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Schenectady County, New York: Its History to the Close of the Nineteenth Century
Chapter IX: After the Revolution — Close of the Century

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[This information is from pp. 109-119 of Schenectady County, New York: Its History to the Close of the Nineteenth Century by Austin A. Yates (New York: New York History Co., 1902). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 Yat, and copies are also available for borrowing. Thanks to Carol Di Crosta for data entry help with this page.]

The Revolution had dealt far more gently with Schenectady than the Colonial Wars. She had her dead to mourn, sorrows for which the only compensation was the honorable names that left their fragrance as the grass grew greener over the graves in the old Dutch graveyard in Green Street, or on their unknown little homes unmarked but not far away.

The survivors came back to rejoice in the independence of this infant land, but to suffer also in the poverty and depression that settled down heavily on a country with no money but rags, but little experienced in self-government. Not one of those infant industries that we have been of late so generously fostering till they have been nurtured into gigantic dimensions, existed. New names with no Holland gutteral or Dutch melody in them, began to be known and honored.

Gallant soldiers, officers and men, were in these regiments. Col. Abram Wemple did magnificent service. Cornelius Van Dyke, lieutenant colonel of the First New York Continental, Gen. Philip Schuyler's veteran regiment. John Graham, father of the late Mrs. Sarah and Deborah Graham of Washington Avenue, and Major Thornton, were men who achieved high renown.

These officers were all brave, rigid disciplinarians, and brought their regiment to such perfection of drill and soldierly bearing, that the First Veteran New York had not superior in the American army. It is not my intention to follow this old regiment through the early incidents of the Revolution; to speak of their brilliant gallantry at Saratoga and on the plains of Monmouth; but, as derived from actors in the events, such was the estimate of their steadiness and valor, that, on the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, Nicholas Van Rensselaer, one of its captains, a grandson of old Patroon Hendrick was deputed by General Gates to carry a captured flag and the news of the surrender to the anxious citizens of Albany. A regiment so brave, that at the storming of Stony Point, July 16th, 1779, General Wayne placed this regiment in the front; and on the storming of the two redoubts a Yorktown, late in the afternoon of the 14th of October, 1781, where, to excite a spirit of emulation, the reduction of the one was committed to the French under the Baron deViomesnil, and the other to the Americans under the Marquis Lafayette. Colonel Hamilton himself, of New York, led the advanced corps of the Americans, selecting for a part of his column a detachment of Van Schaick's veteran regiment, (First New York, under Major Graham). These troops rushed to the charge without firing a gun, and, passing over the abattis and palisades, assaulted the works on all sides, and entered with such rapidity that the redoubt was immediately carried with inconsiderable loss. The redoubt attacked by the French was defended by a greater number of men and therefore occupied more time in its reduction.

Then, too, Major John Thornton of Schenectady was an officer in the Revolutionary struggle, full of daring, a hero at Saratoga, and a veteran. This was the father of the late Mrs. Volney Freeman of our place and of the late Col. William A. Thornton of the regular army.

It must be borne in mind that the militia in the day of the Revolution was not like the militia of any more modern days. They were fighters, and did as much in battle as any troop. The following is the Controller's report. (New York in the Revolution page 9)

The extensive fighting done within our borders, brought into active and honorable service branches of military, which, in colonies where no fighting was done, were relieved. Our militia were the heroes of many hotly contested fields. The battle of Oriskany, in its percentages of killed and wounded, the bloodiest battle of the war, was won by the militia, and Burgoyne's surrender thereby made sure. The militia bore a highly honorable part in the ever memorable battle of Saratoga. But many men undoubtedly performed splendid service in the emergencies which called out the militia, and then retired quietly to their homes, leaving no record of their service which can now be found.

Again, the portions of New York occupied by the whites were surrounded on almost all sides by tribes of hostile Indians, who were incited and led by still more savage whites. Brant was sometimes humane, but Butler never. The Hurons had inherited from many preceding generations the disposition to make hostile raids upon the territory of their ancient foes, the Iroquois. At the breaking out of the war the influence of Sir William Johnson over the tribes of the Iroquois was almost boundless. His position as Indian agent had brought him into close relations with these tribes, and this position he seems to have honorably used and to have succeeded in convincing them that he was their friend. His mantle, at his death, fell upon his son, Sir John, and his son-in-law, Col. Guy Johnson, and that they used their influence to the fullest extent to stir up Indian hostility to the patriotic citizens west of Albany, is a sad page in the history of the war. It required something more or less than patriotism to induce the frontiersman, to leave his family with the prospects before them of that most horrible of frontier experiences, an Indian raid.

Col. Abraham Wemple was the most prominent commander connected with the Schenectady regiment, and from "Archives of New York, The Revolution," in the Adjutant General's office, the following roll of the regiment is taken as given below. In this regiment only the Schenectady names are given:

Captains

Lieutenants

Ensigns

Additional names on State Treasurer's pay books

Enlisted Men

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