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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 39: Battle of Beukendaal.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 545-547 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Schenectady militia ambushed by Canadian Indians — twenty slain, thirteen made prisoners and many wounded — Only battle of the Old French War in the Mohawk Valley.

The battle of Beukendaal occurred on July 18, 1748. It was the only battle of King George's war, which took place in the Mohawk Valley or the Albany-Schenectady district. This bloody affray is sometimes referred to as a massacre, but, while it began as an ambuscade, it developed into a combat between armed forces and had all the character of a small battle. It was fought at a locality called Beukendaal, about three miles west of Schenectady, at the old De Graff house, only the cellar of which now remains. Beukendaal is Dutch for "Beechdale", and it was so called from the number of beech trees growing there. While the enemy was driven off the Schenectady militia suffered a great loss for so small a force.

A raiding party of French and Indians, under the command of Le Sieur Chevalier de Repentighy, entered the township of Glenville, Schenectady County, on the morning of July 18, 1748.

Captain Daniel Toll with his favorite negro servant Ryckert and Dirk Van Vorst went in search of some stray horses at Beukendaal, a locality about three miles from Schenectady. They soon heard, as they supposed, the trampling of horses; but, on nearer approach, the sound they mistook for that made by horses' hoofs on the clayey ground, proceeded from the quoits, with which some Indian boys were playing. Mr. Toll discovered his danger too late and fell pierced by the bullets of the French savages. Van Vorst was wounded and made a prisoner. Ryckert, more fortunate, took to his heels and fled. He reached Schenectady in safety and told the dreadful news of the death of his master and the presence of the enemy.

Albert Van Slyck, one of the militiamen, says that the Schenectady militia went forward to the fight in four small bodies, which was the cause of their great losses. The first party consisted of Lieutenant John Darling, commander of the New England garrison of Schenectady, with some of his men, five or six "young lads" and Daniel Van Slyck, brother of Albert. The second party was led by "Ackes" (Jacques) Van Slyck.

When the first party came up they were surprised to see "a man resembling Mr. Toll sitting near a fence in an adjoining field and a crow flying up and down before him. On coming nearer, they discovered it to be the corpse of Mr. Toll, with a crow attached to a string." This was a lure to draw the advance party into an ambush. The hidden enemy fired a volley and most of the Americans were shot down and killed, while several were captured. Ackes Van Slyck and his party came up and took refuge in the De Graff house where they tore the clapboards off from under the eaves from which position they fired on the enemy and successfully defended themselves.

Adrian Van Slyck now came on the scene with a party of New York levies. They were fired upon. Van Slyck was killed and his men immediately turned around and ran back to Schenectady. Albert Van Slyck and Jacob Glen came up with a fourth company which reinforced the little band of defenders of the De Graff house. Their fire became too hot for the raiders who now turned and fled into the woods, leaving the militiamen holding the field, surrounded by their dead and dying.

Dirk Van Vorst, who had been captured when Captain Toll was killed, was left in charge of two Indian boys when the fight began. The young red men tied Van Vorst to a tree, so that they could go and watch the battle. Dirk then managed to get his hand into his pocket, took out his knife, cut his bonds and escaped.

The American loss at the battle of Beukendaal was 20 killed, a number wounded and 13 made prisoner. Twelve of the killed were militiamen and eight were of the garrison of New England soldiers. Seven prisoners were Schenectady militiamen and six were soldiers of the garrison. The loss of the enemy is not given in any of the accounts, but it is probable that it was small.

About 70 Schenectady militiamen and soldiers were in the fight, probably not counting the levies who ran away. The enemy is supposed to have numbered over 100 Indians and some French.

Albert Van Slyck wrote to Col. William Johnson that "it grieves me, I not being Commander, that when we went, Garret Van Antwerp would suffer no more to accompany the party."

The survivors brought their dead and wounded back to Schenectady, where the twenty dead men were laid out in a barn. The news of the battle was sent to Albany by a mounted messenger, who reached there in the evening. Lieutenant Chew, with 100 English and 200 Indians, marched to Schenectady, but the enemy was then too far on the way to Canada to be overtaken.

So far as known, the names of the Americans slain at Beukendaal, were as follows:

John A. Bradt, Johannes Marinus, Peter Vrooman, Daniel Van Antwerpen, Cornelis Viele, Jr., Nicolaas DeGraaf, Adrian Van Slyck, Jacob Glen, Jr., Adam Conde, J. P. Antwerpen, Frans Van der Bogart, Capt. Daniel Toll, Lt. John Darling and seven of his garrison soldiers.

The known wounded were, Ryer Wemp, Robinson, Wilson, Dirk Van Vorst; and there were probably a number of others.

The prisoners were, John Phelps, Lewis Groot, Johannes Seyer Vrooman, Frank Connor, Harman Veeder, Isaac Truax, Albert John Vedder and six soldiers of the garrison.

Pearson's Schenectady Patent has an interesting account of the exchange of prisoners taken from among the inhabitants of Schenectady by Canadian French and Indians, during the Old French war. It is as follows:

"At the close of hostilities, Governor Clinton sent Lieut. Stoddert to Montreal to arrange for an exchange of prisoners. With Capt. Anthony Van Schaick, he went into the Indian country to recover the captives, but with indifferent success. Among those who returned with Lieut. Stoddert, were Capt. Anthony Van Schaick, John Vrooman, Peter Vasborough (Vosburgh), Albert Vedder and Francis Connor. Efforts were made to induce others to return but without success. Of these were: Rachel Quackenbos, Simon Fort and Philip Phillipse, Rachel Quackenbos abjured the English religion and Lieutenant Stoddert could not induce her to return. Fort and Phillipse also desired to remain with the [Canadian] Iroquois. The former belonged by adoption to a sister of a chief named Agonareche. She refused to give him up at any price. Captain Van Schaick offered six hundred livres for Fort, without succeeding in obtaining him. On the contrary, so determined was his squaw owner to retain him, she said she would obey the French commandant and deliver him up, but that she and her husband would follow him and he should not reach home alive. Lieut. Stoddert left Canada on the 28th June, 1750, with twenty-four prisoners."

The foregoing circumstances were typical of all the French and Indian wars and our later Revolution. Prisoners made by the Indians, in the American settlements, frequently preferred to remain in the free and easy life of the Indian villages, rather than return to the drudgery and toil of the towns and farms settled by the English and the Dutch, or their descendants.

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