Simcoe and The Queen’s Rangers, Part 3

The Queen’s Rangers, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe goes on to state, in his  Military Journal,  obtained a great many recruits, and it is very remarkable that neither that corps nor the Volunteers of Ireland had a single man who deserted from them, while there were such opportunities and apparent reasons to do it. Lieut.-Col. Simcoe, on his return from Elizabethtown Point, where the enemy passed, had information that a party of plunderers had crossed from the Jersies to the other end of the Island. He detached the Hussars in pursuit of them, but they fled, on the Staten Island militia collecting together. The frost still continuing there were many reports and a general expectation that the enemy would again adventure upon the Island, with superior force, with sufficient provisions to attempt some greater purpose, and patroles were constantly made on all the roads by which they could possibly approach, by order of General Sterling.

The Queen’s Rangers had formerly experienced how ready General Sterling was to represent their services, and they now in common with the other troops, had a further proof of his good inclinations, it being inserted in general orders of the 21st of January,

‘Brigadier Gen. Sterling is happy to inform the troops on this Island of his Excellency Gen. Knyphausen’s fullest approbation of their behavior, and the good countenance they showed when the rebels were upon this Island, which the brigadier had reported to the Commander-in-chief; and his Excellency desires his thanks may be given to them.’

On the 25th [of January], Lieut.-Col. Simcoe gave out the following order: ‘That he expects the order relative to officers and soldiers sleeping in their clothes be strictly complied with, such recruits excepted whom the officers commanding companies may judge as yet unequal to the duties of the regiment; if any half-bred soldier disobeys this order, the first officer or non-commissioned who meets with him, will deliver him to the officer on guard to be put on some internal duty. The Lieut.-Col. has particular satisfaction in seeing the General’s approbation of that good countenance which enabled him, on the late inroad of the enemy, to rest perfectly at ease without augmenting the duty of the regiment. He knows its universal spirit, and certain from the fidelity of those on guard, that the garrison cannot be snatched away by surprise, is confident that Richmond redoubts will be too dear for the whole rebel army to purchase.’

Planned Capture of George Washington

Lieut.-Colonel Simcoe formulated a plan to capture “Mr. Washington,” as he called him, by making a secret march from Staten Island to Morristown. While waiting for Sir Henry Clinton’s conclusions, the Hussars were ordered to march to New York, with a convoy, over the ice. Lieut.-Colonel Simcoe goes on to say : “It would seem that the same negligence in Gen. Washington’s quartering in front of his army had attracted the notice of Captain Beckwith, Gen. Knyphausen’s aide-de-camp, and he had formed a plan to carry off that General, for which purpose cavalry were collected at New York, and among others Captain Beckwith obtained the Hussars of the Queen’s Rangers, of whom he had a good opinion. Brig.-Gen. Sterling communicated to Lieut.-Col. Simcoe the purpose for which the cavalry was withdrawn, as it was intended that a general movement from Staten Island should favor the enterprise.

“Since it did not take place on so large a scale as was at first designed, Lieut.-Col. Simcoe received orders ‘to send a party to surprise the enemy’s post at Woodbridge or Rahway, and to give a general alarm’; this party was to cross the ice at one o’clock in the morning, and not to return until nine or ten. Accordingly Lieut.-Col. Simcoe passed the ice with two hundred infantry at one o’clock; Major Armstrong with some infantry, the cavalry and cannon occupying the heights, at the Old Blazing Star [Rossville], to cover their return. The snow prevented all possibility of marching but in the beaten road; there were no posts in Woodbridge.”

Lieut.-Colonel Simcoe then gives a detailed account of his adventures in New Jersey, where they had a warm engagement with the Continental militia. After that he continues: “The party returned to Richmond without further molestation. The Queen’s Rangers lost only one man, already mentioned; a few were wounded, but they bore no proportion to the number whose cloths were struck by the enemy’s bullets, fired at a distance, through intervening thickets, or more probably by those who had not recollection enough to ram down their charges. The enemy’s loss was supposed to be more considerable, as many of them were seen to fall and the whole of the affair being between single men, the Rangers were better marksmen than the Jersey militia. Captain Beckwith had found it impracticable to carry his attempt into execution, from an uncommon fall of rain which, encrusting the top of the snow, cut the fetlocks of his horses and rendered it absolutely impossible for him to succeed. The Hussars soon afterward returned to Staten Island. The ice floating on the 22d of February, the Sound became impassable. The soldiers were permitted to undress themselves at night, and in case of alarm they were directed to accoutre in their shirts, and to form at their posts.

“Lieut.-Col. Simcoe, on his arrival at Staten Island from imprisonment, had applied to the Commander-in-chief to request that he might join the army to the southward. He had also written in the strongest terms to Earl Cornwallis, soliciting his lordship to support his application. ln case his wishes should not take place, he was anxious to be of what service he thought the present situation of the Queen’s Rangers would admit; for this purpose he made application through the proper channel to General Knyphausen for discretionary permission to beat up the enemy’s forts in the Jersies, and to have boats sufficient to transport three hundred infantry and sixty cavalry, to be manned by the Rangers, and to be left totally to his own disposal.

He proposed by this means to countenanced desertion, then so prevalent in Washington’s army, and to keep the whole coast in continued alarm. He had the most minute maps of the country and the best guides, and the Loyalists, without doubt, would have universally joined him. The first enterprise he meant to attempt was to surprise Col. Lee at Burlington. * * * Lee’s corps were excellently mounted and disciplined; he himself was active and enterprising, and had that weight in the Jersies which capacity and power, with a very free use of it, could give to the possessor. The importance it would have been of to the intended system of operations to have seized upon Col. Lee and demolished his corps is best illustrated by remarking that, although Burlington is nearly seventy miles from Staten Island, he was understood to have his pickets eight or ten miles in his front for his security.

“Lieut.-Col. Simcoe’s proposals were approved of by Generals Knyphausen, Sterling and Tryon. Some of their boats were sent to him, and the remainder were in forwardness when, on the 23d of March, 1780, the infantry of the corps received orders to embark for Charlestown, which it did on the 4th of April. Captain Wickham was left with the Hussars in the town of Richmond, and the duty of the redoubts was taken by a party of two subaltern officers and sixty rank and file, from the 82d regiment, under his directions; this detachment was in a few days relieved by the 22d regiment. The Hessian regiment of Ditforth, Queen’s Rangers, Volunteers of Ireland, and Prince of Wales Volunteers, under command of Col. Westerhagen, sailed on the 7th [of April]. The Queen’s Rangers anchored in Stono inlet on the 18th, and camped before Charlestown, (S. C.,) on the 21st.

New Bridge Rebel Outpost Captured and Battle of Springfield

Captain Wickham, of the Hussars, had by no means been idle while at Richmond. The post was such as might have been a temptation to an enterprising enemy; but General Knyphausen, by frequent and well-concerted expeditions, had kept the rebels fully employed in their own cantonments, the Jersies. On one of these attempts, the Hussars of the Rangers were eminently distinguished, as was detailed to Lieut.-Col. Simcoe by Captain Wickham, and by him read to the Commander-in-chief, who was highly satisfied with it. The report mentions, ‘that on the 15th of April, the cavalry on Staten Island, consisting of Cornet Tucker and twenty of the 17th regiment, light dragoons, Capt. Wickham with a troop of forty-five men and Capt. Diemar with his Hussars, forty men, crossed Cole’s ferry, and marched to English neighborhood, where they joined Major DuBuy, with three hundred of the regiment DuBose, and fifty of Colonel Robinson‘s corps. At New Bridge Sergeant McLaughlin, with six of the Rangers in advance, fell in with and either killed or took the whole of a small rebel outpost.

“On the 21st of June the regiment landed at Staten Island, and marched to Richmond redoubts. At midnight Lieut.-Col. Simcoe received orders to proceed instantly to the Jersies, where General Knyphausen, having thrown a bridge of boats over the Sound, near Elizabethtown Point, was encamped. The Hussars of the regiment here joined the corps.”

Then followed an event that formed one of the very blackest pages in English military history — the battle of Springville, N. J., the burning of the village, and the wanton murder of the wife of Pastor Caldwell. The “Queen’s Rangers” took part in it, of course. They returned to Staten Island in the night. On the 10th of July, (1780), Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe joined his regiment and immediately left Staten Island, going over to Long Island. He received this message from Major Andre, then serving as Adjutant-General of the army on Staten Island: “The General assures you that the Rangers shall be pitted against a French regiment the first time he can procure a meeting.” We further quote from Simcoe’s Military Journal:

“The Queen’s Rangers crossed from Long to Staten Island and marched to Richmond redoubts on the 8th of October. * * * The Commander-in-Chief, thinking it proper, in the general orders, to publish the high idea which he entertained of Major Andre, both as a gentleman and an officer, and the sense he entertained of the loss his King and country had met with in his death, Lieut.-Colonel Simcoe, who had considered his execution as a barbarous and ungenerous act of power in the American General, and who had certain and satisfactory intelligence that the French party in general, and M. Fayette in particular, who sat upon his trial, urged Mr. Washington to the unnecessary deed, took the opportunity in his orders to the Queen’s Rangers, the officers and soldiers of which personally knew and esteemed Major Andre, to inform them that, ‘he had given directions that the regiment should immediately be provided with black and white feathers as mourning, for the late Major Andre, an officer whose superior integrity and uncommon ability did honor to his country and to human nature. The Queen’s Rangers will never sully their glory in the field of any undue severity; they will, as they have ever done, consider those to be under their protection who shall be in their power, and will strike with reluctance at their unhappy fellow subjects who, by a system of the barest artifices, have been seduced from their allegiance, and disciplined to revolt. But it is the Lieut.-Col.’s most ardent hope that on the close of some decisive victory, it will be the regiment’s fortune to secure the murderers of Major Andre, for the vengeance due to an injured nation and an insulted army.’

“It was generally supposed about the latter end of October that the enemy meditated some attempt on Staten Island. M. de Fayette was in the neighborhood of Elizabethtown, in force and with boats on travelling carriages. Lieut.-Col. Simcoe by public conversation, the means of spies, and by marching to Billopp’s Point in the dusk of the evening, so as to be discovered from the opposite shore, and then returning by ways which the enemy could not see, had endeavored to attract their notice and possess them with a belief that an inroad into the Jersies was in contemplation. As M. Fayette arrived in the vicinity the very day subsequent to this feint, it was reasonable to believe that his march was in consequence, and that the boats with him were destined to facilitate his passage across the small creeks with which the Jersies are intersected, in case of the British troops making any incursions into that country. Every proper precaution was taken by the troops in Richmond to prevent a surprise.

On the 12th of November official information was sent by the Adjutant General to Lieut.-Col. Simcoe that his post was the object of Fayette’s design, and that it probably would be attacked on that or the ensuing night. He immediately declared in orders: ‘The Lieut -Colonel has received information that M. Fayette, a Frenchman, at the head of some of his majesty’s deluded subjects, has threatened to plant French colors on Richmond redoubts. The Lieut.-Colonel believes this report to be a gasconade; but as the evident ruin of the enemy’s affairs may prompt them to some desperate attempt the Queen’s Rangers will lay in their clothes this night, and have their bayonets in perfect good order.’

“The Highlanders immediately assembled and marched to the redoubt, which, in the distribution of posts, was allotted to them to defend, and displaying their national banner, with which they used to commemorate their saint’s day, fixed it on the ramparts, saying,  ‘No Frenchman or rebel should ever pull that down.’ The Rangers were prepared if an attack should be made on the Watering Place, which appeared to be most probable, to march out and attack any division which might be placed, as had been in Lord Sterling’s attempt, to mass the troops in Richmond. Two field pieces, six pounders, and Captain Aulthause‘s company of riflemen had reinforced them.

“Lieut.-Col. Simcoe made himself acquainted with the landing places and the intervening grounds, in the minutest particular, and he had the Commander-in-Chief’s directions to abandon his post, ‘If the enemy should land in such force as to make, in his opinion, the remaining there attended with risk.’ The defects of Richmond were not sufficiently obvious for such inexperienced men as the rebel generals to seize upon and profit by at once. How far they might attract the instantaneous notice of the scientific French officers, supposed to be acting with them, it was not easy to foresee. Had the enemy been in a situation to have attacked the place by regular approaches, Lieut.-Col. Simcoe would have done his best endeavors to have maintained it; but had any General, at the head of a very superior force on the moment of his appearance, placed twenty or thirty field pieces on two separate eminences which enfiladed the redoubts, and formed a column to penetrate under cover of the cross fire, he had resolved to abandon what he considered in case of such a disposition to be untenable.

“A false alarm, which was give by an armed vessel stationed in Newark Bay, occasioned a considerable movement in the army, and troops from New York embarked to reinforce Staten Island; the post at Richmond was supposed to be the object of an attack. On the first gun being fired, patrols had been made on all sides by the cavalry, and the infantry slept undisturbed, Lieut.-Col. Simcoe apprehending the alarm to be false. The Rangers were very alert on guard, and proud of their regimental character of not giving false alarms, or being surprised; and the sentinel, as Lieut.-Col. Simcoe remarked in orders upon the only omission which ever came under his cognizance, ‘felt a manly pleasure in reflecting that the lives and honor of the regiment were entrusted to his care, and that under his protection his comrades slept in security.’

Surrender at Yorktown

On the 11th of December, 1780, the Queen’s Rangers embarked on an expedition to Virginia, under the command of General [Benedict] Arnold. They were very active in all the movements of the British army and formed a part of the troops commanded by Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown. When it was certain that the entire force under that distinguished general must surrender. Colonel Simcoe, according to his own writing, “sent Lieut. Spencer to his Lordship to request that as his corps consisted of Loyalists, the object of the enemy’s civil persecution, and deserters, if the treaty was not finally concluded, that he would permit him to endeavor to escape with them in some of those boats which General Arnold had built; and that his intention was to cross the Chesapeake and land in Maryland, where, from his knowledge of the inhabitants of the country and other favorable circumstances, he made no doubt of being able to save the greatest part of the corps and carry them into New York. His Lordship was pleased to express himself favorably in regard to the scheme; but said he could not permit it to be undertaken, for that the whole of the army must share one fate. The capitulation was signed on the 19th of October. Earl Cornwallis, on account of Lieut-Col. Simcoe’s dangerous state of health, permitted him to sail for New York on the “Bonetta,” which by an article in the capitulation, was to be left at his disposal, a sea voyage being the only chance, in the opinion of the physicians, by which he could save his life. On board of this vessel sailed as many of the Rangers, and of other corps, deserters from the enemy, as she could possibly hold. They were to be exchanged as prisoners of war, and the remainder of Earl Cornwallis’ army were marched prisoners into the country. Lieut.-Col. Simcoe, on his arrival at New York, was permitted by Sir Henry Clinton to return to England.

“Many of the soldiers, who were prisoners in the country, ‘were seized,’ says Col. Simcoe, ‘as deserters from Mr. Washington’s army. Several enlisted in it to facilitate their escape, and being caught in the attempt, were executed. A greater number got safe to New York, and, had the war continued, there was little doubt but the corps would have been re-assembled in detail. The Rangers were so daring and active in their attempt to escape that, latterly, they were confined in a ‘ goal.’ Captain Whitlock, who commanded them while prisoners in the country, was one of the captains who drew lots with Captain Asgil to suffer for Huddy‘s death.’

Captain Saunders was the last commandant of the Queen’s Rangers in this country. They were, afterwards, both cavalry and infantry enrolled in the British army; but the corps was disbanded at the ensuing of peace, and many of the officers, and most of the soldiers, settled on the lands to which they had a claim in Nova Scotia.

“The following is an extract from ‘the general return of officers and privates surrendered prisoners of war, the 19th of October, 1781, to the allied army under command of General Washington, taken from the original muster rolls’:

“Queen’s Rangers — 1 Lieut. -Colonel, 1 Major, 10 Captains, 15 Lieutenants, 11 cornets, 3 quartermasters, 2 surgeons, 24 sergeants, 5 trumpeters, 248 rank and file — total, 320. ”

John Graves Simcoe, courtesy of the Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

It may be useless now to further recall the character and acts of Colonel Simcoe while serving his king on Staten Island. Let the century that has intervened soften our feelings toward a vanquished foe. When the war ended he was a prisoner and went directly to England where he became a member of Parliament, while holding a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel in the regular army. When Canada was divided into two provinces, Simcoe was appointed Governor of Upper Canada. His headquarters were at York, now called Toronto. It seems that then his chief ambition was to increase the prejudice of the Canadians and Indians against the people of the United States, and the unpleasant, and frequently bitter, feeling existing in that province toward our people to-day, can be traced to the bigotry and vindictiveness of John Graves Simcoe. In 1796 he was appointed Governor of Saint Domingo, and in 1798 he was commissioned a Lieutenant General in the British army. He was sent to join Lord St. Vincent in the expedition to Portugal, and died a few moments after he landed.

Simcoe and The Queen’s Rangers on 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.

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.

Lookout Place, the British Garrison and Campsite near Richmondtowne, Staten Island


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.

Plan of fort drawn by Reginald Bolton from History Written With Pick and Shovel

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.

Line drawing of K. O.R. button found at Crocheron’s Hill

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.

Detail of Map. Richmond. Dated 1777[?] Sir Henry Clinton Papers, Clements Library, University of Michigan.
Church of St. Andrew (original structure, except for Steeple). Photo dated 1867 (before two disastrous fires).

British Voices of the Landing at Staten Island, July to August 1776

Grenadier, 40th Regiment of Foot, 1776

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. 

Sullivan:

“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. 

General Orders:

“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. 

Captain John Peebles, 1778. Miniature in the S.U.S.M.

[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. 

Image of a typical encampment (not Staten Island; possibly southeast England)

[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.]

Bamford:

“8. [August, 1776.] Th. dull close Mg very sultry & calm” Bamford, p. 307.

August 9. Bamford:

“9 [August, 1776.] F. close hot day wd variable” Bamford, p. 307.

Ambrose Serle:

“Friday, 9th. of August. Nothing material occurred this Day, wch was extremely warm.” Serle, p.60.

General Orders:

“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.

August 10. Bamford:

“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.

August 12. Bamford:

“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.

Ambrose Serle:

“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.

August 17. Bamford:

“17. [August, 1776.] Sa. a good deal of rain last nt showers this mg N. W. IX soaking rain” p. 309.

4th Battalion Grenadiers (42nd & 71st) Battalion Orders:

“The Officers to send their heavy Baggage on board of ship tomorrow morng by the Provisn Waggons” Peebles Orderly Book.

August 18. Bamford:

“18 [August, 1776.] Su. heavy rain all last Nt very wet Mg N. E…” Bamford, p. 310.

August 19. Bamford:

“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.

August 20. Bamford:

“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.]

Glyn:

“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.

Sullivan:

“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.

August 22. Bamford:

“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.

Sullivan:

“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.

Glyn:

“August 22d  The Army landed on Long Island without Opposition from the Rebels. we marched to New Utrecht” Glyn, p. 8.

Baurmeister:

“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.

General Orders:

“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.

August 23. Bamford:

“Memdms… 23 [August, 1776.] F. pleasant Mg Landing Artillery, Stores, & ca…” Bamford, p. 310.

August 24. Bamford:

“Memdms… 24 [August, 1776.] Sa. Warm Mg some rain last Nt” Bamford, p. 310.

General Orders:

“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.

August 25. Bamford:

“Memdms… 25. [August, 1776.] Su. very heavy rain lastnt dull Mg W…” Bamford, p. 310.

August 26. Bamford:

“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.

General Orders:

“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.

Hunter:

“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.]

Bedford Corners

August 28. Bamford:

Memdms… 28. [August, 1776.] W. very pleasant Mg aftnrain” Bamford, p. 310.

August 29. Bamford:

“29. [August, 1776.] Th. gloomy Mg” Bamford, p. 311.

August 30. Glyn:

“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.

 

 

Archibald Robertson, lieutenant-general, Royal Engineers.1745-1813 From: his diaries and sketches in America, 1762-1780.

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.

Object Number:
INV.5631.1 New-York Historical Society
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.”

Shoe Buckle Military artifacts excavated from the British Revolutionary War fort and campsite at Richmond, Staten Island

Shoe Buckle Military artifacts excavated from the British Revolutionary War fort and campsite at Richmond, Staten Island; including brass scabbard points and scabbard hooks, a silver wire tassel from an officer’s uniform, a bronze officer’s shoe buckle impressed with a floral decorative design, an inscribed bronze shoe buckle, rectangular bronze belt plates with inscriptions, and a cartridge box badge cast in open work brass, with a design of the British crown cast above a circular body.

British Army buttons were found at Fort Richmond in Staten Island. The buttons were worn on the uniforms of privates.

 

1963.25.1-10. New-York Historical Society

 

Date:
1770-1783
Medium:
Pewter
Dimensions:
largest: 7/8 in. ( 2.2 cm )
Marks:
stamped: (1-2), on front: “USA” (Continental Army) stamped: (3), on front: “1/C.R.” (1st Connecticut Regiment; coat button) stamped: (4), on front: “3” (3rd Connecticut Regiment; dolphin next to number; coat) stamped: (5), on front: “MASS/VI” (6th Mass
Description:
Pewter military buttons; solid pewter disks with the emblem, number, or symbol of their regiment on front; one button has crossed swords and another has a skull and crossbones below its regiment number; one button has its number flanked on the left by two C’s forming a dolphin; another has its number enclosed inside a small circle in center, with an emblem along the bottom edge.
Gallery Label:
These buttons were excavated by the Field Exploration Committee at Revolutionary War sites in New York. The Continental Army buttons were found near the Revolutionary barracks at West Point, and the British Army buttons were found at Fort Richmond in Staten Island. The buttons were worn on the uniforms of privates.