The Battle of Young’s House, Feb. 1780

Photo by Michael Kleen

A roadside marker, quietly removed from its original location, is all that remains to mark the location of this Revolutionary War skirmish.

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The Battle of Young’s House was fought on February 3, 1780 between American patriot forces commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson and British and Hessian forces commanded by Lt. Col. Chapple Norton in Westchester County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a disaster for the Americans: their outpost was destroyed and nearly every combatant was killed, wounded, or captured.

This area of New York was considered a “no man’s land” between British occupied New York City and Long Island and Patriot forces in Upstate New York. Joseph Young’s stone house and barn became a fortified camp for the opposing sides. It was occupied by Continental Army forces in 1776, the British in 1778, and the Continental Army again in 1779. The winter of 1779-1780 was brutally cold, and frozen waterways left New York City vulnerable to attack. The British decided to harass Patriot outposts to deter any offensive.

Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson and a contingent of 250 men from Massachusetts regiments garrisoned Young’s property, waiting in the harsh snow to be relieved by another unit. Unfortunately, a mixed British force of approximately 550 men, including 100 cavalry, led by Lt. Col. Chapple Norton marched north to seize their outpost.

The American patriots were alerted to the British approach by sentry fire and formed lines of battle to meet them, where they exchanged fire for fifteen minutes. The larger British force flanked them, however, and the Patriots retreated back to the house in disorder. The British soon captured Young’s House and its occupants, and destroyed it. The Patriots lost 14 killed, 37 wounded, and 76 captured to the British five killed and 18 wounded.

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.

Efforts to memorialize the Battle of Young’s House and the American patriots who died there have fallen on hard times. In 1932, the New York State Education Department erected a metal sign at the site of Young’s House on Grasslands Road and Bradhurst, Rt 100A in Valhalla, New York, but I was unable to locate it (I think it’s been removed).

In 1923, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a monument at the entrance to Grasslands Hospital marking a mass grave of soldiers killed at Youngs’ House. Grasslands Hospital is now known as Westchester Medical Center. That marker has since been moved away from the hospital, but I don’t know what happened to the soldiers’ remains.

The Battle of Young’s House stone memorial marker is currently located off the westbound lane of Grasslands Road, just before the on-ramp to Sprain Brook Parkway, at GPS coordinates 41.07427, -73.80255 in White Plains, New York. Parking is on the shoulder only, so park at your own risk.

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.

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