Schaghticoke's men served in the 14th Albany County Militia
In the last post, I spoke of the first task of each district in the new state of New York when the Revolution began: to establish a Committee of Safety and root out possible Tories in the community. The next task of each new state was to assemble the militia. There were experienced soldiers among the residents of Schaghticoke, thanks to service in the militia in the French and Indian Wars. The laws of New York required that every male between the ages of about 18 and 45 be members of the militia, subject to being called to duty as required. (Indeed, a similar law is still in place in the US.) The 14th Albany County Militia was the unit that encompassed the Schaghticoke and Hoosick districts. The Schaghticoke District included modern day Pittstown. On October 20, 1775, John Knickerbocker was appointed the Colonel of the Regiment, which included forty-six officers and 684 men, about 140 of whom were from Schaghticoke. They were divided into seven companies and a company of “Minute Men,” who presumably would be called on first in an emergency. We know the names of many of the men who served in the 14th Albany Militia, thanks to published compilations of records of the New State of New York.
We also know about the service of the militia during the war because some of the members of the local militia lived long enough to be able to apply for Revolutionary War pensions. Indigent veterans were first eligible to apply in 1818, and many more applied under a law in 1832. In order to receive a pension, the men had to prove and detail their service in the war. I have read the pension applications of at least a dozen members of the 14th, and while the details differ, depending on what company the man was in, they all record having been called out to serve once or twice a year from 1775 to 1782, for two to six weeks at a time. We have to remember that these men were writing at least thirty years after the events occurred, and as old, poor men, probably with imperfect memories. On the other hand, being in a war would certainly be a memorable experience. They served in Saratoga, Ft. Edward, Sandy Hill (Hudson Falls), Ft. George, Skenesborough, and other places in this general area. They mostly garrisoned and built forts and breastworks. Several participated in the battle of Bennington, in August of 1777. Of course, they had to walk everywhere they went, a fact that I think we must think about in imagining their service.
It must have been very disruptive to these men, mostly farmers, to be called out unexpectedly over such a number of years. Apparently the commander would call for volunteers among his militia company. If enough men responded, fine, if not, more would be required to serve- or be drafted. I was surprised to read that after the battle of Saratoga, even after the battle of Yorktown in 1781, citizens in Schaghticoke, and indeed all of the northern colonies, continued to worry about invasion from Canada and raids by Tories.
In the next post, I will report on the specific experiences of local soldiers during the war, and continue the story of Schaghticoke in the Revolution.
Bibliography: Fitch, Dr. Asa, Their Own Voices, reprinted 1983
Kloppott, Beth, History of the Town of Schaghticoke, 1980
Roberts, James, NY in the Revolution as Colony and State, 1898.
Various pension papers in Heritagequest.com