New York In The Revolution
As Colony And State
A Compilation of Documents and Records from
The Office of the State Comptroller
Albany, N. Y.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
Note:-- Only the first volume of a two volume set was available for transcription.
A mirror site with a search engine only for New York in the Revolutionary War
EXERPTS from Book Introduction:
During my first term of office as comptroller, the work of putting the old records of the comptroller's department in systematic order for purposes of easy reference was undertaken. This work in its progress brought to light quantities of forgotten papers relating to the services performed by New York in the Revolutionary war. These papers, long since detached from their original file packages, were promiscuoulsy scattered through great masses of old vouchers and files. I realized at once their great value and importance, and my impression has been most amptly confirmed by the judgment of Col. F. C. Ainsworth, whose great work in arranging for the U. S. government the contributions of men made in the various wars by the separate states and colonies, in well known. Coppetent men were, thereford, set at work searching out and arranging these papers, and this task, though slow and laborious, is believed to have been thoroughly and intelligently done. The success of this work is very largely due to the earnest and intelligent interest taken in it by Col. Charles O. Shepard, and his efforts were greatly assited by the efficient work of Mr. William B. Wemple of this office.
These papers contain the muster and pay rolls of different organizations, and the historic value and importance of the papers is clearly proved by the fact that they alone show New York to have furnished nearely one and a half times the number of troops with which she is credited, and adding to these names obtained from other reliable sources, the aggregate is more than twice the number usually credited. General Knox, first secretary of war, in his report to Congress of the number of troops furnished by each colony, gave New York credit for but 17,181 men, and this report, compied into our histories, very naturally has ever since been accepted as correct. We now find positive proof of the service of 41,633 men. I therefore submit the following pages containing the names, rank and organization of these 41,633 men, whose services can be shown beyond any question, with the greater satisfaction for believing that a great historical injustice, reflecting in many minds on New York's patriotic spirit in the revolutionary struggle, will hereby be rectified, and she take her place, second only to Massachusetts in number of troops furnished, and, under the circumstances surrounding her, second to none in lofty patriotism.
It is true that lists of names of New York's revolutionary soldiers have been heretofore published, but these wer derived almost entirely from other original sources, the state treasurer's books of account being the chief source, and their accuracy, for this reason, has been a matter of grave doubt, and therefore the results could not be accepted in historical works. All the names published in this volume were derived from that highest of sources, the original muster and pay-rolls, and thus the services of the individual and the aggregate are conclusively shown. Several thousands of the names, particularly of those belonging to the regiments of the "Line," were obtained from rolls on file in the War Department of Washington, through the courtesy of Hon. Daniel S. Lamont, Secretary of War. And here it may not be inappropriate to say that Col. Ainsworth, after personal examination of the records of service found in the comptroller's office, was so well satisfied of their accuracy and value, that he had the same transcribed and placed in the records of the War Department, and the 41,663 names found here will now appear to the credit of New York in the govenment's record of the revolutionary war, and soon to be published.
Nor do the names contained in this volume in all probability comprise all of those from New York who preformed service in that great struggle. Cases exist in which records of a full quota of field, staff and line officers for a regiment have been found, but no enlisted men. This state of things wa proof positive, to any one with knowledge of military affairs, that a deplorable deficiency in the records existed. It was not uncommon, as I am credibly informed, for the officer commmanding an organization to retain all the records relating to his command. Indeed, the records from which the names of the men in Colonel Gansevort's regiment, Third New York Line, and the only original record of Alexander Hamilton's artillery company is in the possession of the New York Historical Society, to which body we are indebted for its appearance here. Had New York, as several of the colonies did, published the record of its revolutionary service, while the records were still all existing and their location, and the facts connected with them, were within the memory of living men, a far more accurate results would have been reached. As it is, there can be little reasonable doubt that in some cases records of service have been lost, and that New York can never show the full number of troops furnished by her in the struggle. This is almost conclusively shown by the fact that the papers relating to pensions granted by the state for injuries received while in service in the Revolutionary War disclose many names which do not appear upon any roster in our possession.
In any consideration of what was contributed by the separate colonies to the success of the war, it is proper that the situation in each colony should be taken into account. New York, more than any other colony, was the battle-ground of the war, as indeed, from its position, it always will be in any conflict with Great Britain. The first forts captured from the English in the war were Ticonderoga and Crown Point, May 10th adn 12th, 1775; and the first attempt to construct an American navy was made by Arnold on Lake Champlain in June, 1775. Johnson's last raid through the Mohwak valley, in which the battle of Johnstown and various smaller encounters were fought, took place in 1781. Between those dates were the expedition from New York into Canada, resulting in the siege and capture of the fort of St. John's, Sept. 25, 1775, followed by the capture of Montreal, and ending in the disaster at Quebec; the expedition to Johnstown, resulting in the surrender of three hundred armed Scotch Highlanders, Jan. 19, 1776; battle of Long Island, Aug. 27, 1776; battle of Harlem Plains, Sept. 16, 1776; battle of White Plains, Oct. 28, 1776; attack upon and capture of Fort Washington, Nov. 16, 1776; naval battles on Lake Champlain, Oct. 11 and 13, 1776; the various masceuvres of the eventful year 1777, which preceded the famous battles of that year; the batle of Bennington, fought on Oct. 16, 1777, on New York soil, but largely by Vermont boys, and which prevented the British from receiving needed supplies; the successful derence and sortie from Fort Schuyler, and the bloody battle of Oriskany, Aug. 6, 1777, which prevented the junction of St. Leger with Burgoyne, and made the latter's surrender inevitable; the glorious battles of Saratoga, Sept. 19 and Oct. 7, 1777, leading to Burgoyne's surrender Oct. 17, 1777; the destructive expedition up the Hudson under Sir Henry Clinton, Oct., 1777; Johnson's Indian raid through the Mohawk, Schoharies and Susquehanna valleys, 1778; Sir Henry Clinton's second expedition up the Hudson, May, 1779; Mad Anthony's capture of Stony Point with 543 prisoners, July 15, 1779; the expeditions under Colonels Willett and Van Schaick against Onondagas, and the horrible retaliatory raids made by the Indians 1779; Sullivan's expedtion against the Indians in 1779, and the battle near the present site of Elmira; Johnson's raid into the Mohwak valley, 1780, and Governor Clinton's pursuit; the destruction of the Canajoharie and Fort Plain settlements by Brant, Aug., 1780; the extended raid of Sir John Johnson, Brant and Cornplanter, in the autumn of 1780, with the battle near Stone Arabia, and Carleton's raid on the upper Hudson, 1780. The surrender of Cornwallis in 1781 was the practical end of the conflict, and the foregoing list of military movements shows that every year during the eonflict new York was the scene of very active service.
In the summer of 1776 the control of New York city, of Long Island and Staten Island and a part of Westchester county passed into the hands of the British, there to remain until after the treaty of peace, and evacuation taking palce Nov. 25, 1783. Fully one-tenth of the state's population, from which men could be drawn to recruit the armies, were thus locked up. The population of New Yorks state in 1790 was 340,120, and of new York city alone 33,131.
The miliary forces of the Colony and State during the revolutionary struggle, were divided into three classes.
THE LINE: which regiments were in the U. S. service under General Washington. There were also regiments of artillery and an organization of "Green Mountain Boys" in the Line.
THE LEVIES: which were drafts from the different militia regiments, and from the people direct as well, and which could be called upon to served outside the State during their entire term.
THE MILITIA: which then, as now, could onlybe called out of the State for three months at a time.
Records are found of four privateers in the service and pay of the State - the schooner "General Putnam," the sloop "Montgomery," the sloop "Schuyler," and the frigate "Congress." These armed vessels took many prizes, and records are found in the division of the spoils.
Of the LINE, 9 organizations.
Of LEVIES, 7 organizations.
Of MILITIA, 68 organizations are traced by these records.
In all 84.
ASSOCIATED EXEMPTS were a unique class and were authorized by an act of April 3, 1778. They comprised: "All persons under the age of sixty who have held civil or military commissions and are not or shall not be re-appointed to their respective proper ranks of office, and all persons between the ages of fifty and sixty."
They could only be called out "in time of invawsion or incursion of the enemy."
The militia regiments were designated, first by their colonel's names and next by their coutnies, as "Fisehr's Regiment, of Tryon County."
Instances crop up, here and there, in which a number was given to a regiment; as for instance, "The Sixth Albany County," but it is a moot question if such was the general practice. Be that as it may, the name of the colonel is found to be quite sufficient for full identification.
The MILITIA was called out when wanted; kept as long as wanted, and the soldiers then sent to their homes. Sometimes a regiment or a part of a regiment would be called out half a dozen times in the course of a year, and for half a dozen days at a time, and again it might not be needed in the entire year.
Officers and men seem to have served in different organizations almost indiscriminately. At one call, they were in one regiment or company, and at another call, in another regiment or company.
It is, therefore, very difficult to keep trace of them on the different pay-rolls, or "pay books" as they are sometimes called.
Nepotism, or family influence, was most marked, and some regiments contained as many as five and seven officers of the same family. (See Colonel Brinkerhoff's regiment, and the Millers,' in Colonel Thomas' regiment.)
Counties were divided into distrcits, and the colonel of the regiment in each district was given almost unlimited jurisdiction in military matters. He was required to see that every male between the ages of sixteen and fifty were enrolled. Later the age limit eas extended to sixty.
If an able bodied man, he must serve when "warned" under penalty of fine and imprisionment; but if incapacitated, he must contribute toward furnishing and equipping another man - any person furnishing a substitute being exempt for the time that the substitute served.
Quakers, Moravians and the United Brethren were enrolled, but exempted from service upon payment of money, which aries in amount as the war progressed until, in 1780, they were obliged to pay 160 pounds per year.
A colonel's pay was $75 per month, or one York pound per day.
A lieutenant-colonel's pay was $60 per month.
A major's pay was $50 per month.
A captain's pay was $40 per month.
An adjutant's pay was $40 per month.
A lieutenant's pay was $26 per month.
An ensign's pay was $20 per month.
A corporal's pay was $7.50 per month.
A private's pay was a little over $6 a month.
Nor was this, by any means, always in money. It was sometimes in State notes and sometimes in authority to "impress" articles or animals under surerpvision of some designated officer, who should give a receipt, in the name of the State, to the impressee.
As late as 1784, the large majority of the soldiers were unpaid for their serivces in 1776-7-8-9-80-81-82.
Officers could not "throw up or quit" their commissions until they had served fifteen years.
All slaves killed in the service were to be paid for.
In time of invasion, any slave, not in the military service, found one mile from his master's abode, without a certificate from his master showing his business, might be "shot or otherwise destroyed without fear of centure, impeachment or prosecution for the same."
In 1781, it was provided that any slave who should enlist and serve "for three years, or until discharged," should be declared a freeman of the State.
In the same year, a bounty of "Land Rights" - so-called - (a "Right" being 500 acres) was offered to officers and men for two regiments then to be raised, for the defence of the State.
To a colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major, four Rights. To a captain and a surgeion, three Rights. To a lieutenant, ensign or surgeon's mate, two Rights, and to a non-commissioned officer or a private, one Right.
Any master or mistress who should deliver an able-bodied slave to servce, one Right.
No rank below ensign is given in this volume.
It is a mater of regret that these records do not present a complete roster of all the men from New York engaged in the Revolutionary War. Many rolls are missing, and many are defective, but such names as could be found are given. In some cases no enlisted men appear; only the officers of the organization.
The spelling of the names is erractic and unrealiable. Many of the soldiers could not write, and the spelling of the name depended upon the whim of the scribe. [Transcriber's Note: This is TRUE.....as you search for an ancestor, don't just type his name in the Search Slot, but also scan the lists visually as well.]
"Deserter" written after a name must be not taken too seriously. Frequently the men absented themselves to gather crops, to attend a sick wife, or bury a child, but it is found that the solider generallyr returned, and was again taken up on the rolls.