The following biographical sketches of ten officers of the New York Continental Line come from a 2004 publication by the New York State Society of the Cincinnati written by Francis J. Sypher Jr. These sketches were selected from the 475 short biographies in the book that bring to light the lives of a number of our leaders of the New York Continental Regiments during the American Revolution. The stories provide some insight into the officers and their families but also remind us of the sacrifices by this founding generation to win us the freedom we enjoy today. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book, please refer to Publications in the Activities section of this website.
Major General Philip Schuyler, Continental Army
Philip Schuyler was born at Albany, New York, 10 November 1733, and baptized at Albany, 11 November 1733. Son of Johannes Schuyler (1697-1741), and Cornelia Van Cortlandt (1698-1762). Philip Schuyler, after the death of his father, was brought up by his mother, and his aunt, Margarita Schuyler. He studied French with the Reverend Peter Stouppe, pastor of the French Protestant Church at New Rochelle, New York. During the French and Indian War, Schuyler served as a captain, and participate in the Crown Point campaign. He became especially knowledgeable about problems of military supply. In 1761 and 1762 he was in England settling quartermaster accounts.
In 1768, Schuyler was elected to the New York Provincial Assembly, where he favored independence. He was a delegate to the second Continental Congress in 1775, and he was appointed 15 June 1775 major general for the Northern Department. He organized the army in New York and prepared for the Canada campaign, which he intended to lead. However, he was compelled by illness to hand over command to Gen. Richard Montgomery, who led the army into Quebec, and into the defeat of New Year’s Eve, 1775. This result was used against Schuyler by his political opponents. When in 1777 Fort Ticonderoga was lost by Schuyler, he was relieved, 19 August 1777, to be replaced BY Horatio Gates, whose victory at Saratoga had nevertheless been prepared for to some extent by Schuyler’s previous action in delaying Burgoyne’s advance. Subsequently, Congress brought suit against charges that he had been incompetent, and neglectful of duty; he demanded and received in October 1778 a trial by court martial, in which he was acquitted “with honor.” However, he resigned from the service 19 April 1779.
In 1779 Schuyler was elected a member of the Continental Congress. In 1780 he worked with General Washington for the reorganization of the army staff departments. Philip Schuyler was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, and in 1786 was elected vice president of the New York State Society. From 1780 on, Schuyler was almost constantly in public office, first as a senator in the New York State Legislature, and later, as a United States senator from New York (1789 to 1791; and 1797 yo 1798). In New York State, he was active in prison reform, in state education, and in the development of road and canal systems. He was a supporter of Union College, Schenectady. From 1784 until 1804 he was a member of the board of regents of the university of the State of New York. In1798, Schuyler retired from public life, because of recurrent attacks of illness. He died 18 November 1804.
Philip Schuyler married, at the Reformed Dutch Church, Albany, New York, 7 September 1755, Catherine Van Rensselaer (bpt. 3 November 1734), daughter of Johannes Van Rensselaer and Engeltie Livingston. They had fifteen children, whose births are recorded in detail in the family Bible: Engletje Schuyler (b. 20 February 1756); Elizabeth Schuyler (b. 9 August 1757) she married Alexander Hamilton; Margarita Schuyler (b.19 September 1758; Cornelia Schuyler (b. 29 July 1761); John Bradstreet Schuyler (b.12 July 1765); Philip Jeremiah Schuyler (b. 29 January 1768); Rensselaer Schuyler (b.29 January 1773) Cornelia L. Schuyler (b.22 December 1775) Cortlandt Schuyler (b.14 May 1778) and Catharine V.R. Schuyler (b.20 February 1781)
Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton, Continental Army
Alexander Hamilton was born at Nevis, British West Indies, 11 January 1757 (alternate evidence gives 1755), son of James Hamilton (b. ca, 1718; d.1799), and Rachel Faucett (b. ca. 1729), Daughter of John Faucett. She had married, circa 1745, Johann Michael Lavien, from whom she separated in 1750, and was divorced in 1759; she lived with James from 1752 in several locations including St. Kitts and St. Eustatia. James left the family in 1765. Rachel and her two children lived on St. Croix from 1765 until her death in 1768. He mother was French and from her he learned the language. In 1772, Hamilton’s ambition and precocious abilities were apparent, and he traveled to the North American colonies to pursue his studies. He began at a Presbyterian school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and in 1773 entered King’s College (later Columbia), in New York, but the conduct of classes was interrupted by the Revolution, and Hamilton did not graduate. He distinguished himself as both a speaker and a writer. Columbia awarded him an honorary degree of A.M. in 1788.
At the beginning of the war Hamilton was a Captain of a New York Artillery unit. After the battles of Brooklyn, Harlem Hts, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton, Hamilton joined Washington’s staff as an aide-de-camp. Hamilton wrote much of Washington’s correspondence, was a translator between Washington and the French, and participated in prisoner exchange. In 1780, Hamiton married Elizabeth Schuyler in Albany. In February 1781, Hamilton left Washington’s staff in an attempt to become a field officer. As the French and American began to plan their attack on Yorktown, Hamilton received his appointment. At the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton led the successful attack on Redoubt #10.
After the war, Hamilton went to Albany, and studied law, and in October 1782 was admitted to practice law in the State of New York. In November 1782 he served as a member of the Continental Congress. He was brevetted colonel 30 September 1783. He retained his appointment as Washington’s aide-de-camp until 23 December 1783. In 1783 Hamilton returned to New York and resumed, with great success, the practice of law. He served as regent of the University of the State of New York In 1787 Hamiton was elected a member of the New York State Assembly (10th session), and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, in Philadelphia. Seeing the need for a strong federal government, and the necessity to overcome resistance to the Constitution on the part of New York State, Hamilton published his series of essays known as the Federalist Papers, the first of which appeared in a New York newspaper on 27 October 1787. New York approved the Constitution in June of 1788.
In the new federal government, Hamilton’s most important post was as secretary of the Treasury, to which he was appointed in September 1789. He obtained the passage in Congress of numerous measures aimed at putting the nation’s finances on a firm basis, including the establishment of a national bank, which was accomplished in 1792. At this period began, between Hamilton and Jefferson, the opposition that was to define American political party divisions for years to come.
When the threat arose in 1798 of war with France, he was appointed a major general in the United States Army, but saw no action, since the anticipated war did not break out. Hamilton continued the practice of law in New York and was active in New York politics. He was an original member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati and was president general of the society from 1799 to 1804. He was a founder of a newspaper, THE New York Evening Post. In 1804, Hamiton supported Morgan Lewis for governor of New York, in opposition to Aaron Burr. From the bitter electoral campaign arose the famous duel between Burr and Hamilton, 11 July 1804. Hamilton was shot, and died the following day. Hs funeral on the 14th of July was conducted by the Society of the Cincinnati, with burial at the churchyard of Trinity Church, Wall Street. In Hamilton’s memory, a marble tablet was erected within the church.
Colonel Goose Van Schaick, 1st New York Regiment
Goose Van Schaick was born at Albany, New York, 5 September 1736, first child of Sybrant Van Schaick (1708–after 1761; mayor of Albany, 1756 to 1761) and Alida Rosenboom. The name Goose (or Goosen, Gozen, et var.) is a familiar baptismal name in Frisian regions of the Netherlands. It is said to be derived from the name of Saint Gosselinus (English “Jocelyn”), or from Saint Goswinus (English “Godwin”). There was a tradition of military service in the family; Sybrant Van Schaick had been a colonel of colonial militia.
Goose Van Schaick in 1755 was commissioned a lieutenant in the New York Provincial troops, and he saw action at the Battle of Lake George. In 1758, at Ticonderoga, he suffered a facial wound from which he never fully recovered, and which ultimately caused his death. He was steadily promoted, until around 1760 he had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. His sympathy with the revolutionary movement became evident in his membership in the Sons of Liberty in 1766, and he was an early member of the Committee of Correspondence in Albany. Van Schaick was commissioned 28 June 1775 colonel of the Second New York Regiment in the Continental Army, assigned 24 November 1775 to the command of Fort George, at the southern end of Lake George. By 8 February 1776 he was back in Albany, where he remained, except for a brief period in Tryon County, until the end of the year. In the Continental arrangement of 21 November 1776, Van Schaick was designated colonel of the First New York Regiment, and the “Colours” were delivered to him 1 January 1777. He remained in Albany from January through April. In the summer of 1777 he was at Fort Ticonderoga.
In March 1778 Washington ordered Van Schaick to march with the First Regiment to Valley Forge, where he arrived 5 May. In October he was sent to relieve Colonel Gansevoort at Fort Schuyler; Van Schaick arrived 23 December 1778. In the spring of 1779 Van Schaick made an expedition against the Indians of the Mohawk Valley, in the course of which he destroyed numerous settlements and took prisoners to be used for exchange, all without losing one of his men. This action was a precursor to the Sullivan expedition that summer. From 1779 onward, Van Schaick and the First Regiment remained at Fort Schuyler until late in 1780, when he was ordered to join Washington’s army. He was at Albany 14 October 1780, and by the 17th at West Point. In June 1780 he had been passed over for promotion, and he went to Philadelphia in order to, as he wrote, “lay my Case before Congress for that Justice which my Rank Intitels me too.” A committee recommended 31 August that Congress award him “the Brevet to Brigadier General” but the promotion was never formally acted upon by Congress, and Van Schaick evidently retained the rank of colonel for the rest of his military career. Certainly, Van Schaick was reputed to be a fine commander, a soldier’s soldier; but he was also known as a man of strong opinions, and he was perhaps not adept at cultivating political alliances, and for this reason he did not receive the promotion to which he felt, with some justice, his service entitled him.
In the reorganization of the army by Congress, the First and Third New York Regiments were consolidated into one, under Van Schaick, effective 1 January 1781. During 1781 and 1782 Van Schaick was frequently away from the regiment, at Albany or Philadelphia, where he sought treatment for the cancerous disease that had resulted from the wound that he had received in 1758 at Ticonderoga. He would have liked, after the war, to continue to serve in the regular army, but when he was not offered a promotion, he retired to his home in Albany. In 1788 his health seriously worsened; he made his will 10 November, and died at Albany, 4 July 1789.
Goose Van Schaick married, at the Reformed Dutch Church of the City of New York, 15 November 1770, Mary (or Maria) Ten Broeck (b. 31 July 1750, daughter of John Tobias Ten Broeck and Elizabeth Oothout, of New York); she died at Albany, N.Y. 15 January 1829. They had seven children: Alida Van Schaick (b. 25 December 1771); John Van Schaick (b. 1 January 1774); Sybrant Van Schaick (b. 19 May 1776); Tobias Van Schaick (b. 9 December 1779); Myndert Van Schaick (b. 16 September 1782); Elizabeth Van Schaick (b. 11 June 1786; d. 18 August 1786); and Abraham Van Schaick (b. 10 November 1787).
Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt, 2nd New York Regiment
Philip Van Cortlandt was born, as he tells us in his autobiographical memoir, in Manhattan, “in a house in Stone Street near the Fort” (Fort George, near Bowling Green), 21 August 1749 (O.S.), and he later celebrated his birthday on the 1st of September (N.S.). He was son of Pierre Van Cortlandt (1721–1814) and Joanna Livingston (1722–1808), who were married 28 May 1748; she was daughter of Gilbert Livingston (1690–1746), and Cornelia Beekman (1693– 1742). Philip was named after his grandfather, who died 2 September 1748. Soon after young Philip’s birth the family moved to the Manor of Cortlandt, at Croton, New York. There, Philip Van Cortlandt attended a school where, as he says, he was taught “to read, write badly and something of arithmatick untill the age of fifteen,” when he was sent to Coldenham Academy. He later studied surveying, and he served in the New York provincial militia as a major in the regiment of Col. James Ver Planck (before 1774). Of this period, he writes: “in the Spring of 1775 observing that a crisis was fast approaching when it would be necessary to take an active position for or against our Country I did not hesitate, but Immediately declarid my intention of risquing my all my property and life if necessary in the Defence of my Country.” This was in spite of efforts to persuade him by loyalist members of his family, such as Philip Van Cortlandt (1739–1814) of New Jersey, who served with the British, and later lived in England, where he died.
Van Cortlandt was a member of the New York Provincial Congress that met 29 May 1775. He was made a member 9 June of the “Committee of Arrangement of Troops” to be raised, and on the 18th was commissioned a lieutenant colonel under Col. James Holmes, in the Fourth Battalion of New York troops, and was ordered to Albany, where he organized the men and had to provide clothes, arms, tents, and other supplies. From there he marched to Ticonderoga, where he was “confined with a fever” for a time. In October 1776 he was at the Battle of White Plains.
Van Cortlandt was appointed 21 November 1776 colonel of the Second New York Regiment, which he joined at Trenton, where he saw the Hessian prisoners that had been taken, and met with Washington and congratulated him on the victory at Trenton and Princeton. Van Cortlandt served in the Mohawk Valley, at Saratoga, and at Kingston; and he was at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777–1778. In 1779 his regiment served in General Sullivan’s campaign in western New York, and then wintered at Morristown, New Jersey until 1780, when he and his regiment were ordered to West Point. In the fall of 1781 his regiment marched to Yorktown, and after the surrender of Cornwallis returned north to quarters in Pompton, New Jersey. In 1783 he was awarded the rank of brigadier general, in recognition of his “gallant conduct” at Yorktown. He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, and served as treasurer.
After the war, Van Cortlandt settled at the manor house at Croton, and plunged into the public life of the country. He was one of the Commissioners of Forfeiture, who supervised the sale of lands seized from loyalists, such as members of the Philipse family, who had owned much of what is now Westchester County. In 1788 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention, as a representative from Westchester County. In the dispute over ratification, which Governor George Clinton opposed, Van Cortlandt took the side of the supporters, and soon was elected a member of the New York State Assembly, where he was again elected in 1789, and later served in the State Senate. In 1793 he became a representative in the U.S. Congress, and served on several committees. He again was elected to Congress in 1801, at the new national capital in the District of Columbia, and served until 1809. He retired when he was sixty years old, and lived at his family house, where he welcomed Lafayette in 1824. Philip Van Cortlandt never married. He died 5 November 1831, and is buried at the Van Cortlandtville cemetery, in Peekskill, New York.
Lt. Colonel Richard Varick, Northern Department, Continental Army
Richard Varick was born 25 March 1753, and baptized (as Dirck Varick) at the Reformed Dutch Church, Hackensack, New Jersey, son of Johannis Varick (1723-1809), and Jane Dey. Richard studied law, and at the time of the Revolution he was practicing in partnership with John Morin Scott, a prominent leader of the Revolutionary movement. Varick was appointed 28 June 1775 a captain in the First New York Regiment, under Col. Alexander McDougall. As of 1 August 1775, Varick was on leave. In 1776 he was active in recruiting for his company, which as of 26 April showed a total of 43, but more recruits were needed to complete the roster. As of June 1776, he currently held an appointment as aide-de-camp to Gen. Philip Schuyler, and in September resigned as captain in the First New York. But in the same month, Varick was appointed deputy muster master general, with rank of lieutenant colonel; he was appointed 10 April 1777 senior deputy commissary general of musters, serving until June 1780 (when the Department of Musters was discontinued). Varick’s next appointment, August 1780, was as aide-de-camp to Gen. Benedict Arnold, whom Varick served until Arnold’s plot was revealed. Varick was understandably concerned for his own reputation, fearing that he might be regarded as sharing “by association” in Arnold’s guilt. So Varick requested and received a formal public inquiry into his conduct, and solicited testimonials from, among others, General Schuyler, who wrote, 15 October 1780, an enthusiastic confirmation of Varick’s “strict Honor, probity, & virtue.” Varick’s reputation was definitely restored when General Washington appointed him, 25 May 1781, to copy and official record of Washington’s correspondence, which occupied Varick’s constant attention until 1 January 1784. Washington wrote to him, in a letter dated 9 January, of his “entire approbation” of the work, and his conviction that the records would be valued both by the present age, and by posterity.
Varick was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. Upon his return to civilian life in new York, he became recorder of the City of New York, in 1784. With Samuel Jones, he helped revise the tatutes of the State of New York. Varick was elected to the assembly in 1786, and served in the 10th session (1787) and in the 11th session (1788), in both terms as an assemblyman and as speaker. He was attorney general of New York (1788 to 1789), and mayor of the City of New York from 1789 to 1801. From this time on, his party (Federalist) was out of favor, and Varick did not again hold public office, although he was active in other spheres. Since 1795 he had been a member of the Reformed Dutch Church in New York, and he was the first president of the Sunday School Union, founded to promote the establishment of Sunday schools in New York (circ 1820). In 1817 he was a member of a commission to appraise the property of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company. He was president of the Merchant Bank, and was a founder of the American Bible Society, of which he was the third president (1828-1831). Varick served as president of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati from 1806 until his death, 30 July 1831, at Jersey City. He was buried at the Reformed Dutch Church at Hackensack, New Jersey. with burial at the churchyard of Trinity Church, Wall Street. In Hamilton’s memory, a marble tablet was erected within the church.
Richard Varick married, in the City of New York, 8 May 1786, Maria Roosevelt (b.5 August 1763), daughter of Isaac Roosevelt (1726-1794), and Cornelia Hoffman (1734-1789). Varick’s widow applied for pension benefits 25 April 1839, as a resident of the City of New York, aged 75. She died 19 July 1841. There is no record that there were children of this marriage.
Colonel Peter Gansevoort, 3rd New York Regiment
Peter Gansevoort was born at Albany, New York, 17 July 1749, son of Harme Gansevoort (1712–1801) and Magdalena Douw (1718–1796). Gansevoort was appointed 19 July 1775 major of the Second New York Regiment under Col. Goose Van Schaick, and served in the Canada campaign. Gansevoort was promoted to lieutenant colonel 19 March 1776, and in July he was at Fort George, on the Niagara River. In the arrangement of 21 November 1776 Gansevoort was appointed colonel of the Third New York Regiment. As of 18 January 1777 he was at Fort Constitution.
In April 1777 Gansevoort was in command of Fort Schuyler, which, because of its strategic location in central New York, was soon to play an important role in the defense against the British three-pronged attack, aimed at uniting with Burgoyne on the Hudson. The British campaign from the west was led by Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger, who approached Fort Schuyler with a force of nearly 2,000 including many Indians. Gansevoort had less than half that number of men. St. Leger besieged the fort, 3 August 1777. Gen. Nicholas Herkimer was on the way to assist the fort, and part of St. Leger’s force met him (6 August) at Oriskany, where Herkimer was mortally wounded. While this battle was being fought, Gansevoort (not knowing of the battle at Oriskany) sent out a force under Marinus Willett, who successfully raided a camp while its forces were at Oriskany. St. Leger demanded 9 August the surrender of Fort Schuyler, to which Gansevoort replied that it was his “determined resolution,” with the forces under his command, “to defend this Fort at every hazard to the last extremity, in behalf of the United American States who have placed me here to defend it against all their enemies.” Meanwhile, in response to Gansevoort’s request to General Schuyler for assistance, Benedict Arnold was on his way from Stillwater with reinforcements, and as he approached, he ensured that the British would receive an exaggerated rumor of Arnold’s strength. His stratagem worked, and the Indian allies deserted the British; St. Leger retreated, 23 August 1777. Arnold arrived on the 24th, and soon afterwards marched back to join in facing Burgoyne at Saratoga.
Gansevoort was congratulated by Congress, and his officers signed a testimonial to him 12 October 1777: “We congratulate you that those Characteristics which so eminently point out the Gentleman and Soldier, have by your Personal bravery been deservedly noticed by our Bleeding Country.” Gansevoort remained at Fort Schuyler as Colonel Commandant through 1778, and participated in the Sullivan expedition in the summer of 1779. In 1780 Gansevoort was at Saratoga. And in 1781, he was on active duty as a brigadier general of Albany County militia. After the Revolution, Gansevoort served as a major general of New York militia, and as a brigadier general in the United States Army, 15 February 1809. He died 2 July 1812.
Peter Gansevoort married, 12 January 1778, Catherina Van Schaick, sister of Col. Goose Van Schaick (q.v.), and daughter of Sybrant G. Van Schaick and Alida Roseboom. Of Gansevoort’s marriage there were six children: Herman Gansevoort (b. 12 September 1779); Wessel Gansevoort (b. 23 November 1781); Leonard H. Gansevoort (b. 15 October 1783); Peter Gansevoort (b. 18 December 1786); Peter Gansevoort (b. 22 December 1788); and Maria Gansevoort (b. 6 April 1791), mother of Herman Melville (b. 1819), by her marriage to Allan Melville (d. 28 January 1832).
Lt. Colonel Marinus Willett, 3rd New York Regiment
Marinus Willett was born 31 July 1740 in the vicinity of Jamaica, Queens County, New York, son of Edward Willett (b. 1702), and Aletta Clowes. Willett’s father was an innkeeper. Marinus Willett had some elementary education at a local school, and began work to learn the trade of cabinetmaking. He served in the colonial militia as a lieutenant, and was in Abercromby’s expedition to Ticonderoga in 1758, and in the capture of Fort Frontenac. On Willet’s return to New York, he again worked as a cabinetmaker. During the 1760s and early 1770s, he was a leader of the Sons of Liberty in New York. He was commissioned 28 June 1775 captain of a company in the First New York Regiment of Continental forces, under Col. Alexander McDougall (q.v.). Willett participated in Montgomery expedition to Canada in 1775, and in 1776 was again in New York, where he was at the Battle of Long Island, and the retreat to White Plains. Willett was named 21 November 1776 lieutenant colonel of the Third New York Regiment, under Col. Peter Gansevoort. Willett served at Fort Constitution, and at Fort Stanwix. He participated in Goose Van Schaick’s expedition against the Indians, in April 1779, and in General Sullivan’s western New York expedition in the summer of the same year. Willett resigned from the regular army in 1781, when the five New York regiments were consolidated into two; but he accepted an appointment as a colonel of levies and militia, and saw much action in western New York, through February 1783, when he led a troop of men on snowshoes to attempt an attack on Fort Oswego, which was at that time occupied by the British.
After the war, Willett was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1783, but instead chose to serve as sheriff of the City of New York, from 1784 to 1788, and from 1792 to 1796. In 1790 he was on a federal mission to the Creek Indians. In the early 1800s, Willet was prominent in New York politics, both city and state. In 1807 Morgan Lewis (q.v.) appointed Willet mayor of New York. In 1811 he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. In 1824 and 1828 he campaigned for John Quincy Adams. At the age of ninety, Willett died in New York, 22 August 1830, at his home, “Cedar Grove,” on the East River. He was buried at the churchyard of Trinity Church, New York.
Willett married (1) 2 April 1760 Mary Pearson (b. 1746; daughter of his first employer), who died 3 July 1793. They had one child, Marinus Willett (b. 1761). While stationed at Fort Plain (1781 to 1783), on the Mohawk River, Willett fathered an extra-marital child, Marinus W. Seeber, son of a widow, Mrs. Seeber. Late in 1793 Willett married (2) Susannah (Nicol) Vardle (or Vardill); they were divorced in the late 1790s (no issue). Around 1800 Willett married (3) Margaret Bancker (1783–1876), and they had five children, born between 1800 and 1810: Marinus Willett (1801–1840); William Marinus Willett (1803–1895); Edward Marinus Willett (b. 1805), Elbert Marinus Willett (d. 1834), and Margaret Willett.
Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 4th New York Regiment
Henry Beekman Livingston was born 9 November 1750, second son of Robert R. Livingston (1718–1775) and Margaret Beekman (bpt. 1724; d. 1800). Henry Beekman Livingston had been a commissioned officer during the colonial period, and was appointed in early July 1775 captain of the Dutchess County Company of the Fourth Regiment of the New York Continental forces. He at once began, as he states in a letter to the Provincial Congress, to enlist his men. He sent to Congress 8 August 1775, a list of upwards of 72 men enrolled. Livingston soon joined the Canada campaign, and from St. Johns he wrote in detail to his father in a letter of 6 October, describing the action he had seen during the siege under General Montgomery. When Montgomery took Montreal, the general sent word to General Schuyler, requesting him to “send Harry Livingston with your dispatches for Congress.” Schuyler sent Livingston to Philadelphia with a letter of recommendation to President Hancock describing the bearer: “Captain Livingston (who brought me General Montgomery’s despatches) as a gentleman whose alertness and zeal has caused him to be distinguished in the army.” Congress rewarded him with a ceremonial sword “of the value of one hundred dollars” and a promise of promotion “on the first opportunity.” Livingston expressed his thanks in a letter that was read before Congress on 22 December, and he was nominated for promotion to major 28 February 1776, and elected 8 March lieutenant colonel of a new regiment to be raised under Col. James Clinton. This force, referred to as the Second Battalion, was ordered by General Washington, in a letter to Livingston, to undertake construction work at Forts Montgomery and Constitution in the Hudson Highlands.
Later in 1776, Livingston was stationed on Long Island, and during the Battle of Long Island was cut off from the rest of the American army, but succeeded in moving with his men across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, and returning to New York. Washington took note of his “activity and zeal for the service” and recommended Livingston for promotion. He was put in command of the Fourth Regiment, 21 November 1776. Livingston was next stationed at Peekskill under Brigadier General McDougall, with whom he became involved in a quarrel that led to Livingston’s court martial, terminating in a reprimand for the young colonel for his “great imprudence and indiscretion in some parts of his language and conduct towards the general.”
Livingston’s next campaign was in northern New York to face General Burgoyne. Livingston was at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, 19 September 1777; there, and in subsequent encounters his conduct won special recognition for “alertness and good order.” Upon the surrender of Burgoyne, the Fourth Regiment was ordered to Albany, where Governor Clinton sent Livingston in late October to New York with a message to the British command there. During the winter of 1777–1778, the Fourth Regiment was at Valley Forge, where Livingston on Christmas Day wrote to Governor Clinton of how his regiment was “wholly destitute of clothing, the men and officers perishing in the field.” In 1778 he was at the Battle of Monmouth, where he was slightly wounded, and noticed with distinction.
Livingston’s last campaign was under Gen. John Sullivan in Rhode Island, during August 1778, where he was again distinguished in action. But Livingston resigned 13 January 1779 without giving an explanation for his action. It has been suggested that he was protesting his not having received further promotion in rank. Upon his retirement he lived at Philadelphia, but in October 1780 he commanded a force of levies that were sent to Tryon County, New York to reinforce the militia.
After the war, Livingston was appointed attorney general; he later served as chief justice of the State of New York. He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. He saw service in the War of 1812 as a major general. He died at Columbia County, New York, 5 November 1831.
Henry Beekman Livingston married, at Philadelphia, 11 March 1781, Anne Hume Shippen, daughter of Dr. William Shippen and Alice Lee. They had one child, Margaret Beekman Livingston, who died unmarried.
Colonel Aaron Burr, Malcolm’s Additional Regiment, Continental Army
Aaron Burr was born at Newark, New Jersey, 6 February 1756, son of Aaron Burr (1716-1757), and Ester Edwards (1732-1758). Aaron Burr (Jr.), was born of two distinguished families. His father was a prominent presbyterian minister, and second president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton); under his leadership the college moved in 1756 from Newark to Princeton. Burr’s mother, Ester Edwards, was daughter pf the eminent New England preacher Jonathan Edwards, who succeeded Aaron Burr (Sr.) as president of the college. Burr’s parents died when he was less than three years old, and he and his sister Sarah Burr were brought up by relatives, at first in Philadelphia, later in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and eventually back in New Jersey, where he entered the college in 1769.
After graduation Burr at first studied theology, but soon decided to study law. However, the Battle of Bunker Hill inspired his enthusiasm for the cause of independence, and in 1775 he traveled from New Jersey to Cambridge, Massachusetts to join the Revolutionary army. He enlisted in the forces for the Canada campaign, under benedict Arnold. Upon being sent by Arnold with a message to General Montgomery, Burr won Montgomery’s favor, and was made a captain, and his aide-de-camp. Burr was in the disastrous assault on Quebec 31 December 1775, and according to one account, when Montgomery fell, Burr picked up the commander’s body and carried it through the snow in the retreat. Burr remained in Canada for a period before traveling to Albany on a mission for Aarnold. Proceeding to New York City, and was made aide-de-camp, 22 June 1776, with the rank of Major, to Gen. Israel Putnam. Burr was in action at the battle of Long Island and in the retreat through Manhattan to Westchester County. But Burr’s appointment gave him little scope for action or promotion, and he resigned, 4 January 1777.
Burr was appointed 29 June 1777 lieutenant colonel in Col. William Malcolm’s additional regiment of Continental forces. Burr accepted the appointment, but complained to Washington that it subjected him to the command of men with less seniority. However, Malcolm gave Burr considerable authority, and he soon made many new recruits, and improved the discipline of the unit. He was at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778, and at the battle of Monmouth in June of 1778. Later that year he served in the Hudson Valley, gathering intelligence. And in January 1779 Burr was stationed under Gen. Alexander McDougall, in Westchester County, then a lawless, devastated region known as the neutral ground, between the British headquarters in New York City, and the Continental forces in the Hudson Highlands. In Westchester, burr showed tireless energy in protecting persons and property from abuse. But Burr’s health was weakening, and he decided to resign from the service, which he did, 3 March 1779. Throughout his military career, Burr’s reputation was characterized by heroic behavior under fire, and thorough, dedicated performance of his administrative duties. He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati.
After leaving the service, Burr resumed his legal studies, and in 1782, as a resident of Albany, he was admitted to the practice of law in the state of New York. He married, 2 July 1782 Theodosia Bartow Prevost. Of New Jersey; she was the widow of Lieut. Col. Jacques Marc Prevost of the British Army. The following year, Burr with his family, moved to the City of New York, and he soon became prominent not only as an attorney, but also as a public official and political leader. In 1784 he was elected to the New York State Assembly. He was also, in 1786, a lieutenant in the militia.
In 1788 Burr ran again for election to the assembly, but was defeated; but he was appointed state attorney general 29 September 1789 by Gov. George Clinton. Burr later ran successfully for the United States Senate, replacing Philip Schuyler in 1791, and serving for six years. In 1798 Burr served again in the New York State Assembly, and worked successfully on behalf of Republican party interests, preparing the way for him to run successfully in 1800 for national office. After a closely contested election, which was finally decided in the House of Representatives, Burr became vice president under Jefferson.
Colonel Lewis Dubois, 5th New York Regiment
Lewis Dubois was born 16 July 1744 (according to the Elias Dubois family Bible), and was baptized at the Reformed Dutch of Fishkill, Dutchess County, 9 September 1744, son of Elias Dubois (1725–1756) and Susanna Vanderburgh (bpt. 1725), and brother of Henry Dubois (q.v.). In 1762, as a member of Capt. Isaac Ter Bush’s company of Dutchess County provincial militia, Lewis Dubois is described as a carpenter, 5 feet, 7 inches tall. He was appointed 8 July 1775 a captain in the Revolutionary forces; a company muster roll is dated 21 August. His company then joined General Montgomery’s invasion of Can
Dubois was commissioned 25 June 1776 “to raise a regiment for three years or during the war.” This was to become the Fifth Regiment of the New York Line, with Dubois as colonel (appointed 26 June), and Jacobus S. Bruyn (q.v.) as lieutenant colonel. Dubois is referred to by a congressional committee 21 November 1776 as having been “well recommended to this Committee as an exceeding good Officer capable of commanding a Regiment with Credit to himself & advantageous to his country.” His regiment was posted in the Hudson Highlands at Fort Montgomery when it fell to a powerful British assault, 6 October 1777. Dubois suffered a bayonet wound in the neck, but succeeded in escaping with two hundred of his men; however, numerous others of the Fifth Regiment were taken prisoner by the British. The remnants of the unit served in the Iroquois campaign of the summer of 1779. Dubois resigned 22 December 1779. He was appointed colonel of a regiment of New York State levies 1 July 1780, and served in the Mohawk Valley in 1780 and 1781.
Before the war, Lewis Dubois had built a house on Dutchess County land that he had inherited from his ancestor Matheus Dubois. After Lewis Dubois completed his service, he returned to the house to live there with his family. He is listed in the 1790 census as a householder in Poughkeepsie. He held public offices in Dutchess County, and was appointed a brigadier general of Dutchess County militia (17 April 1787), and served until 13 June 1793. He sold the house in 1792 to Henry G. Livingston (through many changes of ownership, it is still standing). About this time Dubois moved to Maysfield, Montgomery County. In 1796 he was a representative for Montgomery County in the New York State Assembly, 19th session. By 1805 he was again a resident of Poughkeepsie, when, by legislative Act of 28 March 1805, he was awarded New York State bounty land. As of 28 March 1818, when Dubois applied for pension benefits, he was living in the City of New York. In 1820, according to pension papers, he was living in Poughkeepsie, aged 76, with a wife aged about 73, and a granddaughter aged about 17. The 1820 census lists him in Poughkeepsie with a household consisting of one male 45 or over, one female 45 or over, and one female aged 16 and under 26. He died 4 March 1824; articles appeared in the Dutchess Observer, and in the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Lewis Dubois married (1) 6 January 1765 (by license 31 December 1764), Alida Van Kleeck (d. after 1793), daughter of Baltus Van Kleeck and Catherine Van der Bogart. Of this marriage seven children are recorded: Elias L. Dubois (b. 1766); Catharine Dubois (b. 1768); Johannis Dubois (b. 1769); Susanna Dubois; Catharine Dubois (b. 1775); James Dubois; and Simon Dubois. Lewis Dubois married (2) name given in printed accounts as “Aubry” (or “Ruby”) Dubois, from estate administration papers (1824), Dutchess County Surrogate’s Office (box 1092); also mentioned in estate papers are sons Elias L. Dubois, Henry Dubois, Anthony Dubois, and Lewis Dubois.
Note: The above material was taken from the “New York State Society of the Cincinnati Biographies of Original Members & Other Continental Officers” written by Francis J, Sypher and has a copyright date of 2004