New York In The Revolution Revolution as Colony and State

Introduction [From the First Edition]

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 promiscuously scattered through great masses of old vouchers and files. I realized at once their great value and importance, and my impression has been most amply confirmed by the judgment of Col. F. C. Ainsworth, whose great work in arranging for the United States government the contributions of men made in the various wars by the separate states and colonies, is well known. Competent men were, therefore, 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 assisted by the effient 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 nealy one and a half times the number of troops with which she is usually credited, and adding to these the 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 17,781 men, and this report, copied in our histories, very naturally has ever since been accepted as correct. We now find positive proof of the service of 41,633 men. [The corrected number is 43,645. See additional note in second edition, p. 15.] 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 were derived almost from other than 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 are 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 at 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 has had the same transcribed and placed in the records of the War Department, and the 41,633 names found here will now appear to the credit of New York in the government's record of the Revolutionary War, soon to be published.

Nor do the names contained in this volume in all probability comprise all of those from New York who performed 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 was 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 commanding 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, were obtained, are still in the possession of the descendants of Colonel Gansevort, and the original record of Alexander Hamilton's artillery company is in the possession of the New York Historial Society, to which body we are indebted for its appearance here. Had New York, as several of colonies did, published the record of her 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 result 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 10 and 12, 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 Mohawk 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 at St. John's, September 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, January 19, 1776; battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776; battle of Harlem Plains, September 16, 1776; battle of White Plains, October 28, 1776; attack upon and capture of Fort Washington, November 16, 1776; naval battles on Lake Champlain, October 11 and 13, 1776; the various manoeuvres of the eventful year 1777, which preceded the famous battles of that year; the battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, on New York soil, but largely by Vermont boys, and which prevented the British from receiving needed supplies; the successful defense and sortie from Fort Schuyler, and the bloody battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777, which prevented the junction of St. Leger with Burgoyne, and made the latter's surrender inevitable; the glorious battles of Saratoga, September 19 and October 7, 1777, leading to Burgone's surrender, October 17, 1777; the destructive expedition up the Hudson under Sir Henry Clinton, October 1777; Johnson's Indian raid through the Mohawk, Schoharie 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 expedition against the Indians in 1779, and the battle near the present site of Elmira; Johnson's raid unto the Mohawk valley, 1780, and Governor Clinton's pursuit; the destruction of the Canajoharie and Fort Plain settlements by Brant, August 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 conflict New York was the scene of very active service.

The extensive fighting done within our borders brought into active and honorable service branches of military which in colonies where no fighting was done were relieved. Our militia were the heroes of many hotly contested fields. The battle of Oriskany, in its percentages of killed and wounded, the bloodiest battle of the war, was won by the militia, and Burgoyne's surrender thereby made sure. The militia bore a highly honorable part in the evermemorable battles of Saratoga. But many men undoubtedly performed splendid service in the emergencies which called out the militia and then retired quietly to their homes, leaving no record of their service which can now be found.

Again, the portions of New York occupied by the whites were surrounded on almost all sides by tribes of hostile Indians, who were incited and led by still more savage whites. Brant was sometimes humane, but Butler never. The Hurons had inherited from many preceding generations the disposition to make hostile raids upon the territory of their ancient foes, the Iroquois. At the breaking out of the war the influence of Sir William Johnson over the tribes of the Iroquois was almost boundless. His position as Indian agent had brought him into close relations with these tribes, and this position he seems to have honorably used and to have succeeded in convincing them that he was their friend. His mantle, at his death, fell upon his son, Sir John, and his son-in-law, Col. Guy Johnson, and that they used their influence to the fullest extent to stir up Indian hostility to the patriotic citizens west of Albany is a sad page in the history of the wars. It required something more or less than patriotism to induce the frontiersman to leave his family with the prospect before them of that most horrible of frontier experiences, an Indian raid.

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, the evacuation taking place November 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 York state in 1790 was 340,120, and of New York city alone, 33,131.

These facts, briefly stated, show New York's trying position in the Revolutionary War, and confirm what was said at the outset, that in lofty patriotic endeavor, New York was second to none of the thirteen colonies.


The military forces of the Colony and State during the Revolutionary struggle, were divided into three classes.

The Line; which regiments were in the United States 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 serve outside the State during their entire term.

The Militia: which then, as now, could only be called out of the State for three months at a time.

Of the Line, 9 organizations are traced by these records; of Levies, 7 organizations; of Militia, 68 organizations; in all 84 organizations. [See additional note in second edition, p. 15.]

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 of the division of the spoils.

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 reappointed 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 invasion or incursion of the enemy."

The Militia regiments were designated, first by the colonels' names and next by their counties, as "Fisher'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 were 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 districts, 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 was extended to sixty. If an able-bodied man, he must serve when "warned" under penalty of fine and imprisonment; but if incapacitated, he must contribute toward furnishing and eqipping another man - any person furnishing a substitute being exempt for the time that substitute served. Quakers, Moravians and United Brethren were enrolled, but exempted from service upon payment of money, which varied in amount as the war progressed until, in 1780, they were obliged to pay £160 per year. One miller to each grist mill, three powder makers to each powder mill, five men to each furnace, three journeymen in each printing office, and one ferryman to each public ferry, were also exempt. Each soldier must present himself armed, and with a blanket, a powder-horn and a flint, and sometimes even a tomahawk was required. All officers in the cities of New York. Albany and Schenectady were ordered to wear their swords during divine service under a penalty of twenty shillings.

Rum, sugar and tea were regular rations, and the amount was gauged by the rank. A major-general was deemed to require, and was allowed each month, four gallons of rum, six pounds of sugar, and half a pound of tea. A brigadier-general, three gallons of rum, four pounds of sugar, and six ounces of tea. A colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and a major, two and one-half gallons of rum, and the same amount of sugar and tea. A chaplain, ditto as to sugar and tea, but only two gallons of rum. The scale was continued until a noncommissioned officer and a private received one pound of sugar, two ounces of tea, and one pound of tobacco, but no rum. A 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 2-3 per month; an ensign's pay was $20 per month; a sergeant's pay was $8 per month; a corporal's pay was $7 1-3 per month; a private's pay was $6 2-3 per 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 supervision 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 still unpaid for this services in 1776-7-8-9-80-81-82. On April 27 of 1874, the legislature passed "An act for the settlement of the pay of the Levies and Militia for their services in the late war." This statute provided that abstracts and pay-rolls of the different regiments and separate commands should be certified by the State auditor; he deducting for advances made to officers or privates by "impressing" or otherwise, and an allowance be made for the depreciation of the pay of such as had been in captivity, for the time they were in captivity. Upon receipt of these accounts from the auditor, the treasurer of the State was required to issue to persons, to whom pay should appear to be due, or to their legal representatives, certificates of indebtedness bearing five per cent. interest, and such certificates should be receivable for purchases of forfeited estates, or in payment for waste or "unappropriated lands," taxes, etc. 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 censure, 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 defanse of the State. To a colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major, four Rights. To a captain and a surgeon, three Rights. To a lieutenant, ensign or surgeon's mate, two Rights, and to a noncommisioned officer or a private, one Right. Any master or mistress who should deliver an able-bodied slave to serve, one Right. By an act of April 1, 1778, each Militia regiment was divided into "classes" of fifteen men each. When soldiers were needed to recruit the line regiments, each class must, within nine days, furnish a man fully armed and equipped. In case they neglected so to do, the designated officer proceeded, at once, to draft one of the number by lot. By an act of March 11, 1780, every regiment was again divided into "classes;" this time of thirty-five men each, and when soldiers were required as before, these "classes" were also called upon to furnish a man as before, and in case of failure so to do within fifteen days, were fined a sum equal to double the amount of the highest bounty which had then been given. This fine was collected by distress and sale of goods and chattels of those refusing to pay, or, if not possessed of property, they were committed to jail "without bail or mainprize" until the sum was paid. if a "class" furnished a man as the law required, it received a money bounty, sometimes as much as £80. As the war progressed, and the needs of the government became more pressing, land "Rights" were added to the money bounty, and on March 23, 1782, an act was passed providing that any "class" or any person who furnished an able-bodied man to serve "for three years or during the war," should be entitled to 600 acres; or 350 acres for a two year' enlistment; and any person or "class" who should deliver a man within twenty days from the time of notification, 200 acres extra.

The meaning of Militia is "The military force of a nation."

In this connection it may not be out of place nor uninteresting to trace this branch of the public service from its inception to the commencement of the Revolutionary War.

The Militia of this continent had its origin in a law promulgated in 1664 by James, Duke of York and Albany; the owner, by a grant from Charles the Second, of a large territory, which included the territory which is now eastern and southern New York. "The Duke's Laws," as they are still called, covered numerous subjects and were most paternal and creditable. As to militia, they provided that: "All males above the age of sixteen shall be enrolled and be subject to military duty. Each person must provide himself with a good, serviceable gun to be kept in constant fitness, with a good sword, bandoleer and horn, a wormer, a scourer, a priming wire, a shot bag, a charger, one pound of good powder, four pounds of pistol bullets and twenty-four bullets fitted for the gun, four fathoms of serviceable match for match lock gun and four good flints for the fire lock gun."

Four local and one general training days per year were prescribed for each "Ryding" and once in two years; a general training day "for all the soldiers within the government." The Militia were to be taught "in the comely handling and ready use of the arms, and in all postures of war and in all words of command." In case of failure of anyone to appear for duty, he was to be fined, and the fines were to be divided; one-third going to the commanding general and the remaining two-thirds to be divided amongst the other officers. Ample power was given the general for collecting the fines. This code seems to have held, in most of its features, until 1702, when Queen Anne modified and amended it. She ordered that all males between the ages of sixteen and fifty be liable for military duty and, in case of an invasion all between fifteen and sixty. She generously allowed, even ordered, each captain to furnish drums, bugles and colors for his company, and emphasized the order by a fine of £2 for each month he was in default.

This was also provided: "Every soldier belonging to a troop of horse shall appear twice a year for a drill and muster, provided with a good, serviceable horse, not less than fourteen hands high, covered with a good saddle, housings, breast-plate and crupper, a case of good pistols, a good sword or hanger, one-half a pound of good powder and twelve sizable bullets, a pair of boots and suitable spurs, and a carbine well fixed with a belt, swivel and a blanket, under penalty of ten shillings for the want of a sizable horse, and ten shillings for want of each or either of the other articles." "New York County Horse" must have blue coats and breeches and scarlet waistcoats, and their hats laced with gold. "Albany County Horse" must have blue coats, but their hats laced with silver. "Every foot soldier must provide humself, and appear and muster with a good, well-fixed musket or fuzee, a good sword, belt and cartridge box, six cartridges of powder, a horn and six sizable bullets. At home, he must always have on hand one pound of good gunpowder and three pounds of sizable bullets." For want of these articles a fine of twenty shillings and prison charges were imposed till the fine was paid. At his discretion, the captain was allowed and authorized to levy upon and sell the delinguent's goods. "In case the offender be unable or refuse to pay, and he have no goods to distress, he shall ride the wooden horse, or be laid by the neck and heels in a public place for not to exceed an hour."

For seventy-three years, or until 1775, nearly the same law was re-enacted each year, the title almost ivariably being: "An act for settling the Militia of this Province, and the making of it useful for the security and defense thereof." No mention of compensation for military service was ever made, and when the number of articles which each soldier must furnish are taken into consideration, it will be seen that the tax was, by no means, an inconsiderable one.

This was the condition of the Militia when the cloud of the Revolutionary War threw its shadow over the land.



Albany, N. Y., November, 1897.


Owing to the great demand for the first, and very limited, edition of this book, the Legislature of 1898 granted an appropriation for a second edition. By this means I have been enabled to make a most thorough search of all the papers in this office that could have any possible bearing on the Revolutionary War. All the resources of the Office on this subject have been exhausted; and I believe that, so far as the documents in this office are concerned, the record of every soldier of that war has been found and his name properly placed in this edition.

It is a matter 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 printed book, of course, is simply a roster, roll-call. Of the documents, and their arrangement, mention will be made below.

Acknowledgment is due to Col. William J. Morgan, the first deputy Comptroller, for advise and assistance; also to Mr. Hugh Hastings, State Historian, for suggestions, and to Mr. George R. Howell, State Archivist, for material.

The work of classifying and arranging the additional material, and of compiling and supervising the second edition of this book, has been in the hands of Mr. Frederic G. Mather.

The issuing of a second edition has made it possible to use several valuable documents that had come to hand since the first edition was published. Among the most important of these are the certified copies the archives of Massachusetts, of the muster-rolls of the field, staff and other commissioned officers (also of serveral of the companies), in the First regiment of the Line belonging to this state. In these certified copies are the names of about 100 soldiers, of rank below that of colonel - the said names not having appeared in such shape either in the records from Washington or in our own records. The same copies also show the names of 160 soldiers that had hitherto appeared in the records from Washington, but not in the original documents in this office.


While numerous sources have contributed to the perfecting of the work, yet the main source of information, in this latest inquiry, has been the Land Bounty Papers. Of these, a word should be said in addition to what has preceded on page 12. The usual form of a "Class Right" for a Land Bounty was this:

"We, the subscribers belonging to Daniel Cantine's class in Col. Jesse Woodhull's regiment of Orange county militia, do hereby transfer and assign to Hezekiah White, of the precinct of Cornwall, in Orange county and State of New York, carpenter, and to his heirs and assigns forever all our right and title to the annexed certificate and the gratuity or bounty of 200 acres of land to which we are entitled by reason of an act entitled 'An act for raising troops to complete the line of this State in the service of the United States, and the two regiments to be raised on bounties of unappropriated lands and for the further defense of the frontier of this State, 'passed the 23d day of March, 1782. As witness our hands and seals."

Not only did the signers affix elaborate seals, but the witnesses to the signatures and sealings were required to make affidavit that the signatures and sealings had been made in their presence. Accompanying every Class Right is a certificate of the Muster Master of the United States troops that the head of the class had delivered to him an able-bodied man (usually mentioned by name) "duly armed and equipped." The man, so mustered, was certified to have been enlisted for either the Line or the Levies; and, usually, the regiment in which he served was designated. The names of all men mustered in this way have been added to the several regiments as they appeared in the first edition of this book.

But the case of the militiamen who signed the Class Rights is somewhat different. They signed directly before the close of the war, and there is no evidence in these documents to show that they ever saw actual service. They were, however, ready to serve; and the fact that they may not have been called upon to serve should not detract from the credit due them. Still it would be unfair to incorporate their names in the regiment proper; and so, with this explanation, they are now placed on pages 221-268 of the book, to count for whatever they are worth. Among the names so placed there are some what, perhaps, should appear as full members in active service; but the real standing of all cases of this sort must be settled by consulting the original documents, and from additional proof.

A very important subdivision of the Land Bounty Rights relates to the applications for locations of the land. The applications were worded "In consequence of a certificate and transfer herewith delivered, and agreeable to the law of 1782 [noted above], I do locate the following tract." The name of the county in which the land was situated was generally named in the application; but this referred to the ten counties as they were at the time of the Revolutionary War. Many valuable maps are filed with the applications.

"Deserter" written after a name, in the original documents, must not be taken too seriously. Frequently a man absented himself to gather crops, to attend a sick wife, or to bury to child, but it is found that the soldier generally returned, and was again taken up on the rolls. In the case of the Land Bounty Rights it is often a question whether the word "deserted" applies to the soldier or to the claim.


In the course of this later investigation, several hundred original documents have been added to the records relating to pensions, muster-rolls and demands for pay; and many of these documents represent new names. In numerous cases the autograph signature appears for the first time. New material has been added relating to several regiments that did not appear in the first edition; and new departments have been created referring to courts-martial, aid furmished to families of soldiers, American prisoners of war, and bounty pay and subsistence.

The nine organizations of the Line appearing in the first edition have been increased to fifteen, with several fragments of regiments not identified. Instead of the four Privateers noted in the first edition, the names of eleven, with their commanders, now appear; and the material relating to this branch of the service has increased four-fold. More than too soldiers hitherto unidentified, have been identified, and their names placed in their respective regiments.

Of the sixteen large volumes of original documents, one volume of miscellaneous papers has been cancelled, its contents distributed under the new classification, and more valuable material has made up a new volume designated by the same number. On account of much additional material, another volume has been rebound in two parts; and two others have been enlarged. The large volumes now number twenty-nine, one of which is in two parts. A brief table of the contents of the twenty-nine volumes will be found on page 274.

The progress of this later inquiry has involved the handling of about 25,000 names, one-half of which were already in the card index. To the 40,000 names already in that index. 15,000 have been added, many of which are simply different ways of spelling the same name. There have been added to the Line, Levies and Privateers the names of 128 officers and 1,884 men --- a total of 2,012, all of them in good standing. Together with the 41,633 men, noted on page 7, this makes a total of 43,645 soldiers in good standing, as the record of the State of New York, according to the documents examined. If to this number are added the 90 officers and 8,237 men named in the Land Bounty Rights, we have a total of 51,972 names that have been dealt with in the whole course of this inquiry.

The most valuable of the many additions in the second edition is the General Index of names at the end, which makes the contents of the book convenient for consultation.


Many important documents have been laid aside, temporarily, in order to place this completed record of the soldiers before the public as promptly as possible. The work, if continued, will include several more of the large volumes of original documents. These will relate to the conduct of the war, the claims against the State for services and for damages by the enemy's raids, the proceedings of the Legislature and of the Committee and Council of Safety, the records of the Committee for Detecting Conspiracies, and of the Commissioners of Prisoners, the aid given to refugees, and the accounts of the Commissioners of Firfeited Estates. Nearly all of this matter, including much that has already been put in proper form for preservation, is of such interest and importance that it may seem best to publish selections from it after the manner of the Documentary History of New York and the Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New York; and, if published, they would make a valuable complement to those works.



Albany, N. Y., November, 1897.

[ New York In The Revolution ]