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Law Firm Profile. Law Firm Profile Free Consultation. Toward the close of Gen. Oliver De Lancey took up his headquarters at Oyster Bay and assumed military control of the district.
Then the full force of martial law began to be felt. Prices were fixed by the British officials for grain, provisions, provender, horses, cattle, and all these had to be delivered up to the soldiers without question. Some of the farmers were left with hardly enough fodder to sustain their stock, teams were impressed without regard to their local necessity and while money was pair for all this to the loyal farmers, it was said that when the farm of a Whig was raided and emptied the money was generally retained at headquarters.
Business was paralyzed under such cirumcstances and farming practically was at a standstill, for though payment was made for what was appropriated it was not enough to pay for the outlay and the labor, and the presence of the military guaranteed neither order or safety. The gold paid for the produce was really a burden to those who received it.
They could not spend it, they had no place in which to deposit it, and so had to conceal it about their premises, and a knowledge of this was an incentive to the thieves of the army and to the large body of desperadoes which followed the troops - as such men have followed all armies form the beginning of history. An effort was made to enlist a corps of loyalists at Oyster Bay and Captian Henry Seton, who took charge of the recruiting, had stations at Oyster Bay, Huntington and Jericho. The following extract from the "History" of Lieut. Simcoe, who commanded the Queen's Rangers, refers to military operations in Oyster Bay Township in There was a centrical hill [in Oyster Bay] which totally commanded the village and seemed well adapted for a place of arms.
The outer circuit of this hill, in the most accessible places, was to be fortified by sunken fleches, joined by abattis, and would have contained the whole crops; the summit was covered by a square redoubt, and was capable of holdin 70 men; platforms were erected in each angle for the field pieces, and the guard-house in the center, cased and filled with sand, was rendered musket-proof, and looped so as to command the platforms and surface of the parapets; the ordinay guard of 20 was sufficient for its defense.
Soon the militia assisted in working one day when Sir Wm. Erskine came to Oyster Bay intentionally to remove the corps to Jericho, a quarter of the legion was to quit in order to accompany him to the east end of the island. Simcoe represented to him that in case of the enemy's passing the sound both Oyster Bay and Jericho were at too great a distance for any post to expect succour, but that Jericho was equally liable to surprise as Oyster Bay; that its being farther from the coast was no advantage, as the enemy, being acquainted with the county and in league with the disaffected inhabitants of it, could have full time to penetrate undiscovered through the woods, and that the village of Oyster Bay to the seacoast would enable him to have a more watchful eye over the landing places, and to acquire a knowledge of the principle of the inhabitants in these important situations; and that provisions from New York might be received by water.
Sir W. Erskine was pleased to agree with Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe; and expressed himself highly satisfied with the means that had been taken to ensure the post. The people suffered much from the troops under General De Lancey, but when Fanning's Loyalists came along they found, Whig and Tory alike, that they were in the hands of a gang of thugs and cut-throats.
Military law prevailed in its harshest form, corporal punishment was infliced on the slightest provocation, the soldiers, mos of them billeted in the villages, destroyed property, furniture and buidings without scruple.
The officers tried to stop the reign of plunder, but seemed to be helpless. The Baptist meeting house became a barracks, that of the Friends a store house for the Commissary. A battalion of Hessians, commanded by Col. Von Janecke, robbed right and left in defiance of their officers and murdered in cold blood many citizens opposed their designs.
It was related that in one instance when Jacobus Montford wounded a Hessian who was robbing his yard and was arrested, the officer dismissed him, saying if Montford had shot the Hessian he would have given him a guinea, but as a general rule the citizens did not escape so easily when they attempted to defend their property from the blackguards who were arrayed on the side of King George and disgraced the cause they were enlisted to support.
One of the most remarkable features of the story of the Revolution at Oyster Bay was what is known as the Whateboat campaign, which resulted in much annoyance and loss to the Loyalists. The whaleboats were taken into the service of the Continental Congress and the purpose was to cut off the supplies being sent to Long Island from the mainland, to capture prisoners and the smaller boats in the service of the British, to harass the coast of the island, and now and again to make a descent and capture some prominent Tory, who might thus be made to serve his country by serving as a ready exchange for some equally prominent Continental held as prisoner in the camp or jails of the Royalists.
Sometimes it must be confessed that, especially toward the close of the struggle, there was little difference between the doings of many of the crews of these whaleboats and the acts of ordinary harbor thieves and coast pirates, but on the whole they fulfilled their purpose creditably. The following synopsis of their campaign is based on Onderdonck's researches, from which, indeed, the material on which this whole story of Oyster Bay in the Revolution has been taken: One of the first reports of the capture of a boat plying between the ports of this town and New York was published in New Haven, Dec.
Jones, to supply New York with fuel, forage, and provisions, was taken by Peter Griffing, captain of a company of rangers. About 12 o'clock March 3, , seven men, with arms, were discovered crossing Lloyd's Neck, bending their course for the narrow beach that leads off the Neck. They were pursued and taken by a party of loyal refugees.
They were the noted William S.
Scudder and his gang, as appears from his confession. He says he quit Long Island in September of After going with several expeditions he went to Hog Island with a party to take Squire Smith, but missed of him and took a Quaker, and plundered the house of considerable value. He had been with all the expeditions which had come to the island in the interest of General Parsons, and some time afterward was of the party who took two sloops out of Cold Spring Harbor.
He wasof the party that had lately come over to Long Island and burnt the three vessels cast away while coming from Rhode Island, and it was his design in coming over at present to collect what he could from the wrecks then burnt. They robbed Samuel Skidmore's cider-mill house, and then attempted to go over to the other shore; but, the wind being contrary, and the day becoming extremely cold, freezing their fingers and feet, they had to make for the first land, which proved to be Lloyd's Neck.
The prisoners on Saturday afternoon, March 7th, were brought to New York in the boat of the "Halifax," and secured. General Putnam on the 22d of December following wrote a letter to Governor Clinton concerning Scudder, in which he mentions that Scudder had a commission from Governor Clinton to cruise the sound in an armed boat against the enemies of the United States; but complained that he had violated the orders of the commander-in-chief by seizing private property on Long Island.
General Putnam adds that he knows nothing, personally, against Scudder, but has heard that he is a brave man, has suffered much, and done considerable service in the cause of his country. On a Monday evening in the latter part of April a party of loyal refugees were cutting wood on Lloyd's Neck when they were attacked by two row galleys and an armed vessel, and carried prisoners, eighteen in number, to Connecticut. A little later in the same month Tyler Dibble and 15 wood-cutters were carried from Lloyd's Neck by a galley carrying a pounder, and four whaleboats.
The alarm reaching the man-of-war on that station, the boats were pursued, but without success. On the 5th of May a small boat commanded by Captain Adamson, with six men and ten swivels, went into Oyster Bay and fell in with the tender of the British ship "Raven," which mounted eight swivels and had nine men armed. The boat, after discharging her swivels and small arms, boarded the tender, and carried her the next morning into Stamford. She had on board three hogsheads of rum, several casks of bread, beef and other articles for the ship, and some dry goods.
Early in June the Schooner "Wild Cat," of fourteen swivels and forty men, came from Connecticut to Oyster Bay and landed fourteen of the crew, who shot some sheep at Oak Neck. This vessel is described as having a large number of oars, which enabled it at every calm to cross over and pillage the inhabitants of the island.
A few days after this the "Wild Cat" and the "Raven's" tender, with four whaleboats well manned, came to Lloyd's Neck to harass the wood-cutters, when a number of boats from the British ship pursued them, capturing the "Wild Cat," and recapturing the "Raven's" tender and a wood boat, which had been taken when coming out of the harbor, together with some of the whaleboats, and thirty prisoners, killing two men, with no loss to the pursuers.
After the first of September the scale of success was changed again, and Major Grey, of Colonel Meig's regiment, killed three Tories on Lloyd's Neck, and carried off fifteen.