Joseph McCracken: New York’s Wounded Revolutionary Warrior

The War Years (1775-1783)

November 16, 2021
by Philip D. Weaver Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

Following the failed assault on Quebec City, the Continental Congress resolved on January 8, 1776 to provide additional regiments for the defense of Canada. One of them was a new (unnumbered) battalion to be commanded by New York’s Col. Goose Van Schaick and his fellow field officers who had continued in the service from the old 2nd New York.[1] The New York Provincial Congress wanted this battalion to “be raised in the Northern Quarter.”[2]

Capt. Joseph McCracken was a former company commander with the 2nd New York Regiment from the first establishment of the Continental army. He had ended his service and was “reengaged” for the new establishment on November 20, 1775.[3] McCracken did not know that compared to the heavy action he and his former company experienced the previous year, 1776 would prove to be relatively benign.

With Van Schaick in Albany and no brigadier general assigned to them, Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler took personal charge of McCracken’s new company. On December 29, 1775, he ordered McCracken to “send one of the Lieutenants of your Company with the Men you have already raised to Fort George to garrison that post.”[4] That lieutenant was undoubtedly 1st Lt. John Barnes. The same day, Schuyler sent an order to the commissary at Fort George that:

You will deliver to Lieutenant Barnes of Capt McCracken’s Company such necessary Cloathing and Blankets and of such Quality for the Men of that Company which are or shall arrive at your post as the said men with the Leave of the said Lieutenant shall choose to take—and you will take the said Lieutenant’s Receipt for the same and charge the same to the Captain.[5]

Schuyler also ordered that Barnes be delivered “such arms and accoutrements for the new levied Men of that Company as who shall require and take his Receipt for the same and charge the same to the Captain.”[6]

At the dawn of 1776, Schuyler continued to personally administer McCracken and his unassigned company. In a late January order, apparently penned by his secretary, Richard Varick, Schuyler told McCracken “that you do without the least Manner of Delay repair to Tyconderoga to take Command of that post.”[7] This appears to be a big responsibility for a company commander, except that in winter Fort Ticonderoga was more like an outpost than a major base of operation. The army’s new Canadian department was trying to mount a northern defense following the failed assault on Quebec while Schuyler was managing the Northern department from points south.

On February 13, McCracken and his company were at Ticonderoga, when Schuyler, in Albany, ordered McCracken “immediately on Receipt of this to send two officers of your Company down to this place to receive recruiting orders.”[8] No matter what those recruiting orders were, McCracken seems to have been relatively successful in engaging his new company. On February 15, Schuyler wrote to John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, noting how well McCracken was doing and that his new company was finally going to incorporated into Van Schaick’s new (unnumbered) New York battalion:

Captain Curtis, late of Hinman’s, and Captain Mills, late of Holmes’s, to whom I had given recruiting orders before I left Ticonderoga, have completed their companies. Captain McCrackin of Van Schaick’s, has a considerable number inlisted; all these to serve next campaign; and as Congress has ordered four regiments to be levied in this Colony, for the defence thereof, and for garrisoning Crown Point, &c., and as the three companies above-mentioned were not designated for any particular regiment, I shall incorporate them into Van Schaick’s. Hence, I hope this regiment, with the assistance of the Committee of this city and County, will be speedily completed.[9]

About a week later, McCracken wrote to Schuyler, from Fort Ticonderoga, expressing the need to clothe some of his men. Expecting a negative response, he even tried to get some unissued regimental coats previously intended for the Green Mountain Boys issued to his men:

Part of my men are also very ill Cloathed & there is here a Number of Coats provided Last Summer for the Green Mountain boys. if your Honor do not order Cloathing soon to this post Perhaps you would give Orders to Distribute them among the men according to Necessity. [10]

The arrival of spring 1776 brought increased pressure on Van Schaick to push north as much of his regiment as possible to help hold the front line. Schuyler wrote to Gen. George Washington from Albany on May 10 that, despite his many issues, he understood the situation and would send as many of Van Schaick’s men as possible:

I shall only have about one hundred [men] left to transport the provisions and stores across Lake George, which is not quite a sufficient number, and none for Lake Champlain, the garrisons of Crown-Point, Ticonderoga, the Landing Place, and Fort George, and for opening Wood Creek, and cutting a road by that route-a work which ought to be executed as soon as possible; but, wishing that as many troops as possible should go into Canada, I will detain the smallest number possible of Van Schaick’s Regiment.[11]

On June 15, Schuyler wrote a rather long letter to Washington explaining the processes he was using to deploy various regiments within the Northern department. He devoted a small section of the letter to Van Schaick’s battalion:

The raising of Colonel Van Schaick’s Regiment was, in the first instance, left to the New-York Provincial Congress. They requested me to take it in hand . . . I think the warrants for inlisting were granted on the 15th of February. And although I incorporated Curtis’s, McCracken’s, and Mills’s companies, to whom I had given inlisting orders in November last, for the winter service, yet the regiment is far from being complete, as your Excellency has seen by Colonel Van Schaick’s return; since which several are deserted.
When General Sullivan was at Albany, Van Schaick’s Regiment had left it, and was disposed of at the various posts, from Half-Moon to Crown Point included. Hence they could not furnish “a man for guard, or any other duty.” But I suppose General Sullivan was informed that Van Schaick’s Regiment was there, because he was, as he is still and likely to remain, as I must have somebody here in my absence, whom I can depend on; and it is only a piece of justice due to him, when I assure your Excellency that I believe the Army affords few better Colonels.[12]

Following up on this letter, Schuyler completed a return for Washington of the four understrength companies of the battalion destined for service in Canada. With sixty-one rank and file on the books, McCracken’s company was the largest of the four with a quarter of its officers and men on command at Crown Point, St. Johns (St. Jean), Ticonderoga, Albany, and Fort Edward.[13]

Transcript of a return of Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Regiment of Forces of the United Colonies, in the Colony of New-York, for Service in Canada, June 20, 1776, American Archives, 4th Series, 6:917-918.

Schuyler immediately wrote to Washington from Albany that “Colonel Wynkoop writes me that he has sent on only three companies of Van Schaick’s to Canada, not being able by any means to spare the other.”[14] It is unclear if McCracken and his company were one of those, but whoever was sent likely did not get very far. The army was retreating from Canada so quickly that the Canadian department could not even establish a strong base of operation. At a Council of War held at Crown-Point, July 7, 1776, five Continental army generals determined:

That under our present circumstances the Post of Crown-Point is not tenable; and that, with our present force, or one greatly superior to what we may reasonably expect, it is not capable of being made so this summer.
Resolved, therefore, That it is prudent to retire immediately to the strong ground on the east side of the Lake, opposite to Ticonderoga[15]

The remnants of the Canadian department were now effectively, if not officially, merged into the Northern department. Ticonderoga, which had been the rear area, was now the front-line. The focus was no longer on holding an advanced position, but preventing a probable British attack. McCracken and his men seem to have fallen into the background for most of the summer. He surfaced on September 14, when Schuyler sent him a personal memo from his Albany headquarters:

The Deputy Paymaster General, having signified his Intentions to me of sending up a Sum of Money for the Use of the Army & requested some Person to take Charge of the same. You will therefore please to call on him with a proper Guard, receive the same, & convey it to Ticonderoga & deliver it as directed by the Deputy Paymaster General. You will call on the Commanding officer at Fort Edward for an Additional Escort to convey You to Fort George & on Your Arrival there Colo. Gansevoort is to give You an Officer & twenty four Men at least to Convey You to Ty onderoga.[16]

On October 18, the Albany Committee of Correspondence ordered McCracken’s company, along with two others who were also in Albany, New York, to remain there while the whole militia marched to Fort Edward.[17] They were there for about ten days when McCracken was ordered to lead his company as part of the troops sent to the Mohawk Valley for “the defense of the western frontier” along with Col. Samuel Elmore’s (unnumbered) Connecticut regiment. Intended to defend against a possible British and Loyalist attack and to replace the 3rd New Jersey regiment that had moved to Fort Ticonderoga, this force of continentals, militia, and rangers numbered over 2,000 men.[18] It appears to be the last duty assignment McCracken had with Van Schaick’s battalion. On November 21, he was named first captain of the new establishment of the 1st New York, coincidentally commanded by the same Van Schaick.[19]

“A Map of the Country between Crown Point and Fort Edward,” Gentleman’s Magazine, London, 1759. This rare map depicts the area between the southern part of Lake Champlain and Fort Edward. This is the area in which Captain McCracken and his company operated while part of Van Schaick’s battalion in 1776 and for much their time with the 1st New York in 1777. (New York Public Library)

McCracken was clearly a good company-grade officer. He started out as the twenty-sixth-rated captain out of forty captains in the New York continental line in 1775. In 1776, when officers were rated by regiment, McCracken had moved up to first captain of Van Schaick’s (unnumbered) battalion.[20] There he was rated as a very good officer, but, for some unspecified reason, he was considered “not fit to be a major.”[21]

A clue as to why McCracken received such a harsh rating can be found in his correspondence. Although he often received letters, only a few that he wrote himself appear to have survived, suggesting that he seldom wrote. A letter from April 1777 suggests why. His handwriting was illegible, not uncommon for the period, but there are missing letters and words to the point where you can barely make out the content phonetically, let alone the recipient’s name, which seems to be Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln.[22] It does not appear that McCracken was illiterate, as he signed his name, but the poorly written letter indicates that he might have had difficulty performing most administrative tasks. On a company level such tasks were usually handled by the first sergeant, so McCracken’s issues could be managed and covered up to a degree. The predominately administrative position of major might have been too much for him. Perhaps the raters knew this. Either way, McCracken was probably not aware of any of this and continued his service with the new 1st New York.

McCracken’s signature, as “Comadent” of Fort Edward. It is from the bottom of letter believed sent to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln on April 6, 1777. (New York Public Library)

For much of the summer and fall of 1777, Fort Edward, an old British fort built in 1755 and located south of Lake George on the Hudson River, was home to McCracken and his men. Muster rolls of the regiment’s field, staff, and other commissioned officers show that they were “on command” there in June and early October.[23] It is doubtful that McCracken’s men were at Fort Edward for this entire period, but a return of the number of troops garrisoning the fort, dated June 2, does show McCracken to be the commander of the garrison.[24]

On June 28, the unspecified commanding officer at Fort Edward, presumably still McCracken, was issued the following order directly from Schuyler:

From intelligence just new received it is probable that a party of Enemy will pay you a visit. You are therefore to keep a look out and be ready to receive them—I apprehend that Fort Ann and Skeensborough are also objects of the Enemy—You will therefore forward this to the Commanding Officer at Fort Ann who is to expedite it to Skeensborough. Send no more provisions to Fort George—Send a Strong party with my letters to Fort George.[25]

Dr. James Thacher, who was with a portion of the congressional forces retreating from points north, noted on July 7 that:

we received a small reinforcement from Fort Edward, by order of Major-General Schuyler, and on discovering that a detachment of the enemy under command of Colonel Hill had arrived in our vicinity, a party from our fort was ordered to attack them in their covert in the woods. The two parties were soon engaged in a smart skirmish, which continued for several hours, and resulted greatly to our honor and advantage; the enemy, being almost surrounded, were on the point of surrendering, when our ammunition being expended, and a party of Indians arriving and setting up the war-whoop, this being followed by three cheers from their friends the English, the Americans were induced to give way and . . . Fort Anne being a small picket fort of no importance, orders were given to set it on fire, and on the 8th we departed for Fort Edward situated about thirty miles southward on the banks of Hudson River.[26]

This action is known as the Battle of Fort Anne. Though some of the 1st New York may have taken part, it is unclear if McCracken’s company did. One of McCracken’s newest enlistees, William Bennett, noted in his pension deposition of October 17, 1832, where he and, presumably, the company traveled but makes no mention of Fort Anne:

That he enlisted about the 1st of June in the year 1777 for three years or during the war, in the Army of the United States as a substitute for Nicholas Mozier . . . That he was marched from Fort Edward, New York, where he enlisted to Salem in said State, from thence to Stillwater on the Hudson River to intercept the passage of Burgoyne’s Army, then on their march down the Hudson River, where his regiment together with the Army under the command of General Gates remained, until the Regiment to which he was attached was sent expressly to relieve Fort Stanwick, which had been besieged by a party of British, Indians & Tories, but the enemy having raised the siege of Fort Stanwick & left that part of the Country before his regiment arrived, they were then marched to Johnstown, from thence to Schenectady where they went into winter quarters; from whence early in the following spring they were marched to Albany, from thence to Fishkill[27]

Verifying Bennett’s account in primary sources would be far too long for the space available here, so Eric Schnitzer, noted historian on the Saratoga campaign of 1777, offers the following summary:

By June 1777, the 1st NY was scattered about the Northern Department by subdivisions. Most of the regiment was stationed at Fort George, but McCracken’s and Wendell’s companies were at Fort Edward, and Finck’s was in Saratoga. By October, the regiment was still in a scattered predicament, with most of the regiment stationed at Fort Schuyler while McCracken’s company was in Johnstown and Copp’s was at Fort Dayton. By mid-November 1777, the regiment was in Schenectady (McCracken’s company included). By January [1778], the regiment was somewhat scattered again—the bulk of it remained at Schenectady while McCracken’s and Graham’s companies were stationed in Saratoga. The 1st NY formed part of the Northern Army which retreated in the summer of 1777 (i.e., from Forts Edward and George, and from Saratoga). The regiment was whisked away to the Mohawk Valley long before the Battles of Saratoga took place. . . . Your deponent’s narrative lines up very well with what he should have experienced: his reference to Stillwater has to do with the retreat south, a whole month before the army returned to Stillwater and, subsequently, to Bemus Heights.[28]

Schnitzer goes on to comment that Bennett was wrong to refer to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates as commander at that time. Gates had lost his share of the joint command of the Northern department, albeit for a short time, in favor of Schuyler.[29]

Though it seemed to be common practice in the Northern department, it is somewhat ironic that the outgoing Gates never did like to break up a regiment into smaller detachments. In an August 1776 report to Congress, Gates had made it clear that he wanted it stopped:

Regiments should not, without the most urgent necessity, be scattered and broken in bits, as some of those are. The service of the United States demands it, only in a few instances. When that is unavoidably the case, the duty should be done by detachment. As far as I can command it, the error shall be corrected.[30]

The issue would remain unresolved and not soon matter to the 1st New York. In early spring 1778, the entire regiment was ordered south to Fishkill, New York, just as the Main army’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was winding down. Washington himself redirected them to join him there:

I desire that Van Schaick’s regiment, which has been ordered to Fishkill, may be directed to march without delay to join me. It is unnecessary, I am sure, for me to add, that the most profound secrecy should attend your operations, if the scheme is adopted; and if not, hints of such measure being in agitation should be dropped, in order to divide the attention of the enemy.[31]

William Bennett’s pension deposition continues with the 1st New York being at Fishkill when they left for Valley Forge:

where they joined the Main Army under the command of Genl. George Washington, shortly before the Battle of Monmouth, in which battle he was . . . That he the said William Bennett had been detailed & taken from his company to serve as an artillery man, that in the early part of a piece of Artillery which he the said William Bennett assisted to man. . . . That the day after the battle of Monmouth he was permitted & did join his own company again and his regiment was marched to & stationed on the east side of the Hudson River.[32]

Tragedy occurred at the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse on June 28, 1778, when McCracken’s left arm was “shot away by a cannon ball.”[33] There are no known details of this incident, and any known muster rolls of his 1st New York company list only that he was either wounded or absent.

Many of the men of McCracken’s company were sick or on command elsewhere and only a handful filed pensions, leaving few mentions of the company’s activities at Monmouth or the circumstances of McCracken losing his arm. The aforementioned William Bennett had temporarily transferred before the battle to the artillery. Henry Markle explained that “at the battle of Monmouth, he was attached to a company of Light Infantry commanded by Capt Fink—That after the battle aforesaid, this deponent returned to the company in which he first enlisted.”[34]

McCracken’s son, William, seems to be the only one of the company’s Monmouth veterans to have actually seen the incident and also file a federal pension application. He explained that he had:

for about one year served as a waiter to said Captain McCracken After which he served as fifer to said Company for some time & after that he carried his musket as a soldier in said Company & Regiment until after the Battle of Monmouth—when said Captain McCracken this deponents father having been injured by the wind of a cannon ball. He was discharged from further service at the request of his father & returned home with him—That he was about fourteen years old when he enlisted.[35]

The fact that “wind” took off his father’s arm is hard to believe at first glance. Field artillery fired round ball, grape shot, or cannister, so unless any shot hit his extended arm, the force of the shot is the only way he could have lost it.[36] If the shot hit McCracken more towards his torso, it would have likely killed him outright.

Following the horrific injury, McCracken stayed on the books of the 1st New York while he recuperated. The muster rolls for this period list him simply as being “Absent Wounded.”[37] The fact that he was even able to recover from this injury is truly remarkable for the time. McCracken actually did so well that he was able to return to the 1st New York as an amputee by the beginning of 1779.

Despite the earlier recommendation to the contrary, McCracken was promoted to the rank of major in the first quarter of 1779.[38] It was, however, not in his own regiment, but in the 4th New York.[39] Lt. Col. Pierre Regnier of the 4th New York explained the promotion in a note at the bottom of a contemporary document that “Joseph McCracken, as the oldest Captain of the state is to fill up the majority vacant by Genl. Washington’s Recommendation.”[40] Since McCracken was one of New York’s original captains from 1775, Washington was probably referencing his seniority and not his actual age.

A muster roll of officers in the 4th New York, from early 1780, shows the promotion took place on May 29, 1779,[41] though adjacent lists of officers in that regiment show McCracken as being appointed on May 29, 1778.[42] This suggests it was a simple mistake in writing down a date, but that 1778 date would confuse historians for years.

McCracken cleared up the confusion in a signed deposition from 1824. He explained that at the battle of Monmouth, he lost an arm due to a cannon shot received from the enemy on June 28, 1778. He was appointed major, exactly one year later, in the 4th New York, which had been lacking a major for some time. His commission was, however, to rank from May 29, 1778. Why it was backdated is unexplained.[43]

One can suspect that the promotion was a kindness to McCracken, as the duties of a major would have been far less taxing physically than that of a captain commanding an infantry company. He certainly had the seniority, but it looks like the decision-makers did not consider his other difficulties. Nevertheless, McCracken’s service in the 4th New York was short-lived. In less than a year, on April 11, 1780, he resigned from the Continental army.[44]

It took a bit of time, but after returning home to Salem, New York, McCracken landed on his feet. On March 30, 1781, he was appointed a commissioner for detecting and defeating conspiracies with New York State. In 1782, he became lieutenant colonel of the Charlotte County (New York) Militia, also known as the “Dorset Regiment.” He would later be elected to the New York State Assembly for several non-consecutive terms.[45]

McCracken received an annual stipend of $300 from the federal government as one of the country’s first pensioners.[46] He also, presumably, received a sizable disability pension from the state of New York.[47] If there were any other records relating to the service of continental, state, and militia veterans like McCracken, they were probably part of the New York State Library collections that were housed in the New York State Capitol building. These collections were nearly all reduced to ashes in a legendary fire on March 29, 1911.[48]

A member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, McCracken married Sarah Turner on February 12, 1760. Records vary, but they had between seven and nine children. He passed away on May 5, 1825, living in his home town to the remarkable age of eighty-eight.[49]


[1]Resolution of the Continental Congress, January 8, 1776, New York in the Revolution, Berthold Fernow, ed., (Cottonport, LA: Polyanthos, Inc., 1972), 45-46, previously published as Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Co., 1853–1887), 15:45-46(Documents Relating). The other field officers at this time were Lt. Col. Peter Yates and Major Peter Gansevoort, “Jr.”

[2]New York Committee of Safety to Philip Schuyler, January 31, 1776, ibid., 52.

[3]Muster roll, Field, staff, and other officers in Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Battalion of Forces raised in the State of New York, December 17, 1776, Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783, National Archives Microfilm Publications, M246, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Records Group 93, Roll 77, Folder 163 (Muster Rolls).

[4]Philip Schuyler to Joseph McCracken, December 29, 1775, Orderly Book of Philip John Schuyler, June 28, 1775—April 18, 1776, Huntington Digital Library, mssHM 663, 252, Letter 639,, accessed March 22, 2021 (Orderly Book of Schuyler). Thank you to Justin Clement for pointing me to this orderly book.

[5]Philip Schuyler to Commissary at Ft George, December 29, 1775, Orderly Book of Schuyler, 252-253, Letter 640,, accessed March 22, 2021.

[6]Philip Schuyler to Commanding Officer at Ft George or in his Absence to the Commissary, December 29, 1775, Orderly Book of Schuyler, 253, Letter 641/642,, accessed March 22, 2021.

[7]Philip Schuyler (R.Varick) to Joseph McCracken, January 31, 1776, Orderly Book of Schuyler, 253, Letter 641/642,, accessed March 26, 2021.

[8]Philip Schuyler to Joseph McCracken, February 13, 1776, Orderly Book of Schuyler, 295, Letter 706,, accessed March 26, 2021.

[9]General Schuyler to President of Congress, February 15, 1776, Peter Force, ed.,American Archives (Washington, DC: 1837-53), 4th Series, 4:1156-1157 (American Archives). Col. Benjamin Hinman commanded the 4th Connecticut (1775) and Col. James Holmes commanded the 4th New York (1775).

[10]Joseph McCracken to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, February 21, 1776, Philip Schuyler Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library (Philip Schuyler Papers), “Letters to Schuyler Jan-Feb 1776,” Box 27, source courtesy of Don Londahl-Smidt. Also found on New York Public Library Digital Collections,, accessed January 8, 2021.

[11]Philp Schuyler to George Washington, May 10, 1776, American Archives, 4th Series, 6:413.

[12]Philp Schuyler to George Washington.June 15, 1776, ibid., 910-913. The letter’s post script indicates that Capt. [Eleazer] Curtis had been promoted, Capt. [Daniel] Mills had died, and that 1st Lt. [James] Van Rensselaer and a 1st. Lt. Mason had replaced them. Van Rensselaer would later resign. Mason is not even listed on the rolls. 1st. Lt. Moses Martin was in his stead. Muster roll, Field, staff, and other officers in Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Battalion of Forces raised in the State of New York, December 17, 1776, Muster Rolls, Roll 77, Folder 163.

[13]A return of Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Regiment of Forces of the United Colonies, in the Colony of New-York, for Service in Canada, June 20, 1776, American Archives, 4th Series, 6:917-918.

[14]Schuyler to Washington, June 19-20, 1776, ibid., 974-976. Col. Cornelius D. Wynkoop of the 4th New York (1776). The regiment served in Schuyler’s Northern Department command along with Van Schaick’s (unnumbered) battalion.

[15]Minutes of a Council of War, July 7, 1776,American Archives, 5th Series, 1:233. Resolves of a Council of War, July 7, 1776, Philip Schuyler Papers, Digital Collections, Letterbook of General Orders, 110, Letter #1039,, accessed March 30, 2021 (Letterbook of General Orders).

[16]Philip Schuyler to Joseph McCracken, September 14, 1776, Letterbook of General Orders, 193, Letter #1139,, accessed March 30, 2021.

[17]Meeting Minutes, October 18, 1776, Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1775-1778 (Albany, NY, The University of the State of New York, 1923). 1:579.

[18]Proceedings of the Committee Appointed to Co-Operate with Gen. Schuyler, October 26, 1776, Calendar of Historical Manuscripts Relating to the War of the Revolution, in the Office of the Secretary of State (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1898), 1:507-508 (Calendar of Historical Manuscripts). Committee Resolution, October 28, 1776, Force, American Archives, 5th series, 3:563-564.

[19]A List of the Officers of Four Battalions to be raised in the State of New York. . ., November 21, 1776, Documents Relating, 15:138. List of Line Officers in the Five N.Y. Continental Regiments in 1777, Calendar of Historical Manuscripts,2:48.

[20]Rank of the Officers in the 5 N.Y. Continental Regiments in 1775, 1776, and 1777, Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, 2:51.

[21]Arrangement of Officers of Colonel Van Schaick’s Regiment, endorsed 1776, ibid., 45.

[22]“Letter to Mager General Link-horn [Benjamin Lincoln?] comanding the armey at Manchaster,” April 6, 1777, Thomas Addis Emmett Collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. New York Public Library Digital Collections., accessed April 1, 2021.

[23]Muster Rolls of the Field, Staff and Other Commissioned Officers in the First New York Battalion, June 5–October 4, 1777, Muster Rolls, Roll 66, Folder 12-1.

[24]A Return of troops of the United States garrisoned at Fort Edward under the command of Captain Joseph McCracken, June 2, 1777, Horatio Gates Papers, Boxes XX to XXII, “Army Returns 1776-1783,” MS 240, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. Transcription also found in the Egly Collection, Thompson-Pell Research Center, Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, New York, provided my Matthew Keagle, Curator. The document also confirms that McCracken is the 1st captain of the regiment.

[25]Philip Schuyler to Commander at Fort Edward, June 28, 1777, Letterbook of General Orders, 527, Letter #1764,, accessed August 24, 2021.

[26]Entry for July 7, 1777, Eyewitness to the American Revolution: The Battles and Generals as Seen by an Army Surgeon, James Thacher, MD, Reprint Edition (Stamford, CT: Longmeadow Press, 1994), 84. Thank you to Matt Zembo for this reference.

[27]Deposition of William Bennett, October 17, 1832, S.5276, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, Record Group 15, National Archives Building, Washington, DC (National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, Roll 0220) (Pensions). Bennett enlisted at Fort Edward on June 1,1777.

[28]Eric Schnitzer, personal communication, July 4, 2021.

[29]Ibid.. Congressional Resolution, May 15, 1777, Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789 (Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, 1907), 7, 364.

[30]General Gates to President of Congress, August 6,1776, Force, American Archives, 5th Series, 1:796.

[31]General George Washington to Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall, March 31, 1778, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931-44), 5:302-303.

[32]Deposition of William Bennett, October 17, 1832, S.5276, Pensions, Roll 220. Though Bennett came out of his brief service in the artillery at Monmouth unscathed, his description of this time is somewhat graphic and worth reading for historical purposes. Unfortunately, it was not germane to this story and was bypassed.

[33]Entry for Joseph McCracken, Documents Relating, 15:174.

[34]Deposition of Henry Markle, April 7, 1818, W.19877,Pensions, Roll 1630. Capt. Andrew Finck had been a first lieutenant with the 2nd New York in 1775 and, like McCracken, was a captain in Van Schaick’s (unnumbered) battalion, before he reengaged with the 1st New York Regiment.

[35]Deposition of William McCracken, April 8, 1818, W.9192, Pensions, Roll 1673.

[36]Round shot is a single solid ball. Grape shot is smaller balls essentially tied up in a bag. Cannister is the smaller balls in a bore-sized can. The latter two acted like giant shotgun shells. When fired at infantry, the effects were devastating.

[37]Muster Rolls of the Field Staff and Commissioned Officers in the 4th New York Regiment. . ., July thru December, 1778, Muster Rolls, Roll 65, Folder 3-1.

[38]Muster roll of Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Company in the First New York battalion. . ., January, February, and March 1779, Muster Rolls, Roll 66, Folio 12-1. Muster Roll of the Field Staff and Other Commissioned Officers in the 1st New York Battalion . . ., January February & March 1779, Muster Rolls, Roll 65, Folder 3-1.

[39]Muster Roll of the Field Staff and Other Commissioned Officers in the 1st New York Battalion. . ., January February & March 1779, Muster Rolls, Roll 65, Folder 3.

[40]Rank Roll of the Officers, Yet Present in the Fourth N. York . . ., undated but after November 9, 1777, Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777-1795, 1801-1804, Published by the State of New York (Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quale, 1904), 4:5.

[41]Muster Roll of the Field Staff and Commissioned Officers in the 4th New York Regiment . . ., January & February, 1780, Muster Rolls, Roll 70, Folder 51-1.

[42]Muster Rolls of the Field, Staff and Commissioned Officers of the 4th New York Regiment . . ., November 1779 thru April 1780, ibid.

[43]Application for New Certificate by Joseph McCracken, September 10, 1824, S.27176, Pensions, Roll 1673.

[44]Muster Roll of the Field, Staff and Commissioned Officers of the 4th New York Regiment. . ., March and April 1780, Muster Rolls, Roll 70, Folder 51-1. Entry for Joseph McCracken, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, Reprint of the New, Revised, and Enlarged Edition of 1914, With Addenda by Robert H. Kelby, 1932, Frances B. Heitman (Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing company, 1982), 367.

[45]Note about Joseph McCracken, Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, 2:40n. Levies and Militia, Charlotte County, entry for July 24, 1782, Documents Relating, 15:276.

[46]Entry for Joseph McCracken, Revolutionary Pensioners: A transcript of the Pension List of the United States for 1813, U.S. War Department, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2002), 23.

[47]List of Pensioners and Applications for Pensions, New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, James A. Roberts, compiler (Albany, NY: Weed-Parsons Printing Company, 1897), 249.

[48]Introduction, The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911, Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing Company, 2011), 7.

[49]Entry for Joseph McCracken, New York State Society of the Cincinnati: Biographies of Original Members & Other Continental Officers, Francis J. Sypher, Jr. (Fishkill, NY: New York State Society of the Cincinnati, 2004), 307-309. The Society indicates McCracken was born in either 1736 or 1737.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *