Category Archives: Military History

Caldwell Letters From War of 1812 Now Online


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the transfer of the documents to their proper archival materials with Matthew Thorenz and Jill Moore.The Quassaick Chapter, NSDAR, and the Moffat Library of Washingtonville, NY, both located in Orange County, recently completed a year-long project to preserve and digitize a set of four letters belonging to the Caldwell family of Blooming Grove from the War of 1812 era.

The library has other letters from the family that had been previously transcribed by the Blooming Grove Town Historian, but these are the first letters to be digitized and put online for public view. Continue reading

The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale and Moses Dunbar


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ben_franklins_world

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore answers to these questions about how and why Americans chose to support the sides they did during the American Revolution, by looking at the lives of two young soldiers from Connecticut: Moses Dunbar and Nathan Hale.

Taking us through the lives, politics, and decisions of these young men is Virginia DeJohn Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Colorado-Boulder and author of The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution (Oxford Univ. Press, 2017). 
 You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/181

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The Death of Jane McCrea and Revolutionary War Opinion


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John Vanderlyn's "The Death of Jane McCrea"In Upstate New York, few tragedies have the cache of the death of Jane McCrea. In the summer of 1777, British armies were pressing southward through New York to Albany, with the goal of dividing the rebellious colonies.

On July 27, 1777 a young woman named Jane McCrea was killed in the vicinity of Fort Edward. There are conflicting stories about what happened, but most accuse Ottawa or Mohawk allies of Burgoyne in her death.

The murder of the young Loyalist bride changed the public perceptions of the war. General Gates wrote Burgoyne a scathing letter. Sir Edmund Burke, a Whig member of British Parliament, used the tragedy to rail against the Crown’s policies regarding its Indian allies.

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The Jessup Brothers in the American Revolution


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Jessup Patent MapIn the mid-1760s, brothers Edward and Ebenezer Jessup moved from Dutchess County, NY, to Albany and engaged in land speculation in the Hudson River Valley and Lake George area.

The Jessups would become friendly with Sir William Johnson, who had built Fort William Henry in 1755. Thanks to his close relationship with the Mohawk, Johnson became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The Jessups acquired much of their land from Johnson and the Mohawks. Continue reading

USS Slater Opens April 4th in Albany


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USS SLATERUSS Slater is scheduled to open to the public on Wednesday, April 4th. This year will mark the ship’s 21st season in Albany.

A National Historic Landmark, USS Slater is the only remaining World War II Destroyer Escort afloat in America. Destroyer Escorts originally were conceived to battle German Nazi U-Boats while escorting convoys across the Atlantic. Their versatility proved useful in the Pacific defending task forces from Japanese Kamikaze attacks.

Many Destroyer Escorts continued to serve during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. The current US Navy Fleet’s frigates are descendants of these small ships. Continue reading

Frances Metcalf: A Veteran of the Years


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Frances MetcalfAs Women’s History Month ends, Sackets Harbor has quite a woman to remember. During her tenure at the country’s smallest US Naval station, Frances “Frank” Metcalf daily raised and lowered the flag for nine years. She assumed her appointment by the Navy Department after her husband Albert’s death in 1906.

In fact, her husband’s father Henry Metcalf, an English immigrant, accepted the first Navy Yard ship keeper’s role in 1862 after Commodore Bailey stepped down. Albert, assumed his father’s role in 1868 when his father passed away. The title of ‘ship-keeper’ evolved into ‘caretaker’ a decade later, but that didn’t stop his widow Frances from calling herself ship-keeper during her reign. Continue reading

History Mystery: What Happened To Solomon Northup?


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young Harriet Tubman, who served as a spy and scout during the Civil War Solomon Northup, who was lured away from Saratoga Springs and into slavery before the Civil War, wrote a book, Twelve Years a Slave, following his fortuitous rescue in 1853.

Some of his post-slavery life can be tracked via property records, court documents, and newspaper stories. Thus, it is known that he purchased a home for his family in Glens Falls, that he undertook a lecture tour throughout the Northeast, and was involved in the apprehension and trial of the two men who had kidnapped him. Continue reading

Dark Eagle: Was Colonel Jacob Griffin A Spy?


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Colonel Jacob Griffin portraitThe American Revolution forged a nation out of a place where none had existed previously, and in one of history’s truly shocking instances, a modern democracy had created itself and turned on its former master with stunning speed and resolution.

Colonel Jacob Griffin, a tavern keeper from Dutchess County at Fishkill, was a brazen and unflappable American Patriot. He had helped stir anti-British sentiment in 1775 by using his tavern to draft a formidable petition supporting the Continental Congress and openly maligning the Crown. The document demanded the Colonies’ separation from England and mustered 502 signatures.

In the late spring or early summer of 1775, he joined the Dutchess County (New York State) Militia as a Captain and would be promoted to Colonel before War’s end.   As a successful tavern owner Jacob Griffin rubbed elbows with the Continental Army’s elite – Steuben, Putnam, the Marquis de La Fayette and Washington. But is there more to Griffin’s role in the Revolutionary War?

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A Ghost of American Patriot Colonel Jacob Griffin


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Griffins TavernHe is one of the great patriots of the American Revolution, and he is barely known outside of his native Dutchess County, New York.

Born in the Fishkill area ca. 1729-1730 (sources vary), Jacob Griffin was a staunch Yankee Presbyterian, who wanted a clear and a complete parting of the ways with King George III of England.

From the mid to the late 18th century the Thirteen Colonies of British North America experienced one huge wave of social upheaval after the other… the reasons of these societal changes being many and very subtly related to the other. Continue reading