Simcoe and the Queen’s Rangers at Staten Island Part 1

It is certain that no organization in the British army, during the Revolution, became more familiarly known in this section of the country than the “Queen’s Rangers,” which were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe, who may consistently be called [“the Mosby of the Revolution,”–  Morris’s biased opinion] so strongly did those men resemble each other in their service in the field.

Samuel Roukin as Simcoe and Aldis Hodge as Jordan/Akinbode in AMC’s TURN Series

Colonel Simcoe was a son of Captain John Simcoe, of the English navy, who served with distinction in the expedition against Quebec, in Canada, in 1759, and in which he lost his life, at the age of forty-five years. He was a native of Northamptonshire, England.

Colonel Simcoe was a mere child at the time of his father’s death, and he was liberally educated by his mother. At the age of nineteen he obtained an ensign’s commission in the 50th regiment of the British line. He did not embark with his regiment, but landed at Boston on the day of the battle of Bunker Hill. He served for a time, but soon purchased a captain’s commission in the 40th regiment, which he commanded at the battle of Brandywine, where he was wounded, on the 11th of September, 1777.  On the 15th of October following, Captain Simcoe was promoted to Major of the Queen’s Rangers.

The Queen’s Rangers were originally raised in Connecticut and the vicinity of New York, by Colonel Robert Rogers, and their duties were principally those of scouts or light cavalry. They were all Americans, and called in those days, “Loyalists.”  When Major Simcoe joined the regiment it had by hardships and neglect been reduced in numbers; many gentlemen of the Southern colonies, who had joined Lord Dunmore, were appointed to supersede those who were not considered competent for the commissions they had hitherto borne. To these were added some volunteers from the army, the whole consisting of young men, anxious to enter the British service.

The Queen’s Rangers consisted of two companies of dragoons, one of Highlanders, a company of Yagers, two troops of cavalry, one company of artillery, and five companies of light infantry, a large part of one company being native Staten Islanders.  Colonel Robert Rogers, the first commandant, was succeeded by Colonel French, he by Colonel Mawhood, he by Major Weys, he by Major Weymess, and he by Lieut. Colonel Simcoe.

The following served as officers in this regiment during its exploits on Staten Island and vicinity:

Lieutenant-Colonel — John Graves Simcoe.

Majors — Armstrong, Grymes, Ross, Waymess, Weys.

Captains — Aulthause, Agnew,, Beckwith, Blucke, Bronson, Cooke, Diemer, Ewald, Hanson. Hutchinson, Kerr, McCrea, McGill, James, McKay, Moncrieffe, McRae, Murray, Saudford, Saunders, Shank, Shaw, Smyth, Stevenson, Thomas, Whitlock, Wickham and Wreden.

Lieutenants — Allen, Dunlop, Fitzpatrick, Holland, Lawler, McNab, McLeod, Murray, Rynd, Spencer and Wilson.

Surgeons — Kellock and McCauley.

Adjutant — Ormond.

Quartermaster — McGill.

Chaplain — Agnew.

Ensign — Proctor.

Sergeants — Adams, McDonald, McLaughlin, MacPherson, Ritchie and Wright.

Corporals — Burt and Franks.

Cornets — Jones, Merrett, Ficker and Wolsey.

Trumpeters — Barney and French.

Immediately after Colonel Simcoe took command of this regiment, he issued the following advertisement in Rivington’s Royal Gazette, of New York City:

Quoted From: Morris, Ira K. 1898. Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co.

*Morris had included some errors in his text.  If you need more up to date info on Loyalist units, visit the  Royal Provincial website

John André’s Last Will and Testament

JJ Feild as Major John André on AMC’s ‘TURN’

The old “Cucklestowne Inn” stood for a century and a half in Richmond, on or a few feet to the north-west of the present residence of Mr. Willard Barton[demolished]. Throughout the war it was occupied by British officers, among whom was Major John André, the spy, who afterward became the victim of General Benedict Arnold. It was in this old building that Major André. then a captain in the Twenty-sixth Regiment of Foot, wrote his will. Probably on account of the destruction of the Richmond Court House, the document was recorded and probated in New York. It reads as follows:

The following is my last Will and Testament and I appoint as
Executors thereto Mary Louisa André my Mother, David André my
Uncle, Andrew Giradot my Uncle, John André my Uncle.

“To each of the above Executors I give Fifty Pounds. — I give to
Mary Hannah André my Sister Seven Hundred Pounds. — I give to
Ann Marguerite André my Sister Seven Hundred Pounds. — I give to
Louisa Katharine André my Sister Seven Hundred Pounds. — I give
to William Lewis André my Brother Seven Hundred Pounds. — But
the condition on which I give the above mentioned Sums to my afore-
said Sisters and Brothers are that each of them shall pay to Mary
Louisa André my Mother the sum of Ten pounds yearly during her
life.— I give to Walter Ewer Jun’r of Dyers Court Aldermanbury
One Hundred Pounds. — I give to John Ewer Jun’r of Lincoln’s Inn
One Hundred Pounds. — I desire a Ring value Fifty Pounds be given
to my Friend Peter Boissier of the Eleventh Dragoons. — I desire that
Walter Ewer Jun’r of Dyers Court Aldermanbury have the Inspec-
tion of my papers, Letters, Manuscripts, I mean that he have the
first Inspection of them with Liberty to destroy or detain whatever he
thinks proper, and I desire my Watch be given to him. And I lastly
give and bequeath my Brother John Lewis André the residue of all
my Effects whatsoever. — Witness my Hand and Seal

Staten Island in the province of N. York, N. America the 7th June 1777.

“John André Cap’t in the 26th Reg’t of Foot [L.S.]

” N.B.—The Currency alluded to in this Will is Sterling Money of Great Britain. — I desire nothing more than my wearing Apparel be sold by public Auction,

J. A.

“City and Province  )
of New York.              ) ss.

Be it Remembered that on the Ninth day of October in the Year
of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty personally came
and appeared before me Gary Ludlow, Surrogate for the City and
Province aforesaid, Henry White and William Seaton both of the
City and Province aforesaid Esquires who being severally duly sworn
did declare that they were well acquainted with the handwriting of
John André formerly Captain in the twenty-sixth Regiment of Foot
and since Adjutant General Deceased that they have frequently seen
him write, And that they verily believe that the before written Instrument purporting to be the last Will and Testament of the said John André, bearing date the seventh Day of June One thousand seven hundred and Seventy Seven with the Subscriptions thereto are all of his the said John André’s own proper hand Writing and further saith not. Cary Ludlow, Surr.”

According to the dates, it will be seen that the will was admitted
to probate just a week after the execution of its maker at Tappan, on
the 2d of October, 1780.

Major André’s death was one of the saddest incidents of the war.
The decision, though just, was painful — painful to Washington — to the Board — to the officers of the American army — but more painful, if possible, to Sir Henry Clinton and the companions of André in arms.

Efforts, and such as did honor to Clinton, were made to reverse the doom of André. Intimations were given from Washington, that upon one condition — the surrender of Arnold — André might be released; but to this Clinton thought he could not in honor yield — while in the scale of affection, André would have outweighed a thousand traitors like Arnold.

Quoted From: Morris, Ira K. 2010. Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co.

Skinner’s Brigade of American Loyalists

Soon as General William Howe arrived at Staten Island, the first week in July, 1776, so pleased was he with his reception in the harbor of New York, that he wrote these
words to the British government:
“I have great reason to expect an enormous body of the inhabitants
to join the army from the provinces of York, the Jerseys and Connecticut, who, in this time of universal oppression, only wait for opportunities to give proofs of their loyalty and zeal for government. Sixty
men came over two days ago with a few arms from the neighborhood
of Shrewsbury, in Jersey, who were desirous to serve, and I understand there
are five hundred more in that quarter ready to follow their example.”

General Howe soon after this began to appoint recruiting officers in different parts of New Jersey, and to organize detachments of Provincials as fast
as they presented themselves for service in the army. Mr. Cortlandt Skinner, whose devotion to the interests of the British King before the war had
made him a prominent man in New Jersey, was selected as the proper officer
to organize and to command the men who were anxious to enroll themselves
under the standard of Great Britain. He was commissioned at first a Colonel, Brigadier-Gen. Cortlandt Skinner, and afterwards a Brigadier-General, commander of Skinner’s Brigade with authority to raise five battalions to consist of two thousand and five hundred soldiers, “under command of gentlemen of the country nominated by himself.”

General Skinner established his headquarters, while on Staten
Island, in the old Kruzer house, now familiarly known as the Pelton
house, at West New Brighton, and occupied by Mrs. General Duffy.
The two families had long been on intimate terms, and the Kruzers
were in consequence subjected to no hardships. Staten Island at once
became the refuge for all tories of New York and New Jersey, as well
as for deserters from the Continental army.

General Skinner himself seems to have been stationed on Staten
Island and in New York City during most of the war, and it is very
seldom that we meet him even with his soldiers in any other part of
the contiguous country. We learn from General Howe’s Narrative
that at the beginning of the campaign of 1777 General Skinner had
been able to recruit but five hundred and seventeen men of his complement; but in November, 1777, he had eight hundred and fifty-nine men on his brigade rolls, and in May, 1778, ” after several months of active exertions,” he had enlisted one thousand one hundred and one men.

But at that time the nucleus for six battalions had been made and
the officers commissioned. During that year five hundred and fifty
additional volunteers, mostly from New Jersey, and a few native
Staten Islanders, were enrolled for service, and afterward sent to
Charleston, South Carolina. It is then apparent that General Skinner
recruited about two-thirds of the quota first assigned to him. All of
these soldiers immediately on enlistment were placed in active service, and they began to distinguish themselves at an early day in their great zeal to annoy, intimidate and injure their former patriot friends and neighbors.

In a letter written by General Howe to Lord George Germain, dated
New York, December 20th, 1776, this remark is made: ”I cannot close
this letter without making mention of the good service rendered in the
course of the campaign by Courtlandt Skinner, Esq., Attorney-General in the Jerseys, who has been indefatigable and of infinite service since the army entered those provinces. I therefore humbly recommend him as a gentleman meriting royal favour.” Thus early was General Skinner showing his devotion to the King. This was just after Washington’s retreat through New Jersey, and General Skinner was urging his own friends to take protection from the British.

In Brasher’s Journal, February, 1777, appears the following new
catechism:

“Q. Who is the most ungrateful man in the world?

“A. Governor Skinner.

“Q. Why do you call him Governor?

“A. Because when Lord and General Howe thought that they
had conquered the Jerseys they appointed him Lieutenant Governor
of that State. Skinner assumed that title over one-tenth part of
said State and continued his usurpation for six weeks, five days,
thirty-six minutes, ten seconds and thirty-one hundreth parts of a
second and was then deposed.

“Q. Why is he called ungrateful?

“A. Because he had joined the enemies of his country and enlisted
men to fight against his neighbors, his friends and his kinsfolk; because he had endeavored to transfer the soil that gave him bread from the rightful possessors to a foreign hand; and because, to gain pleasant ease and transitory liquors, he would fasten the chains of slavery on three millions of people and their offspring forever.”

The answers to these questions clearly show the opinion which
patriotic people held of General Skinner and of the efforts which
he had already made to restore them to their allegiance to England.

In Rivington’s Army List of 1778, we find the first complete roster
of the officers of the six battalions of Skinner’s Brigade. This probably shows the state of the organization in the early part of the summer of that year. The compilation has been carefully made, the spelling of the names corrected, and it is now set forth in proper official style:

Brigadier-General, Cortlandt Skinner;

Chaplain, Edward Winslow.

First Battalion. — Lieutenant-Colonel, Elisha Lawrence; Major,
Thomas Leonard; Adjutant, Patrick Henry; Quartermaster, James
Nelson; Surgeon, William Peterson; Captains, John Barbarie, John
Longstreet, Garret Keating and Richard Cayford; Captain-Lieutenant, James Nelson; Lieutenants, John Taylor, Thomas Oakason, Samuel Leonard, John Throckmorton, John Monro, Patrick Henry and Robert Peterson; Ensigns, John Robbins, John Thompson, Richard Lippincott, William Lawrence and Hector McLean.

Second Battalion. — Lieutenant-Colonel, John Morris; First Major, John Antill; Second Major, John Colden; Adjutant. Thomas T. Pritchard; Quartermaster, Thomas Morrison; Surgeon, Charles Earle; Surgeon’s mate, James Boggs; Chaplain, John Rowland; Captains, Donald Campbell. George Stanforth, Waldron Bleau, Norman McLeod, Cornelius McLeod and Uriah McLeod; Lieutenants, John De Monzes, Thomas T. Pritchard, William Van Dumont, Josiah Parker and William Stevenson; Ensigns, William K. Hurlet and Thomas
Morrison.

Third Battalion. — First Major, Robert Drummond; Second Major, Philip Van Cortlandt; Adjutant, John Jenkins; Quartermaster, John Falker; Surgeon, Henry Dongan; Captains, John Hatfield, Samuel Hudnut and David Alston; Captain-Lieutenant, John Alston; Lieutenants, Anthony Hollinshead, John Jenkins, John Troup, William Chew, and Francis Frazer; Ensigns, James Brasier Le Grange, John Camp, John Willis and Jonathan Alston.

[Note: The Third Battalion had no lieutenant-colonel at first, when it was commanded Major Drummond. Shortly afterward, however, Edward Vaughan Dongan, formerly of Staten Island, was appointed lieutenant-colonel to command it, and he continued to serve as such until his death in 1778. ]

Fourth Battalion. — Lieutenant-Colonel, Abraham Van Buskirk;
First Major, Daniel Isaac Browne; Second Major, Robert Timpany;
Adjutant, Arthur Maddox; Quartermaster, William Sorrell; Surgeon,
John Hammell; Captains, William Van Allen, Samuel Heyden, Peter
Euttan, Patrick Campbell, Daniel Bessonet, Samuel Ryerson and
Arthur Maddox; Lieutenants, Edward Earle, Martin Ryerson, John
Van Buskirk. Michael Smith, James Servanier, Donald McPherson and John Hyslop; Ensigns, John Simonson, James Cole, Justus Earle,
John Van Norden, Colin McVane and George Ryerson.

Fifth Battalion. — Lieutenant-Colonel, Joseph Barton; Major,
Thomas Millidge; Adjutant, Isaac Hedden; Quartermaster, Fleming
Colgan; Surgeon, Uzal Johnson; Surgeon’s mate, Stephen Millidge;
Captains, Joseph Crowell, James Shaw, Benjamin Barton and John
Williams; Lieutenants, John Cougle, Isaac Hedden, Joseph Waller,
William Hutchinson, Christopher Insley, Daniel Shannon and John
Eeid; Ensigns, Patrick Haggerty, Ezekiel Dennis, Peter Anderson
and Joseph Bean.

Sixth Battalion. — Lieutenant-Colonel, Isaac Allen; Major, Richard V. Stockton; Captains, Joseph Lee, Peter Campbell and Charles
Harrison; Lieutenants, John Vought, John Hatton and Edward
Steele; Ensigns, Daniel Grandin, Cornelius Thompson and James
Service.

____________

Quoted From: Morris, I. K. (1898). Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co.

Howe Invades Long Island

The capture of New York City was what General Howe desired
the most at this time, and an attack upon some other point, by which
a flank movement could be effected, and the city approached by more
accessible means than a direct attack, was expected. Long Island
and the Jersey shore both stood in suspense, ready to take alarm
at the first movements of the British in either direction. About the
8th of August deserters from the British fleet carried the news to the
Americans that Howe was taking his field pieces on board and preparing for an attack by land and water simultaneously upon Long Island and the city. On the other side the people of Elizabethtown were about the same time aroused by an alarm that the regulars were about to make an immediate attack upon that point. Every man capable of bearing arms was summoned to defend it. These alarms appear to have been without important results until the latter part of the month.

Carl Emil Ulrich von Donop
The forces of General Howe, in the meantime, were strengthened by the arrival at Staten Island of the fleet which returned from South Carolina, under Generals Clinton and Cornwallis, in the early
part of the month, and the first and second divisions of the foreign troops which arrived in the Lower bay on the 12th. The fleet which brought the latter numbered about one hundred and ten sail of vessels, on board of which about eight thousand Hessians and Waldeckers and a few English guards. All these were sent into camp onStaten Island. Estimates of the numbers on Staten Island at this time make them to be about twenty-two thousand men. The naval forces were accommodated on board the ships Asia and Eagle, each carrying sixty-four guns, and the Roebuck and Phoenix of forty-four guns each, about twenty frigates and sloops of war and above three hundred sail of transports, store ships and prizes.

The battle of Long Island — the memory of the awful carnage of
which will ever send a thrill of horror and regret to every American
heart — was planned in the famous old Rose and Crown farmhouse at
New Dorp. The state of affairs on the eve of this decisive battle is
told very effectively in a private letter, written in New York. August
22d, 1776. From it we quote :

“This night we have reason to expect the grand attack from our
barbarous enemies, the reasons why, follow. The night before last, a lad went over to Staten Island, supped there with a friend and got safe back again undiscovered; soon after he went to General Washington, and upon good authority reported,— that the English army amounting to fifteen or twenty thousand, had embarked, and were in readiness for an engagement, —
That seven ships of the were to surround this city and cover their landing, — That the Hessians being fifteen thousand were to remain on the Island and attack Perth Amboy, Elizabethtown point, and Bergen, while the main body were doing their best here; that the Highlanders expected America was already conquered, and that they were only to come over and settle on our lands, for which reason they had brought their churns, ploughs, etc.; being
deceived, they had refused fighting, upon which account General
Howe had shot one, hung five or six, and flogged many.

“Last evening, in a violent thunder storm, Mr. [?], (a very intelligent person), Adventured over. He brings much the same account as the above lad, with this addition, — That all the horses on the Island were by Howe’s orders killed, barreled up and put on board; the wretches thinking that they could get no landing here, of any consequence aud would be soon out of provisions. That the tories were used cruelly, and with the Highlanders were compelled to go on board the ships to fight in the character of common soldiers against us. The British army are prodigiously incensed against the tones, and curse them as the instruments of the war now raging.

Mr. [?] further informs that last night the fleet was to come up, but the thunder storm prevented. The truth of this appears, from the circumstances of about three thousand red coats lauding at ten o’clock this morning on Long Island, where by this time it is supposed our people are hard at it. There is an abundance of smoak to-day on Long Island, our folks having set fire to stacks of hay, etc., to prevent the enemy’s being benefited in case they get any advantage against us. All the troops in the city are in high spirits and have
been under arms most of the day, as the fleet have been in motion, and are now, as is generally thought, only waiting for a change of tide. Forty-eight hours or less, I believe, will determine it as to New York, one way or the other.”

General Howe, having signified to the admiral that it was his intention to make a descent on Gravesend bay, on Long Island, on the morning of the 22d of August the necessary dispositions of the fleet were made, and seventy-five flat boats, with eleven batteaux and two galleys (built for this service) were prepared for landing the troops.  Howe delegated the direction and superintendence of the embarkation of the army from Staten Island entirely to Commodore Hotham, by whom it was conducted with the greatest dispatch.

The troops who were to compose the second and third embarkations were, on the afternoon of the 21st, put on board transports which had been sent up from Sandy Hook to Staten Island for that purpose. At an early hour in the morning of the 22d, the Phoenix, Rose, and Greyhound, frigates, commanded by Captains Parker, Wallace and Dickson, together with the Thunderer and  Carcass, bombs, under the direction of Colonel James, were placed in Gravesend bay, to cover the landing of the army.

Immediately after the covering ships had taken their respective
stations, the first embarkation of the troops from Staten Island
commenced. These, consisting of the light infantry and the reserve,
both forming a body of four thousand men, and under the command
of General Clinton, made good their landing without opposition.
The transports with the brigades which composed the second debark-
ation, consisting of about five thousand men, moved at a little dis-
tance after the flat-boats, galleys and batteaux, and by eight o’clock
were ranged on the outside of the covering ships. The transports,
with the remainder of the troops, followed in close succession, and
before noon fifteen thousand men and forty pieces of cannon were
landed on Long Island.

Leopold Philip de Heister
Howe ordered General de Heister with two brigades of Hessians from Staten Island, to join the army on the 25th. leaving one brigade of his troops, a detachment of the Fourteenth regiment of foot from Virginia, and some convalescents and recruits, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple, to take care of Staten Island. The landing of the troops on Long Island was effected without opposition.

The story of the awful battle of Long Island need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say the British succeeded in gaining possession of New York, which was their main object. But to keep possession
after having obtained it required a strong force, and, in consequence, the greater part of the British forces on Staten Island were withdrawn; enough, however, were left to defend it against any force the Americans might be able to bring against it. Upon the whole, the result of the battle was beneficial to the people of Staten Island, as it left fewer soldiers here to depredate upon them, and to rob them of their property.

_______________

Quoted From: Morris, I. K. (1898). Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co.

The Arrest of Peter Poillon

Poillon Farmhouse (now known as the Olmsted House)
General Washington wrote to the Committee of Safety, informing
it that “Peter Poillon, of Richmond County, had been arrested for
supplying the king’s ships with provisions.”  On the 5th, Poillon was
taken before the Committee and examined. He did not deny the
charge; but pleaded in extenuation that “the regulations for pre-
venting intercourse with the King’s ships had not been published in
Richmond County until the 2d or 3d of that month, and that there-
fore he was ignorant of them.” He stated further that ”he left home
with a considerable sum of money, to discharge a debt in Kings
County, together with some articles of provision for New York mar-
ket, of the value of about three pounds”; that “while passing the
warship ‘Asia,’ at as great a distance as he safely could, he was
fired at and could not escape.” He proved further, by reputable
witnesses, that he “was a respectable man, and had always been
esteemed a friend to the liberties of his country.” Poillon was dis-
charged, with a caution “hereafter to keep at a safe distance from
the King’s ship, and to warn his fellow-citizens of Richmond County
to do the same.”

_______________

Quoted From: Morris, I. K. (1898). Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co.

The Crisis on Staten Island–Defying The Committee of Safety

During the active movements of the British and Colonial armies in the East [Boston], all was excitement on Staten Island. The arrival of the mail-coach at Richmond Town was each day greeted by hundreds of people, and the news from the seat of war created animated controversies that resulted in hand-to-hand combats.

The population of the Island consisted of about three thousand people, including men, women, children and slaves. The men were about evenly divided in their support of the English government, and families soon became disunited and at enmity over the vital issues of the day. The first movement, however, that resulted in open disloyalty to the King; was the partial organization of two military companies which offered their services to General Washington.

Before the General’s answer could be received, the British army arrived, With all its pomp and glitter, and the inexperienced natives were so terrified that they thought it wiser to be on the stronger side, and so consented to be mustered into the King’s service.

This was a stinging blow to the patriots who were anxious that Staten Island should be in possession of the Colonial army, and they called a secret meeting at Smoking Point (Rossville) for the purpose of recruiting citizen soldiers who were opposed to the oppression of the parent government. But the leaders were betrayed and the meeting prohibited.

Before proceeding farther let us review the social and political
condition of Staten Island at the commencement of hostilities. The
geographical position of the place gave positive direction to the
political sentiments of its inhabitants. Commanding the approach
to the metropolis of the province, whoever possessed it took advan-
tage of its natural facilities in a military point of view. The Dutch
liad a fort on the heights of the Narrows, (now Fort Wadsworth), during their control; the English enlarged and strengthened it; the State of New York increased its importance during the war of 1812, and the National Government, purchasing it m 1861, has from time to time added to its importance, until it is now one of the strongest points of defence in the whole country.

Whoever, then, possessed this important point, before the Revolu-
tion, to a certain extent possessed and controlled the Island and the
metropolis. ” Whilst the English held the government of the prov-
ince, the people naturally imbibed English sentiments; freedom of
opinion on political subjects, so far as the nature and character of
the government was concerned, was not tolerated. It is not to be
wondered at, then, that a people who, for more than a century” had
been taught to believe that it was little short of treason to doubt the
divine origin of monarchy, and especially of the English monarchy,
should be conscientiously opposed to a change which was calculated
to overturn all their most cherished institutions. More than half of
the population of the Island, at the dawn of the Revolution, were
either of English birth or descent”; and many entertained the idea
that the rebellion could not by any possibility succeed. Many indeed
who favored rebellion hoped against hope.

A great majority of the early Dutch settlers were in favor of inde-
pendence, and those of French descent were about equally divided
on the question. Quite a number of the French having settled here
before the conquest of the province by the English, had intermarried
with the Dutch, who were then the dominant class, and had imbibed
Dutch opinions, manners and customs, and had even fallen into the
use of the Dutch language. In some of the families bearing French
name, and of French descent, at the present day, are to be found
family records, such as they are, written in the Dutch language.”

In February, 1775, Richmond County was represented in the Colon-
ial Assembly by Christopher Billopp and Benjamin Seaman, and
when, on the 23d of the same month, a motion was before the house
” that the sense of this House be taken, on the Necessity of appointing
Delegates for this Colony, to meet the Delegates for the other Colonies
on this Continent, in General Congress, on the 10th day of May next,”
these representatives of Richmond voted in the negative.

The character of Staten Island was now pretty thoroughly established. The people of Elizabethtown had been eagerly watching and waiting to see wliat movemeut would here be made. The stand which the Islanders would take was no longer in doubt, and the Committee of Observation of Elizabethtown on February 13th, 1775, issued the following interdict:

“Whereas the inhabitants of Staten Island have manifested an
unfriendly disposition towards the liberties of America, and among
other things have neglected to join in the General Association pro-
posed by the Continental Congress, and entered into by most of the
Townships in America, and in no instance have acceded thereto. The
Committee of Observation for this Town, taking the same into con-
sideration, are of opinion that the inhabitants of their District ought,
and by the aforesaid Association are bound, to break of all trade,
commerce, dealings, and intercourse whatsoever with the inhabitants
of said Island, until they shall join in the General Association afore-
said; and do Resolve that all trade, commerce, dealings, and inter-
course whatsoever be suspended accordingly, which suspension is
hereby notified and recommended to the inhabitants of this District
to be by them universally observed and adopted.

“GEOEGE ROSS, Clerk.”

________________

Quoted From: Morris, I. K. (1898). Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Pub. Co. 

The Loyalist Gunboats of Staten Island

American gunboat of Revolution found at bottom of New York Lake

The Gunboat. — Throughout the Revolution the British employed
a small sailing vessel, upon the deck of which were mounted two small
cannons. Its mission was to perform patrol duty, principally along
the Kills, sometimes running up the creek to Richmond Village. It
prevented intercourse between neighbors on both sides of the Kills,
and caused a great deal of annoyance. This boat was supported by
the taxpayers of Staten Island, and its claims were paid out of the
“contingencies” account, as the old records show. John Bedell was
the County Treasurer. The following items of expense appear:

“Last Wednesday night, Captain Randall, from Elizabeth Town, came over to Staten Island with a Party of about Fourteen men and fired upon some of the Militia that were on Guard , wounded Mr. Richard Conner in the Arm and one Asher Tappen in the Leg, but neither dangerously.  The Militia pursued the Party, but got into their Boat in a great Hurry and made for the Jersey shore with all expedition.”- Gaines’s Mercury, June 24th, 1778

“Richmond County Sept. the 29 1779

“Received of John Bedel Esq the sum of Fifty one Pound Six shill:
for the use of the Gun boat as appears by the following receipt &
Fifty one Pound 5-9, gained by Exchanging one hundred of the Loan
office monny for Loan office Bill, to replace it.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of Messrs. Richard Conner, Christian Jacobson, Henry
Perine, Cornells Corson suppervisors for Said County the Sum of
Eighty four Pound, being in full for my Selfe & Eight men, belonging
to the Gun boat commencing the fourteenth of August last and con-
tinued for one month” by me James Stewart Capt N J V.”

“£84.0.0.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of Messrs. Richard Conner, Christian Jacobson, Henry
Perine, Cornells Corson the sum of Five Pound Fourteen Shilling in
full for My Selfe and Joshuah Wilson for servis done onboard the
gunboat being 19 days.

“£ 15.14.” by me William Scobey.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of the Suppervisers the Sum of Six Pound four Shilling
being for Planks for repair of the gunboat.

“£6.4.0.”  by me Richard Conner.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 29 1779

“Rc’vd of the Suppervisors for said County the Sum Five
Pound Seven Shill: & 9d being in full for Carpenters Nails & Smiths
work done for the use of the gunboat.

“£5.7.9.”  by me Stephen Bedell.”

This paragraph follows the above, in the official records, and is of
interest in connection with this subject:

“At a Meeting of us, the Suppervisors for the County of Richmond,
Did examen the accounts of our late Treasurer, John Bedell Esqr De-
ceased, and found in the hands of the Executors of said Treasurer
Fourtyseven Pound in Continental, Pensulvany, Jersey, Newyork &
Conecticute Bills, and Two Pound three shill & 7d in silver, for which
sum a recipt was given by us to the above executor and the monuey
for the present put into the hand of Christian Jacobson til such time
and other Treasurer can be Chosen.”

There is no record, so far as we are aware, to show what became of
the gunboat. Tradition says it was surrendered to the Americans
after peace was declared; also, that it was captured and destroyed.

The men who were employed on the gunboat were Captain James
Stewart, Lieutenant Bornt G. Randall, Mate William Scobey, Quartermaster Stephen Bedell, and privates Joel Simonson, Ebenezer Conner, Robert Stewart, Obadiah Bedell, Paul Latourette, Asher Jacobson, Alonzo Latourette, and Peter Laforge. It is said that the original crew were from Elizabeth, and that they were finally superseded by Staten Islanders. Those named in this list, with the exception of Captain Stewart, were natives.

Quoted From: MORRIS’S MEMORIAL HISTORY OF STATEN ISLAND NEW YORK VOLUME II IRA K. MORRIS 1900 The Winthrop Press New York.

 

Abraham Manee homestead built c. 1689

The Abraham Manee homestead, at Seguine’s Point, Prince’s Bay,
is one of the oldest buildings on Staten Island. There is reason to believe that it was erected as far back as 1689, and was the home of a Huguenot that settled on Staten Island. It belonged to the Seguine
estate, and by many residing here today is confounded with the original Seguine homestead. We find indisputable proof of this error in the Richmond County Free Press of 1835, which gives an account of
the burning of the old Seguine homestead, and adds that ” the building was totally destroyed.” There was a  post at Seguine’s
Point during the Revolution, and [Manee’s] house was occupied as headquarters for a time by General Vaughan, the British commander. There was a spirited skirmish between the Americans and the British near this house [in 1778], and an officer on Sir William Howe’s staff, who was bearing a message from the Commander-in-chief to General Vaughan, was fatally wounded and died in this old house.

Abraham Manee House (photo copyright by Nick Matranga)
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Vaughn Dongan, commander of the 3rd Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers in Skinner’s Loyalist brigade was mortally wounded in a skirmish, midway between the Old Blazing Star Ferry and Prince’s Bay. He was taken to a local farm (which I have yet to identify).  It may very well be The Abraham Manee homestead in Prince’s Bay, where British redoubts have been discovered nearby.

SIGN THE PETITION URGING THE MAYOR OF NYC TO ACQUIRE THE HOMESTEAD!

Quoted from: Morris’s memorial history of Staten Island, New York. New York: Memorial Publishing Co. 1898.

Loyalist Units at the Outbreak of War

Colonel Christopher Billopp

The following is the muster roll of Colonel Christopher Billopp’s Staten Island Militia.  Quite a number of these men came from Elizabeth and Perth Amboy, but were credited to Staten Island:

Colonel Christopher Billopp’s Battalion of Staten Island Militia.
Lieutenant-Colonel, Christopher Billopp; Major, Benjamin Seaman Adjutant, John Bedell; Surgeon, Lawrence Barrows; Elija William Charlton; Quartermaster, Jacob Manee.

First Company. — Captain, David Alston; Lieutenant, Richard Coleman; Ensign, Jacob Housman; Enoch Ackerman, Joseph S. Ackerman, Thomas Burbanck, John Bedell, Jr., Anson Bedell, Samuel Brown, Bornt G. Randall, Dewitt Conner, William Conner, Hampton
Conner, Joel Conner, Horace Colter, Patrick Doyle, Thaddeus Edgerton, Ichabod Elders, Tunis Egbert, Abraham Egbert, Sylvanus Grover, Asher Grover, Garret Housman, George Tlousman, George Irons,
Lambert Inman, Abraham LaTourette, Richard Latourette, James Latourette, John Laforge, Stephen Martino, Abraham Manee, William Manee, David Moore, Hans Nauson, Ephraim Nicholson, Jaques Oliver, Edward Perine, Jacob Rickhow, William Rowland, Simon Swain, Thomas Sprag, Nathaniel Stillwell, Isaac Simonson, Abraham Simonson, DeWitt Simonson, Bornt Simonson, Ephraim Totten, John Totten, and Cornelius Van Wagener.

Second Company. — Captain, Abraham Jones; Lieutenant, Joseph
Billopp; Ensign, Joseph Simonson, Stephen Anderson, Freeman Bedell, Joseph Bedell, Adrian Burbank, Samuel Brown, Isaac Blake, John Bodine, Lewis DuBois, Bolton Carroll, Patrick Curry, Wlliam Curreu, Isaac Cubberly, Daniel Corsen, Richard Christopher, Ralph Conner, Enoch Corsen, Richard Crips, Isaac Doughty, Nicholas Dupuy, Moses Egbert, Anthony Fountain, Nathaniel Grover, Peter Housman, John Housman, Milton Hatfield, Ichabod Horner, Jack Hattfield, Stephen Isaacs, Ferrel Jackson, John Journeay, John Lisk, Nicholas
Latourette, Nathaniel Lockermann, Daniel Lake, David Laforge,
Charles Laforge, Jaques Laforge, Lewis Mitchell, Lambert Merrell,
Enoch Norton, Aaron Orlando, John Poillon, Oscar Poillon, Joseph
Rolph, Lawrence Romer, Bornt Stact, Anthony Stoutenburgh, William Storer, Jacob Sprag, Joseph Simonson, David Simonson, Levi Simonson, John Simonson, Thomas Taylor, Gilbert Totten, Lawrence
Vroom, Zachariah Van Dyke, and Daniel Winants.

 

Third Company. — Captain, Richard Conner; Lieutenant, Willett Billopp; Ensign, Samuel Wright; John Ackerman, Henry Butler, John Baker, James Burger, John Beatty, Cornelius Barcalo, Jerry Campbell, Freeman Campbell, Peter Dooland, Thomas Dorothy, Matthew Decker, Freeman Decker, John Errickson, Samuel Forman, Harmon Garrison, Henry Haycock, John Hilliard, Samuel Holmes, Abraham Harris, Peter Inman, James Jackson, Sr., James Jackson, Jr., Peter Jackson, Ephraim Kettletas, James Kelley, Forman Lee,
Stephen Lawrence, Asher Manee, Jonathan Manee, William Manee, Jr., Oberly Manee, Ephraim Newgate, Patrick O’Grady, Eliott Lippincott, Theodore Poillon, Frederick Komer, Barent Simonson, Lewis Simonson, William Scobey, Rufus Totten, Ephraim P. Totten, Charles Van Name, Freeman Van Name, and Abraham Woglum.

The Staten Island Troop. — Captain, Isaac Decker; Lieutenant, Aris
Ryersz; Ensign, Derby Doyle; Trumpeter, Alfred Poillon; John
Androvette, Abner Burbanck, Benjamin Barton, Daniel Corsen, Edmund Christopher, Benjamin Crips, Joseph McDonald, Mathew Decker, Samuel DeHart, Isaac Johnson, Jonathan Lewis, Nicholas Larzelere, Abraham Lake, Abram Moore, Edward Perine, Isaac Prall, Jr., Lawrence Romer, Bernard Spong, William Smith, John Stillwell, John Simonson, Samuel Van Pelt, and Edward Woods.

Military Organization at the Outbreak of War

Below is a review the militia system of the Province of New York,
of which Staten Island was then a part, at the commencement of the Revolution.

The military forces of the colony were divided into three classes, viz.:
The Line, which regiments were in the United States service under General Washington; the levies, which were drafts from the different militia
regiments, and from the people direct as well, and which could be called upon
to serve outside the State during their entire term; the militia,
which then, as now, could only be called out of the State for three
months at a time. Of the Line, there were nine organizations; of
the levies, seven; and of militia, sixty-eight — eighty-four in all.

Associated exempts were a unique class, and were authorized by
act of April 3, 1778. They comprised: “All persons under the age
of sixty who have held civil or military commissions and are not or
shall not be reappointed to their respective proper ranks of office,
and all persons between the ages of fifty and sixty.” They could only
he called out “in time of invasion or incursion of the enemy.”

The following citizens of Staten Island served in the various
organizations of the New York militia during the Revolution. The list
has been collected from many sources:

Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s First Regiment. — John Bedle, Moses
Bedle, Abel Buel, Ezra Buel, John Decker, Abraham Deforest, Jona-
than Eldridge, David Force, Thomas Gleeson, John Haycock, Thomas
Hynes, Abraham Lambert, John Lambert, John Merrill. John Pearce,
David Reany, Thristian Rynders, John Rynders, and Samuel Totten.

Colonel Philip Van Cortland’s Second Regiment. — Richard Barnes,
William Biddle, George Boyd, Christopher Darrow, Christopher
Decker, Edmund Frost, John Hanes, Obadiah Holmes, Stephen Holmes,
Simon Lambertson, Nathan Lewis, John Lusk, Peter Mayhew, Cornelius
Post, Henry Post, John Sprague, Abraham Weeks, and Harmanns Wandall.

 

Colonel James Clinton’s Third Regiment. — Obadiah Ammerman,
John Banker, Thomas Banker, Henry Barnes, Stephen Barnes, John
Beedle, Thomas Beedle, George Brady, Richard Brady, Thomas Elting,
John Fountain, Henry Hopping, Joseph Hopping, Francis Lusk,
Richard Post, Daniel Seaman, Michael Seaman, Edward Tobin, and
John Turner.

Colonel John Holmes’s Fourth Regiment. — Jacob Banker, William
Banker, William Bentley, Thomas Duncan, John Egberts, Peter Gar-
rison, Abraham Garrison, Joseph Merrill, Moses Seaman, and John
Stephens.

Colonel Lewis Dubois’s Fifth Regiment. — Nathaniel Bancker, Chris-
topher Decker, Mathew Decker, Daniel Doty, Francis Drake,
Ephraim Seaman, and John Willis.

Captain Alexander Hamilton’s Provincial Artillery. — Lawrence
Farguson, Isaac Johnson, and John Wood.

Colonel Levi Pawling’s Regiment of Ulster County Militia. — Jacob
Coddington, Jaquin Depew, Jacob Depew, Moses Depew, Josiah
Drake, and William Drake.

Colonel James McGlaghry’s Regiment of Ulster County Militia.
Elijah Barton, Francis Lusk, James Totten, Thomas Totten, and Ben-
jamin Woods.

Colonel Johanness Hardenburgh’s Regiment of Ulster County Mili-
tia. — Charles Cole, Abraham Decker, Abraham Decker,  Ellas
Decker, William Drake, Abraham Johnson, John Lawrence, Daniel
Masters, and Jacobus Miller.

Captain Samuel Clark’s Independent Company of Ulster County
Militia. — Jacob Cropsey, Jacob DeGroot, and John Stillwell.

Colonel Joseph Drake’s Regiment of Westchester Militia. — Nicholas
Bancker. Henry DePew, Samuel Drake, David Martling, Peter
Martling, Hendrick Romer, Hendrick Romer, Jr., James Romer, Hen-
drick Ryerss, John Ryerss, and Tunis Ryerss.

Colonel Thomas Thomas’s Second Regiment of Westchester County
Militia. — Abraham Bancker, William Brown, James Campbell, Jo-
seph Clark, Abraham Egbert, Abijah Fountain, Jonathan Jessup,
Sylvanus Merritt, John Merritt, and Daniel Merritt.

Colonel Samuel Drake’s Regiment of Westchester County Militia.
— Samuel Bedel, William Brown. Jacob Clawson, Stephen Curry, Gar-
ret DeGroot, Abraham DePew, Henry DePew, John DePew, Jeremiah
Drake, John Drake. John Farguson, Elijah Fuller, Daniel Hatfield,
Joshua Hatfield, Obadiah Hunt. George Jones, Nathaniel Lane, James
Morrel, Elijah Mundy, “William Oakley, Ward Smith. John Stephens,
James Townsend, Stephen Travis, and Moses Ward.

Colonel Thaddeus Crane’s Fourth Regiment of Westchester County
Militia. — Ephraim Clark, Gilbert Drake, William Frost, John Holmes, Luke Merritt, Eeuben Smith, Jacob Travis, Abraham Wandel, and
Jonathan Wood.

Captain Jonathan Horton’s Separate Company, Westchester Militia.
— William Dalton and Isaac Oakley.

Staten Islanders who served in the war, but organizations un-
known. — Abraham Ferdon, James Drake, Gerard Decker, Reuben
Jones, William Merrill, John Stillwell, and Ephraim Taylor.

Among the native prisoners known to have been kept on Staten
Island for a time by the British were Abraham Winants, John Stew-
art, Daniel Wandel, and John Noe.