Blue Mountain Valley and the Rise of Lord Stirling

War at Sea and Waterways (1775–1783)

May 19, 2020
by Eric Wiser Also by this Author


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“A Most Dreadful Voyage” was how the captain of British supply ship Blue Mountain Valley described his mission to North America in the fall and winter of 1775–1776. The ship’s young Scottish captain, James Dempster, was an experienced merchant sailor with voyages to China, India, and the West Indies.[1] The mission Dempster embarked on when Blue Mountain Valley left her moorings on the Thames in October 1775 was unlike any he had undertaken before. Blue Mountain Valley was just one of the many military supply ships in the American Revolution. Yet her story is emblematic of the frustrating difficulties the British Crown faced in the trying to supply an army 3,000 miles away. The terminus of Blue Mountain Valley’s mission also marked the beginning of Lord Stirling’s swift rise to Patriot hero in the Revolutionary War.

In the spring of 1775, New England militiamen had traded drilling on their village greens for building dirt redoubts around Boston, sealing the town from the mainland. The authority of the Crown in Massachusetts had now been reduced to the beating hearts of its 8,000 soldiers compacted into one and half square miles of peninsula. Maj. Gen. William Howe and the soldiers he commanded were cut off from the world save for the harbor. By November 1775, the decision had been made to remove the soldiers, artillery, supplies, and loyal Tories from the city. It wouldn’t be until the following spring that enough transport ships would be available. In the interim, Howe had the difficult task of supplying and feeding his army.[2] Howe summed up the situation in a letter to Treasury Secretary John Robinson in December:

I am in great pains from the small quantity of provision now in store . . . some observations are made, especially in this advanced season of the year, when navigation of the coast is so uncertain, and the arrival of a fresh supply is still rendered more precarious by other dangers . . . If victualling ships should not arrive before the latter end of this month . . . I shall be obliged to put the troops upon short allowance.[3]

Morale was already being put to the test because no military objective remained except survival. Twenty to thirty people, both soldiers and civilians, were dying every day from smallpox and dysentery.[4]

A new, difficult logistical reality had emerged in the Crown’s effort to maintain authority over the colonies. The arrangement for supplying troops in North America developed from experience in the French and Indian War due to the inherent difficulties in trying to supply armies penetrating the wilderness. The Treasury contracted with Britain-based mercantile firms to supply the needs of the troops. The British mercantile firms, in turn, subcontracted with American suppliers “who actually collected, delivered, and issued the rations.” This localized military supply chain continued until being choked off by the circumstances of the American Revolution. A logistical supply apparatus stretching the width of the Atlantic needed to be established in the early stages of this emerging civil war.[5]

To fulfill the needs of the forces at Boston in the fall of 1775, the Treasury contracted with the shipping firm of Mure, Son, and Atkinson. Treasury Secretary Robinson wrote to Howe in September informing him of the arrangement, along with a listing of the ships and cargos.[6] Blue Mountain Valley was part of a fleet of supply ships carrying similar cargos comprising tons of coal, potatoes, porter, hay, oats, sauerkraut, hogs, and sheep.[7]

Blue Mountain Valley carried a compliment of sixteen sailors: the captain; first, second and third mates; a carpenter; a boatswain; a steward; seven deckhands and two unpaid apprentices.[8] The vessel was dressed in yellow sides and blue quarter-boards. Weighing around 300 tons,[9] the main deck was 100 feet long from stem to stern[10] and carried four three-pound cannon.[11] The ship’s name presumably came from the Blue Mountain Valley in the eastern portion of Jamaica.

The fleet left their moorings along the Thames in the middle of October 1775. “The Downs,” an area of favorable and sheltered seas between the Thames estuary and Dover, were cleared by the last week October.[12] Not long after, the supply fleet became separated by “a dreadful gale of wind,” driving many ships to the shores of England and Ireland. Fortunately for Blue Mountain Valley, she “escaped from that tolerably well” in the words of her captain.[13]

James Hamilton Dempster was born into the landed gentry in a small village near the coastal town of Dundee in northeast Scotland. In contrast to his brother George, a man of business and a member of the House of Commons, James was restless by nature and pursued the itinerant life of a sailor. In 1769, at the age of nineteen, James volunteered to serve as an ordinary deckhand on a ship headed to China and India. More voyages and increased responsibility followed. Blue Mountain Valley was his first chance as ship’s master.[14]

Dempster was instructed to open his sealed orders when he was fifty leagues west of the green and rocky shores of Cape Clear Island, Ireland. In the words of the first mate “they were in Substance as follows . . . That they were not to enter any Port of America not even Boston without first speaking with one of his Majesties Ship’s of War and Conducted in or assured by her that it was a Port of Safety. That the Signals were to be attended to in order to discover their friends from Enemies, a List of which Signals for day & night the said captain had, which Signals were to be kept Secret.”[15]

It was time for the Blue Mountain Valley’s crew to face “The Dangers of the Sea.” The speed and safety of the army’s oceanic supply line to North America was influenced by several factors. Ships leaving Britain for America always sailed against the North Atlantic Current on straight east to west crossings. Transatlantic crossings were dangerous due to the variability of weather, being particularly cruel in fall and winter.

Blue Mountain Valley was six weeks out when she collided with severe storms that created a wall of strong headwinds and enormous waves. The ship’s crew, enduring repeated “pitch—roll—heave—pitch” were able to claw to a location that the first mate judged to be slightly to the north of Boston. But just as the crew thought the ordeal would be ending soon, mother nature sent winds coming from the northwest “very Violent and very Constant” that cost them an additional three weeks trying to get close to the coast again.

The North Atlantic lobbed weather at Blue Mountain Valley as damaging as any Rebel cannonball. The top gudgeon—one of the iron rings that attached the rudder—broke away from the sternpost. This in turn caused the middle gudgeon to eventually come loose. First Mate Joseph Woolcombe recalled,that “under these Circumstances it was Judged best to Stand away to the Southward in hopes of making the Coast in a more moderate Climate.”

It was Thursday January 18, 1776 when Blue Mountain Valley’s crew finally sighted land in the area of Egg Harbor, New Jersey, over sixty leagues south of Boston. As it now stood, the ship had been at sea for almost thirteen grueling weeks. The sailors were exhausted, most of the hogs had perished, and the potatoes were now rotten. It was also discovered that the drinking water casks which had been provided by the government were leaking. This forced the crew to water rationing.[16] With an exhausted crew, damaged rudder, shortage of drinking water, and surely more tempests lurking north, Dempster decided not to risk a run for Boston until a refit was performed on the ship.[17]

Dempster’s orders were clear that he was not to endanger his cargo by entering a port without having contacted one of His Majesty’s warships. To comply with his orders, the closest refit could be achieved by making for Sandy Hook at the entrance of New York. New York was still a rebel-held port city; however, a squadron of Royal Navy ships was assembling in New York harbor.[18] HMS Asia with sixty-four guns was already there acting as muscle for New York’s Royal governor in exile, Lord Tyron, whose office was on the Dutchess of Gordon in the harbor.[19]

Blue Mountain Valley was making for Sandy Hook when mother nature added more misery. The vessel and crew were battered by a powerful wind from the northwest that carried her back out of sight of the coast. A favorable wind came, and by evening Blue Mountain Valley was carried back toward land, within eyesight of the stout angular walls of Sandy Hook Lighthouse by morning.[20]

Playing it safe, Dempster and the crew patiently and nervously waited with Blue Mountain Valley in the vicinity of Sandy Hook that morning, hoping the spyglass would deliver the image of one of His Majesty’s warships. No friendly warships appeared. Rather than wait, Dempster decided to send his first mate into New York Harbor to find one of the King’s ships. This would require help from a local.[21]

Sandy Hook Lighthouse was built in 1764 and remains the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. (Library of Congress)

Blue Mountain Valley’s small guns rumbled an invitation to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. The call was answered by a whaling skiff that appeared out of the harbor. The five people spotted in the skiff were the first they had seen other than themselves in months. Pulling alongside Blue Mountain Valley at an hour past noon,one of the five men climbed aboard and asked Dempster if he fired the guns for the services of a pilot. Dempster told the stranger, who called himself “Dobbs,” that he didn’t want a pilot, he wanted to put one of his men ashore. Dobbs readily agreed to the request in return for a fee, to which the captain agreed. Dobbs was curious as to where this ship was headed, and pointedly inquired. Dempster didn’t want to tell Dobbs too much, and simply said that they were heading north without naming any port.[22]

Dempster chose First Mate Joseph Woolcombe to get help. Dempster composed four letters before the first mate’s departure. Besides the sealed letters, one of which was to Dempster’s Parliamentarian brother George, Woolcombe’s pockets also contained one letter that he had written to his own father. Dempster told Woolcombe in private that he was to go “up to New York (in case there were any of the Kings Ships of War there) in order to get some Intelligence or directions from them” on how to proceed, and “whether he could be furnished with a Pilot or Convoy.” Also, if Woolcombe didn’t return in twenty-fours, Dempster would conclude he was a rebel prisoner, and Blue Mountain Valley would sail away without undergoing a proper refit.[23]

The whaling skiff carrying Joseph Woolcombe drew close to New York late on this January afternoon. Glimpsing HMS Asia, Woolcombe asked Dobbs to take him to her. Dobbs answered that he wouldn’t take him there for 100 pounds and said, “Do you think I’ll betray my country.” At 6 p.m., the skiff tied up on New York’s waterfront at Whitehall Slip, just past The Battery at the entrance to the East River. After stepping onto the dock, Dobbs told Woolcombe to accompany him and his men to a pub near the slip to partake in some punch to warm them up. Not long thereafter, Woolcombe was confronted and “seized by a number of armed men.” His pockets were searched, and the five letters taken. Both Woolcombe and Dobbs were taken away and placed under guard in the Upper Barracks located on Broadway at the northern end of the city.[24]

William Henry Dobbs was as a lookout for the New York Committee of Safety.[25] An old pilot captain who knew the waters around New York as well as anyone alive at the time, Dobbs also had privateering in the French & Indian War on his resume.[26] The old salt was becoming a trusted pilot and intelligence gatherer in this war. Decades later, his daughter Mary would say of her father’s reputation among the British that “he was nicknamed by Sir Henry Clinton” the “Commodore of Muskets,” and that Clinton “offered a reward for my father dead or Living.”[27] Dobbs was placed in the vault of American posterity when General Washington wrote to him in June 1778 requesting his services to provide pilots for the Comte d’Estaing’s fleet.[28]

When the guns of Blue Mountain Valley discharged on Saturday, January 20, a trap had already been set. Over a week before, the Committee of Safety received a letter from General Washington, warning of a British flotilla that departed Boston possibly for New York. Reacting to this intelligence, the Committee resolved that pilots were forbidden to “pilot in the Hook, or towards this port . . . any ship of war, or ministerial armed vessels whatever.” Dobbs was summoned and provided a skiff by the Committee and he was asked to provide the crew. He proceeded as ordered to Sandy Hook to “observe carefully the approach of any fleet, and to give immediate notice.” His chance encounter with a stranded British military supply ship was an unexpected opportunity for the New York Patriots[29]

The New York town major, considering the prohibition of piloting British ships into the harbor, probably distrusted Dobbs’s intentions with Woolcombe and therefore arrested him. Nevertheless, the news of the arrest of Woolcombe and Dobbs, and the information on the wounded Blue Mountain Valley, reached the Committee in the afternoon of Sunday, January 21, along with the captured letters.[30]

By evening, the Committee had digested the situation and realized that Blue Mountain Valley presented a golden opportunity, and that swift and bold action was needed. Realizing that New York-based militia would never get past the warships in the harbor without alerting the British and possibly being captured, the Committee appealed to New Jersey.

Col. William Alexander, known as “Lord Stirling,” received a letter from the Committee the next day at his headquarters in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Having recently transitioned from a commander of militia, Stirling was raising and organizing the first two New Jersey Continental regiments authorized by Congress.[31] Elizabethtown was a port settlement on Newark Bay of about 1,200 people in 1776, and as “gateway to New Jersey and Philadelphia,” the town was a natural choice to center a defense of both places.[32]

William Alexander, Lord Stirling, as a major general. (New York Public Library

Well into middle-age, William Alexander emulated the life of a Scottish nobleman from his home in Basking Ridge. William was the son of a wealthy Scot who had fled to America for having been on the wrong side of the Jacobite rising of 1715. Despite having been born in the colonies, William tried claiming the legal title of “Earl of Stirling” which he believed was unclaimed by his deceased father. From afar, a Scottish court ruled in his favor; however, the British House of Lords denied the title. Legal title or no legal title, “Lord Stirling” became William Alexander’s name.[33]

New York Harbor had been drawing Stirling’s attention, causing him to want more ammunition weeks before the Blue Mountain Valley letter arrived. In December 1775 the entrance of HMS Phoenix with forty-four guns caused merchant ship owners including Tories to seek protection from the colonel along the New Jersey portion of the Harbor.[34] Phoenix’s captain, Hyde Parker, brought orders to “Seize and send to Boston all Vessels loaded with Provisions.”[35]

The intelligence in the letter from the New York Committee of Safety on Blue Mountain Valley presented Lord Stirling with his first chance for military glory, and possibly the much-needed ammunition. The letter from the Committee, written at 8 p.m. the previous evening, Sunday, January 21, told him:

By the seizure of a man brought up from the Hook by one of our pilots from on board a transport, we, this instant, have learned her in a distressed condition, and waiting there for direction and assistance from this port. She has been out thirteen weeks, destined for the Head-Quarters of the Ministerial troops, so that, if she receives relief, she will, doubtless, proceed to Boston. She is deeply laden with all kinds of stores for the army.
Our intelligence is from letters found on the prisoner . . . which were intended to be conveyed, by him, on board of the man-of-war . . . Should it be known to the ships-of-war, this will, doubtless, send down their boats . . .
The above reasons point out the propriety of keeping the source of your information a secret, and, to this end, we beg you will destroy this as soon as read.
She has, it is thought a quantity of ammunition on board . . .
And to press the point of expediency, the letter was delivered by a pilot who “will be the proper person to take the direction of this undertaking.”[36]

Cap. William Rogers arrived at Elizabethtown Monday morning with the urgent dispatch. Stirling gathered all the Continentals he had available, which was not many.[37] Most of his soldiers had recently been sent to build fortifications around New York and to assist in the suppression of Tories on Long Island.[38] Stirling and his group of forty[39] Continentals departed with Captain Rogers around noon on Monday. Stirling and his soldiers marched south to Amboy on the coast.

Detail from a period map showing the ship channel to New York, Sandy Hook and its lighthouse at bottom right, Amboy, directly west on the left side, Elizabethtown to the north, and New York City at upper right. (Library of Congress)

A boat for the attempt on Blue Mountain Valley  was procured at Amboy. Just before leaving at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, three boats carrying Elizabethtown citizens emerged from the darkness in time to take part in the capture.[40]

Toward evening, at about the time Stirling would have been reaching Amboy, Elizabethtown Committee of Safety Chairman Robert Ogden received an alarming message from New York sent by express courier. The message was meant for Stirling, but in his absence, Ogden received it and learned that the British naval squadron in the harbor was sending a relief force to rescue a stranded transport. Stirling, in keeping with the advice of the New York Committee of Safety, had kept his mission a secret. Ogden, convinced that Stirling was heading for Amboy to capture the mystery ship, convened the Committee at 6 p.m. which then decided to raise volunteers along with the requisite arms and boats to reinforce Stirling. Seventy-seven men were raised and promised that “they should share of the Prize or Prizes according to the Regulations that were or should be made by the Continental Congress.”

The expedition, which included many militia, was led by Col. Elias Dayton. The old families of the town were well represented with two Grays, three Lees, three Meekers, three Millers, two Pursons, two Spencers, three Thomases, two Weekses, and five Woodruffs. There were three Ogdens[41] including future Federalist governor Aaron Ogden who would see the war to the end in the redoubts at Yorktown.[42] Gen. William Livingston Sr., the first non-Royal governor of New Jersey, had two sons on the water that January evening: William Jr., and Henry Brockholst Livingston, a future Justice of the United States Supreme Court.[43] Francis Barber had been Alexander Hamilton’s school teacher.[44] Not all the volunteers were loyal to the cause—one of the four craft was piloted by Smith Hetfield, who later became an active and reviled Tory.[45]

The four craft headed on a course due east through the frigid waters toward Sandy Hook and beyond. Stirling knew from the intelligence he received that Blue Mountain Valley had only a small crew and a few light cannon. At sunrise, the ship was sighted completely alone, six leagues southeast of Sandy Hook.[46] Fortunately, the boat carrying the rumored British relief force did not get there first. Captain Parker of the Phoenix, having received word that a ship was seen hovering off Sandy Hook, later explained to his superiors that the relief force he had sent never saw the vessel.[47]

From Blue Mountain Valley, Captain Dempster saw the four boats approach and thought they were from the naval squadron. At approximately 10 a.m., the first raider’s sole tapped the deck. The man, Capt. William Rogers, was wearing the coat of a British naval officer, the rest were not. Dempster was fooled briefly by the coat and the ship was boarded without resistance. The captain and crew of Blue Mountain Valley were helpless as every inch of the vessel was searched. Dempster was to later admit that even if he had known they were rebels, the small guns and tired crew would have been no match for what he estimated to be 200 men.[48]

The rebels discovered the bowels of the ship packed “with Coals, Porter, Potatoes, Hogs, & Horse Beans designed for the ministerial Troops at Boston.” Stirling was disappointed that the cargo was all fuel and food. The large quantities of ammunition and powder needed by his command would have to come later. In any case, Stirling wasn’t going to wait around for the British relief force to show up, and asked Captain Rogers to take Blue Mountain Valley to Elizabethtown Point. Poor winds and tides caused Rogers to take her to Amboy where a guard kept watch on the ship overnight.[49] The next day, Captain Rogers, “very Alert and Steady throughout this Whole Affair” as Stirling described the pilot’s conduct, sailed Blue Mountain Valley north from Amboy through the sound between New Jersey and Staten Island.[50]

Three days after being captured, Blue Mountain Valley was moored at Elizabethtown Point on Friday, January 26. Stirling had the cargo offloaded and transported to Elizabethtown except the coal, which was taken away later. The rigging and sails were removed from the ship. Dempster and his crew, now ashore, were prisoners of the Elizabethtown Committee of Safety.[51] The crew had offered assistance in sailing the ship and unloading her.[52] As the merchantmen offered no resistance to the capture, it is not surprising that the ship’s carpenter later said that the crew was treated very well by the Rebels.[53]

A cold and fatigued Stirling composed a jubilant letter to John Hancock the day after the ship arrived at Elizabethtown Point that included a manifest of Blue Mountain Valley’s cargo. Stirling commented on the odd assortment of stores and was impressed by the idea that similarly supplied vessels might stagger into their hands. The colonel was also sympathetic and impressed by Dempster and his crew, and the fact that the captain’s brother in Parliament was friendly to the colonies: “The Capt is Brother to George Dempster Esqr a Valuable friend to North America in the House Commons, he is a Sensible Genteel Young Man . . . they have all behaved Extremely Well.”[54]

As for the poor ship that had been pounded by winter storms from London to New Jersey, Stirling wrote to the New York Committee of Safety that a refitted and generously-armed Blue Mountain Valley would make a great asset to America. “The Ship is about 100 feet long on the Main Deck, and will commodiously carry 20 Six & 10 three Pounders.”[55]

On March 2, the New Jersey Provisional Congress assisted Elizabethtown by making a final decision on Blue Mountain Valley  in the absence of decisive direction from Congress. The crew was to be freed, provided with funds to assist in their return home, and permitted to go anywhere they needed in order to procure passage, the exception being British naval and land forces. The property of Blue Mountain Valley’s crew was to be returned to them.[56] The Elizabethtown volunteers, and Stirling’s Continentals, would get a share of the proceeds in accordance with the rules Congress passed concerning the capture and confiscation of British vessels. The auction of the cargo took place on March 18 at Elizabethtown.[57]

Capt. James Hamilton Dempster and his crew were now free to go home. They were provided passes to absolve them of impressment by American ship captains. Most of the sailors made their way to New York, and from there procured a return home by working on merchant ships.[58] Dempster arrived in Ireland on May 5, after what he described as a “pleasant passage of five weeks.”[59] After a total of eighteen weeks at sea round-trip, and two months of imprisonment, the captain was almost home. Despite this harrowing ordeal, the young man took to the sea many more times, but in the employ of the East India Company.[60]

First Mate Woolcombe was freed by the New York Committee of Safety weeks before the rest of the crew in Elizabethtown, but rather than reuniting him with the crew, the Committee conveyed him to the Asia per his request.[61] Woolcombe eventually departed the Asia  by boarding a captured American ship called the Sally that was to take him to Boston. In a cruel twist of fate, the Sally was driven to the shore of Long Island by a strong gale near Montauk, New York. All aboard were captured on March 6,by agents of the East Hampton Committee of Safety. Woolcombe was transferred with the other passengers of the Sally to the New York Committee of Safety.[62] Woolcombe endured another four months of captivity which included more time in the Upper Barracks,[63] and was paroled on July 6 when battle for the city was imminent. Woolcombe was paroled on the condition that he would reside in Bedford, New York, and not leave a six-mile radius of the town.[64]

From Dutchess of Gordon, Lord Tyron wrote to Lord Dartmouth that the conduct of Dempster and Woolcombe had “the appearance of carelessness.” Tyron added: “The Mate and Master had the benefit I hear of their private Venture’s each, Cheese and Bottled Porter. The Master treated with kindness and respect by the Inhabitants of Elizabeth Town, where His Vessel is laid up.”[65] Captain Parker of the Phoenix  in a letter to Boston mentioned treason: “I was much hurt at the Rebels taking the Ship Blue Mountain Valley, One of those loaded with Coals, Porter &ca for the Troops,”and the capture “was taken not without some Suspicions of Treachery on the Master’s side.”[66] Tryon and Parker’s ire for Dempster was probably due in some part to his brother’s politics in Parliament. George Dempster had spoken in the House of Commons almost two hundred times from 1768 to 1774, the most by any opposition member apart from Edmund Burke.[67] MP Dempster had alsovoted against the Stamp Act and was sympathetic to American arguments for equal representation.[68]

Congress resolved that “the alertness, activity and good conduct of Lord Stirling, and the forwardness and spirit of the gentlemen, and others, from Elizabeth town, who voluntarily assisted him in taking the ship Blue Mountain Valley, were laudable and exemplary.”[69] On the first day of March, Stirling received a promotion to brigadier general for his bloodless victory off Sandy Hook. “From the very high opinion the Congress entertain of your zeal and attachment to the American cause, they flatter themselves you will do everything in your power to discharge your duty to your country.”[70]

The British did not allow the Blue Mountain Valley  embarrassment to go unanswered. Captain Parker ordered a raid on Elizabethtown Point by sailors and marines from both Phoenix and Asia. At 10 p.m. on March 27, boats were launched from both ships and proceeded to the Point where Blue Mountain Valley and a ship called Lady Gage were found unguarded. Lady Gage was released from her moorings and towed away.Blue Mountain Valley’s 300 tons of timber were set ablaze. She had left London almost six months ago, battled the winter storms of the North Atlantic, and was now a charred wreck off the coast of New Jersey.[71]

A week before Blue Mountain Valley’s capture, Vice Admiral Molyneux Shuldham wrote to the Admiralty from Boston, reporting that of the thirty-five contracted supply ships with Mure, Son, and Atkinson, only eight had arrived.[72] The rebel ally—the weather of the North Atlantic—dealt similar pain to the other ships. The Fanny’s crew at one point in their journey were fighting for the “preservation of the Ship and Cargo and their own lives,” and ended up in Saint Kitts in the West Indies.[73] Several of the ships “by the stress of the weather” made their way to Antigua to undergo a refit. These ships were finally ready to set sail again after the British had evacuated Boston.[74]

British Marine Capt. John Bowater wrote to the Earl of Denbigh from Boston before the evacuation:

The Violence of the Winds at this Season of the Year with extream Coldness of the Weather has preventing any ship from Approaching the Coast . . . We are now looking with the utmost anxiety for Vessels to Appear in sight as no one here is free from the dreadful thought of famine . . . and I believe this was the principal Reason for our Evacuating Boston, tho many others are Assign’d.[75]


[1]John Evans, The Gentleman Usher: The Life and Times of George Dempster (1732-1818) Member of Parliament and Laird of Dunnichen and Skibo(South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword, 2005), 122.

[2]Nathaniel Philbrick, Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution(New York: Viking, 2013), 249, 255.

[3]William Howe to John Robinson, December 1, 1775, in The Parliamentary Register; or History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons; during the Fourth Session of the Fourteenth Parliament of Great Britain(London: John Almon, 1778) 9: Appendix 4.

[4]Philbrick, Bunker Hill, 255.

[5]R. Arthur Bowler, Logistics and the Failure of the British Army in America, 1775-1783(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), 14-15.

[6]Robinson to Howe, September 22, 1775, in John Symmons, Esq., Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain(London: Mackie & Co. 1904), 1: 12.

[7]Philip Stephens to Samuel Graves, September 26, 1775, in William B. Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution(Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1964-2019), 2: 735-736 (NDAR).

[8]An Account of the Wages due to the Officers Seaman &c of the Blue Mountain Valley from the Time coming on Board in the River Thames until the arrival of the Ship at Elizabeth Town, NDAR, 3: 1203.

[9]New York Committee of Safety to Lord Stirling, January 21, 1776, NDAR 3: 904.

[10]Stirling to John Hancock, January 24, 1776, NDAR 3: 960.

[11]Deposition of Joseph Woolcombe, January 27, 1776, NDAR 3: 1012-1014.

[12]Extract of a Letter from Capt. [John Hamilton] Dempster, of the Blue Mountain Valley Transport, dated Newry, Ireland, May 7, 1776, NDAR 4: 1103-1104.

[13]NDAR 4: 1103-1104.

[14]Evans, The Gentleman Usher, 81, 122.

[15]NDAR 3: 1012-1014.


[17]John Dempster to George Dempster, NDAR 3: 924.

[18]Disposition of Ships under the Command of Vice Admiral Samuel Graves, December 3, 1775, NDAR 2: 1249-1251.

[19]William Tyron to Graves, December 13, 1775, NDAR 3: 89-90.

[20]NDAR 3: 1012-1013.

[21]NDAR 4: 1103-1104.

[22]NDAR 3: 1012-1013.

[23]NDAR 3: 1012-1014.


[25]Minutes of the New York Committee of Safety, January 15, 1776, NDAR 3: 801.

[26]Stuyvesant Fish, The New York Privateers, 1756-1763: King George’s Private Ships of War which Cruized Against the King’s Enemies: the Duke of Cumberland, the Tartar, the Harlequin, the Sturdy Beggar, and Many Others(New York: George Grady Press, 1945), 63, 65.

[27]Affidavit of Mary Crolius, State of New York June 4, 1832. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, M804, Roll 0695, Pension File W.1068, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

[28]George Washington to William Dobbs, June 15, 1778, George Washington Papers, Series 3, Varick Transcripts, 1775-1785, Subseries 3B, Continental and State Military Personnel, 1775-1783, Letterbook 6: June 25, 1778 – Oct. 31, 1778, Library of Congress MSS 44693: Reel 006.

[29]NDAR 3: 801-802.

[30]Minutes of the New York Committee of Safety, January 21, 1776, NDAR3: 902-903.

[31]William Alexander Duer, The Life of William Alexander, Earl of Sterling; Major General in the Army of the United States, during the Revolution: with Selections from his Correspondence(New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1847), 113, 115-116.

[32]Jean-Rae Turner and Richard T. Koles, Elizabeth: The First Capital of New Jersey(Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 7.

[33]Duer, The Life of William Alexander, 1-2, 51, 56-62, 116.

[34]Stirling to Hancock, December 19, 1775, NDAR 3: 170.

[35]Hyde Parker to Graves, December 18, 1775, NDAR3: 154.

[36]NDAR 3: 904.

[37]Robert Ogden to Hancock, February 10, 1776, NDAR 3: 1200-1204.

[38]Washington to Stirling, January 10, 1776, NDAR 3: 712.

[39]Stirling to Hancock, January 24, 1776, NDAR 3: 959-960.

[40]NDAR 3: 959-960.

[41]NDAR 3: 1200-1204.

[42]Aaron Ogden, The Autobiography of Col. Aaron Ogden, of Elizabethtown: An Original Document being written by Col. Aaron Ogden for his children(Patterson, NJ: The Press Printing and Publishing Company, 1893), 15-16.; NDAR 3: 1200-1204.

[43]John Henry Livingston, The Livingstons of Livingston Manor(New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1910), 248-249.

[44]Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton(New York: Penguin, 2004), 42-43.

[45]Pension affidavit of John C. Lum, State of New Jersey, Essex County September 7, 1832. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, M804, Roll 1600, Pension File S.4548, NARA; Pension affidavit of Jonathan H. Osborne, State of New Jersey, Essex County October 31, 1833. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, M804, Roll 1850, Pension File S.1068, NARA; NDAR 3: 1200-1203.

[46]NDAR 3: 959-960.

[47]Parker to Molyneux Shuldham, February 25, 1776, NDAR 4: 75-78.

[48]NDAR 4: 1103-1104.

[49]NDAR 3: 1200-1204.

[50]Stirling to Hancock, January 27, 1776, NDAR 3: 1014-1016.

[51]NDAR 3: 1200-1204.

[52]NDAR 3: 1014-1016.

[53]Extract of a Letter of a Ship Carpenter, now at Belfast, in Ireland, to his Father, in Newcastle, May 10. May 29, 1776, National Advertiser, London, NDAR 4: 1115.

[54]NDAR 3: 1014-1016.

[55]Stirling to the New York Committee of Safety, January 28, 1776, NDAR 3: 1026.

[56]Journal of the New Jersey Provincial Congress, March 8, 1776, NDAR 4: 234-236.

[57]New-York Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1776, NDAR4: 397-398.

[58]NDAR 4: 115.

[59]NDAR 4: 1103-1104.

[60]Evans, The Gentleman Usher, 11, 122.

[61]Minutes of the New York Committee of Safety, January 23, 1776, NDAR, 3: 942-943.

[62]Minutes of the New York Committee of Safety, March 18, 1776, NDAR 4: 392-394.

[63]William Elder to New York Committee of Safety, March 29, 1776. American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters, and Other Notices of Publick Affairs(Washington: Peter Force M. St. Clair Clarke, 1848), 5: 539 (AA).

[64]Examination and Parole of Joseph Woolcombe, July 6, 1776, AA 1: 26.

[65]William Tyron to Lord Dartmouth, February 11, 177, NDAR3: 1217.

[66]NDAR 4: 75-78.

[67]Evans, The Gentleman Usher, 4.

[68]Jonathan M. Yeager, The Life and Thought of John Erskine(New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 155.

[69]Journal of the Continental Congress, January 29, 1776, NDAR3: 1037-1038.

[70]Duer, The Life of William Alexander, 128-131.

[71]Parker to Shuldham, April 29, 1776, NDAR 4: 1310-1313.

[72]Shuldham to Philip Stephens, January 15, 1776, NDAR 3: 792-794.

[73]Deposition of Three British Army Surgeons, February 20, 1776, NDAR 4: 24-27.

[74]James Young to Stephens, March 3, 1776, NDAR 4: 153-157; Young to Alexander Scott, March 28, 1776, NDAR 4: 561-562.

[75]John Bowater to the Earl of Denbigh, March 25, 1776, in John Rhodehamel ed., The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence(New York: The Library of America, 2001), 113-115.

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