The Duke of Bridgewater, who may justly be styled the father of the canal navigation of Great Britain, projected at his own expense a canal from the coal measures on his lands in the town of Worsley to Manchester, a distance of some ten miles; obtaining his first act for the same at the session of parliment for the winter of 1758 and 59. A few years after he obtained an act for carrying a branch of it to Liverpool, nearly thirty miles. The former canal was carried by a stone aqueduct over the river Irwell, forty feet above its surface, so that shipping might pass under it in the river; and the latter over the Mercer. Those great works which were looked upon at their commencement by the incredulous as wholly impracticable, were prosecuted to completion under the direction of the celebrated engineer and mechanical inventor, James Brindley. Soon after Brindley began those works, Thomas Machin entered his employ; and it is not surprising that under such a tutor, he, too, should have become a good practical engineer. He was engaged in taking the levels for the Duke's canal; and as clerk paid off many of the laborers employed by Brindley.
After making a voyage to the East Indies, Machin sailed for America, and arriving in 1772, took up his residence in the city of New York. The principal object of his voyage was to examine a copper mine in New Jersey. After a short stay in New York, he went to reside in Boston, and evidently intended a permanent residence; as he warmly espoused the cause of the Bostonians against his "father land." He was one of the celebrated Boston tea party of 1773. He was engaged and wounded (in one arm) in the conflict on Bunker's hill, while acting as lieutenant of artillery.
Mr. Machin received his first commission in the American service, as second lieutenant in the regiment of artillery, commanded by Col. Henry Knox, which was dated Jan. 18th, 1776. That the patriots of Massachusetts were not only acquainted with Lieut. Machin's skill as an engineer, but actually called it into requisition in laying out the fortifications for the American camp around Boston, the following papers will show.
"Boston, June 19,, 1776--Wednesday evening.
"To Lieut. Machin, at Nantasket:
"Sir--I informed the committee that you could go to Sandwich on the survey if it could be taken this week; in consequence of which, we agreed that you might set out as soon as you thought proper, and begin the survey, and that we would follow, and be there next Tuesday. I beg you would let me see you to-morrow evening, that the committee may hear what to depend on.
"Sir, your most humble serv't-
"Lieut. Machin, the bearer hereof, being employed in y' Colony service, it is desired he may pass from hence to Sandwich and back without interruption.
"Boston, June 20, 1778."
"Camp at White Plains, August 9, 1778.
"These are to certify, that the subscriber, being Aid-de-Camp to Maj. Gen'l Ward, in the year 1776, while stationed at Boston: General Ward directed Lieut. Thomas Machin, of the Artillery, to act as Engineer to errect fortifications for the defence of the Town and Harbor of Boston, from the first of April, 1776, to the month of June following, which service he faithfully performed.
Owing to the skillful manner in which Lieut. Machin had discharged the important task of laying out the fortifications around Boston, he was selected by the Commander-in-chief for the arduous duty of securing the navigation of the Hudson through the Highlands, as the following paper will show:
"Head-Quarters, New York, 21st July, 1776.
"Sir--You are without delay to proceed to Fort Montgomery, or Constitution, in the Highlands, on the Hudson's River, and put yourself under command of Col.George Clinton, or the commanding officer there,--to act as Engineer in comtemplating such works as are already laid out,--and such others as you, with the advice of Col. Clinton, may think necessary: 'Tis expected and required of you, that you pay close attention to this business, and drive on the works with all possible despatch. In case of an attack from the enemy, or in any action with them, you are to join and act with the Artillery on that station; and to return to your duty in the regiment as soon as you can be spared from the works. "I am, sir, your most humble serv't.
To the letter of instructions we find wafered the following paper:
"Fort Montgomery, August 9th, 1776.
"A list of the carpenters that have entered into the Continental service under Capt. Burns: Stephen Concklin, Joseph Halsted, Joshua Sager, Silas White, John Young, John Homan, Gilbert Roberts, Barzilla Tuthill, Cornelius Van Vlack, James Scoldfield."
"Capt. Burns--The above persons belonging to your company, being Artificers employed in the works here, you are therefore to have them at this place to be employed by and under the direction of Mr. Machin, the Engineer.
"GEO: CLINTON, Brig'r Gen'l."
Gov. Clinton was promoted about the time Gen. Washington's directions to Lieut. Machin were dated, and having occasion to leave the works, he placed his brother, Col. James Clinton, in temporary command to oversee them, as the following paper will show:
"Fort Montgomery, 10th August, 1776.
"To Lieut. Machin--As I am now ordered to march with the new levies to Kings Bridge, and as you will want many necessaries for compleating the new works we have begun on the south side of Poplopin's Kill,1 and the works to be erected for securing the pass of Anthony's Nose. You are to use your best endeavors by all means in your power, (applying to Col. Clinton from time to time for his aid and advice) to purchase and procure such articles as may be wanted, of which the clerk of the Check is to keep a just account. The artificers already employed and such others as may be wanted, are, (in the erecting of these works) to be under your directions, for which purpose Col. Clinton will be given the necessary orders.
"I am your humble serv't,
"GEO. CLINTON, Brig. Gen."
Gen. Schuyler early saw the necessity of obstructing the navigation of the Hudson in the Highlands to prevent the passage of British shipping to Albany; and communicated to the N. York Council of Safety his wishes on that subject, as the following papers will show: and as they are found among the papers of Capt. Machin, there can be no doubt but he was the person employed to make the requisite survey.
"Fishkill, Nov. 6, 1776.
"Gent.--I am directed by the Committee of Safety to transmit you the enclosed extract of Gen. Schuyler's letter, and to request that you'll cause his request to be immediately complied with.
"I am, gentlemen, with esteem,
"Your very humble servant,
"PIERRE VAN CORTLANDT, V. Pres."
"To the Gent. of the Secret Committee."
"Extract of a letter from Gen'l Schuyler directed to Peter R. Livingston, Esq. President, &c. dated Albany, Nov.3d, 1776.--
I wish the Convention would order the depth and breadth of Hudson's River to be carefully taken at such places as they conceive would be most proper effectually to obstruct the navigation; Verplanck's Point, or Jan Canten Hook, may be proper places; perhaps the latter."
ROBT. BENSON, Sec'y."
Col. Rufus Putnam, an officer of merit, commanded the 5th Massachusetts regiment, and was promotted to Brig. Gen. near the close of the war. He was wall-eyed. The following paper from Col. Putnam2 no doubt refers to the survey of the Hudson made agreeable to Gen. Schuyler's request.
"Peekskill, December 13th, 1776.
"Sir--I beg you will not delay sending a sketch of the North River through the Highlands, with a geographical description of the country on the west side; as I am going in a few days to wait on His Excellency with the best account of this part of the country that, without an actual survey, I am able to give. If you cannot send to me in two days, you must send it to His Excellency as soon as possible, for I can wait no longer.
"Sir, your humble servant,
"To Lieut. Machin, Engineer."
Jan. 7th, 1777, the State authorites took official cognizance of the doings of Capt. Machin, as appears by several resolutions on the "Journal of the Committee of Safety." His commission dates his rank as Captain Lieutenant of U. S. Artillery, on the 1st day of January 1777, although it did not pass the office of the Board of War, until April 21st, 1780.
The succeeding papers directed "To Capt. Thomas Machin, at Murder's Creek," one of which was without date, were evidently written while the navigation of the river was being obstructed, in 1777.
"To Capt. Machin:
"Sir--I have already directed that no more timber should be cut on Mr. Ellison's land for the obstructions to be made in the river, (except it should be such long walnut pieces as could not be so conveniently had anywhere else,) until a proportionate share of timber for that use was also got on lands lying equally near the river. I am surprissed, therefore, to hear that a company of carpenters are in his woods cutting away timber of every kind, which I trust must be without your order or knowledge. He is willing you should take such long walnut pieces as you want and can't get as conveniently elsewhere; other kind of timber we certainly can, and more so. I expect, therefore, you will direct the carpenters to desist cutting in his woods till further orders from me.
"I am your most obed't serv't,
"New Windsor, 31st Jan'y. 1777
"Dr. Sir--I set out for Kingston to-morrow morning, where business will detain me for a few days. I wished to have seen you before I set out. I cannot now expect it. I think the artificers neither go out early enough in the morning, or continue late enough in the evening, at work. I was surprised this day to see many break off a little after three in the afternoon. It was said they had not been home to dinner, but allowing that to be the case, from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon is not by any means a day's work. To cure this mischief I enclose you an order which you'll publish among those employed, and endeavor to carry it into execution. If you think the hours are too long, make any alteration you think right; but pray, whatever hours are fixed on, contrive to make them work. "I am in great haste your most obed't,
"Orders to be observed by the artificers and others employed in obstructing the navigation of Hudson's river, 13th Jan'y, 1777.
"As high wages are given by the public at this season of the year, when the days are short and the weather fickle, in order to have this most necessary work (on which not only the safety of this State, but of the whole continent depends,) completed in due season:--It is therefore expected that those who are employed and receive the public's money, will be faithful in the service and do the most they can. It is the business of the master workmen who have contracted to carry on the work and taken the charge of small parties under them, to see that they are diligently employed and work faithfully. It is for this they are allowed extra wages, and it is expected that in this way they will earn, or in justice they cannot expect to receive it. The monthly pay rolls must be attested (if required,) by the master workmen, and an honest man can never return a man for a full day's pay who has not done a full day's work. This would be dishonest and punishable; but that every possible guard may be set against deception, and that all account for pay of artificers and others may stand fair and uncontrovertible, the engineer is to fix upon the hour in the morning at which all hands are to be at work--the hour they are to quit for dinner, the time when they are to return to work after dinner, and break off in the evening; and to cause the rolls to be called over by such person or persons as he shall appoint at those and such other times as he shall see fit; and mark the defaulters (if any,) that a proper deduction may be made from their wages. It is expected at present that those employed near the barracks will work at least eight hours every day, and those employed where the timber now lays, or at that distance, at least seven. The time for working each day to be lengthened when the days grow longer.
"GEO. CLINTON, B. Gen'l."
Opposite is the facsimile of a letter from Gen. Washington "To Brigadier Gen. Knox, commanding the corps of Artillery." It was written during the visit of Capt. Machin to the Commander-in-chief, at his winter quarters:
The following paper, which is without date, was no doubt written about the time Gen. Clinton visited Kingston:
"Sir--I am informed that the Inhabitants of Kingston are desirous of making some Works for the Defence of their town. I approve of their intentions, and wish to give them every assistance in my power in the execution of this business; and that the works may be constructed on a Plan most efficient and least expensive, I request you will repair to that place and assist in laying them out, in which Col. Bruyn will advise. It will not be practicable, neither do I conceive it necessary to enclose the town, as the houses are stone, and will form (if the Windows and Doors are properly secured) good Lines of Defence. Small Redoubts or block-houses, therefore, at the different and most commanding quarters of the Town, are all that to me appear necessary; which ought to be constructed each for a Piece or two of artillery, so as to clear the lines formed by the houses; and when it can be, conveniently, these should be so contiguous to each other as to be within the reach of Musquetry, which will be a saving of Ammunition. In constructing these works, it is to be observed that Artillery against them is not to be apprehended.
"I am your most obed't serv't.
By the next paper we perceive that Capt. Machin was given discretionary power, by Governor Clinton, to act in certain emergencies:
"Dear Sir--I received yours of this date. I approve your conduct in marching your men against those Parricides, and no pains must be spared to apprehend or destroy them. Major Logan, and every other Officer in both Counties, I know, will exert themselves on this occasion in drawing out the Militia for quelling this dangerous insurrection; nor must any risk be run in taking prisoners.
"I am your most obd't serv't
"March, 10th, 1777.
"GEO. CLINTON, B. Gen."
"P.S. A party will march towards the Forest of Dean, to guard the defiles there."
"To Capt. Thomas Machin."
"To Capt. Machin, at Capt. Nicholls'."
"Dear Sir--This will be handed to you by Mr. Chambers from Marble Town, who has come down with 6 or 7 carpenters, to be employed in our works; and in a few days I expect as many more will be here from that quarter as will complete his company to 12. As these are men who were engaged at our request, when the others misbehaved and quit work, they must be employed--indeed, we can't have too many now. How you will find room for them I can't tell, but you are good at contrivance.
"I am your H. S.
"11th March, 1777."
The following paper, from Gov. Clinton to Capt. Machin, shows the preparation making for the enemy's reception in the Highlands:
"Dear Sir--Let one know immediately whether twelve Pounders, having the trunions broke off, can be quicker repaired by stocking them, or fixing new trunions to them. If the former way is the speediest and best, I beg you would come down here immediately and bring such Artificers with you as can do them directly. If the latter is the best, can't you spare Van Houton your Smith, to work a while at this business at Fort Constitution? He shall be well used, and Barney will stay with him. On receipt hereof you will send down the two twelve Pounders at New Windsor, with the ammunition and stores belonging to them, to this Port. In their room I have ordered you the Brass 24 Pounder from Fishkill; it will suit you better, and you are to preserve her at all events; if she should be lost at your Port you will be in Disgrace forever. I expect you will have the 24 lbr. to-morrow at your Port. If you come here yourself on an alarm, you will take care to leave behind you some persons who can use the 24 lbr., and who will guard and save her. Gen. Putnam wants to know how you come forward with your Boom, and whether you meet any Obstructions in that Business which you did not forsee.
"I am your most obd't serv't.
"Fort Montgomery, 3d July, 1777.
"P.S. Wont your skow, well manned, bring the guns down quicker and easier?"
By a memorandum, found among the Machin papers, it appears that the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds was paid in one month for teams "Employed in drawing Timber for the use of the works Obstructing the navigation of Hudson River," under his individual direction. Thirty shillings was the regular price paid per day for a teamster with two yoke of oxen.
In anticipation of an attack from the enemy, under Sir Henry Clinton, the following orders were issued by Gen. James Clinton:
"Head Quarters, Fort Montgomery, July 10th, 1777.
"The Signals to be given on the approach of the Enemy: On the firing of Two Cannon at Peekskill by Gen. Varnam one minute from each other; Two will be fired by Gen. Huntington; Two by Gen. Parsons; to be answered by Two at Fort Independence; Two at Fort Montgomery; Two at Fort Constitution: and the Beacon there to be fired as usual; to be answered by two from the Brass twenty-four Pounder, near New Windsor: upon this Signal, the Militia on the West side of Hudson's River, in the Counties of Orange and Ulster, as far up as Col. Harbrouk's Regiment, including the same, are to march by detachments, without further notice, as a Reinforcement of this Garrison, and the Militia on the East side of the River, as far up as Poughkeepsie, including Col. Freus' Regiment, to march for the reinforcing the Garrison under Gen. Putnam.
"This order is immediately to be published by the Commanding officer at Fort Constitution, and copies of it transmitted by him to Capt. Lieut. Machin, of the Artillery at New Windsor, that he may cause the same to be published there."
In the month of September Capt. Machin was engaged in the recruiting service, as his correspondence with Col. John Lamb, his commanding officer, doth show.
Early in October, to make a diversion in favor of Gen. Burgoyne, Sir Henry Clinton ascended the Hudson with his army, and succeeded, with a severe loss, in storming Forts Montgomery and Clinton, on the west bank of the Hudson, six miles below West Point--one on either side of Poplopin's kill. At the time of the attack on the former fort, Capt. Machin managed a heavy gun which did fearful execution in the ranks of the assailants. As the army drew near the fort, late in the afternoon, Machin saw a man step from the ranks of the enemy and poise his musket to fire at him. He had just prepared his ordinance for a discharge, loaded to the muzzle with round, grape and double headed bar shot, the latter projecting from the gun; as he caught the eye of the soldier who had raised his piece to fire on him. Machin's gunner in the act of applying the match, was shot down by his side, and the former snatching the linstock from the hand of the fallen hero applied it to the gun, the contents of which mowed a fearful swath, causing the assailants to fall back. At the instant the match was applied, Machin received a bullet in his body, and retired with the wounded. The ball entered his breast and came out under his right shoulder. A man who was aiding the wounded captain, near sundown, in his retreat, was shot and fell upon him, and it was with no little difficulty he extricated himself from his dying comrade. It began to grow dark, when Machin asked a retreating soldier if he could not help him. "It is a d-----d good fellow who can help himself," was the unfeeling reply, as the man passed on. Capt. Machin was soon taken into a boat and thus made his escape. On the morning following, Capt. Milligan of Orange county, who had been wounded the preceeding evening in one knee, was discovered near the river, by the enemy, of whom he begged for quarters; instead of granting which, his unfeeling foes bayoneted and threw him down the rocks. While recovering from his wounds Capt. Machin was entertained at the house of Gov. Clinton, from whose family he received the kindest treatment. The Americans, on losing Forts Montgomery and Clinton, abandoned Fort Constitution as untenable, leaving in their retreat considerable booty to the enemy. Gen. Vaughan then ascended the river as far as Kingston, burning it and destroying a large quantity of military stores there collected; soon after which most of the army returned to New York city; evacuating the captured forts, but retaining and fortifying Stoney Point, a few miles below Forts Montgomery and Clinton.
Early in December Capt. Machin was so far recovered from his wound as to be engaged in his regular duties, as the following Clinton papers will show.
"Little Britain, 1st Dec'r, 1777.
"Dear Machin--I wrote to Doctor Tappen and Maj. Billings some time ago to endeavor to provide me a house at or near Poughkeepsie, providing the legislature determined to meet at that place; since which I have not heard from them. Mrs. Clinton is anxious to get settled again, and as I believe Poughkeepsie would be her choice as well as the place where the legislature will meet, I will be much obliged to you if you will be kind enough to take a ride there, consult with Maj. Billings and Doct. Tappen, and concert with them--endeavor to procure some convenient house for me. It will be no objection should it be a mile or two out of town.
"I offered Capt. Harris the use of my house this winter for his family. He thinks it would be too lonesome for her, [his wife.] But as Mrs. Bedlow is not to move to New Windsor, suppose Capt. Harris was to move into my house and you was to make your lodgings with them; and indeed Capt. Harris will be at home great part if not the whole winter. Will you mention this to the captain?
"I have a cot at my house out of which the militia stole the irons: will you get it repaired for me, as I have no other bed or bedstead.
"I am Dr. Sirs, yours sincerely,
"P.S. If you go to Poughkeepsie advise me of it by a line. Maj. Taylor will furnish you with a horse for the purpose."
"Poughkeepsie, 13th Dec., 1777.
"Dear Machin--There are some mahogany boards in and about our mill which Mrs. Clinton brought from Capt. Nevin's, which I wish you would measure and secure me. You forgot to send my razors; pray let me have them by first good conveyance.
"P.S. We are well.
"Mrs. Clinton's compliments to you."
"Poughkeepsie, 19th Dec'r, 1777.
"Dear Sir--I am much obliged to you for the wood, &c., you have sent me by Serg't Halsted. The sloop carries but six and a half cords of wood: I have therefore got but that quantity. The Sheep the sergeant tells me he put up in my stable and gave them in charge of some militia that were threshing: in the morning they were gone, so that I have not got them. I suppose, or at least it is likely, they stole them. I wish you would try to find them again, and when you come to see us throw them in the bottom of your slay [sleigh] and you shall eat part of them. Sam gave your saddle-bags to Col. Dubois' Bob, who promised to take care of them for you. Col. Taylor promised to send Mrs. Clinton two pots, which he has forgot; perhaps you may have an opportunity to send or bring them. As to my house and farm, I leave it entirely at your discretion and disposal. I wish to oblige Capt. Harris, but if he declines you can let it to who [whom] you please. I wish to have the timber saved as much as possible.
"I had letters from Head Quarters dated the 3d and 10th instant. No News there. Gen. Washington is anxious about securing the river. Putnam is ordered to turn his whole attention to that business, and will be up with his troups in a few days. Colonels Webb and Ely were taken in a sloop with about thirty men, crossing to Long Island, by an armed brig. Gen. Parsons has had a brush with the Hessians, beat them and took one field piece, it is said, but wants confirmation. Ensign Adamson about a week ago broke his parole and went off, but was fortunately taken with six other rascals, in Mile-Square--two of them negroes he had seduced off. Mrs. Clinton joins in the best respects to you and love to Caty. I wish to see you soon.
The following is the copy of a letter from Capt. Machin to the New York Council of Safety, preserved among his papers:
"To the Honorable Committee of New Windsor:
GENTLEMEN--It will be needless for me to point out to you the necessity of some speedy obstructions being made in Hudson's river, against gun-boats, galleys and small crafts that will probably come up at the first opening of the spring, and prevent our making such necessary works as may preserve the good people on the banks of the river, from the revenge of a merciless enemy (remember Kingston), towards effecting which, much time has already elapsed and but little done, which drives me to the necessity of applying to the Honorable Committee on this occasion.
"We shall want a large quantity of timber for the Chain, which cannot be got up the river on account of the frost; and when the frost breaks up it will be too late for our business. I shall not think it consistent with my duty to distress any individual by cutting all the timber off one man's land, and thereby render a good farm of little value; and I cannot always be with men in the woods: unless destruction may be made by them unless over seen by somebody to prevent it. For this purpose I should be glad if the Honorable Committee will appoint a Wood Ranger to oversee the business, that the Master Carpenters may apply to him for such timber as they shall receive orders to get. It ought to be a person in disinterested circumstances, a man of honor, resolution and stability. A compliance with this will much forward the present business and oblige--gentlemen,
"You humble servant,
New Windsor, 22d Feb., 1778.
The following letter from Gen. James Clinton to Capt. Machin, is of a private rather than public character; and shows that some men even at that early day, were rather above their business: or had conceived that sickly modern notion of its being dishonorable or disgraceful to labor. If it be honorable to disobey the commands of God, then indeed is it dishonorable to work--but if not--not.
"Little Britain, March, 4th, 1778.
"Dear Sir--I received your favor by Lieut. Strachan with a few lines from Col. Taylor inclosed, concerning a complaint that Capt. Young had made against Capt. Mills, (both of the Artificers,) but as Col. Taylor does dot set forth what injury Capt. Mills has done Capt. Young, I can't give you any advice about the matter.
"I think your letter seems to confirm the charge against both of them; for what can stain an officer's character more than not doing his duty? A captain of a company of artificers, if he does his duty, will have harder work than any of the privates, and I think you are answerable for their conduct, as you have the charge of the work; and if they don't do their duty you must arrest them, if nothing else will do.
"If they be gentlemen of such high spirits as to think it a scandal for them to work because they bear the title of captain, I think they might decide such disputes between themselves without troubling any officer with it. Inclosed you have Col. Taylor's report, and if I must give my opinion of the matter, let me know what stories Capt. Mills has propagated against Capt. Young.
"I am, Sir, Yours,
"JAMES CLINTON, B.G."
The following papers will show the spring of 1778, like that of the preceeding year, to have been a very busy one in the Highlands of the Hudson:
"Sir:--As Col. Laradiere has left us, I wish you, if you can be absent from New Windsor for a day to come to this port to-morrow or the day after, to advise about the proper method of fortifying this place.
"From, Sir, your humble servant,
"SAM'L H. PARSONS.
"West Point, 11th March, 1778."
"Monday afternoon, March 11th, 1778.
"My Dear Captain:--You will receive by the bearer some paper and all the white rope of the size mentioned we have. I have sent off Charley this minute to forward the cordage from Danbury, as well as from Fairfield, but can't say what size there is at the latter [place], as it is sent by Mr. Shaw, of New London, at the request of Gen. Putnam, who never told me the sizes he ordered. I believe there are no more cables to be expected of Mr. Ives till he gets more hemp--at least, I understood him so. In my letter to Gen. Putnam, I informed him, while he was in Connecticut, that all sizes would be wanted, and advised that the whole cargo should be bought.
"He referred the matter to Governor Trumbull, (and I imagine) the Governor to Mr. Shaw, who may, possibly, serve himself first. However, as I said before, Charles is gone to learn the true state of what is on the road, and forward it along. When he returns, which will be in two or three days, I expect, you shall hear further. I will wait on the general, and let you know his orders concerning the hands. Inclosed you have the general's order for the men required.
I am, Dear Captain,
"Yours in truth,
"P.S. You have also an order on Sheaf at Wappinger's creek."
"Little Britain, March 20th, 1778.
"Dear Sir:--I expected to have been to see you before now, but the riding was so bad I deferred it a little while, as I want to go to the West Point. I send my boy for the papers if they are come.
"I suppose you begin to ketch[catch] some fish this fine weather; if so I would be glad you would send a few up here--and you will oblige,
The following paper, which is without date or signature, is in the hand writing of Gov. Clinton, and was filed by Capt. Machin as received from him March 20th, 1778:
"Mr. Machin will write to Samuel Bronson, at Goshen, to know if he has any knowledge of a lead mine in the mountains, about nine miles off the river, of which he once spoke to Thos. Smith, Esq.
"Mr. Machin will also go to Wawarsink and see the mine there now working by one McDonald, and what prospect there is of working it to purpose. It is said there is a lead mine near Mamecottang [Mamakating, as now written], and one on this side of Shawangunk mountains, of which make inquiry--of the latter from Col. Palmer, the former from everybody. Mr. Wisner has the samples of them; get those from him-----in those of Wasink in Dutchess and-----." [Several words at the close of this paper are rendered unintelligible.]
"Sir--if 'tis possible to spare any timber from the creek, I beg you to order it rafted immediately for this place, where we are in the greatest need of it; it ought not to be delayed a moment, our information being of a nature which requires immediate attention to compleating the batteries. [Probably in the vicinity of West Point.]
Your obedient serv't,
SAM'L. H. PARSONS."
"3d April, 1778.
The following is the copy of a letter from Capt. Machin to Gen. McDougal, which shows when the chain, which was stretched across the Hudson at West Point, was completed.
Honored Sir--Lieut. Woodward who I told you was at Sterling iron works inspecting the chain, is now returned, and informs me that seventeen hundred feet of the Great Chain, which is equal to the breadth of the river at the place last fixed upon, is now ready for use. The capson [capstan] and docks are set up at the lower place; the mud blocks are launched and only wait for good weather to carry them down: four cannon, twelve and nine pounders are at the beach, also waiting for weather to go down: four more will be ready by Saturday; and if no unforseen accident should appear, I shall be able to send down four cannon next week. If the weather should be favorable, I am in hopes we shall be able to take the chain down all fixed in about 6 days. Lieut. Woodward was ordered by Ge, Parsons to assist me at those works, and as he is a gentleman well skilled in mechanical powers, and a person of steady application, it will put me much out of the way to have him removed at this time. Should therefore be glad if you will continue him in the work, as somebody must be in his place, and to take an entire stranger at this time will be onerous and dangerous.
I am, dear sir,
Your humble servant,
"The Honorable Maj. Gen. McDougal.
"April 20th, 1778."
"Poughkeepsie, 3d May, 1778. "Dear Sir--I received your letter of yesterday and am happy to learn that the chain is across the river, and that you had the good fortune to accomplish it so expeditiously and so much to your satisfaction.
"I am informed that old Mr. Teabout, who lives (or did lately) at Van Deuzens, near the Clove, has a phaeton that he will dispose of. If so, and it is a neat, good one, as I am told it is, I wish to buy it, provided it can be had at a reasonable price. A new one used to cost about L80. I would be willing to give something more now. Will you call and take a look at it--know the price, and if good and reasonable purchase it for me. The sooner you see it the better.
Yours sincerely, GEO. CLINTON."
The following paper tells credibly for the skill and character of Capt. Machin:
"I hereby certify that about the middle of July, 1776, Capt. Machin, of the Artillery, came to Fort Montgomery, and by the direction of His Excellency, Gen. Washington, was there employed in laying out and errecting works for the defence of that place, and for securing the pass to Anthony's Nose, until towards the latter part of August, when Gen. James Clinton took the command of that post. That in December following, Capt. Machin was employed in constructing chevaux-de-frize for obstructing the navigation of Hudson's river, opposite Pollopel's island; and that he continued in that business, sinking the same, making the necessary preparations for fixing the chain across the river at Fort Montgomery, and occasionally superintending the works at that place, until some time in June 1777, when Gen. Putnam took the command of the army in the neighborhood of the North river, and by his orders Capt. Machin was employed in constructing and making booms to draw across the river in front of the chain, till the reduction of that fort by the enemy, at which time he was badly wounded. And I have reason to believe, that upon his recovery he has been steadily employed to this time in the necessary preparations for fixing the new chain across the river, completing one of the booms, the chevaux-de-frize, and raising the galley which was sunk on the enemy's advance up the river. In justice to Capt. Machin I am bound to add, that while he was under my command he discovered great diligence and industry in forwarding the different works committed to his care, and that in the execution of them he experienced an uncommon share of labor and fatigue, being often necessarily exposed to work in the water in very cold weather.
"Given under my hand at Poughkeepsie, this 17th of August, 1778,
The expenses of placing obstructions in the Hudson at the Highlands, were necessarily very great. An account current, in the hand writing of Capt. Machin, shews an indebtedness (before deducting assets,) of the Quarter Master General, to Noble & Townsend, proprietors for the Sterling Iron Works," for some 135 tons of iron wrought into booms, bolts, clips, chains, swivels, clevises, bands, &c., of fourteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine dollars and eighty nine cents; nearly all of which is accredited in the latter part of the year 1777. Another memorandum among the Machin papers, which is headed "A general abstract of several companies of Artificers employed in the works obstructing the navigation of Hudson's River, under the direction of Capt. Thomas Machin, Superintendent," gives the footing of the Payrolls for the labor of Twelve companies of artificers, which amounts to eleven thousand eighty-nine dollars and fifty cents: the longest term for which any of the Rolls was made being from Dec, 1776, to the first of June, 1777. After the enemy evacuated Fort Montgomery, and the Americans began to repair those works in the fall of 1777, a dock, anchor and booms, for obstructing the river at that place, were again constructed by Capt. Machin as engineer, agreeably to the orders of Gen. Putnam, as his papers show.
The iron of which the mammoth chain used at West Point was manufactured, was wrought from ore in equal parts from Sterling and Long Mines, Orange county, N. Y. The links of this chain weighed from 100 to 150 pounds each. The whole chain weighed 186 tons.3 This chain was buoyed up in the middle of the river by several large spars, secured a few feet apart by strong timbers framed into them, upon which the chain rested. Every Fall it was drawn on shore by a windlass and the float taken out - both being replaced early in the Spring.-(Capt. Eben Williams.) The chain, as may be supposed, was properly fastened on shore at the ends. Several writers have promulged an error by stating that a chain was stretched across the Hudson, at West Point, in the Autumn of 1777.
A chain of half the diameter of the one placed at West Point, in the Spring of 1778, was drawn across the river near Fort Montgomery, in Nov., 1776. This chain, which, agreeably to the letter of Peter Townsend already quoted, was made at the Ringwood Iron Works, New Jersey, and composed of cold short iron, was broken by the enemy in the fall of 1778. The West Point chain crossed the river just above the Point to Constitution Island, a distance of some 1500 feet It was guarded by a strong battery, erected at each end to command its approach, and was never molested by the enemy.
The following letter, found in the correspondence of the Provincial Congress of N. Y., shows the result of the survey, made agreeably to the request of Gen. Schuyler, in the Autumn of 1776:
"Nov. 22, 1776.
"In consequence of a letter received by us, the subscribers, members of the secret committee, from the Committee of Safety dated the - day of November instant, when we were at Fort Montgomery fixing the chain across the river, enclosing an extract from Gen. Schuyler, requesting the Convention to have the river sounded in different places in the Highlands, we have sounded the river, beginning between Verplanck's and Stoney Point, thence northward through the Highlands to Pollopel's Island, and find no part of the river in that distance less than eighty feet deep in the main channel, till within a short distance of the island.
"From the island to the western shore, we found, by measurement, the
distance to be fifty three chains; the channel near the middle of the
river at that place, is about eighty chains broad, and about fifty feet
deep; from the channel the water shoals gradually on both sides to the
flats, which are about eight or ten chains broad, reckoning both sides.
This above described plane is the only one, in our opinion, that it is
possible for an obstruction to be made by docking, effectually to impede
the navigation of Hudson's river, at any place above the south part of
In accordance with the survey made as above certified, chevauxdefrize were sunk in the river between Pollopel's Island and the west bank of the river, under the direction of Capt. Machin. The chain which guarded the river near Fort Montgomery, parted twice soon after it was fastened. The following certifies to the accident:
"Fort Montgomery, Dec. 9, 1776.
"These are to certify that the chain that has been stretched across the North river at this fort, has been broke twice; the first, a swivel broke, which,came from Ticonderoga, which was not welded sound; the second time, a clevin broke, which was made at Poughkeepsie, in a solid part of the chain, and no flaw to be seen in any part of said chain. Which we do certify at the request of Messrs. Odle and Vanduzer.
"JAMES CLINTON, B. GEN.
"ABM. SWARTWOUT, CAPT.
"JAS. ROSECRANS, CAPT.
"DANL. LAWRENCE, LIEUT. "
This chain, which was stretched across the river from Fort Montgomery to Anthony's Nose, was 1800 feet long. The State Committee authorized Capt. Machin to alter it or change its place. Below the chain he placed a boom. Of those works the historian Botta thus observes "They were remarkable for their perfection, and had been executed with equal industry and difficulty."
Several writers have stated that skillful engineers were sent out by the King of France to explore the Highlands of the Hudson, and locate suitable defences; that they superintended the erection of forts and obstructions along the river, for which they were never paid. This is all untrue. The Continental Congress recommended a survey of the Hudson, and the erection of several batteries in the Highlands, as early as May, 1775. In June following, Col. James Clinton and Christopher Tappen were appointed by the Provincial Congress of New York to designate sites, and having reported to that body, it resolved to build them. Commissioners to superintend the construction of the works were selected from the delegates, of which number John Berrien acted as commissary. Bernard Romans, then a pensioner from the British crown, was employed to act as engineer, and entered upon the duties in the latter part of September. Fort Constitution, situated on "Martelair's Rock Island,"afterwards called Constitution Island, in the east side of the Hudson, just above the West Point, was then commenced. Some Difficulty having arisen between the engineer and commissioners, a special committee visited the works in December, to reconcile the existing differences. They censured the course of the engineer in not consulting the commissioners - disapproved of the plan adopted, as too expensive for the benefits likely to accrue, and recommended the erection of defensive works at Poplopins' kill. Romans continued at Fort Constitution until some time in the winter.
In January, 1776, the erection of a battery, to mount 30 guns, was commenced by Thomas Grennell, one of the commissioners, on an eminence 714 yards east of West Point, to command the stretch of the river above and below it, about which time a battery, to mount eighteen heavy cannon, was begun on a gravel hill, 500 yards eastward of Fort Constitution, and 1700 north of the other battery, intended to cover the fort and scour the West Point. In Feb., 1716, Capt. Smith, Gen. Lee's engineer, succeeded Mr. Romans, and began the construction of Fort Montgomery, on the north chop of Poplopin's kill, 6 miles distant from Fort Constitution: and soon after, Fort Clinton, on the south side of the kill was commenced.
Application having been made in June, 1776, to Gen. Washington for an engineer, by the Provincial Congress of New York, he agreed to send them one "who would take the whole direction of the works in the Highlands, "whereupon the commissioners were discharged from further service. The engineer sent, as has been shown, was Capt. Thomas Machin.
The correspondence inserted will serve to show the reader, to some extent, the duties performed by Capt. Machin in the Highlands. Under his direction, forts Montgomery and Clinton were completed, and several other forts and batteries along the river planned and erected, and the navigation obstructed. After the enemy destroyed forts Montgomery and Clinton, the latter were never rebuilt, but a strong fortress was placed on West Point, (the present site of the military academy,) and given the same name. Above, and commanding this fort, stood Fort Putnam, the ruins of which are still visible, and on an eminence, half a mile south-west of the former, was a strong redoubt called Fort Willis.
Early in Jan., 1778, John Sloss Hobart, Henry Wisner, John Hathorn, and Zeph. Platt, delegated for that purpose by the State Congress, Generals Putnam and George Clinton, the Lieut. Col. of Engineers, Capt. Machin, and several other military gentlemen, met at Poughkeepsie, to consult about fortifying and obstructing the Hudson; and the works located at and near West Point, were placed there in accordance with their views. Generals Schuyler, Lee, Sterling, and a few other officers, were also consulted on some occasions, about fortifying the river.
The following letter from Doct. Freeman, shows Capt. Machin still engaged in the valley of the Hudson.
"Sandwich, August 10th. 1778.
"Dear Sir-Your favor by Mr. Williams I received, also one before, am very glad to hear you are well, and employing your ingenuity and abilities in such a glorious cause, and with such promising aspects.
"Your chest of books and instruments are safe here, and ready to be
delivered to your order at any time, and should be very happy to see you
here yourself, which hope shall have opportunity for ere long. Mr.
Williams can tell you all ye news from this quarter, to whom I refer
you. He manifests a great regard for you, and any favor you can show him
will meet my sincerest gratitude, as he is my neighbor and friend. Your
letters give me much satisfaction, and would have been answered before,
but for want of opportunity. As often as you write me you will greatly
oblige your affectionate friend and humble serv't.
"Mrs. Freeman sends her compliments, &c.."
"P. S. Our report respecting the channel was seasonably made and in favor of it, but nothing done."
Lieut. Woodward, mentioned by Capt. Machin as being his assistant at West Point, became after they separated his constant correspondent. The following is one of his letters.
"White Plains, 5th Sept. 1778,
"Dear Captain-This is the fourth time of my writing without hearing or receiving from you. I believe you to be buried by this. Give me joy; I am ordered to join Capt. Walker, who is annexed to Gen. Huntington's Brigade near the Artillery Park. We live exceedingly happy on rum, beef and bread. The board of officers are sitting to settle the rank of the regiment, which makes me sorry you are not present. I waited on Gen. Parsons yesterday, who expressed surprise that you had not got down yet. Your Company does duty with Capt Wool's in Gen. Clinton's Brigade. Your lads are all well and want to see you. Our Captains are all high for rank. I hope you will not forget my foiles, but send them down by the first opportunity. I should be very glad if you can send down my ward, which is in my chest at Mr. Fraser's. Give my tender regards to Mrs. Logan and the Maj. if returned - also to all your friends as well as mine.
In a bill of expenses for extra services, Capt. Machin rendered in 1778, are the following items: "Exploring Hudson's River from the 1st day of Jan. with 7 men 6 days, £6 10 0; expenses of getting down the chain logs with 40 men 4 days, £6 0 0; expenses in raising the Lady Washington galley at Kingston creek 20 days, £9 10 6."This vessel was purposely sunk on the enemy's approach the preceding October.
In the years 1777 and 1778, Capt. Machin paid out, independent of sums already named, as appears from the vouchers among his papers, between thirty and forty thousand dollars - mostly for obstructing the River. The usual price paid carpenters per day was $0.93 3/4 -- foreman $1.50: blacksmiths from $1.37 1/2 to $1.50 -foreman $2: artificers same as blacksmiths: shipwrights $1. 50-foreman $2.12 1/2, and captains of companies $3. "Joshua Marriner, super-instructor of the artificers, employed in making carriages and stocking cannon," had $2 per day. Men employed in the summer of 1778, in burning coal to be used in preparing obstructions for the River, received 7s. 6d, or 93 3/4 cents per day. The burning of coal from January to August of that year amounted, as appears by vouchers, to two hundred and forty dollars. A few pounds of sole-leather used in making pump boxes to aid in raising sunken vessels, was paid for at the rate of $1.25 per pound.
As appears from Capt. Machin's papers, he acted in the latter part of 1776, and early part of 1777, under the direction of Gov. Clinton: in the latter part of that year and early part of 1778, under that of Maj. Gen. Putnam; and in the summer and autumn of 1778, under that of Brig. Gen. Parsons.
To secure the passage of the Hudson through the Highlands against the enemy's shipping, was considered of most vital importance; and its principal direction being assigned to Capt. Machin, tells credibly for his skill and integrity.
In the spring of 1779, as a part of the meditated invasion of the Indian country in New-York by Gen. Sullivan; Col. Van Schaick marched to Onondaga, as I have shown, to destroy the possessions of that nation. The following journal of that transaction action is on file among Capt. Machin's papers.
"Early on Monday morning, 19th of April, 1779 - Marched from Fort Schuyler with a detachment of troops consisting of 558 men including officers; and after marching [putting] eight days provision into bateaus which had been conveyed over the carrying place in the night, and leaving a sufficient number of soldiers to assist the bateaumen to get the boats down Wood Creek, with five officers to hurry them on - the remainder of the troops marched to the old scow place, twenty-two miles by land, but much more by water: the troops arrived by 3 o'clock P. M., but the boats did not all arrive until 10 o'clock, having been much obstructed by trees which had fallen across the Creek. As soon as the boats arrived the whole of the troops embarked, and on entering the Onidahogo [Oneida Lake], was much impeded by a cold head wind. Made one halt in the night for the rearmost boats to come up, and then proceeded to Posser's Bay, where we arrived at 8 o'clock in the morning of the 20th, to wait again for the coming up of the boats, when we continued with as much expedition as possible to the Onondaga Landing opposite the old fort, and arrived there at 3 o'clock P. M. from whence, after leaving the boats with proper guard, we marched eight or nine miles on our way to the Onondaga settlement and lay on our arms all night without fire, not being able to continue our marching - dark - the night cold. Very early on the 21st proceeded on to the old Salt Lake, and at 9 o'clock A. M. forded an arm of that Lake two hundred yards over and four feet deep a considerable part of the way: pushed on to the Onondaga Creek, where Capt. Graham with his company of Light Infantry took an Onondaga warrior prisoner, which was the first Indian we had discovered. Ordered Capt. Graham to endeavor to surround the first Onondaga settlements which were about two miles off, and hastening on the troops by companies as fast as he crost the Creek upon a log - the Creek not being fordable. I soon arrived with the whole detachment at the principal Castle, but was before apprised of their having discovered our advanced parties while they were taking some prisoners, upon which I ordered different routes to be taken by several different detachments in order to surround as many of their settlements as possible at the same time, which extended eight miles in length, with some scattered habitations lying back of the coasts and on the opposite side of the Creek; but notwithstanding, entered their first settlement in the most secret manner and quite undiscovered by them. They soon received the alarm throughout the whole and fled to the woods, but without being able to carry off any thing with them. We took thirty-three Indians and one white prisoner, and killed twelve Indians - the whole of their settlement consisting of about fifty houses, with a quantity of corn and every other kind of stock we found were killed [destroyed] - about one hundred guns, some of which were rifles, were among the plunder, the whole of which, after the men had loaded [themselves] with as much as they could carry, was destroyed, with a considerable quantity of ammunition: one swivel taken at the Council House had the trunnions broken off and otherwise damaged: in fine, the destruction of all their settlements was compleat, after which we begun our march back recrossing the Creek, and forded the arm of the Lake alongside of which we encamped on very good ground; having been once interrupted in our return by a small party of Indians who fired at us from the opposite side of the Creek, but were soon beat off by Lieut. Evans' riflemen, with the loss of one killed on the part of the enemy and none on ours; unfair weather all this day. 22d marched down to the landing; found bateaus in good order; reembarked and rowed down to the Seven Miles' Island where we encamped - fair weather. 23d, crossed the Lake and landed two miles up Wood Creek; at two o'clock left two companies to guard and assist the bateaumen in getting up the boats - marched eight miles and encamped alongside Feals Creek - fair weather. Saturday 24th, small shower of rain on our march to the Fort, where we arrived at 12 o'clock; having been out five days and a half, the whole distance of going out and returning being one hundred eighty miles, not having lost a single man."
In May, 1779, Capt. Machin was engaged in taking a waterlevel between Albany and Schenectada, with a view of supplying the former city with water. He submitted a plan for this object to the city corporation, with drawings to show the manner in which an aqueduct and reservoir should be constructed. Agreeable to his table of levels, a mark on a post at the watering trough at Bratt's half-way house, was 277 feet 3 53/100 inches above the city hall wharf. The first mile stone out of Albany was 211 feet 5 25/100 inches below the mark at Bratt's.
Capt. Machin, as engineer, was in Sullivan's expedition to the Genesee valley in 1779. At Canajoharie he received one, and at Otsego lake the other, of the following letters from Dr. Young.
"Dear Sir-Yours of the 21st by Doct. Maus came safe to hand this
forenoon, and gives me the greatest pleasure to find things are
conducted with spirit. The fortunate capture and immediate execution of
Lieut. Hare, will, I hope, produce good consequences, as it will
convince the enemy, that we have spirit enough to retaliate, and
chastise them for their savage barbarity. The surgeon of Hazen's
regiment writes Doct. Stringer, that Hazen, with about half the regiment
are within 40 miles of St. Johns, that many Canadians had joined him,
that the Canadians in bulk (a few of the lowest of the people excepted,)
are strongly attached to the cause of the Americans. That two French
frigates have lately made their appearance in St. Paul's Bay, near Isle
a Caudre, and that no English vessels had arrived this season, which
causes some to imagine that the French have a fleet in the river. The
news from Charles Town, I think may be depended upon - as soon as it comes
officially from Congress, I will transmit it to you by the first
opportunity. Continue to write, and expect the most material occurrences
in our quarter in return. Two members of Congress, viz: Doct.
Weatherspoon and Col. Atlee passed thro' this place to the state of
Vermont, on Monday; probably to deliver to them [Vermonters] the
sentiments of Congress concerning their separation from this state.
"Please to present my compliments to the gentlemen of the Artillery Corps, and believe me to be with sincere esteem,
Your Friend and Serv't.
"Albany, June 22d, 1779."
"Dear Sir-I acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 25th inst., and am happy to hear that every thing has succeeded so well hitherto - hope your may glide on in the same current of good fortune, till the end of a glorious campaign, and return to Albany crown'd with unfading laurels. Another acct. of our success over the enemy at Charles Town is arrived, the particulars of which will be transmitted to the Gen. by Capt. Lush.
"A Pennsylvania paper is in town, containing a speech of one Gordon, in the house of Commons, equal in freedom and smartness to Junius's letters - could I procure it, I would inclose it. Our little fleet in many late instances has demurr'd to the claim of the haughty Britons, to the universal empire of the sea; and have convinced some of them that their claim was not well founded, by a most powerful train of well directed arguments, leaving them high and dry at anchor in the state house at Philadelphia. One of the British litigants never put in a plea, but suffered judgment to pass against him by default.
"D'Estaing's and the English fleets, are both out at sea of nearly
equal numbers, and in sight of each other; by which circumstance it is
conjectured there will be much chopping of logic, and many learned and
forcible arguments made use of pro and contra, when the pleas are
closed, 'tis said a jury of surgeons meet to decide upon the merits of
the cause in question: when I receive their verdict I will transmit it
to you - as it may have a tendency to elucidate some points, that are at
present under the consideration of the literati, both at St. James' and
Till which I am
Your friend and servant,
"Albany, June 27th, 1779."
The folIowing extracts are from a letter to Capt. Machin while at Otsego lake:
"The southern news still remains without a confirmation from
Congress."[The southern news alluded to by Young and Rutgers! was no
doubt the abortive attempt of the British army under Provost, to capture
the city of Charleston, S. C., about the middle of May.] "Though there
is not the least doubt of its being true. The enemy are yet at King's
Ferry. A few days since it was thought they were coming up; as some
heavy cannons are arrived from the eastward, I think we shall be in
tolerable good order to receive them, if ever they get in earnest about
"Gen. Washington is at New Windsor and quarters at Col. Ellison's. The park of artillery I hear is at Chester, and the infantry scattered in the defiles of the mountains near the garrison. The inhospitable mountains not suffering the army to remain in their usual compact order.
Your most obedient, &c.,
HENRY RUTGERS, Jun. "
While under Sullivan, Capt. Machin executed a handsome map of Cayuga and Seneca lakes, with the distances on the way out at intervals of one mile each, from Tioga Point to the end of the route, which terminated nearly sixty miles west of the outlet of Seneca lake; and back to the starting place.4
While Sullivan's army was in the Indian country an incident occurred to which I have before alluded, some additional particulars of which may prove interesting. An advance party which was opening a road for the army and protected by a strong covering party, were attacked by Kayingwaurto, a Seneca chief; with eighty-two warriors. The guard instantly ran to rescue the advance and a skirmish ensued in which that chief and two of his followers were slain. The enemy, from the noise and impetuosity of the attack, supposing the whole army was upon them, fled precipitately, leaving their packs, blankets, kettles, &c. Upon the person of this Seneca chief was found a pocket book which contained two papers of interest. One was a certificate of which the following is very nearly a copy.
"This may certify that Kayingwaurto, the Sanake Chief, has been on an
expedition to Fort Stanwix and has taken two scalps,5 one from an
officer and a corporal that were a gunning near the fort, for which I
promise to pay at sight, ten dollars for each scalp. "Given under my
hand at Buck's Island.
"JOHN BUTLER, Col. and Supt.
"of the Six Nations and the
"Allies of his Majesty."
It having been asserted in Congress, after the War, that there was no evidence of the fact that the British government authorized the payment of money for scalps, the certificate of Col. Butler to Kayingwaurto, known by one of the New York members to be in Machin's possession, was sent for, and was accordingly forwarded to the seat of government: the evidence it contained was satisfactory that Britain did buy American scalps, and thus the controversy ended.
The other paper found in the pocket book of the Seneca Chief, filed "Convention of Whyoming,"is an original manuscript under the hand and seal of John Butler and Kayingwaurto, the seal of the latter being the figured emblem of a turtle.
"Westmoreland, 5th July, 1778.
"This doth hereby certify that Lieutenant Elisha Scovell has surrendered his garrison with all his people to government, and to remain as neutral during this present contest with Great Britain and America; in consideration of which, Col. John Butler, Superintendent of the Six Nations of Indians, their allies, &c., with Kayingwaurto, the chief of the Sanake [Seneca] Nation and the other chief warriors of the Six Nations, do promise, that they shall live in the quiet possession of their places with their families and shall be daily protected from insult as far as lies in their power, and provided that they should be taken it is our desire that they may forthwith be released.
"[L. S.] JOHN BUTLER "[Device of Turtle.] KAYINGWAURTO."
The map made by Capt. Machin also shows that on the return of Sullivan's army from the Genesee country, it proceeded along the north side of the outlet of Seneca Lake, destroying about equi-distant from Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, an Indian village called Scawyace. Crossing the outlet of Cayuga the route was continued up the eastern side of the lake. "East Cayuga or Old Town; Cayuga Castle; Upper Cayuga; and Chonodote,"are places noted on the map on this part of the route. Fourteen small streams are located as having been crossed along the eastern shore of the lake, all running into it before reaching its principal tributary. Passing a few miles up the latter stream the army crossed it, and continuing a south-westerly course came into the road by which it had gone out, about five miles above the mouth of Spring Creek. The following table of distances, made at the time, is presented with the map.
"Distance of Places from Eastown to Chennessee, [Geneseee] Castle, taken in 1779, by actual survey.
Names of Places. Miles Total From Eastown to Weoming, 65 65 To Lachawaneck Creek, 10 75 " Quailuternunk, 7 82 " Tunkhannunk Creek, 11 93 " Meshohing Creek, 9 102 " Vanderlip's Plantation, 5 107 " Wealusking Town, 8 115 " Wessawkin or Pine Creek, 14.5 129.5 " Tioga, 15.5 145 " Chemung, 12 157 " Newtown, 8.5 165.5 " French Catharine's Town, 18 183.5 " Candia or Apple Town, 27.5 211 " The outlet of the Seneca Lake, 11.5 222.5 " Kanadesago or the Seneca Castle 3.5 226 " Kanandaque, 15.5 241.5 " Haunyauya, 13.5 255 " Adjusta, 12.5 267.5 " Cossauwauloughby, 7 274.5 " Chenesee Castle 5.5 280 "Distance from Kanadesago round the Cayuga Lake to Newtown - Fort Reed. Names of Places. Miles Total From Kanadesago to Scawyace, 8.5 8.5 To across the outlet of the Cayuga, 8.5 17 " The Cayuga Castle, 10 27 " Chonodote, a town remarkable for a number of peach trees, 3.5 30.5 " The upper end of Cayuga Lake, 23 53.5 "[town on the map but not named,] 5 58.5 And from thence to Newtown, otherwise Fort Reed, 27. 86
The following letter from Gen. Clinton again found Capt. Machin at New Windsor.
"Little Britain, Oct. 31st, 1779.
"Dr. Sir-I received your favor and am much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken: the key of my case is in the major's chest, I believe, so that you have done all for me I expected or could wish you to do.
I left East Town last Wednesday at the time the army set off for Warwick, and had Gen. Sullivan's permission to go on before the brigade to visit my family: when I got to Sussex Court House there arrived an express from head quarters for our army to march from East Town to Pumptown, but as our army was then at Log Gaol, within ten miles of Sussex Court House, I don't know what route they have taken, but it was thought they would march from thence to Hacket's Town and so to Pumptown.
"As I consider myself on furlough I can't pretend to order you for the above reason, but would advise you to send the baggage agreeable to Lt. Hervey's orders. I expect to go to head quarters on Tuesday next, where I expect to receive orders what to do with the troops of the brigade, &c. at New Windsor. In the mean time let the commanding officer know that its my orders that he hold them in readiness to march on the shortest notice.
' I am sir, yours, &c.,
"P. S. I expect to be at N. Windsor on Tuesday as I go to head quarters, when perhaps I will see you."
The following extract of a letter from Lieut. Woodward to Capt. Machin, dated "Newburgh, Nov. 20, 1779,"shows Cupid recruiting for his service in the American army.
"We have had the most surprising accident happen that ever you could hear of, which is, that a sergeant of our company has run away with a young lady of this place by the name of Fauster, who is the first fortune in town, and she is the only heiress."
I have before adverted to the suffering of the American army in the winter of 1779 and 80; the following letters from Henry Rutgers, Esq., and Dr. Young, allude to the same subject:
"New Windsor, Jan. 18, 1780.
"My Dear Sir-I was this moment favored with your letter of the 14th inst., and with pleasure read its contents, as your troubles were beginning to cease by the necessaries of life coming in again. By this time, I make no doubt, you have experienced every vicissitude of fortune in almost every stage of your life - hunger, cold and every inconveniency attending a soldier, you are no stranger to. It is needless for me to moralize or philosophize on the subject, to encourage your perseverance, as such arguments are familiar to you. One thing I would only beg leave to mention, which is, that this spring, in my opinion, the war will either cease or be transferred to some other part of the world; as I conceive it impossible for Britain to continue it at so great an odds. In either case I shall be content, as my country will then be enabled to recruit from the depredations committed upon her by the cruelty and tyranny of Britain.
I was just now entertained with an agreeable view: 2 or 300 cattle passing to Windsor, on the ice, for head quarters. If entertaining to me, what will you feel upon their arrival! I flatter myself that I anticipate the pleasure. Want of time and paper prevent my saying more, than that I wish you every succession of happiness with the blessings of the year. Mr. and Mrs. Bedlow, with Miss Caty and Polly, join me in their professions for the same, and believe me, dear Sir, that I remain
Your friend and very humble servant,
"To Capt. Machin, at Morris Town."
"Dear Sir-I received your kind epistle of the 14th Instant, and most
feelingly sympathize with the noble boys who have suffered such uncommon
hardships without complaining. If this is not patriotism, I will thank
the British Despot that will inform me what it is. However, I rejoice
that you have obtained a supply of provisions, and hope you will not
experience such another trial.
"We have nothing new in this quarter worth your notice; but hope, if Lord Sterling succeeds in his enterprise against Staten Island, you will embrace the first opportunity to inform me of the particulars, together with what other news you may hear from any other quarter6. I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you in Albany, when I will show you with what dexterity and pleasure I ride my Electrical Hobby Horse. Till then I am
Your sincere friend and humble servant,
"P. S. My kindest compl'ts to all my friends in camp. "Albany, Jan'ry, 24, 1780."
The following letter, from Lieut. Patterson to Capt. Machin, is inserted because of its historic interest:
"Fort Pitt, July 3d, 1780.
"Dear Sir-Nothing can contribute more to my happiness, in this distant and remote part of the world, than a correspondence with a gentleman of your natural and acquired abilities, upon the genuine principles of true and disinterested friendship, and nothing prevented me from writing sooner but a diffidence of my own abilities.
"As the bearer is waiting I have only time to inform you of our safe arrival at this post the twenty-fourth ult., very much fatigued, after a long and tedious march, of near five weeks, from Carlisle. I begin to find we shall not be so fond of the place as we imagined before we arrived, for there is nothing but repeated scenes and ideas, and such a sameness in every day's transactions, that will make time glide on a very slow pace.
"The Fort is very pleasantly situated in the forks at the conflux of the Mahangahela and Alleghana Rivers. It is very strong, but the walls and barracks are much decayed, and the best buildings were destroyed by the English when they evacuated the garrison. The town, which consists of about fifty log-houses and cabins, is situated on the bank of the Mahangahela, about two or three hundred yards from the Fort. There is [are] about fifty Dalaware Indians and a number of Squaws at this place, which [who] brought in a quantity of skins and furs, but it is hard for the officers to get enough to supply their wants, there is such a number of old traders that can talk Indian, and they are much fonder to exchange them for shirts, blankets, &c., than any other way. I am informed there are continually a number of them loitering about town to draw provision.
"I shall inform you more particularly of the place the next opportunity, by which time I will be better acquainted, and therefore in my power to do it with more exactness. Please to write every opportunity and inform me of your transactions at Head Quarters, for we have scarcely ever any news here that can be depended on. I am, with the greatest-
"Your most obedient and very humble servant,
"Present my best compliments to Mr. Woodard and the Gent. of my acquaintance."
The following copy of a letter of instruction to the committee of conference with the Legislature of New York, shows the poverty of the army in a pecuniary view:
"Camp Steenrapin, Sept. 6th, 1780.
"Gentle'n. - We have chosen you our Committee to wait upon the Legislature of the State of New York, for the important purposes of representing to that body the unhappy and distressing situation of the troops under our command, and their immediate care and direction, and of enforcing a speedy execution of the resolves of Congress relative to the supplies necessary for the comfortable subsistence of the army; and as well to ascertain and liquidate the loss sustained by the army by the depreciation of the currency, as to obtain proper security for the payment thereof. These, Gentle'n., are the essential objects to which we would call your attention. The real depreciation upon the monies received and expended by the Army you are well acquainted with, and the most eligible mode to ascertain it, we conceive, will be by taking a comparative view of the prices of articles most needed in camp, beginning at the first establishment of our present pay, and thence computing at different periods the advance upon such articles. You will please to have in view, that the pay of the troops has been irregular, and that they have seldom been with less than three months' pay in arrears, and often with more; especially in the present year, the pay for which from the 1st of January is still due, the depreciation on which can be computed at nothing less than the real value of the money on the first of August. With respect to the payment of such depreciated money as may be due us, we think that cash, or nothing less than a real security or Transfer of lands, will by any means answer the good intentions of the state, or relieve us. Certificates, or notes for payment, we find by long experience, like other paper credit, is subject to the ebbs and flows of the times: we have had melancholly instances of this in the Eastern States, where the notes given to the troops have been sold at the most enormous discount, and the distresses of their army, which the Legislatures had in view to relieve, have by no means been removed. Good landed interest is secure from these failures, and is the security we wish to receive; it is such, if conveyed to us firmly and bone-fide, will always form a capital upon on which we can draw without any discount. When we say landed interest, we mean, Gentlemen, improved estates, such as have real and immediate value, of which the state to which we belong have an abundance, by the attainder of many of its inhabitants who have withdrawn themselves from its allegiance. In settling the value of these lands, it will be necessary for you to pay particular attention to the mode to be adopted. We would recommend that three different men may be appointed under oath for that purpose, and that we may have a voice in nominating as well the persons to value, as the lands to be apprized. As Congress has, by a resolve of the 24th of August last, recommended to the different states to make provision for the widows and orphans of Officers who have died or may die in the service, we request your attention thereto, and that the provision therein recommended, or some other, may be extended to the widows and orphans of the Non-Commissioned Officers and soldiers in the like circumstances.
"We beg gentlemen that you will proceed as soon as possible upon the important business to which you are delegated, and we have the utmost confidence in your zeal and abilities to serve us, we would wish you to consider these instructions more or less absolute as you shall find circumstances require, and to do whatever else may be necessary for our interest, tho' not particularly mentioned herein. We wish you, gentlemen, a pleasant journey and happy success in your endeavors to serve us.
We are, gentlemen,
"To Lieut. Col. Willet,
I regret that I am not able to give the names of the officers under whom the committee, on the part of the army acted. The following letter from Lieut. Bradford directed to Capt. Machin at the assembly, Poughkeepsie, or Esopus, affords but another evidence of the sorry condition of the army in the fall of 1780, and the importance of the committee's visit to the legislature.
"Head Quarters, 17th September, 1780.
"Dear Sir-This being the first conveyance since you left us, you will permit me to enquire after your welfare, and to inform you of that of your friends and acquaintances in this quarter: Capt. Mott and Lieut. Ashton excepted, the former is very ill, and the latter much indisposed - since your departure we remain in the same position, no alterations in the army in general, and but few in our regiment. One circumstance which probably will not be unexpected, [is,] that of the desertion of Mr. Gable; he left Capt. Moodie on the 14th inst., since which we have nothing from him. The night before he went off, Lieut. Brewster lost every article out of his tent, the shirt on his back excepted and at the smallest computation his loss must amount to £4000. Mr. Brewster's situation is truly chagrining; and from some circumstances appearing against Mr. Gable, that of his leaving his blanket and knapsack, and stealing two empty ones before he went off, gives every suspicion of his being the thief. In consequence of those circumstances appearing against the deserter, Mr. Brewster with two mattrosses set out to Bloominggrove in expectation of coming up with the scoundrel. Corporal McBride and James Whitmore set out for Morris Town, in some hopes of meeting with him there. I sincerely wish Mr. Brewster every success, tho' I much despair of his meeting with the fellow.
"The situation of our army since you left us has been truly distressing. Six days out of fifteen have the principal part of our army been without provisions, tho' it has not been the case with us; but we have had some small share in the disappointment: these circumstances are much against us, tho' it would not be thought so much of, was it not for a d--d rascally resolve of Congress; who say that if any officer or soldier does not draw the rations on the day they are due, they shall not receive them afterwards; from the present, we shall be starved one-third of the time. From this, and almost every other proceeding of that August Body, they seem as tho' they had positively determined to injure the most Virtuous Body in the United States;(that of the army,) permit me, Dear Sir, to say things with us appear very gloomy. It is confidently asserted that the state of Connecticut has refused to supply the army with any more beef, in consequence of which one of the general's aids, Capt. Humphrey set off with letters to Governor Trumbull to know (as we suppose) the reasons.
"Of the accounts from the southward, the newspapers will give you more particular information than I can. We have it confidently reported, and indeed generally believed, that Admiral Rodney, with thirteen sail of the line are arrived at New York from the West Indies, and the French fleet, consisting of eighteen sail of the line, are arrived at Rhode Island; should this be the case, we are in hopes the French will be able to give a good account of Mr. Graves.
"Mr. Burnside requests me to inform you that, as he was not on the New Windsor side, and being disappointed in not succeeding agreeable to his wishes, he entirely forgot to leave your letter for Mr. Rutgers; a neglect for which he is very sorry. Dean has returned to us from Capt. Moodie, being very much indisposed. By the same post as this is sent, I have forwarded you a letter from Capt. Wool. Thus have I agreeable to my promise, given you a short and as minute a detail of circumstances as my abilities will admit, hope they may prove agreeable. I am joined with Mr. Burnside and the remainder of the offices, with best wishes for your happiness. Believe me with every sentiment of respect and esteem,
Your obedient humble servant,
"P.S. A line by the first conveyance and what you are like to succeed in, would be agreeable -pray inform me if you have ever seen my father. Excuse this scrawl, &c., &c.,
Capt. Machin appears to have been engaged at New Windsor much of the year 1781, in the recruiting service. Having the principal direction of that business, and to have disbursed much money7 The following paper from Capt. Hubbell shows in truth the situation as regards funds, of very many of the officers of the American army in the latter part of the war.
"Dear Sir-I am under the necessity of sending a man off into Connecticut to-morrow morning, and have not a shilling of money for the poor fellow to bear his expenses - should therefore be exceedingly obliged to you for some money. As his going is a matter of moment to a number of the gentlemen of the regiment, beg you would oblige me in this request-12th March, 1781.
I am, respectfully yours, J. HUBBELL."
"Capt. Thomas Machin.
Difficulties in the recruiting service were unavoidable , as the following paper directed to "Capt. Machin, Artillery Park, New Windsor," will show.
"Pokeepsie, April 20th, 1781.
"Dear Sir-Mr. George Thompson informs me that one of your recruiting parties pretended to have enlisted his son, and that he apprehends difficulties will arise on the subject. If Mr. Thompson's information is right, it would appear that the business was unduly managed; however, as the old gentlemen is of respectable character, I would not wish you to carry the matter to any extremity; but to submit it to the determination of the civil magistrate. He is ready to appear before any in the neighborhood.
I am yours, sincerely,
In the fall of 1781, Capt. Machin accompanied the park of Gen. Washinton's army, and, as engineer, aided in laying out the American works at the memorable siege of Yorktown. His skill in gunnery, which caused Gen. Sullivan to exclaim of the cannonading at Newtown, near Elmira, that it was elegant, was again manifested in the early part of this seige, by sending a shell, agreeable to the orders of Gen. Knox, into the magazine of a small British vessel lying in the river, and blowing it to atoms. Gen. Knox is said to have remarked, with evident satisfaction, as the shell performed its mission, and the men were blown into the air - "See the d--d rascals go up." Thomas, son of Capt. Machin.
The following paper from His Excellency, affords additional evidence of his friendship and confidence:
"Pokeepsie, 13th January,1782.
"Dear Sir: - I was favored with your letter of the 16th ultimo, a few days ago. I am happy in the good opinion entertained of Mr. Tappan, and particularly obliged to your friendly offers respecting him, which shall be communicated to his father. The warrants for the several gentlemen lately appointed to your regiments will be forwarded by the present conveyance to the Colonel, as also certificates of their appointment to the War office. "I have nothing worth communicating. Mrs. Clinton begs you to accept the compliments of the season: and believe me,
"Dear Sir, with great regard,
"Your most obed't serv't, "GEO. CLINTON."
"Capt. Thomas Machin.
The following paper from Maj. Popham, without date, gives further evidence of the straitened circumstances of the American officers, or rather of one of them:
"Dear Machin:-The situation of my finances at present obliges me to apply to you as a dernier resort. It must be hard times when a soldier is obliged to sell or pawn his arms. If you could dispose of my sword at Head Quarters, it would be infinitely agreeable to me; and if it was in your power to spare me a few dollars for present use, until your return, you would add much to the happiness of your friend. Nothing but extreme necessity could induce me to write what I could not speak last night when I saw you.
"Paid £3 4s 0 specie. " " 3 4 0 new emission. "May 14,- 3 4 0 specie."
By the memorandum on the paper, we may suppose the major's sword was sold for $24. Poor fellow: I hope he was not compeled, after parting with his trusty blade, to follow the fortunes of war with a wooden one.
The following extracts are copied from a letter from Lieut. Morris to Capt. Machin, dated Burlington March 24th, 1732.
"You expressed an anxiety to be acquainted with our movements after we reached Lancaster: to comply with your desire I am under a friendly injunction to give a relation of the expedition. We were ordered to that post to guard prisoners from thence to Philadelphia, but before we reached the place of our destination, we found ourselves fatigued to a great degree, from the deepness of the roads, and the summit of every hill we passed presented to our view the same sad comfort that we had just passed. However, a generous supply from the financier, and my own resources, rendered every obstacle a mere trifle, and soon erased from my memory that gloomy prospect I had pictured in my imagination.
"Suppose we change the subject and give you a little of the news. The French have at length succeeded on Brimstone Hill, in the island of St. Christophers, and are in quiet possession of that place. The British made an attempt to succor the garrison by landing 1000 men at Bassesterre, but were repulsed with 400 of them killed.
"We are furnished with debates of the House of Commons by a late arrival from France: the minority are thundering away against the prosecution of the American War, and the other party are strenuously opposing them. I am clearly of the opinion they will continue it a campaign or two longer. The Dutch, to my great astonishment, seem disposed to make a peace with England through the mediation of Russia. This circumstance, added to a little success the British have had in the East Indies, convinces me they mean to spend a few millions more. I must conclude; and believe me to be,
"Your friend and humble servant,
"P.S. Remember me to my uncle Richard if you should see him."
The period at length arrived when Capt. Machin's great skill in engineering could not construct a breast-work to guard him against an arrow from Cupid's bow. In other words, when he was to love one of the softer sex, and confident that a virtuous young woman reciprocated the sentiment. The following extracts of a letter from Maj. Doughty hint the existence of the skillful captain's tender passion
"Burlington, March 27th, 1782.
"My Dear Sir-How goes on recruiting? Do you meet with encouragement? Is there any prospect of money from the State? These are questions I wish you would answer for me, for I feel interested in them all.
"You promised to write me on the subject of my depreciated notes, and the prospect of improving them to advantage by joining you in the purchase of the lands formerly Gen'l Clinton's: you have forgot your promise - perhaps your being in love, and the pear object that inspires that interesting passion so totally engrosses your attention, as to leave no room for your friend Doughty. I know he must give way both to the passion and its object, but still he must claim a share though a small one, of your friendship and attention, and believe me that he esteems them both not a little. Adieu - make my respects to Col. Bedlow and family, Maj. And Mrs. Logan, and believe me to be with the greatest truth,
"Your friend and servant,
The following paper relating to the service in which he was then engaged, was received by Capt. Machin per Col. Cobb.
"Head Quarters, 24th May 1782.
"Gent'n-You will proceed to Fish Kill and there apply to Colonel Weissenfels' for the proportion of the levies destined for your line, one half of which are for the regiment of artillery and the other half for the regiment of infantry.
"So soon as you have received your proportion of Col. Weissenfels' regiment, you will send them on to the regiments for which they are destined, under the care of an officer, and the remaining officers will wait at Fish Kill to receive those which will be sent from Col. Willet's regiment, which are to be divided in the same manner. Before you send away the recruits you will make a return to me of the number you have received.
"I am, &c.
"Signed GO. WASHINGTON."
"To Capt. Machin, } " Lt. Forman, } York Line." " Ens'n Swartwout,}
The following extracts are made from a letter from Lieut. R. Parker to Capt. Machin, dated George Town, July 6th 1782.
"Capt. McClure and myself are stationed at this place. Its situation I suppose you are acquainted with: its trade is much increased within a short time past, a number of valuable prizes have been sent here. Rum, and most kinds of West India goods are plenty. The southern army and the country in general receive great advantages from it. I believe they could scarcely be supported without it.
"Here are a number of fine girls and rich widows. I have not yet got far in love - but can't promise for the future - some fair nymph may captivate my heart - and while guardian reason sleeps, Cupid's fatal shaft may wound my rising heart - and make me own his superior power, &c.,&c.,
"We have no news: Gen. Greene lays near Goose Creek, twenty miles from Charleston. An evacuation of Charleston and Savannah is daily expected by our sanguine friends.
"I have hardly got over celebrating the fourth of July in a Bacchanal frolic - Impute my inaccuracies to a pain in the head, &.c,"
A letter from Capt. Machin to Oliver Wendell, Esq., of Boston, of which the following is a copy, discloses the fact fully at which Maj. Doughty hinted, and adds another evidence to the truism, that the course of true love is beset with thorns, thistles and a multitude of briers.
"New Windsor, 10th Aug't, 1782
"Honored Sir-An experimental knowledge of your philanthropy has emboldened me to address you on this occasion. Know then, my Dear Sir, that I am at this time engaged to a young lady in the State of New York: the day for our union was set, and we both, I am led to believe, waited with equal anxiety for the arrival of that happy period; in which I think two feeling souls would have been happily united in the honorable bonds of Hymen. But to my great mortification, somebody was pleased to inform the young lady's friends that I had a wife in Boston. And as I always did, and I hope ever will, detest deception, be it of what kind soever it will: and much more that which is of all the most villanous; I therefore, relying on our former friendship and your justice, make no doubt but you will give the bearer, Mr. Dunning, the young lady's and my friend, whatever information he may require relating to my conduct when in Boston. Please to give my compliments to Mrs. Wendell, and believe me Dear Sir, to be, with all the esteem that is due to honor and merit,
"Your hum'l. serv't
"The Honorable Oliver Wendell, Esq."
The aspersions of some villain on the fair fame of Capt. Machin were satisfactorily removed by Mr. Dunning's visit to Boston, and his marriage took place in August 1782. He was married to Miss Susan, daughter of James Van Nostrand; who resided at or near Huntington, L.I. The marriage took place at the house of Timothy Dunning in Goshen, who had previously married a sister of Miss Susan.
The following letter from Lieut. Woodward, shows to some extent the popularity and influence of Capt. Machin in the army.
"West Point, 26th Oct. 1782.
"Dear Sir- While I was gone to Poughkeepsie the day before yesterday, Lt. Tappen was so imprudent as to give permission for William Ockerman to leave the Point to go to New Windsor, and return the same evening; but in order to keep alive the dignity of his former conduct he has broke into Goshen goal.- That is, I am informed he is taken by the constable for a tavern debt. Col.Stevens desires you will take upon you the trouble of procuring his enargement and send him to Camp. His inducement for requesting you to undertake the task, is because that you by some means or other can accomplish it, while another officer would not be able to succeed. You must give my best compliments to Mrs. Machin, &C., &c.,
"I am , dear sir, with every sentiment of respect,
"Your ob't humble serv't,
At this period general officers were deficient in funds.
"Little Britain, Nov. 9th, 1782.
"Dear Sir - I received your favor by Serj't Reino, and should have sent you the balance of Maj. Bush's account as you have made it out if I had the cash, which article I never was scarcer of than at present; at the same time must inform you that you have not given me all the credit in your account that I ought to have, but that is a matter we can easily settle when opportunity serves. I wish it was in my power to pay you the whole or half due on the account of your location; as soon as it is I will do it: if I can't soon I will give you a note or bond with interest.
"I am sir, yours, &c., "JAMES CLINTON."
Considerable correspondence passed between Joseph Wharton, Esq. of Philadelphia, and Capt. Machin in the year 1782.: it began in the latter part of the preceding year, as the following letter will show.
"Philadelphia, Dec. 24th, 1781.
"Mr. Thomas Machin. Sir-you have been so obliging as to offer me your services in the State of New York, I commit to your care two deeds from Col. George Croghan to me; the first dated April 3d, 1780, for twenty-five thousand four hundred and seventy-seven acres of land with a release for the same; and the other for eleven hundred and fifty-seven acres, dated June 27th, 1780, with its release; and both tracts situated on and near Lake Otsego in Tryon county in that State. These lands becoming more and more valuable, it's necessary the deeds should be recorded in the proper office. And as I have some reason to apprehend an assignment of the Mortgage on these lands to the Late Governor Franklin, is attempting to be obtained, when probably some hasty step may be pursued to recover payment by public sale, injurious to my property; I earnestly press it upon your friendship to have the deeds recorded in Albany, or wherever the most suitable office is, in the most expeditious manner; and for your assiduity herein as well as the necessary charges, I will gratefully pay due honor to your draft. The repossession of the deeds will give me great satisfaction; yet I would not have them sent, unless a gentleman of character and whom you know can be found to be entrusted with them. In the mean time, I beg you will inform me by post the moment the deeds are enrolled, as well as any farther information you may receive of the value of these lands in consequence of any rise since your departure from their vicinity: for surely the late glorious victory to the Southward, and our proximity to absolute independence must have started the value of such excellent tracts.
"I have shown you Mr. Hooper's Field Book, containing as well his description of the exterior lines of my 15074 acre tract on the Tennedena, as the qualities of the land of each 1000 acres: the whole being surveyed into fifteen lots; and you have read that the soil and other natural advantages are very good and exceeding great. Will you, sir, be pleased to enquire the utmost price that can be obtained for the whole of this tract payable in two months, or rather one-half in six weeks and the other in three months with interest in specie or sterling bills on France? Because if this 15000 acre tract will command what I conceive it will, it will enable me to keep the Otsego Tract to a future day, and a far more beneficial price. I must also request you will have the offices searched to know what Mortgages and Judgments are on the Otsego Tract; for although there may be a Judgment or two, yet whether the legal steps have been pursued to secure payment previous to the time you will have my Deeds enrolled is the question. Among other favors you are going to bestow on me, do let me know the Law of your State in regard to Mortgages, that is whether any time is limited for their recording? Whether a second or third Mortgage being entered first does not supersede, or at least obtain first payment? And if a Deed enrolled prior to a previous Mortgage (as in my case) will not bar a recovery by the Mortgage?
"It may be necessary to explain the hint I have given relating to Governor Franklin's8 Mortgage for £1800 your money, which is, that his creditors here and in Burlington are endeavoring to procure his Assignment of Testatum, (if I have the word right) and although it ever was my disposition that Justice should be done, yet prudence dictates a cautionary prevention to the sale of my estate to my disadvantage, which surely would be the circumstance if it was to be sold at this period. For I suppose in cases of Sequestration your State like ours, hath taken care that just creditors shall be satisfied as far as such estate will admit.
"I am, with respect.
"Your most obed't humble serv't,
Under date of Sept. 11th, 1782, Mr. Wharton wrote Capt. Machin as follows.
"My situation in life requiring me to raise a capital sum of money in the course of the Winter, has determined me to sell the Otsego Tract, containing about 27,000 acres; provided I can be paid one-third part on the sale, and the remainder in the Spring. My price will be twenty shillings this currency (specie) per acre.[He proposed to let 7,000 pounds of the purchase remain unpaid with security. He considered the land worth, he said, thirty shillings per acre. He added] - Should my limit be thought too high, let me know the highest sum obtainable for the whole Tract, payable in part down and the rest in six months with interest; or if it would be more agreeable, I will take twenty thousand pounds for it and the purchaser to be accountable for the incumbrances;" [which were some 2,000 pounds N. Y. currency on that and a Tract of 40,000 acres adjoining.] Col. Croghan was buried about ten days since."
The reader may here see what was once considered the value of the rich lands in and around Cooperstown, which money will now hardly buy.
The campaign of Gen. Sullivan in 1779, discovering the valuable lands in Western New York, was the means of their being brought into market. The following paper, from Capt. Nestell, shows where some of the lands in the earliest transfers were situated, and the price they brought: "April 17, 1783.
"Received of Ebenezer Burling the full sum of thirty pounds, which was his subscription for a Right of six hundred acres of land between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. Received by me, "PETER NESTELL."
On the 21st of January, 1783, Gov. Clinton sent the bounds of a certain lot of land to his friend, with the following request:
"Capt. Machin will please to take a view of the above tract and see that the settlements are properly made, and no land cleared that will injure the Tract in point of timber. That the persons who live on it clear annually a proportion of swamp, and plant out fruit-trees, and make such agreement with them as shall be easy and reasonable; but they are to be Tenants at Will, as I may conclude to sell. Fix on the most convenient place for a homestead, and erecting a dwelling house, &c., supposing it to be divided into two farms.
"Pokeesie, 21st Jan 1783."
On the 17th of April following, Capt. Machin wrote Gov. Clinton from Murderer's creek, that he had made a beginning of the works at the Great Pond - was cutting timber, and expected to have a dwelling ready to move into within five weeks from that time, &c., &c.,; to all of which doings Gov. Clinton wrote an approving letter April 19th.
Mr Machin was commissioned a captain by Gov. Clinton, and the council of appointment March 12th, 1793, to take rank as such from August 21, 1780. The appointment was confirmed by Congress on the 28th of the following April.
On the approach of peace, in 1783, we find Capt. Machin laying aside his warlike implements, and Cincinnatus like, following his plow. He settled at a place called New Grange, Ulster county, a few miles back of Newburgh, where in 1784, he erected several mills, as a grist-mill, saw-mill, &c.
The following order of the quarter-master general, on Lieut. Denniston, is inserted to show the reader how particular that officer was in closing his official business:
"New York, April 10,1784.
"Sir:-Capt. Machin will deliver you six spades and shovels, which he received last summer from the store at Newburgh. You will deliver him one band for the nave of a wagon wheel, and two wagon boxes, to complete a wagon he bought of the public.
"TIM: PICKERING, Q.M.G.
"Mr. George Denniston, West Point."
About the 1st of September, 1784 Gov. Clinton removed from Kingston to New York, as appears by several letters to Capt. Machin, directed to his address at "Great Pond, Ulster county;" by which it appears the captain was to send down his winter's stock of fire-wood.
The following credible voucher appears to close the correspondence between Capt. Machin and his former general:
"This is to certify that I have been acquainted with Capt. Thomas Machin ever since the year 1776, and have had considerable dealings with him, and I always found his accounts to be just.
"Given under my hand the 7th of March 1786
The correspondence between Machin and Gov. Clinton, closed with the following letter, (until the latter was chosen Vice President of the United States,) which is inserted because it tells so credibly and justly for that plain-hearted and honest republican, who not only dealt honorably with the unprotected himself, but was gratified to find others do likewise. In fact, he gained the reputation among the soldiers of the Revolution, of being a very plain, honest, unostentatious patriot,-and as an evidence of the fact, was exceedingly popular where known.
"New York, 13th November, 1786.
"Dear Sir:-The bearer is a brother-in-law and executor to Mr. Briggs, deceased. He has been here some time settling the affairs of the deceased. Among the little property he has left for his children, the location under a military right in your hands is a principal part. Mr. McClagley is anxious to know how it stands, and whether you have done the needful to give a title to the executors for the use of the infants. For this purpose he means to call on you on his way home, and the regard I have for the widow and family has induced me to write you on the subject, not doubting, at the same time, that you will pay every attention to them and their business.
"Yours, sincerely, GEO CLINTON."
On the 18th of April, 1787, Capt. Machin formed a copartnership with Samuel Atlee, (a porter brewer,) James F. Atlee, David Brooks, James Grier, and James Giles, (an attorney at law,) all of the city of New York. The term specified for its continuance was seven years, with a capital of £300. The firm seems to have been formed for the avowed purpose of coining copper, provided Congress, or any of the state legislatures, enacted a law allowing individuals to coin money. As the object was to make money, a small capital was considered sufficient for the undertaking. On the 7th of June following, that firm formed a copartnership with one then existing, which consisted of four partners-Reuben Harman, Esq., William Coley, of Bennington county, Vermont, Elias Jackson, of Litchfield county, Connecticut, and Daniel Van Voorhis, goldsmith, of the city of New York - for a term of eight years from the first of the following July, that being the limitation of an act of the legislature of Vermont to said Harman, for the coinage of copper. The first mentioned firm was to furnish a capital of £500 for the concern; £200 of which capital, with £400 more, New York currency, to be paid to the latter firm two years after, was to be theirs as an equivalent for admitting the New York firm into communion with them - the later being required to furnish no capital. The ten partners were to enjoy equally the benefits, privileges, and advantages arising from the coinage of copper in the state of Vermont, to be coined in that state, and also in Connecticut, New York, and elsewhere, as the parties should think fit. On or before the first day of July, the first mentioned, or New York firm, were required, by the copartnership, "to complete, at their own cost, the works then erecting at the mills of the said Thomas Machin, near the Great Pond, in the county of Ulster," while the other part of the firm agreed, in the same time, to complete works they were then erecting, at Rupert, in the county of Bennington, Vermont. Agreeably to the written contract, Giles was to have charge of the writing and book-keeping; Harman and Coley were to manage the money changers at Rupert; and Machin and J.F. Atlee were to "manage, act, and perform that part of the trade which concerned the coinage of money and manufacturing hard ware," at Machin's mills; Grier was to be "cashier of the money coined at Machin's Mills;" Grier and Jackson were to have the general management of the expenses, purchase of necessary articles, &c.; while other joint business was to be performed by Brooks and Samuel Atlee. It was further stipulated that Giles should keep a "certain book of resolutions;" that the firm should meet, either in person or by proxy in other members, agreeably to a written form of authority incorporated, on the 1st day of February, June, and October of each year, at Rhinebeck, New York, unless otherwise agreed upon. In case either of the partners obtained a grant from Congress or any of the states to coin money, the profits resulting from such act were to be shared by all the partners, -who also bound themselves personally, "in the penal sum of one thousand pounds," for the punctual performance of the contract.
Whether the long firm of money makers ever coined coppers enough to fill the pockets of all the Green Mountain boys; or whether they found the business profitable, is uncertain; but from Mr. Machin's papers I am led to conclude they never effected much. At his mills perhaps a thousand pounds of copper was manufactured, as appears by the papers, in the year 1789; previous to which little seems to have been done. "What is everybody's business is nobody's;" and the saying seems to have been verified in the doings of the copper firm: for in a letter from J. F. Atlee to Mr Machin, dated Vergennes, October 14, 1790, he expresses a wish that the concern might arrive at a settlement on equitable terms, and compromise their matters without a tedious and expensive law suit.
In Jan, 1797, Capt. Machin removed from New Grange to the town of Mohawk, Montgomery county, from which town were afterwards organized the towns of Charleston, Glen, and part of Root. The fall previous to his removal he had visited his lands, accompanied by two hired men, and erected a log tenement, cleared a fallow, planted fruit-trees , currant bushes and sallad,-made sap-trough, &c., &c., as is shown by a journal he kept at the time. His lands were situated 10 miles north of Schoharie Court House, and 20 south of Johnstown village.
Capt. Machin continued to practise surveying after his removal to Montgomery county, and several officers of the army were among those who profited by his skill, among whom were John Lamb, his former colonel, and Gen. Nicholas Fish. Among Mr. Machin's personal friends was George Tiffany, Esq., a native of Massachusetts, who settled in Schoharie about the time the county was organized.9 Capt. Machin took no little pains to educate his children, a son and a daughter.
At the close of the war, Capt. Machin became a member of the Cincinnati Society. He also belonged to the fraternity of Free Masons, and on the establishment of a lodge in Schoharie, he was appointed master to install its officers. Silas Gray was also appointed as senior and Johannes Dietz junior wardens of the same. The following is the evidence of Capt. Machin's appointment:
"To All Greeting-
"Be it known that I, Ezra Ames, Grand High Priest of the G.R.A. Chapter of the State of New York, by virtue of power in me vested by the third Sec'n . and fourth article of the General Grand Constitution, Do hereby authorize and empower our worthy Brother, Thomas Machin, to install the officers of Ames Mark Lodge, in the town of Schoharie, County of Scho'e., agreeable to the Gen.'l Grand Constitution of the United States, and to make returns of his proceedings thereon, at the next session of the G. Ch.
"EZRA AMES. "Albany, 4th Feb. 5807 [Year of the world]
By the following letters from his old friend Gov. Clinton, who was then Vice President of the United States, it appears that Capt. Machin sought for a pension, and, afterwards, its increase:
"Washington, 6th March 1810.
"Dear Sir- Yesterday I received your letter of the 22d of last month. You may rely on every assistance in my power to afford, to obtain an increase of your pension. But the preparatory steps to an application can be done most conveniently to you in the State, under a commission from Mr. Talmadge, the District Judge. I have requested Mr. K.K. Van Rensselaer to communicate to you the manner in which this commission is to be obtained, as well as the necessary subsequent measures to be taken previous to your application; to accomplish which, if expeditiously performed, may yet be in season for the present session of Congress. I am, with best respects to Mrs. Machin,
"Capt. Thomas Machin."
Capt. Machin, after seeing the country of his adoption, in the defence of which he had freely shed his own blood, pass triumphantly through two wars with the previously acknowledged mistress of the wave, at the close of each gaining the admiration and respect of the world, died at his residence in Charleston on the evening of April 3d, 1816, aged 72 years. A brief notice of his services and death appeared in the Albany Gazette of April 15th, which closed with the following sentence: "In the camp and in retirement his qualifications were holden in very high consideration." He was buried with Masonic honors.
In a letter of personal introduction from Col. Aaron Burr to Henry Remsen Esq., dated at N.Y., Dec. 30, 1830, I find the following sentence; "Capt. Machin, who will have the pleasure to hand you this, is the son of my old friend and fellow -soldier, Capt. Machin, who was a distinguished officer in our Revolutionary war, and was probably known to you."
In addition to the above, I glean the following facts from a letter from Peter Townsend, Esq, of New York, to Mr. Franklin Townsend, of Albany: the latter gentleman is a great grandson of Peter Townsend, of Chester, the principal contractor for manufacturing the chain. The Sterling Iron Works, in Sterling, Orange county, are situated 25 miles back of West Point, and have been in extensive operation since about the year 1750. Col. Timothy Pickering, who was entrusted with the responsibility of making the chain, accompanied by Capt. Machin, arrived at the house of Mr. Townsend, in Chester, late on a Saturday evening, early in March, 1778. The latter gentleman readily agreed to construct the chain, and such was their zeal in the popular cause, that the parties left Chester at midnight, in a violent snow-storm, and rode to the Sterling works, a distance of fourteen miles, to commence the job. At daylight on Sunday morning, Mr. Townsend had all his forges in operation, and the chain was begun. The work went on without interruption, the herculean task was finished, and the chain, carted in sections by New England teamsters, delivered at West Point in six weeks.
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