Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, October 08, 2007

American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October, 1776


Long before the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776, General George Washington feared the British might land troops in the Manor of Pelham in an effort to cut off any possible escape by Washington's army from the Island of Manhattan to the interior of the mainland. Consequently, American troops guarded the shores of the Manor of Pelham watching for any sign of the British. An exchange of letters between American Generals Heath and Saltonstall both written on October 1, 1776 specified the number of men guarding Pelham's shores on that date -- only 17 days before the Battle of Pelham. The texts of the letters are transcribed below, followed by a citation to their source.

"GENERAL HEATH TO GENERAL SALTONSTALL.

King's Bridge, October 1, 1776.

DEAR SIR: Your Militia have not as yet come forward. I beg you would hurry them, as they are wanted immediately. Two regiments are to take post on New-York Island, agreeable to his Excellency's orders lately given to you. Four were to join Colonel Chester, two of which are now to be posted on Harlem river, nearly opposite to Head-Quarters. Colonel Throop's regiment is to come forward without loss of time, and take post at the last-mentioned place. Major Rogers's regiment is to remain on the sea-coast; Captains Wheat and Perkins are to remain at the Saw-Pitts; the other companies of that regiment are to be posted in the most judicious manner between the Saw-Pitts and East-Chester, in such manner as most effectually to secure and guard the coast.

I am, dear sir, yours affectionately,

W. HEATH.

To General Saltonstall.

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GENERAL SALTSONSTALL TO GENERAL HEATH.

West-Chester, October 1, 1776.

SIR: Yours of this day is before me. Yesterday ordered two regiments, Lieutenant-Colonel Stores's and Major Greaves's, immediately to march on to New-York Island and encamp on the ill opposite Fort Washington, and apply to his Excellency for further orders. Two regiments, Lieutenant-Colonel Ely's and Lieutenant-Colonel Smith's, immediately to march on the hill westward of my lodgings, to occupy the tents now standing, left by the late Connecticut Militia. One regiment, Colonel Douglass's, is posted here. One regiment, Colonel Hosford's, out of which one hundred and seventy-five men are posted at Manor of Pelham, and guard four miles of sea-coast, having only fifty men more to march, as the number of one hundred and seventy-five was left to my discretion, with advice of Colonel Joseph Drake, who then urged to have more guards for that length of coast; but if you don't order otherwise this day, will order the remainder of said regiment to march forward. The four first-mentioned regiments are now on their march for their destination aforesaid, but shall order the several regiments, with Colonel Throop's, immediately to march to the post you assign on Harlem river, and give Major Rogers orders agreeable to your direction. His Excellency told me my command would be where the greater part of the brigade was, and consequently on this side King's Bridge.

I am your most humble servant, G. SALTONSTALL.

To Major-General Heath."

Source: Force, Peter, American Archives: Fifth Series, Containing a Documentary History of the United States of America, from the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, to the Definitive Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, September 3, 1783, Vol. II, p. 828 (Wash., D.C.: M. St. Clair Clarke and Peter Force, May 1851).

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