History of the Town of Schaghticoke

the results of research about the history of the town of Schaghticoke

Tag Archives: Tories

Schaghticoke in the American Revolution, service in the 14th Albany County Militia


             In the previous post, I talked about the formation of the 14th Albany County Militia, Schaghticoke’s regiment in the Revolutionary War. Like soldiers in today’s National Guard, the soldiers lived at home and were called out to serve as needed.  I have found that from 1775 to 1782 or 1783 some soldiers in Schaghticoke served at least one or two months every year, quite disruptive for anyone.

               Local men had differing experiences in the 14th Albany, depending on when they volunteered or were drafted and which company they were in. One example is Jacob Yates. Yates was born in 1754. He married Elizabeth Vandenberg in 1776 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Schaghticoke.  He entered the militia the same year.  John Knickerbocker was  his Colonel.  Yates  rose through the ranks to be a Captain by 1780. He served to the end of the war, travelling  many times to Fort Edward, Ballstown, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point, and twice to Montreal. His children applied for his pension after his death at age 77 in 1831 in Schaghticoke.

        Solomon Acker left a more detailed account. Acker was born in Dutchess County in 1753. He entered militia service in May 1775 in Captain Hicks Company of the 14th  in Schaghticoke. During that year he was “employed in watching .. hostiles and Tories at Schaghticoke.” This confirms the account of Beth Kloppott in her History of Schaghticoke, that at the start of the war, the 14th Albany County militia men were called out to guard the district from loyalist activity.

         Early in 1776, Acker was ordered to Albany, and served there and in Johnstown, but he returned to Schaghticoke and a new company in the 14th in June. At the time of the battle of Saratoga in 1777,  Acker states he and his company guarded provisions on the east side of the Hudson at Stillwater.  Another soldier, Cornelius Francisco of Pittstown,  reported the same. On the other hand, Wynant Vandenburgh, in the Company of Captain Jacob Yates (mentioned above), worked all the summer of 1777 moving artillery of the army from Fort Edward to Stillwater, and then to Half Moon, ahead of the advancing British General Burgoyne and his army. That must have been very difficult work indeed.  Vandenburgh was home briefly, but then in early October was in the “first battle and the capture of Burgoyne.” His timing is a bit off, as the first battle was in August. Apparently, Colonel Knickerbocker was wounded or injured at this time, with Colonel Peter Yates, also of Schaghticoke, taking his place.

Some men of the 14th Albany County Militia were present at the surrender of Burgoyne - at least they said they were!

          In the next post, I will report on the experiences of several other local soldiers, and continue the story of Solomon Acker, who played a major role in a dramatic episode in Schaghticoke at the time of the battle of Saratoga.

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

Schaghticoke in the American Revolution, militia service

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