The Battle of Sag Harbor, May 1777

Photo by Michael Kleen

A daring raid on Long Island loyalists results in a bloodless victory for colonial rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Sag Harbor (aka Meigs’ Raid) was fought on May 24, 1777 between American patriot forces led by Col. Return Jonathan Meigs and British loyalist forces commanded by Cpt. James Raymond near Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The raid was a stunning success, with the Americans capturing British fortifications at bayonet point without a single casualty.

During the Revolutionary War, Sag Harbor was an important port on Long Island used to resupply British troops and launch raids across Long Island Sound on states like Connecticut. In May 1777, one such raiding party docked at Sag Harbor to join the 70-man Loyalist battalion stationed in a palisade on Meeting House Hill. Patriot Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs assembled a force of 234 men to attack the garrison and spoil their plans, although only 170 made it to Long Island.

Meigs’ small force landed in the early morning hours and divided into two parties. The first headed to the harbor to destroy British boats, and the second, with bayonets fixed, aimed to take the garrison on Meeting House Hill. The attacks took the Loyalists by surprise and only one shot was fired. The Patriots killed six men, captured 90, and destroyed a dozen boats before returning triumphantly to Connecticut.

Fought between Great Britain and her Thirteen American Colonies from 1775 to 1883, the Revolutionary War led to a Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies won their independence, at the cost of an estimated 158,000 British, American, French, German, Spanish, and American Indian lives. It was a dynamic and surprisingly international conflict.

Though the British earthworks have long disappeared from Meeting House Hill, the small burial ground remains. An Egyptian-revival church called First Presbyterian Church of Sag Harbor was built in 1844 over the site of a colonial-era church. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994, and today it’s known as the Old Whalers Church of Sag.

A small sign for Meigs Raid is located in the traffic circle at Noyack and Noyack-Long Beach roads (40.99427, -72.33198). Roadside parking is available at nearby side streets but be very careful when approaching the traffic circle on foot. Old Whalers Church of Sag and the Old Burying Ground is located at 44 Union Street in Sag Harbor, New York. The church is not open to tourists, but the graveyard is open from dawn to dusk.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.