Tag Archives: American Revolution

A Short Biography of Engineer Benjamin Prescott


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Pipes of the Albany Water Works excavated by Wolfert Roost CC circa late 1980s002The Wolfert’s Roost Country Club in Albany maintains a small dam, pond, and pump house to provide water for their golf course. In the 1980s workers excavating the pond, which is fed by the Maezlandtkill, discovered several sections of ancient wooden and very early cast iron pipe along with iron bands. The pipe and other artifacts were placed in the woods near the club’s tennis courts and forgotten.

Benjamin Prescott, engineer of Albany’s first municipal water system and the man responsible for those pipes, is all but equally forgotten, despite an illustrious career in engineering.  Prescott served as an Engineer in the American Revolution, Superintendent of the Springfield Armory, and was the designer of several notable projects, including one of this nation’s first inclined planes (on the Connecticut River). He also conducted a 1790s survey of Niagara Falls, consulted on the Erie Canal, designed the Troy Sloop Lock (the Federal Dam) and more. Continue reading

The Battle of Diamond Island on Lake George


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General Lincoln by Charles Wilson PealeToday it’s a State-owned island – a day use area for picnics – but Diamond Island witnessed a horrific bombardment by gun boats manned by Patriots during the American Revolution. The fight occurred during British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to capture Albany. Initially, Burgoyne’s 9,000 man army had successfully captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence in July.

When Burgoyne’s progress stalled near Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, NY), his supplies were quickly eaten up by his extended campaign. Since his large army could not easily live off the land, except for shooting an occasional deer or bear, or boiling up a captured rattlesnake or turtle, the 54-year old general established a long supply line back to Canada. It was anchored by Fort George at the southern end of Lake George and by Fort Ticonderoga at the northern end. Between the two forts, a supply depot, guarded by two companies of the 47th Regiment of Foot under Captain Thomas Aubrey was fixed on Diamond Island. Continue reading

The Oneida Nation Supported American Rebels


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Oneidas  at the Battle of Oriskany in 2009James Kirby Martin, a history professor at the University of Houston, traces his interest in the Mohawk Valley to his birthplace in northern Ohio.

Joseph Brant of the Mohawk Nation was born in what is now Ohio in 1743 and Martin was fascinated by Brant’s life. The younger brother of Sir William Johnson’s longtime consort Molly Brant, Joseph Brant and Sir William’s son John led devastating raids in the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolution.

Sir William, Britain’s Indian agent in our region, died in 1774 before the war. However, his good relations with the Iroquois Confederacy kept most of them on the side of the British during the Revolution. Continue reading

Artillery Day At Knox’s Headquarters


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American Revolution ArtilleryThe long barrel artillery piece or gun was a dominating presence on most of the battlefields of the American Revolution.  Firing solid iron balls out to distances of 1,000 yards and deadly shotgun blasts of caseshot, small iron balls, in a tin canister, up to 300 yards, the gun devastated enemy formations.  The larger versions battered down walls and smashed holes in great warships.

On Saturday, June 20th, from 11 am to 3 pm, Revolutionary War cannon firings every half-hour will highlight a program about the 1780-81 artillery encampment at Knox’s Headquarters in New Windsor, Orange County, NY. Continue reading

James Reynolds Day Salutes Revolutionary War Veteran


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IMG_0193More than a decade ago, Anne Hutchinson-Bronxville Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) member Virginia Reynolds Hefti was credited with helping to save the historic Mt. Zion Burial Ground – part of a historic corridor in Somers, NY – from the threat of commercial development.

Situated on both sides of Primrose Street, the historic corridor also includes the 1794 Mt. Zion Methodist Church (the second oldest surviving Methodist chapel in Westchester County), The Reynolds Homestead, and the Angle Fly Preserve, a 654 acre tract of open space. The historic church and burial ground are listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Continue reading

Hermione Arrives in U.S., Lafayette Exhibit Planned


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Hermoine arrives in Yorktown Virginia“She sails like a bird,” the Marquis de Lafayette wrote of the Hermione – the ship that carried him and a cache of materiel across the Atlantic in 1780 and which is the model for a modern replica which arrived in the United States on Friday.

The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan is celebrating Lafayette, the “Boy General” whose friendship with George Washington and diplomatic networks in Paris helped win the American Revolution with a new exhibit timed to the arrival of the Hermione. Continue reading

On Memorial Day Help Protect Fishkill’s American Revolution Cemetery


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Memorial Day the New York History Blog encourages you to take a moment to support Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot who are working to protect 10.4 acres that include an abandoned American Revolutionary War Soldiers’ Cemetery from commercial development.

In late 2007, an archaeological team rediscovered the cemetery on privately-owned land just south of the Van Wyck Homestead along U.S. Route 9 in Fishkill.  Fishkill served as the Patriots’ principal supply depot throughout the American Revolution, providing troops with supplies, weapons, ammunitions, transport, and food from 1776-1783.  The majority of the original 70-acre site has already been lost to commercial and transportation development. The Van Wyck Homestead served as the headquarters for what was George Washington’s principal supply depot during the Revolutionary War and is the site’s only remaining structure. Continue reading

Manhattan Plans Hermione Welcome, July 4th Festival


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hermoine leaving franceThe Lower Manhattan Historical Society (LMHS), in conjunction with the Bowling Green Association, the Sons Of the Revolution of the State of New York, the Sons of the American Revolution and Culture Now, has announced expanded historical activities in Lower Manhattan for the July 4, 2015 weekend.

On July 1, the Hermione, the full life replica of the ship which the Marquis de Lafayette sailed in 1780 to help save the American Revolution, will arrive at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan as part of its voyage to cities on the Eastern Seaport. Continue reading

A Revolutionary War Cemetery Reveals More Secrets


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn historical researcher studying the pension files of Revolutionary War veterans has identified a Maryland officer who died at the Fishkill Supply Depot and was buried in a long-abandoned Revolutionary War cemetery threatened by development.

In late 2007, an archaeological team rediscovered the cemetery on privately-owned land just south of the Van Wyck Homestead along U.S. Route 9. The Van Wyck Homestead served as the headquarters for what was George Washington’s principal supply depot during the Revolutionary War and is the site’s only remaining structure. Continue reading

Podcast: The Mohawk Valley History Conference


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features coverage of the American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley Conference held May 1-3. The half hour episode features interviews with conference participants Jim Kirby Martin, co-author of Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution (Hill and Wang, 2006); Jack Kelly, author of Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence (Macmillan, 2014); and Don Hagist, author of The Revolution’s Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs (Westholme Publishing, 2015). Continue reading

The Albany Connections of Burr, Hamilton, and Schuyler


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Hamilton-burr-duelDuring the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton served as an artillery captain and later a colonel and trusted aid to General George Washington. Colonel Aaron Burr also served in the Colonial Army and accompanied Benedict Arnold on his march through the Maine wilderness and his failed attempt to capture Quebec. Burr had been with General Richard Montgomery when Montgomery was shot and killed in Quebec. Later in the war, Burr was placed in charge of a regiment and his troops were stationed in Westchester County, New York. Continue reading

1780 Beer Challenge, Rev War Festival May 16th


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1780 Beer ChallengeOn May 16th, The Middleburgh Library, The Albany Ale Project, and Green Wolf Brewing Company are hosting an afternoon (1 pm to 5 pm) event celebrating beer, brewing, and Middleburgh’s Revolutionary War history.

The day’s activities include a Revolutionary War encampment, colonial brewing and cooking demonstrations, 18th century toys and games for kids, talks on the history of beer and hops in upstate New York and the Schoharie Valley, a Schoharie Valley hops display at the Library, beer samples from Green Wolf and MacKinnon Brothers, and Green Wolf brewery tours. Continue reading

George Washington’s Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldWhat drove George Washington to become a Patriot during the American Revolution?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Robert Middlekauff, Professor Emeritus of colonial and early United States History at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader (Knopf, 2015), reveals the answer as we explore George Washington the man and leader. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/026

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Arnold Or Gates: Who Was The Hero of Saratoga?


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Saratoga October 1777  - L to R Sir John Burgoyne, Benedict Arnold and Horatio GatesOn Saturday, April 11, 2015, from 2 to 3 pm, the NYS Military Museum at 61 Lake Ave in Saratoga Springs will host a debate on an old question: Horatio Gates or Benedict Arnold…who is the real hero of the Battles of Saratoga?

National Park Rangers Joe Craig and Eric Schnitzer will present this structured discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of American Generals Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold and how each helped, or hindered, the American victory in the world-changing Battles of Saratoga, called the “most important battle of the last 1,000 years.” Continue reading

Deborah Read Franklin And Sally Franklin Bache


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ben_franklins_worldHave you heard the saying “behind every great man stands a great woman?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Vivian Bruce Conger, the Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities at Ithaca College, joins us to explore the two great women that Benjamin Franklin had standing behind and beside him: his wife, Deborah Read Franklin, and his daughter, Sally Franklin Bache. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/022

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Colonial America Conference for Educators Set


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DCIM100MEDIAFort Ticonderoga will host the Seventh Annual Colonial America Conference for Educators on Friday, May 15, 2015, in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. This day-long conference, while intended for educators, is open to anyone with an interest in helping connect students with history.

The conference focuses on the period 1609-1783 and features presentations by classroom teachers, museum educators, and archivists. The conference precedes Fort Ticonderoga’s Twentieth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War, a weekend-long seminar focused on the French & Indian War (1754-1763). Continue reading

Phebe Reynolds Thwarts The Tories


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phebeJames Eldridge Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County is generally regarded as one of the most thorough and entertainingly written local histories.  Published in 1873, Quinlan’s history is the undisputed bible of Sullivan County’s past, and yet it is not without its shortcomings. Some have criticized what they view as his selective exclusion of material – he does not, for instance, write much about the Civil War, and it has been said that this was because he was a Copperhead, or a southern sympathizer. And each year in March, Women’s History Month, we are reminded that he afforded minimal space in his writings to the women of the era.

That makes the few women he does write about stand out even more than they might otherwise, and no woman receives greater praise from Quinlan than Phebe Reynolds Drake. Continue reading

American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley Conference


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Fort Plain ConferenceThe Fort Plain Museum, in the heart of upstate New York, has announced a Conference on the American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley.

The conference will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 1-3, 2015. Conference attendees will arrive at the Fort Plain Museum Friday evening followed by a cocktail reception and presentation on the history of Fort Plain/Fort Rensselaer. Saturday will include a full day of talks by six authors with a box lunch provided. On Sunday a bus tour will begin at the Fort Plain Museum exploring six historic colonial sites with a guided tour by Fort Plain Museum chairman, Norm Bollen. Continue reading