Henry Onderdonk.

Revolutionary incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties : with an account of the Battle of Long Island and the British prisons and prison-ships at New York online

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John F. Trow, Printer,
49 Ann-st., N. Y.


The present volume completes a plan the compiler had
some years since conceived, of collecting and arranging in
chronological order, the scattered and fragmentary notices of
the events that occurred on Long Island, during our Revo-
lutionary struggle.

The history of the Island during this soul-stirring period
has been hitherto clouded in gross darkness. Indeed the
very name scarcely appears on the pages of our History,
except to record a disastrous defeat of our arms.

The contents of these volumes show that Long Island is
not barren in Revolutionary Incidents, unique in their cha-
racter, and instructive to the student of our country's history.

The Counties of Suffolk, Queens and Kings, each played
a different and yet appropriate part in the great drama of
the Revolution.

At the first outbreak of rebellion in the port of Boston,
we find the Puritans of Suffolk assembling in almost every
town, and voting resolutions of aid and sympathy for their
brethren of the Massachusetts Bay. Nor were these ex-
pressions heartless. The people were ready to follow their
leaders in rebellion, the militia were organized, and Suffolk
armed for the contest.

Far different was the state of feeling in Queens County.
Here the Royal Governors, and other crown officers had oc-
casionally resided, and exerted an overshadowing influence.
They were often connected with other wealthy and aristo-
cratic families in the County, who had also their adherents
and dependents. Then, there was the peaceable Quaker,
the passive Dutchman; and the Church-of-England-man,


bound to the King by a double tie, as head of Church and
State. All these made a dead weight, that the rampant
spirit of rebellion could hardly move, until the Congressional
army marched into the County, disarmed the Loyalists and
carried off their leaders.

The population of Kings County was mostly Dutch, who
made but a tardy and feeble show of resistance to the powers
that be ; her Deputies finally absented themselves from the
Provincial Congress, and the flagging spirit of revolt quickly
subsided at the approach of the British fleet.

After the American army abandoned the Island to the
enemy, there was still a difference in the conduct of the
Counties. The prominent Whigs of Suffolk fled to their
brethren on the Main, with what movables they could carry,
leaving behind their stock, houses and farms to the enemy.
Those who remained, reluctantly took an oath of allegiance,
which they never meant to regard, and were ever treacherous
subjects of a King they had sworn to obey.

The great majority of the people of Queens County, took
the oath of allegiance in good faith, and observed it.
Most of the leading Whigs, trusting to British proclamations,
and not knowing where to go, remained at home, and were
punished in various ways for their undutiful conduct.
Many suffered imprisonment, which to some ended only in

The case of Kings County was somewhat similar to that
of Queens. Many of its peace-loving inhabitants had already
deserted their homes on the prospect of its becoming the
theatre of hostilities. The leading Whigs fled among their
Dutch brethren, some to New Jersey, and some up the
North River, while a few who remained and trusted to the
chances of British clemency, were thrown in the Provost.

Within two months after the American Army had given
up the Island, the principal inhabitants of the three Counties
had signed a representation of loyalty to King George the


Third ; and in order that their wholesome example of dutiful
return to obedience might have its influence on the other
rebellious portions of the State, it was published at length in
the New- York Mercury, with the names of all the signers in
Queens and Kings Counties.

During the entire period of the revolution, the British
held New- York City, a part of Westchester County, and all of
Staten and Long Island under military rule. There were
no elections — no voting except at annual town meetings — none
except town taxes to pay — no judges — no courts of civil ju-
dicature, their place being supplied by the arbitrary fiat of a
King's justice or some military character. True, a summary
Court of Police was after a while established in New- York
City ; and at length, in the year 1780, for the greater con-
venience of His Majesty's loyal subjects on Long Island, a
Court of Police was also opened in Jamaica. The inhabit-
ants could not go to or from the city, or bring out goods,
without a permit. The price of wood and farmer's produce
was regulated by proclamation ; their horses, wagons and
persons, could at any time be impressed into the King's ser-
vice, at a stipulated price. In the winter season almost every
village and hamlet was filled with British soldiers and
wagoners, billeted in the people's houses, or cantoned in tem-
porary huts. The consequence was, a ready market and
high price for such of the farmer's produce as had not been
previously pilfered. The farmers flourished on British gold ;
but as there were few opportunities for investing it, and no
banks of deposit for safe keeping, they were compelled to keep
their money by them, and were often robbed. The churches,
not of the established faith, were mostly occupied by soldiers,
or used as storehouses and prisons ; some were even torn down.

In Suffolk County, the illicit trade forms a striking fea-
ture. This consisted in buying imported goods in New-
York City, (with the professed design of retailing them to
faithful subjects in the County,) and then carrying them


down the Island to secret landing-places, whence they were
sent across the Sound in whale-boats, under cover of night,
and exchanged with the people of Connecticut for provisions,
and farmer's produce, of which the British army stood in
great need. Though this trade was prohibited by both Ameri-
can and British authority, yet the cunning of the smugglers
(who often acted as spies) generally eluded the sleepy vigi-
lance of government officials. This trade was protected by
the sparse population of Suffolk County, the extensive sea-
border, the absence of a British armed force, and the prover-
bial insincerity of the people in their professed allegiance.

Owing to this Whiggish feeling of the inhabitants, every
invading party of their brethren from the Main — whether to
Sag Harbor, St. George's, or Slongo — always found ready
and effectual aid in guides, food, or information. Indeed
Washington used to say, that he always had more correct
knowledge by spies, of the position and designs of the British
army on Long Island, than at any other place. In fine, the
British authority in Suffolk County, w r as little more than an
empty shadow.

Quite different was the state of things in Queens and
Kings Counties. Here the great body of the people were at
heart loyal, the settled parts were more compact, and rarely
free from the presence of armed troops, spreading dissipation
and shining gold with open hand.

Although the people of Long Island had taken an oath of
fealty to the British crown in 1776, they were never deemed
bona fide British subjects, and on the return of peace, in 1783,
(with the exception of a few who were attainted of treason,)
they quietly slipped off their oath with their loyalty, and
without the formality of abjuring their allegiance, took their
places among the citizens of these free and Independent

Jamaica, L. I., May, 1849.



Sec. Page

532 — 599. Rise and Progress of the Revolutionary

Spirit, 13

600—620. The Submission, ,42


621 — 769. The Armed Occupation, . . . . 62



770—802, Rise and Progress oe the Revolutionary

Spirit, 113



Sec. Page

803 — 828. Letters relating to the Battle of Long

Island, 132

829—830. The Submission, 166

831—964. The Armed Occupation, .... 172


Incidents of the British Prisons and Prison Ships at

New-York, 207


Forms of Orders, &c, issued in the Revolution —

Additional Notes, &c, . . . .251






532. At a meeting of the inhabitants of the parish of
South Haven, June 13, '74, Wm. Smith, Moderator ;

1 . It was voted (and agreed), that the Act of Parliament for block-
ing up the port of Boston, is unconstitutional, and has a direct ten-
dency to enslave the inhabitants of America, and put an end to all

2. (And it is also the opinion of this meeting), that if the Colo-
nies all unite and strictly adhere to a non-importation agreement
from Great Britain and the West Indies, and have no trade with
them, we should have great reason to expect in a short time, a repeal
of that oppressive act ; and for that purpose we heartily desire that
such an agreement may be entered into.

3. (And it is further voted and agreed), that Wm. Smith, Esq.,
Col. Nath'l Woodhull, Col. Wm. Floyd, Mr. Thos. Fanning, Capt.
Josiah Smith, Capt. David Mulford, and Capt. Jona. Baker, be a
standing committee for this place, to correspond with the Committee
of Correspondence in the city of N. Y., and others, and that they
immediately communicate the above sentiments to them.



533. At a meeting of the inhabitants of East Hampton?
legally warned by the Trustees, June 17, '74, Eleazar Mil-
ler, Esq., Moderator ;

1st. Voted, That we will to the utmost of our abilities assert,
and in a lawful manner defend the liberties and immunities of British
America ; that we will co-operate with our brethren in this Colony
in such measures as shall appear best adapted to save us from the
burdens we fear, and in a measure already feel, from the principles
adopted by the British Parliament respecting the town of Boston in
particular, and the British Colonies in North America in general.

2d. Voted, That a non-importation agreement through the colo-
nies is the most likely means to save us from the present and future

3d. Voted, That John Chatfield, Esq., Col. Abm. Gardiner, Bur-
net Miller, Stephen Hedges, Thos. Wickham, Esq., John Gardiner,
Esq., and Capt. David Mulford be a standing committee for keeping
up a correspondence with the city of N. Y., and the towns of this
colony ; and, if there is occasion, with other colonies ; and that they
transmit a copy of these votes to the committee of correspondence
for the city of N. Y.

Voted unanimously, not one dissenting voice.


534. At a general Town Meeting, June 21, '74, the
inhabitants of Huntington came into the following resolu-
tions :

1st. That every freeman's property is absolutely his own, and no
man has a right to take it from him without his consent, expressed
either by himself or his representative.

2d. That therefore, all taxes and duties imposed on His Majesty's
subjects in the American Colonies by the authority of Parliament,
are wholly unconstitutional, and a plain violation of the most essen-
tial rights of British subjects.

3d. That the Act of Parliament lately passed for shutting up the
port of Boston, or any other means or device, under color of law, to
compel them, or any other of His Majesty's American subjects, to
submit to Parliamentary taxations, are subversive of their just and
constitutional liberty.


Ath. That we are of opinion that our brethren of Boston are now
suffering in the common cause of British America.

5th. That therefore it is the indispensable duty of all the colonies
to unite in some effectual measures for the repeal of said Act, and
every other Act of Parliament whereby they are taxed for raising
a revenue.

6th. That it is the opinion of this meeting, that the most effectual
means for obtaining a speedy repeal of said Acts, will be to break off
all commercial intercourse with Great Britain, Ireland, and the En-
glish West [ndia colonies.

1th. And we hereby declare ourselves ready to enter into these
or such other measures as shall be agreed upon by a General Con-
gress of all the colonies ; and we recommend to the General Con-
gress to take such measures as shall be most effectual to prevent
such goods as are at present in America, from being raised to an ex-
travagant price.

And, lastly, we appoint Col. Piatt Conklin, John Sloss Hobart,
Esq., and Thos. Wicks, a committee for this town, to act in con-
junction with the committees of the other towns in the county, as a
general committee for the county, to correspond with the committee
of N. Y.

ISRAEL WOOD, President.

535. The above Resolutions were also adopted at Smithtown ;
and Aug. 9, it was voted that " Sol. Smith, Dan'l Smith, and Thos.
Tredwell be a committee fully empowered, in conjunction with the
committees of the other towns, to choose delegates to represent this
county at the General Congress, and to do all that shall be necessary
in defence of our just rights and liberties against the unconstitutional
attacks of the British Ministry and Parliament.


N. Y. Circular to the several Counties, Aug. 9, '74.

536. Gentlemen : The distresses of the poor of the town of
Boston, now sinking under the hand of power, call for our tender
and compassionate concern. Every motive of policy and humanity
should excite us to contribute liberally to their immediate redress.
They are our countrymen and brethren, suffering in the common
cause of liberty, and their hard condition may one day be our own.
We recommend a generous subscription for the support of the indi-


gent of that oppressed town. In some instances it may be most
convenient to contribute in wheat or flour, which will be equally
serviceable. The interest of the whole Continent requires that pro-
vision should be made for all who become sufferers in our common
cause, and the honor and reputation of this Colony must animate us
to distinguish ourselves on so benevolent an occasion.

537. At a meeting of the Committees of Correspondence
for the county of Suffolk, at the County Hall, Nov. 15, '74 :

1. Voted, That we recommend it to the several towns in this
county to set forward a subscription for the employment and relief
of the distressed poor in the town of Boston, to be collected in such
manner as the committees in each town shall judge proper ; to be in
readiness to be forwarded early next spring.

2. Voted, That John Foster have the care of procuring a vessel
to call at the several harbors in this county, to receive and carry the
above donations to Boston.

3. Voted, That we fully approve of the proceedings of the late
Continental Congress, and recommend it to the committees of the
different towns to see that the Association by them entered into on
behalf of themselves and their constituents, be strictly observed.


538. At a meeting of the Committees of Observation for the
several towns and districts of Huntington, Smithtown, Islip,
and South Haven," and some of the principal inhabitants of
the town of Brookhaven, held at Smithtown, Feb. 23, '75,
Col. Piatt Conklin being Chairman,

2. Resolved nera. con., That we think ourselves under obligations
of gratitude to the worthy gentlemen in particular who represented
this County in the late Continental Congress, and to that whole as-
sembly in general, for their noble, patriotic and faithful discharge of
their important trust.

3. Resolved nem. con., That a letter be sent to Wm. Nicoll and
Nath'l Woodhull, Esqrs., Representatives of this County, informing
them that, if a motion should be made in the house for appointing
Delegates to represent this Province, at the Continental Congress,
to be held at Philadelphia, in May next, it is our opinion and desire,
that they should join in their appointment.


4. Resolved nem. con., That in case the Assembly do not appoint
Delegates, the Committee of Correspondence for the city of N. Y., be
desired to call a Provincial Convention for that purpose.

N. B. — Most of the towns and districts in this County, have at pub-
lic town meetings, fully adopted the measures recommended by the
Congress, and determined on a strict observation of the Association.

539. Nathan Fordham, Burnet Miller, and Thos. Youngs, a sub-
committee, at Sag Harbor, request of Congress, (Ap. 2d, '75,)
ammunition and warlike stores, suitable for an inclosed list of cannon,
and that the cannon may be mounted on carriages, as they are much
exposed to the ravages of the Ministerial army.

540. Robt. Hempstead was Chairman of a meeting of the Com-
mittees from the different towns in Suffolk, at the County Hall, Ap.
6, '75, who appointed Col. Wm. Floyd, Col. Nath'l Woodhull, Col.
Phineas Fanning, Thomas Tredwell, and John Sloss Hobart, Esqrs.,
Deputies to the N.York Provincial Convention for choosing Delegates
to the Continental Congress, to be held at Philadelphia, in May.

541. To the Provincial Congress, to be held, May 22d, '75, Col.
Nath'l Woodhull, John Sloss Hobart, Thomas Tredwell, John
Foster, Ezra L'Hommedieu, Thos. Wickham, James Havens, and
Selah Strong, were elected Deputies for one year. May 5.

542. At a meeting of freeholders and other inhabitants
of Brookhaven, June 8, J 75 ; By a large majority were
chosen 16 persons, as a Committee of Observation to repre-
sent said town and deliberate on other matters relative to our
present political welfare. Agreed that the last Tuesday in
June, be appointed as the day for the Committee to meet.

The Committee met at Coram, June 27 ; Present, John Wood-
hull, Esq., Thos. Helme, Esq., John Robinson, Thos. Fanning, Lt.
Wm. Brewster, Noah Hallock, Jos. Brown, John Woodhull, Jr.,
Nath'l Roe, Jr., Capt. Jona. Baker, Dan'l Roe, Sam'l Thompson, of
Manor St. George ; Wm. Smith, and Jonah Hulse, of Patentship of
Moriches ; Capt. Josiah Smith.

Then proceeded, and chose John Woodhull, Esq., Ch'n, and Sam'l
Thompson, Clerk, and entered into the following resolutions :

1. Resolved nem. con., That w r e express our loyalty to His Ma-


jesty, King Geo. III., and acknowledge him as our rightful lord and

3. Resolved unanimously, That it is the opinion of this Commit-
tee, that the several Acts passed in the British Parliament, for the
purpose of raising a revenue in America ; also the Acts for stopping
the Port of Boston ; for altering their charter and government ; for
establishing the Roman Catholic religion, and abolishing the equita-
ble system of English laws and erecting in their stead French Despo-
tic Government in Canada ; as also the Act for restraining the New
England fishery ; and further declaring they have power to make
laws binding on us in all cases whatsoever, are contrary to the con-
stitution and subversive of our legal rights as English freemen and
British subjects.

4. Resolved nem. con., That we will use our utmost endeavor
strictly to adhere to the Resolutions of the Honorable Continental
Congress, and to comply with the injunctions of our Provincial Con-
vention, which (under God) we hope is the most effectual means
to obtain redress of our present grievances, and save us from im-
pending ruin.

5. We do unanimously make this our apology to the respectable
public and to our several Congresses, that we have come so late into
Congressional measures, and hope a veil may be cast over our past
conduct ; for our remissness was not for want of patriotic spirit, but
because opposition ran so high in some parts of this town, which
arose, we verily believe, from want of better information.

6. It is unanimously resolved, that we will keep a strict watch
that no provisions be transported from the bounds of our constituents,
so as to fall into the hands of our enemies.

7. Ordered, that the proceedings of this meeting be printed by
John Holt.

543. [The General Association (see Queens Co., 25,) was al-
most unanimously signed in Suffolk, only 236 recusants. The
original lists may be seen in Vol. XXX. of the MS. Papers of the
N. Y. Provincial Congress, in the Secretary of State's Office, at Al-
bany, and are reprinted in Force's American Archives, III., 608.

544. May 12, '75. Israel Youngs of Cold Spring brought in his
sloop from N. Y. Henry Dawkins an engraver, whom he employed


9 weeks in the garret of his house counterfeiting bills of credit.
Isaac Ketcham went to Philadelphia for the paper used. They were
arrested by aid of Thos. Wicks, taken before the Huntington Com-
mittee at Nath'l Williams' Tavern, and thence to N. Y. where they
were confined till July 18, when Dawkins was sent to Westchester
jail ; and Israel and Isaac Youngs to Litchfield, where they lived at
their own expense till Nov. 25, '76, when they went off leaving
£68 10 with the jailer. Ketcham was probably discharged Aug. 17.
Jour. 445, 718, 577. Cor. 464. (See also 53.)

June 3, '75. Philip Youngs was taken to N. Y. by Thos.
Wicks and Eliph. Brush, charged by Jacob Brush and Sam'l Brown
with counterfeiting. The houses of George and Isaac Youngs and
John Williams were searched, but nothing found. [Philip was ac-
quited, June 17. — Ed. Jour. 471, 714.

545. Col. Phineas Fanning, David Mulford, Esq., Capt. Tim.
Earle, were appointed muster masters of the troops to be raised in
Suffolk, July 8, '75.

546. June 29, '75, Suffolk Co. Warrants,

1. John Hulbert, Capt. ; John Davis, 1st Lt. ; Wm. Havens,
2d Lt.

2. John Grennel, Capt. ; Wm. Philips, 1st Lt. ; Philip Conklin,

3. Dan'l Griffen, Capt; Benj. Marvin, 1st Lt. ; Nath'l Norton,
2d Lt.

Capt. John Grenell, of Huntington, July 14, '75.
Sam'l Smith, 1st Lt. ; Alex. Ketcham, 2d Lt.; in place of
Wm. Philips and Philip Conklin declined.

547. Whilst the British were at Boston, their vessels occasionally
carried off stock from Suffolk Co.

July 5, '75: The people of E. and S. Hampton pray Congress, that
Capt. Hulbert's company, now raising for Schuyler's army, may remain
to guard the stock on the common land of Montauk, (2000 cattle and 3
or 4000 sheep) from the ravages of the enemy. Jour. 75.

July 31, '75. Congress allow Griffing and Hulbert's companies to
remain to guard stock. Jour. 95.

Aug. 7, '75. 13 sail of British shipping are seen off Oyster Ponds,
looking for stock, as is supposed. Lt. Norton's company have no pow-
der. Cor. 69.


Aug. 7, '75. Congress order Wooster to send from his camp at Har-
lem, four companies (to be under command of Col. Phineas Fanning,)
to guard stock on the east end of L. I. Congress also vote 200 lbs.
powder to the order of Ezra L'Hommedieu and John Foster.

Jour. 102, 103.

Aug. 18, '75. Congress recommend the removal of stock from
Gardiners and Plum I. Jour. 110.

Aug. 21, '75. Congress hear that 36 cattle and 1100 sheep are
taken from Fisher's I., and 40 or 50 cattle and 1800 or 2000 sheep from
Gardiner's I., by Col. Abijah Willard. Jour. 112,119.

Aug. 22, '75. Col. Gardiner of Plum I., says Col. Willard threatens
to come again with force sufficient to take off stock from L. I.

Cor. 65.

Sep. 7, '75. Capt. John Hulbert marched from Montauk, but his
men have borrowed guns. Cor. 80.

Sep. 14, '75. Ebenezer Piatt received of Congress 100 lbs. of pow-
der. Jour. 146.

548. Thos. Helme, Chairman pro tern., writes to Congress, Aug.
3, '75, that Parson James Lyon, [put under guard in Wooster's
Camp, Aug. 11,] Benj. Floyd, Dr. Gilbert Smith, Joseph Denton,

Richard Floyd, and John Baleys, innkeeper, have from the beginning
taken every method to seduce the ignorant and counteract the mea-
sures recommended for redress of grievances. They d n all

Congresses and Committees, wishing they were in h — 1. They have
declared they will furnish the men-of-war and cutters with provi-

Aug. 21, '75. List of Field Officers of 2d Bat.

549. David Mulford, 1st Col. ; Jonas Hedges, 2d Col. ; Uriah

Online LibraryHenry OnderdonkRevolutionary incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties : with an account of the Battle of Long Island and the British prisons and prison-ships at New York → online text (page 1 of 24)