History From America's Most Famous Valleys
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BATTALION
On August 26, 1775, the Tryon County Committee of Safety appointed the following officers to serve for the Third Battalion of Tryon County Militia vice Colonel Guy Johnson and his officers who were loyal to the King of England. The Patriot officers are as follows: Frederick Fisher (Visscher); Colonel, Adam Fonda; Lieutenant-Colonel, John Bliven; Major, Robert Yates; Adjutant and eight companies with officers were raised from the Mohawk District.
In 1776, the Third Battalion was employed in watching and arresting suspicious loyalists. In January the Tryon County Militia in conjunction with the Albany County Militia under General Philip Schuyler marched to Johnstown and forced Sir John Johnson and his loyalist tenants to surrender all their military stores and sign their parole not to take up arms against the newly formed American government.
For the remainder of the year they were busy making fortifications, scouting, doing garrison duty in various forts (Fort Johnstown, Fort Hunter etc.) and out on alarms searching for approaching enemies that never appeared. Also at times officers were replaced after resigning or others who changed loyalities fled to Canada. Lieutenant-Colonel Fonda resigned and Volkert Veeder was appointed to that position in his place.
In January of 1777, detachments from all four regiments of the Tryon County Militia were sent to Fort Ticonderoga to cut trees to be used in building a floating bridge across Lake Champlain to Vermont. Thus they were employed along with the garrison and scouting duties.
On June 27th, a conference was held at Unadilla between Captain Joseph Brant with about 150 warriors and Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer with about 200 men from the Tryon County Militia regiments. Although hoping to sway Captain Brant to the American cause or at least to remain neutral, the conference ended with Brant and the Mohawks remaining loyal to King George the Third.
On August 6th, one of the most bloodiest battles ever fought on New York State soil took place in a ravine at a place called Oriskany. The Tryon County Militia under General Herkimer were ambushed by Colonel Sir John Johnson with a large force of Indians and Loyalists also known as the King's Royal Regiment of New York. General Herkimer was wounded, Colonel Ebenezer Cox and about 15O to 2OO men were killed from the four regiments of civilian soldiers known as militia. The following known casualities from the Third Battalion were 13 men killed, 13 wounded (including Col. Fisher) and Major Bliven and Petrus Groot were both wounded and taken prisoners.
Lieutenant-Colonel Veeder with a detachment from the Third Battalion marched to Stillwater about the 1st of September and joined the American Army there under General Horatio Gates. They were there during both battles and actively took part in the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7th, following General Benedict Arnold into the German redoubt. During this charge the Third's Adjutant Peter Conyne from Tribes Hill fell wounded and he later recovered from the wound to serve again.
In 1778 and 1779 the Third Battalion was busy guarding against enemy incursions, garrison duty and building fortifications such as the Sacondaga Blockhouse. On March 15th, 1779 Colonel Fisher sent a return to Governor George Clinton giving the strength of the Third Regiment with ten companies with 326 men including officers. This is one of the very few returns for the regiment known to exist. The return showed the strength of the various companies; the smallest company with 25 men including officers to the largest which had 60 men including officers.
In April of 1779 besides building the Sacondaga Blockhouse the regiment was busy gathering and transporting supplies for General James Clinton who was encamped at Canajoharie preparing to later march and join General John Sullivan and campaign against New York's western Indians.
Captain Garret Putman with a few men from the Third Battalion joined General Clinton as volunteers under Colonel John Harper and shortly afterwards Captain Putman was appointed second in command of the volunteers. They were involved in all the skirmishes and the Battle of Newtown which was fought on August 29th.
On May 15th, 1780, Captain Andrew Wemple with several men in his company deserted from the Third Battalion and fled to Canada in the wake of an invasion soon to be launched by Colonel Sir John Johnson from Canada into the Mohawk Valley.
Finally on May 22nd, the rumors became a reality when Sir John Johnson with about 500 Indians, Loyalists and British regulars entered the Mohawk District of Tryon County and burned Caughnwaga (present day Fonda area), Tribes Hill and Johnstown. Besides burning over one hundred buildings, Johnson took over fifty prisoners and many of them were local militia officers and men of influence such as the Fonda's and Sammons's. Johnson's forces of incendaries also killed ten men and only one woman was known to have been tomahawked. This woman was the mother of Colonel Fisher but she soon recovered from the incident.
Some of those killed were Douw Fonda (a man in his seventies), Captain John and Harmon Fisher (brothers of the colonel), Lieutenant Hendrick Hanson, Corporal Amasa Stephens, Aaron and Lodowick Putman, William Gault and James Plateau (these last two men were loyalists). Colonel Fisher was tomahawked, scalped and left for dead but he not only survived his wounds like his mother but he lived a very active life afterwards serving as General of the Montgomery County Militia after the war and he died in 1809.
On October 17th, Sir John with another force of incendaries attacked the Schoharie Valley and burned everything in their path. On October 18th, Johnson and his men arrived in the Mohawk Valley, burned the settlement near Fort Hunter, took prisoners and skirmished with the local militia before finally camping for the night.
On October 19th, Johnson marched for Stone Arabia to destroy it. On arriving at Stone Arabia, Johnson fell in with a party of Americans under Colonel John Brown and a heated battle quickly ensued. The battle ended with an American defeat and Colonel Brown with forty of his men were left dead in the fields on the heights of Stone Arabia.
Johnson continued on along the Mohawk River again burning everything in his path. Later that day 500 men from the Albany County and Tryon County Militias under General Robert Van Rensselaer caught up with the enemy near present day St. Johnsville and another battle soon raged.
Unfortunately Johnson and his men escaped under the cover of darkness and returned to Canada with losing about 50 men taken prisoners, killed and or wounded. The Third Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Veeder suffered only to have Sergeant Hugh McMaster wounded in this battle.
On July 9, 1781, Currytown, a settlement in the Mohawk District (now the Town of Root), was destroyed by a force of Indians and Loyalists under Lieutenant John Dockstader. On July 10th, Colonel Marinus Willett with about 200 American soldiers found the enemy encampment in a cedar swamp in New Dorlach (now Sharon, Schoharie County). After about an hour and a half of fierce fighting the enemy retreated from the field of battle when more Tryon County Militia (mostly from the Second and Third Battalions) under Captain Abraham Veeder arrived. Colonel Willett and his men buried the dead and gathered the wounded and returned to Fort Rensselaer.
On October 24th, Major John Ross with about 600 Indians, Loyalists, Germans, and British regulars burned the settlements from Currytown to Warrensbush. They then crossed the Mohawk River and headed for the Village of Johnstown.
On October 25th, Colonel Willett with about 400 men from the New York and Massachusetts levies and the Tryon County Militia found Major Ross and his men encamped near Johnson Hall and attacked them. A fierce battle was fought until darkness fell over the battlefield and the enemy under Major Ross made their escape. The Third Battalion had lost Sergeant John Eikler, killed,; Captain John Little, Sergeant Michael Myers, Privates Rea Guiles and Philip Martin were wounded and private Jermiah Crowley was taken prisoner in what became the last battle fought during the American Revolution on New York State soil.
On October 30th, Colonel Willett after pursuing Major Ross through the wilderness for several days met a rear guard of Major Ross' detachment under Captain Walter Butler at West Canada Creek and a sharp skirmish ensued. After a few minutes of fighting, Captain Butler fell wounded and three more of the enemy fell dead and the remainder of the enemy's rear guard fled. On crossing the creek, Butler was found to be still alive and was tomahawked and scalped by an Oneida Indian named Anthony. Colonel Willett now halted his troops and decided not to pursue the enemy any further for fear of a possible ambush being ahead on the trail. Willett now returned to Fort Rensselaer without losing a man.
In 1782 and 1783, the Third Battalion saw active garrison duties in the Mohawk Valley. They were out on a few alarms but they were in no major engagements. Finally in April of 1783 peace came to the Mohawk Valley that ended English rule.
In April of 1784, Tryon County was renamed to Montgomery County in honor of General Richard Montgomery who was killed at Quebec in December of 1775.
THE RECREATED THIRD BATTALION OF TRYON COUNTY MILITIA
In 1971 a group of enthused youths belonging to the YORKER-EXPLORER POST 1776 and their Advisor Lewis G. Decker after seeing the re-enactment of the 13th Regiment of Albany County Militia in Saratoga County decided to recreate a regiment that had participated in the War of Independence for the upcoming bicentennial in 1976.
The members in doing research had decided on recreating the Third Battalion of Tryon County Militia also known as the Mohawk District Regiment which was the local militia regiment that incorporated part of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.
The members appointed Barney Brower as sergeant and Lewis G. Decker to Adjutant which he held for 15 years and worked very hard to get the unit organized.
The members obtained patterns from the Brigade of the American Revolution and the 13th Regiment on 18th century clothing and even took sewing lessons from the local 4 H on how to hand sew.
The Third Battalion joined the Brigade of the American Revolution as an applicant unit in 1972 at New Windsor Cantonment. The unit achieved full membership status in 1975 and was designated unit no.31.
The unit is dedicated to preserving local history during the era of the War of Independence and has performed at numerous historical sites such as Saratoga Battlefield, Fort Stanwix, Johnson Hall, Fort Klock, Old Stone Fort Museum and the Herkimer Home.
The Third Battalion was involved in many historical re-enactments such as Sir John Johnson's May 22, 1780 raid and Sir John Johnson's second raid in October 1780 which involved the Battles of Stone Arabia and Klocksfield on October 19, 1780. The Third Battalion in conjunction with the Stone Arabia Battle Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution and the Fort Klock Historic Restoration worked very hard to recreate Johnson's raid of October 1780 which included many regiments that were also recreated of American and Crown units that actually had fought there 200 years ago.
The unit also chose Fort Klock as their headquarters and became junior members of the Fort Klock Historic Restoration and many are members today. Members also belong to the Friends of the Herkimer Home; Friends of Johnson Hall and many other historical organizations.
In 1997, the Third Battalion has grown in size and has continued in preserving the Mohawk Valley history and historic sites.
Anyone who is seriously interested in recreating and doing living
history for this era whether they be man, woman or child should contact the
following for further information.
James F. Morrison, Col.
95 Lincoln Street
Gloversville, NY 12078
The following letters are from the De Graff family papers, Amsterdam and they were printed in the Amsterdam Democrat, November 11, 1897, page 1.
Tribers Hill December 30th 1775
Capt. Emmanuel DeGraff's Company is to consist of all able bodied men below the village creek and south side of the Mohawk River between the King road and the river until it comes to the county line, and the north side of the river northward or up the river until it comes to the division of Hanson and Abeel's patent.
By order of the Committee
Warrensborough July 12 1777
Sir You are hereby Required by orders from the General to Deliver
out of your Company Six able Bodied Men Immediately without Delay with four
days Provisions to march to Fort Schuyler.
N.B. Your men are to meet with the other Companies at Capt Robert Yates at ye Nose with all Speed.
From your obedient servant
John Bliven Majr
To Capt Emanuel DeGraff
Caughnawaga Octr 19th 1776
You are hereby commanded by order of the committee to me directed to apprehend Timothy McCartey and son and commit them forthwith to Johnstown goal; and also to make diligent search after these Torys which have deserted from Albany, to wit; Cornelius Phillips, Hendrick Brown, Francis Pruyn, Melia Knight and John Gibson. You are also ordered by the General to fine all them that were warned in Albanybush and were to appear on the day according to the warning.
Frederick Fisher Col
To Capt Emanuel DeGraff
Caughnawaga Sept. 11th 1778
Sir I require you hereby to march your company to the house of Mart Van Alstine, well armed and two days rations, so that you can be there the 13th inst at 10 o'clock in the morning.
Sir, I am your obedient servant
Frederick Fisher Col
To Capt Emanuel DeGraff
The following excerpts are from Colonel Frederick Visscher's Copy Book for 1779. This copy book also contains part of the year for 1780. Sometimes orderly books, journals, diaries, account books etc. contained entries twenty years past their intended use which proves the lack of paper at times and that no matter how out dated it may be there was always use for it at another time.
Caughnawaga March the 28 1780
I have ordered one third of the Regt to Sacondaga block house and Luck upon it proper that a Field Officer Schould take the Command I therefore hereby Require you to Repair to Johnstown to morrow morning and Recaive the Detachmant so ordered and march them to Sacondaga block house and there take your Station and from there you Seand Schouts towards Crownpoint they schould by Rite Stay out 3 days and after the first Schout is gone a day you Seand an other for feare of an Axcidant.
I have ordered part of the men to Take Snow Schoes along for that purpose - I Reacon it would be proper that you Seand one other Schout to the Northweast from the Poast.
Sir as sone as you make eny discovery you Let me know by Exsprass I trust upon you that if the Enemy Schould Cum that they Schould not get you in a Surpraise as they have dun at Skansburgh which is a Leate Exsemple.
Sir I am your H. Sirt
F. Fisher Colo
March the 29 ordered the Remainder of the Regt onder Arms and
Stationed as follows...
Captains De graaf McMaster & yomans at ould Fort Johnsson Snocks at Trips Hill
Mebes at Conyns
Fisher and Gardenier at Buttelbery
Yetes and Veeder at Adam Fondas
and Pages, wimples, wimps to Johnstown untill farther orders
March 30th the above ordered to keep gaurd both by Night and
day and to Seand Schouts out
I find it Nescassary to order a Court Marcial to Leve Fins upon all the delinquents that have neglected there Duty when ordered out in actual sirvis.
I therefor Require you to be Presidand of Seaid Court and procaide there on Tuesday Neaxt the Fourt of this Instant, Seaid Court is ordered for Captains De Graaf, McMaster, Yomans,Mebe,Lieut Thomas Van Horner, Peter Young, Francis Pruin, Josiaeh Swart, Lowerns Schowler, Peter Van Olinder.
To Major Newkerek
Contributed by James F. Morrison
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