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.
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
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
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-
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
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.
Lookout Place or Fort Hill, formerly known as Crocheron’s Hill was a Revolutionary War British garrison, or earthen mound-fortress, about fifty feet square at the top of what is currently named LaTourette Hill near Historic Richmondtown, Staten Island, New York. The fort overlooked the Old Mill Road, Fresh Kills, or Richmond (Saw Mill) Creek, the Church of St. Andrew (est. 1713) and the town of Richmond, then referred to as Cuckoldstown, in the valley just below the Hill. The redoubt was constructed in 1776 by British Regulars during the occupation of Richmond County. General William Howe planned his successful capture of New York City while encamped on the Island, along with 30,000 British and Hessian soldiers joining him after the arrival of his brother, Admiral Richard Howe.
The Hill was named after an old Staten Island family that settled the land in the 1700s, and was still in the Crocheron family until 1845. The Holmes farm was north of the fort. There is a spring running nearby supplying the town and the encampment with fresh water, and is now locally known as “The Howe Spring,” or “The Hessian Spring.” The hilltop was widely denuded of trees by the British during the war, allowing the soldiers to have unobstructed views of Lower New York Bay and the Arthur Kill. To the northeast and northwest of the fort was a flat, scrubby plateau, probably used as the British army’s parade ground. The northeast ramparts were about six feet high with an entrance at the northeast corner. The southwest sides were almost level with the ground, possibly for the placement of artillery.
To the northeast of the fort, archeological digs uncovered a deep pit that more than likely served as a magazine (store for ammunition).
Other extensive digs had taken place at the turn of the 19th century, revealing all manner of British accoutrement, from remnants of weaponry to soldier coat buttons, shoe buckles and pottery fragments. Not too far from this pit was found what was eventually revealed to be a camp rubbish heap filled with military debris. Oyster and clam shells were found in abundance, as well as animal bones, window glass, nails and crockery. Other items turned up, including two fine lead pencils, eight bullets, a gun flint and a pair of scissors.
The first British military item found was a button of the Twenty-second Regiment of Foot (see photo below left). Eight more buttons of the Twenty-second, one of the Forty-second Royal Highlanders and two “R.P.” or Royal Provincials were also found. More uniform buttons were found from the First American Regiment (see photo below right), Forty-seventh, Thirty-third, Forty-forth and the Thirty-seventh (see photo below center) just below on the bank of the slope.
Other military buttons included The King’s Own (4th Regiment of Foot) (see illustration below left), the Forty-sixth and the Fifty-fifth, all of whom engaged in the landing at Gravesend bay, in Brooklyn at the commencement of the Battle of Long Island. One of the more noteworthy military units was Robert Rogers’ newly-organized Queen’s Rangers while encamped at Richmond, named after Charlotte, wife of King George III. It grew to 937 officers and men organized into eleven companies of about thirty men each and an additional five troops of cavalry. Rogers did not prove successful in this command and he left the unit on January 29, 1777.
On October 15, 1777, John Graves Simcoe was given command. Simcoe’s headquarters is believed to have been the Holmes farmhouse just north of the fort. Under his command, he transformed the Queen’s Rangers into one of the most successful British regiments during the war.
The encampment at Crocheron’s Hill is one of the two major camps at Staten Island, the other being Fort Hill, above the Watering Place (another natural spring) on the North shore, primarily used as a hospital and infirmary for the sick and wounded, under the command of Lt. Col. Dalrymple (Hessian soldiers have written about their stay at this hospital), but officers and privates were quartered throughout the Island in private homes, farmhouses and barns for most of the war. The Church of St Andrew’s glebe (land owned by the Church of England) at the time of the revolution included the cemetery along the Richmond creek and a large track of about 350 acres along the Kill Van Kull near Port Richmond.
July 2.Ensign (acting Lieutenant) Henry Stirke, Light Infantry Company, 10th Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion of Light Infantry:
“[1776, July] 2d… Made our Landing on Staten Island, at 8O’Clock at night, without a Shot being fired; as the Rebels abandoned it, on the appearance of the Troops. This night we lay upon our Arms.” Stirke, p. 156.
July 3. Captain William Bamford, 40th Regiment of Foot:
“3 [July, 1776.] W. this morning the first line of our Army landed on Staten Island. We work’d higher up the River & about 11 at night most of our Army was landed.” Bamford, p. 301
Corporal Thomas Sullivan, 49th Regiment of Foot:
“July 3d…After our landing, we were informed that the Enemy were landing on the back or S.W. part of the Island. Our Regiment i.e. 49th, was ordered to march from the Landing place through the Island, to the New blazing Star, at the Ferry of which place; the Rebels was reported to be landing. But they desisted, upon hearing that our Army were marching towards the Ferry. There were 3 Companies of Light-Infantry before us there; and the whole remained there that night.” Sullivan, p. 45.
July 4. Bamford:
“4th. [July, 1776.] the Troops march’d to their several cantonments round the Island. 40 Quartered on the road between Richmond & Amboy… much firing this morning of great Guns, very hot day” Bamford, p. 301.
“July 4th. Our Regiment was relieved at the Ferry by the 5th.Regiment; and we were put into Cantoonments, a mile backward from the New blazing Star. The whole Army landed upon that Island, and were distributed about it; and there were strong -Parties- sent to the -Old-blazing Star, and Decker’s Ferries.” Sullivan, p. 45.
“Head Quarters Mr. Bankers. Staten Island 4th. July 1776…Officers to have as little baggage on Shore as possible, as the Brigades are liable to change their ground on the shortest notice.” Howe Orderly Book. [General Orders are generally read in the evening for execution the following day. SR.]
July 5. Captain William Bamford of the 40th Regiment of Foot landed on Staten Island from on board the “Spy” on July 3 1776:
“5 [July, 1776.] F. dull mg X cleard hot day” Bamford, p. 301.
July 7. Bamford:
“7. [July, 1776.] Su. very hot day got a small port mantua from on board. Piquet Gd” Bamford, p.302.
July 8. Bamford:
“8. [July, 1776.] M. hot mg brisk wd N. W.” Bamford, p.302.
July 14. Ambrose Serle:
“Sunday, 14th July. An excessive hard Rain, prevented going on Shore this Day…” Serle, p.31.
July 19.Ambrose Serle:
“Friday, 19th. July…Walked on Shore in the Evening; but the Heat and Dust made the excursion rather unpleasant.” Serle, p. 38.
July 22. Ambrose Serle:
“Monday, 22nd. July…A very hot and sultry Day, which rendered the Ship our best Retreat. On the Shore, which is near a Mile distant, I heard that the Weather was extremely close and uncomfortable.” Serle, p. 40.
July 25-28.Ambrose Serle:
“Thursday, 25th. July…The Day was very warm, the Thermomr. being at 80°.” Serle, p. 45.
“Sunday, 28th. [July, 1776.]…No divine Service this morning, the heat being excessive. No Air, and The Thermometer at 94 Degrees.” Serle, p. 49.
August 2.Ambrose Serle:
“Friday, 2d. August…The Heat was very great to-day. The Therm. gave 94° in the Sun, and 83°in the shade.” Serle, p. 53.”
August 5. Bamford:
“5. [August, 1776.] M. hot Mg S. E.” Bamford, p. 307.
Captain Francis, Lord Rawdon to Francis, tenth Earl of Huntingdon, at St. James’s Place, London:
“1776. Aug. 5. Staten Island, near New York. – We are just arrived here, my dearest Lord, after a very pleasant passage. Your letter of April 4th met me as soon as I set foot on shore. The company my letter from Virginia found you in, is certainly the pleasantest in the world.Though I have neither a yellow damask drawing-room nor Constantia Cape [Perhaps Constantia wine?], I cultivate the acquaintance in a tent with Madeira, and after all-there is but little difference.” HMC, Rawdon-Hastings, III, p. 179.
Lieutenant John Peebles, Grenadier Company, 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot:
“Monday morning 5th. Augt. [Near the watering place, Staten Island.] prepared to land. first boat about 11, being a good dist from the shore & a strong wind & tide, it was late in the afternoon before we all got ashore, march’d in the eveng to Quarters in the country Peoples houses about 2 or 3 mile. few of the army Encamp’d almost the whole lodged in the farmers houses & barns Landed the whole coy in good health after being above sixteen weeks on board of ship…” Peebles, p. 54.
[The informative John Peebles unfortunately did not keep his diary during the summer and autumn of 1776 while serving as Adjutant to the 4th Grenadier Battalion, but opened it again after the disbandment of this corps. Entries from his Orderly Book kept during this period are however noted below. SR.]
August 6. Bamford:
“6. [August, 1776.] Tu. hot Mg brisk wd S. W.” Bamford, p. 307.
August 7. Bamford:
“7 [August, 1776.] W. very hor foggy Mg XII clear &very hot S. W. X Exceeding hot, little wd S. XII pleasnt breeze E. Some heavy rain this Evg.” Bamford, p. 307.
Ambrose Serle, Secretary to Admiral Richard Howe:
“Wednesday, 7th August. [Staten Island.]…“Went on Shore in the Evening, and walked up to the new Incampments.’ Tis a hard unpleasant Life this of a Soldier’s, which is passed in a little paltry Tent which will neither keep out Wind, Rain, or Vermin, and which seems to have little other Solace on this dusty Island than the association of multitudes in the same Condition. The Ship is a House or a Palace compared with the Accommodations of the military.” Serle, p. 56.
[Serle was a civilian, unused to his surroundings. He was conscious of many things that military men seldom noted, including the swarms of mosquitoes, the din of insects and frogs, and after the battle of Long Island, the odor of unburied corpses in the woods. SR.]
“8. [August, 1776.] Th. dull close Mg very sultry & calm” Bamford, p. 307.
“9 [August, 1776.] F. close hot day wd variable” Bamford, p. 307.
“Friday, 9th. of August. Nothing material occurred this Day, wch was extremely warm.” Serle, p.60.
“Head Quarters Staten Island. August 1776…“The Regiments lately joined the Army under the Command of Lieut. Genl. Clinton, will as soon as possible remove their heavy baggage and Women to the Transports allotted to them for that purpose, of which they will make a report to the Adjutant General.” Howe Orderly Book.
“10. Sa. hot day p. m. II pleasant wd E.” Bamford, p.307.
August 11. Bamford:
“11. Su. close dull some showers, S. much Lightning Thunder & Rain this Evg” Bamford, p. 308.
“12 M. cloudy Mg cool W.” Bamford, p. 308.
42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot, Regimental Orders:
“The 7 Companys to Embark on board the Brilliant Thames Glasgow & Houston. The Officers are to carry nothing with them but their Tents bedding & a Portmanteau.” Peebles Orderly Book.
August 13 – 16. Bamford:
“13. [August, 1776.] Tu. very bright Mg little wd W.14. hot Mg little wd E…15. Th. rain’d all last nt very wet Mg E.X ceased to rain, cloudy. several drissling showers this day. The Hessians landing to Encamp.16. F. close cloudy Mg heavy showers…” Bamford, p. 308.
“Friday, 13th August…This has been the most sultry Day I have ever felt.” Serle, p. 63.
August 15.Ambrose Serle:
“Thursday, 15th. August.The Chaplain [O’Beirne] and myself took a Ride almost to the full Length of Staten Island opposite to Amboy in New Jersey, which was about half a mile distant. It was a charming cool Day, having rained in the morning, and the Sun being defended by Clouds, which rendered the Scenes, beautiful as they were in themselves, doubly delightful…”Serle, p. 65.
“17. [August, 1776.] Sa. a good deal of rain last nt showers this mg N. W. IX soaking rain” p. 309.
“The Officers to send their heavy Baggage on board of ship tomorrow morng by the Provisn Waggons” Peebles Orderly Book.
“18 [August, 1776.] Su. heavy rain all last Nt very wet Mg N. E…” Bamford, p. 310.
“19 [August, 1776.] M[onday]. wet last nt wet mg X [10o’clock] ceas’d raining aftn pleasant. A comy of ye Hessian Troops encamp’d close by our Quarters, we remov’d” Bamford, p. 309.
Ensign Thomas Glyn, Brigade of Guards:
“Brigade Orders August 19th [1776.] When the Brigade disembarks two Gils of Rum to be delivered for each mans Canteen which must be filled with Water, Each Man to disembark with a Blanket & Haversack in which he is to carry one Shirt one pair of Socks and Three Days Provisions a careful Man to be left on board each Ship to take care of the Knapsacks. The Articles of War to be read to the Men by an Officer of each Ship.” Glyn, p. 7.
“Memdms… 20th [August, 1776.] The Troops march’d from their several cantonments & Encampmts & embark’d on board their ships.”
“Remarks… 20 [August, 1776.] Tu[esday]. This mg at IV The 8 Comps of the 40th Regt march’d from their cantonments to the Landing place & embark’d on board ye Wm & Mary.” Bamford, p. 309-10.
[The format of Bamford’s diary is that he makes a daily memorandum and at the end of each week adds any remarks. SR.]
“Dacres [Decker’s] Ferry Staten Island August 20th…The Army will land in four Divisions…the 2d Division to consist of the 1st. 2d. and third Brigades of British, under the Command of Majr General Robertson, Major General Pigot & Major General Jones……when the Troops land they are to carry nothing with them but their Arms Ammunition Blankets and 3 days Provisions.” Glyn, p. 7.
“Aug.- 20th. Our Brigade was relieved at their Cantoonments about the New blazing Star, by a detachment of the Hessians, under the command of Colonel Dalrymple of said Corps. The troops at Amboy and old blazing Star Ferries, were also relieved by other Detachments of the same Troops. We marched from our Cantoonments aforesaid to the landing place at Prince’s Bay, where the whole Army Embarked. Each Regiment (except the Highlanders and Guards)[*] had but one Transport; on board of which was all their Camp Equipage and other Necessaries.” Sullivan, p. 47.
[*Due to being large Corps. SR.]
August 21. Bamford:
“Memdms… 21 [August, 1776.] W[ednesday]. Rain last nt pleasant mg little wind”
“Remarks… 21. [August, 1776.] The embarkation was finish’d & the order of Landing given out.” Bamford, p. 309-10.
Long Island. The British under Howe crossed from Staten Island to Long Island on August 22.
“Remarks… 22. [August, 1776.] The Army landed on Long Island about IX [9 o’clock] this Mg without opposition the Lt Infantry push’d into the Country & got as far as flat Bush about 6 miles from the landing Place” Bamford, p. 310.
“Aug. 22d. After our being on board ship a day & two nights,waiting for the weather, which was wet, to clear up; the whole Army got ready for landing on Long-Island… And the whole Army landed then in abody, without opposition, on the South-East end of Long-Island, at a place called Gravesend, near the Narras.” Sullivan, p. 48.
“August 22d The Army landed on Long Island without Opposition from the Rebels. we marched to New Utrecht” Glyn, p. 8.
“General Howe took quarters at Gravesend, one English mile from the place of debarkation, and there the entire English infantry encamped without tents. All the grenadiers, the jägers, the Scottish Highlanders, and the light dragoons, however, moved further inland,through New Utrecht to Flatbush.” Baurmeister, p. 36.
“Head Quarters New Utrecht Long Island 22nd. August 1776…Each Regiment is to send early to morrow for their Tents, Camp kettles & Knapsacks. The Qr. Mastr. General will endeavour to furnish Waggons to convey them from the Waterside, & it is hoped that Officer swill bring as little Baggage on Shore as possible, & for some time make use of Soldiers tents, or fly Tents.” Howe Orderly Book.
Captain William Haslewood, 63rd Regiment of Foot:
“The Troops without opposition landed on Long Island.- 21st.[sic – 22nd] August. marched a few Miles up the Country and encamped in Soldiers Tents.” Haslewood, p. 55.
Lieutenant Martin Hunter, Light Infantry Company, 52nd Regiment of Foot, summarized the period since the first landing on Staten Island:
“…The fleet sailed for New York with the army on board, arrived at Staten Island, and disembarked without any opposition; encamped, and continued in barns for about six weeks, waiting the arrival of some regiments from England. The army embarked in flat-bottomed boats, and landed in Long Island, near to Flat Bush, and encamped. The enemy were in great force, and strongly entrenched at Brooklyn, on the point opposite to New York. We remained encamped at Flat Bush and Newtown for four days…” Hunter, p. 16.
“Memdms… 23 [August, 1776.] F. pleasant Mg Landing Artillery, Stores, & ca…” Bamford, p. 310.
“Memdms… 24 [August, 1776.] Sa. Warm Mg some rain last Nt” Bamford, p. 310.
“Head Quarters New Utrecht, on Long Island 24th Augst. 1776…Those Corps that have landed more Tents than they have present occasion for are to Embark them again immediately. The Light Infantry are not to have Tents as they may expect to be in constant motion.” Howe Orderly Book.
“Memdms… 25. [August, 1776.] Su. very heavy rain lastnt dull Mg W…” Bamford, p. 310.
“Memdms… 26. [August, 1776.] M. Much Lightning & Thunder last nt.gloomy day. March’d from ye Ferry Cantonmts about IX this Eveg” Bamford, p.310.
“Head Quarters Long Island 26th August 1776…After Orders 5 O’Clock…The Army will strike their Tents and land their Baggage, at 8O’Clock this night, to form at the head of their respective Encampments, and there wait for further orders. The Men to carry their Canteens, Camp Kettles, Provisions & necessarys with them. No more than two Waggons can be allowed to each Regt. for their Tents & Baggage.” Howe Orderly Book.
“We marched on the night of the 26th August 1776; made a circuitous route to get in the rear of enemy, that were encamped in our front about a mile, on very stony ground. We left our tents standing to deceive the enemy…” Hunter, p. 16.
August 27. Battle of Long Island. Bamford:
“Memdms. 27. [August, 1776.] Tu. fine mg…” Bamford, p. 310.
Captain the Honourable William Leslie, 17th Regiment of Foot, to his parents:
“Bedford Long Island Sept. 2nd 1776…On 22nd August the whole army except 3,000 Hessians who were left to defend Staten Island made a descent upon Long Island in Flat Boats & landed on the South Side without opposition, encamped at Denises,Gravesend, Utrecht, &.” “On the 26th our Brigade (viz the 4th) commanded by Major Gen. Grant & the Brigade on our Right (the 6th) commanded by B. Gen. Agnew received Orders to be in readiness to march at night in one Division, we marched at ten o’clock from Denises…”
“The Day after their Retreat we had orders to march to the ground weare now encamped upon, near the Village of Bedford: It is now afortnight we have lain upon the ground wrapt in our Blankets, and thank God who supports us when we stand most in need, I have never enjoyed better health in my Life. My whole stock consists of two shirts 2 pr of shoes, 2 Handkerchiefs half of which I use, the other half I carry inmy Blanket, like a Pedlar’s Pack.” Cohen, p. 60-63. [Leslie suggests that the camp and the kit he describes had prevailed for a ‘fortnight,’ or since about September 20, two days before the landing on Long Island. SR.]
Memdms… 28. [August, 1776.] W. very pleasant Mg aftnrain” Bamford, p. 310.
“29. [August, 1776.] Th. gloomy Mg” Bamford, p. 311.
“August 30th We marched from Bedford, took possession of the Forts evacuated by the Enemy, returned to Bedford, struck Tents, laid on our Arms on New Town Heights all Night.” Glyn, p. 8.
August 31. A letter from an unknown Officer with the initials “R. G.” in the papers of the Earl of Huntingdon:
1776. Aug. 31. Long Island. -“I am writing in my tent almost full of water owing to a very heavy thunderstorm. I have not my large tent with me, and therefore have not been able to pull off my clothes this week or ten days, but I was never better in my life. It is not very trifling what the whole army undergoes from want of carriages and fresh provisions. They are likewise very much worked by marches, and, what is worse, there is dreadful want of water in this part of the island. I never saw an army better inclined to make all things easy to the general and more zealous to the cause.” HMC, Rawdon-Hastings, III, p. 180-81.
George Washington’s aide-de-camp receives dispatches of the British anchoring off of Staten Island and writes of the activity in and around Sandy Hook and New York Bay. These dates coincide with the dates of British soldier Archibald Robertson‘s diary, and is a wonderful contrast of the belligerents and their contrasting observations of the impending confrontation between the Americans and the British Empire’s powerful Army and Navy.
1939.503 Samuel B. Webb by Artist/Maker: Charles Willson Peale
Date: 1779, 1790 Medium: Watercolor on ivory, gold
From: New-York Historical Society
June 28th—This Morning we hear our Cruizers off the back of Long or Nassau Island, have retaken four prizes-which the Greyhound Man of War had a few days before taken-The sailors inform that General Howe was on board the Greyhound and had arrived at Sandy-Hook; that 130 sail of transports, &c., were to sail from there for this place the 9t!t Inst If this be true, we may hourly look for their arrival.*
Agreeable to yesterday’s Orders, Thomas Hicky was hang’d in presence of most of the Army-besides great numbers of others-spectators-he seemed much more penitent than he was at first.**
Saturday, 29th June—This morning at 9 o’Clock, we discovered our Signals hoisted on Staten Island, signifying the appearance of a fleet At 2 oClock P. M. an express arrived, informing a fleet of more than one Hundred Square rig’d vessels, had arrived and anchored in the Hook—This is the fleet which we forced to evacuate Boston ; & went to Halifax last March— where they have been waiting for reinforcements, and have now arrived here with a view of puting their Cursed plans into Execution. But Heaven we hope and trust will frustrate their cruel designs—a warm and Bloody Campaign is the least we may expect ; may God grant us victory and success over them, is our most fervent prayer. Expresses are this day gone to Connecticut, the Jerseys, &c, to hurry on the Militia.
July 1st—By express from Long Island, we are in formed that the whole fleet weighed Anchor and came from Sandy Hook, over under the Long Island shore, and anchored ab’. half a mile from the shore—which leads us to think they mean a descent upon the Island this Night. A reinforcement of 500 men were sent over at 9 oClock this Evening to reinforce the troops on Long Island under General Green—We have also received Intelligence that our Cruisers on the back of Long Island, have taken and carried in one of the enemie’s fleet laden with Intrenching Tools.
N. Y. July 2nd—At 9 oClock this morning the whole Army was under Arms at their several Alarm Posts, occasioned by five large Men of War coursing up thro: the narrows—We supposed them coursing on to attack our Forts—never did I see Men more chearfull; they seem to wish the enemies approach—they came up to the watering place, about five miles above the narrows, and came too—their tenders took three or four of our small Craft plying between this and the Jersey Shore-At 6 oClock P. M. about 50 of the fleet followed and anchored with”the others–Orders that the whole Army lie on their Arms-and be at their Alarm Posts before the Dawning of the Day. A Warm Campaign, in all probability, will soon ensue, relying on the Justice of our Cause, and puting our Confidence in the Supreme being, at the same time exerting our every Nerve, we trust the design of our enemies will be frustrated.
July 2nd [3rd]—This day Arrived in Camp, Brigadier General Mercer, from Virginia, being appointed and ordered here by the Honl Continental Congress likewise General Herd with the Militia from New Jersey by order of his Excellency Genl Washington.
Thursday, July 4th—Last night-or rather at daylight this morning-we attack’d a sloop of the enemies mounting eight Carriage Guns-She lay up a small river, which divides Staten Island from the main -call’d the Kills. We placed two 9 pounders on Bergen Point-and soon forced the crew to quit her by the shrieks, some of them must have been kill’d or wounded-the sloop quite disabled.
N. Y. July 7th—By several Deserters from the fleet and Army on Staten Island, we learn that the number of the enemy is abt. 10,000; that they hourly look for Lord Howe from England with a fleet, on board of which is 15 or 20,000 men ; that they propose only to act on the defensive ’till the arrival of this fleet, when they mean to open a warm and Bloody Campaign, and expect to carry all before them-but trust they will be disappointed.
N. York, July 9th, 1776—Agreeable to this day’s orders, the Declaration of Independence was read at the Head of each Brigade; and was received by three Huzzas from the Troops-every one seeming highly pleased that we were separated from a King who was endeavouring to enslave his once loyal subjects. God Grant us success in this our new character.
July 10th, 1776—Last night the Statue of George the third was tumbled down and beheaded-the troops having long had an inclination so to do, tho’t this time of publishing a Declaration of Independence, to be a favorable opportunity-for which they received the Check in this day’s orders.
*These prizes were taken by the armed sloop Schuyler, and one other cruiser, Howe arrived on the 25th.
**Thomas Hickey, a member of the General’s guard, was implicated in the “conspiracy,” and on trial was convicted of having enlisted into the British service and engaged others. He was sentenced to be hung. “The unhappy fate of Thomas Hickey, executed this day for Mutiny, Sedition and Treachery, the General hopes will be a warning to enry soldier in the army to avoid those crimes and all others, so disgraceful to the character of a soldier, and pernicious to hit country, whose pay he receives and bread he eats. And in order to avoid those crimes, the most certain method is to keep out of temptation of them, and particularly to avoid lewd women, who, by the dying confession of the poor criminal, first led him to practices which ended in an untimely and ignominious death”-Orderly Book, 28 June, 1776.
 Hugh Mercer. He was sent to command the operations in New Jersey.
 Nathaniel Heard. He had just been sent to Staten Island to drive off the stock.
 “The Honr: the Continental Congress, impressed by the dictates of duty, policy and necessity, having been pleued to dissolve the Connection which subsisted between this country and Great Britain, and to declare the United Colonies of North America free and independent STATES : The several brigades are to be drawn up this evening on their respective parades, at six o’clock, when the declaration of Congress, showing the grounds and reasons of this measure, is to be read with an audible voice.”
“The General hopes this important event will serve u a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, u knowing that now the peace and safety of this country depends (under God) solely on the success of our Arms: and that be is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country.”-Orderly Book, 9 July,1776.
 “Though the General doubts not the persons who pulled down and mutilated the Statue in the Broadway lut night were actuated by zeal iu the public cause, yet it has much the appearance of a riot and want of order in the army, that be disapproves the manner and directs that in future these things shall be avoided by the soldiery, and left to be executed by the proper authority.”-Orderly Book, 10 July, 1776.
All quotes from: Commager, Henry S., and Richard B. Morris. The Spirit of ‘seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution As Told by Participants. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Print.
Archibald Robertson‘s Diaries and Sketches are an extraordinary eye-witness account of the Revolutionary War. He had accompanied Gen. Howe for most of the engagements from 1776 to 1778, and upon arriving at New York in the summer of 1776, described the landscape and troop movements in and around Staten Island. The following excerpts start with the British fleet approaching Sandy Hook and anchoring off the coast of Staten Island in late June and includes the preparations for what would be the Battle of Long Island in August
Major Archibald Robertson of Lawers 1782 by George Romney The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida
[June] 29th at 6 in the morning discovered land the heights call’d the Neversinks close by sandy hook the Entrance intoNew York Bay, and all the Fleet got safe to an Anchor at 3o’clock behind the Hook. Have had very calm weather for 10 Days past with light Breezes from the East. Dth a fair wind but lay still. Wrote my Brother and nclos’d the 2d of Exchange for £200 Sterling drawn by Captain S: in his favour.
July 1st within 20 Minutes of 5 afternoon the Admiral made the signal to get under way, and in an hour all the Fleet were under sail for the Narrows with a fair wind. Came to an Anchor about 2 miles off Gravesend on Long Island, about 8 o’clock, and went with Captain [John] M[ontreso]r immediately on board the Admiral. There was orders for the troops to be ready to embark at 4 next morning, but after a long Consultation of General Officers it was agreed not to be proper, considering the country we had to march thro’ and the Difficulty of keeping up our Communication with the Ships, etc., etc.
[July] 2nd Weigh’d Anchor at 10 morning and stood for the Narrows, the Tide just on the turn against us and a light Breeze. At 11 The tide turn’d and becoming allmost Calm and the wind ahead the Transports fell into great Confusion all dropping upon one another without steerage way which obliged us to come to an Anchor. Some of the ships with in 7 or 800 Yards of Long Island. We observed a good many of the Rebels in Motion on shore. They fired musquetry at the nearest Ships without effect. About 12 the ships nearest were ordered to drop down with the Tide, lucky for us the Rebels had no Cannon here or we must have suffered a good deal.
The Phoenix, Grayhound and Rose men of war got about 4 or 5 miles ahead and brought too. About 4 past one the Phoenix made the signal for preparing to land. It rain’d smartly, and the ist division of Transports got under way with the first of the flood Tide, and about 9 we got up to the Watering Place on Staaten Island where the 3 men of war had hauled close inshore, the General on board the Greyhound, and the Grenadiers and Light Infantry under Earl Percy. Generals Robertson and Leslie landed immediately without opposition, the inhabitants wellcoming them ashore. They lay near the landing Place all night.
July 3d about 6 morning landed with the General. Part of the ist Brigade landed, and all the Troops ashore, about 2300, march’d along the North side of the Island by Deckers Ferry, and part advanced to Elizabeth Ferry, Richmond, etc. In the Evening some more troops were landed. The Admiral got up, but few of the transports, to the Watering Place. 4 Grasshoppers were brought to Deckers Ferry.
July 4th Last night the Rebels brought two pieces of Cannon to Deckers’s Ferry, one 12 and one 9 pounder, and Early in the morng fired on the George Sloop and kill’d and wounded 5 men, but the sloop drove them off with the loss of one man and some wounded. The General would not allow the Grass hoppers to be fired. This day we brought up 2 12 -pounders and 2 Royal Howitzers near Deckers Ferry. The Rebels fired from a field piece at our Transports coming up the Narrows. The Asia return’d the fire and drove them off. All the troops landed. This night a Sloop came in from Shrewsberry in the Jerseys with 66 men in Arms to join the Army under Mr. Morris formerly an Officer in the 47th Regiment. Landed the entrenching tools with the Cannon.
The Emerald Arrived with a Ship loaded with Provisions from the Loyalists at New York. Several People came in, in Boats from Long Island and the town, most horridly persecuted by the Rebels.
[July] 5th nothing Extraordinary but reconnoitring the Enemy’s works they began to throw up opposite Elizabeth- town Ferry the 3d, which we found very slight and ill constructed. This day pitch’d my tent. A party of 50 Sailors of the Asia brought off some Cattle from the point at the Kills.
6th reconnoitered our post at Richmond, the Quarters of the Grenadiers. Staid all night, saw the Militia review’d, supposed to be 700 and a troop of light Horse.
7th return’d to head Quarters. The Rebels last Evening fired a good many Musquet shot across the water at Decker’s Ferry without Effect. Some People come in from long Island and 3 Rifflemen with 5 Riffle Guns, an English, Scotch and Irishman.
The Militia mounted a Guard on the General of 12 Light Horse.
8th Wrote to Lord Townsend, Lord Cathcart, and Henry, to go by the same Pacquet with my letter of 30th Ultmo. This Evening the Rebels fired musquetry at Decker’s Ferry, but dispersed on a gun or two being fired.
9th This morning at 5 we had a working Party of 100 men to cut Fascines at Deckers Ferry to begin a Post which we marked out there for the security of the inhabitants when we leave this Island. This afternoon went to Richmond with Mr. Sproul, to mark out an intended work upon a height near the Town.
10th After looking over and Considering the ground well found some Alterations in the scheme would be necessary. Return’d to Head Quarters. I believe no work is to be made at Richmond.
13th the 1st and 5th Brigades embarked, the Grenadiers took the Quarters of the 1st from Richmond, and the Forreigners encamp’d where the 5th were.
18th this morning the Phoenix and Rose men of war with two tenders came down to the Fleet after having pass’d the fire of all their Batterys in which the Rose had two men wounded. The Night of the 16th they were attack’ d by two fire Ships, the Rose’s Tender was burnt and the Phoenix narrowly escaped.
22nd Landed on Long Island Gravesend Bay.
26th Ordered to attend General Clinton, I join’d him at 8 in the Evening at flatlands, at 9 we march’d, with all the Grenadiers, Light Infantry, 33d, 71st Regiments and 17th Light dragoons in order to turn the left flank of the Rebel army who were in possession of the high Grounds of Brooklyn, that extend all the way most to Jamaica.
27th at daybreak we pass’d these heights without any op position, about 5 miles East of Bedford and continued our march towards Bedford and Brooklyn. When we came near to Bedford the Rebels began to fire from the Woods on our left which continued for some distance as we march’d on to Brooklyn. Ordered to stop the Light Companies of the 23d I join’d them and obliged to remain, my Communication with the General being cut off. About 9 o’clock the Rebels gave way very fast and in their retreat, across a marsh and mill dam, received a heavy fire from our Grenadiers tho’ distant. The Light Horse could not act for a swamp that was in front. At the same time General Clinton went from Flatlands. General Grant march’d from Dinnys’s with 2 Brigades to turn the Rebels right Flank and Count Dunhop march’d in the Centre from Flat Bush. General Grant in his march had several smart Skirmishes. A Battalion of our Grenadiers and the 71st were sent on towards General Grant and about 2 in the Afternoon they had a very smart Skirmish in the woods with the Rebels who were trying to get to the water side to escape. The Hessians likewise fell in with the flying Partys and they were drove from every Quarter. We lost some Good Officers, about 60 men kill’d and about 300 wounded, the Rebel loss was very considerable upwards of 3000 kill’d wounded and Prisoners. Amongst the latter General Sulivan and Lord Stirling. They had about 12,000 men on the heights. Great Numbers got across the creek into their Works on Brooklyn heights, we were in Possession of very good Ground within 600 Yards of them, and by some mistake in orders had very near Evacuated this ground. In the evening we retired a little. The whole of this days Manoeuvre was well plann’d and Executed, only more of the Rebels might have been cut off had we push’d on from Brooklyn sooner towards General Grant.
[August] 28th this night with a party of 400 men I opened ground opposite their Works and form’d a kind of Paralel or place of Arms 650 Yards Distant. This day Sir William Erskine with the 71st Regiment and Light Dragoons went to Jamaica, they took a General Woodall Prisoner.
29th Party 300 employ’d in making a Boyau and Party employ’d in making fascines to raise Batterys.
30th perceived by Day Break that the Rebels had evacuated all their works on long Island and retreated to New York Island in the night. We immediately took Possession of them with the Piquets, and in the Evening were relieved by 100 Hessians. General Clinton went On towards Newton with 2 Battalions Light Infantry and 1 Battalion Hessian Grenadiers.
31st All the Army began to move towards Newton but5000 Hessians under General Heister left at Brooklyn heights, 2 Brigades with General Grant at Bedford. General Clinton was this morning at Hell Gate and Lord Cornwallis encamp’d on the heights near Newton. At 2 o’clock the General with the rest of the Army Arrived at Newton which was head Quarters. We pass’d through a Pleasant Country.Reported that the Rebels were firing on one Another and evacuating the Town.
September 1st reconnoitred the shore opposite Hell gate where the Rebels have a Work round Walton’s house, call’d Horn Hook, the water or East River about 500 Yards across here. General Sulivan sent over to New York about negociations.
2nd sent early to General Clinton about placing mortars to drive the Rebels from their work at Walton’s house. Nothing done. Reported General Sulivan is gone to Philadelphia.
3d this Night the Rose man of war came up the East River with 20 flat Boats. She Anchored under Blackwells Island. Received Several Shot in coming past the Batterys. A Picquet sent
to take Possession of Blackwells Island for her Protection.4th Evening Captain Moncrief and I were ordered to raise two Batterys at Hell gate against Walton’s House, one of 3 24-Pounders and one 3 12-Pounders, a working party of 300men. We began to work at l/2 past nine and by 5 next morning
they were completed within 2 hours work of 60 men. This Evening a Party was sent to raise a Breast Work on Blackwell’s Island, but the Piquets were withdrawn and the Rose went down to Bush wick Point.
_______________________________________________________ All Entries quoted from:Robertson, Archibald. 1971. Archibald Robertson: his diaries and sketches in America, 1762-1780. [New York]: New York Public Library.
Cartridge Box badge depicting crown and “26” of the British 26th Regiment of Foot, War of the Revolution. 1760-1783
“In the autumn of 1775, when Montgomery captured St. John’s, the garrison included part of this regiment, who were confined at Ticonderoga, where this Badge was found. In 1776, these prisoners were exchanged adn camped on Staten Island. The regiment was disbanded in 1779.”