Enoch Crosby, Secret Agent of the Neutral Ground: His Own Story

James H. Pickering * (Michigan State University)

Published in New York History, Vol. XLVII, No. 1 (January 1966), pp. 61-73.

Copyright © 1966, New York State Historical Association, and placed online with its kind permission.

[May be reproduced for instructional use by individuals or institutions; commercial use prohibited.]

In December of 1821, James Fenimore Cooper, then living the life of a country gentleman at Angevine Farm in Scarsdale, published The Spy, an exciting tale of Revolutionary warfare in the Neutral Ground of Westchester and Dutchess counties. So successful was Cooper’s experiment with what he termed “an American novel professedly,” that it was not long before historian, critic, and general reader alike, impressed by the apparent authenticity of Cooper’s hero Harvey Birch, began the search for the historic “original” of the enigmatic peddler-spy. Most of the speculation soon focused upon Enoch Crosby (1750- 1835) of the Putnam County town of Carmel whose credentials were extravagantly set forth in H. J. Barnum’s slender volume of 1828 The Spy Unmasked; or, Memoirs of Enoch Crosby; alias Harvey Birch, the Hero of Mr. Cooper’s Tale of the Neutral Ground . Barnum went to great lengths to prove his case, including an assertion that he had it on the best authority of “a gentleman of good standing and respectability ... who has long enjoyed the friendship and confidence of Mr. Cooper ... that the outline of the character of Harvey Birch, was actually sketched from that of Enoch Crosby. ... ” Barnum’s book attracted a good deal of notice and Crosby, by now an old man of seventy-eight, soon found himself something of a local celebrity. On November 27, 1830 he was even invited to participate in a parade up Broadway to the Washington parade ground in the company of such luminaries as James Monroe, Albert Gallatin, and David Williams, the latter famous as one of the three captors of Major John André. New York’s affable mayor, Philip Hone, who saw Crosby in Albany in 1829, subsequently noted in his journals that the old soldier was “a tall old man, who looks in all respects the character which he has been made to appear.” 1

As for Cooper himself, the novelist was perfectly willing to admit that he had taken the inspiration for his tale from an anecdote about a Revolutionary spy which he had heard from John Jay, but until the time of his death in 1851 Cooper stubbornly insisted that he never knew the name of Jay’s agent and had certainly never heard of Enoch Crosby. Despite Cooper’s unequiv{62}ocal denials, Enoch Crosby and his claim have remained, to be debated by historian and literary scholar alike for well over a century. 2 And, unfortunately, almost overlooked in these discussions has been Enoch Crosby himself. The old man did indeed have a story to tell but not in the overly dramatic, romanticized, and perhaps even fraudulent manner in which Barnum tried to exploit it. Crosby, in fact, was perfectly capable of telling his own story, and he did so on October 15, 1832 when he dictated a twelve page deposition describing his Revolutionary services to the clerk of a Putnam County court in support of his application for a federal pension. 3 This deposition, edited and presented here in its entirety, represents the real story of Enoch Crosby. Though the language is the flat, legalistic style of a disinterested county clerk concerned only with setting down the bare facts, the document does contain the remarkable story of a man who was indeed worthy of being made the hero of a novel. It covers not only the period between September 1776 and May 1777 when Crosby was a secret agent employed by the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies but his entire record of service with the Continental Army from 1775 to 1780. Although the present editor has taken the liberty to add a series of explanatory notes, Enoch Crosby’s story is presented here just as it was written down in 1832. The original spelling and punctuation has been retained throughout.

On this 15ᵗʰ day of October in the year 1832 personally appeared before the court of Oyer & Terminer and general jail delivery of the said county of Putnam, Enoch Crosby of the town of Southeast in the county of Putnam and state of New York aged eighty two years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of congress passed June 7. 1832. That he entered in the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated — That in the month of April or in the forepart of May 1775 he enlisted in the town of Danbury in the state of Connecticut into Capt Noble Benedict’s company in Colonel Waterbury’s 4 regiment of troops to defend the country for eight months service the regiment met at Greenwich in Connecticut staid there two or three weeks then went to New York under General Wooster 5 staid in New York a few weeks the regiment was then carried to Albany in sloops & went directly to Half moon was there a few days went then to Ticonderoga staid there a few days to have the batteaus finished which were to convey them further, General Schyler 6 had the command to the Isle aux Noix 7 when Genl. Schyler being unwell General {63} Montgomery had the command the declarant went to St. John’s which being by us at that time besiged by the Americans in about five weeks surrendered & the fort was taken 8 the declarant then went to Montreal That he came from there with Colonel Waterbury’s regiment to Albany and having served the eight months was at place (Albany) was permitted to leave the regiment and return home, & That he has no written discharge and this declarant further says, That in the latter part of the month of August in the year 1776 he enlisted into the regiment commanded by Col Sworthaut 9 in Fredericksburgh now Carmel in the County of Putnam and started to join the army at Kingsbridge, The company had left Fredericksburgh before declarent started, & he started alone after his said enlistment & on his way at a place in Westchester County about two miles from Pines bridge he fell in company with a stranger, who accosted the deponent & asked him if he was going down, declarent replied he was: the stranger then asked if declarent was not afraid to venture alone, & said there were many rebels below& he would meet with difficulty in getting down. The declarent perceived from the observations of the stranger that he supposed the declarent intended to go to the British & willing to encourage that misapprehension & turn it to the best advantage, he asked if there was any mode which he the stranger could point out by which the declarent could get throughsafely. The stranger after being satisfied that declarent was wishing to join the British army, told him that there was a company raising in that vicinity to join the British army, that it was nearly complete & in a few days would be ready to go down& that declarent had better join that company & go downwith them. The stranger finally gave to the declarent his name, it was Bunker, & told the declarent where & showed the house in which he lived and also told him that ------ Fowler was to be the captain of the company then raising and ------ Kipp Lieutenant After having learned this much from Bunker the declarent told him that he was unwilling to wait until the company could be ready to march & would try to get through alone& parted from him on his way down & continued until night when he stopped at the house of a man who was called Esquire Young, 10 & put up there for the night in the course of conversation with Esquire Young in the evening declarent learned that he was a member of the committee of safety for the county of Westchester & then communicated to him the information he had obtained from Mr. Bunker. Esqr. Young requested the declarent to accompany him, the next morning to the White plains in Westchester County as the committee of safety for the County were on that day to meet at the Court house {64} in that place. The next morning the declarent in company with Esqr. Young went to the White plains & found the Committee there sitting after Esqr. Young had an interview with the committee, the declarent was sent for, and went before the committee, then sitting in the Court room, & there communicated the information he had obtained from Bunker. The committee after learning the situation of declarent, that he was a soldier enlisted in Col. Swortwauts regiment & on his way to join it engaged to write to the Col. & explain the reason why he did not join it if he would consent to aid in the apprehension of the company then raising. it was by all thought best, that he should not join the regiment, but should act in a different character as he could thus be more useful to his country.

He was accordingly announced to Capt. Townsend 11 who then was at the White plains commanding a company of rangers as a prisoner, & the Captain was directed to keep him until further orders. In the evening after he was placed as a prisoner under Capt. Townsend, he made an excuse to go out & was accompanied by a soldier, his excuse led him over a fence into a field of corn then nearly or quite full grown, as soon as he was out of sight of the soldier he made the best of his way from the soldier. & when the soldier hailed him to return he was allmost beyond hearing, an alarm gun was fired but declarent was far from danger. In the course of the night the declarent reached the house of said Bunker, who got up & let him in, declarent then related to Bunker the circumstance of his having been taken prisoner, of his going before the committee at the Court house, of being put under the charge of Capt. Townsend & of his escape, that he had concluded to avail himself of the protection of the company raising in his neighborhood to get down. The next morning Bunker went with declarent & introduced him as a good loyalist to several of the company, declarent remained some days with different individuals of the company & until it was about to go down, when declarent went one night to the house of Esqr. Young to give information of the state & progress of the company the distance was four or five miles from Bunkers. at the house of Esqr. Young declarent found Capt. Townsend with a great part of his company & after giving the information he returned to the neighborhood of Bunkers & that night declarent with a great part of the company which was preparing to go down were made prisoners. The next day all of them about thirty in number were marched to the White plains, and remained there several days, a part of the time locked up in jail with the other prisoners, the residue of the time he was with the committee. The prisoners were finally ordered to Fishkill in the {65} County of Dutchess where the State Convention was then sitting. The declarent went as a prisoner to Fishkill. Capt. Townsend with his company of rangers took charge of the company. At Fishkill a committee for detecting conspiracies was sitting composed of John Jay afterwards Governor of N York, Zepeniah Platt afterwards first judge of Dutchess County, Colonel Duer of the County of Albany, & a Mr. Sackett. 12 The declarent was called before that committee, who understood the character of declarent & the nature of his services, this the committee must have learned either from Capt. Townsend or from the Committee at White plains. The declarent was examined under oath & his examination reduced to writing. 13 The prisoners with the declarent were kept whilst declarent remained at Fishkill in a building which had been occupied as a Hatters shop & they were guarded by a company of rangers commanded by Capt. Clark. 14 The declarent remained about a week at Fishkill when he was bailed by Jonathan Hopkins, this was done to cover the character in which declarent acted.

Before the declarent was bailed the Fishkill committee had requested him to continue in this service & on declarent mentioning the fact of his having enlisted in Col. Swortwauts company & the necessity there was of his joining it he was informed that he should be indemnified from that enlistment, that they would write to the Col. & inform him that the declarent was in their service The committee then wished declarent to undertake a secret service over the river. he was furnished with a secret pass, which was a writing signed by the committee which is now lost and directed to go to the house of Nicholas Brawer 15 near the mouth of the Wappingers creek who would take him, across the river & then to proceed to the house of John Russell about ten miles from the river & make such inquiries & discoveries as he could. He proceeded according to his directions to said Brawers & from thence to John Russells & there hired himself to said Russell to work for him but for no definite time. This was a neighborhood of Loyalists & it was expected that a company was there raising for the British army The declarent remained about ten days in Russells employment & during that time ascertained that a company was then raising but was not completed. Before declarent left Fishkill on this service a time was fixed for him to recross the river & give information to some one of the committee who was to meet him, this time having arrived and the company not being completed the declarent recrossed the river & met Zepeniah Platt one of the committee & gave him all the information he had then obtained. declarent was directed to recross the river to the neighborhood of Russells &on a time then {66} fixed, again to meet the committee on the east side of the river, declarent returned to Russells neighborhood, soon became intimate with the Loyalists, was introduced to Capt Robinson said to be an English officer & who was to command the company then raising. Capt. Robinson occupied a cave in the mountains & deponent having agreed to go with the company was invited & accepted of the invitation to lodge with Robinson in the cave they slept together nearly a week in the cave & the time for the company to start having been fixed & the rout designated to pass Severns, to Bush Carricks where they were to stop the first night. This time for starting having arrived before the appointed time to meet the committee on the east side of the river, the declarent in order to get an opportunity to convey information to Fishkill, recommended that each man should the night before they started sleep where he chose & that each should be by himself for if they should be discovered that night together all would be taken which would be avoided if they were separated. This proposition was acceded to, and when they separated declarent not having time to go to Fishkill, and as the only and as it appeared to him the best means of giving the information, was to go to a Mr. Purdy who was a stranger to declarent & all he knew of him was that the Tories called him a wicked rebel & said that he ought to die, declarent went & found Purdy informed him of the situation of affairs, of the time the company was to start & the place at which they were to stop the first night, & requested him to go to Fishkill & give the information to the committee. Purdy assured the declarent that the information should be given. Declarent returned to Russells & lodged in his house. The following evening the company assembled consisting of about thirty men & started from Russells house which was in the Town of Marlborough & County of Ulster for New York & in the course of the night arrived at Bush Carricks & went into the barn to lodge after taking refreshments. Before morning the barn was surrounded by American troops & the whole company including Capt. Robinson were made prisoners. The troops who took the company prisoners were commanded by Capt. Melancton Smith, 16 who commanded a company of rangers at Fishkill his company crossed the river to perform this service. Col. Duer was with Capt. Smiths Company on this expedition. The prisoners including the declarent were marched to Fishkill & confined in the stone church in which there was near two hundred prisoners, 17 after remaining one night in the church the Committee sent for declarent & told him that it was unsafe for him to remain with the prisoners, as the least suspicion of the course he had pursued would prove fatal to him, & advised him to leave the village {67} of Fishkill but to remain where they could call upon him if his services should be wanted. Declarent went to the house of a Dutchman a farmer whose name is forgotten, about five miles from she Village of Fishkill & there went to work at making shoes. after declarent had made arrangements for working at shoes he informed Mr. Sacket one of the committee where he could be found if he should be wanted. In about a week declarent recd. a letter from the committee requesting him to meet some one of the Committee at the house of Doct. Osborn 18 about one mile from Fishkill Declarent according to the request went to the house of Doct. Osborn & soon after John Jay came there, inquired for the Doctor who was absent, inquired for medicine but found none that he wanted, he came out of the house, & went to his horse near which declarent stood & as he passed he said in a low voice it wont do, there are too many around, return to your work. Declarent went back & went to work at shoes but within a day or two was again notified & a horse sent to him, requiring him to go to Bennington in Vermont & from thence westerly to a place called Maloonscack, 19 & there call on one Hazard Wilcox, a tory of much notoriety & ascertain if anything was going on there injurious to the american cause. Declarent followed his instructions, found Wilcox but could not learn that any secret measure was then projected against the interest of the country at that place, but learned from Wilcox a list of persons friendly to the British cause who could be safely trusted, from that place quite down to the south part of Dutchess County, declarent followed the directions of said Wilcox and called on the different individuals by him mentioned but could discover nothing of importance until he reached the town of Pawling in Dutchess County where he called upon a Doctor, whose name he thinks was Presser, & informed him that he wished to go below, but was fearful of some trouble. The Doctor informed him that there was a company raising in that vicinity to go to New York to join the British Army, that the Captains name was Shelden 21 that he had been down & got a commission, that he Presser was doctoring the Lieutenant, whose name was Chase, that if declarent would wait a few days he could safely go down with that company, that he could stay about the neighborhood, & should be informed when the company was ready. That declarent remained in that vicinity, became acquainted with several of the persons who were going with that company, was acquainted with the Lieut. Chase, but never saw the Captain to form any acquaintance with him. The season had got so far advanced that the company were about to start to join the enemy to be ready for an early commencement of the campaign in 1777. It was about {68} the last of February of that year, when a place was fixed and also a time for meeting. It was at a house situated half a mile from the road & about three miles from a house then occupied by Col. Morehause 21 a militia Colonel After the time was fixed for the marching of Capt. Sheldens company the deponent went in the night to Col. Morehause & informed him of the situation of the company of the time appointed for meeting of the place &c. And Morehause informed declarent that they should be attended to. The declare remained about one month in this neighborhood, & once in the time met Mr. Sackett one of the Committee at Col. Ludingtons, 22 & apprised him of what was then going on, and was to have given the committee intelligence when the company was to march but the shortness of the time between the final arrangement & the time of starting was that declarent was obliged to give the information to Col Morehause

The company consisting of about thirty met at the time & place appointed and after they had been there an hour or two two young men of the company came in & said there was a gathering under arms at old Morehauses, the inquirey became general, what could it mean, was there any traitors in the company. The capt. soon called one or two of the company out the door for the purpose of private conversation about the situation, & very soon declarent heard the cry of stand, stand. Those out the door ran but were soon met by a company coming from a different direction, they were taken the house surrounded & the company all made prisoners. The Col. then ordered them to be tied together, two & two, they came to declarent & he beged to be excused from going as he was lame and could not travel, the Col replied, you shall go dead or alive & if in no other way you shall be carried on the horse with me, the rest were marched off & declarent put onto the horse with Col. Morehause, all went to the house of Col. Morehause and when the prisoners were marched into the house declarent with the permission of Morehause left them & made the best of his way to Col. Ludingtons & there informed him of the operations of the night, he reached Col. Ludingtons about day light in the morning, from thence he went to Fishkill to the house of Doct. Van Wyck 23 where John Jay boarded & there informed him of all the occurrences on that northern expedition. Said Jay requested the declarent to come before the committee the next night when they would be ready to receive him he accordingly went before the committee where he declared under his oath all that had occurred since he had seen them. 24 The committee then directed him to go to the house of Col. Van Ness in Albany County. 25 & there take direc{69}tions from him. he went to Van Nesss house & was directed by him, to go to the north but declarent cannot tell the place the duty was performed, but nothing material discovered, further than that the confiscation of the personal property of the Tories & leasing of their lands had a great tendency to discourage them from joining the British Army. declarent then returned to Pokeepsie, where Egbert Benson & Melancton Smith acted in the room of the Fishkill committee 26 There was no more business at that time in which they wished to employ declarent, & he being somewhat apprehensive that a longer continuance in that employment would be dangerous, & the time for which he enlisted in Col Swartwauts regiment having expired he came home with the approbation of the committee. This was about the last of May 1717, and in the course of the fall after, the declarent saw Col. Swortwaut at his house in Fishkill & there talked over the subject of the employment of the declarent by the committee & the Col. told declarent that he had drawn his pay the same as if he had been with the regiment, that the Paymaster of the Regiment lived in the town of Hurley in Ulster County. Declarent went to the paymaster and recd. his pay for nine months service or for the term for which the regiment was raised. The declarent was employed in the secret service for a period of full nine months.

This declarent further says that in the year 1779 in the month of May he enlisted into a company commanded by Capt Jonah Hallett 27 for six months declarent enlisted as a sergint in said Hallets company. The term of enlistment was performed on the lines in the County of Westchester, moving from place to place to guard the country & detect Tories, that the company continued in this service until after Stony Point was taken by Gen Wayne & abandoned & also reoccupied & abandoned by the English troops. When this company was ordered over the river & joined the regiment at Stony point & continued there in making preparations for building a block house until the time of the expiration of the service when the company was ordered to march to Pokeepsie to be discharged by the Governor When they arrived the Governor was absent the company was billetted out & the declarent was billetted upon the family of Doct. Tappen. After remaining a day or two, & the Governor not arriving, they were discharged. During this service in Westchester county the following occurrence took place a British vessel of war lay at anchor near Tellers point & a party of sailors or marines came on shore & wandered a short distance from the water when a party of our men got between them & the river & made them prisoners. They {70} were marched to the place where the company then lay, a little east of Tellers point, the number of prisoners declarent thinks was twelve & the captors six. The prisoners were afterwards sent to Pokeepsie.

This declarent further says that in the month of May in the year 1780 he again enlisted for six months in a company commanded by Capt. Livingston in Col. Benschautens Regiment. 28 he enlisted as a sergent in the Town of Fredericksburgh now the town of Kent in Putnam County. The Regiment assembled at Fishkill & marched to Westpoint & remained there a few days some ten or fifteen, a call was made for troops to fill up the Brigade or Brigades under the command of Gen De La Fayettes, and they were to be raised by drafts or volunteers, a call first was made for volunteers & the declarent with others volunteered & made a company which was put under the care & charge of Capt. Daniel Delavan. the declarent continued to be a sergent in Delavans company Col. Philip Van Cortland commanded the regiment to which Captain Delavans company was attached, soon after the company was formed they crossed the river from West point & marched to Peekskill where they remained one night. The next day marched to Verplanks point & crossed over to Stony point & from thence made the best of their way to New Jersey where they remained until late in the fall when the time of enlistment having expired they were discharged, after having fully & faithfully performed the service of six months for which he enlisted. during this campaign in N Jersey, Major Andre was arrested, condemned & executed, several of the soldiers of Capt. Delavan’s company went to see him executed. This declarent was sergent of the guard that day & could not go to see the execution.

The declarent further says that he has no documentary evidence of his service, and that he knows of no person who can testify to his services other than those whose depositions are hereto annexed

The declarent hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present & declares that his name is not on the pension roll agency of any state.

The declarent was born in a place called Harwich in the County of Barnstable and State of Massachusetts in the year one thousand seven hundred & fifty.

The declarent has a record of his age

The declarent was living in the town of Danbury in the state of Connecticut when he enlisted into the service, that since the revolutionary war the declarent has resided in the State of New-York, in what is now the County of Putnam formerly the {71} County of Dutchess, & now lives in the same County & on the same farm where he has lived for the last fifty years.

The declarent allways volunteered in every enlistment & to perform all the services which he performed as detailed in this declaration.

That the declarent was acquainted with the following officers who were with the troops where he served. General Sohuyler Gen. Montgomery, General Wooster, Col. Waterbury, Col. Holmes, Gen. De La Fayette, Gen. Poor, Col. Van Cortlandt, Col. Benschauten, Col. Ludington.

The declarent never received any written discharge, & if he ever received a sergents warrant it is through time & accident lost or destroyed.

This declarent is known to Samuel Washburn a Judge of the Court of Common pleas of the County of Putnam, Benaiah Y Morse a clergyman in his neighborhood and who he believes can testify to his character for veracity & good behaviour and thus belief of his services as a soldier of the revolution.

/S/ Enoch Crosby

Sworn to & subscribed the day and year aforesaid. I. Morehouse Clerk of said court

We Benaiah Y. Morse a Clergyman in the town of Carmel & pastor of the church in which the above named Enoch Crosby is a communicant, and Samuel Washburn a Judge of Putnam County court of Common pleas also residing in Carmel

do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Enoch Crosby who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe him to be eighty two years of age, that he is reputed & believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we concur in that opinion

/S/ Benaiah Y. Morse

/S/ Samuel Washburn

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid. I. Morehouse Clerk of said court


1 Philip Hone, The Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851, ed, by Allan Nevins (New York, 1927), I, 13.

2 See, for example, Guy Hatfield, “Harvey Birch and the Myth of Enoch Crosby,” The Magazine of American History, XVIII (1887), 431-435; James Deane, “Enoch Crosby Not a Myth,” Ibid., XVIII (1887), 73-75; Guy Hatfield, “Harvey Birch Not Enoch Crosby,” Ibid., XVIII (1887), 431; Harry Edward Miller, “The Spy of the Neutral Ground,” New England Magazine, XVIII (1898), 307-319; Tremaine McDowell, “The Identity of Harvey Birch,” American Literature, II (1930), 111-120. Others, however, have turned their attention elsewhere. See, for example, Warren S. Walker, “The Prototype of Harvey Birch,” New York History, XXXVII (1956), 399-413.

3 General Services Administration, National Archives and Records, Washington, D. C., file #S10505. According to the 1835 Report From the Secretary of War ... In Relation to the Pension Establishment of the United States (Senate Document 514, 23ʳᵈ Congress, 2ⁿᵈ Session), Crosby was granted a pension of $100 on September 28, 1833.

4 Colonel David Waterbury (1722-1801) of Stamford commanded one of the six regiments of Connecticut militia raised by the Connecticut Assembly in April of 1775.

5 General David Wooster (1711-1777) commanded the Connecticut troops which were sent to New York in the spring of 1775 and later saw service at St. Johns and Montreal.

6 General Philip Schuyler (1733-1804).

7 Isle aux Noix, located at the head of Lake Champlain at the entrance to the Richelieu River, served as the American base camp for the attack on St. Johns, some twenty miles up river.

8 Wooster and his Connecticut troops arrived before St. Johns on October 26, 1775; the small post surrendered on November 2ⁿᵈ.

9 Colonel Jacobus Swartwout (173?-1826) commanded the second Dutchess County regiment of Minute Men.

10 Joseph Young, an ardent Westchester patriot and one of its Commissioners of Public Safety, lived in the extreme southeastern corner of the town of Mount Pleasant, some six miles from Tarrytown, where the road from Pines Bridge crossed the road linking White Plains and Tarrytown. Because of its strategic location on high ground, Young’s home became a command post for the American army until February of 1780 when it was attacked and burned by a strong party of British.

11 Captain Micah Townsend of Westchester, commander of “Townsend’s Rangers,” who was often given the task of apprehending local Loyalists.

12 John Jay, Zephaniah Platt, William Duer, and Nathaniel Sackett, along with Charles De Witt and Leonard Gansevoort, were the original six members of the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies organized by the New York Convention on September 21, 1776. Although it began its work on September 28ᵗʰ, the extant minutes of the Committee do not begin until December 17, 1776. These were edited by Dorothy C. Barck and published by the New York Historical Society in 1924-1925 as Minutes of the Committee and the First Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York , NYHS Collections, LVII-LVIII. Hereafter referred to as Minutes.

13 These minutes, unfortunately, are non-existent.

14 Captain William Clark, fifth regiment, Dutchess County militia, who, like Townsend, was often delegated the responsibility for carrying out the Committee’s orders. The following letter, dated Fishkill, January 10, 1777, from Nathaniel Sackett to Peter Van Gaasbeck is particularly interesting here (Minutes, II, 420):

Dear Sir I had almost forgot to give you directions to Give our friend an opertunity of making his Escape Upon our plan you will Take him prisoner with this partie you are now wateing for his Name is Enoch Crosbey Alias John Brown I could wish that he may escape before you bring him Two miles on your way to Committee you will be pleased to advise with Messrs Cornwill and Capt Clark on this Subject and form such plan of conduct as your wisdom may direct but by no means neglect this friend of ours

15 Nicholas Brewer, or Brewer (? -1787) was a patriot of local standing. On December 30, 1776 he reported to the Committee on the suspicious activities of some of his Dutchess County neighbors. See Minutes, I, 56.

16 Captain Melancton Smith of Dutchess County commanded the three companies of rangers organized by the New York Provincial Congress on June 22, 1776.

17 The minutes of the Committee for December 15, 1776 read, in part, as follows (Minutes, 1, 25): “Captain Silas Purdy brought in Humphry Merritt, Elisha Purdy and Lodowick Miller, three Tories from the Precinct of New Marlborough [Ulster County) who had been privy to a treasonable Conspiracy form’d by James Robinson, Jacob Russell and others against the Liberties of the United States.”

18 Dr. Cornelius Osborn (1723-1782) lived half a mile north of Fishkill village and served as a surgeon with the second regiment of Dutchess County Minute Men commanded by Jacobus Swartwout.

19 Walloomsac.

20 Captain Joseph Sheldon. See Minutes, I, 164.

21 Colonel Andrew Morehouse, third regiment, Dutchess County militia.

22 Colonel Henry Ludington (1739-1817) of the Dutchess County militia was frequently involved in the Committee’s attempts to curtail Loyalist activities in the Westchester-Dutchess area.

23 Undoubtedly Dr. Theodore Van Wyck (1730-1797), an outspoken patriot and a member of Fishkill’s Vigilance Committee.

24 The Committee’s minutes show that Crosby first reported to them on the activities of Doctor Presser and his comrades on January 8, 1777 (I, 93-94). As Crosby indicates, Morehouse made his arrests more than a month later, on February 26ᵗʰ, “in consequence of information he had received from the Immissary that these persons were to assemble at that Time with an intent to go off to the Enemy” (I, 160). Joseph Sheldon was examined before the Committee on February 28ᵗʰ (I, 160-61) and a few minutes afterwards Crosby made the lengthy report on the whole episode alluded to here (I, 163-64).

25 Probably Colonel Peter Van Ness, ninth regiment (2ⁿᵈ Claverack battalion) of the Albany County militia. Van Ness had communicated with the Committee on January 15, 1777 about a plot to rescue prisoners held at Claverack (Minutes, I, 100). Crosby’s mission at Albany, therefore, may have been in connection with this matter.

26 See Minutes, I, 266.

27 Probably Captain Jonathan Hallet, second regiment of the New York Line.

28 Probably Major Elias Van Benschoten and Captain Gilbert I. Livingston, first regiment of New York levies. See Berthold Fernow ed., New York in the Revolution (Albany, 1887), p. 539.

* Professor Pickering is a member of the Department of English at Michigan State University.