The First Rhode Island Regiment and the Pines Bridge Monument

Arts & Literature

February 22, 2024
by Victor J. DiSanto Also by this Author


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The Pines Bridge Monument, unveiled on November 17, 2018 in Yorktown Heights, New York, is the first Revolutionary War memorial to depict a white American, an African American, and a Native American uniting with each other against enemy forces.[1] In an era when existing monuments, such as that of the Albany icon General Philip Schuyler, are being removed as a matter of political correctness, it is a refreshing addition to the Hudson Valley’s built environment and a tangible statement about the multicultural composition of the Continental Army.[2]

According to Michael Kahn, a retired Yorktown police officer and the driving force behind the monument, “We have a popularly inaccurate perception that it was white guys in red coats versus white guys in blue coats, but the reality was a lot more diverse.” Mr. Kahn stated that the monument is “a testament to our heritage, and we want generations down the road to remember what people sacrificed and gave before our time.”[3]

Mr. Kahn is a member of the 5th New York Regiment reenactment group and is currently working on an M.A. in Public History at Empire State College. He conducts interpretive programs at the monument and hopes it will attract tourism to the area and stimulate interest in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.[4]

Constance Kehoe, president of Revolutionary Westchester 250, stated that

We are humbled by the black and indigenous soldiers who served a country that was not yet ready to grant them full equality. The Pines Bridge Monument is one of the seven sites on our upcoming mobile audio tour. We want to inform the public about the praise these soldiers received and the sacrifices they made right here in Westchester County.

The monument sits on an octagonal pedestal. Each side represents a year of the eight-year struggle for independence and has interpretive material written on it. An unlikely trio of Rhode Island patriots represented in the eight-foot bronze monument symbolize the diversity of Continental forces and the brutality of the fighting that occurred in Westchester County, New York during the American Revolution. It portrays an oxymoronic fighting Quaker with sword in hand, a black American Continental infantryman armed with a musket, and an indigenous Wampanoag scout, wielding a pistol and a tomahawk, defiantly bracing themselves to repel an assault by the loyalist troops of Col. James Delancey—the notorious Cowboys.

The indigenous warrior in the monument is dressed in linen trousers and shirt with a sash around his waist and wears Wampanoag moccasins. By the mid-eighteenth century, much of Rhode Island’s indigenous population such as the Narragansett and Wampanoag had been enslaved, indentured, or displaced from their land. Others left Rhode Island completely and found refuge with the Oneida Nation in New York State or at the Stockbridge Indian Missionary in Massachusetts. Robert A. Geake and Lorén M. Spears have written,“Oral history states that Narragansett men joined the war for freedom, for empowerment, for warrior pride, to protect their families, communities, way of life, homeland, and to provide hope for future generations.”[5]

The African American soldier wears the uniform of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a linen hunting frock, vest and trousers, and a distinctive leather cap decorated with an ostrich plume; its brim is stitched up to give it a forepeak with a painted insignia of an anchor symbolizing Rhode Island’s maritime heritage. He could have been born free or have been an enslaved man who enlisted to win his freedom. The regiment included both.

The white soldier is Col. Chistopher Greene. He is fighting barefoot because he did not have time to pull on his boots when the post at Pines Bridge was attacked. Greene, born on May 12, 1737, was a scion of one of Rhode Island’s notable families, a third cousin of Gen. Nathanael Greene. Colonel Greene met a spine-chilling death on May 14, 1781. Expelled by the Society of Friends for taking up arms, he rejected the Quaker philosophy of pacificism to actively serve the American cause for liberty, first volunteering for the Quebec expedition in 1775, where enemy forces captured him. He spent eight months as a prisoner of war before being released in a prisoner exchange. He rejoined the Continental Army, rose through the ranks, and in the summer of 1778 became the commander of the “Black Regiment.” A man of contradictions, in a convoluted way, it is fitting that Greene commanded Black troops because Quakers acted as the vanguard of the abolition movement. A tall and powerful man, the fighting Quaker always carried a sword, and he knew how to skillfully wield it.[6]

It would take a Civil War for Blacks to be granted citizenship and one century later a Civil Rights Movement would still be needed to address the inequities that blacks suffered. Indigenous people would not receive unconditional United States citizenship until 1924 with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act. Yet the monument depicts a Black man, an indigenous man, and a white man. How did this diverse group of Rhode Islanders end up defending the Croton River, the northern boundary of the infamous Neutral Zone? It would serve us well to examine how the three ended up at Pines Bridge.

The Continental Army never outright rejected the service of Native Americans, but it did not initially embrace it either. During the siege of Boston, George Washington wrote to Congress that chiefs from the St Francis, Penobscot, Stockbridge and St Johns tribes approached him to “to offer their Services, and [were] told that they would be called for when wanted.” Congress confirmed that “These Indians to be called if necessary.”[7]

The service of indigenous people apparently became necessary, and in May 1776 Congress resolved “That the Commander in Chief be authorised and instructed to employ in the Continental Armies a number of Indians not exceeding . . . two thousand men.”[8]

Black Americans, especially those enslaved, had a more difficult path. When Washington assumed command at Boston, the sight of armed black New England patriots serving in integrated units drove him out of his comfort zone, and while he allowed them to stay on, a fear of slave revolt would influence his future policies. Washington and his generals at a council of war on October 8, 1775, addressed “Whether it will be adviseable to re-inlist any Negroes in the new Army — or whether there be a Distinction between such as are Slaves & those who are free?” and “Agreed unanimously to reject all Slaves, & by a great Majority to reject Negroes altogether.”[9]

Congress supported this decision and on November 12, 1775, Washington barred additional enlistments of Blacks, ordering that “Neither Negroes, Boys unable to bare Arms, nor old men unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign, are to be inlisted.”[10]

British strategy, however, made it necessary for Washington to rethink his position and reverse American policy. On November 7, 1775, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, offered liberty to indentured servants and slaves bound to rebels in exchange for military service. Dunmore proclaimed:

And I do hereby further declare all indentured Servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining His Majesty’s Troops as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to His Majesty’s Crown and Dignity.[11]

While the sight of black American soldiers may have displeased Washington, the thought of black soldiers fighting on behalf of King George III appalled him even more. He wrote to Richard Henry Lee that if Dunmore “is not crushed before Spring, he will become the most formidable Enemy America has—his strength will Increase as a Snow ball by Rolling; and faster, if some expedient cannot be hit upon to convince the Slaves and Servants of the Impotency of His designs.”[12]

One avenue to counteract Dunmore and to prevent free black veterans from enlisting in the British Army involved letting free Blacks remain in the military. On December 30, 1775, Washington authorized recruiters to reenlist free black soldiers, writing in his general orders “As the General is informed, that Numbers of Free Negroes are desirous of inlisting, he gives leave to the recruiting Officers, to entertain them.” The following day he wrote to John Hancock that it

has been represented to me that the free negroes who have Served in this Army, are very much disatisfied at being discarded—as it is to be apprehended, that they may Seek employ in the ministerial Army—I have presumed to depart from the Resolution respecting them, & have given Licence for their being.[13]

Needing soldiers, one year later in January 1777, Washington authorized the enlistment of “all such able bodied-freemen as are willing—and able to enlist into the service and pay of the United States in the Character of a Soldier.”[14] This directive allowed the enlistments of free black recruits but still reject\ed enslaved men.

It would take another year for expediency to open the door, albeit the proverbial back door, to the enlistment of enslaved men.Unable to raise enough troops, Brig. Gen. James Varnum of Rhode Island wrote to Washington in January 1778, “It is imagined that a Battalion of Negroes can be easily raised,” without specifying if he intended to recruit slaves.[15]

Washington acquiesced in nebulous terms without really addressing the issue of slavery. He forwarded Varnum’s letter to Gov. Nicholas Cooke of Rhode Island with a cover letter stating, “I have nothing to say . . . on this important subject but to desire that you will give the officers employed in this business all the assistance in your power.”[16]

One month later, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a proclamation that:

every able bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave in this state may enlist into either of the said two battalions to serve during the continuance of the war with Great Britain; that every slave so enlisting, shall be entitled to, and receive all the bounties, wages, and encouragements allowed by the Continental Congress . . . that every slave enlisting shall, upon passing muster before Colonel Christopher Greene, be immediately discharged from the service of his master or mistress, and be absolutely FREE, as though he had never been encumbered with any kind of servitude or slavery.[17]

Although the Slave Enlistment Act stipulated reimbursement by Rhode Island to slave owners for the value of their slaves, it proved to be unpopular with slavers and short-lived. The Rhode Island Assembly repealed it less than four months later and enslaved men were forbidden to enlist after June 10, 1778.[18] The exact number who enlisted in exchange for their freedom is unknown; estimates range from 130 to 181.[19]

Rhode Island reorganized and segregated its two regiments according to race in May 1778, with Blacks and indigenous enlisted men serving in the 1st Regiment and white soldiers transferred to the 2nd Regiment. Although 1st Regiment had white non-commissioned officers, white officers, and white musicians, it became known as the “Black Regiment;” the 2nd Regiment only had white soldiers. In August 1778 the “Black Regiment” performed admirably at the Battle of Rhode Island.[20]

On January 2, 1781, Washington ordered Greene to bring the 1st Rhode Island Regiment to Peekskill, New York. During the trip to the Hudson Valley, the Marquis Francois Jean de Chastellux, a French general, observed the soldiers of the 1st Rhode Island in Connecticut and stated, “The majority of the enlisted men are Negroes or mulattoes; but they are strong, robust men, and those I saw made a very good appearance.”[21]

The two segregated Rhode Island Regiments consolidated into a single integrated Rhode Island regiment, commanded by Colonel Greene, in February 1781. It contained two companies of black soldiers. It was stationed along the Croton River with units from other states.[22]

The Croton River and its tributary the Cross River acted as the northern boundary of the Neutral Ground between British Forces to the south in Manhattan and Morrisania (the Bronx) and the Patriots defending the Hudson Highlands north of the Croton. In between both forces lay a twenty-five mile stretch of no-man’s land, known as the Neutral Ground. Greene established headquarters in what is now the Town of Yorktown at the Davenport House, approximately two miles northwest of the Pines Bridge, which crossed the Croton River.[23]

One of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment’s objectives was to keep the loyalist troops of Col. James DeLancey, the former sheriff of Westchester County, south of the Croton River. Known as DeLancey’s Refugees or the Westchester Light Horse, and nicknamed “Cowboys” for their propensity to raid Westchester for cattle to feed the British Army in New York City, they did more than steal livestock.Royal governor William Tryon assigned the label “deserter” on the New York State militiamen who had formerly served in the Westchester County militia under Sheriff DeLancey before the Revolution and awarded a $5.00 reward for each captured and a $25.00 reward for each member of the Committee of Safety captured. DeLancey’s Cowboys acted as bounty hunters for Tryon by hunting down patriots, arresting, and imprisoning them, torched the homes and businesses of Whig patriots, destroyed fields after taking all they could, assaulted American outposts, killed and mortally wounded Westchester militiamen, terrorized civilians, disrupted Patriot communication and supply routes, and accompanied British and Hessian regulars on combat missions.[24]

On the morning of May 13, 1781, DeLancey led his loyalist troops, consisting of about 60 cavalrymen and 140 infantrymen, to a surprise attack against American forces. At sunrise they crossed a ford in the Croton and surrounded the Davenport House.[25]

Lydia Vail, a Davenport granddaughter, gave the following account in 1848:

I was at Davenport’s house a few minutes after the Refugees left . . . Greene, Flagg and a young Lieutenant whose name I do not remember, occupied a large room in the northwest corner of the second story . . . My grandfather [Richardson Davenport] was in the adjoining apartment, and overheard all the conversation of the three officers . . . Green[e], half dressed, but sword in hand, said, ‘We must sell our lives as dearly as we can.’ And approaching the head of the stairs, called aloud to the soldiers below: ‘Stand to your arms men! Courage! They are only a pack of cowboys, fire away![26]

During the initial volley of musket fire, Maj. Ebenezer Flagg received numerous wounds, and after the Tories entered the house, they shot the injured officer in cold blood. Greene, half-dressed, fought bravely but was outnumbered; the enemy overwhelmed and wounded him severely. Retreating quickly before American reinforcements arrived, the Loyalists took Greene prisoner. Greene, weak from his wounds and bleeding profusely, fell from his horse a short distance away, where the Cowboys left him to bleed to death. The local militia found him in his shirt and underclothes. In addition to Greene and Flagg, six privates lay dead, of which four—Cato Bannister, Africa Burk, Jack Minthorn and Jere Green—were identified as men “of color” and two—John Green [Greer] and John McDaniel [McDonald] were white. Two other men “of color,” Nathaniel Weeks and Prince Childs, would die of their wounds. In addition, a soldier of the Massachusetts Line also died during the attack.[27]

Washington noted in his diary the next day “that several of our Soldiers had been inhumanly murdered.”[28] The belief that Flagg and been killed while in bed and Greene had been “carried off into the woods and barbarously murdered” outraged Americans.[29]

The Continental Army laid Greene and Flagg to rest in unmarked graves at the First Presbyterian Church cemetery in Yorktown. In 1900 the State of New York erected a stone monument at the cemetery honoring Greene, Flagg, and a Westchester soldier named Lt. Abraham Dyckman.[30]

The exact burial place of the enlisted men who died in the battle is unknown. Oral tradition has it that they were interred at the Davenport House. In 1982 the Afro American Cultural Foundation of Westchester County and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Societyplaced a stone a monument in the First Presbyterian Church cemetery memorializing the black soldiers.[31]

Motivated by the tragic event and inspired by the Sybil Ludington statue at Lake Gleneida in nearby Carmel, Mr. Kahn wrote a proposal for the monument and gained the support of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Yorktown. A monument committee was formed, which conducted a national competition for an artist, selecting noted sculptor Jay Warren of Oregon.[32]“Jay’s work sold itself,” said Mr. Kahn, “It stopped us in dead in our tracks.”[33]

Interview with Sculptor Jay Warren

Jay Warren grew up in the Mississippi Delta, where he often lived in houses with no indoor plumbing or electricity.[34] He was Valedictorian of Rolling Fork High School in 1976 (Rolling Fork happens to be the birthplace of Blues icon Muddy Waters). Mr. Warren received both Presidential and Art Scholarships to Mississippi College where he studied under Sam Gore, a well-known Southern sculptor, who acted as his mentor and nurtured his talent. After college, Mr. Warren eventually joined the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in New Jersey, first as an apprentice, then as a primary sculptor in the Modeling/Enlarging Department. At the Atelier he worked under the Polish sculptor Andrzej Pitynski and learned how to design and produce monumental public bronzes. For ten years he ghost-sculpted the works of the Atelier’s founder, J. Seward Johnson. Mr. Warren stated, “Working at the Atelier allowed me to launch my career as a full-time sculptor of public works. This is where I became proficient in my craft.”

Growing up in the deep South during the Civil Rights movement influenced Mr. Warren’s art. Many of his sculptures deal with the struggle of minorities for equality in American society. His first work of this genre was a bronze memorial statue of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, unveiled in Jackson, Mississippi in 1991. “No other Southern sculptor, much less a white one from Mississippi, seemed interested in portraying a civil rights figure in 1990,” the artist said, “it sort of turned into a mission I became more and more passionate about.” He went on to sculpt the Emancipation and Freedom Monument in Richmond, Virginia, the Sojourner Truth Memorial in Northampton, Massachusetts, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Newark, New Jersey, the Rosa Parks Memorial in Essex County, New Jersey, and the memorial to Lakota Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Mr. Warren said that he “loves projects that relate to events in American history. My favorites are ones are those like Pines Bridge, a fantastic story little known outside of the Yorktown area.” He studied photographs of Wampanoag and Narragansett men as well as photographs of the group that reenacts the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. He based the likeness of Colonel Greene on the only known portrait of Greene. He relishes doing the necessary research such projects require:

I delve deep and greatly enjoy learning all the details. For the statues the research of correct clothing and kit is a primary element. I’m consumed with making sure every small detail is correct. On Pines Bridge this includes the proper Wampanoag moccasins and the fact that Colonel Greene confronted the attackers without time to pull on his boots.

The sculptor concluded that

The monument is important because it shows a part of Revolutionary War history that few know about, and the story is inspiring up until its tragic end. Black men obtaining freedom for joining the cause, the combination of a black regiment led by a white man, the Wampanoag scouts. Such amazing diversity, and an honorable, distinguished campaign up to the attack at Pines Bridge. There is some awareness of the US Colored Troops who fought for the Union in the Civil War, but who knew about this?

Mr. Warren feels good about the Pines Bridge Monument and rates it as one of his favorites. In an era when monuments to historical figures are being removed, he is confident that this monument will stand the test of time. “How could it not?” he said. “Enslaved men fought for their freedom and the country that enslaved them. It’s a remarkable story and I’m honored to have memorialized it in a public monument.”

For more information see: The Battle of Pines Bridge Monument – Thomas Jay Warren, Sculptor (


[1]Yorktown Historical Society, “Pines Bridge Monument,”

[2]“Philip Schuyler is Knocked Off His Pedestal In Albany,” NewYork Times, June 25, 2023,

[3]Rich Moneti, “Revolutionary War Monument to Remember the Diversity of All Who Sacrificed in Crucial Local Battle,” Serve, Vocal Media.,

[4]Interview by Vic DiSanto of Michael Kahn, January 24, 2024.

[5]Robert A. Geake, with Loren M. Spears, From Slaves to Soldiers (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2016), 43-44; Laurence M. Hauptman, “The Road to Kingsbridge: Daniel Nimham and the Stockbridge Indian Company in the American Revolution,” American Indian Magazine Vol. 18, No. 3 (Fall 2017),

[6]Philip S. Foner, Blacks in the American Revolution (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976), 57; Geake, From Slaves to Soldiers, 10-12, 18; “Christopher Greene,” The American Revolution Experience,

[7]“I. Questions for the Committee, 18 October 1775,”

[8]May 25, 1776, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume IV: January 1, 1776—June 4, 1776, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 395 (“number of Indians”), cited in Bryan Rindfleisch, “The Stockbridge-Mohican Community, 1775-1783, The Journal of the American Revolution, February 3, 2015,

[9]Council of War, 8 October 1775,”

[10]Foner, Blacks in the American Revolution, 44; Geake, From Slaves to Soldiers, 21; General Orders, November 12, 1775,”; I. Questions for the Committee, October 18, 1775,

[11]Foner, Blacks in the American Revolution, 45;“Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation of 1775,” American Battlefield Trust,

[12]George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, December 26, 1775,

[13]General Orders, December 30, 1775,; Washington to John Hancock, December 31, 1775,

[14]Circular Recruiting Instructions to the Colonels of the Sixteen Additional Continental Regiments, January, 12–27, 1777,

[15]James Mitchell Varnum to Washington, January 2, 1778,

[16]Washington to Nicholas Cooke, January 2, 1778,

[17]Geake, From Slaves to Soldiers, 39-40; Cameron Boutin, “The 1st Rhode Island Regiment and Revolutionary America’s Lost Opportunity,” Journal of the American Revolution, January 17, 2018,

[18]Boutin, “The 1st Rhode Island Regiment and Revolutionary America’s Lost Opportunity.”

[19]Ibid.; “Colonel Christopher Greene,” Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame,; Daniel M. Popek, They “. . . Fought Bravely, but Were Unfortunate:”: The True Story of Rhode Island’s “Black Regiment” and the Failure of Segregation in Rhode Island’s Continental Line, 1777-1783 (Bloomington: Authorhouse, Kindle Edition, 2015), 171. Popek writes that Rhode Island purchased at least 117 known or possible enslaved men for the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.

[20]Popek, They “. . . Fought Bravely,”147-149; “Christopher Greene,” The American Revolution Experience; “Colonel Christopher Greene,” Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

[21]Washington to Christopher Greene, January 2, 1781,”; Geake, From Slaves to Soldiers, 64.

[22]Popek, They “. . . Fought Bravely,”147-149.

[23]Otto Hufeland, Westchester County During the Revolution (White Plains: Westchester County Historical Society, 1926), 379; Michael Virgintino, “Revolutionary War: Massacre at Pines Bridge, Part I,” Classic New York,; “Colonel Christopher Greene,” Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

[24]Hufeland, Westchester County During the Revolution, 324, 379; John Lockwood Romer, Historical Sketches of the Romer, Van Tassell, and Allied Families, and Tales of the Neutral Ground (Buffalo: W.C. Kay Publishing Company, 1917), 46-47, 53 and 93; Lincoln Diamont, Yankee Doodle Days (Fleishmanns: Purple Mountain Press, 1996), 116-117; Robert Howe to Washington, July 8, 1780,; Barnett Schecter, The Battle for New York (New York: Walker and Company, 2002), 350; Sy Shepard, Patriot vs. Loyalist (New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022), 34.

[25]Washington, diary entry for May 14, 1781,

[26]Lydia Vail, Interview with John McDonald, October 19, 1848, McDonald Papers, Westchester County Historical Society. Lydia Vail was “ten or eleven” years old at the time of the attack; Michael Virgintino “Revolutionary War: Massacre at Pines Bridge, Part II: Davenport House,” Classic New York,

[27]Popek, They “. . . Fought Bravely,” 752-756; Virgintino “Revolutionary War: Massacre at Pines Bridge, Part II”; Hufeland, Westchester County During the Revolution, 380-381. Although the skirmish that occurred at the Davenport House became known as the Battle of Pines Bridge, the Pines Bridge was in reality, two miles away. During their retreat south, DeLancey’s Refugees surrounded the guard at the Pines Bridge, where Ens. Jeremiah Greenman, commander of the guard, realizing that the Refugees outnumbered the Americans, surrendered. DeLancey took his force prisoner.

[28]Washington, diary entry for May 14, 1781,

[29]James Thacher, Eyewitness to the American Revolution (Stamford: Longmeadow Press, 1994) 262.

[30]“Christopher Greene,” The American Revolution Experience; “Colonel Christopher Greene,” Find a Grave Memorial,

[31]“First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown, New York,” Find a Grave Memorial,

[32]Moneti, “Revolutionary War Monument.”

[33]Interview by Vic DiSanto of Michael Kahn, January 24, 2024.

[34]Interviews by Vic DiSanto of Jay Warren, January 5 and January 10, 2024.


  • Daniel Nimham was the chief of a group of Native American troops fighting with the Continental Army. He died in an action against the British in what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the north Bronx (just south of Westchester County). Mount Nimham in Putnam County – immediately north of Westchester – is named for him.
    Nimham and his Indian soldiers fought in the French and Indian War. When they returned home, they found their lands in Dutchess County – immediately north of Putnam – had been seized and sold to white settlers.
    Daniel Nimham’s story most certainly needs to be told.

    1. I appreciate your comments but why are they here and not under my article about the Daniel Nimham article?

  • According to an academic paper by Brian Tevo “Quakers and the American Revolution” which is available online (, Quakers in Pennsylvania who paid war taxes or took up arms were frequently “disowned” by their congregations; he describes Nathaniel Greene, however, as having only been “suspended” but not formally disowned as he remained on the congregation’s rolls. If this is right, maybe the correction refers to more current practice?

  • Col. Christopher Greene’s family were members of the Church of England (Anglican). His siblings were baptized by Rev. James MacSparran of the Church of England. He married his cousin Ann Lippett whose family was also members of that church. See History of Warwick, Fuller, 1875, p.363-366.

    Col. Greene was Anglican. The author may be confusing Col. Greene with either (former Quaker) Gen. Nathaniel Greene, his 3rd cousin, or the General’s brother, also named Christopher Greene.

    1. Thank you. I relied on secondary sources for Greene’s bio, 2 of which stated he was a Quaker (1 said he was booted from the Quakers.) I thought this was plausible since General Greene was also a Quaker. It seems like the late Philip Foner led me astray. and my guess is that other source that said CG was a Quaker also got it from Foner.

  • It wasn’t “the post at Pines Bridge [that] was attacked” – it was an attack on the nearby homes of Richardson Davidson (Greene’s headquarters), David Montross, Widow Remsen and Isaiah Flewelling, where officers and men of the Regiment were billeted, including in tents. These houses were between 1/4 and 3/4 miles from the Bridge. A conscious decision had been made by Greene to leave Pines Bridge and the two nearby fords over the Croton River unguarded overnight. DeLancey’s Westchester Refugees were able to cross the Croton River and approach the houses undetected – hence Greene being found with other officers in their sleeping chamber. He may have fought back valiantly, but my recollection from the McDonald Papers is that he was attacked by the Refugees inside the Davenport house and never made it outside; If so, the scene depicted in the status is – fanciful. Blame for the massacre (not battle) should be laid on Greene, given that there had been two prior surprise British/Loyalist attacks on Crompond (about 2 miles to the north of Pines Bridge) in June 1779, each with an undetected stealth crossing of the River at or near Pines Bridge, and with significant Patriot losses. Captain Totten, one of the Refugee leaders, had lived about a mile south of the Pines Bridge, as had many others of the Refugees (one of whom was his next door neighbor); the Refugees knew the lay of the land and when and where the River could be crossed. IMO, this was a tragedy that never should have happened; responsibility should have be laid on the officers, but they got no blame – just as the Refugees got no credit for pulling off an audacious, 20 miles each way, successful attack with a handful of casualties. Note that my thoughts on the reality of the attack do derogate from the thesis of this article, which which I agree, about the significance of the Regiment and the role black and indigenous troops played.

  • Thank you for your comments. I did mention in endnote 27 that Pines Bridge was in reality 2 miles away and that the force there surrendered. I did read the military report about Greene’s misguided calculation regarding the relieving the guard at sunrise but wanted to focus on other issues. Hard to fit it all in in 4500 words.

  • Vic – thanks for the response. You did a very good job in getting your thesis across in 4500 words. I have never been able understand why the RI Regiment was posted at Pines Bridge which had been previously been guarded by the Third Regiment of Westchester Militia (and at times by parts of the 1st and 2nd Regiments). Maybe the Third was too beat up after the June 1779 Crompond raids… Maybe too many of the militia had turned coat to the British… Maybe DeLancey’s Refugees had become so strong and well organized that Washington felt that only a Line regiment could match them… Your comments about the Refugees are a bit harsher than what is supported by modern scholarship – there were good men doing good things, and bad men doing bad things, in support of their cause on both the Patriot and Loyalist sides in the Neutral Ground.

  • My guess is that the Westchester Militia just was not big enough to ward off a potential attack by all the Refugees, Hessians, and British Regulars in NYC and the Bronx.

  • They weren’t issued the leather caps until well after the battle. The returns issuing them exist. At the time of the battle they would have been in cocked hats. As stated above the fight with Green took place inside the house . Most of the guard were stationed outside the house. The ones that resisted were killed the rest managed to get away which considering the odds was the only option.

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