The Battle of Mamaroneck, Oct. 1776

Photo by Michael Kleen

A surprise attack on Rogers’ Rangers ends in defeat for American forces in this little-known Revolutionary War skirmish.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Mamaroneck (also known as the Skirmish of Heathcote Hill) was fought on October 22, 1776 between American patriot troops commanded by Col. John Haslet and British loyalist forces commanded by Maj. Robert Rogers in Westchester County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in British victory when Rogers’ men rallied and drove off their attackers.

Maj. Robert Rogers was the celebrated commander of an irregular force called Rogers’ Rangers during the French and Indian War. He stayed loyal to the British during the Revolution and formed the Queen’s Rangers. When George Washington retreated to White Plains, New York after a series of disastrous defeats, the Continental Army found Rogers’ 400-man regiment encamped at Mamaroneck, separated from the main British army.

The task fell on Col. John Haslet and his 750-man regiment, the “Delaware Blues”, to isolate and destroy Rogers’ force. They approached in total darkness, where they stumbled upon a well-placed advanced guard of 60 men. Though the Patriots overwhelmed them and captured 30 men, the struggle alerted Rogers to their attack.

Rogers’ remaining men stood their ground and repelled the Delaware Blues with disciplined vollies. Overall, three Patriots were killed and twelve wounded to 30 British killed or wounded. Despite escaping destruction, the British were displeased with Rogers’ performance (and some say his alcoholism) and dismissed him from service. He later returned to England.

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.

This sparsely populated area did not fair well during the war, and much of it was ravaged by marauding armies. Heathcote’s manor, namesake of Heathcote Hill, was burnt to the ground. Eventually, the area recovered and is now a thriving community of nearly 30,000 people. New York State erected a simple metal sign commemorating the skirmish, but I was unable to determine in what year.

The Skirmish of Heathcote Hill sign is located along Fenimore Road north of W. Boston Post Road (U.S. Route 1) next to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mamaroneck, New York, at GPS coordinates 40.94629, -73.73714. Roadside parking is available along Fenimore Road.

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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