The 3rd New Jersey Regiment’s Plundering of Johnson Hall

The War Years (1775-1783)

May 18, 2017
by Philip D. Weaver Also by this Author


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The newly formed 3rd New Jersey Regiment, commanded by Col. Elias Dayton, was mustered into the Continental Army on May 2, 1776.  It was reviewed in New York City by Generals Washington, Putnam, Sullivan, and Greene.  The regiment’s Capt. Joseph Bloomfield noted in his personal journal that the generals claimed they were the compleatest and best regiment in the Continental service”[1]  Bloomfield’s 2nd lieutenant, Ebenezer Elmer noted that “Gen Washington made bold to say we were the flower of all the North American Forces”[2]

An engraving of Brigadier General John Sullivan.

Wasting no time, the regiment embarked in sloops for Albany the very next day.  They were bound for Canada, with several other regiments belonging to Brig. Gen. John Sullivan’s relief force.[3]  Apparently Colonel Dayton was not with them.  He received the following order by Adjutant General Horatio Gates from Headquarters in New York, dated May 9, 1776:

It is his Excellency General Washington’s orders, you proceed to Albany, where you will receive and obey the orders of Major-General Schuyler, with respect to joining your Regiment upon their march to Canada, and to the assistance he thinks proper to order you to give in transporting ammunition, artillery, stores, and provisions, to Quebeck.  As the service requires despatch, his Excellency depends upon your utmost diligence in forwarding every part of it that you are, or may be hereafter commanded to execute.[4]

Not long after arriving in Albany, New York, Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler changed those plans to move north when he wrote Colonel Dayton, on May 14, and informed him that Brig. Gen. John Sullivan would order him to proceed out the Mohawk Valley to Johnstown, with a detachment of his regiment.  After performing some other business, he was to:

… let Sir John Johnson know that you have a letter from me, which you are ordered to deliver in person, and beg his attendance to receive it.  If he comes as soon as you have delivered the letter, and he has read it, you are immediately to make him close prisoner, and carefully guard him, that he may not have the least opportunity of escape. When you have done this you are to repair to his house, taking him with you; and after having placed proper sentinels to prevent any person belonging to the family from carrying out papers, you are to examine his papers in his own presence … .

Although Sir John Johnson is to be closely guarded, he is by no means to experience the least ill-treatment in his own person, or those of his family; and you are to be particularly careful that none of the men under your command, or any person whatever, destroy or take away the most trifling part of his property, except arms and ammunition, which you are to secure, and bring down with you, and deliver to Mr. Philip Van Rensselaer, Storekeeper, with a charge to keep them safe until further orders from me.

In securing Sir John Johnson, and in searching his house, I wish the least tumult possible; and, to that end, you are not to suffer a private soldier to enter it, unless by your immediate order.[5]

On the evening of May 16, all able-bodied, effective, and fully accoutered men in the 3rd New Jersey were assembled in Albany, New York.  By directions from Major General Schuyler, Brigadier General Sullivan had the men drawn up and strictly examined.  He then ordered that forty of the best and most able men, plus two officers, be selected from each company and be mustered at six o’clock the next morning, with all things in order and six days provisions in their knapsacks.  Intended for a secret expedition, they were provided with flints, powder, ball, and required provisions.  However, they were lacking enough cartridges, so they did not step off until one o’clock in the afternoon.[6]  The rest of the officers and men, except the sick and unfit for duty, followed at five o’clock in the evening of May 20.[7]

The front door of Johnson Hall, in Johnstown, New York, as it stands today. (NYSOPRPH/Johnson Hall)

The select men of the 3rd New Jersey began arriving in Johnstown, New York, late in the afternoon on May 19 and immediately started working on various issues in the area regarding the Indians and tracking down Loyalists.[8]  Within the week, Colonel Dayton sent a letter to General Schuyler summarizing how the regiment’s mission was proceeding and his intentions for Johnson Hall:

Sir: In my letter sent yesterday, by the Rev. Mr. Caldwell, I informed you of my intentions of possessing Johnson-Hall.  A guard and sentries are so placed as to intercept effectually any communication with any part of the country.  Previous to this, I sent an officer with a letter to Lady Johnson, informing her of my design, and requesting all the keys, in order to examine Sir John’s papers.  Colonel White, Major Barber, and myself, waited upon her shortly after.  She immediately produced all the keys, with a considerable number of papers.  The letters were carefully perused in presence of herself, and a few selected, copies of which I transmit you by this express, retaining the originals in my own hands until I shall have the pleasure of seeing or conveying them more safely to you.  The house, also, was examined in every part.  Since Mr. Caldwell left this place, I am more assured that Sir John, with his party, marched from these settlements on Monday last, for Niagara or Canada.  Lady Johnson assures me he is on his road to Niagara, and that we soon shall hear where he is.  As the guards and sentries around the Hall must increase the pain of her situation, I have requested her to remove to Albany, where, as I understand, she has several friends.  To this she seems averse, but for what reasons I know not; and I would therefore be glad to receive your directions on this head also….[9]

The officer Colonel Dayton sent to deliver the letter was Captain Bloomfield, who wrote in his journal on May 22:

I was early this Morning directed by Col. Dayton to take a file of Men & go to Johnson Hall with my side arms only & wait on Lady Johnson with a Letter, The substance of which was to demand the key of the Hall & drawers in the Rooms with directions for her immediately to Pack up her own apparel only and go to Albany, that an Officer & a Guard should wait on her Ladyship to Albany if she choses.  Accordingly I went to the Hall & after directing the Sarjant of My Guard to place Centuries round the Hall & Fort I asked for her Ladyship who was then a Bed and after waiting an hour she came into the Parlour.  I gave her the Letter with assuring her Ladyship it gave me Pain that I was under the disagreable necessity of delivering her a Letter that must give her Ladyship a great deal of uneasiness and which my duty oblidged me to do in obedience to the orders of my superier Officer.  She hastily broke open the Letter & immediately burst into a flood of Tears, wh[ich] affected me, so that I thought proper to leave her alone.  After some time she sent for me, composed herself, ordered the Keys of the Hall to be brought in & given to me & which I desired might lay on the Table till the Coll. came. After which I breakfasted with her Ladyship & Miss Jenny Chew whose Father is in England Acting the part of a Violent Tory.  After Breakfast Col. Dayton & Major Barber came & we in the presence of her Ladyship or Miss Chew Examined every Room & Every Drawer In Johnson-Hall & Sr. John’s office, but found no Letters of a publick Nature inimical to the cause worth mentioning….[10]

Things began to settle down in the region as the regiment went about its business for the next couple of weeks.  Then, on Wednesday, June 5, a serious breach in security was discovered.  2nd Lt. Ebenezer Elmer, of Bloomfield’s company, noted in his journal that:

There began to be great suspicion among the people that the officers had been plundering at the Hall, which coming to the Colonel’s ears, and he making strict enquiry and search, it appeared to be true, and that to a considerable value.  And as a great part was taken last night when Capt. Ÿ *******ŸŸŸ was Captain of the guard there which was entirely contrary to orders, his place being at town, yet pushing himself there made it appear very evident that he and Col. Ÿ****** (many declared he took things) were confederates and had with Capts Ÿ**** and ******Ÿ Ÿmost of the booty, which is supposed to be near £500.  However, after evening roll call, the Colonel desired us all to attend in his room; when we got there, he informed us that many things were taken from the Hall contrary to orders; that altho’ he did not deem that as the property of Sir John, yet we had by no means a right to take one farthing’s worth from there until it is properly confiscated by Congress and delivered out in such a manner, or to such use as they saw fit—that he did not know who were guilty of it, neither did he want to know, as his duty would then oblige him to cashier those who were foremost in it; but as he imagined it was done inadvertently, he would therefore request every one to return whatever he had got that evening in the entry, for which purpose he would order the door left open And no one would know who brought them.  This being a method which screened the guilty from any punishment, shewed the desire the Colonel had of not bringing it to light, which was exceedingly favoring; but as he was no doubt fully convinced in his own mind who were the principal ones, and his thus endeavoring to hide their faults, so that all would suffer equally alike, shewed, in my opinion, a small degree of partiality; and whether he, if it should have fallen upon others, would have acted in the same manner, time must discover.  Capt. Bloomfield come up.[11]

Upon arrival, Capt. Joseph Bloomfield noted in his personal diary, using similar but far less verbose language than Elmer, that:

Col. Dayton also informed me that some of our officers had imprudently (not to term it worse) last Night got the keys of & Plundered Johnson-Hall, of sundry goods & furniture to the amount of a considerable Value, that if those goods were not returned to the Hall this Night he would punish or rather prosecute those concerned with the utmost severity & of which He informed the officers of in general.[12]

By the next morning, things had not gone as Dayton hoped.  Lieutenant Elmer noted in his journal that “it appears that not the quarter part was brought back.”[13]  Captain Bloomfield, who began as a neutral observer, quickly found himself in the middle of the mess:

By order of the Col. Capt. Dickinson [Dickerson] & myself went this Morning to the Hall & took an Acct. of the goods returned, taken the Night before last from the Hall. After our Report the Coll. Judge Duer Mr. Adams & two Daughters (who have the care of the Hall) Capt. Dickeson & myself went to the Hall, saw that the goods & furniture were carefully packed & securely Stored in the Rooms, after which the Hall was Locked with strict directions for no Persons to enter without leave, which was particularly injoined on me to attend to as I mounted guard tonight.  Mounted Guard all night, stayed myself In Johnson-Hall.  Lieut. Lloydd Lt. McDonald & Ensign Reading mounted guard at the Camp.[14]

In an aside at the bottom of a letter to General Schuyler, sent from Fort Schuyler in August, Dayton wished “Captains Bloomfield & Dickenson’s Companies were ordered here, they have Officers I can depend upon.”[15]  This provides insight into why these two captains were picked to handle this difficult matter.  However, the above entry from Bloomfield’s journal, listing the junior officers guarding the camp, illustrates that neither of these officers knew, at the time, who was involved.

As a final capper, on June 17, regimental orders included the written statement that “Col. Dayton positively orders that everything taken from Johnson Hall, either by officer or soldier, be returned this day to the Adjutant or Quarter Master.”[16]  Up until now the incident was an internal regimental matter that could be somewhat controlled, but with this, the plundering of the Hall was official and something formal had to be done about it.

It did not take long to find the first suspect, but General Schuyler, who was at German Flatts, got wind of it.  A letter from him, dated July 22, sent to Colonel Dayton apparently brought about swift action:

From the advice contained in an intercepted letter which was yesterday delivered me, there is reason to suspect that Lieutenant McDonald, of your regiment, is concerned in the embezzlement of the effects at Johnstown.  You will therefore be pleased to send him immediately, under arrest, to this place, together with such other officers, if any there are, who may lay under similar suspicions, and all such officers and soldiers who may, by their testimony, elucidate a matter which reflects so much disgrace on the regiment.

The Representatives of the United American States have lately transmitted me a resolution deprecating, in the most pointed terms, the abuses of like kind committed to the northward, and have ordered every military offender to be brought to justice.  You will, I doubt not, exert your best endeavours to convict the delinquents, and to wipe away that stain which now sullies the whole corps.  I beg you will attend here yourself, and bring with you the orders I sent you previous to your leaving Albany.  I have a sufficiency of officers here to hold a general court-martial.[17]

The trial was quickly arranged to take place in about a week’s time.  In the interim, they needed another witness.  Following the Sunday evening tattoo, on July 28, Lieutenant Elmer was ordered by Colonel Dayton to pursue Pvt. Jonathan Moore “with all speed.”  He had been sent off to Fort Schuyler by Lieutenant McDonald, supposedly with instructions from McDonald to Captains Thomas Patterson and John Ross.  Catching up to Moore, Elmer found no papers, but brought him back the next day.  Stopping by General Schuyler’s location on the way, Elmer informed the general what had occurred.  Schuyler questioned Moore on it and other matters.  At the conclusion, he ordered Moore arrested and confined to quarters pending trial.[18]

Per the orders of Major General Schuyler, a court martial board sat on Tuesday, July 30.  It consisted of thirteen officers, from within and without the regiment, including Lieutenant Elmer and Captain Bloomfield, and was presided over by a fourteenth, Col. Cornelius Van Dyck of the New York militia.  This board issued the following charges, but pushed any other action to the next morning:

Lieut. McDonald, of Col. Dayton’s battallion, arrested for behaving unbecoming the character of a gentleman and officer, in taking, or assisting in taking, things from Johnson Hall, the property of Sir John Johnson or other persons unknown, for aiding and abetting others so to do, for concealing things so taken, and for disobedience of orders, is to be tried.[19]

When reconvened, a series of witnesses presented a very strong case that brought about Lieutenant McDonald’s conviction.  He had smuggled out of the Hall both a dressed beaver skin and an otter skin, a barrel full of unnamed items, a bow with two arrows, one or more canes, and some alcohol.  He had apparently hidden the items in various places in the Johnstown area and had willing and unwilling accomplices assist in the cover-up.  He did return most of the items, but he seemed attached to a particular cane.  Several witnesses described that McDonald explained to them that the cane was lost, sent to his father, or sent to a friend in Albany.

The second charge of disobedience of orders, though true, was a bit excessive.  Everyone involved with the theft was guilty of violating General Schuyler’s expressed orders “to be careful not to molest or injure the property of the inhabitants” and to “hold the property of individuals inviolable.”  However, McDonald’s downfall was not returning all the items he had taken when the participants were given a second chance and even a third chance to do so.[20]

The Court, after reciting the charge and evidences, made the following report to General Schuyler:

Whereupon the Court after the most serious & mature deliberation, were unanimously of Opinion that Mr. William McDonald is guilty of the whole Charge exhibited against him & consequently guilty of a breach of the 27th. article for the Government of the Continental Troops as also of the second & last Article of the Amendment (that part of the Charge of the 2d. article expressed by the Term Fraud being only excepted); & therefore this Court do Sentence the said Wm. McDonald to suffer the Penalties thereunto annexed.[21]

General Schuyler’s general orders were read in the presence of Lieutenant McDonald at roll-call approving of the sentence of the court-martial.  After reciting the above articles the following conclusion was added:

The General therefore by Virtue of the said sentence & the said Articles of War hereby discharges the said Wm. McDonald from the Continental Service, as a person unfit for further service as an officer & Orders that any Pay due to him be detained.

The General with great satisfaction observes from the Proceedings of the Court-Martial that the Gentlemen haveing conducted themselves with a regularity that reflects Credit on them, & haveing no further Business for them dissolves the Court & they are dissolved accordingly.[22]

Since nearly all the stolen items had been recovered, it looked like the regiment could put the break-in quickly behind it.  Even the most neutral of observers would conclude that the trial was a classic attempt to whitewash the entire matter and make Lieutenant McDonald the scapegoat.  One would hope this was not the case, but it was exactly what they were doing.  A letter from Major General Schuyler to Commander-in-Chief George Washington, dated August 18, sought his advice on whether to “bury the affair” or not:

Soon after Colonel Dayton’s regiment marched to Johnson-Hall, some of the officers broke open the doors and carried away a very considerable quantity of effects, contrary to mine and Colonel Dayton’s orders.  Soon after my arrival at the German-Flats, I was informed of this by some of the officers, who wished an inquiry, that the innocent might not share the scandal with the guilty.  I ordered a Court-Martial on Lieutenant McDonald, witnesses with respect to his conduct being on the spot.  He was tried and broke.  In the course of his trial it appeared that a number of others were concerned; and I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel White and Captains Ross and Patterson down from Fort Stanwix.  The two Captains delivered me the paper No.1, in answer to which I advised them candidly to narrate the whole transaction.  No.2 is their narrative; and No.3 contains an account of what they took; No.4, with the paper enclosed in it, is what Colonel White delivered me.  As I was apprehensive that a publick conviction of so many officers would reflect too much disgrace on our troops, I chose to defer any further proceedings until I should advise with your Excellency.  Permit me, therefore, to entreat your opinion, whether it will be prudent for me to accept of the concessions they offer to make at the head of the regiment, and thus to bury the affair, or whether I ought to have them tried.  Please to return the papers above alluded to, as I have not time to make copies of them.[23]

The four documents referenced by Schuyler were not included with the letter, so it seems safe to conclude they were returned to him by Washington, as requested.  The following reply does not include them either, so the documents may be with either Schuyler’s or Washington’s original papers.  If they were ever found, they would add much to this narrative.

Meanwhile, General Washington’s reply is most interesting as he dances around the question a bit and wisely throws it back to General Schuyler to let a court-martial decide:

I wish you had proceeded as your own judgment and inclination led in the case referred to me for my advice, respecting Colonel Dayton’s officers.  I am sorry that persons of their rank and of their connexions should have given in to such dishonourable and disgraceful practices; and I feel myself much concerned for themselves and friends.  But as the matter is with me to determine; as their making concessions at the head of the regiment would not answer any purpose but that of rendering them objects of ridicule and contempt; as they could never after claim and support that authority over their inferiors that is necessary to good government and discipline; as publick justice and a regard to our military character require that matters of such a nature should meet every possible discouragement; as my conduct might otherwise be deemed reprehensible; and to deter others from the like conduct, which is but too prevalent, I cannot but advise that the several persons concerned be subjected to the trial of a Court-Martial.  If the Court should be of opinion that they ought to be broke and dismissed the service, Colonel Dayton, his Major, and other officers, will recommend such as will be proper persons to fill the vacancies occasioned by their removal.[24]

Since Washington was in favor of the court-martial process, the search for any other suspects and additional witnesses continued.

One such instance occurred on August 19, when a letter arrived, from General Schuyler, ordering Captain Bloomfield to apprehend and secure the 3rd New Jersey’s former sutler “for takeing things from Johnson Hall.”  This was done, so the next day, Bloomfield questioned him and sent him under guard to General Schuyler.[25]

By mid-September 1776, a court of inquiry was held in camp at German Flatts along the Mohawk River.  Captain Bloomfield sat as a member of that board:

Engaged on the Court of Inquiry Ordered by Col. Dayton … To Inquire by hearing Evidences of the Conduct of Lt. Col. White, Capts. Patterson & Ross touching their plundering Johnson-Hall, which Evidence being taken before the Court was Certifyed & transmitted to Albany to be laid before the Genl. Court Martial ordered for those Gentlemen being tryed.[26]

From this point on, the investigation and trial of Lieutenant Colonel White and Captains Patterson and Ross regarding the plundering was moved to Albany, New York.  A series of potential witness were sent there.  1st Lt. William Gifford, Ens. Edmund Thomas, and two soldiers were sent on September 24, 1776 “to be examined respecting the embezzlement at Johnson Hall.”[27]  Maj. Francis Barber and four or five of the regiment’s junior officers were sent from Fort Schuyler to Albany on October 5.[28]

This process went on for so long that both Captain Bloomfield and Lieutenant Elmer bluntly expressed frustration in their respective journals.  Bloomfield noted that, “It seems if this imprudent plundering of Johnson-Hall will never be settled but that our Regimt. is to be convulsed during their being by this rash Action & not to call it worse.”  Elmer feared the matter “would not be settled until our regiment is broke up.”[29]  Neither should have worried, for on November 12, there was a final official resolution.

Lt. Col. White, Capt. Patterson and Lt Gordon, of Col. Dayton’s Regiment, tried by a general Court Martial held at Albany, whereof Col Van Schaick was President, for being concerned in the embezzlement of certain effects belonging to Sir John Johnson, the Court, after due examination, are unanimously of opinion that the charge against the prisoners was malicious and groundless, and therefore acquit them with honor.  His Excellency Gen. Washington has approved of the proceedings of this Court Martial, and orders this testimony of his approbation to be inserted in the general orders of the northern army.[30]

Any resolution regarding Captain Ross or how 2nd Lt. William Gordon was brought into the mix is not explained.  Allowing for the obvious gaps in documentation and the like, further investigation will be required.

Beyond that, there are two open-ended questions that were never answered by any of the above presented correspondence, orders, or trial transcript.  First, all of the Hall’s keys had been given by Lady Johnson to Captain Bloomfield, and left on the table for the regiment’s field officers, Colonel Dayton, Lt. Colonel White, and Major Barber.  Presuming Dayton did not take them, as he was traveling around the area a lot, the question remains open on whom of the other two had them at the time the Hall was plundered.  Since the thieves used the keys to gain access to the Hall, the holder of those keys had to have been involved or was responsible for someone else gaining access to them.

Secondly, a wrinkle appears on Monday, July 17, when after morning exercise, Lieutenant Elmer explains in his journal that he “was put upon guard and sent over to the Hall, where I staid taking particular care that nothing went amiss … .”[31]  While there he could see that “something was taken from the Hall, especially the cellar door broken open, and wine taken; and notwithstanding the positive orders of the Colonel, very little was returned.  Sad affair!”[32]

No known official report mentions the cellar doors ever being broken open.  Therefore, unless Elmer phrased it incorrectly in his journal, the cellar was raided after the night of June 4.  Considering the plunderers already had the keys at the time, there appears to be no reason to break those doors open.  However, once the Hall was re-secured on June 5, more aggressive action would be required to get to the wine.

In summary, the actions of the 3rd New Jersey officer corps involved in the plundering of Johnson Hall were shameful and a violation of their orders.  When given a chance to return the stolen items, few complied without additional prodding.  The powers-that-be then found a scapegoat in Lieutenant McDonald, who was too foolhardy to get himself out of the mess by simply returning the items he stole.  Luckily for him, despite all the trials and kerfuffle that took place, he got away with the relatively minor punishment of being cashiered from the service, instead of a far more serious one.

Ironically, had the officers waited until the property was “properly confiscated by Congress,” they probably could have gutted the entire building and no one would have raised an eyebrow.


[1] Description of activity from late April until early May, Mark E. Lender & James K. Martin, editors, Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfleld (Newark, NJ: New Jersey Historical Society, 1982), 39.

[2] Entry for May 2, 1776, Ebenezer Elmer, “Journal Kept during an Expedition to Canada in 1776,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 2 (1846):102.

[3] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 40, May 3, 1776.  Elmer, Journal, 2 (1846):102, May 3, 1776.  Elmer only named the 1st New Jersey regiment, where Bloomfield explained that all six regiments in the division, including the 1st New Jersey, departed for Canada.

[4] Adj. Gen. Horatio Gates to Col. Elias Dayton, May 9, 1776, Peter Force, ed., American Archives (Washington, D.C., 1837-53), 4th Series, 6:397.

[5] Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to Col. Elias Dayton, May 14, 1776, Force, American Archives, 4th Series, 6:447-448.

[6] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 46, May 17, 1776.  Elmer, Journal,  2 (1846): 108, entries for May 16 and 17, 1776.

[7] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1846):108-109, entries for May 20, 1776.  Soldiers, during this period, did not usually march between locations in the middle of the day.  Period writings seem to indicate they normally started in the wee hours of the morning and stopped by mid-day.  In this case the officers appear to have flipped the process and opted to march in the evening and probably stopped for the day sometime after midnight.

[8] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 47-55, entries for May 19-24, 1776.

[9] Col. Elias Dayton to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, May 24, 1776, Force, American Archives, 4th Series, 6:581.

[10] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 52-53, May 22, 1776.  When soldiers are formed up into two or three ranks, the men, one behind the other, are known as a file.  So, depending on how many ranks the 3rd New Jersey formed up in, “a file of men” would be two or three men.

[11] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1846):120-121, June 5, 1776.  The transcript of the original journal shows dots as a way to mask the names in this entry.  Figuring each dot represents a letter, the colonel would be Lt. Col. Anthony W. White (lieutenant colonels are addressed as “colonel”).  Capt. Thomas Patterson would be the captain of the guard and one of the confederates was probably Capt. John Ross.  The other confederate is a bit harder to identify, so will leave that anonymous for now.

[12] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 59-60, July 5, 1776.

[13] Elmer, Journal,  2 (1846): 122, June 6, 1776.

[14] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 60, entry for July 5, 1776.  The junior officers mounting the guard at the camp were not from either Bloomfield’s or Dickerson’s companies.

[15] Col. Elias Dayton to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, August 15, 1776, Force, American Archives, 5th Series, 1:1033-1034.

[16] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1846): 127, regimental orders June 17, 1776.

[17] Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to Col. Elias Dayton, July 22, 1776, Force, American Archives, Fifth Series, 1:511.

[18] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1847): 165, July 28, 1776.

[19] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1847):166-167, July 30, 1776.

[20] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1847):167-170, copy of the General Court Martial of 2nd Lt. William McDonald.  President Van Dyck was a former company commander in the 2nd New York in 1775.  He was to be appointed second in command of the new establishment of the 1st New York in November 1776, a position he would hold for the duration of the war.

[21] Ibid.  Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 93-94, August 1, 1776.  Both Elmer and Bloomfield were members of the court martial board.  Elmer’s journal included a copy of the entire proceedings.  It stated that McDonald breached the 47th article, where Bloomfield’s journal, quoted here, only included the final charges, and cites the 27th article.  It is likely that there is  a transcription error in Bloomfield’s.e  Articles of War, June 30, 1775, Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905), 2:116,118-119.  Article 47 fits McDonald’s court-martial perfectly and reads as follows: “Whatsoever commissioned officer shall be convicted before a general court-martial, of behaving in a scandalous, infamous manner, such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, shall be discharged from the service.”

[22] Ibid.

[23] Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to Gen. George Washington, August 18, 1776, Force, American Archives, 5th Series, 1:1031-1033.

[24] George Washington to Philip Schuyler, August 24, 1776, Force, American Archives, 5th Series, 1:1142.

[25] Lender & Martin, Citizen Soldier, 101, entries for August 19 and 20, 1776.  During the period, a sutler was, usually, a third party attached to the army, who dispensed alcoholic beverages to the soldiers.  Other merchants might sell dry goods, trinkets, etc. to the soldiers.

[26] Ibid., 106, entry for September 16–18, 1776.

[27] Dayton to Schuyler, September 22, 1776, Force, American Archives, 5th Series, 2:859.  Last paragraph of this letter begins “24th.”

[28] Elmer, Journal, 3 (1848):32, October 5, 1776.  Bloomfield, 109, October 5, 1776.

[29] Ibid.  The regiment was to serve a year and would break up come the spring of 1777.

[30] Elmer, Journal, 3 (1848):41, November 12, 1776.  Col. Goose Van Schaick commanded his own (un-numbered) Continental battalion at this time, but was soon to be named the commander of the new establishment of the 1st New York Regiment.

[31] Elmer, Journal, 2 (1847): 127-128, July 17, 1776.

[32] Ibid.


  • Too often we read only about plundering done by Crown Forces. It’s important to see articles like this to show this type of conduct was practiced by both sides. Good work Phil! As usual, well documented and well written.
    Joe Cerreto

  • Great article covering Johnson Hall and the damage still evident on the bannesters…..

    1. Thanks Joe. I know of and seen the chop marks that are still in the banister. Legend has it that they were made by the 3rd New Jersey, but I could find no specific record of the incident. Now, that does not mean that it did not happen. Many in the regiment certainly had the opportunity to do so – particularly the officers involved in the theft, but, without documentation, I felt I could not justify including it in the article. Certainly if anyone has any kind of a record of this happening, please reply here.

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