Schoharie County NYGenWeb Site

HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY

by Jeptha R. Simms - 1845

CHAPTER XVIII

Sleep on! fearless ranger; the Indian no more
Shall dye his coarse blanket in citizen's gore:
He has left, aye, forever, the vales where you fought,
And his hosts of brave warriors have dwindled to nought.
  The vigils you kept in the partizan strife,
  Protecting the weak from the merciless knife
  Of mocason'd foes, who at midnight came near,
  We'll ever remember in green leaf and sear --
And with tears dew the roses that bloom o'er the graves,
Of the heroes who saved us -- the pioneer braves.

The active operations of the enemy closed with the year 1782, preliminaries for a peace having been agreed upon in November of that year, which was finally ratified on the 30th day of the following September. On the 25th of November, 1783, the British troops evacuated New York and the Americans, under General Washington, entered the city the same day, where they were welcomed by the friends of the Republic with many demonstrations of joy. Washington repaired to Annapolis, Md., where Congress was then in session, and on the 20th day of December he resigned to that august body his military command, prefaced by a brief and appropriate address, which was handsomely responded to by its president, Gen. Miffin. Once more a private citizen, the great Washington repaired to his seat at Mount Vernon, followed by the prayers and admiration of every lover of civil liberty upon the habitable globe.

Otthout Van Rensselaer, Esq., of Albany, is said to have been commissioner for disposing of confiscated property in the Schoharie settlements. The title of farms (in New York) in the possession of royalists, which had been purchased of patriotic Americans, and not paid for, reverted to the private owner -- while those of active royalists, who held a free title, were confiscated to the government. Nearly all the property sequestered in the present county of Schoharie, was owned in Brakabeen, Rhinebeck, and New Dorlach, more than one thousand acres of which were in the latter settlement.

After the war not a few tories came back to Schoharie, some of whom even boasted of their evil deeds, and if they were not treated like Beacraft, they were looked upon with great suspicion for at least one generation.

A number of Schoharie Indians, who had escaped the bullets of the rangers, claiming the same privilege as the tories with whom they had acted, also returned to the scenes of their former cruelties. Among them was Seth's Henry, as previously mentioned, Abram, his sister's son, and a few others of notoriety. The former had not been long in Vrooman's Land before he became suspicious of the republicans, and whenever he entered a house he preferred a position where he could look from an open door or window, and anticipate any ominous movement. From this place he started to go to the Charlotte river, was followed by Timothy Murphy, who had kept vigils of his footsteps in the valley, and, as he never reached the place for which he set out, it was currently believed, though not generally known, that his bones were left to bleach in the intervening forest. The writer has no doubt from the information he has received from Lawrence Mattice, David Elerson, and others, that a bullet from the rifle which sent Gen. Fraser to his long home, also ended the career of this crafty chief, who was one of the most blood-thirsty and successful warriors of the Revolution.

The Schoharie Indian, Abram, who returned with Seth's Henry, was followed by Peter C. Vrooman, (familiarly known as Hazel Pete,) armed with an axe, into the kitchen of Samuel Vrooman's house, in Vrooman's Land, where he inflicted two blows upon his head, and would no doubt have slain him as he lay upon the floor, had not a slave belonging to the house seized the arm of the assailant, and afforded the Indian an opportunity to effect his escape. The Indian had provoked Vrooman's vengeance by boasting of his former deeds, and would no doubt have been killed by the first blow struck at him, had not the missile hit the floor over head, and broken its fall. He was a long time in recovering, and is said to have been less saucy afterwards. -- Mrs. Van Slyck and J. W. Bouck.

This same Indian, if report is true, tarried about Schoharie for a year or two, and suddenly disappeared. He was at a bee, as a gathering of neighbors is called, when they are assembled to husk corn, draw wood, or manure, &c., as is often witnessed in the interior of New York, -- the sequel of which usually is, a good warm supper, got up in the best possible style, -- on some occasions followed by a dance. Such bees are common in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys now, and have been from the time of their earliest white settlements. Indeed, they are not confined to the males either: quilting bees, spinning bees, apple-paring bees, and the like, are common among the females, and fortunate, indeed, is that young man's lot who has notice to be present and help "shake the quilt," or remove the rejected parts of the apple, as he sometimes has most delectable kissing when the quilt is folded, the apples cut, and the happifying "come Phylanders," and many other nectar originators are fairly begun. -- Pardon this digression, kind reader: I was going to say that the Indian Abram was at a bee of some sort at the house of a farmer on Foxes creek, and was not a little intoxicated. " Schoharie John" was there also, and probably not sober enough to "walk a crack," unless it were a curved one. They quarreled; after passionate words had escaped them, the Indian left the house, and was followed in a short time by "Schoharie John." This Indian was never seen again in the settlement, and as a large pile of drift-wood upon the bank of the creek not far distant, was seen on fire the following morning, it was conjectured by some, that possibly Abram's bones might be found in the ashes; but whether they were or not, or whether suspicion slandered the old soldier who followed him from the house, the writer knows not. -- Doct. P. S. Swart, J. M. Swart, and others.

Most of the Indians who returned to Schoharie after the war, remained about the settlement until fall, when several of their number disappeared in a very unaccountable manner. The fact was, several of them had been met in by places by citizen hunters, and were possibly mistaken for bears. A few disappeared, and the rest took the hint and left the country. -- Lawrence Lawyer.

The most common beverages drank by the soldiery in the Revolution, were flip and kill-devil. The former was made of beer brewed from malt and hops, to which was added sugar and liquor -- the whole heated with a hot iron. The latter was made like flip, except that cider was substituted for beer. The price of each was one shilling for a quart mug: half a mug usually served two persons.

Among the survivors of the Revolution, with whom the author has spent many agreeable hours, is Capt. Eben Williams, a son of Jonathan Williams, of Lebanon, Connecticut. He entered the army under Col. Patterson, of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in 1775, from which time to the end of the war, he was in constant and varied service. He was on duty in eleven of the thirteen states and the Canadas. He witnessed the battle of Bunker Hill, but was with the troops at their camp on the main land, where an attack was expected. He also witnessed the surrender of the armies of Burgoyne and Cornwallis.

On the 20th day of May, 1776, he was in the battle of The Cedars, thirty-nine miles from Montreal, on which occasion he became a prisoner to the Indians, by whom he was robbed of his clothing. He was kept in confinement ten days, and then exchanged. He was commissioned as second lieutenant of infantry, in September, 1776. In February, 1777, Col. Patterson was promoted to brigadier-general, and Joseph Vose became the colonel of his regiment, which formed a part of the army of Gen. Gates in the fall campaign of that year. Col. Vose, who made a prudent, good officer, had been educated a butcher. While marching at the head of his regiment, in the vicinity of Burgoyne's army, to execute a command, a party of Hessians brought two field-pieces to bear upon them, and a shot striking the Colonel's horse killed it under him, but without halting his men he proceeded on foot, ordering a drummer to bring along his pistols.1

In the fall of 1777, the brigade of Gen. Gloser, to which Williams, then a lieutenant of infantry, was attached, proceeded from Bemis's Heights to Valley Forge for winter quarters. On arriving near the residence of Gen. Richard Montgomery's widow, the brigade halted for the night. Mrs. Montgomery was then pleasantly situated near the Hudson, about midway between Red Hook and Rhinebeck. Col. Shephard, at that time in temporary command of the troops, as a compliment to the widow of so conspicuous a martyr in the cause, dispatched Lieut. Williams, in the capacity of adjutant, with a major-general's guard, and the compliments of the commander, tendering the service of the guard for the night. A major-general's guard consisted of a subaltern officer and twenty men; and a brigadier-general's guard, of a sergeant and twelve men. As Williams rode up to the door, Mrs. Montgomery (a Livingston before marriage) made her appearance. She possessed a genteel form, with a small sparkling eye, and was neatly clad in black. She performed her part of the ceremony very politely, accepting the guard, and quartering them for the night. The officer of the guard was a gallant young ensign under Capt. Pillsbury, who was highly pleased with the duty and executed it handsomely. He was enthusiastic, on joining his regiment in the morning, in describing the very hospitable manner in which himself and men were entertained.

In the summer of 1778, Lieut. Williams was on duty in New Jersey, and was at the battle of Monmouth. In August following that battle, Gen. Glover's brigade, consisting of four Massachusetts regiments, commanded by Colonels Shephard, Wigglesworth, Bigelow, and Vose, proceeded to Rhode Island to strengthen the army of Gen. Sullivan.

In June, 1779, Jeremiah Miller, his captain, was appointed pay master of the regiment, and Lieut. Williams took the command of the company; from which time until the war closed, he almost constantly performed the duty of captain. In July, his regiment marched to West Chester county, N. Y., and the following winter, (known as the cold winter,) Gen. Glover's brigade was cantoned at a place called Budd's Hats, situated three miles east of West Point; on the road leading from Fishkill to Peekskill. The snow was deep while the huts were building, and the water did not drop from the eaves of those rude duellings for forty successive days. Part of the army wintered the same season three miles back of West Point, in what were called the York Huts. The logs for Budd's huts were brought together by the soldiers with drag-ropes.

In the summer of 1780, Capt. Williams was on duty on the borders of New York and New Jersey; and in the summer of 1781, in the vicinity of Kings' Ferry, until September, when he marched with the army of Gen. Washington to York-Town. During the siege of that place by the American and French armies, two strong redoubts thrown up by the enemy were carried; the one on the bank of the river by American light infantry under Gen. Lafayette, and the other by French grenadiers under the Baron de Viomenil. To divide the attention of the enemy while the redoubts were being stormed, Col. Laurens, who had recently returned from a foreign embassy, was required, as his first military duty, to select two trusty captains, each with forty chosen men from Scammel's corps of infantry, (ten from a company,) and march in between the redoubts. Captains Williams, of the Massachusetts line, and Betts, of the Connecticut, were the two officers chosen for this honorable task. A heavy fire was opened from both redoubts and the army in front upon the troops under Laurens; but it was illy directed, and soon silenced after an entrance was forced by the forlorn hope: and what is surprising, not one of Laurens' command was either killed or wounded. Opposition had nearly ceased when Laurens and his men entered the redoubt carried by the American infantry. Charles Miller, an Irish lieutenant, and the bringer up of the fourth platoon under Williams, was a very large man, and could not enter the passage forced. Said he to his comrades, "My lads take me on your bayonets and toss me in!" Said Betts to Williams, as Britain's flag gave place to the stripes of liberty, "This is the thirteenth engagement I have been in during the war, and this is the best of them all." Those redoubts were carried on the 14th of October. 2

In December, 1781, Capt. Williams returned to Westchester county, where he wintered and continued in service in that vicinity a good part of the year 1782. On his return from Yorktown, Capt. Hitchcock of the light infantry, had some difficulty with Lieut. Stone, of his own company. The quarrel ended in a duel and the captain was killed; soon after which Williams was transferred to the command of his company. It is worthy of remark that but little dueling took place in the American army in the Revolution, the moral part of the community sternly rebuking the practice. A quarrel between Gen. Poor and Brigade Major Porter, which originated, it is believed, in a reproof of the former to the latter for his rakish conduct, resulted in a duel, which took place in 1780, near Perames, New Jersey, in which the general, a fine officer, was killed.

In the summer of 1782, a celebration took place at West Point in honor of the birth of the Dauphin of France, at which festival Capt. Williams was present, and which, from memory, he thus describes. A large bower was erected about eighty or one hundred rods from the river, covered with evergreens and beautifully festooned at the ends. Many natural flowers, interwoven with flower-de-lis cut from tissue paper, decorated the sides and ends. Long poles for the bower were brought on the shoulders of the soldiers, who on casting them down were sometimes heard, the one to exclaim with earnestness, "God bless the Dauphin!" while his comrade at the other end, with equal zeal would add, "God D--n the Dauphin!" An ox roasted whole for the occasion was eaten within the bower, and after his bones had been removed, and a few bumpers of wine drank, Gen. Washington, who appeared in unusually good spirits, said to his officers, "Let us have a dance!" Selecting a partner among the officers, the great commander led the dance, in a "gander hop," or "stag dance," as called in moderntimes, when no ladies are present, to the favorite old tune, Soldier's Joy, played by a military band. Washington was a very graceful dancer, and presented a fine figure among his officers. The numerous regiments of troops there convened were paraded towards evening along the mountain back of Fort Putnam, and upon the high grounds on the east side of the river, to fire a salute. The regiments were under the command of quarter master sergeants, and the companies commanded by orderly sergeants: not a single commissioned officer holding any command among the thousands thus conspicuously paraded. As may be supposed the non-commissioned commanders were justly proud of the confidence reposed in their integrity. At a given signal, a running fire began at the south end of the line and extended along the west side of the river to the north end, when the feu-de-joie was caught by the troops on the opposite side of the river and carried south. Thus did the rattle of musketry three times make its distant circuit along the Hudson, in honor of an event which gave a prospective heir to the crown of France, then the efficient ally of our republic, --after which, the troops, in the twilight of a lovely evening, returned to the Point. On the day of this festival, an extra one day's ration was served to the soldiers, and all seemed equally to enjoy the holiday, which passed off without an accident to mar its pleasantry.

The following is one verse of a song believed to have been written either for or on account of the celebration at West Point, for which I am indebted to the memory of my friend J. H. T.

"Hark, hark, a feu de-joie -- makes trembling either ring"
Whilst shouting armies hail, a Prince, a future King,
On whom may Heaven with liberal hand
Her choicest gifts bestow:
May peace and wisdom bless his reign
And laurels deck his brow:
A Dauphin's born, let cannon loud
Bid echo rend the sky.
Chorus.--Long life to Gallia's King,
Columbia's great ally."

In the army arrangement of the Revolution, the colonel, lieut. colonel, and major of each regiment of state troops, retained the command of a company in the same called theirs, to which no captain was assigned. The immediate command of those companies usually devolved on subaltern officers; that of the colonel on a captain lieutenant; that of lieut. colonel on a first lieutenant; and that of major on a second lieutenant.

Capt. Williams continued in the army of Washington near the Hudson until the British evacuated New-York, on the 25th of Nov. 1783, at which time he accompanied the victorious army in its entree to that city; and was present at Francis' Tavern, or "Black Sam's" as familliary called, when Gen. Washington took leave of his officers on the 4th. of Dec. On leaving the disbanded army Capt. W. could say--what few others could-- he was never mustered during the whole war, sick or absent, when duty required his presence. At the close of the war he became a member of the Massachusetts Cincinnati. Those Associations composed chiefly of military officers, were formed in the several states with a general society of the United States, of which Gen. Washington was president. About the year 1808, Capt. Williams removed from Massachusetts to Onondaga county, N. Y. He now (1845) resides in the town of Schoharie; and although in his ninety-sixth year, few young men read more than he does. He from choice cuts his own firewood, works his own garden, &c.; and the fall he was ninety years old, he revived the trade of his youth by framing two good sized buildings. He has ever continued to be a firm supporter of that government he helped to establish. He has long been an exemplary Christian--and imbibing in childhood the moral principles of a New England mother; he has proven himself a worthy, honest and respected citizen. He still writes a legible hand without glasses. His answer to the question--Were you a young man with the knowledge you now have, would you enter the army if a war should break out? --was, "Yes, I think I should. Yes, I am pretty sure I should."

I have made several quotations from the Military Journal of Major, afterwards Col. Benjamin Tallmadge, an active and efficient officer of the Revolution. This private journal, which was prepared after the war at the request of his children to exhibit his military life, contains memoranda of an interesting character; and from it I glean the following additional facts.3

Col. Tallmadge was the second of five sons of the Rev. Benj. Tallmadge, a settled minister at Brookhaven, L. I.

He graduated at Yale College with literary honors in 1773, soon after which he was called to the charge of a high school in Weathersfield, Ct. Capt. Chester of Weathersfield, having been appointed a colonel of state troops, and tendering young Tallmadge a lieutenant's commission, with the appointment of adjutant of his regiment, the student laid aside his books, and the contemplated study of the law, and entered the service of his country. He was commissioned a lieutenant by Gov. Trumbull, June 20th, 1776, and received a warrant as adjutant, bearing the same date. He marched with the army of Washington to New York; was engaged in the disastrous battle of Long Island, and in several skirmishes above New York, in one of which Brigade Major Wyllis was made prisoner, and he was given his station. At the battle of White Plains, he was with a division of the army under Gen. Spencer, who engaged the Hessian troops under Gen. Rahl, when the Americans, pressed by overpowering numbers, were obliged to fall back to Chadderton's Hill, then occupied by Gen. McDougall. As the adjutant was about to enter the Bronx with the rear of the army, the Rev. Dr. Trumbull, their chaplain, sprang upon his horse behind him, with an impetus that carried them both headlong, with saddle and accoutrements, into the river. Regaining their feet, they, however, forded the stream in time to make good their retreat. Long poles, with iron pikes, supplied the want of bayonets, at this time, in the American camp. Near the close of the year, a new organization of the army took place, when Lieut. Tallmadge received the command of a company of dragoons, under Col. Elisha Sheldon.

Early in the spring of 1777, a squadron of four companies of Sheldon's corps, under the command of Tallmadge, the senior captain, joined the army of Washington, near Middlebrook, N. J. His own troop was mounted entirely on dapple gray horses, of which, under black mountings, he acknowledges he felt proud. On the 25th June, 1777, he was engaged in the battle of Short Hills, between the Americans, under Lord Sterling, and the enemy, under Lord Cornwallis, in which the former lost four field pieces a second time. About this period Capt. Tallmadge was promoted to major of cavalry. In 1778, while actively employed with the army in New Jersey, Maj. T. opened a private correspondence with some persons in New York, for Gen. Washington, which lasted through the war.

About the 1st of July, 1779, when the dragoons of Col. Sheldon were stationed below North Castle, a large body of the enemy's light horse and infantry, under Lord Rawdon, attacked them in the night. The onset was impetuous, and the Americans, borne down by superior numbers, and flanked by infantry, found it necessary to retreat -- doing which the servant of Maj. Tallmadge was wounded and captured by the enemy, and with him his master's horse and valise, the latter containing twenty guineas. In the summer of 1780, Gen. Washington honored Maj. T. with a separate command, consisting of a body of horse and two companies of infantry, formed from dismounted dragoons. He took a station soon after at North Stamford, Conn., and while there Gen. Parsons proposed a joint enterprise of their forces against the enemy's garrison at Lloyd's Neck, on Long Island, which was abandoned, owing to the treachery of the agent employed by the general to gain the requisite information.

"On the 5th of September, 1779," [says the journal,] "I undertook an expedition against the enemy on Lloyd's Neck, Long Island. At this place, and on a promontory or elevated piece of ground next to the Sound between Huntington Harbor and Oyster Bay, the enemy had established a strongly fortified post, where they kept a body of about five hundred troops. In the rear of this garrison a large band of marauders encamped. who, having boats at command, continually infested the Sound and our shores. Having a great desire to break up the banditti of freebooters, on the evening named, embarked my detachment, amounting, in the whole to about one hundred and thirty men, at Shipand Point, near Stamford, at eight o'clock in the evening, and by ten we landed on Lloyd's Neck. Having made my arrangements we proceeded in different divisions to beat up their quarters. Our attack was so sudden and unexpected that we succeeded in capturing almost the whole party, a few only escaping into the bushes, from whence they commenced firing on my detachment; which gave the alarm to the garrison. This prevented our attempting any attacks upon the outposts and guards of the fort, and after destroying all the boats we could find, as well as the huts of these refugees, we returned with our prisoners to our boats, and embarked for Connecticut, where we landed in safety before sunrise the next morning, and without the loss of a single man."

As the fall advanced Maj. Tallmadge revived his project of an expedition to Long Island. Through agents he obtained accurate returns of a fortification in Suffolk county, called Fort St. George. It was constructed "at a point which projects into the South Bay on Smith's Manor, being the enemy's easternmost defence." It is thus described in the journal:

"I found it to be a triangular inclosure of several acres of ground, at two angles of which was a strongly barricaded house, and at the third, a fort, with a deep ditch and wall encircled by an abattis of sharpened pickets, projecting at an angle of forty-five degrees. The fort and houses were entirely connected with a strong stockade, twelve feet high, every piece sharpened and fastened to each other by a transverse rail strongly bolted to each. The work was nearly finished."

Having obtained the necessary information he proposed to the Commander-in-chief to destroy the works, who concluded the expedition too dangerous to warrant its undertaking. Not willing to abandon his project, Maj. T. visited the island in person about the 1st of November, to ascertain the then state of the works. He learned "that the fortress was completed, and was the depository of stores, dry-goods, groceries, and arms, from whence Suffolk county could be supplied." Provided with an accurate draft of the fort, and apprised that a large quantity of forage was collected at Coram, from the east end of the island, he again importuned Gen. Washington to sanction a contemplated visit, who, on the 11th day of November, signified his assent by letter. The expedition is thus entered in the journal:

"All preparations necessary being made, on the 21st of November, at about four o'clock, P.M., I embarked my detachment composed of two companies of dismounted dragoons, (and in all short of one hundred selected men,) at Fairfield, and the same evening at nine o'clock, we landed at a place on Long Island called the Old Man's. I was obliged to go so far east to avoid a large body of the enemy which laid at Huntington and its vicinity, partly in our direct route from Stamford. Soon after we landed, say by ten o'clock, I put the troops in motion to cross Long Island. We had not gone far, say four or five miles, before the wind began to blow from the southeast, and the rain soon followed. I faced the troops about, returned to our boats, which were drawn up and concealed in the bushes. There we remained through the night and the next day, and at evening the rain abated, and I again ordered the troops to march for our destined place on the south side of Long Island. At four o'clock next morning I found we were within two miles of Fort St. George, when we halted a short time to take refreshment. Having made my arrangements for the plan of attack, I placed two small detachments under the command of subaltern officers of high spirit, at different positions from the fort, with orders to keep concealed until the enemy should fire on my column. Just as the day began to dawn, I put my detachment in motion. The pioneers who preceded my column had reached within forty yards of the stockade before they were discovered by the enemy. At this moment, the sentinal in advance of the stockade, halted his march, looked attentively at our column, demanded "who comes there?" and fired. Before the smoke from his gun had cleared his vision, my sergeant, who marched by my side, reached him with his bayonet, and prostrated him. This was the signal for the other troops to move forward, when all seemed to vie with each other to enter the fort. So resolute were the men, that a breach was soon made in the stockade, where the rear platoon halted to prevent the prisoners from escaping. I led the column directly through the grand parade against the main fort, which we carried with the bayonet in less than ten minutes, not a musket being loaded. At the same instant that I entered one side of the fort, the officers commanding the smaller detachments mounted the ramparts on the other sides, and the watchword, Washington and Glory! was repeated from three sides of the fort at the same time. While we were standing, elated with victory, in the centre of the fort, a volley of musketry was discharged from the windows of one of the large houses, which induced me to order my whole detachment to load and return the fire. I soon found it necessary to lead the column directly to the house, which being strongly barricaded required the aid of the pioneers with their axes. As soon as the troops could enter, the confusion and conflict was great. A considerable portion of those who had fired after the fort was taken and the colours had been struck, were thrown headlong from the second story to the ground. Having forfeited their lives by the usages of war, all would have been killed had I not ordered the slaughter to cease. The prisoners, being secured, it was soon discovered that the shipping, which laid near the fort, loaded with stores, &c., were getting under weigh. The guns of the fort were brought to bear on them, and they were soon secured. All things were now safe and quiet, and I had never seen the sun rise more pleasantly. It became necessary to demolish the enemy's works, as far as possible, which was done: an immense quantity of stores of various kinds, English, &c., were destroyed. The shipping and their stores were also burnt up. Some valuable articles of dry goods were made up in bundles, placed on the prisoners' shoulders, who were pinioned two and two, and thus carried across the island to our boats. The work of capturing and destroying this fortress being effected, at eight o'clock, A.M., I put the troops under march to recross the island to our boats. Having given the command of the detachment to Capt. Edgar, with orders to halt at a given point near the middle of the island, I selected ten or twelve men, and mounted them on horses taken at the fort, with which I intended to destroy the King's magazine of forage at Coram. This place was nearly half way to the place where a large body of British troops were encamped, east of Huntington. I reached the place in about an hour and a half; made a vigorous charge upon the guard placed to protect it; set it on fire [some three hundred tons of hay], and in about an hour and a half more reached the place where I had ordered the troops to halt, having rode some fifteen or sixteen miles. As I arrived at the spot, I was gratified to see the head of the detachment, under Capt. Edgar advancing with the prisoners. As none of us had halted since we parted, we sat down for nearly an hour and refreshed. After this we took up our line of march, by four o clock reached our boats, and before sunset we were all afloat on the Sound; by midnight, or one o'clock next morning, every boat arrived on Fairfield beach, although we had entirely lost sight of each other in the darkness of the night. This service was executed entirely without the loss of one man from my detachment, and one only was badly wounded, and him we brought off. The enemy's loss was seven killed and wounded, most of them mortally. We took one lieutenant colonel commandant, one captain, one lieutenant, one surgeon, and fifty rank and file, with a host of others in the garrison."

On reporting the result of his expedition to the Commander-in-chief, Maj. Tallmadge requested permission to give his troops the spoils they had borne from the captured fortress, to which he received the following reply:

MORRISTOWN, 28th Nov., 1780.

"Dear Sir -- Both your Letters of the 25th came to my hands this day. I received with much pleasure the report of your successful Enterprise upon Fort St. George, and the vessel with stores in the harbor; and was particularly well pleased with the destruction of the hay, which must, I should conceive, be severely felt by the enemy at this time.

"I beg of you to accept my thanks for your judicious planning, and spirited execution of this business, and that you will offer them to the Officers and Men who shared the honor of the Enterprise with you.

"The gallant behavior of Mr. Muirson gives him a fair claim to an appointment in the second Regt. of Dragoons, or any other of the State to which he belongs, where there is a vacancy; and I have no doubt of his meeting with it accordingly, if you will make known his merits, with these sentiments in his favor.

"You have my free consent to reward your gallant party with the little booty they were able to bring from the Enemy's works.

"With much esteem and regard, I am, Dear Sir,

"Your most obed't Servt,
GO. WASHINGTON."

The following honorable notice of Maj. Tallmadge's success over the enemy on Long Island, is found on the Journal of Congress for 1780, under date of Dec. 6th, that body having been apprised of the affair some days before by Gen. Washington.

"While Congress are sensible of the patriotism, courage and perseverance of the officers and privates of their regular forces, as well as the militia throughout these United States, and of the military conduct of the principal commanders in both, it gives them pleasure to be so frequently called upon to confer marks of distinction and applause for enterprises which do honor to the profession of arms, and claim a high rank among military achievements. In this light they view the enterprise against Fort George, on Long Island, planned, and conducted with wisdom and great gallantry by Maj. Tallmadge, of the light dragoons, and executed with intrepidity and complete success by the officers and soldiers of his detachment.

"Ordered, therefore, That Maj. Tallmadge's report to the Commander-in-chief be published, with the preceding minute, as a tribute to distinguished merit, and in testimony of the sense Congress entertain of this brilliant service."

"No person but a military man," says the journal of Col. T., "knows how to appreciate the honor bestowed, when the Commander-in-chief and the Congress of the United States return their thanks for a military achievement."

Contemplating an expedition against a British garrison of eight hundred men at Lloyd's Neck, and that of Fort Slongo, eight miles eastward of it, guarded by one hundred and fifty men, Maj. Tallmadge again visited Long Island, April 22, 1781, to obtain accurate information. Submitting his plan of intended operations to Gen. Washington for the capture of these posts, and clearing the sound of the enemy's small craft, with the aid of more troops, and the co-operation of the French frigates, it was favorably received, and he was furnished with a flattering letter of introduction to Count Rochambeau, then at Rhode Island, for the naval force. The absence of the vessels of the size wanted, prevented the prosecution of the enterprise. In the fall of this year, Maj. Tallmadge renewed his project of annoying the enemy on Long Island.

"The fortress at Treadwell's Neck, called Fort Slongo, [says the journal,] seemed to demand attention, and on the 1st of October I moved my detachment of light infantry into the neighborhood of Norwalk; at the same time I directed a suitable number of boats to be assembled at the mouth of Saugatuck river, east of the town of Norwalk. On the evening of October 2d, 1781, at nine o'clock, I embarked a part of my detachment, and placed Maj. Trescott at the head of it, with orders to assail the fort on a particular point. The troops landed on Long Island by four o'clock, and at the dawn of day the attack was made and the fortress subdued. The block house, and other combustible materials, were burnt, and the troops and prisoners returned in safety, bringing off one piece of handsome brass field-artillery."

When the campaign of 1782 was opened, many felt as though the independence of the country had already been secured by the capture of Cornwallis and his army, but Gen. Washington, whatever may have been his private opinion "inculcated upon his troops the necessity of strict discipline, that they might be prepared for any emergency." Many supernumerary officers were permitted to retire from the army early this season, the most efficient being retained in service. As this year was one of comparative inactivity, the soldier's life became irksome, and he sighed for employment.

Towards the close of the year 1782, Major Tallmadge having been informed that six hundred of the enemy had encamped at Huntington, Long Island, conceived the plan of "beating up their quarters." He disclosed his project in person to Gen. Washington, in the latter part of November, and obtained his permission to undertake it, the general claiming to name the time. The 5th of December was the day fixed upon, when the Commander intended to execute an enterprise on the Hudson -- which was, to throw a large detachment of his troops below Fort Washington, while he moved down with the main body to Fort Independence and Kingsbridge, thus bringing the enemy between two fires. On the evening of the day named, Maj. Tallmadge assembled his troops at Shipand Point, where his boats had been ordered. His forces, some seven hundred men, consisting of four companies of infantry, a party of dismounted dragoons, to mount the captured horses, and a body of Connecticut levies, began to embark at sunset; but the half had not left the shore, when a western storm arising, they were called back, the boats drawn on shore and turned up for a shelter. The Sound was agitated the next day, and at night became quiet, and the troops were beginning a second time to embark, but another gale arising, the troops were sheltered as on the previous night. Apprised on the morning of the 7th, that three of the enemy's boats from Long Island had taken refuge and were wind-bound on the Norwalk islands, a few miles east of the point, Maj. Tallmadge despatched six sail boats under Capt. Brewster, to give some account of them. Two were captured, after a spirited contest, in crossing the Sound, there about twelve miles wide, and the third escaped to land. Capt. Brewster received a bullet in the breast, which passed through the body, but recovered of the wound. The wind again rising on the third night, the expedition to the island was abandoned. The contemplated movement of Gen. Washington, on the evening of the 5th, was prevented by several British vessels having moved up that day, and anchored above Fort Washington.

In the winter of 1782 and '83, considerable illicit intercourse was carried on by traders along the Sound with the merchants of New York, and boats thus employed often fell into the hands of the vigilant Americans. Informed that a public armed vessel, in the employ of the government, was actively employed in the traffic "technically called the London trade," Maj. Tallmadge proposed to punish the offenders. The craft was a large sloop called the Sheeldham, Capt. Hoyt. Furnished with a copy of her invoice of goods, and notified of her expected arrival at Norwalk, Maj. T. repaired to that place with a party of dragoons, and had the satisfaction of seeing her approach the harbor. She anchored near the Old Wells, soon after which he went on board with a warrant, and constable to serve it. Making known his errand, the captain flew into a passion, and threatened to throw him overboard. While the intrepid major was endeavoring to reason with the dealer in contraband wares, the latter weighed anchor, hoisted sails, and stood out into the Sound, with a breeze from the northwest. When ordered to put back, he not only refused, but swore he would throw his guest overboard. The rest of the farce is thus noted in the journal:

"My captain continued his course towards Lloyd's Neck, where the enemy's fleet lay, until we reached the middle of the Sound. I inquired of him where he was going, when he informed we with an oath, he would carry me over to the enemy. I informed him that for such an offence, by our martial law, he exposed himself to be punished with death. He professed to care nothing for the consequences. I maintained my former course, and sternly ordered him to put about his vessel and return to Norwalk, assuring him that if he executed his threat I would have him hanged as high as Haman hung if ever I returned, as I did not doubt I should. The time now became very critical, for we were rapidly approaching the enemy, when I again commanded him to put about his ship and return. He began to hesitate, and in a few minutes ordered his men to put about; and then steered directly back into Norwalk harbor. As soon as he came to anchor down at the Old Wells, the captain went ashore in his boat, and I never saw him again. I now found myself in the peaceable possession of the vessel, and its cargo. On taking up the scuttle in the cabin, I found an assortment of English goods corresponding with my invoice, which I had duly libeled and condemned. Thus ended my hazardous contest with the captain of the Sheeldham, a man void of principle, and unworthy the commission he had."

One of the enemy's sloops of war having been seen repeatedly to cross the Sound and anchor under Stratford Point, Conn., where she went to barter merchandize for produce, measures were taken to capture her. At Bridgeport, Maj. Tallmadge met Capt. Amos Hubbel, who had a suitable vessel, and readily engaged in the enterprise. The captain agreed to bring his craft along side the hostile ship, if indemnified against her loss in case of capture by the enemy, to which proposition Maj. Tallmadge readily assented. On the 20th of February, 1783, when the English sloop was at the point, the major placed forty-five men of his detachment, under the immediate command of lieutenants Rhea and Hawley, with Capt. Brewster's boat's crew of continental troops, on board of Capt. Hubbel's vessel, the whole to be commanded by Capt. Brewster. Capt. Hubbel, taking the helm in person, sailed at two o'clock, P.M., and at four was within hail of the foe. The American troops were kept concealed until the vessels were brought in contact. As they neared, the enemy opened a broadside, which crippled their antagonist considerably in the mast and rigging; but Capt. Hubbel, with great presence of mind, brought her up gallantly to the work. The troops, at a given signal, appeared on deck, discharged a volley of balls, and under Capt. Brewster boarded and carried the enemy at the point of the bayonet, "as in a moment," nearly every man on board being either killed or wounded. Not one of Brewster's men were harmed, nor was the vessel materially injured. In a few hours both vessels were moored in safety at Black Rock Harbor. The affair being duly reported to Gen. Washington, he expressed his thanks to Maj. Tallmaldge by letter, ordered the condemnation of the prizes and the avails thereof to be distributed among the troops who captured it.

In view of the disbanding the army, on the 10th day of May, 1783, a meeting of the American officers was had to organize the association, afterwards called "The Society of the Cincinnati," at which the Baron de Steuben, the senior officer, presided. Generals Knox, Huntington, and Hand, and Capt. Shaw, were appointed to prepare a written form or constitution expressive of its object; and at a meeting had at the quarters of Steuben on the 13th of May, their report was adopted. Of the State Society organized in the Connecticut line, Maj. Tallmadge was chosen treasurer for several years, and until he became its president. Most of the state Legislatures granted acts of incorporation to these associations, but that of Connecticut refused a charter, and the society disbanded, giving the balance of its funds to Yale College.

In the summer of 1783, after preliminary articles of peace had been announced, Maj. Tallmadge, with the approbation of Gen. Washington, proceeded to New York, under the sanction of a flag, to grant that protection the times demanded, to such persons as had transmitted intelligence of the enemy's doings from time to time during the war, to Maj. T. and others employed by the Commander-in-chief to procure it. Private emissaries, in other words secret spies, employed for years in the American service were thus protected against the insults of their countrymen, who, on entering the city, might otherwise have treated them with indignity, instead of merited respect. Several Enoch Crosbys were secretly engaged in the Revolution in transmitting to Gen. Washington, as best they could, important information of the enemies movements in and around New York.

Maj. Tallmadge was with the troops under Gen. Washington, who entered New York on the day it was evacuated by the enemy. On this occasion, Gen. Knox, at the head of a select corps, led the van of the American army. "The Commander-in-chief, accompanied by Gov. Clinton, and their respective suites, made their public entry into the city on horseback, followed by the lieutenant governor and members of the council, the officers of the army, eight abreast, and citizens on horseback, eight abreast, accompanied by the speaker of the Assembly and citizens, on foot, eight abreast. So perfect was the order of march, that entire tranquility prevailed, and nothing occurred to mar the general joy." Gov. Clinton gave a public dinner on the occasion, at which Gen. Washington and numerous other guests were present. On the Tuesday evening following, a most splendid display of fireworks took place near the Bowling Green, at the foot of Broadway. Maj. Tallmadge was also present, at Francis' Tavern in Pearl street, when Gen. Washington took final leave of his officers. They assembled at 12 o'clock, M., soon after which Gen. Washington appeared. After partaking of a little refreshment, in almost breathless silence, His Excellency filled his glass with wine, and turning to his companions in arms, thus addressed them: "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" The officers drank a glass of wine with him, after which he added: "I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand." Gen. Knox, being nearest, grasped his hand, and they embraced each other in silence. This was no doubt one of the most affecting interviews of the kind ever known. Each officer, in turn, imitating the example of Gen. Knox, embraced their Commander, and saluted him with a kiss, while their tears mingled profusely with his Own. Waving his hand to his comrades, he left the room, and passing through a corps of light infantry paraded to receive him, he walked in silence to Whitehall, where a barge waited his arrival. His officers followed to the wharf, where a large multitude had assembled to see his departure, and there witnessed his last salutation, which was the waving of his hat above the boat.

On the return of peace, Maj. Tallmadge again visited his native place, where the patriotic citizens got up a festival, roasted an ox whole, and made the major master of ceremonies.

On the 16th of March, 1784, Maj. Tallmadge led to Hymen's altar, the eldest daughter of the Hon. Wm. Floyd, of Mastick, Long Island; after which he commenced the mercantile business in Litchfield, Connecticut. He was much respected for his talents, and represented the district in which he resided in the councils of the nation.

End of Chapter XVIII

Footnotes

  1. The sangfroid manifested by Col. Vose, while under Gen. Gates, reminds me of another anecdote of the same campaign. Col. Scammel was distinguished for his courage and activity in The battle of Saratoga, and in the heat of it his cue was nearly shot off by a ball from the enemy. Pulling it off, he threw it down in the direction of the foe, exclaiming with emphasis -- "D" --n you, teke it all!" Col. S. led the van of Washington's army on their march to Yorktown, early in the seige of which place he fell, covered with glory. He was promoted to adjutant-general just before his death. -- Jas. Williamson.

  2. The following incidents of the seige were communicated to the author just before this work went to press, by Nicholas Hill, of Montgomery county, who belonged to the New York state troops at the time. At some period of the seige a bomb-battery of the enemy, situated not far from York river, was carried by a party of Americans in the night, who entered as their foes left it. A detachment of American troops arriving, after its capture, supposing it still occupied by the British, discharged their pieces in at the entrance, but most fortunately no one was injured within, and a pleasing recognition took place immediately after. The next day the enemy opened upon the lost battery a heavy cannonade from one of their inner works. A board projected from an exposed part of it, which was a source of inconvenience to its new occupants, and an axe was procured with which to cut it off. A temporary silence prevailed, which Christopher Van Voast, a native of Schenectada, snatched up the axe, and exclaiming "You're all a pack of d----d cowards!" sprang up, as a volunteer, to do it. He raised thee axe, but ere it had descended to the board a cannon shot passed through his body, cutting it nearly in two. About the same time an American soldier named Smith, was observed to fall near the battery, and on going to him his fellows found he was dead. There was no external marks of injury about him, but on examining his bead, the skull was found broken in as was determined by a surgeon from atmospheric concussion, caused by the passage of a cannon shot near it. Mr. Hill, said he did not believe the skull was fractured in the manner decided, but supposed the injury to have proceeded from the sudden fall upon the ground.

  3. For the loan of this Journal, the author would here acknowledge his indebtedness to the Hon. John P. Cushman, of Troy, a son-in-law of Colonel Tallmadge

Welcome Page of the Schoharie County NYGenWeb Site