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.

Revolutionary War Sites on Staten Island, Remaining and Lost

Almost all of Staten Island’s Dutch, Flemish and Huguenot architecture has been destroyed by development and insensitivity to the Island’s extraordinary 17th Century Dutch and English history.  I will eventually identify the exact or approximate locations of each structure and their relation to the Revolutionary War, Loyalist and Rebel.

A View of…The Narrows…1777 by J.F.W. Des Barres
Map of the Hudson … from Sandy Hook to New York Harbor (detail) from Map of the Hudson between Sandy Hook & Sandy Hill : with the post road between New York and Albany / Bridges delt. ; Rollinson sct. (1820)
A Map of the Province of New York, with Part of Pensilvania, and New England, from an Actual Survey by Captain [John] Montrésor, Engineer, 1775. P. Andrews, sculp. (London: A Dury, 1775). Detail shown.
Captain John Montresor (22 April 1736 – 26 June 1799) was a British military engineer in North America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view of Paulus Hook (Bergen Neck). Vue de Paulus Hook prise de l’apartement de Mde. la Mquise. de Brehan à New York. 1789 .

 

 

 

 

 

African-American Loyalists at Staten Island, 1776

Early Uniform of Ethiopian Regiment c. 1776

After Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation that freed “all indented Servants, Negroes, or others … that are able and willing to bear Arms” in November of 1775, the tide of runaway slaves increased to about 300 by the end of the month[1].  This group became the core of Dunmore’s Loyalist Ethiopian Regiment.

The Regiment had fought valiantly against the Virginia militia at Great Bridge on December 9, 1775, but were defeated brutally at another engagement that left most of the wounded and sick on Dunmore’s floating hospital off of Gwynne Island by early July 1776.  An outbreak of smallpox had reduced the Regiment to about 300 survivors.  With his forces “too few to stay off Virginia having lost so many by sickness,”  the dispirited Dunmore gave the order to abandon Virginia and sailed for New York on August 7.

A spy reported to General Nathaniel Greene that approximately 800 blacks were under arms on Staten Island[2], which probably included units of the Ethiopian Regiment from Virginia that had arrived at Staten Island by late August 1776.  They had arrived with about 1,000 Virginia Loyalists and their families after the regiment had participated in two battles with the rebels and survived the smallpox epidemic of 1776.

Detail of a painting showing Ethiopian Regiment c. 1781

Some of the more notable slaves that escaped their bondage and offered their services to the British were a young man named Ralph, one of Patrick Henry’s slaves, and Harry, one of George Washington’s slaves who had escaped Mount Vernon by boat with two other of Washington’s slaves as the HMS Roebuck was accompanying Dunmore’s fleet while gathering water up the Potomac.

John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732 – 25 February 1809)

[1] Dunmore to Howe, November 30, 1775 in William Bell Clark, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution vol. 2 (Washington, 1967), 1210-11.

[2] Peter Force, American Archives, Fifth Series, 3 vols. (Washington, D.C., 1848-1853), 1: 486.