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Title: "Evacuation Day", 1783 - Its Many Stirring Events: with recollections of Capt. John Van Arsdale
Author: Riker, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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 [Illustration: _Sergeant Van Arsdale Tearing Down the British Flag._]



 50 CENTS.

















 Author of the Annals of Newtown, and History of Harlem; Life Member
 of the New York Historical Society, Etc.




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by


In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

221-225 Fulton St., N. Y.



Our memorable revolution, so prolific of grand and glorious themes,
presents none more thrilling than is afforded by the closing scene in
that stupendous struggle which gave birth to our free and noble
Republic. New York City will have the honor of celebrating, on the 25th
of November, the hundredth anniversary of this event, the most signal in
its history; and which will add the last golden link to the chain of
Revolutionary Centennials. A century ago, on "Evacuation Day," so called
in our local calendar, the wrecks of those proud armies,--sent hither by
the mother country to enforce her darling scheme of "taxation without
representation,"--withdrew from our war-scarred city, with the honors of
_defeat_ thick upon them, but leaving our patriotic fathers happy in the
enjoyment of their independence, so gloriously won in a seven years'

With the expiring century has also disappeared the host of brave actors
in that eventful drama! Memory, if responsive, may bring up the
venerable forms of the "Old Seventy Sixers," as they still lingered
among us two score years ago; and perchance recall with what
soul-stirring pathos they oft rehearsed "the times that tried men's
souls." But they have fallen, fallen before the last great enemy, till
not one is left to repeat the story of their campaigns, their
sufferings, or their triumphs. But shall their memories perish, or their
glorious deeds pass into oblivion? Heaven forbid! Rather let us treasure
them in our heart of hearts, and speak their praises to our children;
thus may we keep unimpaired our love of country, and kindle the
patriotism of those who come after us. To-day they shall live again, in
the event we celebrate. And what event can more strongly appeal to the
popular gratitude than that which brought our city a happy deliverance
from a foreign power, gave welcome relief to our patriot sires, who had
fought for their country or suffered exile, and marked the close of a
struggle which conferred the priceless blessings of peace and liberty,
and a government which knows no sovereign but the people only. Our aim
shall be, not so much to impress the reader with the moral grandeur of
that day, or with its historic significance as bearing upon the
subsequent growth and prosperity of our great metropolis; but the rather
to present a popular account of what occurred at or in connection with
the evacuation; and also to satisfy a curiosity often expressed to know
something more of a former citizen, much esteemed in his time, whose
name, from an incident which then took place, is inseparably associated
with the scenes of Evacuation Day.

At the period referred to, a century ago, the City of New York contained
a population of less than twenty thousand souls, who mostly resided
below Wall Street, above which the city was not compactly built; while
northward of the City Hall Park, then known as the Fields, the Commons,
or the Green, were little more than scattered farm houses and rural
seats. The seven years' occupation by the enemy had reduced the town to
a most abject condition; many of the church edifices having been
desecrated and applied to profane uses; the dwellings, which their
owners had vacated on the approach of the enemy, being occupied by the
refugee loyalists, and officers and attachés of the British army, were
despoiled and dilapidated; while a large area of the City, ravaged by
fires, still lay in ruins!

The news of peace with Great Britain, which was officially published at
New York on April 8th, 1783, was hailed with delight by every friend of
his country. But it spread consternation and dismay among the loyalists.
Its effects upon the latter class, and the scenes which ensued, beggar
all description. The receipt of death warrants could hardly have been
more appalling. Some of these who had zealously taken up commissions in
the king's service, amid the excitement of the hour tore the lapels from
their coats and stamped them under foot, crying out that they were
ruined forever! Others, in like despair, uttered doleful complaints,
that after sacrificing their all, to prove their loyalty, they should
now be left to shift for themselves, with nothing to hope for, either
from king or country. In the day of their power these had assumed the
most insolent bearing towards their fellow-citizens who were suspected
of sympathy for their suffering country; while those thrown among them
as prisoners of war, met their studied scorn and abuse, and were usually
accosted, with the more popular than elegant epithet, of "damned rebel!"
The tables were now turned; all this injustice and cruelty stared them
in the face, and, to their excited imaginations, clothed with countless
terrors that coming day, when, their protectors being gone, they could
expect naught but a dreadful retribution! Under such circumstances, Sir
Guy Carleton, the English commander at New York, was in honor bound not
to give up the City till he had provided the means of conveying away to
places within the British possessions, all those who should decide to
quit the country. It was not pure humanity, but shrewd policy as well,
for the king, by his agents, thus to promote the settlement of portions
of his dominions which were cold, barren, uninviting, and but sparsely

By the cessation of hostilities the barriers to commercial intercourse
between the City and other parts of the State, &c., were removed, and
the navigation of the Hudson, the Sound, and connected waters was
resumed as before the war. Packets brought in the produce of the
country, and left laden with commodities suited to the needs of the
rural population, or with the British gold in their purses; for all the
staples of food, as flour, beef, pork and butter, were in great demand,
to victual the many fleets preparing to sail, freighted with troops, or
with loyalists. The country people in the vicinity also flocked to the
public markets, bringing all kinds of provisions, which they readily
sold at moderate rates for hard cash; and thus the adjacent country was
supplied and enriched with specie. The fall in prices, which during the
war had risen eight hundred per cent, brought a most grateful relief to
the consumers. Simultaneously with these tokens of better days, the
order for the release of all the prisoners of war from the New York
prisons and prisonships, with their actual liberation from their gloomy
cells, came as a touching reminder that the horrors of war were at an

Many of the old citizens who had fled, on or prior to the invasion of
the City by the British, and had purchased homes in the country, now
prepared to return, by selling or disposing of these places, expecting
upon reaching New York to re-occupy their old dwellings, without let or
hindrance, but on arriving here were utterly astonished at being
debarred their own houses; the commandant, General Birch, holding the
keys of all dwellings vacated by persons leaving, and only suffering the
owners to enter their premises as tenants, and upon their paying him
down a quarter's rent in advance! Such apparent injustice determined
many not to come before the time set for the evacuation of the City,
while many others were kept back through fear of the loyalists, whose
rage and vindictiveness were justly to be dreaded. Hence, though our
people were allowed free ingress and egress to and from the City, upon
their obtaining a British pass for that purpose, yet but few,
comparatively, ventured to bring their families or remain permanently
till they could make their entry with, or under the protection of, the
American forces.

Never perhaps in the history of our City had there been a corresponding
period of such incessant activity and feverish excitement. Stimulated by
their fears, the loyalist families began arrangements in early spring
for their departure from the land of their birth (indeed a company of
six hundred, including women and children, had already gone the
preceding fall) destined mainly for Port Roseway, in Nova Scotia, where
they ultimately formed their principal settlement, and built the large
town of Shelburne. Those intending to remove were required to enter
their name, the number in their family, &c., at the Adjutant-General's
Office, that due provision might be made for their passage. They flocked
into the City in such numbers from within the British lines (and many
from within our lines also) that often during that season there were not
houses enough to shelter them. Many occupied huts made by stretching
canvass from the ruined walls of the burnt districts. They banded
together for removing, and had their respective headquarters, where they
met to discuss and arrange their plans. The first considerable company,
some five thousand, sailed on April 27th, and larger companies soon
followed. Many held back, hoping for some act of grace on the part of
our Legislature which would allow them to stay. But the public sentiment
being opposed to it, and expressed in terms too strong to be
disregarded, these at last had to yield to necessity, and find new
homes. The mass of the loyalists went to Nova Scotia and Canada; others
to the Island of Abaco, in the Bahamas; while not a few of the more
distinguished or wealthy retired to England. The bitterness felt towards
this class was to be deplored, but, in truth, the active part taken by
many of them during the war against their country, and above all the
untold outrages committed upon defenceless inhabitants by tories (the
zealous and active loyalists), often in league with Indians, had kindled
a resentment towards all loyalists alike that stifled every
philanthrophic feeling. This exodus was going on when General Carleton,
about the beginning of August, received his final orders for the
evacuation of the City; but it took nearly four months more to complete
it, as a large number of vessels were required to transport the immense
crowds of refugees who left with their families and effects during that
brief period. Hundreds of slaves (ours being then a slave State) were
also induced to go to _Novy Koshee_, as they called it. Their masters
could do little to hinder it, though a committee appointed by both
governments to superintend all embarkations did something towards
preventing slaves and other property belonging to our people from being
carried away. Such negroes as had been found in a state of freedom,
General Carleton held, had a right to leave if they chose to do so, and
many probably got away under this pretext; but to provide against
mistakes the name of each negro (with that of his former owner) was
registered, and also such facts as would fix his value, in case
compensation were allowed. In this, as in the whole ordering of the
evacuation, which was more than the work of a day, General Carleton must
have credit for humanity and a disposition to pursue a fair and
honorable course, which, under the extraordinary difficulties of the
situation, required rare tact and discretion. Of course he was blamed
for much when he was not responsible (natural enough in those who
suffered grievances), and especially for the great delay in giving up
the City, which bore hard on virtuous citizens who had sacrificed
opulence and ease at the shrine of liberty, and had now thrown
themselves out of homes and business in the expectation of an early
return to the City. Yet Carleton's fidelity to the various trusts
committed to him, making one delay after another unavoidable, it may be
doubted whether he could have surrendered the City at an earlier date.

Closing up the affairs of the army was truly a Herculean task. The
shipment of the troops began early in the season. A portion of the army
was disbanded to reduce it to a peace establishment pursuant to orders
from England. Then there was the settlement of innumerable accounts,
pertaining to every department, and the sale and disposal of surplus
army property, as horses, wagons, harness and military stores, with
several thousand cords of fire wood, which was sold off at half its
cost. Even the prisonships were set up at auction. A sale of draft
horses was begun, October 2d, at the Artillery Stables near St. Paul's

Auctions on private account were rife; daily, in every street, the red
flag was seen hanging out. And it was alleged that a great deal of
furniture was sold to which the venders had no good title; much of it
being newly painted or otherwise disguised, that its proper owner might
never know and reclaim it! We need not doubt it, for it seemed as if the
refugees would strip the City of every portable article, even to the
buildings, or the brick and lumber composing them; insomuch that the
authorities, in formal orders, forbade the removal or demolition of any
house till the right to do so was shown.

These irregularities, with the brag and bluster of the enraged tories,
was enough to keep society in a broil. The uppermost themes were the
evacuation, and the removal to Nova Scotia, or elsewhere. They were
irritating topics, and gave rise to endless and hot discussions, in
which tory vexed tory. While one maintained that Nova Scotia was a very
Paradise, another denounced it as unfit for human beings to inhabit.
Disappointed and chagrined at the issue of the war, they would curse the
powers to whom they owed allegiance; as rebellious as those they called
rebels. In other cases, the turn the war had taken had a magic effect
upon their principles; once avowed loyalists, they suddenly became
zealous patriots! It was a witty reply given by a tailor,--the tailor,
in the olden time, we must premise, was often applied to, to rip up and
turn a coat, when threadbare or faded. "How does business go on?" asked
a friend. "Not very well," said he, "my customers have all learned to
turn their own coats!" The shrewd whigs were not to be deceived by
these sudden conversions. They drew the line nicely at a meeting held on
Nov. 18th, at Cape's Tavern, in Broadway, (site of the Boreel Building),
to arrange plans for evacuation day. Before touching their business,
they "_Resolved._ That every person, whatever his political character
may be, who hath remained in this City during the late contest, be
requested to leave the room forthwith."

Society could not be very secure, when, as is stated, scarcely a night
passed without a robbery; scarcely a morning came, but corpses were
found upon the streets, the work of the assassin or midnight revel.
Indeed at this juncture, there was much underlying apprehension in the
minds of good citizens; the situation was unprecedented, men's passions
had been wrought up to a fearful pitch, and who could foresee the
outcome! Sensible of the danger, and with the approval of the
commandant, a large number of citizens lately returned from exile,
organized as a guard and patrolled the streets, on the night preceding
evacuation day. The vigilance of these returned patriots, and the
protection it afforded, added greatly to the public security at this
threatening crisis.

A word as to the aspect of the City; sanitary rules being suspended, the
public streets were in a most filthy condition. All the churches, except
the Episcopal, the Methodist, and the Lutheran (spared to please the
Hessians), had been converted into hospitals, prisons, barracks,
riding-schools, or storehouses; the pews, and in some the galleries,
torn out, the window-lights broken, and all foul and loathsome. Fences
enclosing the churches and cemeteries had disappeared, and the very
graves and tombs lay hidden by rubbish and filth! No public moneyed or
charitable institutions, no insurance offices existed; trade was at the
lowest ebb, education wholly neglected, the schools and college shut up!
But the long-wished-for event, which was to light up this dark picture,
and work a happy transformation, was at hand.

Finally, the day fixed upon for the evacuation, and for the triumphal
entry of Washington and the American army, to take possession of the
city, was Tuesday, the 25th of November. At an early hour, on that cold,
but radiant morning, the whole population seemed to be abroad, making
ready for the great gala day, regardless of a keen nor'wester. During
the forenoon many delegations from the suburban districts began to
arrive, to share in the public festivities, or to witness the exit of
the foreign troops, and the entrance of the victorious Americans; while
with the latter was expected a host of patriots, to re-occupy their
desolate dwellings, from which they had been so long cruelly exiled; or
otherwise, only to gaze upon the charred and blackened ruins of what
was once their homes![1]

To guard against any disturbance which such an occasion might favor, in
the interval between the laying down and the resumption of authority,
and as rumors were afloat of an organized plot to plunder the town when
the King's forces were withdrawn; the hour of noon had been set for the
Royal troops to move, and by an understanding between the two
commanders-in-chief, the Americans were to promptly advance and occupy
the positions as the British vacated them; the latter, when ready to
move, to send out an officer to notify our advance guard. There was no
longer any antagonism between these, so recently hostile, forces; the
plans for the _evacuation_, on the one part, and the _occupation_, on
the other, being carried out in as orderly a manner, and to all
appearance, with as friendly a spirit, as when, in time of peace, one
guard relieves another at a military post.

Major Gen. Knox, a large, fine looking officer, had been appointed to
command the American troops which were first to enter and occupy the
city. With his forces, consisting of a corps of dragoons, under Capt.
John Stakes, another of artillery, and several battalions of infantry,
with a rear guard under Major John Burnet, Knox marched from McGown's
Pass, Harlem, early in the morning, halting at the present junction of
the Bowery and Third Avenue. Here he waited--meanwhile holding a
friendly parley with the English officers, whose forces were also
resting a little in advance of him--until about one o'clock in the
afternoon. The British then receiving orders to move, took up their
march, passed down the Bowery and Chatham street, and wheeling into
Pearl, finally turned off to the river, and went on shipboard. The
American forces under Gen. Knox, following on, proceeded through Chatham
street, into and down Broadway, and took possession. As they advanced,
greeted with happy faces and joyful acclamations by crowds of freemen
who lined the streets, or fairer forms drawn to the windows and
balconies by the beat of the American drums and the vociferous cheering,
the march down Broadway to Cape's Tavern (on the site now of the Boreel
Building), was indeed the triumphal march of conquerors!

Our troops having halted and taken their position opposite and below
Cape's Tavern,[2] Gen. Knox quitted them, and heading a body of mounted
citizens, lately returned from exile, and who had met by arrangement at
the Bowling Green, each wearing in his hat a sprig of laurel, and on the
left breast a Union cockade, made of black and white ribbon, rode up
into the Bowery to receive their Excellencies General Washington and
Governor George Clinton, who were at the Bull's Head Tavern (site of the
Thalia Theatre), they having arrived at Day's Tavern, Harlem, on the
21st inst., the very day on which Carleton had drawn in his forces and
abandoned the posts from Kingsbridge to McGown's Pass, inclusive.

At the Bull's Head, where the widow Varien presided as hostess,
congratulations passed freely, and a series of hearty demonstrations
began, on the part of the overjoyed populace, which continued along the
whole line of Washington's march, and closed only with the day. The
civic procession having formed began its grand entry in the following

General Washington, "straight as a dart and noble as he could be,"
riding a spirited gray horse, and Governor Clinton, on a splendid bay,
with their respective suites also mounted; and having as escort a body
of Westchester Light Horse, under the command of Capt. Delavan.

The Lieutenant Governor, Pierre Van Cortlandt, with the members of the
Council for the temporary Government of the Southern District of New
York; four abreast.

Major Gen. Knox, and the officers of the army; eight abreast.

Citizens on horseback; eight abreast.

The Speaker of the Assembly, and citizens on foot; eight abreast.

[Illustration: MAP

Showing Washington's line of march from Bull's Head (Bowery), to Cape's
Tavern, in Broadway; and thence to Fort George.]

Near the Tea-water Pump, (in Chatham street just above Pearl), where the
citizens on foot had gathered to join the procession, Washington halted
the column, while Gen. Knox and the officers of the Revolution drew out
and, forming into line, marched down Chatham street, passing a body of
the British troops which were still halting in the fields (now the City
Hall Park); while Washington and the rest, turning down Pearl street,
proceeded on to Wall street, and up Wall, then the seat of fashionable
residences, to Broadway, where both companies again met, and while our
troops in line fired a _feu-de-joie_, alighted at the popular tavern
before mentioned, kept by John Cape, where now stands the Boreel

We must mention here, that when Gen. Knox reached the New Jail, then
known as the Provost (and now the Hall of Records), Capt. Cunningham,
the Provost Marshall, and his deputy and jailor Sergeant Keefe, both
having held those positions during most of the war, and equally
notorious for their brutal treatment of the American prisoners who were
confined there, thought it about time to retreat; and quitting the jail,
followed by the hangman in his yellow jacket, passed between a platoon
of British soldiers and marched down Broadway, with the last detachment
of their troops. When Sergeant Keefe was in the act of leaving the
Provost, (says John Pintard), one of the few prisoners then in his
custody for criminal offences, called out: "Sergeant, what is to become
of us?" "You may all go to the devil together," was his surly reply, as
he threw the bunch of keys on the floor behind him. "Thank you,
Sergeant," was the cutting retort, "we have had too much of your company
in _this_ world, to wish to follow you to the _next_!" Another incident,
which respected Cunningham, was witnessed (says Dr. Lossing), by the
late Dr. Alexander Anderson. It was during the forenoon, that a tavern
keeper in Murray street hung out the Stars and Stripes. Informed of it,
thither hastened Cunningham, who with an oath, and in his imperious
tone, exclaimed, "Take in that flag, the City is ours till noon."
Suiting the action to the word, he tried to pull down the obnoxious
ensign; but the landlady coming to the rescue, with broom in hand, dealt
the Captain such lusty blows, as made the powder fly in clouds from his
wig, and forced him to beat a retreat! The Provost Guard, and the Main
Guard at the City Hall (Wall street, opposite Broad, where the U. S.
Treasury stands), were the last to abandon their posts, and repair on

The brief reception being over, at Cape's Tavern, (with presenting of
addresses to Gen. Washington and Gov. Clinton), the cavalcade again
formed, and marched to the Battery, to enact the last formality in
re-possessing the City, which was to unfurl the American flag over Fort
George.[5] A great concourse of people had assembled, not only to
witness this ceremony, but to obtain a sight of the illustrious
Washington and other great generals, who had so nobly defended our

But now a sight was presented, which, as soon as fully understood, drew
forth from the astonished and incensed beholders execrations loud and
deep. The royal ensign was still floating as usual over Fort George;
the enemy having departed without striking their colors, though they had
dismantled the fort and removed on shipboard all their stores and heavy
ordnance, while other cannon lay dismounted under the walls as if thrown
off in a spirit of wantonness. On a closer view it was found that the
flag had been nailed to the staff, the halyards taken away, and the pole
itself besmeared with grease; obviously to prevent or hinder the removal
of the emblem of royalty, and the raising of the Stars and Stripes.
Whether to escape the mortification of seeing our flag supplant the
British standard, or to annoy and exasperate our people were the
stronger impulse, it were hard to say. It was too serious for a joke,
however, and the dilemma caused no little confusion. The artillery had
taken a position on the Battery, the guns were unlimbered, and the
gunners stood ready to salute our colors. But the grease baffled all
attempts to shin up the staff. To cut the staff down and erect another
would consume too much time. Impatient of delay, "three or four guns
were fired with the colors on a pole before they were raised on the
flagstaff."[6] But this expedient was premature and humiliating, while
the hostile flag yet waved as if in defiance. The scene grew exciting:
and now appeared another actor, hitherto looking on, but no idle
observer of what was passing. He was a young man of medium height, whose
ruddy honest face, tarpaulin cap and pea-jacket told his vocation. Born
neither to fortune nor to fame, yet by his own merits and exertions he
had won the regard of some in that assembly, having served under
McClaughry, and Willett, and Weissenfels, as also the Clintons, to whom
he had lived neighbor, within that patriotic circle in old Orange, where
these were the guiding spirits, and every yeoman with them, shoulder to
shoulder, in the common cause. As a subaltern officer he had made a good
record during the war, and none present, however superior in station,
had sustained a better character or exhibited a purer patriotism. This
was John Van Arsdale, late a Sergeant in Capt. Hardenburgh's company of
New York Levies. At nineteen years of age, quitting his father's vessel,
where he had been bred a sailor, he enlisted in the Continental Army at
the beginning of the war, and had served faithfully till its close.
Suffering cold and hardship in the Canada expedition, wounded and taken
prisoner at the battle of Fort Montgomery, he had languished weary
months in New York dungeons, and in the foul hold of a British
prisonship, and subsequently braved the perils of Indian warfare in
several campaigns. And with such a record, where expect to find him but
among his old compatriots, on this day of momentous import, when the
struggles of seven years were to culminate in a final triumph.

Van Arsdale volunteered to climb the staff, though with little prospect
of succeeding better than others, especially when after making an
attempt, sailor fashion, he was unable to maintain his grasp upon the
slippery pole. Now it was proposed to replace the cleats which had been
knocked off; and persons ran in haste to Peter Goelet's hardware store,
in Hanover Square, and returned with a saw, hatchet, gimlets, and nails.
Then willing hands sawed pieces of board, split and bored cleats, and
began to nail them on. By this means Van Arsdale got up a short
distance, with a line to which our flag was attached; but just then, a
ladder being brought to his assistance, he mounted still higher, then
completed the ascent in the usual way, and reaching the top of the
staff, tore down the British standard, and rove the new halyards by
which the Star-spangled Banner was quickly run up by Lieut. Anthony
Glean, and floated proudly, while the multitude gave vent to their joy
in hearty cheers, and the artillery boomed forth a national salute of
thirteen guns![7] On descending, Van Arsdale was warmly greeted by the
overjoyed spectators, for the service he had rendered; but some one
proposing a more substantial acknowledgement than mere applause, hats
were passed around, and a considerable sum collected, nearly all within
reach contributing, even to the Commander-in-Chief. Though taken quite
aback, Van Arsdale modestly accepted the gift, with a protest at being
rewarded for so trivial an act. But the contributors were of another
opinion; he had accomplished what was thought impracticable, and the
occasion and the emergency made his success peculiarly gratifying to all
present. On returning home to his amiable Polly (they had been married
short of six months), the story of "Evacuation Day," and the silver
money which he poured into her lap, caused her to open her eyes, and
fixed the circumstance indelibly in her memory!

But to return: during the scene on the Battery, which consumed full an
hour, the last squads of the British were getting into their boats,
while many others, filled with soldiers, rested on their oars between
the shore and their ships, anchored in the North River. They kept
silence during this time, and watched our efforts to hoist the colors
(no doubt enjoying our embarrassment), but when our flag was run up and
the salute fired, they rowed off to their shipping, which soon weighed
anchor and proceeded down the bay.[8]

This scene over, the Commander-in-Chief and the general officers,
accompanied Gov. Clinton to Fraunces' Tavern, also a popular resort, and
which still stands on the corner of Pearl and Broad streets. Here the
Governor gave a sumptuous dinner. The repast over, then came "the feast
of reason and the flow of soul," when the sentiments dearest to those
brave and loyal men found utterance in the following admirable toasts:

1. The United States of America.

2. His most Christian Majesty.

3. The United Netherlands.

4. The King of Sweden.

5. The American Army.

6. The Fleet and Armies of France, which have served in America.

7. The Memory of those Heroes who have fallen for our Freedom.

8. May our Country be grateful to her Military Children.

9. May Justice support what Courage has gained.

10. The Vindicators of the Rights of Mankind in every Quarter of the

11. May America be an Asylum to the Persecuted of the Earth.

12. May a close Union of the States guard the Temple they have erected
to Liberty.

13. May the Remembrance of THIS DAY, be a Lesson to Princes.

An extensive illumination of the buildings in the evening, a grand
display of rockets, and the blaze of bonfires at every corner, made a
fitting sequel to the events of the day.[9] Great as was the joy, and
lively as were the demonstrations of it, not the slightest outbreak or
disturbance occurred, to mar the public tranquility; and the happy
citizens retired to rest in the sweet consciousness that the reign of
martial law and of regal despotism had ended! But it was remarked, says
an eye-witness of the time, that an unusual proportion of those who in
'76 had fled from New York, had been cut off by death and denied a share
in the general joy, which marked the return of their fellow citizens to
their former habitations. And those habitations, such as had survived
the fires, how marred and damaged, as before intimated; in many cases
mere shells and wrecks. And the sanctuaries, where they and their
fathers had worshipped, all despoiled, save St. Paul's, St. George's in
Beekman street, the Dutch Church, Garden street, the Lutheran church,
Frankfort street, the Methodist Meeting House in John street, (none
remaining at present but the first and last), and some three or four
small and obscure places. Years elapsed, before, in their poverty, the
people were enabled fully to restore some of them to their former sacred
uses. The churches which suffered most at the enemy's hands were the
Middle and North Dutch churches, in Nassau and William streets, the two
Presbyterian churches, in Wall and Beekman streets, the Scotch
Presbyterian church, in Cedar street, the French church in Pine street,
the Baptist church, Gold street, and the Friends' new Meeting House, in
Pearl street; all since removed to meet the demands of trade. Religious
affairs were found in a sad plight when the evacuation took place. The
Dutch, Presbyterian and Baptist ministers had gone into voluntary exile.
The Rev. Charles Inglis, D.D., Rector of Trinity Parish, having made
himself very obnoxious to the patriots, concluded to follow the
loyalists of his flock to Nova Scotia, and therefore resigned his
rectorship Nov. 1st, preceding the evacuation. Dr. John H. Livingston,
arriving with our people, immediately resumed his services in Garden
street. Other pastors were not so favored. Dr. John Rogers, of the
Presbyterian church, returned on the day after the evacuation, and on
the following Sabbath, Nov. 30th, preached in St. George's chapel, "to a
thronged and deeply affected assembly," a discourse adapted to the
occasion from Psalms cxvi, 12,--"What shall I render unto the Lord, for
all His benefits towards me?" The vestry of Trinity church having kindly
offered the use of their two chapels, St. Paul's and St. George's, the
Presbyterians occupied these buildings a part of every Sabbath until
June 27th, 1784, when they took possession of the Brick Church, Beekman
street, which had been repaired.

On the Friday following the evacuation, the citizens lately returned
from exile, gave an elegant entertainment, at Cape's Tavern, to his
Excellency, the Governor, and the Council for governing the City; when
Gen. Washington and the Officers of the Army, about three hundred
gentlemen, graced the feast. The following Tuesday, Dec. 2d, another
such entertainment was given by Gov. Clinton, at the same place, to the
French Ambassador, Luzerne, and in the evening, at the Bowling Green,
the Definitive Treaty of Peace was celebrated by "an unparallelled
exhibition of fireworks," and when, says an account of it, "the
prodigious concourse of spectators assembled on the occasion, expressed
their plaudits in loud and grateful clangors!" On Thursday, the 4th,
Gen. Washington bade a final adieu to his fellow officers at Fraunces'
Tavern. The scene was most affecting. "With a heart full of love and
gratitude," said he, "I now take leave of you, and most devoutly wish
that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones
have been glorious and honorable." Embracing each one in turn, while
tears coursed down their manly checks, he parted from them, and from the
City, to resign his commission to Congress, and seek again the
retirement of private life.

The following Thursday, Dec. 11th, was observed by appointment of
Congress, "as a day of public Thanksgiving throughout the United
States." On this occasion Dr. Rogers preached in St. George's chapel, a
sermon from Psalms cxxvi, 3,--"The Lord hath done great things for us,
whereof we are glad." It was afterwards published with the title--"The
Divine Goodness displayed in the American Revolution."

Thus just eight score years after Europeans first settled on this Island
of Manhattan, our City had its new birth into freedom, and started on
its unexampled career of prosperity and greatness. And as we contemplate
the growth, enterprise, trade, commerce, credit, opulence and
magnificence of the present City, with its hundreds of churches, schools
and other noble institutions, and contrast it with the contracted,
war-worn, desolate town, of which our fathers took possession on the
25th of November 1783, well may we exclaim--"What hath God wrought?"
That day, whose memories were so fondly cherished by our grandsires
while they lived, was one of great significance in the history of our
City and Country. Its anniversary has ever since been duly celebrated by
military parades, and a national salute fired on the Battery at sunrise,
by the "Independent Veteran Corps of Heavy Artillery," composed at first
of Revolutionary soldiers, and of which John Van Arsdale was long an
efficient and honored member, and, at the time of his decease, its First
Captain-Lieutenant.[10] For many years the day was observed with great
_eclat_; the troops, in parading, "went through the forms practiced on
taking possession of the City, maneuvering and firing _feux-de-joie_,
&c., as occurred on the evacuation." All shops and business places were
closed, artisans and toilers ceased their work, and the streets,
decorated with patriotic emblems, and alive with happy people, were
given up to gaiety and mirth. To civic and military displays were added
sumptuous dinners, and convivial parties, while the schoolboy rejoiced
in a holiday; the whole bearing witness to a peoples' gratitude for the
deliverance which that memorable day brought them. And boys of older
growth may yet recall the simple distich:

    "It's Evacuation Day, when the British ran away,
    Please, dear Master, give us holiday!"

In the evening every place of amusement was well attended, but none
better than Peale's American Museum, because, as duly advertised:--"The
Flag hoisted by order of Gen. Washington, on the Battery, the same day
the British troops evacuated this city, is displayed in the upper hall,
as a sacred memorial of that day." This flag was presented to the museum
by the Common Council in 1819. It was raised on the Battery for the last
time in 1846, and when the museum was burned the old flag perished!

Well deserves this day not merely a local but a national commemoration;
since it inaugurated for the nation an era of freedom, the blessings of
which all could not realize, while the chief city and seaport of our
country were held by foreign armies.

Another chapter, introducing us to colonial and revolutionary times,
will tell more of Capt. Van Arsdale, what he did and endured for his
country, and ensure him a grateful remembrance so long as "Evacuation
Day" shall cheer us by its annual return.


[1] THE GREAT FIRE, of September 20, 1776, beginning at Whitehall slip,
swept along the river front and northward, consuming all the buildings
between Whitehall street on the west and Broad street on the east,
extending up Broadway to a point just below Rector street, and up Broad
street as far as Beaver, above which the houses on Broad street escaped;
the fire being confined to a line nearly straight from Beaver, near
Broad, to the point it reached on Broadway. Crossing Broadway, it also
swept everything north of Morris street, including Trinity Church; from
which point passing behind the city (later Cape's) Tavern, it spared the
line of buildings, mainly dwellings, facing Broadway, with a few joining
them on the cross streets, but otherwise made a clean sweep as far up as
Barclay street, where the College grounds stayed its further process.

The fire of August 3, 1778, which was confined to the blocks between Old
slip and Coenties slip, reaching up to Pearl street, was a small affair
in comparison.

[2] The orders of Nov. 24, to our troops read: "The Light Infantry will
furnish a company for Main Guard to-morrow. As soon as the troops are
formed in the city, the Main Guard will be marched off to Fort George;
on their taking possession, an officer of artillery will immediately
hoist the American standard. * * * On the standard being hoisted in Fort
George, the artillery will fire thirteen rounds. Afterwards his
Excellency Governor Clinton will be received on the right of the line.
The officers will salute his Excellency as he passes them, and the
troops present their arms by corps, and the drums beat a march. After
his Excellency is past the line, and alighted at Cape's Tavern, the
artillery will fire thirteen rounds."

As our flag was not raised on Fort George, nor the salute fired until
after Gov. Clinton and Gen. Washington arrived there, the delay, and
failure to carry out the orders strictly as issued, must be accounted
for by the embarrassing incident hereafter noticed.

[3] Why "the officers of the Revolution" should have taken a different
rout admits of this explanation. The officers referred to were no doubt
the mounted citizens who had ridden up with Knox from Bowling Green,
among whom were colonels, captains, etc., of the late army. The move was
evidently made to reach Cape's Tavern first, and be in position ready to
receive their Excellencies, Washington and Clinton, and present
addresses, which had been prepared. This is referred to in a letter
written by Elisha D. Whitlesey, dated Danbury, Conn., Aug. 24, 1821, "A
committee had been appointed by the citizens to wait upon Gen.
Washington and Gov. Clinton and other American officers, and to express
their joyful congratulations to them upon the occasion. A procession for
this purpose formed in the Bowery, marched through a part of the city,
and halted at a tavern, then known by the name of Cooper's [Cape's]
Tavern, in Broadway, where the following addresses were delivered.[4]
Mr. Thomas Tucker, late of this town [Danbury], and at that time a
respectable merchant in New York, a member of the committee, was
selected to perform the office on the part of the committee."

[4] For that to Washington, and his reply, see next note.


_Presented at Cape's Tavern._

To his Excellency GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esquire, General and Commander in
Chief of the Armies of the United States of America:

The Address of the Citizens of New York, who have returned from exile,
in behalf of themselves and their suffering brethren:


At a moment when the arm of tyranny is yielding up its fondest
usurpations, we hope the salutations of long suffering exiles, but now
happy freemen, will not be deemed an unworthy tribute. In this place,
and at this moment of exultation and triumph, while the ensigns of
slavery still linger in our sight, we look up to you, our deliverer,
with unusual transports of gratitude and joy. Permit us to welcome you
to this City, long torn from us by the hard hand of oppression, but now
by your wisdom and energy, under the guidance of Providence, once more
the seat of peace and freedom. We forbear to speak our gratitude or your
praise, we should but echo the voice of applauding millions; but the
Citizens of New York are eminently indebted to your virtues, and we who
have now the honor to address your Excellency, have been often
companions of your sufferings, and witnesses of your exertions. Permit
us therefore to approach your Excellency with the dignity and sincerity
of freemen, and to assure you that we shall preserve with our latest
breath our gratitude for your services, and veneration for your
character. And accept of our sincere and earnest wishes that you may
long enjoy that calm domestic felicity which you have so generously
sacrificed; that the cries of injured liberty may nevermore interrupt
your repose, and that your happiness may be equal to your virtues.

_Signed at the request of the meeting._


NEW YORK, Nov. 25th, 1783.


To the Citizens of New York who have returned from exile:


I thank you sincerely for your affectionate address, and entreat you to
be persuaded that nothing could be more agreeable to me than your polite
congratulations. Permit me in turn to felicitate you on the happy
repossession of your City.

Great as your joy must be on this pleasing occasion, it can scarcely
exceed that which I feel at seeing you, Gentlemen, who from the noblest
motives have suffered a voluntary exile of many years, return again in
peace and triumph, to enjoy the fruits of your virtuous conduct.

The fortitude and perseverance, which you and your suffering brethren
have exhibited in the course of the war, have not only endeared you to
your countrymen, but will be remembered with admiration and applause to
the latest posterity.

May the tranquility of your City be perpetual,--may the ruins soon be
repaired, commerce flourish, science be fostered, and all the civil and
social virtues be cherished in the same illustrious manner which
formerly reflected so much credit on the inhabitants of New York. In
fine, may every species of felicity attend you, Gentlemen, and your
worthy fellow citizens.


[6] Gen. Jeremiah Johnson, who was present, so stated to the writer,
Feb. 15, 1848.

[7] A patriotic song was composed for that day, entitled, "The Sheep
Stealers," which was distributed and sung with immense gusto in the
evening coteries. Coarse, but designed to cast ridicule on the enemy, it
is given as a specimen of the popular songs of the period:

    KING GEORGE sent his Sheep-stealers,
      Poor Refugees and Tories!
    King George sent his Sheep-stealers
      To fish for mutton here,
      To fish for mutton here,
      To fish for mutton here,
    But Yankees were hard dealers,
      Poor Refugees and Tories;
    But Yankees were hard dealers,
      They sold their sheep-skins dear,
      They sold their sheep-skins dear,
      They sold their sheep-skins dear,
    But Yankees were hard dealers,
      They sold their sheep-skins dear!

    At Boston Britons glorious,
      The Refugees and Tories,
      Made war on pigs and fowls,
    But o'er men un-victorious,
      They fled by night like owls!

    The Howes came in a huff, Boys,
      With Refugees and Tories,
      To plunder, burn and sink;
    But like a candle-snuff, Boys,
      They went--and left a stink!

    Burgoyne, that cunning rogue, ah!
      With Refugees and Tories,
      Of conquest laid grand schemes;
    But Gates at Saratoga,
      Awak'd him from his dreams!

    The noble Earl Cornwally,
      With Refugees and Tories,
      Of southern plunderers chief,
    At Yorktown wept the folly
      Of stealing "Rebel" beef!

    Clinton, that son of thunder,
      With Refugees and Tories,
      At New York took his stand.
    And swore that he asunder
      Would shake the Rebel land!

    Of mighty deeds achieving,
      With Refugees and Tories,
      He talked, O! _he_ talked big,
    But changed his plan to thieving
      Of turkey, goose and pig!

    Of conquest then despairing,
      With Refugees and Tories,
      George for his Bull-dogs sent;
    They Yankee vengeance fearing,
      _Greased the flagstaff_--and went!

    Then Yorkers, let's remember
      The Refugees and Tories,
      The five and twentieth day
    Of the bleak month, November,
      When the Cow-thieves sneaked away!

[8] The British troops did not take their final departure from Long
Island and Staten Island till the 4th of December. Their flag waved over
Governor's Island till the 3d, when the Island was formally given up to
an officer sent over by Gov. Clinton, for that purpose. (Mag. of Am.
Hist., 1883, p. 430.) Sir Guy Carleton and other officers and gentlemen
sailed in the frigate Ceres, Capt. Hawkins.

[9] Among the more authentic newspaper accounts of the Evacuation, is
one of which I have here availed myself, contained in the New York _Sun_
of Nov. 27th, 1850, but copied from the _Observer_. Much valuable
material is also brought together in the _N. Y. Corp. Manual_ for 1870.

[10] IT caused great surprise, in 1831, that an officer of the
Revolution, Capt. John Van Dyck, of Lamb's artillery, who was present at
the evacuation of New York, and "was on Fort George and within two feet
of the flagstaff," should have stated in the most positive terms, that
"there was no British flag on the staff to pull down:" also that no
ladder was used, and besides, more than intimated that Van Arsdale did
not perform the part ascribed to him! (His letter, in _N. Y. Commercial
Advertiser_, of June 30th, 1831.) We well remember Capt. Van Dyck, and
do not doubt the sincerity of his statements; but it only shows how
effectually facts once well known may be obliterated from the memory by
the lapse of time. For few facts in our history are better authenticated
than that the royal standard was left flying at the evacuation; and it
was afterwards complained of, as the able historian, Mr. Dawson writes
me, by John Adams, our first embassador to England, as an unfriendly
act, to evacuate the City without a formal surrender of it, or striking
their colors. The fact is also mentioned in a pamphlet printed in 1808,
by the "Wallabout Committee," (appointed to superintend the interment of
the bones of American patriots who perished in the prison ships), and
consisting of gentlemen who could not have all been ignorant on such a
point, viz., Messrs. Jacob Vandervoort, John Jackson, Issachar Cozzens,
Burdet Stryker, Robert Townsend, Jr., Benjamin Watson and Samuel
Cowdrey. Hardie, who wrote his account prior to 1825, ("Description of
New York," p. 107,) also makes the same statement, and so does Dr.
Lossing: "Field Book of the Revolution," 2:633. A letter written in New
York _the day after the evacuation_, says "they cut away the halyards
from the flagstaff in the fort, and likewise greased the post; so that
we _were obliged to have a ladder_ to fix a new rope." The use of a
ladder is attested by Lieut. Glean; and also by the late Pearson
Halstead, who witnessed the ascent. Mr. Halstead stated this to me, in
1845, and that, about the year 1805, he was informed that Van Arsdale
was the person who climbed the staff. His association with Mr. Van
Arsdale, both in business and in the Veteran Corps, gave him the best
means of knowing the common belief on that subject, and he said it was
"a fact understood and admitted by the members of the Veteran Corps, who
used often to speak of it." Capt. George W. Chapman, of the Veteran
Corps, then 84 years of age, informed me, in 1845, that he commanded the
Corps when Van Arsdale joined it, and that the fact ascribed to the
latter was well known to the members of the Corps, and never disputed.
John Nixon, a reliable witness, said to me, in 1844, that he saw the
ascent, &c., "by _a short thickset man_ in sailor's dress," and that
_ten years later_ (1793) he became acquainted with Van Arsdale, and then
learned that "_he was the person who tore down the British flag, in
1783_." Gen. Jeremiah Johnson informed me, in 1846, that he "saw the
sailor, in ordinary round jacket and seaman's dress, _shin up_ the
flagstaff; _a middling sized man_, well proportioned." Major Jonathan
Lawrence, who was present; said "a _sailor_ mounted the flagstaff, with
fresh halyards, rigged it and hoisted the American flag."


The real conservators of the rights of mankind have rarely been found
among the rich or titled aristocracy. They belong to the more ingenuous,
sympathetic, and virtuous middle class of society, so called. This is
not the less true because of the notable exceptions, where the
endowments of wealth, rank, and influence, have added lustre to the
names of some of earth's best benefactors. The fact must remain that the
bone and sinew of a nation, and in which consists its safety in peace,
and its defense in war, are its hardy yeoman who guide the plow, or
wield the axe, or ply the anvil; and without whose practical ideas and
well-directed energies, no community could protect itself, or make any
real advancement. It was most fortunate that the founders of this nation
were so largely of this sterling class; the architects of their own
fortunes, no labor, no difficulties or dangers appalled them; the very
men were they, to break by stalwart blows the fetters which despotism
was fast riveting upon them.

Such was Captain John Van Arsdale, in the essentials of his character.
It chafed his young, free spirit to see his country, the home of his
ancestors for a century before his birth, bleeding under the iron hand
of tyranny, and invoking the sturdy and the brave to come forth and
strike the blow for freedom. He was one of the first to heed that call,
and to fearlessly enter the lists; nor ceased to battle manfully till
our independence was achieved! If honest, unswerving patriotism,
standing the triple test of manifold hardships and dangers, long and
cruel imprisonment and years of arduous, poorly-requited service, should
entitle one to the love and gratitude of his country; then let such
honor be awarded to the subject of this sketch, and the power of his
example tell upon all those who may read it.

John Van Arsdale was the son of John and Deborah Van Arsdale, and was
born in the town of Cornwall (then a part of Goshen), Orange County, N.
Y., on Monday, January 5th, 1756.[11] His ancestors for four generations
in this country, as mentioned in the records of their times, were men of
intelligence and virtue, honored and trusted in the communities in which
they lived, and on whom, as God-fearing men, rested the mantles of their
fathers who had battled for their faith in the wars of the Netherlands.
His grandsire, Stoffel Van Arsdalen (for so he and his Dutch
progenitors wrote the name), had removed from Gravesend, Long Island,
to Somerset County, New Jersey, in the second decade of that century,
and eventually purchased a farm of two hundred acres in Franklin
township, where he lived, zealously devoted to the church, and highly
esteemed, till his death near the beginning of the Revolution.[12] He
married Magdalena, daughter of Okie Van Hengelen, and had several
children, of whom, John, born 1722, and Cornelius, born 1729, removed to
the County of Orange, aforesaid.[13] John, by trade a millwright, was
engaged by Mr. Tunis Van Pelt to build a grist mill on Murderer's Creek,
so called from an Indian tragedy of earlier times; and from which name
softened to Murdner, in common usage, came the modern Moodna. While so
occupied, and sharing the hospitalities of Mr. Van Pelt's house, he
wooed and married his daughter, Deborah, in 1744. Associating with his
father-in-law in the milling business, Van Arsdale eventually became
proprietor, assisted, we believe, by his brother Cornelius, who was a
miller. Building up a large trade, he also became known for his private
virtues and public spirit. A lieutenant's commission (in which he is
styled "of Ulster County, Gentleman"), under Capt. Thomas Ellison, and
dated October 10th, 1754, is now in the writer's possession. But
misfortune, the loss of a vessel sent to the Bay of Honduras laden with
flour, and where it was to ship a cargo of logwood, led him to give up
the business and remove to New York, where he took charge of the Prison
in the old City Hall, in Wall street, which was deemed a post of great
responsibility. It was soon after this change that John, the subject of
our sketch, was born, at Mr. Van Pelt's residence, at Moodna, where his
mother had either remained, or was then making a visit. About six weeks
thereafter, having come to the city, with her infant, she sickened and
died of the small pox. After four years (in 1760), Mr. Van Arsdale
married Catherine, daughter of James Mills, deputy-sheriff of New York.
Ten years later, weary of his charge, then at the New Jail, built in
1757-9 (the Provost of the Revolution, and now the Hall of Records); he
resigned it, bought a schooner, and engaged in the more congenial
pursuit of marketing produce.

The Revolution coming on, Capt. Van Arsdale entered with his vessel into
the American service, supplied our army at New York with fuel brought
from Hackensack (the Asia man-of-war once taking his wood and paying him
in continental bills), and afterwards helped to sink the
_chevaux-de-frize_ in the Hudson, opposite Fort Washington. In this
arduous work he was aided by his son John, then lately returned from the
Canada expedition. The day the enemy entered the City he conveyed his
family to his vessel at Stryker's Bay, and, crowded with fugitives, made
good his escape up the Hudson to Murdner's Creek. Here his companion,
who had borne him eleven children, died in 1779; but he survived not
only to witness the war brought to a happy close, but long enough to see
much of the waste repaired, and the greatness of his country assured.
Respected and beloved for his amiable qualities and exemplary christian
character, Capt. Van Arsdale, the elder, died in 1798 at the residence
of his son-in-law, Mr. William Sherwood, at "The Creek."

The junior Van Arsdale would have been unworthy of his honest ancestry
had he not possessed in a good degree the same stability of character.
Bereft of a mother's love at so early an age, John was tenderly reared
at his grandfather Van Pelt's till his father married again. Then New
York became his home for ten years or more, during which time his
playground was the Green (now City Hall Park) with the fields adjacent
to the New Jail, of which his father still had the custody. The times
were turbulent, and many stirring scenes passed under his boyish eyes.
One was the Soldiers' Riot, in 1764, when the jail was assaulted and
broken into by a party of riotous soldiers, with design to release a
prisoner, and in which Mr. Mills, in resisting them, was rudely handled
and wounded. And the gatherings, hardly less tumultuous, of the "Sons of
Liberty" to oppose the Stamp Act, or celebrate its repeal, by raising
liberty poles, which were several times cut down and replaced, all
serving to implant in his young mind an abhorrence of foreign rule, with
the germs of that patriotism which matured as he grew in years.[14] But
an elder brother Tunis (his only own brother living, save Christopher, a
brassfounder, who died, unmarried, in the West Indies in 1773), having
served an apprenticeship with Fronce Mandeville, of Moodna, blacksmith,
married, in 1771, Jennie Wear, of the town of Montgomery, and the next
spring began married life on a farm of eighty acres, which he had
purchased, lying in that part of Hanover Precinct (now Montgomery)
called Neelytown. Much attached to Tunis, John thereafter spent several
years with him, attending school.

But now the growing controversy between the Colonies and the mother
country had ripened into actual hostilities; the first aggressive
movement in which this Colony took part being the expedition against
Canada, planned in the summer of 1775. It fired young Van Arsdale's
patriotism, and about August 25th he enlisted under Capt. Jacobus
Wynkoop, of the Fourth New York Regiment, James Holmes being the colonel
and Philip Van Cortlandt the lieutenant-colonel. These forces,
proceeding up the Hudson, entered Canada by way of lakes George and
Champlain; part of the Fourth Regiment, under Major Barnabas Tuthill,
taking part in the brilliant assault upon Quebec, December 31st, but
unsuccessful, and fatal to the gallant leader, General Montgomery, and
numbers of his men. On their way to Quebec, and especially in crossing
the lakes on the ice, Van Arsdale and his comrades suffered so intensely
from the extreme cold that the hardships and incidents of this, his
first campaign, remained fresh in his memory even till old age. Van
Arsdale having "served his time out in the year's service, returned to
New York," where the Americans were concentrating troops, in order to
oppose the royal forces expected from Europe. Here he assisted his
father on board the schooner in sinking the obstructions in the Hudson,
as before noticed, and when the enemy captured the city, accompanied him
to Orange County. It was on Sept. 16th, 1776, that the British forces
landed at Kip's Bay, on the east side of the island, three miles out of
the city. A great many of the citizens who were friends of their
country, made a precipitate flight, and the roads were lined with
vehicles of every kind, removing furniture, etc. The elder Van Arsdale,
with difficulty, and only by paying down $200, got the use of a horse
and wagon to take his family and effects from his house to the schooner
lying in Stryker's Bay. While drawing a load, a spent cannon ball
knocked off one of the wagon wheels, at which his little son Cornelius,
but eight years old, was so frightened that he never forgot it. The
schooner was crowded to excess with citizens and their families, all
eager to get away, and for fear they might sink her, Capt. Van Arsdale
was obliged to turn off some who applied for a passage. They left deeply
loaded, and in their haste were obliged to take with them a lot of
military stores which were on board. Arriving at Murdner's Creek, John,
at his father's request, and taking his brother Abraham, set out afoot
for Neelytown, to inform their brother Tunis of their arrival. The
journey of twelve miles seemed short, and ere long the well-known
farmhouse hove in sight, seated a little way back, and to which led a
lane between rows of young cherry trees, and near it on the road the
low, dusky smith-shop, with its _debris_ of cinders, old wheel-tires and
broken iron-work strewn about. Entering, as Tunis, with his back towards
them, stood at the forge heating his iron, and his assistant, Aleck
Bodle, lazily blowing the bellows, the first surprize was only
surpassed, when after hearty greetings, they imparted the startling news
of the capture of New York by the British, and that their father, having
barely escaped with his vessel, had arrived at the Creek. At once out
went the fire, and out went Tunis also to harness his horses, in order
to go and bring up the rest of the family; but on second thought, as the
day was far spent, he concluded to await the morrow. The next day there
was a joyous reunion at the farmhouse, but tempered with many sad
comments upon the doleful situation.

John spent the winter with his brother Tunis, aiding in farm work and at
the forge; he had just reached his majority, and found congenial spirits
in Alexander Bodle and Joseph Elder, then serving apprenticeships with
Tunis, and afterwards much respected residents of Orange County. Around
the evening fireside they indulged in many a joke, when laughter made
the welkin ring, or behind the well-fed pacer, were borne in the clumsy
box sled, with the gingle of merry bells, to the rustic frolic; but the
bounds of decorum were never exceeded, and lips which could tell all
about it, bore us pleasing witness to Van Arsdale's correct habits and
deportment at a stage of life so beset with syren snares for the unwary,
and which commonly moulds the character.

But nevertheless the winter was one of great military activity,
especially among the organized militia of Orange County, in which (in
the town of New Windsor) was the sub-district of Little Britain, the
home of the Clintons;[15] the menacing attitude of the enemy under Lord
Howe, who had approached as near as Hackensack, and the protection of
the passes of the Highlands, requiring frequent calls upon the yeomanry
to take the field. The inhabitants of Hanover Precinct, which precinct
joined on New Windsor, had from the first shown great spirit; their
Association, dated May 8th, 1775, in which they pledge their support to
the Continental Congress, &c., in resisting "the several arbitrary and
oppressive acts of the British Parliaments," and "in the most solemn
manner resolve never to become slaves," is signed first by Dr. Charles
Clinton and presents 342 names. The Precinct in the winter of 1776-7,
contained four militia companies, under Captains Matthew Felter, James
Milliken, Hendrick Van Keuren and James McBride, and these were attached
to a regiment of which that sterling patriot, James McClaughry, of
Little Britain, brother in law to the Clintons, was lieutenant colonel
commandant.[16] Tunis and John Van Arsdale lived in Capt. Van Keuren's
beat. The Captain was a veteran of the last French war, and it gave him
prestige, in the command to which he had been recently promoted. He had
"warmly espoused the cause of his country, and evinced unshaken firmness
throughout the whole of the contest." Col. McClaughry had taken the
field with his regiment early in the winter, proceeding down into
Jersey, and of which, on his return, Jan. 1st, he gave a humorous
account to Gen. Clinton; but though highly probable, we have no positive
evidence that John Van Arsdale went into actual service till the spring

Forts Montgomery and Clinton, begun in 1775, stood on the west side of
the Hudson, opposite Anthony's Nose, at a very important pass, where the
river was narrow, easily obstructed, and from the elevation which the
forts occupied, was commanded a great distance up and down. Fort Clinton
was below Fort Montgomery, distant only about six hundred yards, the
Poplopen Kill running through a ravine between them; the fortress was
small, but more complete than Fort Montgomery, and stood at a greater
elevation, being 23 feet the highest, and 123 feet above the river.
These posts were distant (southeast) from the Clinton mansion only about
sixteen miles. The two fortresses required a thousand men for their
proper defense, but till early in 1777, had usually been in charge of a
very small force under Gen. James Clinton. The time of these soldiers
expiring on the last day of March, Col. Lewis Dubois, with the Fifth New
York Regiment was sent to garrison Fort Montgomery.

A meeting of the field officers of Orange and Ulster, was held at Mrs.
Falls' in Little Britain, March 31st, 1777, pursuant to a resolve of the
New York Convention empowering General George Clinton, lately appointed
commandant of the forts in the Highlands, to call out the militia "to
defend this State against the incursions of our implacable enemies, and
reinforce the garrisons of Fort Montgomery, defend the post of Sidnam's
Bridge (near Hackensack), and afford protection to the distressed
inhabitants." It was there resolved, with great spirit, to call
one-third of each of the several regiments into actual service, to the
number of 1,200, and to form them into three temporary regiments, of
which two should garrison Fort Montgomery, under Colonel Levi Pawling
(with Lt. Col. McClaughry), and Col. Johannes Snyder. As the men were
raised they were to march in detachments to that post, and were to serve
till August 1st, and receive continental pay and rations. Each captain
was forthwith directed to raise his quota, and "in the most just and
equitable manner."

John Van Arsdale was among those chosen from his beat, and sometime in
April, borrowing from his brother an old but trusty musket, proceeded to
Fort Montgomery. Being of a resolute, active temperament, with a
knowledge of tactics, and an aptness to command, he was made a corporal;
an evidence of the good opinion entertained of him by his officers,
flattering to one of his years. It was also in his favor that he was a
good penman, and had acquired a fair English education for the times.
Drilling his squad, placing and relieving the guards, and other daily
routine duty, gave our young corporal enough to do, while the courts for
the trial of some notorious tories, held at that post, during the spring
and summer, added to frequent alarms due to indications that the enemy
from below meditated an attack upon the forts, kept everything lively.
On July 2nd, Gen. Clinton, upon a hint from Washington that Lord Howe,
in order to favor Burgoyne, might attempt to seize the passes of the
Highlands, and "make him a very hasty visit," with which view, accounts
given by deserters from New York coincided; immediately repaired to Fort
Montgomery, after first ordering to that post the full regiment of Col.
McClaughry, with those of Colonels William Allison, Jesse Woodhull, and
Jonathan Hasbrouck. The militia came in with great alacrity, almost to a
man. But ten days passed without a sign of the enemy. Parties went daily
on the Dunderbergh (Thunder Mountain) to look down the river, but could
not see a single vessel; then, as usual, when there was no immediate
prospect of any thing to do, the transient militia became uneasy, and
were allowed to go home in the belief that they would turn out more
cheerfully the next time.

But as the term of service of those called out in April expired on
August 1st, on that date another call was made by Gov. Clinton on the
respective regiments, to make up eight companies, by ballot or other
equitable mode, and to march with due expedition to Fort Montgomery, and
there put themselves under command of Colonel Allison, with McClaughry
as his Lieutenant Colonel. They were to draw continental pay, etc. In
this instance no immediate danger being apprehended, the militia did not
respond very promptly, although much needed to replace part of the
continental force which had been withdrawn for other service. Again, on
August 5th, Clinton, by virtue of threatening news from Gen. Washington,
directed Allison and McClaughry to march all the militia to Fort
Montgomery, except the frontier companies, which were to be left for
home protection. But repeated orders to urge them forward were but
partially successful. September closed, the quotas were far from
complete, orders then issued by Allison, McClaughry, and Hasbrouck (by
direction of Clinton) for half their regiments to repair to Fort
Montgomery were but slowly complied with, and the delay was fatal! Van
Arsdale had re-enlisted and held his former position. It was at this
time that he made the acquaintance of Elnathan Sears, and which ripened
into friendship under very trying circumstances.

Forts Montgomery and Clinton at this date mounted thirty-two cannon,
rating from 6 to 32 pounders. The garrison consisted of two companies of
Col. John Lamb's artillery, under Capts. Andrew Moodie and Jonathan
Brown (one in each fort) and parts of the regiments of Cols. Dubois,
Allison, Hasbrouck, Woodhull and McClaughry with a very few from other
regiments. Thus matters stood on Sunday, October 5th, 1777.

Hark! what bustling haste--of people running to and fro,--has suddenly
disturbed the Sabbath evening's repose at Neelytown? Tidings have just
reached them that the enemy's vessels are ascending the Hudson with the
obvious design of attacking Fort Montgomery and the neighboring posts.
The orders are for every man able to shoulder a musket to hasten to
their assistance! This was grave intelligence for the inmates at the Van
Arsdale home (and which may serve to represent many others), but the
call of duty could not be disregarded. For most of the night the good
wife was occupied in baking and putting up provisions for Tunis and his
two apprentices to take with them, while these were as busy cleaning
their muskets, moulding bullets, etc., that naught might be wanting for
the stern business before them. Towards morning, taking one or two hours
rest, they arose, equipped themselves, and made ready for the journey to
the fort, which was full twenty miles distant. As the parting moment had
come, the kind father kissed his three little ones tenderly, then
uttered in the ear of his sorrowing Jennie the sad good-bye, and with
the others hastened from the house, his wife attending him to the road,
and weeping bitterly for she understood but too well that it might be
the final parting. Her longing eyes followed them till they disappeared
beyond an intervening hill. "Oh!" said she to the writer more than sixty
years afterwards, as she related these facts, her eyes even then
suffused with tears, "You may _read_ of these things, but you can never
_feel_ them as I did. I wept much during those seven years."

During the day, those whose kinsmen had gone to the battle met here and
there in little bands to condole with each other, and talk over the
unhappy situation. Later, the boom of distant artillery awakened their
worst fears, for now were they sure that those dear to them were engaged
in a mortal conflict with the enemy. The shades of evening closing
around, brought no relief to their burdened hearts; but, on the
contrary, the most torturing suspense as to the issue of the battle. To
make the situation more depressing, there came on a cold rain, and the
dreariness without was a fit index of the desolate hearts within. At a
late hour Mrs. Van Arsdale retired to her sleepless pillow; but her case
found its counterpart in many an anxious household over a large section
of country.

At length morning broke upon that unhappy neighborhood, and with it came
persons from the battle bringing the appalling news that the Americans
had been defeated, and many of them slain, or made prisoners, and that
the enemy were in full possession of the forts. Then other parties
arrived whose woe-stricken faces only confirmed the sad intelligence.
Soon anxious inquiries sped from house to house where any lived who had
escaped from the slaughter, to learn about this one and that, who had
gone to the battle, but had not returned. Jennie could get no tidings of
her husband, though she spent the greater part of the day in watching
on the road, and several times even fancied that she saw him coming; but
alas! only to find it a delusion. It added to her fears for her husband,
when a neighbor named Monell, at whose house she called, met her with
the sorrowful news that his brother, Robert Monell, first lieutenant in
Capt. Van Keuren's company, had been killed in the battle. At length the
apprentices arrived, their faces begrimed with powder, and one of them
crying for his brother, who had been shot down by his side, and died
instantly.[17] The other, who was Joseph Elder, before spoken of, a
young man of giant frame, had narrowly escaped death, having his hat and
jacket pierced with bullets in the engagement! But having been separated
from Mr. Van Arsdale, they had not seen him since the battle, and so
were ignorant as to his fate. The wretched woman was in despair; many of
her neighbors had now returned and the prolonged absence of her Tunis
seemed to forbode that he had either been killed or captured by the
enemy. But now still others arrive, and she is led from their
statements, to hope that Tunis has escaped, and is making his way
homeward through the mountains. Her heart leaps with joy, and she
returns to the house, and even indulges a laugh as her eye gets a sight
of the mush kettle still hanging on the trammel, as she placed it there
in the morning; no meal stirred in, and she having eaten nothing the
whole day. Towards night Tunis arrived, on horseback, with his
brother-in-law William Wear, who at Jennie's request, had gone out some
distance to look for him.[18] He was fast asleep from exhaustion when
they reached the house, (Wear behind him and holding him on the horse),
and his face so blackened with powder that his wife hardly knew him. He
was much depressed in spirits, but grateful to God who had preserved and
restored him to his family and friends. That evening brought in his
captain, Van Keuren, who for some cause was not in the fight, with his
minister, Rev. Andrew King, and many other neighbors--a house
full,--some to congratulate Van Arsdale on his escape, others, with
anxious faces to inquire after missing friends, and others still to
learn the particulars of the battle. The account he gave of what
happened after leaving home for the scene of conflict, was briefly as

A walk of several hours brought them to a little stream at the foot of
the hill upon which Fort Montgomery stood, and where they had intended
to stop and eat their dinner; but hearing a great deal of noise and
bustle in the fort, they only took a drink from the brook, and hastened
up into the works, when they soon learned that a large body of the enemy
had landed below the Dunderbergh, and were advancing by a circuitous
route to attack the fort in the rear. About the middle of the afternoon
the British columns appeared, and pressed on to the assault with
bayonets fixed. But our men poured down upon them such a destructive
fire of bullets and grape shot that they fell in heaps, and were kept at
bay till night-fall, when our folks, being worn out by continued
fighting, and overpowered by numbers, were obliged to give way. Then
Gov. Clinton told them to escape for their lives, when many fought their
way out, or scrambled over the wall, and so got away. It must have fared
badly with the rest, as the enemy after entering the fort continued to
stab, knock down and kill our soldiers without pity. Favored by the
darkness, Tunis attempted to escape through one of the entrances, though
it was nearly blocked up by the assailing column, and the heaps of
killed and wounded; but presently, as an English soldier held a
militiaman bayoneted against the wall, Tunis, stooping down, slipped
between the Briton's legs, and escaped around the fort toward the river.
He said he had gone but a little way, when a cry of distress, evidently
from a young person, arrested his attention. A poor boy, in making his
escape, had fallen into a crevice in the rocks, and was unable to
extricate himself. Tunis, at no little risk, crept down to where the lad
was and drew him out, but in doing so hurt himself quite badly, by
scraping one of his legs on a sharp rock. He then gained the river and
found a skiff, in which he and two or three others crossed over. Then a
party of them travelled in Indian file, through the darkness and cold
drizzling rain, stopping once at the house of a friendly farmer, where
they got some food, and as the day broke entered Fishkill; whence they
crossed to New Windsor, and there met Gov. Clinton and many more who had
made good their escape. All felt greatly dispirited, but the Governor
tried to cheer them, remarking: "Well, my boys, we've been badly beaten
this time, but have courage, the next time the day may be ours." Without
much delay Mr. Van Arsdale set out for home, as fast as his lameness
admitted of, knowing how great anxiety would be felt on his account. But
of his brother John; he had no knowledge of what had befallen him, and
indulged the worst fears as to his fate.

Such in brief was Van Arsdale's account of that sanguinary affair,
divested of many little particulars of the battle and its sequel. But
his limited observation could include but a small part of what passed on
that most eventful day, as we are now able to gather it from many

With a view to coöperate with General Burgoyne, who had invaded the
State from the north, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, having a
force of about 3,000 men, sailed from New York on the 4th of October,
with the design of reducing the forts in the Highlands, and, if
possible, open communication with Burgoyne's army. The same night their
advance as far as Tarrytown was known at Fort Montgomery, and that they
had landed a large force at that place. The next morning (Sunday)
advices were received that they had reached King's Ferry, connecting
Verplank's and Stony Point. That afternoon they landed a large body of
men on the east side of the river, to divert attention from the real
point of attack, but they re-embarked in the night. An extract from Sir
Henry Clinton's report to General Howe, dated Fort Montgomery, October
9th, will begin at this point, and form a proper introduction to our
side of the story. Says he:

"At day-break on the 6th the troops disembarked at Stony Point. The
_avant-garde_ of 500 regulars and 400 provincials,[19] commanded by
Lieut.-Col. Campbell, with Col. Robinson, of the provincials, under him,
began its march to occupy the pass of Thunder-hill (Dunderbergh). This
_avant-garde_, after it had passed that mountain, was to proceed by a
detour of seven miles round the hill (called Bear Hill), and _deboucher_
in the rear of Fort Montgomery; while Gen. Vaughan, with 1200 men,[20]
was to continue his march towards Fort Clinton, covering the corps under
Lieut.-Col. Campbell, and _à portée_ to coöperate, by attacking Fort
Clinton, or, in case of misfortune, to favor the retreat. Major-Gen.
Tryon, with the remainder, being the rear guard,[21] to leave a
battalion at the pass of Thunder-hill, to open our communication with
the fleet.

"Your Excellency recollecting the many, and I may say extraordinary
difficulties of this march over the mountains, every natural
obstruction, and all that art could invent to add to them, will not be
surprised that the corps intended to attack Fort Montgomery in the rear,
could not get to its ground before five o'clock; about which time I
ordered Gen. Vaughan's corps, _à portée_, to begin the attack on Fort
Clinton, to push, if possible, and dislodge the enemy from their
advanced station behind a stone breastwork, having in front for half a
mile a most impenetrable abatis. This the General, by his good
disposition, obliged the enemy to quit, though supported by cannon; got
possession of the wall, and there waited the motion of the coöperating
troops,--when I joined him, and soon afterwards heard Lieut. Col.
Campbell begin the attack. I chose to wait a favorable moment before I
ordered the attack on the side of Fort Clinton, which was a circular
height, defended by a line for musketry, with a barbet-battery in the
centre, of three guns, and flanked by two redoubts; the approaches to it
through a continued abatis of four hundred yards, defensive every inch,
and exposed to the fire of ten pieces of cannon. As the night was
approaching, I determined to seize the first favorable instant. A brisk
attack on the Fort Montgomery side, the galleys with their oars
approaching, firing and even striking the fort, the men-of-war at that
moment appearing, crowding all sail to support us, the extreme ardor of
the troops, in short, all determined me to order the attack; Gen.
Vaughan's spirited behavior and good conduct did the rest. Having no
time to lose, I particularly ordered that not a shot should be fired; in
this I was strictly obeyed, and both redoubts, &c., were stormed.[22]
Gen. Tryon advanced with one battalion to support Gen. Vaughan, in case
it might be necessary, and he arrived in time to join in the cry of

"Trumback's Regiment was posted at the stone wall to cover our retreat,
in case of misfortune. The night being dark, it was near eight o'clock
before we could be certain of the success of the attack against Fort
Montgomery, which we afterwards found had succeeded at the same instant
that of Fort Clinton did; and _that_ by the excellent disposition of
Lieut. Col. Campbell, who was unfortunately killed on the first attack,
but was seconded by Col. Robinson, of the loyal American Regiment, by
whose knowledge of the country I was much aided in forming my plan, and
to whose spirited conduct in the execution of it, I impute in a great
measure the success of the enterprise."

From this official account by the British commander, we shall better
understand the statements (including Gov. Clinton's report) left us by
the brave defenders of the two beleaguered fortresses; and which will
properly begin upon the day preceding the battle.

On Sunday night Gov. Clinton, who had just arrived and taken command at
Fort Montgomery, (the defense of Fort Clinton being intrusted to his
brother Gen. James Clinton), sent out a party of about 100 men under
Major Samuel Logan of the 5th, or Dubois's regiment, across the
Dunderbergh to watch the motions of the enemy. The party returned in the
morning and reported that they had seen about forty boats full of men
land below the Dunderbergh. The real intention of the enemy was now
apparent. Hereupon the Governor sent out another party of observation,
consisting of 30 men, under Lieut. Paton Jackson (5th regiment) who took
the road that led to Haverstraw; when at about ten o'clock in the
forenoon, having reached a point some two miles and a half below Fort
Montgomery, they suddenly came upon a concealed party of the enemy,
within five rods distant, who ordered them to club their muskets and
surrender themselves prisoners. They made no answer, but fired upon the
enemy and hastily retreated. The fire was returned and our people were
pursued half a mile; but they got off without losing a man, and retired
into Fort Clinton. Soon after, intelligence was received at Fort
Montgomery that the enemy were advancing on the west side of Bear Hill
to attack that work in the rear. Upon this Gov. Clinton immediately sent
out 100 men under Lieut. Col. Jacobus Bruyn (5th regiment) and Lieut.
Col. McClaughry, to take the road around Bear Hill to meet the
approaching enemy; and at the same time dispatched another party of 60
men, of Lamb's Artillery, with a brass field piece, to occupy a
commanding eminence on the road that diverged westerly to Orange
Furnace, or Forest of Dean. They were not long out, before both parties
were attacked, about two o'clock in the afternoon, by the enemy in full
force. The party under Cols. Bruyn and McClaughry, fell in with them two
miles from the fort, when the enemy hailing McClaughry, who took the
lead, inquired how many men he had. "Ten to your one, d----n you,"
replied the undaunted colonel. But the enemy being so superior in
numbers, our people had to retreat, as of course they had expected, yet
keeping up a galling fusilade upon the foe. While doing so, the ground
being very rough and in places steep, Capt. James Humphrey, McClaughry's
brother in law, lost his gun (for then the American captains carried
both a gun and sword), or as others say, and which seems most correct,
had it broken by a shot from the enemy. In this dilemma he asked
McClaughry what he should do. "Throw stones like the devil," replied the
latter in thunder tones! The party on the Furnace road were strengthened
to upwards of an hundred, and kept their field piece playing lively upon
the cautiously advancing foe, doing great execution, till the cannoniers
were driven off with the bayonet, the enemy almost surrounding them. But
spiking the gun, they retreated in good order to a twelve pounder, which
by the Governor's direction had been placed to cover them, and also
keeping up the engagement with small arms, till most of them got within
the breastwork of the fort. The late Lieut. Timothy Mix, of Lamb's
Artillery, and who died at New Haven in 1824, aged 85 years, was of this
party. While in the act of firing the cannon his right hand was disabled
by a musket shot. Instantly seizing the match with his left, he touched
off the piece!

Clinton immediately posted his men in the most advantageous manner for
defending the works, and before many minutes the enemy, advancing in
several columns, reached the walls and invested them on every side where
possible to do so. Cannon planted at the entrances mowed them down as
they ascended the hill, but the breach was immediately closed up, and
they pressed on to the assault. The attack now became general on both
forts, and was kept up incessantly for some time; though the smallness
of our numbers (about 500, in both forts), which required every man to
be upon continual duty and demanded unremitted exertion, fatigued our
people greatly, while the enemy, whose number was thought to be at least
4,000, continued to press us with fresh troops. Yet notwithstanding
their utmost efforts, the enemy were many times repulsed and beaten back
from our breastworks with great slaughter. Col. Mungo Campbell fell in
leading the first attack on Fort Montgomery, his place being taken by
Col. Beverly Robinson, of the Loyal Americans. This caused a temporary
check. About half-past four, they sent a flag, which Lt.-Col. William
Livingston was deputed by the Governor to go out and receive. They
demanded a surrender in five minutes, to prevent the effusion of blood,
otherwise we should all be put to sword! The gallant young colonel
answered, with irony, that he would accept their proposals if _they_
meant to surrender, and could assure them good usage; that _we_ were
determined to defend the fort _to the last extremity_! Then the action
was renewed with fresh vigor on both sides; our officers aiding and
encouraging their men to every possible effort. Col. McClaughry was one
of the most active; full of fire, he fought like a tiger; his white coat
was seen, now here, now there, as he kept going about among his men,
inspiring them with his own invincible spirit. The conflict went on
until the dusk of evening, when the enemy stormed the upper redoubt at
Fort Montgomery, which commanded the fort, and after a severe struggle,
and overpowering us with numbers, got possession of it, when our men
were forced to give way. The first to enter the fort were the New York
Volunteers (led by Capt. George Turnbull), a provincial corps, whose
commander, Major Grant, was killed before the assault. At the same time
they stormed and got possession of Fort Clinton, in which, besides a
company of Lamb's Artillery, were none but militia, but who nobly
defended it, till they also were obliged to yield to superior force. The
garrisons, or as many as could, bound not to surrender, gallantly fought
their way out, those of Fort Montgomery retreating across the gully on
the north side; while many others, including Gov. Clinton, escaped over
the south breastwork, and making their way down to the water's edge,
crossed the river on the boom. The darkness of the evening much favored
the escape of our soldiers, as did their knowledge of the various paths
in the mountains, and a large number, with nearly all the officers, got
away. But many were taken prisoners, and about 100 were slain; among the
latter was a son of Colonel Allison, and Capt. Milliken, of McClaughry's
regiment (Mr. Sears' captain); also James Van Arsdale, of Hanover
Precinct, a kinsman of Tunis and John, and a private in Dubois's
regiment. John Thompson was killed, who was nearly related to the
Clintons, and cousin to William Bodle, Esq., late of Tompkins County, N.
Y.[23] The enemy paid dearly for their conquest, both in officers and
men, the total being 41 killed and 142 wounded. Among the officers
killed, besides Col. Campbell, Majors Grant and Sill, and Capt. Stewart,
was Count Grabouski, a Polish nobleman acting as aid-de-camp to Sir
Henry Clinton; and Sir Henry himself narrowly escaped our grape-shot, as
also Maj. Gan. John Vaughan, whose horse was shot under him.

Many incidents are related of those who met with hair-breadth escapes.
Gen. James Clinton was among the last to leave Fort Clinton, and escaped
not until he was severely wounded by the thrust of a bayonet, pursued
and fired at by the enemy, and his attending servant killed. He slid
down a declivity of one hundred feet to the ravine of the creek which
separated the forts, and proceeding cautiously along its bank reached
the mountains at a safe distance from the enemy, after having fallen
into the stream, by which, the water being cold, the flow of blood from
his wound was staunched. The return of light enabled him to find a
horse, which took him to his house, in Little Britain, where he arrived
about noon, covered with blood, and suffering from a high fever. Capt.
William Faulkner, of McClaughry's regiment, had a bayonet driven in his
breast with such force that, being unfixed at the same moment, it stuck
fast, when he himself drew it out, and threw it back with all his might,
and his man fell. The enemy were pressing into the fort, and the captain
made his way on the ground by the side of the column and got out.
Walking a mile or so he lay down to drink at a brook, the draft stopped
the blood, but he was too weak to rise. He "made his peace with God" (to
use his own expression), and expected there to die. But a man came along
on horseback, who placed him on his horse, and took him to an inn two
miles beyond. There he found a dozen of his own men, by whom he was
taken to his own house on the Walkill, and he finally recovered.[24]

When the battle had ended, and the enemy had set a guard, Corporal Van
Arsdale, who had shown great spirit in the fight, and was among the last
to cease firing, resolved not to be made a prisoner, and managed to
escape from the fort; but he had only gone a short distance when he was
shot in the calf of the leg, and seized by a British soldier while in
the act of crossing a fence. He was conducted back into the fort, under
a torrent of abuse from his captor, who threatened to take his life, and
he himself expected instant death. His gun was demanded, and when
delivered, the barrel was yet so hot from frequent firing that the
soldier quickly dropped it, with another imprecation. Then the old
musket, its last work so nobly done, was ruthlessly broken to pieces
over the rocks. Van Arsdale and the other prisoners, two hundred and
seventy-five in all, including twenty-eight officers, were kept under
guard for a day or two at the forts, then put on board the British
transports and taken to New York. Forty-four of Van Arsdale's regiment
were among them including the brave colonel McClaughry (who was
suffering from seven wounds),[25] and his brother-in-law Capt. Humphrey,
of whom it was said by one Van Tuyl (among the last to escape from Fort
Montgomery) that, when he left, Humphrey was yet throwing stones! The
prisoners, on arriving at New York, October 10th, were landed, and the
privates marched up to Livingston's Sugar House, in Liberty Street,
between Nassau and William, and put in custody of Sergeant Woolly;
excepting the badly wounded, who were sent to the hospital. The
officers, with similar exception, were taken to the old City Hall,
whence, two days after, they were marched up to the Provost, and placed
in charge of the brutal Cunningham, where they remained till after the
surrender of Burgoyne, when, retaliation being feared, nearly all the
officers were sent (November 1st) to Long Island, upon parole.[26] The
privates had all been removed from the Sugar House, October 24th, and
put on board a prisonship, anchored opposite Governor's Island. Van
Arsdale, and his friend Sears, needing surgical aid, were, with others,
suffering from their wounds, taken directly to the Presbyterian Church
in Beekman Street, known as the "Brick Church," and then used by the
enemy as an hospital. Sears had been very badly hurt in the battle.
After being shot in the leg, and stabbed in the side by a bayonet, which
filled his shoes with blood, he was knocked down with the but of a gun
and trampled upon by the invading column. At the hospital, the bullets
being extracted and their wounds dressed, they began to mend, but only
three weeks and three days elapsed, when they too were sent to the
prisonship, and confined between decks. Winter had set in very
inclement, their food was not only stale and unwholesome, but even this
was limited in quantity to two-thirds of a British soldiers when at sea,
which was one-third less than the allowance upon land; in consequence of
which they suffered everything but death from hunger and cold. Nor was
this the worst. The prisoners, from these and other causes, became very
sickly, and died off in great numbers. Abel Wells and four others of the
Fort Montgomery party, being tailors, were sent from the prisonship to
the Provost, November 24th, to make clothing for the prisoners
there.[27] They informed Judge Fell, a prisoner, that their company was
then reduced to one hundred. This mortality would seem to have been
heavy among Col. Dubois's men, very few of whom ever rejoined their
regiment. Van Arsdale was taken sick about the 20th of December, and had
the good fortune to be sent to the hospital, where he had some care, and
soon recovered. Shortly after going there he was joined by Sears, who
was in a suffering and helpless condition, his feet and legs having been
badly frozen in the prisonship. Fortunately Van Arsdale was getting
better, so that he was of great service to his friend, and which also
tended to divert his mind from his own misfortunes. He even begged
"coppers" from the British officers to buy little comforts for Sears;
but which, had it been for himself, he declared he would have scorned to
do, in any extremity. Sears always held that Van Arsdale saved his life,
and he spoke feelingly of his kindness to him to the day of his death.
Van Arsdale finding his condition in the hospital much more tolerable,
managed to prolong his stay, by tying up his head and feigning illness
when the doctor made his daily call. The latter would leave him some
powders, but only to be thrown away. This did not long avail him, and
when reported well enough to remove, he was taken back to the
prisonship, to endure its indescribable miseries for several weary
months. Words cannot portray the horrors of this prison, which was
loathsome with filth and vermin, and where to the pangs of hunger and
thirst, were aided the alternate extremes of heat and cold. Especially
when the hatches were closed, as was always done at night, the heat and
stench caused by the feverish breath of hundreds of prisoners became
almost suffocating. Consequently dysentery, smallpox and jail fever made
fearful ravages. The ghastly faces of the starved and sick, and the pale
corpses of the dead, the groans of the dying, the commingled voices of
weeping, cursing and praying, joined to the ravings of the delirious;
such were the shocking scenes to which Van Arsdale was a witness, and
which added to his personal sufferings, made his situation one of the
most appalling to be conceived of. Fitly was this dungeon described by
one of its inmates as "a little epitome of Hell!" Kept near to
starvation, Van Arsdale, when allowed with other prisoners, a few at a
time, to go up on the quarter deck, was glad to eat the beans or crusts
he skimmed from the swill kept there to feed pigs, that he might
partially relieve the gnawings of hunger! But we forbear further comment
upon a fruitful topic, the cruel treatment of the American prisoners,
and which has fixed a stain upon the perpetrators never to be wiped out!

Sears had returned to the prisonship about the last of March, and in the
month of May he and Van Arsdale, with other prisoners, were picked out
and removed again to the Sugar House. This was probably a step towards
an exchange of prisoners, then contemplated, which made it necessary to
separate those belonging to the land service from the naval prisoners.
The Sugar House, with its five or six low stories, was crammed with
American patriots, and the passerby in warm weather could see its little
grated windows filled with human faces, trying to catch a breath of the
external air! But now a little more lenity seems to have been shown some
of the prisoners, perhaps in view of the exchange. Van Arsdale found a
friend in his father's cousin, Vincent Day, who had enlisted in Lamb's
Artillery, in 1775, but did not go to Canada, and was now regarded as a
loyalist. He was permitted to see Van Arsdale, bring him food, etc.,[28]
and a next step was to get leave for him to visit his house. This was a
most grateful relief; but it being suspected that Van Arsdale meditated
an escape (which my informant said was the case), this privilege was cut
off, and Day sent to the Provost for his humanity. This incident was
related to me by Mr. Abraham Van Arsdale, before mentioned.

Van Arsdale had dragged out some two months of miserable existence in
the Sugar House, and in all nine months and a half as a prisoner, when
the day of happy deliverance arrived. Gen. Washington had long been
trying to effect an exchange of prisoners, but to overcome the scruples
of the British commander took months of negotiation. Terms were at
length agreed upon by which some six hundred Americans were set at
liberty. On July 20th, Van Arsdale was released from his dungeon, and
taken with others in a barge down the bay, and _via_ the Kills to
Elizabethtown Point, where they landed, and were delivered up to Major
John Beatty, the American Commissary. In marching from the Point two
miles to the village of Elizabethtown, Van Arsdale was obliged to
support his friend Sears, who was too feeble to walk alone. Now
breathing the air of freedom, they set out together for their homes in
Hanover Precinct, where Van Arsdale was heartily greeted by his numerous
friends who received him as one risen from the dead, and found a warm
welcome in the house of his brother Tunis. Emaciated to a degree, and
suffering from scurvy, he was for some time under the doctor's care, but
finally regained his health.

A nation's gratitude is the least tribute it can render to its brave
soldiers who have fought its battles; but if any class of patriots
should be tenderly embalmed in a nation's memory, it is those who,
through devotion to country, have languished in prison walls, whether
the "Sugar House," or a "Libby!" What firmness, and what consecration to
country was required in the Revolutionary prisoners, under the pressure
of their sufferings, to spurn the alluring offers frequently made, to
entice them into the British service; but so rarely successful. Do not
their names deserve to be written in letters of gold, on the proudest
obelisk that national gratitude and munificence united could erect?[29]

Van Arsdale's bitter experience at the hands of the Britons, had
changed his animosity towards them into unmitigated hate, and we know
that time but partially overcame it. So far from weaning him from the
dangers and hardships of a soldier's life, it only nerved him with
courage, and fixed his purpose to re-enter the service, an opportunity
for which soon offered.

The frequent atrocities committed by the Indians and Tories upon the
settlers on the frontiers, within New York and Pennsylvania, and
especially the massacres, the preceding year, at Wyoming and Cherry
Valley, led to retributive measures, which took the form of an
expedition into the Indian country. This expedition was to move in two
divisions; one under Major General Sullivan, who was chief in command,
to ascend the Susquehanna river from Easton, the other under General
James Clinton to descend that river from the Mohawk Valley; and the two
meeting at Tioga Point, the united force was to proceed up the Chemung,
to give the Indians battle, should they make a stand, or otherwise to
burn and lay waste their villages, orchards and crops, thus depriving
them of subsistence, and the power to repeat their bloody forays upon
the border settlements.

This design was scarcely matured, when our legislature, on March 13th,
1779, ordered the raising of two regiments from the militia, to be
called State Levies, for the special defense of the State, and
particularly of the frontiers of Orange and Ulster, which were subject
to the stealthy attacks of roving Indians, and of Tories disguised as
Indians, the fear of which kept the loyal inhabitants in constant alarm,
and called for the maintenance of a military guard to prevent their
falling a prey to these destroyers in the British interest, or their
abandonment of their homes and possessions. One battalion of levies, so
raised, was commanded by Lieut.-Col. Albert Pawling, and under whom, in
the company of Capt. William Faulkner, our Van Arsdale enlisted on the
10th of May. Governor Clinton had assured Washington that Pawling would
reinforce Gen. Clinton on his march, and take part in the expedition.
But the sudden seizure of Stony Point by the British, May 31st, and a
further advance which menaced West Point and obliged Governor Clinton to
take the field with all his available force, together with the burning
of Minisink by red and white savages under the cruel Brant, and the
fatal battle that ensued, July 22d, near the Delaware, in which fell
many of the brave yeomen of Orange, made it so unsafe to withdraw the
levies from these borders that Governor Clinton expressed a fear that he
might not be able to detach them upon the western expedition.

But eventually Col. Pawling, with his battalion, about five hundred men,
left Lackawack and Shandaken, on the borders of Ulster, upon the 10th of
August. The route lay across the country for a hundred miles, over
mountains and rivers, and through dark forests known only to the guides;
but it so happened that, added to these obstacles, the rains set in and
the rivers became swollen and impassable, except by rafts. This, with
the state of his provisions and other considerations, rendered it
impracticable for him to proceed, and he reluctantly turned back. He,
however, pushed forward a small detachment of sixteen men, under Capt.
Abraham Van Aken, either to advise Gen. Clinton of his approach or of
his inability to join him; but Van Aken reached Aghquaga, or Anquaga, on
the Susquehanna, the day after Clinton had passed, so missed of seeing
him; and remaining there some days, as would appear, then returned to
camp, where he arrived September 1st. It transpired that Clinton had
reached Anquaga on the 14th, and, waiting till the 16th, then sent out
Major Church, with the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment, five or six miles
to look for Pawling, but they returned without seeing him, and the next
morning Clinton pursued his march. This was a great disappointment to
Van Arsdale and others, who were full of ardor to share in the
expedition under Sullivan, and our statement must correct the existing
belief that Van Arsdale did take part in it, while it explains how he
failed of the coveted opportunity.

Major Van Benschoten, with a detachment of the levies, including Van
Arsdale and his company, in which he was serving as corporal, proceeded,
October 31st, to the camp on the Hudson, and were ordered to Stony Point
to augment its garrison. But the winter setting in with severity, the
men through anxiety to reach home, began to desert in great numbers, on
account of which they were ordered to Poughkeepsie, and set out December
16th. At Fishkill, the next day they were paid off, up to October 31st,
the date they arrived in camp. What Capt. Faulkner then paid him was all
that Van Arsdale received in lieu of his services, past or subsequent,
till after the war ended. He remained with his company until it was
disbanded on December 25th, when he was honorably discharged and went
home, having acquitted him as "a good soldier" in the estimation of his

He spent the winter at Neelytown, giving spare time to improving his
mind in some useful studies. It was the famous "Hard Winter," and it
made a fearful draft on the woodpile; taking the brothers often to the
woods with their axes, to keep up the supply of fuel. Snow covered the
ground to an average depth of six feet or more, fences and roads were
obliterated, and travel went in all directions over the hard crust.
Being difficult if not dangerous for a team, they drew their wood home
on a hand sled. On the melting of the snow in the spring, the stumps
left were of sufficient length to be used by Tunis for making fence

A dark cloud hung over our cause in the spring of 1780; there were no
funds with which to pay the army, or even to supply it with necessary
food and clothing. Pressed by keenest want, officers were resigning,
large bodies of soldiers whose time had expired were leaving, while such
as remained were disheartened,--less by the remembrance of hardships
past, than by what the future seemed to forebode. It was under such
discouragements, when

    "Allegiance wand'ring turns astray
    And Faith grows dim for lack of pay."

that Van Arsdale re-entered the army, to share its fortunes whatever
those might be. An Act had been passed March 11th, 1780, to raise a body
of levies for the defense of the frontiers. It required every
thirty-five male inhabitants, of competent age, to engage and equip one
able-bodied recruit to serve in their stead in said levies. Whether at
the solicitation of his neighbors, liable under this Act, or prompted by
his own devotion to the service, or both combined, we have no means of
knowing, but we find Van Arsdale joining the levies on the 2d of May.
But under an act of June 24th ensuing, which permitted privates serving
in the levies to enlist in either of the continental battalions
belonging to the State Line, provided they engaged to serve for the war,
Van Arsdale with the then common idea that this was the more honorable
service, took his discharge from the levies, and enlisted in the company
of Capt. Henry Vandebergh (being the 1st company) of the 5th New York
regiment, of which Marinus Willett was Lieut.-Col. Commandant, and
belonging to Gen. James Clinton's brigade. This brigade was then in
garrison at West Point, and Van Arsdale's initial service was fatigue
duty on the four redoubts at that post, and guard duty at Fort
Montgomery; the latter reviving but too vividly the campaign of 1777,
and its great disaster, many traces of which were still visible.
Vandebergh, who had had command of the company as lieutenant for the
four months since its captain, Rosecrance, became a major, was now
promoted July 1st, and on the 30th, was officially put in command as
captain. Upon the latter date (it having before been given out that an
attack was to be made upon New York City), the New York brigade was
directed to march next morning at sunrise. They moved accordingly,
crossed the Hudson and took up a position below Peekskill. But the
object of the advance, which was merely strategic, having been served,
the army again crossed the river at Verplank's Point, and on August 7th
made headquarters at Clarkstown. Washington had given orders a week
previous for the immediate formation of a corps of Light Infantry, to be
commanded by General Lafayette. It consisted of two brigades, each of
three battalions, and each battalion composed of eight companies
selected from the different lines of the army, by taking the first or
"light company" of each regiment. Capt. Vandebergh's company was
included in a battalion under Col. Philip Van Cortlandt. Gen. Lafayette
was at great expense to equip this corp which was pronounced as fine a
body of men as was ever formed. They were in neat uniform, and each
soldier wore a leather helmet, with a crest of horsehair, and carried a
fusil. The General took command August 7th, and at three o'clock the
next morning the army marched, with the light infantry in the advance,
and proceeded to Orangetown, where and in the vicinity it lay for some
time, in readiness, should Sir Henry Clinton leave on an expedition
eastward or southward, of which there were indications, to strike a
vigorous blow at New York. Soon after occurred the foul treason of
Arnold, and the capture, trial and execution of Major Andre. The light
infantry were at Tappan, October 2d, when this last sad tragedy took
place.[30] Lafayette felt great pride in this corps, and was at infinite
pains to perfect its discipline, which by the assiduity of the officers
he brought to high proficiency. But the campaign passed without
affording him an opportunity to perform any signal service. The corps
was broken up on November 28th for the winter, and the companies
returned to their respective regiments.

On December 4th the New York line sailed for Albany to go into winter
quarters, but, the levies which had joined it, being discharged by order
of Gen. Washington, because of a scarcity of provisions and clothing,
Van Arsdale took leave of his regiment, December 15th, much to his
disappointment, having enlisted for the war. But he had won the favor of
Col. Willett, who was pleased to say that he was "a good soldier and
attended to his duties." Except a small gratuity from the State, of
"Twenty Dollars of the Bills of the new emission," received when he
joined the 5th regiment, he returned without any remuneration for his
services in this campaign; but with a patriotism uncooled, and rising
superior to mercenary motives, the winter recess was no sooner past when
Van Arsdale again joined the levies raised for the defense of the State,
under Col. Albert Pawling. One of the captains was John Burnet, of
Little Britain, who had been in the battle at Fort Montgomery. Van
Arsdale entered his company, April 25th, 1781, and was given the
position of sergeant, with ten dollars a month pay, which was an advance
of two dollars. He was posted much of the time on the frontier of Ulster
County, where the levies were billeted on the families, a few in a
house, to protect them from Indians. These had done but little mischief
in this section of the State, since the crushing blow inflicted upon
them by Sullivan's expedition. The principal outrage had been committed
the last year (1780), when a small party under Shank's Ben, on September
17th, attacked the house of Col. Johannes Jansen, in Shawangunk,
intending to capture him, but, failing in this, seized and carried off a
young woman named Hannah Goetschius, and whom, with one John Mack and
his daughter, Elsie, they murdered and scalped in the woods!

But the present year witnessed a more formidable invasion. Col. Pawling
had sent out Silas Bouck and Philip Hine, on a scout, to watch for the
enemy. Near the Neversink River, they discovered a large body of Indians
and Tories approaching; but, then starting back to give the alarm, were
intercepted by Indian runners and captured. The settlements were
therefore unprepared for a visit; when early on Sunday morning, August
12th, this savage horde stole into Wawarsing and began an attack upon
the stone fort. Being repulsed with loss, they departed to plunder and
burn a dozen scattered dwellings; many others being saved by the bravery
of the levies quartered in them. Pursued by Col. Pawling as soon as he
could collect a force, they had time to escape; but, on September 22d,
returned again to burn Wawarsing. On this occasion, also, they first
attempted to surprise the fort, but an alarm being given by the sentinel
firing his gun, the garrison were warned and the inhabitants fled from
their houses and secured themselves. The enemy, again repulsed with a
number slain, proceeded to pillage and burn the place. Capt. Burnet was
then stationed at a blockhouse at Pinebush (in Mombackus, now town of
Rochester), whence he and Capt. Kortright marched towards Wawarsing,
but, not being in sufficient force to give battle, turned back. Soon
Col. Pawling arrived and they pursued the enemy about 40 miles, being
out seven days, but they could not overtake them. There was a private in
Van Arsdale's company named George Anderson, who three years before had
performed an exploit which marked him as a hero. He and Jacob Osterhout
were seized one evening in a tavern at Lackawack, by some Indians and
Tories, and carried off towards Niagara. When within a day's march of
that place, Anderson, at midnight, effected their release, and with his
own hand tomahawked the three sleeping Indians who then had them in
charge; then, each taking a gun, provisions, etc., set out with all
speed for home, where they arrived exhausted and almost starved, after
seventeen days. The State gave Anderson £100 "for his valor." Van
Arsdale used to relate this adventure, whence has come the mistaken idea
that it happened with himself.[31]

On Dec. 19th, Van Arsdale's service ended, and he returned home to spend
the winter; with a good conscience, doubtless, but still with empty
pockets! Yet all looked bright and hopeful, great success had crowned
our arms in other quarters; the proud Cornwallis had been humbled, and
his splendid army captured. On the opening of 1782, measures were
concerted to follow up these successes; the army was maintained, and a
body of levies were also raised in this State to afford the usual
protection to our frontiers. In these Van Arsdale enlisted on the 27th
of April, in the company of Capt. John L. Hardenburgh, of Col.
Frederick Weissenfels' regiment. Five days after, he was made sergeant,
and served as such during that campaign, holding the place of first or
orderly sergeant from Sept. 24th. But the season passed in inactivity,
and the magazine of provisions at Marbletown being exhausted, the levies
were disbanded, and on December 28th, Van Arsdale received an honorable
and final discharge from the army. He laid away his musket with a
lighter heart than on any former occasion. True he and his fellow
soldiers _had received no pay during the last three campaigns_! But he
had escaped the thousand perils of the service and was permitted to see
this grievous war practically closed and independence secured.
Recompense ample, yet the State was just to its brave defenders, and
soon afterwards paid them for this service, and also those who had been
prisoners of war, for their time from the day they were captured to the
day of their return from captivity.[32]

There were more times than one, Van Arsdale being at home, when the
farmhouse at Neelytown, upon sudden news of a victory, echoed with
cheers long and loud, and witnessed a lively jig, enacted then and there
impromptu, with all his early zest for the dance; but how buoyant were
his spirits now, the bitterness of the struggle being past and the final
victory achieved, while the future seemed radiant with promise.

The ensuing winter, spent with his brother, was one of unusual gayety,
and at a social party given by his old friend, Alexander Bodle, then
married and living at La Grange, he first met with his future wife, Mary
Crawford, a most amiable girl, six years his junior. Escorting her home
in his sleigh, the acquaintance ripened--the bans were published in the
church at Goshen, of which her father, David Crawford, was an elder; and
the Rev. Nathan Ker married them at the hospitable farmhouse, in
Walkill, on the 16th of June, 1783. Van Arsdale now left his brother's,
where he had experienced a kindness almost parental, and with his bride,
who ever proved herself a discreet companion, went to keeping house in
New Windsor. He had found an occupation suited to his robust and active
temperament. The owner of the Black Prince, a vessel used during the war
as a gunboat, but now fitted up for the more peaceful service of
conveying passengers and freight on the Hudson, wanted Van Arsdale as a
partner. The latter assented, he always loved the water; it was moreover
an opportunity to begin life respectably with his Polly, for a living
was not so easily secured just after the war, when the country was
impoverished, money scarce and times hard, while he saw many of his old
comrades in arms wanting employment. So he donned the tarpaulin and
sailor jacket, and entered on a calling in which he was engaged when the
incident of November 25th, 1783, occurred; and at which he became a
veteran, sustaining the character of a safe and skillful captain, and an
honest and noble-hearted man. Affable to and careful of the passengers
who patronized his packet; this in itself was an advertisement, and many
making their annual visit to the City, either for pleasure or to sell
their dairies or other farm produce, or to purchase goods (for the day
of railroads was not yet), much preferred sailing with "Captain John."
His passenger list was full on the trip preceding Evacuation Day, but of
that memorable day we need add nothing; and the sequel of Capt. Van
Arsdale's life will be briefly told.

After four years the Captain closed his business relations with New
Windsor, and removed to New York, taking command of the "Democrat" for
Col. Henry Rutgers, and where, with the exception of brief residences on
Long Island and in Westchester County, before his final return to the
City in 1811, he made his home for the rest of his life. He was granted
the freedom of the City, April 1st, 1789; and shortly after engaged in a
different calling, but five years later resumed the old one, and
successively sailed (sometimes as part owner), the Deborah--named for
his mother--the Packet, Neptune, Rising-Sun, Ambition, Venus and Hunter.
It was while sailing the Hunter, during the last war with England, that
in coming out of Mamaroneck Harbor (September 17th, 1813), he narrowly
escaped capture by one of the enemy's vessels; a market boat which they
had seized and manned, to more easily entrap ours. The Captain thought
they acted strangely, but discovered their real character only when they
bore down and rounded to, with intent to board him. But the Captain was
too quick for them. Ordering the passengers below, he instantly tacked
about, the bullets now flying thick around him, and shouting to the foe
to _fire away, it was not the first time they had wasted powder on him_,
he was soon beyond their reach, and got in safely, with no other damage
than sails riddled, and a few holes in the hull. The people ashore,
having heard the firing and alarmed for the Captain's safety, were
overjoyed, and came out in small boats to help him in. There were
several little incidents connected with this adventure. A brave woman on
board, a Mrs. Wallace, insisted upon rowing with a sweep, till fairly
forced to desist and go below. The cabin-boy when told to go down,
demurred, saying, "Captain, when your head is off, I'll take the helm."
A few days before, the Captain going into the country to buy produce,
had told his son David to keel up the vessel and give it a coat of
tallow, which preserved the timbers, kept her tight and helped her
sailing. David obeyed orders, but so thoroughly and well, that he ran up
a big score for tallow at the store, to the astonishment of his father
when he came to see the bill, and who gave David a round reprimand for
his extravagance. But after the trial of speed with the enemy, "David,"
said the Captain, patting his son on the shoulder, "we hadn't a bit too
much tallow on to-day!"

Speaking of David, he was in one respect "a chip of the old block," he
relished a joke next the best. And so it happened on an occasion, that
the schooner lay at Cow Harbor, loading with wood, when a Montauk Indian
came aboard, asking a passage to New York. Now the Captain had a kind
heart; but had sworn eternal enmity to the whole race of aborigines. His
ears filled with recitals of Indian outrages, when scouting on the
frontiers; an eye-witness of the cruelties inflicted on peaceable
communities by the firebrand and the tomahawk; yes, his soul harrowed at
the sight of innocent victims, as they lay in their gore, murdered and
scalped; if there was on earth an object at sight of which his very
blood boiled, it was an _Indian_! David knew it well, yet the young
rogue sent the Indian into the cabin to see the Captain. "What do you
want?" asked the latter gruffly. "To go to New York, Captain," said the
poor native. "Get out of this, you Indian dog," was his only answer,
while the Captain's cudgel at his heels, as he scrambled up the
companionway, sent the applicant off at a much livelier gait than "an
Indian trot." But then it was that the joke turned on David, when he had
to meet the scathing question,--How he _dared_ to send an _Indian_ into
the cabin to him!

But we said the Captain himself enjoyed a joke. In 1821, he and Squire
Daniel Riker took a friendly tour, in the latter's gig, as far as Orange
County; Mr. V. to see his kindred and acquaintances, and one of his
daughters being also there on a visit. Concluding to go as far as
Monticello, they set out from Bloomingburgh, the Squire and Deborah in
the gig, and the Captain on horseback. Shortly before reaching the
Neversink River, the latter stopped to have a shoe set, but told the
Squire to drive on and he would soon follow. Now the Squire was a spruce
widower of fifty, but Deborah just out of her teens. So on they went
reaching the toll-gate in high glee and at a lively pace. The
inquisitive gate-keeper had noticed the speed at which they rode, and
overheard a tell-tale remark let fall by the Squire, that by driving
fast they might reach the Neversink bridge _before the Captain could
catch them_! Soon the Captain arrived in seeming haste, and reigning
his horse at the gate, inquired of the keeper if he had seen a runaway
couple that way; an old man eloping with his daughter. "Yes, yes," said
the man, "they just passed, and were hurrying, to reach the bridge
before you could catch them; but you'll do it if you're only smart."
"Quick, quick, hand me my change," said the Captain, and spurring his
horse, on he went, almost bursting before he could give vent to his
laughter; while the gate-keeper ran in to tell about the wonderful
elopement. But on their return, there was a hearty laugh all round, as
the gate-keeper took in the situation, and the Captain, with a smirk,
remarked, "You see, I caught the runaways." The joke spread, to the
merriment of all, but none enjoyed telling it more than the Captain.

In 1816, having quit his old occupation the previous year, and being now
sixty years of age, Capt. Van Arsdale was appointed Wood Inspector in
the First Ward, a post he held for twenty years; and which he had
previously enjoyed for a short time, in 1812, under a commission from De
Witt Clinton, then Mayor. Daily at Peck Slip, he was seen, with his
measuring rod in hand, busy at his avocation; till "Uncle John" became
one of the fixed features of the locality. He continued here, indeed,
till the use of coal had so far supplanted that of wood, that business
dwindled to nothing, and he resigned his office in disgust. He was made
a member of the "Independent Veteran Corps of Heavy Artillery," Oct.
6th, 1813. This Corps was organized for the special defense of the City
of New York, and for the whole period Mr. Van Arsdale was connected with
it (except a short interval), was commanded by Capt. George W. Chapman.
Their uniform was a navy blue coat and pantaloons, white vest, black
stock, a black feather surmounted red, black hat, and cockade, bootees
and side arms yellow mounted. Capt. Van Arsdale took great interest in
the corps, rarely if ever missed a parade, and in 1814, for over three
months, ending December 4th, was in active service guarding the Arsenal
in Elm street, a plot being suspected to blow up the building with its
14,000 stand of arms. On Nov. 25th, 1835, he was promoted to the next
position to the commandant, that of First Captain-Lieutenant.

Capt. Van Arsdale had now reached his eighty-first year, he had survived
his companion four years, his mental faculties were still good, but his
strength was failing; yet he attended to business till near the last.
But borne down by the weight of years, a short illness closed the scene,
and the veteran gently passed away, August 14th, 1836, at his residence
134 Delancey street. He was interred the next day in the cemetery in
First street, with the honors of war, by the corps in which he had held
command; the Napoleon Cadets, Capt. Charles, acting as a guard of honor,
and a concourse of citizens paying their last respects. His remains now
rest in Cypress Hills Cemetery.[33]

In person Mr. Van Arsdale was of medium height, stoutly built, erect,
and elastic of foot even till old age. Always neat in his person and
dress; we recall his good-natured chiding, when, an urchin, running in
to see Grandpa, heated from our play, and collar, boylike, well sweated
down;--"Go home, you little rascal," he would say, "You've no collar to
your shirt." A democrat of the old school, he was pronounced in his
opinions, and no way sparing of opponents. It was in the autumn of 1834,
that a friend asked him how the party which that year took the name of
_Whig_, got it. "Got it," said the old man, his face kindling with
honest indignation, "Smiley, they got it as their fathers, the Cowboys
of the Revolution, got their beef,--_they stole it!_" The Captain was
then visiting friends in Sullivan County, and was riding out to see his
old war-chum Sears. They met on the road, when Mr. V. springing from the
wagon, Sears instantly recognized him, and overcome with emotion, threw
his arms around him and burst into tears! How flushed up the faded
memories of camp and battle scenes, and dismal prison life; verily a
picture for the limner. At this time also, the Captain had the pleasure
of visiting Mr. Hugh Lindsey, who was captured with him at Fort
Montgomery; he died shortly after Van Arsdale's return. But we have
done. The kind father,--filial affection still cherishes his memory; the
true friend,--alas, but few survive to embalm the friendship so long
sundered; the worthy citizen, whose heart was ever open to the poor and
suffering around him,--let it suffice that the savor of good deeds is
immortal! But more fitting to close this imperfect tribute to his worth
are the apt words of the burial orders, recalling the salient fact in
Capt. Van Arsdale's life,--"A tried Soldier of the Revolution!"


[11] ARSDALE was formerly pronounced as if written _aurs-daul_; hence
the various modes of spelling it to express the Dutch pronunciation by
English letters, as _Osdoll_, etc. But the growing disposition to
correct such departures by resuming the original form of surnames, leads
us to hope for a reformation in this case also, especially as a large
part of the family have held to the form which early obtained.



SIMON JANSEN VAN ARSDALEN, the grandfather of Stoffel, (in English,
Christopher,) was the common ancestor of all in this country bearing the
name of _Van Arsdale_, or its modification, _Van Osdoll_, which latter
preserves the Dutch pronunciation. He was born in Holland in 1629, of an
ancient Helvetian family, emigrated to this country in 1653, and settled
in Flatlands, L.I., where he married Peternelle, daughter of Claes (or
Nicholas) Wyckoff. He acquired property, was a magistrate and repeatedly
chosen an elder of the church, and lived to be over four score years of
age. He had, besides daughters, two sons, Cornelius and John, both of
whom inherited their father's virtues and were prominent in civil and
church affairs. Each of these had six sons (Cornelius had _Derick_,
_John_, _Simon_, _Philip_, _Abraham_ and _Jacobus_ or _James_; and John
had _Simon_, _Stoffel_, _Nicholas_, _Jurian_, or _Uriah_, _John_ and
_Cornelius_), most of whom (except Nicholas who lived in Jamaica, L.
I.,) settled about the Raritan in New Jersey, whence some removed into
Pennsylvania; they were as a family, remarkably attached to the church
and to the elder Frelinghuysens. John, first named, married, 1695,
Lammetie, daughter of Stoffel Probasko, lived for some years in
Gravesend, but died in the town of Jamaica, about 1756, and as will be
seen was the father of Stoffel, named in the text. The family has been
very prolific, and has furnished to society many capable business men,
besides physicians, clergymen, bankers, etc. Of these was the late Dr.
Peter Van Arsdale, of this city.

[13] ARENT TEUNISSEN, great grandfather of Magdalena Van Hengelen, came
out to this country from Hengelen (now Hengelo), in the County of
Zutphen, in 1653, the same year in which Simon Van Arsdale arrived. He
was under engagement to Baron Vander Capelle, to cultivate his lands on
Staten Island, but was slain in the Indian massacre of 1655. His son
Reynier, was the father of Okie Van Hengelen, named in the text, who
left descendants in New Jersey, called _Van Anglen_, of whom was Capt.
John Van Anglen, of the Revolution.

[14] Opposite the jail stood, in those days, a public whipping post,
stocks, etc., the terror of law-breakers, and by which lesser crimes
were expiated. The late Abraham Van Arsdale, born the year of the
Soldiers' Riot (and old enough to fly his kite, as he did, from the roof
of the prison, while his father kept it), well remembered these
instruments of justice, and informed me that he had seen gallows erected
and persons executed, in front of the jail. They then hung for

[15] To avoid confusion, we speak here and elsewhere of Orange County as
now organized. Previous to 1798, it embraced the present Rockland
County, while the town of New Windsor, and all those towns lying to the
north of a line running west from the southern boundary of New Windsor
belonged to Ulster County. Of course, Little Britain, and the Precinct
of Hanover were then in Ulster.

[16] JAMES CLINTON had been colonel of this regiment, till appointed a
brigadier general.

[17] Believed to have been James Thompson, whose brother John was killed
at Fort Montgomery. Others slain in McClaughry's regiment were _Capts._
James Milliken and Jacobus Roosa, _Lieut._ Nathaniel Milliken, and
_Privates_ Theophilus Corwin, David Benson, James Gage, David Halliday,

[18] The WEARS, respectable Protestants from the north of Ireland, were
noted for longevity. William Wear, their ancestor, dying, his widow with
two children, William and Jennie, emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1749, and
thence in 1760 to the town of Montgomery. Mrs. Wear died at her
daughter's house December 3, 1803, aged 92 years. Her son William, named
in the text, resided near Orange Lake, had a numerous family, and
attained the age of 97 years. He died November 7, 1828, and was ancestor
of William Wear, Esq. Mrs. Van Arsdale was born March 31, 1746, as
maintained by her brother, who was much the oldest, and hence was in her
100th year at her decease, September 17, 1845. Her husband, Tunis, died
April 9, 1813, aged 67 years. This worthy pair united with the Walkill
Church in 1782. Mrs. V. was a woman of remarkable energy, and retained
her faculties till the last, almost perfectly. Her memory extended back
to the closing events in the life of Steffel Van Arsdale, her husband's
grandfather, and she lived to see his descendants of the sixth

[19] The 52d and 27th Regiments, the Royal American Regiment, Col.
Beverly Robinson, the New York Volunteers, Major Grant, and Emerick's
Provincial Chasseurs.

[20] Grenadiers and Light Infantry, the 26th and 63d Regiments, one
company of the 71st Highlanders, one troop of dismounted dragoons, and
Hessian Chasseurs.

[21] The Royal Fusileers and Hessian Regiment of Trumback.

[22] This refers only to the final assault; the enemy fired upon our
people both in the preliminary skirmishes and after they were masters of
the forts. J. R.

[23] JUDGE BODLE was born only a stone's throw from the Clinton
homestead, in Little Britain (being a second cousin to the Clintons);
but at the time of the battle was a farmer on the Walkill. The distance
made him late, and he reached the vicinity of the forts only to learn
that the enemy had possession. Next morning, going home, he suddenly met
Claudius Smith, the noted Tory robber. They knew each other. Bodle was
perplexed, but putting on a bold front, approached Claudius, who seemed
very friendly. After inquiring the news from the river, Smith said he
had to go away, but added: "Mr. Bodle, you are weary, go to my house
yonder and ask my wife for some breakfast, and say that I sent you."
Seeming to accept his offer, but suspecting a trick, Bodle steered for
home, nor felt quite safe till he reached Chester. Smith was a bold,
accomplished villain, a terror to the people of Orange, and whose career
of brigandage has all the air of romance. He was finally hung at Goshen,
January 22, 1779. Mr. Bodle was one of the citizens who guarded him
while in jail. Smith asked him if he would really shoot him, if a rescue
were attempted. Bodle said his duty would compel him to it. "Ah! Bodle,
I don't believe you," said Smith. See _Eager's Orange County_, for an
account of Smith and his gang, made up in part from an article we wrote
many years ago for the "True Sun." But not a fact in that article (save
the incident above related), came from Judge Bodle, as Mr. Eager

[24] JEPTHA LEE, of Lamb's Artillery, was one of those who escaped out
of the fort with General James Clinton. He served with John Van Arsdale,
under Capt. Faulkner, in 1779, and died in 1855, at Ulysses, N. Y.

[25] COL. MCCLAUGHRY, though a prisoner and sorely wounded, showed the
same indomitable spirit as before. Left to suffer three days before his
wounds were dressed, in the belief that he could not live, his captors
tried to extort information from him, as to our strength. He replied
curtly that Washington had a powerful army, and would yet whip them, and
he should live to see it! He was soon exchanged, resumed his command and
survived the war. He was made an honorary member of the Cincinnati, and
lived most respectably upon his farm at Little Britain, till his death
in 1790, aged 67 years. He left no children.

GEN. ALLISON, as later styled, was exchanged during the ensuing winter,
and took home with him to Gov. Clinton $2,000 in gold, loaned by a good
whig on Long Island, to aid the American cause. He died in 1804, at the
Drowned Lands, where he resided; leaving a very respectable family and
an ample estate. His daughter Sarah married William W. Thompson, and
daughter Mary married Dr. William Elmer.

[26] The exceptions were Col. McClaughry, Capt. Humphrey, Lieut. Solomon
Pendleton and Ensign John McClaughry, both of Dubois's regiment, and
Lieut. John Hunter, of McClaughry's; who were still there Nov. 5th.

[27] They were, besides Wells, Robert Huston, Francis McBride, and
William Humphrey, of McClaughry's regiment, and John Brooks, of
Woodhull's. Abel Wells sickened and died in the Provost, Dec. 13, 1777.
Benjamin Goldsmith and Garret Miller, worthy residents of Smith's Clove
in Orange County, deserve notice in this connection. Goldsmith had a
valuable horse stolen by Claudius Smith's gang, and some of his
neighbors sustained similar losses. Finally a party went out in pursuit
of the robbers, but some, including Goldsmith and Miller, fell into the
hands of the British, and were sent to the Provost, where both died of
smallpox, Miller on the memorable 6th of October, and Goldsmith on the
20th of October, 1777. Goldsmith was the father of Daniel, who was the
father of the present Mr. Daniel Goldsmith, of Bloomingrove, and of the
late David Goldsmith, of Schuyler Co., N. Y.

[28] This kindness was repaid a dozen years later (1790) when Mr. Van
Arsdale and his wife took Mr. Day's eight year old motherless daughter
to nurture as their own, they having been bereft the year previous of
their three young children, though seven more were given them
afterwards. And Mary Day, (whose father died Oct. 19, 1802, aged 49),
remained with them till her marriage to William Hutchings, the father of
Mr. John Hutchings, of Norwalk, Ct. Amiable woman, pure and artless as a
child, and to sum up her life in a word, filling her humble sphere with
perfect fidelity,--among the happier days of the writer's boyhood were
those spent in summer recreations at her modest home at Cow Bay, with
the mill pond and Squire Mitchell's old red grist mill, and Uncle
Billy's cooperage near it, and around the bluff the broad sandy beach,
as rambling ground; your pardon, indulgent reader, if thoughts of the
past do force a tear.

[29] LIST OF THE AMERICANS who were made prisoners at Forts Montgomery
and Clinton, Oct. 6, 1777.


 Col. William Allison.
 Lt. Col. James McClaughry.
 Lt. Col. Jacobus Bruyn.
 Lt. Col. William Livingston.
 Major Samuel Logan, 5th Regt.
 Major Stephen Lush, Brigade Major to Gen. George Clinton.
 Major Daniel Hamil, Brigade Major to Gen. James Clinton.
 Major Zachariah Dubois, Woodhull's Regt.
 Capt. Henry Godwin, 5th Regt.
 Capt. James Humphrey, McClaughry's Regt.
 Capt. Lt. Cornelius Swartwout, Lamb's Artillery.
 Capt. Lt. Ephraim Fenno, Lamb's Artillery.
 Lieut. Solomon Pendleton, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. Paton Jackson, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. John Furman, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. Henry Pawling, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. Ebenezer Mott, 5th Regt.
 *Lieut. Alexander McArthur, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. Samuel Dodge, 5th Regt.
 Lieut. John Hunter, McClaughry's Regt.
 Lieut. Benjamin Halstead, Allison's Regt.
 Lieut. Henry Brewster, Allison's Regt.
 Ensign Abraham Leggett, 5th Regt.
 Ensign John McClaughry, 5th Regt.
 Ensign Henry Swartwout, 5th Regt.
 Adj. Dep. Qr. Mr. Gen. Oliver Glean.
 Qr. Master Nehemiah Carpenter.
 Capt. James Gilliland, Director of Ordnance.


 David McHollister.                Thomas Conklin.
 Martin Shay.                      Ephraim Adams.
 Jacobus Tarbush.                  Francis Sears.
 Thaddeus Kennedy.                 Samuel Garrison.
 John McDonald.                    William Willis.
 John Conklin.                     Abraham Jorden.
 James Montanye.                   John Storm.
 Henry Ostrander.                  Thomas McCarty.
 Jacobus Logier.                   Thomas Hendricks.
 David Bovins.                     John Chamberlin.
 Vincent Venney.                   Zebulon Woodruff.
 Jeremiah Dunn.                    Paul Keizler.
 Robert Patrick.                   George Heck.
 William Barber.                   John Miller.
 Benjamin Wiley.                   John Allison.
 Danford Winchester.               Samuel Boyd.
 *William Mullen.                  William Weaver.
 Lewis Dixon.                      William Ivery.
 John Ivery.                       John Stanley.
 Nathaniel Otter.                  John Brown.
 Eliakim Brush.                    George Polton.
 Robert Gillespie.                 *Philip Felix.
 Abraham Wright.                   Aaron Knapp.
 Jonathan Hallock.                 James Mitchell.
 James Weldon.                     John Johnston.
 Thomas Tinn.                      Nehemiah Sniffen.
 Samuel Turner.                    Solomon Shaw.
 Daniel Dominick.                  James Montieth.
 John Witlock.                     Daniel Lower.
 Jacobus Terwilliger.              John Hunt.
 James Steel.                      Michael Johnston.
 Thomas Crispell.                  Joseph Reeder.
 Enos Lent.                        John Price.
 Jacobus Lent.                     Robert Marshall.
 John Albright.                    Scott Travers.
 Alexander Ockey.                  John Satterly.
 Thomas Hartwell.                  James Amerman.
 Patrick Dorgan.                   Harman Crum.
 Samuel Crosby.                    Samuel Griffin.
 Moses Shall.                      Cornelius Acker.
 John West.                        Jacob Lawrence.
 John McIntosh.                    Francis Gaines.
 Henry Schoonmaker.                Benjamin Griffin.
 Joseph Morgan.                    Enos Sniffen.
 Jonathan Stockham.                Joseph Bolton.
 Abel Randall.                     James Hannah.
 Thomas Kent.                      William Slott.
 William Banker.                   Benjamin Chichester.
 Peter Wells.                      Francis Drake.
 Joseph Deneyck.                   Jasper Smith.
 John Weston.                      William Casselton.
 Michael Burgh.                    Edward Allen.
 Thomas Smith.                     William Bard.


 Elisah Petty.                     Alexander Moffatt.
 David Clark.                      David Hanmore.
 Hull Peck.                        James Shearer.
 William Taylor.                   William Swan.
 Edward Keen.                      John Patterson.
 Hugh Lindsey.                     John Nelson.
 David Pembroke.                   Israel Smith.
 Thomas Griffith.                  Samuel Furman.
 Robert English.                   Alexander Young.
 David Stone.                      John Kelly.
 John Twitchell.                   Alexander McCoy.
 Hugh McCall.                      John Gardner.
 Thaddeus Barnes.                  Timothy Nichols.


 Samuel Taylor.                    Peter Jones.
 James Bell.                       Uriah Black.
 Robert Eaton.                     Frederick Nochton.
 Richard Sheridan.                 David Wheeler.
 James Koyl.                       Peter Stage.
 *James Lewis.                     Isaac Ketcham.
 James Thompson.                   Henry Brewster.
 Michael Dunning.                  Frederick Pelliger.
 James Sawyer.                     Caleb Ashley.
 Joseph Moore.                     Timothy Corwin.
 Jesse Dunning.


 *John McMullen.                   Robert Barkley.
 Henry Neely.                      James Wood.
 Robert Henry.                     David Thompson.
 William Scott.                    Elias Wool.
 Matthew Dubois.                   *Robert Wool.
 Francis McBride.                  *Samuel Hodge.
 Robert Huston.                    William McMullen.
 Andrew Wilson.                    Isaac Denton.
 Christopher Sypher.               Moses Cantine.
 John Darkis.                      George Brown.
 William Stinson.                  Elnathan Sears.
 William Humphrey.                 Philip Millspaugh.
 George Humphrey.                  John Van Arsdale.
 James Humphrey.                   George Coleman.
 John Carmichel.                   Abel Wells.
 John Skinner.                     Hezekiah Kune.
 Gerardus Vineger.                 John Manny.
 Baltus Van Kleek.                 Isaac Kinbrick.
 Cornelius Slott.                  Samuel Falls.
 William Howell.                   James Miller.
 John Hanan.


 George Wilkin.                    Benjamin Lawrence.
 Cornelius Roosa.                  Cornelius Stevens.
 Simon Ostrander.                  John Bingham.
 Zachariah Terwilliger.            John Snyder.
 John Stevenson.                   Robert Cooper.
 William Warren.


 John Brooks.                      James Mitchell.
 John Lamerey.                     John Armstrong.
 Henry Cunningham.                 Peter Gillen.
 John Crooks.                      Edward Tomkins.
 William Penoyer.                  Randle House.
 Simon Currens.                    *Christian House.
 Israel Cushman.                   Isaac Hoffman.
 Asa Ramsey.
 *Joel Curtiss.
 Thomas Harten.                    _Col. Hammon's_, Zachariah Taylor.
 Jesse Carpenter.                  _Col. Drake's_, John Vantassel.
 Benjamin Simmons.                 _Col. Holme's_, Cornelius Cornelius,
 Isaac Cooly.                        William Randle.
 Joshua Currey.                    _Col. Ogden's_, Thomas Cook.
 James Thompson.                   _Col. Antill's_, Jonathan Nichols.
 Stephen Clark.


 John Donalds.                     Tobias Lent.
 Joseph Mead.                      George Depew.
 George Peck.                      Auris Verplank.
 Jesse Lockwood.                   Albert Vantass.


 John Randle.                      *Jacob Morris.
 Elias Vanvolver.                  *John Tallow.
 Samuel Anderson.

N. B.--The ten with a star are named in a list preserved by Col. Wm.
Faulkner, but are not in that furnished Gov. Clinton, by Joseph Loring,
British Commissary of Prisoners. McArthur returned to his regiment, the
other nine are not found again.

[30] GEN. LAFAYETTE, upon his last visit to this country, arrived at
Staten Island, on Sunday, August 15, 1824. Capt. Van Arsdale had a
grandson born on the same day. The next morning on landing at the
Battery, the General was received by the Veteran Corps, and passing
along the line, took each member cordially by the hand. Coming to Capt.
Van Arsdale, he looked him intently in the face, as if he knew him, yet
was not quite sure. But the instant the Captain alluded to his service
in the Light Infantry Corps, the General's countenance lightened up, and
there was a full recognition. "Van Arsdale," said he with emotion, as if
the glorious past was flushing his memory, "Van Arsdale, I remember you
well!" Going home, pleased beyond measure, that the General should
recollect him, after a lapse of forty-four years, Capt. Van Arsdale went
to see his little grandson, and being desired to give him a name, called
him _John Lafayette_. This was the late Col. J. Lafayette Riker, of the
62d New York Volunteers, who in defense of the flag for which his
grandsire sacrificed so much, nobly laid down his life at the battle of
Fair Oaks, May 31, 1862.

[31] Soon after Anderson's escape, the Indians, in retaliation, as was
believed, burnt a house and several barns near Pinebush (in Mombackus),
murdered two men, and carried off a third, named Baker, who was never
heard of again, and was probably reserved for the worst tortures. Two or
three hundred troops then lay at a fort on Honk Hill, under Lt. Col.
Newkerk, of McClaughry's regiment, and volunteers being called for, to
go out and intercept the Indians who were supposed to be few in number,
Lieut. John Graham offered himself, and set out with twenty man. At the
Chestnut Woods (now Grahamsville, Sullivan Co.,) they lay in wait for
the wiley foe, but were themselves drawn into an ambush, and only two
escaped to tell the sad tragedy. Lieut. Graham fell at the first fire.
This happened on September 6th, 1778. Three hundred men went out and
buried the dead where they fell. They had all been scalped. Graham was
an uncle to the lady whom Van Arsdale afterwards married, and a
half-brother to Wm. Bodle, Esq., before mentioned.

[32] He was entitled to a "Soldier's Right," (500 acres), in the
unappropriated lands of the State, which was promised each recruit
joining the Levies in 1781, to be given him as soon after his term of
service closed, as the survey could be safely made; but it is
traditionary in the family, that thinking it of little value, he
neglected to secure it within the time prescribed by law, three years
after the war should close. Rights sold for only $50, after the war.

[33] CAPT. VAN ARSDALE had five children who reached adult years; three
of whom, his only son before named, and two daughters, yet survive. His
eldest daughter, married to the late Alderman James Riker, and long
since deceased, was the mother of the writer of this sketch, also of
Col. J. Lafayette Riker, named in a preceding note; another daughter yet
survives her husband, the late estimable John Phillips; another is the
widow of Jacob G. Theall, and mother of Mrs. Dr. Jared G. Baldwin, of
New York, and a fourth daughter married the late, much respected, Capt.
Andrew Dorgan, of Mobile, whose sons Augustus P. and Lyman Dorgan, are
well known merchants at that place. (_See Annals of Newtown_, p. 307.)


This venerable citizen, son of Capt. John Van Arsdale, and to whom some
humorous references have been made in these pages, has suddenly ended
his pilgrimage, as our last sheet was passing from the press. He died
yesterday, (November 14th,) at the age of 87 years. His decease on the
very eve of the Centennial, in the observance of which he was expected
to take a special part causes the deeper regret; but we forbear remark,
while the City Press is teeming with obituaries expressive of respect
for his memory.

    |             Transcriber's Note:                     |
    |                                                     |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the        |
    | original document have been preserved.              |
    |                                                     |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:         |
    |                                                     |
    | Page   4  delapidated changed to dilapidated        |
    | Page   8  loathesome changed to loathsome           |
    | Page  18  weer changed to were                      |
    | Page  18  indellibly changed to indelibly           |
    | Page  22  wil changed to will                       |
    | Page  22  Getnlemen changed to Gentlemen            |
    | Page  25  missing word "of" inserted after unworthy |
    | Page  30  aquaintance changed to acquaintance       |
    | Page  32  dispair changed to despair                |
    | Page  35  gallies changed to galleys                |
    | Page  35  Trumbach's changed to Trumback's          |
    | Page  36  fortressess changed to fortresses         |
    | Page  41  loathesome changed to loathsome           |
    | Page  42  anp changed to and                        |
    | Page  42  knawings changed to gnawings              |
    | Page  42  year changed to years                     |
    | Page  47  disappointed changed to disappointment    |
    | Page  52  grevious changed to grievous              |

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