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Marauding Expedition up the Hudson. Landing at Kingston. Burning of the Town. Rhinebeck Flats.
October 6, Kingston (or Esopus), being the capital of the state when Sir Henry Clinton 1777, gained possession of the forts in the Hudson Highlands, was marked by the conqueror for special vengeance. Having demolished the chevaux-de-frise at Fort Montgomery, the British fleet proceeded up the Hudson; the massive iron chain was not yet stretched across the river at West Point." All impediments being removed, a flying squadron of light frigates, under Sir James Wallace, bearing three thousand six hundred men, under the command of General Vaughan, sailed up the river. They were instructed to scatter desolation in their track, and well did they perform their mission. Every vessel upon the river was burned or otherwise destroyed; the houses of known Whigs, such as Henry Livingston, at Poughkeepsie, were fired upon from the ships; and small parties, landing from the vessels, desolated neighborhoods with fire and sword. They penetrated as far northward as Kingston, where they landed on the 13th of October. The frigates were anchored a little above the present landing on Kingston Point, and a portion of the invaders debarked in the cove north of the steam-boat wharf. Another division, in small boats, proceeded to the mouth of Esopus (now Rondout) Creek, and landed at a place a little northeast of Rondout village, called Ponkhocken Point. The people at the creek fled, affrighted, to Marbletown, seven miles southwest of Kingston, and their houses were destroyed. The two divisions then marched toward the village, one by the upper road and the other by the Esopus Creek Road. Near the house of a Mr. Yeoman, who was in the army at Stillwater, they seized a negro, and made him pilot them directly to the town. The detachments joined upon a gentle eminence near the village, a few rods south of the Rondout Road, and, after a brief consultation, proceeded to apply the torch. Almost every house was laid in ashes, and a large quantity of provisions and stores situated there and at the landing was destroyed. The town then contained between three and four thousand inhabitants, many of whom were wealthy, and most of the houses were built of stone.” Warned of the approach of the enemy, a few saved their most valuable effects, but many lost all their possessions, and were driven back upon the interior settlements upon the Wallkill. Governor Clinton, with the members of the Legislature, was there, and efforts were made to raise a sufficient number of militia for the protection of the town, but without success. The enemy, however, fearing their wanton cruelty would bring the people in mass upon them, hastily retreated after destroying the village. A detachment crossed the river and marched to Rhinebeck Flats," two miles eastward, where they burned several houses; and, after penetrating northward as far as Livingston's Manor, and burning some houses there, they rejoined the main body, and the fleet returned to New York. This wanton and apparently useless expedition excited great indignation. It was supposed that the destination of the enemy was, according to arrangement, Albany, and a junction with Burgoyne, then hemmed in by Americans at Saratoga, and anxiously awaiting the
The Yeoman House.”
* A detail of this event, and a drawing of the remains of the chain now at West Point, will be hereafter lven.
g * This view is from the road, looking north. An attempt was made by a soldier to burn the house, but so rapid was the march of the invaders that the flames had made but little progress before the troops were far on their road to the village. A negro woman, who was concealed under some corn-stalks near, extinguished the flames. The house is about half a mile from the river, on the right side of the road from the landing to Kingston village.
* Governor Clinton, writing to Captain Machin on the subject of erecting works for the defense of Kingston, says, “I do not conceive it necessary to inclose the town, as the houses are stone, and will form (if the windows are properly secured) good lines of defense.”
* Rhinebeck Flats village is in Dutchess county, about seventeen miles north of Poughkeepsie. It was eminently a Whig place during the Revolution. There was the residence of the widow of General Montgomery, who had been killed at Quebec two years before, and of many of her numerous relatives, the Livingstons, all of whom were friends of the patriot cause.
Livingston's Manor. An Advantage thrown away. Gates's Letter. Loyalists. Rondout.
promised aid from Clinton. When Vaughan and his troops were at Livingston's Mills (which they destroyed), a flood tide would have carried them to Albany in five hours; and so completely had the army of Gates drained the country, in that vicinity, of men, that they might easily have burned the stores at Albany, and taken possession of that city. Gates afterward declared that, had such an event occurred, he must have retreated into New England, and Burgoyne would have escaped. But, instead of becoming honorable victors, Waughan and his party appeared content to fulfill the office and earn the renown of successful marauders. They may have thought that their operations would divert Gates's attention, and cause him to detach troops for the defense of the country below, and thus so weaken his force as to enable Burgoyne to conquer or escape. But this effect was not produced, and the expedition was fruitless of good to the cause of the king. Gates at that very time was making the most honorable propositions to Burgoyne for a surrender, and, when he heard of Vaughan's operations, he wrote that officer a letter replete with just severity." Kingston was the scene of the execution of several Loyalists during the Revolution, and there Sir Henry Clinton's spy, who was caught at New Windsor, with a dispatch for Burgoyne in a silver bullet (of which I shall hereafter write), was hung upon the limb ostoleria, of an apple-tree. Several Tories saved their lives by consenting to enlist in the 1777. Continental army. The depredations of the Indians and Tories in the Warwasing and Mamakating Valleys, and other portions of Ulster county, from 1778 till near the close of the war, will be noticed hereafter, in connection with the Minisink massacre. Let us now make a flying visit to the Revolutionary localities in the vicinity of Kingston, and then pass on to the battle-ground of Bennington. With the exception of the “Constitution House” (depicted on page 387) and two or three other stone buildings, and the venerable tomb-stones in the old Dutch burying-ground, Kingston presents little attraction to the seeker of Revolutionary relics.” Its hills, and rich plains, and distant mountain scenery are still there, but greatly modified by cultivation. I passed the morning in the village, with General Smith, and at about noon proceeded to Rondout. This thriving little village is nestled in a secluded nook near the mouth of the Rondout Creek, which here comes flowing through a deep and narrow gorge among the hills, and mingles its waters with the Hudson. Mr. Gossman, the editor of the Courier, kindly offered to accompany me to points of interest connected with the Revolution, and I passed the remainder of the day in a pleasant ramble with him. Crossing the creek in a skiff to its southwestern
* He concluded his letter by saying, “Is it thus that the generals of the king expect to make converts to the royal cause ? Their cruelties operate as a contrary effect: independence is founded upon the universal disgust of the people. The fortune of war has delivered into my hands older and abler generals than General Vaughan is reputed to be : their condition may one day become his, and then no human power can save him from the just vengeance of an offended people.” The friends of the king were also displeased at the movement. One of the leading loyalists of New York, writing to Joseph Galloway, said, “Why a delay was made of seven days after Clinton had taken the forts, we are ignorant of. The Highland forts were taken on the 6th of October; Esopus was burned on the 13th; Burgoyne's convention was signed on the 17th. There was no force to oppose even open boats on the river. Why, then, did not the boats proceed immediately to Albany? Had Clinton gone forward, Burgoyne's army had been saved. Putnam could not have crossed to Albany. The army amused themselves by burning Esopus, and the houses of individuals on the river bank.” Clinton and the brothers Howe seem to have been perfect malaprops, striking at the wrong time, and withholding a blow when most appropriate and promising the best success.
* In the old grave-yard rest the remains of some of the Huguenots and of many of their descendants; and there repose the bodies of not a few who suffered during the war for independence. Some of the earlier grave-stones are rude monuments. One of them, at the head of the grave of Abraham DeWitt, is delineated in the engraving. The inscription is rudely carved. The tall and slender slate stone is supported by a cedar post, which was probably set up when the stone was erected, yet it is perfectly preserved, and retains its odor. I saw it there fifteen years ago, and then “the oldest inhabitant” remembered it from his boyhood. The meaning of IVLY may need to be explained to young readers. I was used for J and V for U in former times, and the letters, therefore, make the word JULY.
An Octogenarian. Landing-places of the British. A frightened Dutchman. Departure for the North
side, we called upon the venerable John Sleight, now eighty years old, who lives in the dwelling of his father, on the slope of a high hill near the water. He had a clear recollec. tion of the landing of the British, and directed us to the different localities at the mouth of the creek. He said there were only three houses where Rondout now is, and they were burned The occupants fled to Marbletown, and the few soldiers stationed at the redoubt on the hill, a little northeast of the village, with a single cannon, followed the flying inhabitants. The enemy did not cross the creek, and the house of Mr. Sleight was spared. From the high hills a quarter of a mile from Mr. Sleight's we had a fine view of the land. ing-places of both divisions of the enemy, as seen in the engraving. The water extending on the left is Ron. dout Creek, and that on the right and beyond the long point is the Hudson River, the spectator looking northeast. The high point on the left is the place where there. doubt was thrown up. The small building beyond, standing upon the water's edge, is upon Ponkhocken Point,' and in the cove between it and the redoubt is the place where the enemy landed. The long point in the distance is the present landing, immediately above which, in a sandy cove, the main division of the British army debarked. An amusing anecdote was related to me, connected with that event. Between the point and Ponkhocken are extensive flats, bare at low water, and yielding much coarse grass. When the enemy landed, some Dutchmen were at work just below the point, and were not aware of the fact until they saw the dreaded red-coats near them. It was low water, and across the flats toward Ponkhocken they fled as fast as their legs could carry them, not presuming to look behind them, lest, like Lot's wife, they might be detained. The summer hay-makers had left a rake on the marsh meadow, and upon this one of the fugitives trod. The handle flew up behind him, and gave him a severe blow on the back of his head. Not doubting that a “Britisher” was close upon his heels, he stopped short, and, throwing up his hands imploringly, exclaimed, “O, mein Cot' mein Cot! I kivs up. Hoorah for King Shorge " The innocent rake was all the enemy that was near, and the Dutchman's sudden conversion to loyalty was known only to a companion in the race, who had outstripped him a few paces. Passing along the river road to the upper point, we visited the landing-place of the British. A large portion of the cove is now filled by a mass of earth, rocks, and trees that slid down from the high shore a few years ago. The heaps of blue clay have the appearance of huge rocks, and will doubtless become such in time, by induration. Returning to Ron. dout, I rode over to Kingston at about sunset, passed the evening with Mr. Vanderlyn' the painter, and at midnight embarked in a steamer for Albany. Sept. 27, The morning was cold, and everything without was white with hoar frost. I was 1848 in Troy a little after sunrise, and at eight o'clock, seated with the driver upon a mailcoach, was ascending the long hills on the road to Hoosick, in Rensselaer county,” about twenty
The ferry to Rhinebeck was from Ponkhocken Point until 1814, when the causeway was constructed at the upper point, and the ferry and landing established there.
* Mr. Wanderlyn is a native of Kingston. He resided many years in Europe, where he painted his large picture of the Landing of Columbus, for the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. It was completed about three years ago (1846), and now occupies its appropriate place.
* The original Manor of Rensselaer, or Rensselaerwyck, included all of Rensselaer county, except Hoosick,
Ride to the Hoosick Walley. Wan Schaick's Mills. Place of the Bennington Battle-ground. Baume's Dispatch
five miles east of the Hudson. The country is very elevated and hilly, and, when three miles east of Troy, the Green Mountains were seen in the distance. Before the Hoosick Valley is reached, the country becomes extremely broken and picturesque. We descended by a romantic mountain road into the valley, a little past noon, and halted at Richmond's, at Hoosick Four Corners. This is the nearest point, on the turnpike, to the Bennington battle-ground. The road thither skirted the Hoosick River northward for three miles, to the falls,' where we turned eastward, and passed through North Hoosick, situated at the junction of the Walloomscoick and White Creeks. Here --- occurred when the Hesis still standing the o sians retreated from the old mill known as Van heights) took place beSchaick's in the Rev- tween the little factoolution. It was occu- ry village of Starkville pied by a party of Amer- and the house of Mr. icans when Baume and Taber. These alluhis Hessians approach- sions will be better uned; and here the mem. derstood after consultorable battle of Ben- ing the history.
nington ended. From The conflict called this mill, along the the battle of Benninghills and the valley on ton” was a part of the the right bank of the operations connected Walloomscoick, to the with Burgoyne's invabridge near the house of sion from Canada, in Mr. Barnet, two miles the summer and auabove, is the scene of --- - - §o tumn of 1777. The the battle; and the hot- o ~. i. delay which he had extest of the fight (which - perienced at Skenesborough and on his way to Fort Edward had so reduced his stores and provisions, that a re
Schaghticoke, and Pittstown, and also the greater part of Albany county. The city of Albany is near the center of the manor. This domain was granted to Killian Wan Rensselaer by patent from the States-General of Holland, after he had purchased the native right to the soil in 1641, and was twenty-four miles wide, on both sides of the river, and about forty-two miles long east and west. When the English came into possession of the country, the right to his domain of the proprietor of Rensselaerwyck, who was called the patroon, * was not questioned, and on the 4th of March, 1685, it was confirmed by letters patent under the great seal of the state of New York. * At the Hoosick Falls is a manufacturing village containing about one hundred dwellings. The river here falls about forty feet, and affords very extensive water power. Near the factories I observed a handsome octagonal edifice, on the road side, on the front of which, in prominent letters, is the following:
“SACRED TO Science.
It contains, I was told, a large collection of natural curiosities, which the wealthy and tasteful proprietor takes pleasure in exhibiting freely. * This battle was fought within the town of Hoosick, and five or six miles from Bennington. At that time the boundary line between New York and New Hampshire (Vermont, as a state, not being then in existence) was at the Green Mountains, and Bennington was claimed to be within the borders of New York. * This view is taken from the left bank of the Walloomscoick, a little below the bridge. The mill belonged to a Whig named Van Schaick, who had joined General Stark's collecting forces at Bennington. Lieutenant-colonel Baume wrote the following dispatch to Burgoyne from this place:
“Sie—I have the honor to inform your excellency that I arrived here at eight in the morning, having had intelligence of a party of the enemy being in possession of a mill, which they abandoned at our approach;
• This title was given to those Dutch purchasers of lands who bought the soil fairly from the natives, and planted a colony. There were several patroon estates, but that of Van Rensselaer is the only one not disturbed by political changes. This, however, is now on the verge of extinction, and, for several years past, anti-rentism, as the opposition to the patroon privilege is call. ed, has been working a change in the public mind unfavorable to such vast landed monopolies. t See note respecting this name on page 399.
Foraging Expedition to Bennington. Burgoyne's Instructions. Baume's Indian Allies. Skirmish near Cambridge.
plenishment was necessary. Informed that the Americans had a large quantity of these, and of cattle and horses, at Bennington and in the vicinity, he resolved, with the advice of Major Skene, to send a detachment of his army thither to capture them. Both Phillips and Reidesel, the most experienced of his generals, were opposed to the measure; but Burgoyne, actuated by an overweening confidence in his strength, and deceived as to the extent of the Royalist party in the colonies,' dispatched Lieutenant-colonel Baume thither with five hundred Hessians, Canadians, and Tories, and one hundred Indians. Burgoyne's instructions to the commander of the expedition, dated August 9th, 1777,” declared the objects to be to try, the affections of the county, to disconcert the councils of the enemy, to mount Reidesel's dragoons, to complete Peters's corps [of Loyalists], and to obtain large supplies of cattle, horses, and carriages. Baume was directed “to scour the country from Rockingham to Otter Creek,” to go down Connecticut River as far as Brattleborough, and return by the great road to Albany, there to meet General Burgoyne, and to endeavor to make the country believe his corps was the advanced body of the general's army, who was to cross Connecticut River and proceed to Boston. He ordered that “all officers, civil and military, acting under the Congress, should be made prisoners.” Baume was also instructed “to tax the towns where they halted with such articles as they wanted, and take hostages for the performance, &c.; to bring all horses fit to mount the dragoons or to serve as battalion horses for the troops, with as many saddles and bridles as could be found.” Burgoyne stipulated the number of horses to be brought at thirteen hundred at least, and more if they could be obtained, and directed them to be “tied in strings often each, in order that one man might lead ten horses.” Dr. Thatcher, in his Journal, says, “This redoubtable commander surely must be one of the happiest men of the age, to imagine such prodigious achievements were at his command; that such invaluable resources were within his grasp. But, alas ! the wisest of men are liable to disappointment in their sanguine calculations, and to have their favorite projects frustrated by the casualties of war. This is remarkably verified in the present instance.” August, With these full instructions, Baume left his encampment on the 13th, and the 1777 next day arrived at the mill on the Walloomscoick. He reached Cambridge on the evening previous, near which place an advanced guard of Tories and Indians attacked a small party of Americans who were guarding some cattle. The patriots, after delivering a well-directed fire, retreated to the woods, leaving five of their number behind, prisoners, Some horses were captured, but, according to a dispatch from Baume to Burgoyne, the Indians who secured them destroyed or drove away all that were not paid for in ready cash. In his whole expedition Burgoyne found the savages more trouble than profit. Let us leave the invader at “Sancoik's,” while we take a retrospect of relative events on the part of the Americans. On the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and the advance of Burgoyne toward the Hudson, the Eastern States were filled with alarm. Burgoyne's destination was not certainly known, and when he was at Skenesborough it was thought that Boston might be the point to which he would march. The whole frontier of New Hampshire and Massachusetts was uncovered,
but, in their usual way, fired from the bushes, and took their road to Bennington. A savage was slightly wounded; they broke down the bridge, which has retarded our march above an hour; they left in the mill about seventy-eight barrels of very fine flour, one thousand bushels of wheat, twenty barrels of salt, and about £1000 worth of pearlash and potash. I have ordered thirty provincials and an officer to guard the provisions and the pass of the bridge. By five prisoners taken here, they agree that from fifteen to eighteen hundred are at Bennington, but are supposed to leave it on our approach. I will proceed so far to-day as to fall on the enemy early to-morrow, and make such disposition as I may think necessary, from the intelligence I may receive. People [Tories] are flocking in hourly, but want to be armed. The savages can not be controlled; they ruin and take everything they please. “I am your excellency's most humble servant, “F. BAUME.”
| Major Skene assured him that “the friends to the British cause were as five to one, and that they want. ed only the appearance of a protecting power to show themselves.”—Gordon, ii., 242.
* The original of these instructions is in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
* Military Journal, p. 92.