This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.

SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Resources » Pearson's History » Fortifications and Garrisons

A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times
12: Fortifications and Garrisons

Prof. Jonathan Pearson and the Editor

Go back to: Old French War | ahead to: Reformed Nether Dutch Church

[This information is from pp. 304-333 of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times; being contributions toward a history of the lower Mohawk Valley by Jonathan Pearson, A. M. and others, edited by J. W. MacMurray, A. M., U. S. A. (Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons, Printers, 1883). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 P36, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

[Copies of this book are available from the Schenectady County Historical Society.]

[The original version uses assorted typographical symbols to represent footnotes. To improve legibility, the online version uses the form (page number - note number.)]

All considerable settlements on the upper Hudson and Mohawk rivers were from the first protected by wooden walls. Though never attacked nor even seriously threatened by the Iroquois or Mohicans, there were but few short periods down to the close of the French war (1763) when they were not subject to frequent alarms from the French or their Indian allies from Canada.

The method of fortification was by stockades, which the abundance of timber at their very doors made a cheap and ready protection. Guns were only used for defense, attacks being always made by the musket.

The stockade consisted of a series of posts or logs from 15 to 18 feet long and 12 inches or more thick, sharpened at one end and hewed flat on opposite sides. (304-1)

Pine was usually chosen because most abundant and easily worked.

[Woodcut: Indian Castle, from Champlain's Account: original size (49K) | 4x enlarged (201K)]

The line of stockade being marked out, a trench three feet deep was dug, the posts were set therein, the flattened sides together and the earth shoveled back and rammed against them. (304-2) To strengthen the top two adjoining posts were bored and fastened together with oaken trenails. At the angles, gates and other important points, blockhouses for the shelter of the garrison and guards were built, and within the stockade all around was a free space called the Rondweg, of sufficient width for the patrol to march.

In addition to this outer circle of fortification, in Albany and Schenectady (305-1) there was a fort in one of the angles of the latter (305-2) place, surrounded by a double row of high palisades, furnished with barracks for the garrison, platform, guns, lookouts, &c. And in later times, when Schenectady became a depot for men and materials, there were barracks outside the walls; in 1765, the troops were posted along the east side of Ferry street, from Union to the Episcopal church; in 1762, on the south side of Union street from Ferry to Mrs. Colon Clute's house; (306-1) in the Revolutionary war, on the south side of Union street from Lafayette eastwardly to Quackenbush street.

For protection and safety Schenectady was admirably placed, being surrounded with water and marsh on three sides and open only to the southeast, from which side the inhabitants had little to fear.

The first settlers though their land lay elsewhere, built their habitations mainly together for their greater protection. Doubtless as soon after settlement in 1662, as it could conveniently be done, the village stockaded. Starting at State street the line ran along the east side of Ferry to about the gate of the Episcopal church — then in a straight line to the north side of Front a little beyond Washington street, — then southerly and parallel to the same to State and lastly along the same 28 feet south thereof to Ferry street or Mill lane. This was the original plat enclosed and contained most of the houses of the first settlers.

The south and west lines remained substantially the same down to the time of their extinction soon after the Revolutionary war. The Front and Washington street lines were later moved north and west to the river bank, and the Ferry street line sometime after 1765, was carried southeasterly to the New York Central railroad depot, and thence northerly through the Dutch church burying ground to the river bank.

Gates

In 1690 it was said in the French account of the village, that there were but two gates, — one at the north end of Church street called the "north gate", — the other at State. This was doubtless at the junction of State and Church Streets — and opened out to the roads through Mill Lane and Water street leading to the bouwlands and to the Mohawk country.

In later times there were others — at Front and Union streets. The foundations of the gates and guardhouses where Ferry crosses State and Union streets were exposed in laying the water pipes in 187l.

Forts

Schenectady was so important a post for the protection of the province against the incursions of the Canadians, that for the first hundred years of its existence it was deemed necessary to strengthen it by a fort and garrison. (307-1)

The writer is led to believe from references in the records, that the first blockhouse was in the north angle of the stockade at or near the junction of Front and Washington streets. (307-2) This was destroyed in 1690 by the French, at which time it was garrisoned by a small detachment under Lt. Enos Talmage, from Capt. Jonathan Bull's company, then stationed at Albany. These troops were Connecticut men.

The magazine stood on or near the lot of Mrs. Willard, then belonging to Capt. Sander Glen.

A second was built in 1690 between Washington street and the river opposite the west end of State street, covering the lot of Kleine Isaack, (that is Isaac Swits,) who with his son Cornelis was carried away by the French to Canada. On his return from captivity next year, he found his homestead occupied by soldiers, — his orchard cut down and his home utterly ruined. He repeatedly petitioned for remuneration for his losses, but it was not until 1708 that his son received a patent for 1000 acres of land in Niskayuna as a recognition of his father's claim.

The following order was issued by Leisler's commissioners at Albany for the rebuilding of the fort at Schenectady.

"Whereas it is judged necessary for to defend Schanechtede and to that purposed it is found requisite that a fort shall be erected to defend ye Inhabitants and oppugn the Enemy if should attack the same."

"These are in his Maties name to require your Capn Sander Glen and all Officers & Inhabitants belonging to ye said Schanechtede and adjacent Parts, with the Souldiers there in Garrison, to build a substantiall Fort of due magnitude and strength upon that part or parcell of ground (called by the name of Cleyn Isaacs), and that all are aiding and assisting therein according to their abilitye to dispatch and compleat the same, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost perills. Given under our hand this 13th day of May in the Second year of his Maties Reigne Annog: Do. 1690." (308-1)

The damage to Swits though considerable and most evident, was redressed only after many petitions and a delay of eighteen years. The following papers show the progress of the negotiation for redress.

"Petition of Isaac Swits.

To his Excellency Edward Viscount Cornbury, Captain Generall and Governor-in-chief," etc.

"The humble petition of Isaac Swits an ancient Inhabitant of the ffrontier Garrison of Schenectady.

"Sheweth

"That your Excellencies petitioner while your Lordshipp was at Albany in July 1702, preferred his humble petition to your Excellency, setting forth that about the beginning of the late happy revolution, the town of Schenectady being surprised & Destroyed by the ffrench of Canada, your Excellencies petitioner and his son were taken and carried away prisoners; — That during your petitioners imprisonment the then governor of this province ordered the ground whereon your Excellencies' petitioner's house, Barne, orchard, Garden &c. stood to be for his majesties service Inclosed and stockadoed as a fort, and garisoned the same during the Warr (308-2) to your petitioner's very detriment; and your petitioner has not any manner of way been relieved therein, and therefore prayed to be redressed for the damages he has suffered," etc.

"May it please your Excellency To grant unto your petitioner your Lordship's warrant for the said sume of thirty pounds, or otherwise to favour your petitioner with her majesties Grant for a parcell of Land on the Norman's Creek in Lieu thereof.

"And your Excellencies petitioner shall ever pray." (308-3) [Read in council, 2d Nov., 1704].

The second fort was a large and spacious enclosure surrounded by "a triple stockade, a new blockhouse at every angle and in each blockhouse two great guns."

It contained twenty-eight huts for inhabitants of the village, two wigwams for Indians, a large barn & styes for bogs. (308-4)

At a court martial held at Schenectady, Aug. 7, 1691, upon a soldier named George Castleton, it was proved that he quarreled with a fellow soldier named Desvallons, about some beer; the latter struck the former with a stick, whereupon Castleton, drawing his sword, thrust it into his side, causing almost instant death. The facts of the case were mainly proved by persons living within the fort, (309-1) among whom were the following:

Daniel Janse Van Antwerp, aged 57 years, deposed that "he was walking by to go to Douwe Aukes' house" in the fort, and witnessed the fight.

Josias Swart, aged about 33 years, testified to the facts in the case.

Douwe Aukes, aged about 47 years, "being in his house in ye fort at Schenectady with Cobus Peek looked out and saw George Castleton and James Desvallons pass at one another," &c.

Tryntie Claas, (309-2) wife of Elias Van Gyseling, aged about 43 years, "being in Schenectady fort at her house neer ye cort of garde * * * went into her house and heard ye sword and stick Ratle together, came out of her house forthwith & she see ye Prisoner, George Castleton make a thrust at James Desvallons," &c.

Maritye Pieterse wife of Wm. Noble, aged about 40 years "being in her house in ye fort at Schenectady heard a noise in ye street and comes out of doors and sees George Castleton attack Desvallons."

The culprit was adjudged guilty of manslaughter, burnt in the hand and banished the Province. (309-3)

[Map of Schenectady in 1695 — Rev. John Miller. (Original in British Museum.)
Explanation: 1. Block houses, 2. Rivers running beside ye Fort, 3. Indians Wigwams, 4. Flag staff, 5. Centry box, 6. Spy loft, 7. Sties for hogs, 8. The block house designed for a church, 9. Those and others like them houses, 10. A great barn, 11. The treble stockadoes, 12. The Fort Gates]

If Miller's drawing of this fort be correct (310-1) it must have extended quite across the west end of the village from State to Front street, and included much of the land between Washington street and the Binnè kil. The blockhouse in the south angle covered Swit's lot.

The renewal of the stockadoes, which being made of pine logs lasted but five or six years, became very burthensome to the inhabitants of the village after its destruction in 1690. Having built a new fort in 1690 they were ordered to renew the palisades in 1695. On this occasion Reyer Schermerhorn refused to cut and draw his proportion of the logs, it may be because living at the mills he thought himself exempt from this burthensome service, or that his quota was too large. Thereupon Justice Johannes Sanderse Glen fined him twelve shillings, (313-1) and continuing contumacious Gov. Fletcher on the 9th of April, 1698, directed the sheriff of Albany county to bring him before the Council in New York to answer for his conduct. On the 30th he appeared before the council and "stood upon his vindication," whereupon he was "committed to answer at the next Supreme Court & Col. Courtlandt was desired to take bond with sureties for his appearance and that he be of good behaviour in the mean time." (313-2)

In the winter of 1695-6 the garrison at Schenectady consisted of a detachment under command of Lt. Bickford, from the companies of Captains James Weems and William Hyde, stationed at Albany. "On the 10th Jan., about 12 of the Clock at night deserted the whole guard except one & others, to the number of sixteen broak through the north west Block house next the water side." [Binnè kil].

"They drew the guns of both powder & Shott. The Lieutenant about two o'clock discovering their desertion, notified by express Col. Richard Ingoldsby at Albany, and with ten volunteers of the inhabitants and eleven soldiers started in pursuit. The serjeant and seven red coats soon gave out and were left behind. At four in the afternoon the lieutenant and his 14 men came up with the 16 diserters; ordering them to lay down their arms, they answered with a volley and both sides continued to fire until five of the deserters were killed and two wounded when the remainder surrendered."

These facts were stated by Lieut. Bickford in his account of the affair to Governor Fletcher, of March 9th. In closing his dispatch he says, "Here is a strong and regular Fort built by the inhabitants with foot works and a stone magazine fitt for this garrison." The following were the volunteers from Schenectady who accompanied Lt. Bickford in his hazardous enterprise; "Harmen Van Slyck, ensigne of the trained bands of Schenechtide and Gerryt Simons Veeder, Peter Simons Veeder, Albert Veeder, Gerryt Gysbert [Gysbertse Van Brakel], Jan Danielse Van Antwerpen, Dirck Groot, Jonas De Roy, John Wemp, Daniel Mutchcraft [Mascraft] & Thomas Smith."

At a court martial held in Schenectady April 21, the survivors of the deserting party were accounted guilty and condemned to be shot. (314-1)

The commander of the garrison who succeeded Lieut. Bickford in the spring of 1696 was Lt. Daniel Hunt from the garrison at Albany.

He reports in relation to the military stores and effectiveness of the military force at Schenectady as follows:

"In July, 1696, and in ye beginning of April '96 I was commander on ye frontieers at Schonactady, when ye French Indians destroyed Onondage & Oneide, when all ye news that arrived to mee concerning the enemy, I did from time to time by express Signifie to Col. Ingoldesby then Comander in Chiefe of ye frontieers, who as his letter makes appeare did truly acquaint his Excel: Coll: Fletcher, who did after ye enemy was gone come up to Albany without any forces: — when I came up to ye garrison at Schonectady and where ye enemy was marching towards us, I had but part of a barrel of powder and but little shott, but I writt to Col. Ingoldsby who sent me a one barrel of powder with 6 cannon balls.

Daniel Hunt."

"An account of what stores of Warr was in the frontieer garrison at Schenectady when commanded by Lieut. Daniel Hunt, in June, July, Aug. 1696, being the time when Count Frontenack the French governor of Canada destroyed the habitaçons and castles of ye Onondgoes and Oneides Viz:t

The forces in ye Garrison was one Lieut, one Serjt, one drum and thirty of his Matys Soldiers and no more.

Witness Daniel Hunt." (315-1)

After the second fort had been occupied about 15 years, 1690 to 1705 the blockhouses were abandoned (315-2)and "Queens new Fort" was built at the east angle of the stockade. This was the "Old Fort" about which all the traditions of the people cluster.

It was at first simply a double or triple stockade 100 feet square, with bastions or blockhouses at the angles. In 1735 it was rebuilt in a more substantial manner of timbers on a stone foundation. (315-3) The four curtains were "about 76 ft. each and the four bastions or blockhouses 24 ft. square."

In 1754 at the beginning of the French war, it contained one 6 and one 9 pounder on carriages but no "Port holes in the curtain to fire them."

[A Plan of Schenectady about 1750 — Fr. & Indian War, Situated Lat. 43 Long. 74.30. Photo Engr. for Major Mac Murray U.S.A. by A. Wild, Albany.]

The following petition gives an account of the condition of the fortifications of the village in 1754.

"To the Honorable James De Lancey Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Province of New York and the Territories depending thereon, &c., &c.

"The Humble petition of the Officers of the four Companies of Militia at Schonechtady and also the Magistrates and Principal Inhabitants thereof.

"Most Humbly Sheweth that the security of this place as well as the preservation of the Lives of our Wives and children greatly depends on the strength of Fort Cosby as the only place of refuge in case of an Attack or surprize. The Hostilities committed by the Indians on our Neighbours and the Daily Expectation of their Attempts upon us also; Induces us most humbly to represent to your Honour the state of the said Garrison which Consists of 4 Curtains of about 76 feet each and four Bastions or blockhouses 24 feet square, the superstructure built with timbers on a foundation of a stone wall about two feet above the surface of the earth. (316-1)

"On the Parade stands one Nine Pounder and one six pounder on carriages rotten and unfit for service. Nor is there any Embrasure or rather Port-Hole in the Curtains to fire them.

"Above is a sort of Gallery Loophold but of little or no service. In each of the Bastions or Block houses Chambers (317-1) stand of three or four pounder, mettle, very insignificant, Should the enemy make a lodgement in any part of the town; Nor is there Powder or any other Military Stores in the Garrison; — Garrisoned with only an Officer, a corporal and sixteen Private men.

"And we further beg leave to represent to your Honour the Ruinous and Defenceless condition of this town; — the Block houses in Decay and the town open and exposed; and that the number of Indians passing & repassing is a daily burthen to us, too heavy to be borne to which add the Expenses of frequent Indian Expresses makes the weight still more grevious as there is no Allowance or Publick fund to Reimburse and we still groan our Losses, sufferings and fatigue in the Late War as well as heavy Debt then contracted.

"To expatiate on the value of this town as a frontier of the Province would be troublesome, your Honour well knowing it to be the Key of a Large Country and of the greatest Consequence to the Metropolis as well as to the province in General you have the Honour to command.

"Your Petitioners therefore most humbly entreat your Honour will be pleased to take the premises into your Serious Consideration and Grant us two Nine Pounders for each curtain and a Nine Pounder for each Bastion & that you would be pleased to give orders that the Port Holes be made to open and shut as in a Man of War, and to grant us a proper supply of Military stores, and such other assistance as you in Your great Wisdom shall think meet.

"And your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever Pray.

"Schenectady, 31 Aug., 1754.

On the 15 Oct., following, the inhabitants of Schenectady again petitioned the Governor to build a fort in the village, signed by Daniel Campbell, Arent Bratt, Abm. Glen, and others. (318-1)

The open space on which this fort stood at the junction of Ferry, Front, and Green streets was about 264 feet by more than 200 feet, — extending from the Episcopal church yard to Green street.

The fort was built nearly in the centre of this plat, the south wall extending across Ferry street, three feet south of the north corner of the parsonage house.

The well of the fort was in the middle of the street, three feet south of the north corner of Mr. James Sanders' house. (318-2)

Garrison at Schenectady

Whilst the Province remained under the Dutch rule a small body of soldiers was stationed in Fort Orange, — after the English occupation in 1664, there was seldom less than one full company there, — sometimes two; and Schenectady was garrisoned by a detachment therefrom of 20 to 40 men under command of a lieutenant.

In times of alarm and war as in the ten years war between England and France — 1688-1698, the regulars were supplemented by the militia of the town or from Connecticut.

Hardly a year passed that the importance of having Schenectady better fortified and garrisoned was not recognized either by the Governor and Council, the Legislative assembly or the ruling powers in the mother country. In 1671, Governor Lovelace wrote as follows to Capt. Delavall in command at Albany,

"upon rumor that the French were coming to invade us" * * * * " It will be necessary that in ye first place a good and careful correspondence be maintained between Albany and Schanechtidee for I look on that [Schenectady] as a Frontier; and that ye Inhabitts of that place putt themselves into some posture of Defence by keeping out Schouts and making some Block house wch may give some Check to ye Enemy, in case hee should pr sume to advance into his Royall Highness Dominions: * * * That out of each Squadron [of horse] one be constantly sent to schout between you and Schanechtide, to bring dayly Intelligence, and from Schanechtide to doe ye like further into ye Country, & that these Schouts be constantly relieved." (319-1)

N. York, July 6, 1671.

In accordance with the spirit of the above letter Capt. Thomas De Lavall chief officer at Albany, on the 15th of July, ordered all the inhabitants of Albany and Schenectady over 15 and under 60 years to provide themselves with guns, side arms, two pounds of powder and four pounds of lead each under a penalty of 100 guilders, — all within 14 days. The year following this order was renewed at a meeting of the chief officers of Albany and Schenectady, those of the latter place being Ensign Jacob Sanderse Glen and Ensign Sweer Teunise Van Velsen. (319-2)

In 1687 Major Brockholes being in command at Albany reported to the Governor and Council assembled at Fort James July 19, the condition of things at Albany and Schenectady, — that "he is now come from Albany to Schanectade with Instructions ffrom the Government to bring up there with all convenient Speed a certain number of men & some Provisions."

Whereupon it was "ordered that sixty men Be reysed in & out of ye Citty & county of New York & fifty men out of Queens County."

"It being now plaine that ye French are Resolved to do all the Prejudice they can to the Kings subjects of this Government it is for ye Prevention thereof ordered that ye People of ye Citty and county of Albany Do Cutt Pallysade and by ye five & twentieth day of March cart them to ye Citty, and ye town of Schanectade to fortify the place in the spring, — that in the meantime they keep a careful Watse and that this order be sent to ye Justices of the peace of ye County who are to take care that it be put in execution." (319-3)

The same order was again made by the Council on the 7th Sept., 1687, and Maj. Chambers was directed to "march his company of militia on horseback to Albany and Schenectady." (319-4)

In anticipation of an immediate attack upon the frontiers, the mayor, Common Council of Albany, military officers and justices of the peace of the county, met in convention at Albany, on the 4th of Sept., 1689, as a committee of safety and after deliberation resolved to send an express to Capt. Leisler of New York for one hundred or more men, "a Recrute of six hundred weight of Powder and foure hundred Ball, viz. 200 Two ponnders and 200 foure pounders with some match and one hundred hand Grenadoes."

In November, 1689, there were two companies of militia stationed at Albany — one from Connecticut commanded by Capt. Jonathan Bull, — the other from New York under Capt. Jochim Staats, an adherent of Leisler. The convention before mentioned, being desirous of having the out-posts at Schenectady, Canastagioene & Half Moon, garrisoned, appointed a committee of five to arrange with two captains for this duty. After much higgling it was finally agreed that Capt. Bull should send his Lieutenant, Enos Talmadge, with 24 men to hold the post at Schenectady, the magistrates of which were Anti-Leislerian.

The people however were divided and party spirit ran so high that their sense of safety was lost in the bitter strife.

The period from 1688 to 1698, was the most trying and critical in the history of Schenectady. First there were alarms and apprehensions of an attack by the French and their Indian allies, the destruction of the village, the slaughter and the captivity of a large part of its inhabitants and lastly the departure of many of the remainder to Albany, New York and other places of safety. The town was in danger of being depopulated in spite of stringent ordinances against removal and the encouragement of the Mohawks to stay by the post, fortify and maintain a vigorous warfare against their enemies.

For ten years the town gained little or nothing in population and prosperity and until the peace of Ryswick, the chief aim of the government and inhabitants was to hold the village, keep in repair its fortifications and maintain a sufficient garrison.

Thus on May 30, 1696, Governor Fletcher writing to the Lords of trade says… "I have always thought 500 men necessary to the defence of Albany & Schenectidy ettc, yet I hope with those three companies to justify those places against the French & their Indians." (320-1) * * *

And again writing from Albany to the Council in New York, he says:

"The 30th [Dec., 1696] I went to Schenectady, directed the paymt of that Garrisson equal to * * * which is four months ending the last of August, and I doe earnestly desire yr endeavours to gett in money for the paymt of them three months more, which will give great Satisfaction both to the Garrison and Citty."

"The 31st in the forenoon I dispatched scouts to the Lake [George], gave Instructions under my hand & seal to Ens. Harman Van Slyke with power to command them. I walked with them to the [Mohawk] River, gave them a bottle of Rum, Saw 'em putt on their Snow-Shoes and begin their march. I view that little fortification & saw some defects which can not be cured for want of money.

"The inhabitants of that place [Schenectady] presented me with an Address, (321-1) which being in Dutch I could not read, but accepted it as a mark of their esteem, I sent it to the Clerke of Councill, together with those from the Magistracy & Millitia of this place [Albany]. After dinner I returned to Albany." (321-2)

In 1698, the Government sent over one Col. Romer, a military engineer to examine, report upon and build certain forts needed on the coast and the frontiers. In May and August he sent the following letter and report to Governor Bellomont:

"Albany, 27 May, 1698.

"My Lord,

"I consider it my duty to inform your Excellency that I arrived here on the 23d instant, and as soon as I had landed in the city of Albany, I found an opportunity to proceed to Schenectady in order to inspect that important frontier.

"This I did successfully, running over 40 miles; for I took a general observation of said place, and can assure you, My Lord, that the situation of Schenectady is admirable and good and deserves attention on account of the importance of the frontier.

"It is a pity and even a shame, to behold a frontier neglected as we now perceive this is; and had the public interest been heretofore preferred to individual & private profit, which has been scattered among a handful of people with diabolical profusion, the enemy had never committed pernicious forays on the honest inhabitants generally."

"As regards Albany I find that as important as the other * * * * * I have since been to observe another frontier, named the Half-Moon [Waterford] concerning which I have been spoken to a great deal; I find it of very little consideration; but there is a place seven leagues higher up the [Hudson] river called Cheragtoge [Schuylerville], which must be an important frontier." * * *

"I am told your Excellency is to come here in the beginning of the next month. That being the case I have considered it my duty to propose to you the necessity of a good & faithful interpreter, — which will be difficult to find here, — and I would dare say not a faithful one, according as I see affairs managed, with extraordinary division & jealousy. And though people may flatter your Excellency with the contrary and that a woman (323-1) may answer you as an interpreter, it will be my Lord, only for the purpose of deceiving you, and keeping you in ignorance of important affairs; for I find every thing in a state of confusion, through the management of some of your predecessors & of those who prefer their own to the publick interest.

"Wherefore my Lord I take the liberty to propose to you a good & faithful interpreter, name Arnout Cornelissen Vilè, living in the Bay [Wallabout] on Long Island. Dr. Staats will cause him to come to New York to you so that your Excell class="indent"ency may be master both of the man & his time. I would advise also your Excellency to send your Calash a head of you with four of the smallest sets of harness. Horses are to be had here. The roads to Schenectade and Nestegione are good & safe." (323-2)

Report of Col. Romer on the frontiers of New York to Earl Bellomont.

[New] "York, 26 Aug., 1698.

My Lord,

"In obedience to your Excellency's orders, I proceeded, on the 18th May of the present year 1698, to the frontiers of the New York government, and in the first instance toward Albany, Schanegtade, Kanestigioune and the Half Moon; and after having observed these places, I found the City of Albany situate on the Hudson river 144 miles north of New York, an important frontier, as well as Schanegtade 20 miles west of Albany on the Great Mohawk River; but these frontiers are neglected, built of wood and palisades of poor defence.

"Saving better judgment, my opinion would be to build stone forts there, constructed & proportioned according to the respective situations, and the importance of the one & the other of these two places.

"For I consider if these two places should one day fall into the hand of the enemy, the provinces of York, Jarse, Pensilvania and Connecticut would be obliged in a short time to submit; and that Maryland, Virginia and New England would consequently greatly suffer. Also as York is the depot of all the islands for flour, grain and other provisions these would experience a Very serious injury." (323-3) * *

Governor Bellomont fully appreciated the importance of Schenectady and the necessity of its being properly fortified for the protection of the Province on the side towards Canada. Hence he constantly importuned the Lords of trade for men and means to complete and garrison the forts. Thus in a letter dated Oct. 24, 1698, he says "if by Providence the last winter had not been the severest that ever was known in the memory of man the French had certainly destroyed both Albany & Schinnectady."

They "are equally defenceless being only fortified with a single row of stockades, no ditch or wall; so that an enemy that would be hardy enough may come & with their musketts single out what men they please in either place; for I observed the stockades had in many places wide spaces between them and they are even with the surface of the ground." * * He also assures the Lords of trade that a well built and strongly garrisoned fort would greatly animate and encourage the Indians of the Five Nations, who were well aware of the weakness of the fortifications here; alleging that Albany and Schenectady were well seated for frontier places, the former for covering attacks on the side of Canada and the latter for the same purpose in part and "also for covering the Mohacks & the rest of the Indians, it being very commodiously seated on the Mohack's River & much more pleasantly than Albany." (324-1)

On May 3, 1699, Gov. Bellomont again speaks of the forts at Albany and Schenectady, that they "are so scandalous that I cannot give your Lordships a low enough idea of them. They look more like pounds to impound cattle than Forts." (324-2)

So likewise, Oct. 17, 1700, he calls attention again to these forts, saying

>"the inhabitants came all about me at my leaving Albany and told me in plain terms that if the King would not build a fort there to protect 'em, they would on the very first news of a war between England and France desert that place and fly to New York, rather than they would stay there to have their throats cut.

"Several of the Inhabitants of Schenectady told me the same of their Fort. I sent Coll. Romer to view it and he reported to me that the gates of that fort were down & that a cart might pass through the palisades or rather stakes." (324-3)

From this time on, the letters of the Governors of the Province to the Lords of trade, the reports of the military commanders at this post, the orders and warrants of the Provincial Council, the acts of the legislature from time to time and the petitions of the chief inhabitants, all combine to show the culpable neglect of the mother country of the safety of this her most important Province. All accounts of the condition of the fortifications and garrison at Schenectady after the peace of 1698, show that the stockades were neglected and suffered to rot down, rendering the town an open village, that the barracks became uninhabitable and that "it was by no foresight or energy of the Home government that Schenectady & its neighbors had been preserved from a second attack & destruction."

Lieut. Daniel Hunt still commanding the small detachment (325-1) of men posted here, in 1698 was ordered by the Governor and Council to make some much needed repairs to the barracks which were "before all open to the weather whereby the souldiers suffered very great hardships," for which repairs he received a warrant for £7, 16s. 6d.; (326-1) and another bill of £9, 15s. 6d. was presented by Johannes Sanderse Glen for repairs to the fort, and one of £16, 1s. 6d. for work upon the barracks. (326-2)

In 1701, Capt. Weems' company being still stationed at Albany, he reports upon the ruinous condition of the fortifications at that place and says "that the garrison at Schenectady is in the same condition in which there is neither house nor lodging to quarter officer or souldier, but one little small hole which can contain only twelve men." (326-3)

On the 19th Aug., 1701, the legislature directed that 50 pounds be placed in the hands of Ryer Schermerhorn and Isaac Swits for repairing the fort Schenectady; (326-4) — and Lieut. Gov. Nanfan on the 24 Sept., confirms the same order. (326-5)

The following March, 1702, Capt. James Weems addressed a letter to Col. Peter Schuyler & the Mayor & Common Council of Albany, in behalf of the Companies posted there and at Schenectady, in which he asserts that "many of ye souldiers are reduced to Bread and water." (326-6)

Lord Cornbury writing to the Lords of trade 24 Sept., 1702, reported that Albany and Schenectady were garrisoned then by two companies, Major Ingoldsby's and Capt. Weem's, — that Schenectady was then "an open village, formerly stockaded round but since the peace they are all down, and that the stockaded fort is more like a pound than a Fort. There is eight Guns in it not above three fit for service, no garrison in it when I came but a serjeant & twelve men, no powder nor shot neither great nor small, nor no place to put them into." (326-7)

He recommends that a stone fort be built and garrisoned with "a captain and one hundred men."

In the year 1703, Gov. Cornbury laid the foundations for a stone fort at Albany and by the "advice of Her Majesty's Council of this province repaired as well as possible the stockaded Fort at Schenectady." * * * The two forts of Albany and Schenectady were garrisoned at this time by two companies, — that of Major Ingoldsby of 84 men, and that of Capt. Weem's of 92 men. (326-8)

"In 1703, Sept. 1, John Myndertse presented a bill against the Province for blacksmith work on the fort of 49 guilders, and again on the 11th another bill of 28 guilders and 10 stuyvers, for repairing guns for the garrison. (327-1)

Jan., 1703/4, Johannes Sanderse Glen, Adam Vrooman, Isaac Swits and Jan Pieterse Mebie, furnished 450 stockades for a new fort at Schenectady, for which they charge 35 pounds or nearly 20 cents apiece. (327-2)

March 13, 1703/4, Johannes Sanderse Glen and Jelles Van Vorst, furnished the garrison 218 double loads of wood at 2-6 the load. (327-3)

March 29, 1704, Arent Danielse Van Antwerpen, carpenter, petitioned the Governor and Council for the payment of 14 pounds for repairing the fort and for materials supplied. (327-4)

April 13, 1704, Governor Cornbury in his speech to the legislature recommended an increase of the garrison by 30 men to be raised and sent up for the ensuing year. (327-5)

19 May, Johannes Glen, Adam Vrooman, Isaac Swits and Barent Wemp presented a bill against the Province for 35 pounds for stockades. (327-6)

Up to this time the palisades on the west side of the village stood about 100 feet back from Washington street, but on the 29th July, 1704, Governor Cornbury issued the following order for removing them to the bank of the Binnè kil.

"You or Either of you are hereby required as early as the weather will permit ye next spring to cause the stockades sett upon the West side of the town of Schenecktady to be removed from the place where they now stand and be set up as near the River as the ground will permitt and hereof you are not to faile.

"Given under my hand at Schenechtady this 29th day of July, 1704." "To

To understand the significance of this order it should be remembered that since the destruction of the first fort in 1690, the ground lying west of Washington street had been outside of the west wall of the second fort. By the year 1704, the "Queen's New Fort" (328-1) had been erected in the east corner of the village at the junction of Front, Ferry and Green streets, the Governor therefore orders the removal of the west line of second fort by setting back the stockades to the bank of the Binnè kil, the land along Washington street reverting to the original owners. (328-2)

[Reduced Copy of Vrooman Map of 1768.]

Aug. 8, 1704, "The commonality [of Albany] being desyreous to know what instructions Capt. Higley hath received relateing Ye posting ye Detachment on ye fronteers of Albany, which Capt. being desyred here doth appear, Producing his Instructions it appears that at ye Half Moon is to be posted 20 men, Shinnechtady 20 ", Canastagioene 20 " &c. (328-3)

Aug., 1704, Maas Rykse [Van Vranken] presented his bill against the Province for 12 pounds for building a fort at Canastagioene [Niskayuna]. (328-4)

Feb., 1705/6, Johannes Mynderse for blacksmith work done on the fort at Schenectady was paid £12, 8s. 6d. (328-5)

July 4, 1706, Jacobus Van Dyke petitions the Governor & Council for the payment of his salary as surgeon at the fort. (328-6)

Aug. 12, Capt. Philip Schuyler was paid £6, 10s., for material and work on the fort. (328-7)

27 Sept., 1706, Governor Cornbury announced to the Assembly in session at New York "that By accident very Lately the Guard Room in the ffort at Schonechtady was Burnt down with a Great quantity of firewood which had been provided for this winter now coming on. I should be glad that it might be repaired before the cold weather comes, Else it will be impossible for the men to keep Guard in that place, which lies the most exposed of all our ffronteers." (329-1)

25 Nov., 1710, an act was passed by the assembly for repairing "ye Blockhouses, Platforms and other the ffortifications of ye City of Albany & towne of Schonectady in ye said County." (329-2)

The next year the repairs mentioned in this act were made, as appears by the following two communications from Johannes Sanderse Glen to the Governor.

"May it please yr Excy.

"Upon ye receaving yr Excys ordr of ye 10th of this Instant I repaired imediately to Schonectady accordingly to repair the fort there, but found never a good stockado in ye fort; upon which I had it viewed by the Underwritten persons who found the Stockados all rotten and one Platt forme insufficient and the Carriages of the Guns rotten also; upon wh I have rid Stockados for the whole and tomorrow I begin to sett ym up and shall prepair carriages for ye guns and repair ye Platt forme. — Your Excy was so kind to promise me a flag, I beg leave to put your Excy in Mind of it who am with due regards yr Excys."

Most faithful and Obedient Servt

Albany Octobr 23 1711.

Joha. Sanderse Glen"

"May it please your Excy.

I have made up the charges of the ffort at Schonectady to this day and have also made the Carpenters' calculate an acct wth the Remaining Expences of Platforms, carriages for Gunns and Centry boxes together with What is already layd out will in the whole amount to — wch they compute at one hundred & eighteen pounds tenn shillings. I am going on as fast as possible with the remaineing part of Platforme &c,- there is now putt up five hundred and ninety Stockados wch all work a ffoot at the top, — If your Excy pleases any body here should receave & approve my acct I shall be ready to render acct to such persons whom yr Excy shall appoint for yt purpose.

I wish yr Excy and Lady health and happyness and am your Excy's"

most dutifull and Obedient humble Servt

Albany Novr 13th 1711

Joha. Sanderse Glen." (330-1)

Sometime in the year 1711, a change was made in the commanding officer of the garrisons of Albany and Schenectady as will appear by the following letter from Capt. Peter Matthews to Governor Hunter.

"May it please yr Excellency,

I have received yr Excelcies letter of the 29th Decembr by the post. I am much surprised that Capt. Sanders should write to yr Excellency that there was but twenty four men at Schonecktady, for three days after yr Excellency left this town Captn Schuyler (330-2) Marched with forty men to that garrison. Sometime after a Sergt and four men of the Country forces deserted and as soon as Coll. [Peter] Schuyler came from York and the palatines were come I Ordered a Sergt and four men to goe to Schonecktady to compleat the numbr of fourty men whoe are all there as will appear to Your Excellency by the Inclosed Role signed by Captn Sanders.

I am sorry these Gentlemen doe not better consider before they write to yr Excell: for such storrys as these may be of ill consequence & I hope I have not given yr Excellency cause to believe I would be Guilty of soe great breach of my Duty as to send but twenty-four men when I have your written orders to send fourty.

The gentlemen here seem much displeased that your Excellency has Ordered the Country Detachmts to doe any duty at Schonechtady or the Indian Country. * * *

Your most obedient humble servant.

Albany, Jan. 8, 1711/12.

Peter Matthews" (330-3)

On the 10th Dec., 1712, the Assembly passed an act "for the better repairing the Fortifications of * * the Town of Schenectady and providing their Millitary watches with Firewoud." (330-4)

After the peace of Utrecht in 1713, between Great Britain and France until the "Old French war" in 1744, the people on the borders enjoyed reasonable quiet and safety.

There were efforts made from time to time however to keep up a show of defence by rebuilding the wooden forts and posting small garrisons therein.

Thus in 1715 and again in 1719, the Assembly passed acts for repairing the Fort here. (331-1)

In 1720, it is reported "that the kings fort att the Mohawks Country [Fort Hunter] is the one-fourth part of it fallen to the ground — & That the fort att Schenectady is in the like condition." (331-2)

In 1721, an act was passed by the Assembly to pay for stockades for the fort.

In 1726, a bill for labor and materials used on the fort, amounting to £ 41, 4s. 2d. was presented to the Governor and Council. (331-3)

In 1734, an act was passed to enable Schenectady to raise 50 pounds to make the old church defensible and for other fortifications. (331-4) A debt of 32 pounds was contracted in this work which was provided for in another act passed in 1740.

Similar acts were also passed in 1735, 1736, 1739, 1743, 1745, and in 1746 Governor Clinton recommends a line of blockhouses to be built from Fort Massachusetts to the Mohawk Castle at Fort Hunter. (331-5)

Before the close of this war, in 1748, and before the news of the peace of Aix la Chapelle between Great Britain and France, had reached this country, an act was passed in the Assembly to enable Schenectady to build two new blockhouses. (331-6)

In 1749, Governor Clinton reported that the forts of "Albany, Schenectadee, Oswego & in the Mohawk's country were all garrisoned by the Independent companys, but are very badly contrived and tumbling down." (331-7)

Six years later at the beginning of the second "French war" the Assembly passed an act for raising 3,000 pounds [$7,500], "to be expended in fortifying" the village, but after the close of this contest and the fall of French power in Canada in 1763, the defences of the village fell into decay through neglect and were in a very ruinous condition until renewed at the outbreak of the Revolutionary war.

Thus Governor Tryon, June 11, 1774, writing in relation to the Province of New York, says:— * * * "Albany & Schenectady are defended by forts and both places incircled by large Pickets, or Stockades, with Blockhouses at Proper distances from each other, but, which since the Peace [of 1763], have been suffered to go to Decay and are now totally out of repair." (332-1)

After the close of the Revolutionary war the defences of the village were never repaired, or renewed; the old fort was removed and the land sold; the stockades rotted and fell and Schenectady became an "open village."

There are aged persons still living [1872], who remember seeing in their youth palisades then standing and used along the Binnè kil for tying posts for the batteaux.

Of the illustrations to this chapter the maps are of special value.

The Miller map of 1695, is the oldest, and only lacks a scale and street lines to be all that we could desire of that date.

The map of Schenectady was made by British army topographers about 1750, and was published in a little book giving plans of thirty fortifications in North America, by Mary Anne Rocque, topographer, etc., at the beginning of the 2d French war. The line of pickets shown there with blockhouses at intervals and the Royal Fort built in 1704, in the north-east angle, was essentially the defensive work of Schenectady during more than half a century. The location of the church, the fort and their relation to the streets which were by 1750 practically as now, is of great value.

The Vrooman map dated 1768, shows the Royal Fort, the market place, the two churches and several mills and are doubtless correctly located.

No map has come to hand after most diligent search which shows the change made during the Revolution, when the palisade line was carried out as far as Givens' Hotel on the south or State street side and thence north to the old Dutch church burying ground.

It is worthy of note that the old north side Rond weg, Front street extended straight from Washington Avenue to the corner of St. George's church, — is still to some extent indicated by the shape of the lots on Front street from Church to Ferry. They have manifestly been added to the old block of four hundred feet square, as their oblique fronts clearly show. This is shown in the Vrooman map. General Fuller now in his 91st year (1883), states that the line of Front street at Church street (the old Adam Vrooman corner where he now resides) was altered by continued encroachment on it. Its line was made to conform to the needs of the fort and convenience of its garrison. There being necessary a clear space about the citadel not only for parade and drill of the garrison, but to give the guns clear command of the approaches to the work on all sides. This work commanded the north and east sides of the town. As settlements extended along State street and to the south, the need of a strong place there was manifest, and in 1734 the old church in the middle of State street at Church being abandoned for the new church of 1734 at intersection of Church and Union streets, the opportunity was offered to turn the old structure to use as a town, watch and market house and a redoubt covering that end of town as well, and in that year 50 pounds [$125] were appropriated to render it defensible. This probably consisted in loopholing the walls, barring and shuttering the windows and doors.

Notes

(304-1) [Doubtless after the manner of the Mohawk Castles. The only illustration which represents one of these castles is that shown in the cut [View original size (49K) | 4x (201K)] from Champlain and Jesuit accounts.

This shows after a crude fashion that poles or palisades were planted in the ground forming a wall. That the Indians used round poles or light saplings and to reduce the chance of missiles passing through the interstices, two or more rows were planted in quincunx order. The palisades used by the Dutch were of larger diameter and were flattened on two sides so that adjoining palisades were in contact and there was no interval through which an arrow could be sent. — M'M.]

(304-2) "22 May 1716, Albany. This day the Commonalty agreed with Jacob Luykasse and Jacob Schermerhorn pow'r to Sett up ye Stockados where they are wanting about this City, which they are to square at two sides and sharpe at ye top and to sett them three feet in ye ground, which they are to perform at or before primo July next, for which they shall be paid six pence apiece and give bonds of 15 pounds to perform said agreement." — Albany Annals, VII, 56.

(305-1) [See note to Miller's map. — M'M.]

(305-2) [Not so certain as to Schenectady prior to 1704, though it was as to Albany.- M'M.

(306-1) Mortgages III, 147; Deeds, IX, 51.

(307-1) Petition of New York merchants.

* * * "That a new fort be built at Schenectida which lyes twenty miles above Albany and is the utmost English settlement toward the Indians and French, and that fourteen gunns and sixty men be placed there. — Col. Doc., III, 653.

(307-2) [See note to Miller's map. — M'M.]

(308-1) Col. MSS., XXXVI, 70; Doc. Hist. N. Y., II, 125.

(308-2) The peace of Ryswick was declared in 1697.

(308-3) Land Papers, IV, 28.

(308-4) [See Miller's map. — M'M.]

(309-1) [All these people were of prominent families in Schenectady, and they all lived inside the town, even though owning and working farms elsewhere. Their houses constituted the town and were surrounded by palisades, which constituted the whole fort; "the fort," or strong place of Schenectady. When the English made a strong place they named it a Royal fort in contradistinction to the town or fortress. — M.'M.]

(309-2) [Tryntie Claes Van Gysling being … at her house near ye "Cort of Garde," that is to say, the court of the guard or parade ground in front of the main guard house. Miller shows such a space, which corresponds to State street from Ferry to near Church. This would be the place where the guard mount took place, and where the garrison assembled for drills or parades, as is customary. — M.'M.]

(309-3) Common Council of Albany Minutes, IV.

(310-1) ["Dependent on this City [Albany] and about twenty miles northward from it, is the Fort of Scanectade, quadrangular with a treble stockado with a new block house at every angle and in each block house two great guns." — Miller's description of Schen., 1695.

"This Schoonecthen deel is 24 miles west from Albany. * * The village proper is a square set off by palisades. There may be 30 houses which are situated on the side of the Mohawk river, etc." — Danker & Sluyter [i.e., Jasper Danker and Peter Sluyter, Journal of a Voyage to New York], 1680.

Schenectady "being in form of a long square entered by two gates." — Charlevoix, 1690.

Miller's map of New York city is fully supported by contemporaneous and later maps.

His map of Schenectady is doubtless as correct in all essentials. Certainly after nearly two centuries have elapsed the sketch of what an intelligent man observed and recorded is entitled to acceptance unless some other contemporaneous plan or detailed description can be found. Rev. John Miller was chaplain to the British forces stationed at New York city. He visited all the up-river posts and returned to England in 1695. His manuscript "Description of the Province and City of New York, with Plans of the City and several Forts as they existed in the year 1695. By the Rev. John Miller, London. Printed and Published for the Enlightenment of such as would desire information Anent the New-Found-Land of America," is in the British Museum.

The stockade therein depicted was probably in the main on the site of the stockade destroyed in 1690, and represented the growth of five years. The first fort or strong place built after the massacre on Clyn Isaack's land, was the blockhouse at foot of State (Jay Westinghouse lot) where it dominated the bouwland and Great Island — and was guarded by the then bluff banks of Mill creek and the Binnè kil. It was a purely military position — a blockhouse to which the few remaining settlers could rally, and probably became the south-west blockhouse of Miller's map.

The guard house was at State and Ferry streets and was a blockhouse also. The writer believes that the small garrison was at this point on the night of the massacre and many of those who escaped from their houses naturally ran to the guard house and were there killed — a good enough reason why State street from Centre to Washington street should be called Martyr's street. This blockhouse was at State and Ferry — its "two great guns" commanded the Albany road, the town mill and bouwlands as well as the plain east of Ferry street.

Miller's map shows the "spy loft" or look out station (where perched high up the look out could see all that was in sight in the vicinity and give the signal of dauger), the "centry box" and flag staff, which indicate the main guard and headquarters. It was put there because it was the best site in 1691, and the site was the same in 1690, and earlier.

Another blockhouse was at the angle opposite the Episcopal church, to which point Front street originally ran; that is to say when it was the Rondweg inside the north wall.

A fourth blockhouse was about Washington and Front streets, and was larger than the others (No. 8, Miller's map); protected by being near the junction of the river and the Binnè kil it was probably intended for a store house as well as church. [Query. Notwithstanding the description of the land in the deed where the phrase occurs — Notarial papers, page 320 — was not this "'t blok huys (te weten de Kerche)," — the blockhouse known as the church? Only occasional services were held at Schenectady from 1690 to 1704, and in a place which besides falling to decay was "not a fit and proper place dedicated to the service of God, as represented in petition to Governor Nanfan — see chapter on Church History].

At the massacre the town was destroyed, but few houses being unburnt — the site was practically abandoned and only the strenuous efforts of government and Indians induced the return of the major portion of the people. A large number of Mohawks established themselves there and the following summer they gathered the crops which had been planted — [winter wheat]. Miller's map shows their two large "long houses" inside the walls. The triple stockade was probably built by or with the aid of the Indians, and in their fashion, of light poles or saplings — and not the regular hewn stockade of civilized peoples.

Miller's map shows twenty-eight houses within the stockade in 1695.

In 1698, the population of the township from Niskayuna to Hoffman's Ferry was 50 men, 41 women and the 133 children. (Alb. Annals, IX.)

Of these the Glens, Schermerhorns, De Graafs and others lived at a distance from the village, so that if the 41 women represented nearly as many families, which is probable, twenty-eight houses would suffice for the inhabitants — the soldiers barracking in the blockhouses.

The "Fort of Schanecthede" doubtless contained all there was of the village, save few houses on the Albany road and on the bouwlands. and was the whole occupied town west of Ferry street.

Miller indicates two gates — one at the south end of State street, where its location protected it from sudden attack and where the ancient church covered, or in military parlance traversed it. The writer believes, after careful study of the site and the history of the town, that this south gate located at twenty-eight feet south of State street, was the early outlet of the town.

On passing out of the gate the road to Albany via Normans kil, (the oldest road,) lay across the bouwlands and via Schermerhorn mills over the hills. Later to avoid the hill and the sand, the road up Albany hill was traveled. It was for a century a mere trail, in common with others equally poor but occasionally used, — this road led from the gate along the hill side under the guns of the south-east blockhouse and above the mill. (In digging cellars and foundations of Vrooman's hardware store, stone McAdamizing or pavement was found 75 feet south of State street, as also at other houses along the same block at other times).

It was improbable that any man with a military eye would locate a blockhouse back from the steep bluff bank of mill creek — it would be placed on the crest so that the guns of the blockhouse could fully command the whole slope. Again a road along under such a slope would be in proper position for its protection but very wet and muddy in spring, or in wet weather — hence it was paved very early but abandoned for the higher level where State street now is, probably not long after the Queen's Fort was built in 1704. When the road was moved, the gate was moved, and the English army topographers at the time of the "old French war" locate the road as State street now is, and open a gate at its crossing of Ferry street.

Miller indicates another gate at the west side (on present lot of Jay Westinghouse probably), which opened to the Binnè kil, which was a canoe harbor, — to the ferry, — to the Great Island, and also on the old river road on the Mohawk country. There had been a gate at north end of the town, but after 1690 it was not rebuilt, as the small garrison had enough to do to guard the south end of the town, which contained the mill, guardhouse and gardens and the roads to the bouwlands and Albany. The whole tendency seemed to be to concentrate force at the State street side of the town, and new buildings clustered about the neighborhood. Besides, settlements were neither near nor numerous along the Mohawk, and the Indian incursions made roads there very unsafe.

As the need for them arose, and their safety was assured, new gates were opened.

The building of the Queen's fort, called for reopening the north gate, which it completely protected. Likewise, when the original four blocks of four lots each, included in the stockade, afforded insufficient area, the walls were moved to include them, notably when the west Rondweg was made into the present Washington Avenue, by moving the stockades to the Binnè kil, and the north Rondweg was converted into part of the present Front street and partly into an open space or parade ground by moving the pickets toward the Mohawk, as in map of 1750, where the line of pickets is decidedly irregular and has a number of blockhouses as flankers to protect it from assault from straggling small parties of Indians, while the comparatively strong citadel on the highest ground the site afforded dominated the whole fortress and the open approaches by land or ice, and its cannon pointed up Front and Green streets on the direct route to Canada, whence attack was a constant probability. — M'M.]

(313-1) "William by ye grace of God of England, Scotland, france & Irelande Kinge defender of ye faith, to John Mebee & Dirack Brat Constables of Scanectedy, yu are in his Majestyes name to requier & commande Ryer Jacobse Schermerhorn to pay ye sum of twellve shillinges for ye Disobayinge my former warande in not adinge & assistinge ye rebuelldinge, of ye forte of Scanectedy, wh. are for his Majestyes sarvis & ye Publick good: I do fourder commande yu yt with in fouer dayes from ye dayte of thes presants yt yu leed & bringe ye complyment of Stockades as I have given yu formur notis as is Aloted yu for yr share & yt yu do mount & fix ye sd Stockades answerabell to ye rest of ye inhabitants at yr parill as yu will answer ye neglect. given under my hande ye furst day of Novbr in ye seventh yeare of his majestyes reane Anno dom: 1695.

Johannes Sanderse [Glen], Justes."

(313-2) Council Min. VII, 183, 188.

(314-1) [In the petition of Lieut. Abraham Bickford for reimbursement for his extraordinary expenses in pursuing and re-capturing deserters from time to time "more Particularly in January, 1695-6, when the whole Guard spikt the great Gunns and Deserted from his Majestys fort at Schenectady all with their Arms and in the Dead of night;" he says "yey were Tryed at a Court Marshall condemned and one of the Chiefe Leaders Executed the Rest being Pardoned having obtained his Majtys Mercy."

From this it would appear that the hardships they endured were considered as extenuating their crime. — M'M.]

(315-1) Col. Doc., IV, 431.

(315-2) [Abandoned as barracks only. — M'M.]

(315-3) Col. Doc., VI, 120; Smith's Hist. N. Y.

(316-1) [Description of the country between Oswego and Albany, 1757]. Extract.

"From Fort Hunter to Chenectedi or Corlar is seven leagues. The public carriage way continues along the right bank of the Mohawk river. About 20 or 30 houses are found within this distance separated the one from the other from about a quarter to half a league. The Inhabitants of this section are Dutch. They form a company with some other inhabitants of the left bank of the Mohawk river about 100 men strong.

Chenectedi or Corlar, situated on the bank of the Mohawk river is a village of about 300 houses. It is surrounded by upright pickets flanked from distance to distance. Entering this village by the gate on the Fort Hunter side, there is a fort to the right which forms a species of citadel in the interior of the village itself. It is a square, flanked with four bastions or demi-bastions, and is constructed half of masonry and half of timbers piled one over the other above the masonry. It is capable of holding 2 or 300 men. There are some pieces of cannon as a battery on the rampart. It is not encircled by a ditch. The entrance is through a large swing gate raised like a drawbridge. By penetrating the village in attacking it at another point, the fire from the fort can he avoided." — Paris Document, XIII.

"After the Earl of London had resigned to Genl. Abercrombie the command of the Army which had reduced Oswego, my father, then a young man, was called to Schenectady by sudden business.

"That place was then fortified. It had the shape of a parallelogram, with two gates, one opening to the eastern the other to the northern road and was garrisoned by 50 or 60 soldiers." — Recollections of a Sexagenary.

[Manifestly the petitioners refer to the citadel or fort within the walls of the town. The description by the French officers shows both existed. The Sexagenarian seems to have considered the wall as the strong part of the town's defences. Besides the guns were probably on top of the work as they should have been. — M'M.]

(317-1) [Chambered Cannon — such as Mortars or probably Howitzers. — M'M.]

(317-2) Col. MSS., LXXIV, 20.

(318-1) Col. MSS., LXXIV, 60.

(318-2) Mr. Nicholas Veeder, who died in Glenville in 1862, aged 100 years, said that this fort was about 20 feet high and built of hewn timber, — that it was taken down in the Revolutionary war and the timber used in the frame of soldiers barracks built on land of Johannes Quackenbos, at the south corner of Union and Lafayette streets. The village then had an armament of iron cannons and swivels, — the largest of which were the "Lady Washington" and the "Long nine Pounder," which were placed in the streets so as to command the gates. In digging trenches for water pipes in 1871, the south wall and well of the fort were discovered. See also Mortgages, 1784, V, 102.

(319-1) Court of Assize, II.

(319-2) Not. Papers, II.

(319-3) Council Minutes, V, 195, 203.

(319-4) Orders in Council, VI, 7-12.

(320-1) Col. Doc.,IV, 151.

(321-1) This letter dated Jan. 9, 1696-7, was published in the Hist. Mag., in March, 1865.

(321-2) [The following from records in office of the Secretary of State show somewhat of the panic which existed in Albany county.

>To His Excellency Benjamin Fletcher Captain Generall and Governor in Chiefe of His Majesties Province of New York and all the Territoryes and Grants of Land depending thereon in America and Vice Admiral of the same, &c.

May it Please your Excellency

Wee the Mayor Justices of the Peace & commlty of this citty & county of Albany haveing formerly Adres your Excellencey for your favourable presence this winter & have been very sencible how much it hath been obstructed have Notwithstanding been so happy as to have your Excellencey's Presents no hardship Danger or Difficulty haveing been the least Preventive to your Excellencey's care of us & the frontiers to direct and defend us against our enemy, &c.

Wee being extreamely sencible of your Excellcys Extraordinary Goodnesse to us do in the due sence of highest Gratitude Returne our most gratefull accknowledgments. Wee must owne that your Excellency's presence hath Kept many familys here which nothing but the sence of your Excellencys conduct could have retained in this place.

Wee are so well satisfied with your Excellency's management of the affairs of the five Indian Nations & all other Administrations both Civill & Military & wee do think our selves extreamly happy under the Umbrage of your Excellency's Couradge & conduct, Wee do heartly Wish & Pray for your Excellency's long continuance wth us and do Unanimously & faithfully pray for your long life, health & prosperity & wee do cordially & truly assure yor Excelly that wee will Assist, Defend & Stand by your Excellency with our Lives & ffortunes.

December 26, 1696.

  • Dirck Wessells, Mayor.
  • J. Janse, [Bleecker] Recorder.
  • Hend van Rensselaer, Jan Lansingh, Jan [surname not given], Albert [surname not given], Hendrick Hanse, Aldermen.
  • K. V. Rensselar, hett merik van Gerret, tunesse [surname not given], Justices
  • Johannes Wandelar, B. Corlaer, Johannes Roseboom, Evert Wandel, Johannes myngaell, Eghbert tunesse, Assistons.

(323-1) Reference is doubtless here made to Hilletie Van Olinda.

(323-2) Col. Doc., IV, 328.

(323-3) Col. Doc., IV, 440.

(324-1) Col. Doc., IV, 409, 410.

(324-2) Col. Doc., IV, 513.

(324-3) Col. Doc., IV, 718.

(325-1) The following roll of Capt. Ingoldsby's company of which Lieutenant Hunt's detachment formed a part, shows not only the regular company of 50 men but the extra men from this vicinity who were added during the Indian troubles.

[Editorial note: the names were written with symbols representing the mark of the signer between the first and last names. We have used + and x for these, and initials in bold are as shown in the text.]

"Wee underwritten non commissioned officers & PriVate Centinells under ye command of Coll: Richard Ingoldsby doe acknowledge to have Received of his Excellency Richard Earl of Bellomont our capt genll by the hands of Rt Livingston each of us ye summe of five and forty shillings & three pence pr diem for each soldier for six months commencing pmo novemb 1697 & ending pmo May 1698 out of ye money raised by act of assembly for the making 300 Effective men at ye fronteers at Albany.

  • Thomas Smith's mark [+]
  • Samuel Gilbert's mark [5]
  • Robt Doick's mark [U]
  • Tho holms mark [U rotated 90 degrees left]
  • William Bryen's mark [x]
  • Phill hams wifes mark [+]
  • David Mac creat
  • Thomas merry [Q]
  • Richard hill
  • John Williams [+]
  • John Aleson atkins
  • Thomas Bombus [B]
  • William Turner [k]
  • Tho: Rogers
  • John Tippin [S]
  • John Apleston [S]
  • Will: hilton [H]
  • John Seawell [x]
  • Ralph noles
  • William Renn [+]
  • William Rodgers [X R]
  • John Careter
  • William hatter [+]
  • Robert Farringtons mark [R]
  • Ro Barrett
  • Symon Williams [C]
  • John Douglas mark [+]
  • Wm Shaw [+]
  • Edward Clayton
  • Tho: carter [x]
  • John Forster
  • Richd Turner [x]
  • John Oliver [2]
  • Richd Langdale [x]
  • henry Bebe [x]
  • luke Thomas [+]
  • Benjam mosely [+]
  • John Cox [+]
  • John Jones [+]
  • will makeaway [+]
  • Robt Giles [+]
  • John woodcok [+]
  • John hams [+]
  • Richd Tudor [+]
  • John Cole [+]
  • Bartholw Pickard [+]
  • George Ingoldesby
  • Lev Shanke Recd for Her [x]
  • Slytie Patrik macgregorys wife
  • Ren by Leiut Nicuke
  • Charles Rodgers mark [C R]
  • daniel brat voor pieter harmense
  • John car for Saml holmes
  • Samuel Doxy [+]
  • Dirk brat for Dl Fillips [+]
  • Gregory magregory [+]
  • Wm Webb [x]
  • John hull [x]
  • John Gilbixtt
  • william white
  • william white for Tho: pond
  • francis neall
  • John Radcliffe
  • Rt Livingston for Jos: Yetts
  • Rt Livingston for Wm hall absent
  • Lt Hunt for Dan Johnson
  • Lev Shanke for John Younker [x]
  • Math Shank

In all 66 men at 45s. 3d., a man, amounts to £149:6:6.

The above men were Pd by me

Robt Livingston.

(326-1) Council Minutes, VIII, 61, 69, 180.

(326-2) Col. MSS., XLII, 47.

(326-3) Col. MSS., XLIV, 78.

(326-4) Albany Annals, IV, 211.

(326-5) Col. Doc., IV, 915-6.

(326-6) Albany Annals, IV, 155.

(326-7) Col. Doc., IV, 968-9, 971.

(326-8) Col. Doc., IV, 1057, 1035.

(327-1) Col. MSS., XLIX, 36, 38.

(327-2) Col. MSS., XLIX, 105.

(327-3) Col. MSS., XLIX, 22.

(327-4) Col. MSS., XLIX, 17.

(327-5) Leg. Council, 208.

(327-6) Col. MSS., XLIX, 114.

(327-7) Col. MSS., XLIX.

(328-1) Queen Anne of England.

(328-2) [Was not this wall moved out to include houses built beyond it toward the Binnè kil which had rendered it useless as a defence while it cut them off from access to the street? Referring to the Vrooman map of 1768, it will be seen that the square of four blocks was left intact by the Queen's Fort, it having been built beyond the old palisades in the triangle bounded by the palisades on the south — nearly Ferry street on the east and the River road (now State street) on the north side. The original wall went straight from corner Front and Washington to the site of the door of St. George's church. There was a gate at Church street at most times. From this gate ran the river road — the placing of the fort of 1704 threw the road beyond the north bastion of the fort and Green street when laid out conformed to it also. After the abandonment of the old fort — the triangle of land was converted into house lots. — M'M]

(328-3) Albany Annals, IV, 195.

(328-4) Col. MSS., L, 14.

(328-5) Col. MSS., LI, 148-9.

(328-6) Col. MSS., LI, 152. His salary was one shilling a day.

(328-7) Col. MSS., LI, 178.

(329-1) Leg. Council, 242.

(329-2) Leg. Council, 309

(329-3) Col. MSS., LVI., 137.

(330-1) Col. MSS, LVI, 167.

(330-2) Capt. Philip Schuyler perhaps, who died at Schenectady 23 May, 1725, leaving widow named Catharine — Am. Hist Mag., I, 762.

(330-3) Col. MSS., LVII, 47.

(330-4) Leg. Council, 353.

(331-1) Leg. Council, 395, 448.

(331-2) Col. MSS., LXII, 144; Col. Doc., V, 631.

(331-3) Col. MSS., LXVIII, 123.

(331-4) Leg. Council, 645. The old stone church stood at the junction of State, Church and Water streets, and after 1736, when the new church was completed, was used for many years as a guard and watch house and market.

(331-5) Col. Doc., VI, 27, 87, 160; Leg. Council, 750, 827, 917, 924.

(331-6) Leg. Council, 1015.

(331-7) Col. Doc., VI, 509, 940, 1196.

(332-1) Col. Doc., VIII, 451.

Go to top of page | back to: Old French War | ahead to: Reformed Nether Dutch Church

You are here: Home » Resources » Pearson's History » Fortifications and Garrisons

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/patent/12.html updated September 28, 2013

Copyright 2013 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library