Historic America

The Battle of Mamaroneck, Oct. 1776

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

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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.

Historic America Photography

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the second oldest rural cemetery in the nation. It was established in 1836 on 74 acres of land overlooking the Schuylkill River. Its lovely neoclassical gatehouse was designed in a Roman Doric style by architect John Notman (1810-1865). Laurel Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777)

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) was a Scottish-American physician who settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia and was a personal friend of George Washington. He fought in the French and Indian War and in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, where he was killed at the Battle of Princeton.

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872)

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872), nicknamed the “Old Snapping Turtle,” is most famous for commanding the Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Gettysburg. He commanded the V Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg and replaced Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker as commander of the army. His star faded after Gettysburg, however, as General Ulysses S. Grant personally directed operations in the Eastern Theater. He made Philadelphia his home and died of pneumonia brought on by his old war wounds.

Historic America

The Battle of Fort Slongo, Oct. 1780

George Washington personally awarded a Badge of Military Merit to a soldier wounded in the attack on Fort Slongo, making him the first recipient of what became known as the Purple Heart.

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The Battle of Fort Slongo (aka Salonga) was fought on October 3, 1781 between American patriot forces commanded by Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge and British forces defending Fort Salonga on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The Americans were successful in capturing the fort and all its supplies.

In the fall of 1781, the Continental Army was eager to strike a blow against British-occupied Long Island. Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge chose 50 men from Cpt. Richards’ company and 50 dismounted dragoons commanded by Cpt. Edgar to make an attack on the lightly garrisoned Fort Slongo. Maj. Trescott volunteered to lead the attack. The fort’s commander, Maj. Vanalstine, had gone to New York City and was not present at the battle.

Each force had a different mission. Edgar’s men would assault the garrison, while Richards’ men would surround it and make sure no one escaped. A picked group of ten dragoons led the attack, followed by Maj. Trescott and Cpt. Edgar and the remaining dragoons. The assault began at 3am and was over quickly. The Patriots captured 21 men and one brass cannon, while only sustaining one casualty.

Historic America

The Battle of Setauket, Aug. 1777

This near-bloodless skirmish on the Long Island coast was one of many raids and counter-raids during the Revolutionary War.

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The Battle of Setauket was fought on August 22, 1777 between American patriot forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons and British loyalist forces commanded by Lt. Col. Richard Hewlett in Setauket on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in British victory when Americans withdrew after realizing they couldn’t capture British fortifications without significant casualties.

In early August 1777, British loyalist Lt. Col. Richard Hewlett’s 3rd Battalion of DeLancey’s Brigade, consisting of approximately 260 men, fortified a Presbyterian church in Setauket with breastworks and four swivel guns in anticipation of an attack. In fact, Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam had ordered Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons to take his 500-man force and raid Loyalist outposts on Long Island.

On the night of August 21, Parsons and his force crossed Long Island Sound with several small cannon. The next day, he sent a flag of truce to Richard Hewlett and demanded his surrender. Hewlett refused. The two sides traded fire for three hours, but the Patriot’s small cannon failed to make a dent in Loyalist fortifications. During the fighting, Parsons’ men took cover behind a large boulder now known as Patriot Rock.

Mysterious America

Phantasmal Melody at Fort Stanwix

Since the rebuilt colonial-era fort opened for tourists, some say sunrise brings a haunting melody of musical instruments from the past.

Fort Stanwix National Monument is a reconstruction of a historic fort occupying approximately 16 acres in downtown Rome, New York. Originally built by the British, it was captured and used by American colonists during the Revolutionary War. Since reconstruction finished in 1978, visitors have reported strange encounters with otherworldly sights and sounds, as though ghosts from the past have returned to reclaim their home.

British General John Stanwix originally ordered construction of the fort in the summer of 1758 to guard a portage connecting the Mohawk River and Wood Creek during the French and Indian War. It finished in 1762. The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix between the British and the Iroquois attempted to solidify the frontier boundary and reduce hostility there. The fort was then abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin.

Colonial troops under the command of Colonel Elias Dayton occupied and repaired the fort in July 1776 and renamed it Fort Schuyler. British forces besieged the fort in August 1777, but were demoralized by a colonial raid on their camp and withdrew. It burned down in 1781. A treaty between the United States and the Iroquois League was signed at the site in 1784.

Historic America

The Battle of Young’s House, Feb. 1780

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.

Historic America

Yorktown Battlefield in Colonial National Historical Park

In this decisive Revolutionary War battle, George Washington triumphed over British General Charles Cornwallis, effectively ending the war in North America.

The Siege of Yorktown was fought from September 28 to October 19, 1781 between American and French forces commanded by General George Washington and Marshal Comte de Rochambeau, and British forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a complete American and French victory, with Cornwallis and his army surrendering. Approximately 1,200 soldiers from either side were killed or wounded.

In July 1781, American forces commanded by George Washington met French forces commanded by Comte de Rochambeau north of New York City, where they faced a decision. They could either use their combined force to besiege British controlled New York City, or move south to confront a British army under Charles Cornwallis, which had won a costly victory in North Carolina at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse before marching north into Virginia. They chose to move south.

Cornwallis, commanding approximately 7,000 British and 3,000 Hessian troops, had been ordered to build a deep water port at Yorktown on the Virginia Peninsula. On September 26, Washington and De Rochambeau consolidated a force of 18,900 men in nearby Williamsburg. With help from François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse’s fleet, they bottled up Cornwallis’ men and settled in for a siege.