Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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a colored servant. Each was mounted upon a very much
winded steed. Arnold presented Chairman Mott his Massa-
chusetts Commission ' as colonel of an expedition to be sent
against Fort Ticonderoga. He claimed that it gave him
the right to command Colonel Allen's Green Mountain
Boys' militia, financially equipped by the Connecticut Com-
mittee of War.

Colonial rivalry, personal honor, and national glory
were all at stake. The consternation of Chairman Mott
and Colonel Allen's Green Mountain Boys was intense.
The latter swore in chorus that rather than be led by Col-
onel Arnold against Ticonderoga, they would disband and
return to their homes. Arnold's Commission advised him
"to enlist his own men, not to exceed four hundred," at the
expense of the Massachusetts Congress, and he was directed
' ' to act according to best skill and discretion for publick in-
terest." Chairman Mott called a second council, and it was
decided that Benedict Arnold should join the expedition,
with rank of colonel, but without separate command.
It was, however, voted that Colonel Allen should head
the central file; Colonel Easton, the right file; and
Colonel Arnold, the left file, upon marching against Fort

j. Ticonderoga.

' After Benedict Arnold held his interview with Assembly-
man Parsons of Connecticut, April 26th, he proceeded to the
Massachusetts Committee of War at Cambridge and re-

' See Note 19 at end of volume.

300 The Hoosac Valley

vealed his plans for capturing Fort Ti. His Commission, ^
dated May 3, 1775, was signed by Chairman Benjamin
Church, Jr., and Secretary WilHam Cooper of the Committee
of Safety. He was assigned a colonel's uniform, a colored
servant, steed, and funds to enlist his own volunteers.

Col. Benedict Arnold journeyed from Cambridge to Old
Deerfield; thence over Hoosac Mountain to Williamstown.
According to his Bill of Expenses,^ he left £18 with Captain
Oswold, May 4th, to rally his Shrewsbury militia, and on
May 6th, Arnold crossed the Deerfield ferry and breakfasted
at Landlord Talah Barnard's Tavern in Old Deerfield Village.
He purchased a herd of fat cattle of Thomas W. Dickenson,
and engaged him and his brother. Consider, to drive thef
herd to Fort Ticonderoga. The bargain, with usual "toddy-
sticks," was confirmed over the bar in the North Room of the
inn. Meanwhile the Negro servant had the horses shod
and they rode over Hoosac Mountain.

While at Capt. Moses Rice's Charlemont Inn, Arnold
enlisted a lad named White, who became the grandfather
of Joseph White, the late Treasurer of Williams College.
Young White marched to Ticonderoga in less than a week
and was present at Allen's and Arnold's contest for the
rights of command of the captured Fort. He related to
his grandson that Col. Ethan Allen "lacked grit," and that
Allen made concession to Arnold by finally, on May 13th,
placing him in command of Crown Point and the Lake
Champlain schooner.

Colonel Arnold arrived at Capt. Nehemiah Smedley's
Green River homestead in Williamstown on the evening
of MS,y 6th. Smedley's ^ house was not finished until after
the surrender of the British at Old Saratoga in i ']']'], although
the cellar kitchen in 1775, with its large stone oven, was in

' See Note 19 at end of volume. * See Note 18 at end of volume.

^ See illustration, Chapter VIII.

The Heroes of Fort Ticonderoga 301

baking order. Arnold left £3 with Captain Smedley, accord-
ing to his Bill of Expenses, to bake a batch of rye and
Indian bread, to be forwarded later by the Dickenson
brothers to Fort Ticonderoga.

It was in Williamstown that Colonel Arnold first heard
of Capt. Edward Mott's Connecticut council of war and
Colonel Easton's and Colonel Allen's rally of the Berkshire
and Bennington Boys. In consequence, Arnold headed his
steed direct for Castleton early on May 7th.

The Green Mountain Boys forced Arnold to accept his
fate after the second Castleton Council, May 8th. It was
late before Captain Herrick's party set out that night and
captured Maj. Philip Skene. A guard was placed in com-
mand of Skene's Whitehall Manor and all available boats
were seized and rowed to Shoreham. Major Skene and his
two lieutenants were escorted by Captain Nichols and Lieu-
tenants Hickok and Halsey to Gov. Jonathan Trumbull at
Hartford, Conn., where they arrived, May 12th.

It proved a serious problem to seize boats sufficient in
number to convey all of Colonel Allen's regiment over Lake
Champlain to Fort Ticonderoga before the dawn. Capt.
William Douglass, on the evening of May 8th, marched toward
Crown Point. He stopped at the home of Capt. John Chip-
man, ' undoubtedly a son of the famous Tory hunter-scout,
Nathaniel Bumppo-Shipman, Sr., of Fahs Quequick in
Dutch Hoosac. Douglass confided his scheme of capturing
the King's boats at Crown Point, and his conversation was
overheard by James Wilcox and Joseph Tyler. These lads
conceived of a secret plan of decoying Old Black Tom, the
commander of Major Skene's oar-boat near Willow Point.
They hastily dressed, seized their guns and a jug of rum —
the latter known to be the most powerful weapon with which
to waylay Tom and his oarsmen. On their journey Wilcox

'Also spelled Shipman or Schipman.

302 The Hoosac Valley

and Tyler were joined by four neighboring boys. Old
Tom was soon hailed and the boys offered to help row his
boat to Shoreham if he would carry them immediately to
join a hunting party awaiting them at that place. This
stratagem proved successful, with the aid of the "little
bro^ATi jug."

Captain Douglass and his party meanwhile secured a
scow and a few small boats at Brideport, and Noah Phelps
and Nathan Beeman posted at their appointed places,
quietly fishing on Lake Champlain, greatly aided the expe-
dition. About one hundred and eighty troopers assembled
at Shoreham before dawTi, May loth, ready to advance
against the Fort, and several of Arnold's volunteers arrived
also the next morning.

The boats at Shoreham conveyed only eighty-three men
over the Lake, including Colonel Allen, Captain Alott,
Colonel Easton, and Colonel Arnold, and their men. Capt.
Seth Warner's volunteers awaited the return of the boats
to convey them later, but time was precious and the big
oar-boats moved slowly. The rising sun brightening the
horizon led Colonel Allen to hold a council of war. It was
hastily agreed that if they delayed until Warner's troops
arrived, Captain De Laplace and his British garrison would
be astir.

Colonel Allen speedily formed his eighty-three men into
three files, headed by Nathan Beeman and himself. The
road leading from the Lake Champlain landing permitted
three men to march abreast. But before marching orders
were given, Colonel Allen inspired his Green Mountain Boys.
He said:

Friends and fellow soldiers, you have, for a number of
years past, been a scourge and terror to arbitrary power.
Your valor has been famed abroad, and acknowledged,

The Heroes of Fort Ticonderoga 303

as appears by the advice and orders to me from the General
Assembly of Connecticut to surprise and take the garrison
now before us. I now propose to advance before you, and
in person conduct you through the wicket gate ; for we must
this morning either quit our pretensions to valor, or possess
ourselves of this fortress in a few moments; and, inasmuch
as it is a desperate attempt, which none but the bravest of
men dare undertake, I do not urge it on any one contrary
to his will. You that will undertake voluntarily, poise your

Colonel Allen and Nathan Beeman lead the central file
of the troops through the wicket gate to the Fortress. The
garrison still slept, all save the single sentry, and Captain
De Laplace was soon aroused by three hearty cheers from
the Green Mountain Boys, drawn up in battle order within
the Fortress's parade. Captain De Laplace's quarters were
soon located, and in rough and stentorian voice Colonel
Allen commanded the "old rat" to get out of bed instantly
and surrender the Fort, or he would sacrifice the garrison.
De Laplace appeared at his barrack door with his trousers
in his hands, and inquired by what authority the surrender
was demanded. Colonel Allen replied rotundly : " In the name
of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" That
authoritative demand, with Allen's sword raised defiantly
over his head, proved too much for Captain De Laplace,
and he surrendered the Fortress without the firing of a single
gun. Captain Warner's troops arrived soon after Colonel
Allen captured the first British flag of the Revolution.

It is better for Arnold's ill-fame to-day that he be for-
gotten. One of his champions, known as "Veritas," was
Capt, Israel Harris of Williamstown. In 1832, Harris
applied for a Revolutionary pension. He often related to
his grandsons. Prof. James Butler of the University of Wis-

* Col. Ethan Allen, Narrative of Captivity.

304 The Hoosac Valley

consin and the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Harris Butler of Schagh-
ticoke, that he was the third man in single file to enter the
gate of Fort Ticonderoga, and that only Arnold and Allen
preceded him. "Veritas"^ reported that Colonel Arnold
rushed five yards and entered the Fortress ahead of Colonel

After the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775,
Allen wrote a letter to the "Committee of Correspondence
for the City and County of Albany." He described the
manner in which he and Colonel Easton surprised the Fort,
and added that Colonel Arnold was present.

Capt. Edward IVlott, chairman of the Connecticut Council,
commissioned Colonel Allen Commander of Fort Ticon-
deroga, May 10, 1775, until further orders from the "Con-
tinental Congress." Later Colonel Hinman of Connecticut
took command of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the
Allen and Easton troops were dismissed, although Capt.
Samuel Wright's Pownal company, according to Josiah
Dunning's application for a pension in 1827, remained in
service a few weeks longer. Dunning was present. May
nth, when Arnold claimed Allen's right to command the
Fortress by virtue of his Commission from the Massachusetts
Council. "Allen and Arnold had dra^vn their swords, and
the men under their command had raised and cocked their
muskets and presented their bayonets, when a private,
named Edward Richards, stepped forward with great firm-
ness, commanded both officers to put up their swords, and
ordered the soldiers of both parties to arrest the two leaders
if they did not immediately desist."^ They retired and
agreed upon fighting a duel later.

'"Veritas," "Report of Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775,'
Am. Archives, Series 4, vol. ii., p. 1086. Cited in Perry's Williamstown and
Williams College, pp. 32-33.

' Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, p. 60.

Z-d/er of Co/. £/Zfa7J y4//ew, addressed to the Committee of Correspondence for
t City and County of Albany, dated May lo, i77S, after his capture of the first
llHsh Flag during the Revolution, and the Surrender of Fori Ticonderoga.




306 The Hoosac Valley j

Crown Point was captured by Seth Warner's and Remem-
ber Baker's companies, May 12th. Owing to Arnold'^,
superior skill in navigation, he was placed in command ol
Crown Point and the Lake Champlain schooner; and Allen
in command of Skene's fleet of large boats. Arnold capture;
a British vessel in the harbor of St. Johns, Canada, and il
his party had been a trifle larger, he might have becomd
master of that city. Capt. Samuel Wright's Pownal com-j
pany accompanied Arnold to St. Johns and after th^^ii
return to Crown Point, Josiah Dunning was engaged on Lake
Champlain's boats until discharged in September. The
Berkshire and Bennington Boys reorganized later unclci
Colonels Simonds, Easton, Allen, and Warner. ;

Colonel Allen's Letter, addressed to the "Albany Gentle-
men," after the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, was utterl}*
ignored. In it he said :

As your county is nearer than any other part of the Colo-
nies, and your inhabitants have thoroughly manifested theii
zeal in the cause of their country, I expect immediate assis-
tance from you, both in men and provision. You cannot
exert yourselves too much in so glorious a cause. . . . Pra^
be quick to our relief, and send five hundred men imme-

Colonel Hinman from Connecticut soon took command!
of the Fort, and Colonel Allen and Captain Warner attendee]
the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, when the Green
Mountain Boys were paid for their services at Fort Ticon-
deroga. The President of Congress, however, advised the
Provincial Congress of New York to organize a regiment and]
choose officers and men from Colonel Allen's Green Moun-
tain Boys. !

The Provincial Regiment was organized, but Seth Wamei
was chosen colonel. Allen rose above this military slight and

The Heroes of Fort Ticonderoga 307

I assured Gen. Philip Schuyler that he desired to remain in the
■ service. General Schuyler was ill at this time and appointed
General Montgomery and Colonel Hinman to command Col.
' Seth Warner's regiment at Fort Ticonderoga and Crown
Point. Capt. Remember Baker's scouting party from Col-
chester was sent in August, 1775, to locate General Carle-
ton's encampment near St. Johns. Baker left his boat near
the Isle aux Noix, four miles above the city, and a party
I of Indians stole it the next morning and sent a ball through
I Baker's head. Capt. Remember Baker was a soldier in Colonel
Wooster's Connecticut Regiment, and he and Israel Putnam
were known as the avengers of Lord Howe's death in 1758.
During October, 1775, a soldier of Colonel Warner's Continen-
tal Regiment killed the Indian who shot Baker. He recovered
his powder-horn and presented it to Baker's son, who in
1795 joined General Wayne's army against the Indians of
the Ohio Valley. The historic powder-horn is still preserved
among the Revolutionary relics in Memorial Hall at Old
Deerfield, Mass.

After Baker's death, Ethan Allen and John Brown were
sent with scouting parties to determine the Canadians'
attitude toward the Americans' cause. This proved unfor-
tunate for Allen, as there appears to have existed a military
jealousy between the Berkshire and Bennington Boys'
militia at the time. The closing story is this :

Colonel Allen met Major Brown between Longueuil and
La Prairie, and they agreed to attempt the capture of Mon-
treal. Brown and his two hundred men were to cross the
St. Lawrence above Montreal on the night of September
24th; and Allen and his one hundred and ten men were to
cross the river below the city. At a certain signal from
Brown, they were to rush against the city from opposite
sides and seize the guards. Allen waited for Brown's signal,
but either through cowardice or jealousy, Brown never

3o8 The Hoosac Valley

crossed over the river. The position and numbers of Allen's
party were reported to General Carleton. Allen, deserted
in the heat of battle by his Canadians, was, therefore, forced
to surrender, September 25, 1775.

In Allen's Narrative of Captivity in England's jails, written
in 1778, he says that General Prescott ordered thirteen
of the Canadian prisoners captured with him thrust through
the breast with bayonets. He stepped between them and
the executioner and told General Prescott "to thrust
his bayonet into his breast, for he was the sole cause of the
Canadians taking up arms." He continues: "The guards in
the meantime, rolling their eyeballs from the General to me,
as though impatiently waiting his dread commands to
sheathe their bayonets in my breast. I could, however,
plainly discern that they were in suspense and quandar\'
about the matter. This gave me additional hopes of suc-
ceeding ; for my design was not to die, but to save the Cana-
dians by a fi?iesse."

The British officers held a bitter hatred for Ethan Allen
and his Green Mountain captains. Lieut. -Governor Colden
sent a doleful account of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga to
Lord Dartmouth, and consoled him by avowing that: "The
loyal loving subjects of the King in New York were not con-
cerned in the Revolution. The only people of the Province,
who had any hand in the expedition, were the lawless people
whom your Lordship has heard much of, under the name of
the 'Bennington Mob.'"

As their ring-leader and as the "avenger of the oppressed,"
Allen, loaded with irons, was sent to one of England's gloom)-
prison pens. Gov. Thomas Chittenden later recorded that :
" In all places he remained Ethan Allen and no one else."




Their measures are executed zvith a secrecy and dispatch that are not to he
equalled. — -General Burgoyne's Letter to Lord Germaine.

Grand Committee — Warner's Walloomsac Boys — Albany Council of Safety —
Knickerbacker's Dutch Hoosac Boys — Simonds's English Hoosac Boys —
Military Correspondence — -Battle of White Plains — Vermont's Decla-
ration of Independence — The Americans' Evacuation of Ticonderoga — -
Battle of Hubbardton — Stark's Bennington Encampment — Berkshire
and Bennington Volunteers — Baurn's British Army — Burgoyne's Orders
to Colonel Baum.

THE united Councils of Safety of the Berkshire, Benning-
ton, Rensselaer, and Washington militia, aided by the
New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Commit-
tees of War, played an important part in winning the vic-
tories of the Revolution.

The first fifteen meetings of the Grand Committee of the
Green Mountain Boys, between October 25, 1 764 and the cap-
ture of Fort Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775, were not recorded.
Eight of their Councils of Safety during the succeeding
seventeen months, however, met to declare Vermont's
Independence, frame its constitution, and organize its militia.
Several of the Councils of Safety were held at Stephen Fay's
Catamount Tavern at Bennington Centre. On the mantel
in the council chamber was rudely carved "Council Room,"
above which appears a copy of the historic Vermont Gazette,
bearing the motto of the Green Mountain Boys :

Pliant as reeds where streams of freedom glide,
Firm as the hills to stem oppression's tide.



The Hoosac Valley

After the capture of Col. Ethan Allen by the British on
September 25, 1775, his youngest brother, Ira Allen, aided
by Dr. Jonas Fay and Thomas Chittenden, assumed com-

The Catamomit Tavern, first known as the Green Mountain Inn of the Green
Mountain Boys. Built by Landlord Stephen Fay in 1766 and burned in 1S71.
A stuffed catamount'' s skin became the Tavern sign, after which the place became
known as the Catamount Tavern. The Councils of Safety of the Green Moun-
tain Boys were held at the Catamount Tavern during the Revolution until Ver-
mont's admittance to the Federal Union in 17 91.

mand of military affairs on the Green Mountain frontier.
Fay's Records^ of Vermont's Councils of Safety contains

■ The late Henry B. Dawson, of Morrisania, editor of the New York Historical
Magazine, obtained a loan of Fay's Records about i860 from Mr. E. B. Safford
of West Rupert, Vt. He returned the ledger cover minus the Records, and
sold them to the Library of Congress in 1880. Albert S. Batcheder of New
Hampshire unearthed the valuable documents recently, and the late Senatt»r
Redfield Proctor of Vermont photolithographed Fay's Records. Copies arei
now on file in all the County Clerk Offices of Vermont and in many public
Ubraries. Fay's original Records are now restored to the Secretary's Office at
Montpelier, Vt.

George Grenville Benedict, "Report on Recovery of Fay Records,"
Proc. Vt. Hist. Soc, pp. 49-55, 1903, 1904.

The Councils of Safety


forty folio pages, relating to seventeen meetings between
July 26, 1775 and December 24, 1777.

Council Chamber of the Green Mountain Boys iti Catamount Tavern.

Around the historic Fireplace were held many Councils of

Safety before the Battle of Bennington.

The Albany Committee of Safety, after the capture of
Fort Ticonderoga, organized the 14th Regiment of New-
York under General Ten Broeck, Johannes Knickerbacker,
2d, was commissioned colonel of the Eastern Division of the
regiment in Dutch Hoosac. His officers and soldiers resided
in Old Schaghticoke and Cambridge military districts and


The Hoosac Valley

were recorded by Matthew Vischer, Clerk of Albany County.
The field-officers' of his regiment's eight companies were
as follows:

Lieut. -Col.
1st Maj.
2d Maj.

Johannes Knickerbacker, 2d
Daniel Bratt
Derrick Van Vechten
John Van Rensselaer
Charles Toll
Ignace Kipp

First Company:

1st Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Hendrick Vanderhoof

Samuel Ketchum |

Nathaniel Ford

Jacob Hallenbeck

Second Company:

1st Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Walter Groesbeck
Wynant Van Denburgh
Peter Davenport
Jacob Yates

Third Company:

1st Lieut,
2d Lieut.

John J. Bleecker
John Snyder
Matthew D. Garmo
Stephen Thorne

Fourth Company:

1st Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Lewis Van Woerdt
John Schouten
Joseph Boyce
John Morrel

' Documentary History, New York.

The Councils of Safety


Fifth Company:
ist Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Sixth Company:
1st Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Seventh Company:


1st Lieut.

2d Lieut.


Minute Men Company:

1st Lieut.
2d Lieut.

Fenner Palmer
John Johnson
James Williamson
Jonathan Davis

Daniel B. Bratt
Michael Champman
Isaac Lansing
Francis Hogel

John (?) Van Rensselaer
Michael R^^an
Name unknown
Peter Hartwell

John J. Bleecker
William Thorne
Thomas Hicks
Jonathan Rowland

Col. Johannes Knickerbacker, 2d, in 1776 sent out orders
to his several companies to remain in readiness for action.
The original copy of the order to Capt. John Snyder's
Tomhannac Company of Pittstown is found in the upper
front hall of Knickerbacker Mansion, dated as follows :

Com. the Publick Service
Captain. John Snyder or Next
Commanding Officer
At Tomhenich.

SCHACTOKOOK, May 30th, 1776.
Dear Sir:

By order of general Ten Broock it is now become my
duty, as We do not know now how soon the Country

314 The Hoosac Valley-

may call upon us for our Military service, To earnestly
recommend it unto you to use your utmost endeavour with
the Company under Your Command as well as officers and
privates that they shall Pay due obedience & strictly observe
the Rules and orders for Regulating the militia of the Colony
of New York Recommended by the Provincial Congress,
the 22d day of August and the 20th day of December last,
and inperte reculcBr the 6h and yh Vols. Sections of said
rules & orders the 5h section of the Appendix to the said
Rules and Orders. If you or any of your officers have not
the above printed rules they may be furnished with them
by Applying unto Matthew Vischer Esq., Secretary of the
Committee for the City & County of Albany. And also
Deesire that you furnish me With a List of the Company
under your command by the 5h day of June next and
inform me in What manner the Men are equipped as to arms
ammunition & Accoutrements.

I am Your Most

Hum. Serv't

John Knickerbacker.

The New York Provincial Congress on July 5, 1776, direc-
ted that a regiment be reorganized and officered among the
Green Mountain Boys who had distinguished themselves
in Col. Seth Warner's Continental Regiment in Canada dur-
ing the campaign of 1775. Among the officers chosen may
be named: Col. Seth Warner, Lieut. -Col. Samuel Safiford,
Lieut. Joseph Safiford, Adj. Benjamin Hopkins, and Ens.
Jacob SafiEord, all of Bennington.

At that time Gen. Benedict Arnold controlled the navy
yard of the Patriots at Skenesboro. He built a flotilla of
boats, manned with fifty-five guns and seventy swivels,
requiring three hundred and ninety-five men. General
Carleton controlled the English navy yard at St. Johns and
built a fleet of boats. In order to expedite work at the

The Councils of Safety 315

Patriots' navy yard, General Gates ordered Captain Eddy's
Rhode Island Company of thirty-nine ship-carpenters to
advance from Providence to Skenesboro. On their march,
they were exposed to smallpox, and the Council of Safety
of Williamstown quarantined the men in the John Smedley
mill-house until Dr. William Page vaccinated them. At that
time inoculation for smallpox was considered a "diabolical
practice of quacks." Dr. Page on August 17, 1776, addressed
a letter' to General Gates, stating that Eddy's company
might safely march for Skenesboro in eight days. Brig.-Gen.
David Waterbury, Jr., however, had already formally dis-

Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 21 of 41)