclamation, "A British grenadier made a prisoner by such a damned brat! such a damned brat!"

On the night of the evacuation, the Presbyterian church and other buildings were fired and consumed, but without the knowledge or approval of Washington. Bolton (ii., 366) says the incendiary was Major Osborne, of the Massachusetts line. Gordon (ii., 121) remarks that "Colonel Austin, of the Massachusetts, who commanded the guards and sentries, being heated with liquor, burned the town on White Plains unnecessarily and without any orders."

60 Gordon, ii., 116-121. Stedman, i., 210-216. Marshall, i., 110-114.

61 This fortification was situated upon a sort of plateau, about three hundred feet above the river, at the present landing and village of Fort Lee, and opposite the present One hundred and Sixtieth Street, of New York. Some of the mounds are yet visible, covered with low trees. A little above was a redoubt, opposite Jeffery’s Hook, to cover the chevaux-de-frise in the river. Few traces of this redoubt now remain.

62 The time of service of seven thousand five hundred of these men would expire within a week, and the remainder would be free on the first of December. When the time of dissolution came, some were induced to remain, but the largest portion went home dispirited.

63 For this and other localities made memorable by military operations between Fort Washington and the Highlands, the reader may profitably consult the map on the preceding page. It has been carefully prepared from the best authorities. Those in Stedman’s History of the War are generally quite correct, but the one showing these particular localities is very erroneous. For example, the Heights of Fordham are placed far northward of Valentine’s Hill. The former is in the vicinity of Morrisania; the latter near Yonkers. The names of several places are also incorrectly spelled.

64 The garrison consisted of only about twelve hundred men when Knyphausen first sat down at King’s Bridge. Greene sent a re-enforcement from Mercer’s Flying Camp, and when the fort was attacked there were about three thousand men within the lines. When Washington heard of the summons to surrender, he hastened from his camp to Fort Lee, and at nine in the evening, while crossing the Hudson, he met Greene and Putnam returning from Fort Washington. They assured him that Magaw was confident of a successful defense, and the chief returned with them to Fort Lee.

65 Mathews landed in the cove or creek at about Two hundredth Street.

66 This is a view from the site of the interior works at Fort Washington from the foot of the flag-staff, looking southwest. In the foreground are seen the remains of the embankments. The tall mast seen near the river below is the support for telegraph wires which cross the Hudson there, from the rocky point of Jeffery’s Hook. In the distance across the river are the Palisades, and the mast upon their summit denotes the site of the redoubt north of Fort Lee. This little sketch exhibits the relative position of Forts Washington and Lee.

67 Preparatory to this attack, a cannonade was opened upon the American works by two pieces on the high ground north of Motthaven, on the Harlem River.

68 This flag-staff indicating the center of the fort, is a prominent object to passengers upon the Hudson.

69 Stirling’s landing-place was at about the foot of One hundred and Fifty-second Street, at the head of the Eighth Avenue, three fourths of a mile below the High Bridge, "within the third line of defense which crossed the island." – Marshall, i., 117. The road up which he passed is still there, and, as mentioned in the note on page 610 the lines of the redoubt on the "wooded promontory" (Stedman, i., 218) are quite visible.

70 It was at this stage of affairs that Washington, with Putnam, Greene, and Mercer, crossed the Hudson, ascended the heights, and from Morris’s house surveyed the scene of operations. Within fifteen minutes after they had left that mansion, Stirling and his victorious troops approached and took possession of it. It was a narrow escape for the chief commanders.

71 At this moment Captain Gooch came over from Fort Lee with a note from Washington, assuring Magaw that if he could hold out till night the garrison should be brought off. It was too late.

72 The number of regulars was about two thousand. There were six or seven hundred militia, volunteers, and stragglers, all of whom were probably included in Howe’s report of "two thousand six hundred prisoners." The loss of the Americans, in killed and wounded, did not exceed one hundred; that of the royal army was almost one thousand. The Hessians as usual, suffered most severely.

Washington was blamed for yielding to the opinions of Greene in endeavoring to hold this fort. Lee, who was opposed to it from the beginning, wrote to Washington, "O! general, why would you be over persuaded by men of inferior judgment to your own? It was a cursed affair."

73 Mr. Battin came to America with the British army in 1776, and was engaged in the battles near Brooklyn, at White Plains, and Fort Washington. After the British went into winter quarters in New York, and Cornwallis’s division (to which he was attached), returned from Trenton and Princeton, he took lessons in horsemanship in the Middle Dutch church (now the city post-office), then converted into a circus for a riding-school. He then joined the cavalry regiment of Colonel Birch, in which he held the offices of orderly sergeant and cornet. He was in New York during the "hard winter" of 1779-80, and assisted in dragging British cannons over the frozen bay from Fort George to Staten Island. He was always averse to fighting the Americans, yet, as in duty bound, he was faithful to his king. While Prince William Henry, afterward William the Fourth, was here, he was one of his body-guard. Twice he was sent to England by Sir Henry Clinton with dispatches, and being one of the most active men in the corps, he was frequently employed by the commander-in-chief in important services. With hundreds more, he remained in New York when the British army departed in 1783, resolved to make America his future home. He married soon after the war, and at the time of his death had lived with his wife (now aged eighty-three) sixty-five years. For more than fifty years, he walked every morning upon first the old, and then the new, or present Battery, unmindful of inclement weather. He always enjoyed remarkable health. He continued exercise in the street near his dwelling until within a few days of his death, though with increasing feebleness of step. The gay young men of half a century ago (now gray-haired old men) remember his well-conducted house of refreshment, corner of John and Nassau Streets, where they enjoyed oyster suppers and good liquors. The preceding sketch of his person is from a daguerreotype by Insley, made a few months before his departure.

74 The Americans lost at Fort Lee the whole of the mounted cannons, except two twelve-pounders, a large quantity of baggage, almost three hundred tents, and about a thousand barrels of flour and other stores. The ammunition was saved. *

* Three or four miles below Fort Lee, at the base of the Palisades, is a little village called Bull’s Ferry. Just below the village, on Block-house Point, was a blockhouse, occupied in the summer of 1780 by a British picket, for the protection of some wood cutters, and the neighboring Tories. On Bergen Neck below was a large number of cattle and horses, within reach of the British foragers who might go out from the fort at Paulus’s Hook. Washington, then at Hopper’s, near Sufferns, sent General Wayne, with some Pennsylvania and Maryland troops, horse and foot, to storm the work on block-house Point, and to drive the cattle within the American lines. Wayne sent the cavalry, under Major Lee, to perform the latter duty, while he and three Pennsylvania regiments marched against the block-house with four pieces of artillery. They made a spirited attack, but their cannons were too light to be effective, and after a skirmish, the Americans were repulsed, with a loss, in killed and wounded, of sixty-four men. After burning some wood boats near and capturing the men in charge of them, Wayne returned to camp with a large number of cattle, driven by the dragoons. This expedition was made the subject of a satirical poem by Major Andre, called The Cow-chase (p. 766, vol. 1.), published in Rivington’s paper. A copy of this celebrated production may be found in the Supplement.


Major Lee made a more successful attack upon the British post at Paulus’s Hook (now Jersey City) toward the close of the summer of 1779. The Hook is a sandy peninsula, and at that time was connected with the main by a narrow marshy neck. Upon this peninsula the British erected quite strong military works, and used it as an outpost, while they were in possession of the city of New York. The main works were upon rising ground in the vicinity of the intersection of Grand and Greene Streets. One (A) redoubt was of circular form, and mounted six heavy guns. It had a ditch and abatis. The other (B), a little southeast of it, was of oblong form, and had three twelve-pounders and one eighteen. a a, were block houses; b b b b b, breast-works fronting the bay; c, part of the 57th regiment of five hundred men, under Major Sutherland; d, pioneers; e, carpenters; f f f, barracks; g, new bridge built by the British. A deep ditch was dug across the isthmus with a barred gate. Thirty feet within this ditch were abatis. This ditch, with the surrounding marshes, made the peninsula an island. After the recapture of Stony Point toward the close of the summer of 1779, while Sir Henry Clinton was encamped upon Harlem Heights, a plan was formed for surprising the garrison at Paulus’s Hook. The enterprise was intrusted to Major Henry Lee, then on the west side of the Hudson, back of Hoboken. A feeling of security made the garrison careless, and they were unprepared for a sudden attack when it was made. Preparatory to the attack, troops were stationed near the Hudson to watch the distant enemy, who might cross the river and intercept retreat, for it was not designed to hold the post when captured. Lee marched with three hundred picked men, followed by a strong detachment from Lord Stirling’s division, as a reserve. Lee’s march toward Bergen excited no surprise, for foraging parties of Americans as large as this were often out in that direction. The reserve halted at the new bridge over the Hackinsack, fourteen miles from the Hook, from which point Lee had taken the road among the hills, nearest the Hudson. At three o’clock on the morning of the nineteenth of August (1779), Lee reached the Harsimus Creek, at the point where the rail-way now crosses it, and within half an hour he crossed the ditch through the loosely-barred gate, and entered the main work undiscovered. The sentinels were either absent or asleep, and the surprise was complete. He captured one hundred and fifty-nine of the garrison, including officers, and then attacked the circular redoubt, into which a large portion of the remainder retreated, with the commander. It was too strong to be effected by small arms, and Lee retreated with his prisoners, with the loss of only two killed and three wounded, and arrived at camp in triumph at about ten o’clock in the morning. This gallant act was greatly applauded in the camp, in Congress, and throughout the country, and made the enemy more cautious. On the twenty-second of September following, Congress honored Lee with a vote of thanks, and ordered a gold medal to be struck and presented to him – See Journals, v. 278.


On one side is a bust of the hero, with the words HENRICO LEE, LEGIONIS EQUIT. PRÆFECTO. COMITIA AMERICANA – "The American Congress to Henry Lee, colonel of cavalry." On the reverse, NON OBSTANTIB, FLUMINIBUS VALLIS. ASTUTIA VIRTUTE BELLICA PARVA MANU HOSTES VICIT VICTOSQ. ARMIS HUMANITATE DEVINXIT IN MEM PUGNAD PAULUS HOOK DIE XIX AUG., 1779 – "Notwithstanding rivers and intrenchments, he with a small band conquered the foe by warlike skill and prowess, and firmly bound by his humanity those who had been conquered by his arms. In memory of the conflict at Paulus’s Hook, nineteenth of August, 1779."

75 This view is from the southwest side of the stream, from near the tide-mill. The house beyond, shaded by willows, is the residence of the widow of the late Robert M‘Comb. *

* This vicinity was the scene of many stirring events during the Revolution. Near here was a severe skirmish between a detachment of General Heath’s troops and some Hessians, on the seventeenth of January, 1777. It was the result of an attempt by the Americans to dislodge the Hessians from Fort Prince. A little west of the bridge, Tippett’s brook flows into the Hudson.


Following the course of the valley through which this creek passes, on a bright autumn morning in 1850, I reached the vale of Yonkers, and the Van Cortlandt mansion, a beautiful residence in the midst of a broad lawn and profusion of shrubbery. This was the quarters of a Hessian picket-guard in 1777, and here Washington and his staff dined in July, 1781, when the British pickets were driven beyond King’s Bridge by Lincoln.


North of the mansion is Vault Hill, where many of the Van Cortlandt family lie. Upon this hill those American troops were encamped whom Washington left to deceive Sir Henry Clinton, while he marched with the main army southward, to assist La Fayette in Virginia (p. 781, vol. i.). On this estate, and a short distance from Vault Hill, is Indian Field and Bridge, the site of a severe engagement on the thirty-first of August, 1778, between British light troops and some Stockbridge Indians, under the chief, Nimham. Lieutenant-colonel Emmerick, while patrolling in that direction, was attacked and driven back, when he met Simcoe coming to his relief. Emmerick was sent back to take post so as to cover an attack upon the Americans in flank and rear, but on his way fell into an ambush by the Indians. While fighting, Simcoe and Tarleton advanced, and a hot conflict ensued. The Indians fought bravely, but were at last obliged to give way. A body of American light infantry, under Stewart (distinguished at Stony Point), were engaged in the skirmish, but escaped. Nimham and about forty of his sixty braves perished. – Simcoe’s Journal. page 83. "The scene of the conflict," says Bolton, "lies on the land of the late Frederick Brown, now (1848) occupied by his widow."

76 One of the earliest, most influential, and efficient of the Loyalist leaders was Oliver Delancey, who, with his son Oliver, and nephew James, performed active service for the king in Lower West Chester. He was a brother of Chief Justice (also lieutenant governor) Delancey, and was a man of large property and great influence. He was a member of the King’s Council before the Revolution; and at the beginning of hostilities, leaned rather to the popular side. Deprecating a separation from Britain, he espoused the royal cause after the Declaration of Independence went forth. He was commissioned a brigadier, and authorized to raise three battalions of Loyalists. This he finally effected. His son Oliver was commissioned a captain of horse in 1776; was present at the capture of General Woodhull; became major of the 17th regiment of dragoons; and, after Major Andrè’s death, was appointed adjutant general, with the commission of lieutenant colonel. At the close of the war General Delancey went to England, was elected a member of Parliament, and died at Beverly in 1785, at the age of sixty-eight years. His son Oliver accompanied him, and rose gradually to the rank of major general. At the time of his death he was almost at the head of the British army list. James, a nephew of General Delancey, commanded a battalion of horse in his uncle’s brigade. Because of his activity in supplying the British army with cattle from the farms of West Chester, his troopers were called Cow-boys. Sir William Draper, "the conqueror of Manilla," married General Delancey’s daughter. The Confiscation Act of the New York Legislature swept away the largest portion of the Delancey estate in America. *

* Many attempts were made to destroy or disperse the Delancey Loyalists. On the twenty-fifth of January, 1777, some Americans attacked a block-house, erected by Delancey on the site of Mapes’s Temperance House, at West Farms. Several of the guard were wounded, but none were killed or made prisoners. In the winter of 1779, Colonel Aaron Burr, with some Americans, attacked this block-house to destroy it. Provided with hand grenades, combustibles, and short ladders, about forty volunteers approached cautiously, at two o’clock in the morning, and cast their missiles into the fort, through the port-holes. Soon the block-house was on fire in several places, and the little garrison surrendered without firing a shot. A few escaped, A corp of Delancey’s battalions occupied the house of Colonel Lewis G. Morris, at Morrisania, for a short time. They were attacked there on the fifth of August, 1779, by some of Weedon’s and Moylan’s horse, a detachment from Glover’s brigade, and some militia. Fourteen Loyalists were made prisoners. These attacks becoming frequent, Delancey was compelled to make his head-quarters at the house now owned by Mr. Samuel Archer, in the vicinity of the High Bridge, where he was under the guns of fort No. 8, one of the redoubts mentioned on page 619 {original text has "825".}, cast up by the British to cover the landing of their troops on the morning of the attack upon Fort Washington.

Near the entrance to Mr. Archer’s mansion was a building wherein Colonel Hatfield had his quarters in January, 1780, when he was attacked by some levies and volunteers from Horseneck and Greenwich. The assault was made at one o’clock in the morning. Unable to dislodge the enemy, the assailants fired the house. Some escaped after leaping from the windows; the colonel and eleven others were made prisoners.

In May, 1780, Captain Cushing, of the Massachusetts line, guided by Michael Dyckman, surprised Colonel James Delancey’s corps near No. 8. He captured over forty of the corps; the colonel was absent. Cushing retreated, followed some distance by a large number of Yagers and others. In January, 1781, Lieutenant-colonel William Hull (General Hull of the war of 1812-’14), who was in command of a detachment of troops in advance of the American lines, successfully attacked Colonel Oliver Delancey at Morrisania with three hundred and fifty men. Hull surrounded the Loyalists, forced a narrow passage to their camp, took more than fifty prisoners, cut away a bridge, burned several huts and a quantity of stores, and retreated to camp, closely pursued. A covering party, under Colonel Hazen, attacked the pursuers, and killed and captured about thirty-five more. Hull lost twenty-six men in killed and wounded.

At sunrise on the fourth of March, 1782, Captain Hunneywell and a body of cavalry, having a covering party of infantry under Major Woodbridge, entered Delancey’s camp at Morrisania, dispersed the Loyalists, and killed and wounded several. Others in the neighborhood were collected and pursued Hunneywell, when they fell into an ambush formed by Woodbridge, and were driven back. In this skirmish Abraham Dyckman was killed.

At Jefferd’s Neck, in the township of West Farms, Colonel Baremore, a notorious Tory marauder, was captured by Colonel Armand (see page 260) on the night of November 7th, 1779. Baremore was at "the Graham Mansion," which stood on the site of the house of William H. Leggett, Esq., and with five others was made a prisoner. The Graham family were dispossessed of their house, to make room for British officers. When Colonel Fowler, who last occupied it, was about to leave, it was fired, and consumed while that officer and his friends were eating dinner in a grove near by. That night Colonel Fowler was mortally wounded while leading a marauding party in East Chester. On another occasion, Armand marched down from Croton to the vicinity of Yonkers, below Cortlandt’s house, made a furious charge, with his cavalry, upon a camp of Yagers, and captured or killed almost the whole party.

The ancestor of the American Delanceys (De Lanci) was Etienne, or Stephen, a Huguenot, who came to New York in 1681. He was descended from a noble French family, known in history in the sixteenth century. He married Ann Van Cortlandt, and became active in public affairs. The chief justice and the general were his sons. Another son, James, married a daughter of Caleb Heathcote, lord of the Manor of Scarsdale. James’s third son was the father of William Heathcote Delancey, D. D., the present Protestant bishop of the diocese of Western New York.

The seat of General Oliver Delancey was upon the Bronx, opposite the village of West Farms, three miles from the mouth of that stream. There he had extensive mills, which are now the property of Mr. Philip M. Lydig. The old mansion, where British officers were so often entertained, was destroyed by fire several years ago. He owned another residence at Bloomingdale, on York Island, which was burned on the night of the twenty-fifth of November, 1777. It is supposed to have been fired by some daring Whigs, in retaliation for the burning of some houses in the vicinity of Yonkers, by the Tories.

77 See page 403, volume i.

78 Valentine’s Hill, rising on the west of the beautiful vale of Mile Square (a favorite camp-ground for all parties during the war), affords some of the most charming prospects in West Chester. It is upon the road leading from Yonkers to the Hunt’s Bridge Station, on the Harlem rail-way. From its summit the rough hills and cultivated valleys of that region are seen spread out like a panorama, and the eye catches glimpses of the Palisades on the Hudson, and the more distant varieties of feature displayed by Long Island Sound and the villages upon its borders. Southward, stretching away toward King’s Bridge, is the beautiful vale, sparkling with Tippett’s Brook, famous in the annals of West Chester for deeds of valor in partisan warfare. When I visited this region in 1850, Miss Elizabeth Valentine. aged eighty-three, was yet living there with the present owner of the farm, Elijah Valentine. She well remembers being caressed by Washington, and afterward frightened by the fierce-looking Highlanders and Hessians. The dwelling of the Revolution stood a little northwest of the present mansion. *

* On the summit of Valentine’s Hill intrenchments were cast up in the summer of 1776, and here Washington was encamped a few days before the battle at White Plains. Here Sir William Erskine was encamped with a detachment of British troops in January, 1778; and in the autumn, a few weeks before he sailed to attack Savannah, Sir Archibald Campbell was here with the 71st regiment of Highlanders. During the whole war, Colonel James Delancey kept recruiting officers at Mile Square; and in this vicinity Simcoe, with the Queen’s Rangers, often traversed, and sometimes penetrated to the Croton River. Heath says that on the sixteenth of September, 1782, foragers, with a covering party five or six thousand strong, accompanied by Sir Guy Carleton, and the young prince William Henry, made an incursion as far as Valentine’s Hill. After this, the vicinity was abandoned by the military, and then the lawless marauders of that region harassed the people. Prince Charles’s Redoubt and Negro Fort were on the east side of Valentine’s Hill.

On the second of July, 1779, a skirmish occurred in Poundridge between a portion of the corps of Sheldon and Tarleton. The British were repulsed, and, while retreating, set fire to the meeting-house and Major Lockwood’s dwelling. The chief object of Tarleton was the capture of Lockwood. The Americans lost eighteen in wounded and missing, and twelve horses. On the thirtieth of August, a skirmish occurred near Tarrytown, between some of Sheldon’s horse, under Captain Hopkins and part of Emmerick’s corps. The latter were led into an ambuscade, and suffered terribly. Twenty-three of his men were killed and the remainder were dispersed. Hopkins, while pursuing Emmerick, was in turn surprised by riflemen, and was obliged to retreat toward Sing Sing, across Sleepy Hollow Creek. In Beekman’s woods Hopkins wheeled, captured two or three of his pursuers, and retreated in good order to Sing Sing. Near Crompond, Rochambeau encamped with his army in 1781. The spot is still known as French Hill. Remains of some of his ovens may be seen at the present time. On the third of February, 1780, a patrol of the enemy, horse and foot, attacked Lieutenant Thompson, who was stationed at The Four Corners. He was defeated, with a loss of thirteen killed and seventeen wounded. Thompson, six other officers and eighty-nine rank and file, were made prisoners.

79 Yonkers is an old settlement on the Hudson, at the mouth of the Nepera or Saw-mill River, about four miles north of King’s Bridge. Here was the later residence of the wealthy proprietor of the Phillipse manor, and here is the spacious stone manor-house where, on one of his rent days, the patroon feasted his friends and tenantry.


Its exterior is plain, but the interior displays rich wainscotings and cornices, and elaborately wrought chimney-pieces. Here, on the third of July, 1730, Mary Phillipse was born; she was the young lady of whom Washington became enamored (pp. 709, vol. i. ,and 610, vol. ii.) in 1756. She is represented as a beautiful and accomplished woman.

She was attainted of treason, and the whole Phillipse estate was confiscated. It is believed that she and her sister (Mrs. Robinson), and the wife of Reverend Charles Inglis, rector of Trinity church, in New York, were the only females who suffered attainder during the war. They were guilty of no crime but attachment to the fortunes of their husbands. The last lord of the manor was Colonel Frederick Phillipse, who died in England in 1785.

Upon Locust Hill, the high eminence eastward of the manor-house, the American troops were encamped in 1781, when Rochambeau was approaching. Near the eastern base of Boar Hill, a short distance from the village, was the parsonage of Reverend Luke Babcock, occupied by his widow. There Colonel Gist was stationed in 1778, and was attacked by a combined force under Simcoe, Emmerick, and Tarleton. After traversing the vale of Yonkers, they approached at separate points to surround the American camp. The vigilant Gist discovered their approach and escaped. Some of his cavalry were dispersed by Tarleton, his huts were burned, and forage was carried off. At about the same time, Simcoe captured Colonel Thomas near White Plains, whose house he surrounded. In the same neighborhood Captain Sackett was captured (December 4th, 1781), and his command left with Lieutenant Mosher. That brave officer, with eighteen men, beat back and repulsed seventy men, under Captain Kip. The captain was badly wounded. In front of Yonkers, a naval engagement occurred in 1777, between the British frigates Rose and Phœnix, and American gun-boats. The latter had a tender filled with combustibles, in tow, with which they intended to destroy the British vessels. After the exchange of several shots, the gun-boats were compelled to seek shelter in the mouth of the Saw-mill or Nepera River.

80 Bolton.

81 The expedition of Colonel Meigs against the enemy at Sag Harbor, and other exploits, will be noticed in the account of the whale-boat warfare, in the Supplement.

82 Benjamin Tallmadge was born at Setauket, Long Island, on the twenty-fifth of February, 1754. He graduated at Yale College in 1773, and soon afterward took charge of a high school at Wethersfield. He entered a corps of Connecticut troops as lieutenant, in 1776, and was soon promoted to adjutant. He was one of the rear-guard when the Americans retreated from Brooklyn, and was in several of the principal battles in the Northern States during the war. His field of active exertions was chiefly in the vicinity of Long Island Sound. He had the custody of Major Andrè from his arrest until his execution, and after that was actively employed against the enemy on Long Island. He was for a long time one of Washington’s most esteemed secret correspondents. He retired from the army with the rank of colonel. He married the daughter of General William Floyd, of Mastic, in 1784. In 1800 he was elected a member of Congress from Connecticut, and served his constituents, in that capacity, for sixteen years. He died on the seventh of March, 1835, at the age of eighty-one years.

83 Lloyd’s Neck is an elevated promontory between Oyster Bay and Huntington harbor. It was a strong position, and the fort covered the operation of wood-cutters for miles around. There the Board of Associated Loyalists established their head-quarters after their organization in December, 1780. This board was for the purpose of embodying such Loyalists as did not desire to enter military life as a profession, but were anxious to do service for the king. Governor William Franklin was president of the board, and in the course of 1781, they collected quite a little navy of small vessels in the Sound, and made Oyster Bay the place of general rendezvous. * Their chief operations were against the Whig inhabitants of Long Island and the neighboring shore, by which a spirit of retaliation was aroused that forgot all the claims of common humanity. The manifest mischief to the royal cause which this association was working, caused its dissolution at the close of 1781. In July of that year, Count Barras, then at Newport, detached three frigates, with two hundred and fifty land troops, to attack this post, then garrisoned by about eight hundred refugee Tories. The enterprise proved unsuccessful, and, after capturing some British marines in Huntington Harbor, returned to Newport. The stockade on Lloyd’s Neck was called Fort Franklin.

* Oyster Bay was an important point during the British occupation of the island. Sheltered from the Sound by a large island, it afforded a secure place for small vessels, and the fertile country around supplied ample forage. It was the head-quarters of Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe with the Queen’s Rangers (three hundred and sixty in number), who made the village of Oyster Bay his cantonment during the winter of 1778-’9. He arrived there on the nineteenth of November, 1778, and immediately commenced fortifying his camp. He constructed a strong redoubt upon an eminence toward the west end of the town, now (1851) the property of the Rev. Marmaduke Earle. The ditch and embankments are yet very prominent. This work was capacious enough for seventy men, and completely commanded the bay. These preparations were made chiefly because General Parsons was encamped on the Connecticut shore with about two thousand militia, and controlled a large number of whale-boats. Oyster Bay was made the central point of operations in this quarter. According to Simcoe’s account, great vigilance was necessary during the winter, to prevent a surprise. For a sketch and explanation of Simcoe’s camp at Oyster Bay, see the next page.


Simcoe made his quarters at the house of Samuel Townsend, who was a member of the Provincial Assembly of New York in 1776, and there Major Andrè and other young officers of the army often visited. His daughter, Miss Sarah Townsend, was then about sixteen years of age, and very attractive in person and manner. She was the toast of the young officers, and on Valentine’s day, 1779, Simcoe presented her with a poetical address in laudation of her charms. This production maybe found in Onderdonk’s Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island, i., 215. Miss Townsend died in December, 1842, at the age of eighty years. The dwelling now belongs to her grand-niece, Mrs. Sarah T. Thorne.

84 This fort was upon Smith’s Point, a beautiful and fertile promontory projecting into South Bay, at Mastic. It commands a fine view of the bay, and the village of Bellport. The property now belongs to the sons of General Smith. The fort consisted of a triangular inclosure of several acres of ground, at two angles of which was a strong barricaded house, and at the third was a strong redoubt, ninety-six feet square, with bastions, a deep ditch, and abatis. Between the houses and the fort were stockades twelve feet in height. It was embrasured for six guns; two only were mounted. This fort was intended as a depository of stores for the Tories of Suffolk county. – Onderdonk, ii., 96; Thompson, 289.

85 This guide was William Booth, who resided near the mills. Mrs. Smith was also there, having been driven from her home. When Tallmadge informed her that he might be compelled to destroy her house, she at once said, "Do it and welcome, if you can drive out those Tories." The position of the house is seen in the diagram, at the top of the triangle. The dotted lines indicate the line of march in the attack. When I visited the spot in 1851, the lines of the fort might be distinctly traced northwestward of the mansion of the present occupant.

86 Journal, vi., 171.

87 In this enterprise as well as at Fort George, Sergeant Elijah Churchill, of the 2d regiment of dragoons, behaved so gallantly, that Washington rewarded him with the badge of military merit. *

* Washington established honorary badges of distinction in August, 1781. They were to be conferred upon non-commissioned officers and soldiers who had served three years with bravery, fidelity, and good conduct, and upon every one who should perform any singularly meritorious action. The badge entitled the recipient "to pass and repass all guards and military posts as fully and amply as any commissioned officer whatever." A board of officers for making such awards was established, and upon their recommendation the commander-in-chief presented the badge. The board, in Churchill’s case, consisted of Brigadier-general Greaton, president; Colonel Charles Stewart, Lieutenant-colonel Sprout, Major Nicholas Fish (father of ex-governor Fish, of New York), and Major Trescott. The MS. proceedings of the minutes of the board on this occasion are in the possession of Peter Force, Esq., of Washington City.

88 Sir Henry Clinton occupied No. 1 Broadway, and Sir William Howe the dwelling adjoining it. Toward the close of the war, Sir Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) also occupied No. 1. General Robertson resided first in William, near John Street, and afterward in Hanover Square. Knyphausen, when in the city, occupied Verplanck’s house in Wall Street, near the Bank of New York, where also Colonel Birch, of the dragoons, resided. Admiral Digby and other naval officers, and also Prince William Henry (afterward William the Fourth of England), when here, occupied the city mansion of Gerardus Beekman, on the northwest corner of Sloat Lane and Hanover Square. Admiral Rodney occupied a house, now 256 Pearl Street, and Cornwallis’s residence was three doors below it. Carleton’s country residence was the mansion at Richmond Hill, corner of Varick and Charlton Streets, long the property of Colonel Aaron Burr. Admiral Walton occupied his own house (yet standing in Pearl Street, number 326, opposite the publishing house of HARPER AND BROTHERS), and there he dispensed generous hospitality.


89 The Middle Dutch church (now the city post-office), on Nassau, Liberty, and Cedar Streets, was converted into a riding-school, where the British cavalry were taught lessons in horsemanship.


The French Protestant church (Du St. Esprit), built by the Huguenots in 1704, near the corner of Pine and Nassau Streets, and the North Dutch church, corner of William and Fulton Streets, were converted first into prisons and then into hospitals.


The quaint old church edifice which stood on the corner of William and Frankfort Streets until 1851 (when it was demolished, and a large hotel was placed upon its site), was a hospital for the Hessians, and all around the borders of the swamp close by, many of the poor Germans were buried.

90 These, and the events connected with them, will be noticed under the head of "Prisons and Prison-Ships," in the Supplement.

91 We have already noticed most of these expeditions. Staten Island was held by the British during their occupancy of New York, and several schemes were planned to expel them. In the summer of 1777, the British force on the island amounted to between two and three thousand men, nearly one half of whom were Loyalists.

General Sullivan, with Colonel Ogden of New Jersey, and a part of the brigades of Smallwood and Deborre (see page 175), crossed from Elizabethtown before daylight on the twenty-second of August. Two of the Tory parties, commanded by Colonels Lawrence and Barton, stationed near the present Factoryville, were surprised, and eleven officers and one hundred and thirty privates were made prisoners. Wanting a sufficient number of boats to convey the captives, a party of British attacked Sullivan’s rear-guard, and made many of them prisoners. The whole loss of the Americans was three officers and ten privates killed, fifteen wounded, and nine officers and one hundred and twenty-seven privates made prisoners. General Campbell, who commanded the British on the island, reported two hundred and fifty-nine prisoners. It was during the cold month of January, 1780 ("the hard winter"), that Lord Stirling went on an expedition against the British on Staten Island. It was a re-enforcement of troops after this attack (see page 311, volume i.) that crossed the bay of New York, with heavy cannons, upon the ice.

92 Among other schemes for annoying the Americans, and casting discredit upon Congress, the British resorted to the issue of "cart loads" of counterfeit Continental bills, so as to depreciate the currency. This fact is alluded to on page 318, volume i. It was no secret at the time, as appears by an advertisement * in Gaine’s New York Mercury, April 14th, 1777. For two or three years these bills were circulated extensively, and doubtless had great effect in depreciating the Continental money. Francis, in his History of the Bank of England, ii., 79-80, says, that Premier Pitt, the younger, resorted to a similar trick, by causing a large number of French assignats to be forged at Birmingham, to depreciate the currency of the French Republic. Napoleon also caused forged notes of the Austrian Bank to be distributed throughout the Austrian Tyrol.

* "ADVERTISEMENT. – Persons going into other colonies may be supplied with any number of counterfeited Congress notes, for the price of the paper per ream. They are so neatly and exactly executed, that there is no risk in getting them off, it being almost impossible to discover that they are not genuine. This has been proven by bills to a very large amount which have already been successfully circulated. Inquire of Q. E. D., at the Coffee-house, from 11 A. M. to 4 P. M., during the present month."

93 A second great conflagration in the city, during the British occupation, occurred on Saturday night, the seventh of August, 1778. It commenced at Cruger’s Wharf, Coenties Slip, and before it was subdued three hundred houses were consumed. The next day was excessively hot, and at noon, while the smoke of the smouldering fire was yet rising from the ruins, a heavy thunder-storm burst over the city. At about one o’clock, while raging at its height, the city was shaken as if by an earthquake, and suddenly a column of dense smoke arose in the east and spread over the town. Tiles were shaken from the roofs of houses, and crockery was broken in some houses at Franklin Square. The shock was occasioned by the explosion of the magazine of a powder vessel lying in the East River, which was struck by lightning. The vessel had just arrived from England, and the event was regarded as a special interposition of Providence in behalf of the Americans. – See Dunlap, ii., 164.

94 The number of soldiers furnished for the Continental army by each state, during the war, was as follows: New Hampshire, 12,497; Massachusetts, 67,907; Rhode Island, 5,908; Connecticut, 31,939; New York, 17,781; New Jersey, 10,126; Pennsylvania, 25,678; Delaware, 2,386; Maryland, 13,912; Virginia, 26,678; North Carolina, 7,263; South Carolina, 6,417; Georgia, 2,679. Total, 231,791.

95 This is a view of the southwest front of the mansion. The room occupied by Washington is in the second story, opening out upon the piazza. It is about eighteen feet square, and in one corner is a Franklin stove like that delineated on page 328, volume i. The situation of the house, upon an eminence an eighth of a mile eastward of the Millstone River, is very pleasant. It is now quite dilapidated; the piazza is unsafe to stand upon. The occupant, when I visited it in 1850, was Mr. James Striker Van Pelt.

96 The cause of the assembling of Congress at Princeton was the violent spirit manifested by some of the Continental troops of the Pennsylvania line. These had marched in a body (June 21), three hundred in number, surrounded the State House, where Congress was in session, and, after placing guards at the door, demanded action for redress of grievances, within the space of twenty minutes, at the peril of having an enraged soldiery let in upon them. Congress was firm; declared that body had been grossly insulted, and resolved to adjourn to Princeton, where the members assembled on the twenty-sixth. As soon as Washington was informed of this mutiny, he sent General Robert Howe, with fifteen hundred men, to quell it. He soon quieted the disturbance. Some who were found guilty, on trial, were pardoned by Congress.

97 A great portion of the officers and soldiers had been permitted during the summer to visit their homes on furlough, and on the eighteenth of October Congress virtually disbanded the Continental army, by discharging them from further service. Only a small force was retained, under a definite enlistment, until a peace establishment should be organized. These were now at West Point, under the command of General Knox. The proclamation of discharge, by Congress, was followed by Washington’s farewell address to his companions in arms. He had already issued a circular letter (Newburgh, eighth of June, 1783) to the governors of all the states on the subject of disbanding the army. It was designed to be laid before the several State Legislatures. It is a document of great value, because of the soundness of its doctrines, and the weight and wisdom of its counsels. Four great points of policy constitute the chief theme of his communication, namely, an indissoluble union of the states; a sacred regard for public justice; the organization of a proper peace establishment; and a friendly intercourse among the people of the several states, by which local prejudice might be effaced. "These," he remarks, "are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independency and national character must be supported." No doubt this address had great influence upon the minds of the whole people, and made them yearn for that more efficient union which the Federal Constitution soon afterward secured.

98 The Loyalists, fearful of meeting with unpleasant treatment from the irritated Americans, prepared to leave the country in great numbers, and flee to the British province of Nova Scotia. The delay in question was in consequence of a want of a sufficient number of transports to convey these people and their effects. A further notice of the Loyalists will be found in the Supplement.

99 This, like his letter to the governors, was an able performance. After affectionately thanking his companions in arms for their devotedness to him through the war, and for their faithfulness in duty, he gave them sound and wise counsel respecting the future, recommending them, in a special manner, to support the principles of the Federal government, and the indissolubility of the union.

100 GEORGE CLINTON was born in Ulster county, New York, in 1739. He chose the profession of the law for his avocation. In 1768, he was elected to a seat in the Colonial Legislature, and was a member of the Continental Congress in 1775. He was appointed a brigadier in the army of the United States in 1776, and during the whole war was active in military affairs in New York. In April, 1777, he was elected governor and lieutenant governor, under the new Republican Constitution of the state, and was continued in the former office eighteen years. He was president of the convention assembled at Poughkeepsie to consider the Federal Constitution in 1788. He was again chosen governor of the state in 1801, and three years afterward he was elected Vice-president of the United States. He occupied that elevated position at the time of his death, which occurred at Washington City in 1812.

101 HENRY KNOX was born in Boston in 1750. He was educated at a common school, and at the age of twenty years commenced the business of bookseller in his native town. He was engaged in that vocation when the Revolutionary storm arose, and his sympathies were all with the patriots. He was a volunteer in the battle of Bunker Hill, and for this and subsequent services Congress commissioned him a brigadier, and gave him the command of the artillery department of the army, which he retained during the whole war. He was always under the immediate command of Washington, and was with him in all his battles. After the capture of Cornwallis, Congress commissioned him a major general. In 1785, he succeeded Lincoln in the office of Secretary of War, which position he held for eleven years, when he retired into private life. He died at Thomaston, Maine, in 1806, at the age of about fifty-six years. To General Knox is conceded the honor of suggesting that noble organization, the Society of the Cincinnati.

102 The British claimed the right of possession until noon of the day of evacuation. In support of this claim, Cunningham, the infamous provost marshal exercised his authority. Dr. Alexander Anderson, of New York, related to me an incident which fell under his own observation. He was then a lad ten years of age, and lived in Murray, near Greenwich Street. A man who kept a boarding-house opposite ran up the American flag on the morning of the twenty-fifth. Cunningham was informed of the fact, and immediately ordered him to take it down. The man refused, and Cunningham attempted to tear it down. At that moment the wife of the proprietor, a lusty woman of forty, came out with a stout broomstick, and beat Cunningham over the head so vigorously, that he was obliged to decamp and leave the "star-spangled banner" waving. Dr. Anderson remembers seeing the white powder fly from the provost marshal’s wig.

103 The troops entered the city from the Bowery, through Chatham Street, in the following order: 1. A corps of light dragoons. 2. Advanced guard of light infantry. 3. A corps of artillery. 4. A battalion of light infantry. 5. A battalion of Massachusetts troops. 6. Rear-guard.

Washington with his staff, and Governor Clinton and the state officers, soon afterward made a public entry, as follows: 1. The general and governor, with their suite, on horseback, escorted by a body of West Chester light horse, commanded by Captain Delavan. 2. The lieutenant governor and the members of the council for the temporary government of the Southern District of the state, four abreast. 3. Major-general Knox and the officers of the army, eight abreast. 4. Citizens on horseback, eight abreast. 5. The speaker of the Assembly and citizens on foot, eight abreast.

The British army and the refugees who remained were all embarked in boats by three o’clock in the afternoon, and at sunset they were assembled upon Staten and Long Islands, preparatory to their final embarkation. * Before they left, the British flag was nailed to the flag-staff in Fort George, the cleets were knocked off, and the pole was greased so as to prevent ascent. New cleets were soon procured, a sailor-boy ascended as he nailed them on, and, taking down the British flag, placed the stripes and the stars there, while the cannons pealed a salute of thirteen guns.

* The British left these two islands a few days afterward, and then the evacuation of the sea-board was complete. Western and northern frontier posts (Oswegatchie, Oswego, Niagara, Presque Isle, Sandusky, Detroit, Mackinaw, and others of less note) continued in the possession of British garrisons for some time afterward.

104 See note 1, page 590.

105 Gordon, iii., 377; Marshall, ii., 57. The last survivor of the participators in that interesting scene lived until December 1, 1854. That honored man was Major Robert Burnet. He commanded the rear-guard on the entrance of the American army into the city. See page 686, vol. i.

106 Congress had adjourned to meet at Annapolis, in Maryland, on the twenty-sixth of November. A quorum was not present until Saturday, the thirteenth of December, when only nine states were represented.

107 The account current of his expenditures for the public service during the war, rendered by Washington, was in his own handwriting. The total amount was about seventy-four thousand four hundred and eighty-five dollars. * The disbursements were for reconnoitering and traveling, secret intelligence service, and miscellaneous expenses. It will be remembered that Washington refused to receive any compensation for his own services.

* The pecuniary cost of the war, exclusive of the vast losses by the ravages of plantations, burning of houses and towns, plunder by Indians and the British soldiery, &c., &c., was not less than one hundred and seventy millions of dollars. Of this sum, Congress disbursed about two thirds; the remainder was spent by the individual states. It had been raised "by taxes under the disguise of a depreciating currency; by taxes directly imposed; by borrowing; and by running in debt." – See Hildreth’s History of the United States, iii., 445.

108 Martha Dandridge was born in New Kent county, Virginia, in May, 1732. In 1749 she was married to Colonel Daniel Parke Custis, of New Kent, and settled with her husband on the bank of the Pamunky River, where she bore four children. Her husband died when she had arrived at the age of about twenty-five, leaving her in the possession of a large fortune. In 1758 she became acquainted with Colonel Washington, whose greatness was just budding, and whose fame had spread beyond Virginia. He became her suitor, and they were married. The time of their marriage is not on record. Mr. Custis says it was on the sixth of January, 1759. They removed to Mount Vernon soon after that event, and there was their home during the remainder of their lives. During the war for independence, she occasionally visited her husband in camp. Almost at the very hour of his great victory at Yorktown, a cloud came over her, for then her only surviving child expired. While Washington was President of the United States, Mrs. Washington presided with dignity in the mansion of the chief magistrate. The quiet of private life had more charms for her than the brilliancy of public greetings, and she joyfully sought the banks of the Potomac when her husband’s second presidential term was ended. A little more than two years afterward, she was called to mourn his death. *

* We have already noted (see page 219) the principal events in the public life of General Washington, until his appointment to the chief command of the Continental army. Throughout the preceding pages his public career during the war has been exhibited, and we will now only glance at his noble course subsequent to his resignation of office at Annapolis, and his retirement to Mount Vernon. Although a private citizen, he watched the progress of public affairs, during the critical period immediately succeeding the war, with great anxiety; and he was among the first to make efforts toward the organization of our government upon its present basis. He was elected the first chief magistrate under the Federal Constitution, and performed the duties of that office for eight consecutive years. He retired from the presidency in 1797. On the fourteenth of December, 1799, he expired at Mount Vernon, at the age of almost sixty-eight years. Washington was not a brilliant man. In the distinctive fields of oratory, military command, or civil government, he has had many superiors. His surpassing greatness consisted in the harmonious combination and solidity of all the powers of mind and body which constitute a MAN in highest perfection. It was this combination and solidity which made his career a brilliant one – it is the contemplation of his character from this point of view which makes the world bow with reverence before the amazing dignity of his name and deeds.

In a little more than two years after the death of the illustrious chief, Mrs. Washington was stricken down by bilious fever, and was laid beside him in the family tomb at Mount Vernon. In marble sarcophagi their remains now lie together at that Mecca of many patriot pilgrims.

109 Thomas Mifflin was born in Philadelphia in 1744. His ancestors were Quakers, and he was trained in all the strictness of the sect. He was educated for a merchant, and made a voyage to Europe while yet a lad. He entered public life in 1772, as representative of Philadelphia in the Colonial Assembly. He was a member of the first Continental Congress. He entered the military service; was with Washington at Cambridge, and in the spring of 1776 was commissioned a brigadier in the Continental army. He was made major general in February, 1777, and he continued in service during the war. In 1783 he was a representative in Congress, and in the autumn of that year was appointed its president. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1785, and in 1787 was in the convention which framed the Federal Constitution. He was elected the first governor of Pennsylvania under the provisions of that instrument, which office he filled nine years consecutively. By his personal exertions, he greatly assisted in quelling the "Whisky Insurrection" in 1794. Governor Mifflin retired from office in December, 1799, and on the twentieth of the following month he expired at Lancaster, at the age of fifty-six years.

110 Washington spoke as follows: "MR. PRESIDENT, – The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I now have the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country. Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven. The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest. While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress. I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping. Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life."


President Mifflin replied: "SIR, – The United States, in Congress assembled, receive with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success through a perilous and a doubtful war. Called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before it had formed alliances, and while it was without funds or a government to support you. You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power, through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered, until these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety, and independence in which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations. Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action with the blessings of your fellow-citizens. But the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment. We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be as happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world can not give."

111 Addresses were presented to him by the Legislatures of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; the American Philosophical Society, and the University of Pennsylvania; the citizens of towns in their corporate capacity, religious societies, and various incorporated associations. – Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, viii., 502.



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