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Full text of "Governor's Island : its military history under three flags, 1637-1913"

Co lo nelMx. C. ^ Ti//sff?L . 







paiitavv i^ijstort 
unDer 

1637-1913 



BY THE 

Reverend EDMUND BANKS SMITH. B.D. 

CHAPLAIN OF GOVERNOR'S ISLAND 



PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR 
1913 



COPYRIGHTED 

I9I3 

BY THE 

REVEREND EDMUND BANKS SMITH 



dedicated with respect 

to the memory of 

Major-general Frederick Dent Grant 

united states army 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Chapter I. Indian and Dutch Period ... to 1674 

Pages 11-24, 

Chapter II. English Colonial and Revolutionary 

Period 1674-1783 

Pages 25-58. 

Chapter III. Period of the War of 1812 . . . 1812-1815 

Pages 59-77. 

Chapter IV. Mexican and Civil War Period . . 1846-1865 

Pages 78-85. 

Chapter V. Garrison Notes 1865-1913 

Pages 86-117. 

Chapter VI. Ferry Transportation in Four Cen- 
turies 1637-1913 

Pages 118-124. 

Chapter VII. The New York Arsenal . . . .1831-1913 

Pages 125-128. 

Chapter VIII. Religious Work and Influence. 

Pages 129-152. 

Chapter IX. Governor's Island Extension. 

Pages 153-156. 

Chapter X. Commanding Generals, Post Com- 
manders, British and American' 

Forces I755-I9i3 

Pages 157-169. 

Addenda — British Regiments on Governor's Is- 
land — H. M. 60th Foot— the 
King's Royal Rifle Corps. 

Pages 171-175. ^ : ■ 

The Post Headquarters Building. 
Pages 174-175- 

Epilogue. 

Pages 177-179. 



PREFACE 

TT SEEMS to be a beneficent arrangement of Nature that all 
great harbours are provided with small islands. These 
serve highly important purposes as breakwaters or stations for 
various official uses, and especially for Army and Navy pur- 
poses as ship yards and bases for defensive works and military 
supplies. 

Thus the harbour of Rio de Janeiro has Lage with its forts — 
Cobras, Santa Barbara and others; Naples, its Ischia and 
Capri; San Francisco has Angel Island and Alcatraz; St. 
Petersburg, Basil and Petropski Islands ; Montreal, St. Helen's 
and He Ronde ; Manila has Corregidor, our Eastern Gibraltar ; 
and Panama in the South, Naos, Perico and Flamenco. New 
York Harbour is well provided with these friendly aids to good 
National housekeeping, which, beginning with the lighthouse 
islands in the lower bay, and including the mighty Richmond 
with its quarantine attendants, sweep in graceful lines through 
the curving East River to where it debouches into the open 
Sound. Among these sentries which stand on guard wherever 
an open door invites attack is one, the fairest of them all, the 
"Smiling Garden of the Sovereigns of the Province," as the old 
Colonial Governors used to call it, which in its long career has 
done more smiling than frowning, the subject of this History, 
Governor's Island. 

"Pagganck" in Indian days, "Nutten" in Colonial Dutch and 
"Governor's" in English and American occupation — by every 
name it has been fair and sweet, and it deserves as well of the 
future as it has served well the past. 



PREFACE 

May the day never come when it shall lose its beauty and its 
dignity and sink to the level of mere commercialism, swarming 
with restless crowds on outing bent or disfiguring the noble ap- 
proach to our Metropolitan city by ranks of cheerless chimneys 
and a dismal waste of warehouses ! 

Governor's Island has stood in four centuries for that which 
is best in' our National life. It has represented authority and 
defense. The Dutch and English before us regarded it as a 
source of influence and power. Its nearness to the Metropolis 
gives it convenience ; its isolation bestows dignity and security. 
In addition to its value and importance in time of peace for the 
preservation of civic interests and in war for defense as a 
centre of administration, a depot for supplies and a receiving 
and training station, a value may be mentioned which as a 
principle ranks above the definite purposes already men- 
tioned. Historical continuity and veneration for persons and 
places of dignity are not valued as they should be by the 
American of today. It is needless to say how important 
these considerations are for the higher development of our 
National life. The writer does not know of any one place 
in America where opportunities for developing these charac- 
teristics of a high National life cluster as they do at Governor's 
Island. 

Here, for two hundred and seventy-five years, since Von 
Twiller and the Indians signed their Roman-Dutch agreement, 
authority has held the keys; here, for one hundred and fifty- 
six years, since the "Royal Americans" mounted guard in 
1756, the tramp of sentries has never ceased; here, since 1783. 
our flag has welcomed and dismissed the sun each day at 
reveille and retreat; here, gallant officers and fair ladies have 
lived and served and by their simple devotion to God and 
country have taught to others that great silent lesson of patri- 

6 



PREFACE 

otism which is the alphabet of the Army; here, have been re- 
ceived with dignified respect the representatives of the Powers 
of every land, who have returned to their homes with a better 
opinion of America because in seeing our greatest Port they 
have seen also Grovernor's Island with all it represents. Truly, 
this Island has served well the State. As a picture of our 
Past, as a living reality in our Present, for the development of 
our Future, it must be preserved and endowed with greater 
power and activity. 

The thought is not mere sentiment. It is practical patriotism. 
Our people need the object lesson which this military Station 
in New York can furnish. Washington has its Capitol, a pic- 
ture in stone and iron for the Nation. New York has its civic 
and mercantile buildings to inspire municipal pride and to 
encourage financial enterprise. Governor's Island is the one 
point in our vast City on which to centre a common patriotism. 
We have pride and enterprise strongly developed. Our pat- 
riotism which mounts to the sky in time of war lags sadly be- 
low in peace when it is most needed. If this book has any 
suggestion in its story of Governor's Island, it is of the im- 
portance of preserving inviolate this spot of National and 
Municipal interest, which through its long and honoured career 
has touched so many points in the history of the American 
Army and of the City of New York, and which today is a 
reminder to millions, as it watches o'er the Town, that the 
eternal vigilance of the Army is of fullest value to the State 
when every citizen is a patriot. Semper floreat. 

It has been found impossible to give the data in full of every 
organization and individual stationed here. The records avail- 
able are incomplete, and if they were not so to transcribe them 
in full would encumber these pages with a mass of details and 
not carry out the idea of the writer, which is to present a sim- 

7 



PREFACE 



pie picture of our Island in four centuries from a military 
point of view, with such touches of social life as can be gathered 
from various sources. 



The author desires to express his thanks to a number of 
friends for aid in writing this History, especially to Brigadier- 
.General George Andrews, The Adjutant-General of the Army, 
and to Colonel Herbert J. Slocum for valuable assistance, and 
to Captain Arthur F. Halpin for his kindness in preparing the 
illustrations. 

Governor's Island, New York Harbour. 1913. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 



(The spelling and capitalization in original papers, orders and reports are 

retained.)* 



Reference is made in the following pages to the authorities 
mentioned, with the acknowledgments of the author : 

Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York. 

Manual of the Common Council of the City of New York. 

Memorial History of the City of New York by Gen'l James 
Grant Wilson. 

History of Trinity Parish in the City of New York by the 
Rev'd Morgan Dix, D.D., Rector of Trinity Church. 

The Story of the Chapel of St. Cornelius the Centurion, Gov- 
ernor's Island, by Dr. Dix. 

Historic New York, Half Moon Series, by Blanche W. 
Bellamy. 

Tompkins Military Papers, by Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor 
of New York 1 807-1 817. 

Journal — Legislative Council of the Colony of New York. 

Colonial History of the State of New York. Brodhead. 

Medical History of Governor's Island, by Charles Page, Sur- 
geon, U.S.A., F. W. Elbrey, Asst. 

Original General and Special Garrison Order Book, 1814-15. 

Colden Papers. Lt.-Governor Colden. 

Clinton Papers. Governor Clinton. 

Adjutant General's Department Compilation. 

Circular No. 8 — Surgeon Genl's Office. 

* The profuse use of capital letters in the time of Washington, as ex- 
hibited in some of the Revolutionary Orders quoted in this History, may 
be defended on the ground of good usage at the period. Benjamin 
Franklin, as late as 1789, laments the new use coming then into vogue 
of the non-capitalization of the initial letters of all nouns. 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 

MSS. Minutes of Common Council subsequent to 1786, in 

Library of City Hall, New York. 
New York City in the War of 181 2. Guernsey. 
Memorial History of Staten Island. Colonel Ira K. Morris. 
Historical and Statistical Record of the University of the State 

of New York. F. B. Hough. 
New York Historical Society Publications. 
Lee Papers. 
Kemble's Journal. Lt.-Col. Stephen Kemble, Royal American 

Regt. 
New Amsterdam and its People. J. PI. Innes. 
Valentine's Manual. 
Lamb's History of New York. 
Historical Register U. S. Army. F. B. Heitman. 
Army List — British Forces, 1756, &c. (Official.) 



CHAPTER I. 

Indian and Dutch Period 

Of the occupation of Governor's Island by the Indians Httle 
is known except that they were here when the Dutch arrived 
and that they undoubtedly enjoyed its quiet retreats, as suc- 
ceeding generations of Dutch, English and American residents 
have done. That they were ready to part with it for what they 
deemed a fair consideration is evident from the deed of sale, 
as recorded, to Governor Wouter \'an T wilier in 1637, ^^'^'^ 
when we reflect that the Indians of Manahatas parted with 
their Island to JMinuit, Governor and Director-General of New 
Netherland, for sixty guilders (twenty-four dollars), wc must 
conclude that they made a shrewd bargain with Van Twiller 
for Governor's Island. The Indian name for the Island was 
"Pagganck," referring to the groves of hickory, oak and 
chestnut trees with which it was well covered. 

The Dutch rendered this name by "Nutten," and it was so 
called till the late Dutch and even the early English Colonial 
period, the term "Nutten," lingering in some cases into the 
Revolutionary times, although the nut trees that gave it that 
name had doubtless disappeared under the influence of the 
famous saw mill of which mention is frequently made in early 
times. The name of the Island was officially changed from 
"Nutten" to "Governor's" by Act of Legislature, March 29, 
1784. 

That the Dutch had really a right to hold New York is 
denied by Dr. Dix in his History of Trinity Church (Vol. I, 
p. 21), in which he points out that "the Dutch had no right by 
virtue of discovery, for the River and the Bay had been well 
known since Verrazano's voyage in 1524. They had no rights 
by virtue of Charter: three years before the voyage of Hud- 
son . . . the region had been doubly covered by patents 

IX 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

issued by King James to the North and South Virginia Com- 
panies, a royal donation based on the claim of England to the 
North American Mainland acquired by Jolin Cabot in 1497. 

The whole country was "preempted," as the Dutch very 
well knew, both by priority of discovery and formal occupation. 
Even if the Dutch had possessed a good title, a glance at the 
map will show that the position could not have been perma- 
nently maintained between the English settlements on the 
North and Virginia on the South : it was merely a question of 
time before inexorable laws must take their course." 

Woodrow Wilson in his "History of the American People" 
seems to hold an opposite view, regarding the claim of right as 
a pretext, but he acknowledges that under Colonel Nicolls, "no 
less a statesman than a soldier, New Netherland was within a 
year transformed into New York under laws which promised 
toleration and good government and which all sensible men 
accepted with satisfaction." 

The Dutch occupation of what is now New York, neverthe- 
less, conferred a lasting benefit upon the community in the 
importation of sturdy traits of character which are appreciable 
in some of its most distinguished families today. Architec- 
tural remains are naturally non-existent, except in the style of 
some modern adaptations, but the names of streets and locali- 
ties, such as Spuyten Duyvil, Corlaers Hook, Coenties Slip, 
Dutch and Van Dam Streets, Stuyvesant Square and St. 
Mark's-in-the-Bouewrie, where Petrus Stuyvesant lies buried, 
and many other names of like character, remind us of those 
days when the foundations of our present greatness were laid. 

The foundation of the settlement may be dated from 162 1, 
when the States-General of Holland gave the West India Com- 
pany its Charter. In 1623 the "New Netherlands," a stout 
Dutch sailing vessel, Cornelius Jacobs of Hoorn, Skipper, with 
thirty families came to this western Land of Promise. So sea- 
worthy was this good ship that she continued in active service 
for more than thirty years after this and brought doubtless a 
large proportion of the early Dutch settlers to this land. In 
1625 two more ships sailed from Holland laden with agricul- 



INDIAN AND DUTCH PERIOD 

tiiral implements, seeds for planting, 103 head of cattle, house- 
hold furniture and 200 settlers. Upon arrival in the harbour 
the cattle were landed on what is now Governor's Island. 

The West India Company was incorporated June 3, 162 1, 
through the efforts of William Usselinx to colonize the lands 
discovered by Hudson. In addition to the expectation of 
revenue to be derived from the Colony was the idea of estab- 
lishing a naval base for Dutch vessels in the war with Spain. 
"In 1621, the year of its establishment, the Company obtained 
a grant or patent from the States Generall for the setting and 
Planting a Colony here and was called the New Netherlands 
and made one of its first settlements near the mouth of Hud- 
son's River upon an Island called Nutten Island." 

From Colonial Documents — London. 

The first permanent Colony upon Manhattan Island was 
made by Peter Minuit in 1626 and the first act of settlement 
was to acquire land from the owners. Governor Peter Minuit 
made a bargain with the Indians as already mentioned, estab- 
lishing thus early in what was to be the financial centre of the 
world a basis of real estate valuation. 

The prudent Van Twiller followed the precedent set by 
Minuit with careful attention to comparative values and so in 
1637 our Island passed forever from the control of the original 
Race, the hut was abandoned, the tent was folded and 
stowed in tlie canoe, the stealthy tread of the moccasin gave 
place to the heavy tramp of the wooden shoe, "Pagganck" be- 
came "Nutten" and a momentous page was opened in tlie 
history of the subject of this memorial as tribal existence 
yielded to National life. The flag of Holland is the first to 
proclaim a National occupation, to be succeeded as time goes 
on by that of England and then by that of England's daughter, 
grown too big and free for Georgian leading strings. 

It is not the purpose of the author to point a moral to adorn 
this tale. The great fact stands out in considering the story 
of tliis spot, as in larger issues, that National life depends upon 
its standard of just dealings for continued existence. This is 

13 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

why the great Roman Empire fell and why little Switzerland 
endures. We may add many stars to the canton of our flag, 
but they must be kept undimmed, for even a just cause needs 
strong battalions. 

The author trusts this simple tale of our Island will be of 
interest to many and that the record of the illustrious Past 
will inspire to even greater successes in the future. Before 
going on to review events under the flags of Holland, England 
and our own country, let us give a thought to those early in- 
habitants who had no flag save the waving branch on the trees 
which gave the name of Pagganck in the days before American 
history began. 

The Indians who inhabited Pagganck Island and the Island 
of Manhattan (named from them) were of the Manhattan 
tribe, belonging to the Wappinger Confederacy. Geographi- 
cally and linguistically they were intermediate between the 
Delawares to the south and the Mohegans who lived in other 
parts of New York State. 

Their principal village was Nappeckamack (now Yonkers). 
Their fort was Nipinicksen on Spuyten Duyvil Creek. From 
this point they sailed out to attack Hudson on his return voy- 
age down the River that now bears his name — a quarter of a 
century before their sale of Pagganck (Nutten, Governor's) 
Island to Wouter Van Twiller. 

The illustration (p. i6) is from a rare engraving, an "ancient 
engraving, executed in Holland," as its title sets forth. It 
shows Fort Amsterdam erected in 1623 but finished as de- 
picted in the engraving in 1635 by Governor Wouter Van 
Twiller, first Lord of Governor's Island. This engraving is 
believed to be the only portrayal of the Island under the Indian 
occupation as indicated by the tents and huts upon its shores 
and the fleet of canoes plying between their Pagganck Island 
and the mainland.* 

*This engraving has been the subject of considerable discussion. As 
it appears (p. 16) Fort Amsterdam is on the East side of Manhattan 
Island, whereas it should be upon the West. J. H. Innes holds that 
the reversal is due to the fact that the original view was taken from the 

14 



INDIAN AND DUTCH PERIOD 

The deed of sale to Van Twiller extracted from the ancient 
records of the Manual of the Corporation of the City of New 
York is given in full, as befits its importance in an historical 
account of this Island and also for its interest as a document 
of the period. 

We can imagine the effect upon Cakapeteyno and Pehiwas, 
the agents of their tribe in the sale to the Governor, of the 
sonorous phrases of the Roman-Dutch law and of the impres- 
sive circumstances with which the ceremony was doubtless 
invested. Whether the pipe of peace was passed around or 
not we are not informed, but doubtless these original pro- 
prietors were well content with the "certain parcels of goods" 
which they acknowledged "to their full and grateful satis- 
faction to have received into their hands and power," and in 
such simple form of transportation as the ancient engraving 
portrays they doubtless glided away to fish in other waters 
and enjoy their parcels of goods on other shores. 

Colonel Ira K. Morris in his "Memorial History of Staten 
Island" says that wampum at this period was estimated as fol- 
lows: "With the Dutch Governors six beads of the white or 
four of the purple were equal in value to one penny. This 
currency was used by Europeans for many years after their 
settlement here. Both the Dutch and English recognized it as 
currency for a long time. In 1683 the schoolmaster at Flat- 
bush was paid his salary in wheat "at wampum value." In 
1693 the ferriage for passage from New York to Brooklyn 
was "eight stuyvers each in wampum." 

Colonel Morris points out the advantage the Governor's 
Island Indians had over those of Staten Island in making a 
sale of their land to the Dutch in that "on the adjoining Island 
(Staaten Eylandt) the Indians lived a most miserable life 
from the time of the arrival of the Dutch. War and blood- 
Long Island shore by means of a plain camera obscura and that the 
proper orientation was not restored when the engraving was made in 
Holland. The reader who desires to correct the error has only to hold 
the picture before a mirror, when he will, upon reflection, perceive that 
he has the proper view. 

15 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

shed followed almost constantly. At times the whites were 
murdered or driven away. At others, the Indians perished. 
The Indians gradually decreased in number and power, and 
their dust to the very last mingled with the earth where their 
feet had trod. The last of the Raritans (or Aquehongas) on 
Staten Island passed away about 1826." 

It is a cause for gratification that our Island began its offi- 
cial career in 1637 by honourable purchase from its owners. 
During its documentary history of two hundred and seventy- 
six years not a single transaction can be found of a question- 
able character.* Under the three flags of Holland, England 
and America, as well as under the curling smoke of the wig- 
wam, honour and justice have been the keynote of its existence 
and the glory of its history. 

*The alleged diversion of funds by Lord Cornbury in 1702 must be 
mentioned as an unfortunate exception to this statement. 



w 



2 T) 



> 



5 S 



m 33 O 



2; 53 



M Cl hrt 




ORIGINAL DEED 

OF 

GOVERNOR'S ISLAND 

BETWEEN THE 

DIRECTOR AND COUNCIL OF NEW NETHERLANDS 

AND 

CAKAPETEYNO AND PEHIWAS 
JUNE 16, 1637 

WouTER Van Twiller 

DIRECTOR-GENERAL 



[from the manual of the corporation of the CITV of new YORK] 



ORIGINAL DEED 

"The Director and Council of New Netherlands residing 
on the Island of Alanahatas in the Fort x^msterdam under the 
Government of their High and Mighty Lords, the States Gen- 
eral of the United Netherlands and the privileged West India 
Company, at their Chambers at Amsterdam, by these presents 
do publish and declare that on this day, the date underwritten 
before us, in their own person appeared and presented them- 
selves, Cakapeteyno and Pehiwas as owners and declared that 
voluntarily and deliberately at the special charge of the Rulers 
and with the approbation of the Community for, and in con- 
sideration of, certain parcels of goods which they, the said 
appearers, before the passing of these presents, acknowledged 
to their full and grateful satisfaction to have received into 
their hands and power, they in their rightful "ownership have 
transported, ceded, given over and conveyed and by these 
presents they do transport, cede, give over and convey to tlie 
behoof of Wouter Van Twiller, Director General of New 
Netherlands, the Nooten Island (Nut Island), in the Indian 
tongue called Pagganck, situate over against the Island Mana- 
hatas between the North and East Rivers of New Netherlands, 
and that with all the action right (and) equity which to them 
the said appearers in their said quality appertained, constitut- 
ing and substituting the aforesaid Wouter Van Twiller in 
their place and stead in the real and actual possession thereof, 
and at the same time giving to the said Wouter Van Twiller 
or to his successors full and irrevocable power, authority and 
special license, taiiquam actor ct procurator in rem snain ac 
propriam the aforesaid land peaceably to possess, inhabit, 
cultivate and occupy, and also therewith and thereof to do, 
trade, and dispose in the same manner in which he might do 
with his own lands honestly and lawfully without their the 
granters any longer any part, right, action or authority what- 
ever, whether of ownership charge or jurisdiction, having, 
reserving or saving but to the behoof as aforesaid, now and 
forever from the same resisting and denouncing, abstaining 

19 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

and withdrawing, promising moreover not only by this their 
transport and whatever may have been done by virtue thereof 
forever by these presents, firmly, inviolably and irrevocably to 
maintain faithful and execute, but also the said Island, against 
all and everyone to deliver and maintain, free from all de- 
mands, prosecutions and incumbrances that thereto may be 
instituted by anyone — all in good faith, without fraud and 
deceit. 

These presents are confirmed with our usual signatures and 
our seal thereto suspended. 

Done on the aforesaid Island of Manahatas the sixteenth 
day of June, 1637. 

WAS UNDERSIGNED 

Jacobus Corler 
Andrius Hudde 
Jacobus Bontyn 
Claus Van Elslant." 

The "certain parcels of goods" mentioned in this document 
are believed to have been an axe head or two, a string of 
beads and a few nails. 

General James Grant Wilson in the year 1875 in conver- 
sation with her Majesty the Queen of Holland asked her 
whether she did not think sixty guilders a very small consider- 
ation for Manahatas Island, to which her Majesty promptly 
replied: "If the savages had received more for their land 
they would simply have drunk more fire water," which reflec- 
tion will reconcile us to the very small amount involved in the 
"parcels of goods," for which our fair Island was signed away. 
However, if the Dutch made a good bargain in 1637, they did 
not do so well in 1667 when by the treaty of Breda they re- 
ceived Surinam as an equivalent for what is now New York!* 

* The Articles of Capitulation for the surrender of Surinam (Dutch 
Guiana) were drawn up 6th May, 1667, and state that "Peace between 
the States and England consists in the absolute abolition of all pretence 
on either side — each to remain masters of what they were in possession of 
the 10/20 of May 1667." 

20 



INDIAN AND DUTCH PERIOD 

The doughty Van Twiller had arrived from Holland in "De 
Zoutberg" in 1633, bringing with him 104 soldiers, the first 
military force sent to the Province. 

Van Twiller is believed to have been the only private owner 
of Governor's Island. After his departure there were found 
"on Nut Island, containing about 80 morgens,* a house, 21 
pairs of goats, together with various goods and chattels." 
The Island was then directly occupied by the Government. 

We do not read of any fortifications in those early days on 
Nutten Island, Van Twiller's soldiers being undoubtedly quar- 
tered in Fort Amsterdam, but in 1639 the saw mill on the 
Island was leased by the "Honorable, Wise and Right prudent, 
Mr. William Kieft" to Evert Bischop, Siebout Claesen and 
Harman Bastiensen. They were to pay five hundred mer- 
chantable or sound planks, one-half pine and the other oak and 
to saw not less than 65 to the bulk. 

We read in an old record that this saw mill was probably 
worked by the tide in the River (Buttermilk Channel). Peter 
Stuyvesant found this mill completely ruined and useless, and 
in January 1648 he and the Council resolved that the best 
interests of the Company required that it be dismantled by 
removing the iron work from it by burning the mill. 

J. H. Innes in his "New Amsterdam and Its People" states 
that the machinery for a saw mill arrived from Holland about 
1626. "This mill was worked by wind power after the Hol- 
land fashion and was erected on the shores of Nutten — now 
Governor's — Island, a situation which will seem the less singu- 
lar if one calls to mind not only the facilities for floating logs 
to the spot from the neighbouring shores but also the one hun- 
dred acres and more on the Island itself.* 

The ancient engraving (p. 16) shows a windmill near Fort 
Amsterdam. In 163 1 a windmill stood on Heere Straat 
(Broadway) near what is now Courtlandt Street. Governor 

* In Valentine's Manual we read that Nutten Island contained about 
160 acres of land, an interesting fact in connection with the restored area 
amounting (191 3) in all to 173 acres. "Morgen" is a word of Dutch origin 
denoting a land measure of two acres. 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

Van Twiller began the enlargement of Fort Amsterdam at 
Bowling Green in 1633. This Fort was 300 x 250 feet, with 
stone bastions. It contained within the walls the Governor's 
House, used for official and social purposes, and a stone Gar- 
rison Chapel, ^^2 X 52 feet in size. 



Lords of Governor's Island ' . 

Dutch and English Colonial Governors 

WouTER Van Twiller, Appointed April, 1633 

Bought Governor's Island i6th June, 1637 

William Kieft, Appointed Mch. 28, 1638 

Petrus Stuyvesant May 11, 1647 

Richard Nicolls Sept. 8, 1664 

Francis Lovelace Aug. 17, 1668 

Cornelis Evertse, Jr., and a Council of War, 

Aug. (N. S.) 12, 1673 

Anthony Colve Sept. 19, 1673 

Edmund Andros Nov. (N. S.) 10, 1674 

Anthony Brockholles, Commander-in-Chief .Nov. 16, 1677 

Sir Edmund Andros, Knight Aug. 7, 1678 

Anthony Brockhales, Commander-in-Chief, 

Jany. (N. S.) 13, 1681 

Thomas Dongan Aug. 27, 1683 

Sir Edmund Andros, Knight Aug. 11, 1688 

Francis Nicholson, Lieut-Governor Oct. 9, 1688 

Jacob Leisler June 3, 1686 

Harry Sloughter Mch. 19, 1691 

Richard Ingolsby, Commander-in-Chief July 26, 1691 

Benjamin Fletcher Aug. 30, 1692 

22 



INDIAN AND DUTCH PERIOD 

The Earl of Bellomont April 13, 1698 

John Nanfan, Lieut.-Governor May 17, 1699 

The Earl of Bellomont July 24, 1700 

Colonel William Smith \ Mch. 5, 1701 \ 

Colonel Abraham De Peyster >- to V Council 
Colonel Peter Schuyler ) May 19, 1701 ) 

John Nanfan, Lieut.-Governor May 19, 1701 

Lord Cornbury May 3, 1702 

Lord Lovelace Dec. 18, 1708 

Peter Schuyler, President May 6, 1709 

Richard Ingolsby, Lieut.-Governor May 9, 1709 

Peter Schuyler, President May 25, 1709 

Richard Ingolsby, Lieut.-Governor June i, 1709 

Gerardus Beekman, President April 10, 1710 

Robert Hunter June 14, 1710 

Peter Schuyler, President July 21, 1710 

William Burnet Sept. 17, 1720 

John Montgomerie April 15, 1728 

Rip Van Dam, President July i, 1731 

William Cosby Aug. i , 1732 

George Clarke, President Mch. 10, 1736 

George Clarke, Lieut.-Governor Oct. 30, 1736 

George Clinton Sept. 2, 1743 

Sir Danvers Osborne, Bart Oct. 10, 1753 

James De Lancey, Lieut.-Governor Oct. 12, 1755 

Sir Charles Hardy, Knight Sept. 3, 1755 

James De Lancey, Lieut.-Governor June 3, 1757 

Cadwallader Colden, President Aug. 4, 1760 

Cadwallader Colden, Lieut.-Governor Aug. 8, 1761 

Robert Monckton Oct. 26, 1761 

Cadv^allader Colden, Lieut.-Governor Nov. 18, 1761 

Robert Monckton June 14, 1762 

23 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Cadwallader Colden^ Lieut.-Governor June 28, 1763 

Sir Henry Moore, Bart Nov. 13, 1765 

Cadwallader Colden, Lieut.-Governor Nov. 12, 1769 

Earl of Dunmore Oct. 19, 1770 

William Tryon July 9, 1771 

Cadwallader Colden, Lieut.-Govemor April 7, 1774 

William Tryon June 28, 1775 

James Robertson ) Mch. 23, 1780 

Andrew Elliott, Lieut.-Governor f April 17, 1783 

Military Governors, not recognized by the 
State of New York. 




^t 



CHAPTER II. 

English Colonial and Revolutionary Period 
1674-1783 

In 1698 the Island was set aside by the Assembly as being 
"part of the Denizen of His Majestie's Fort at New York for 
the benefit and accommodation of his Majestie's Governors 
for the time being," and hence it came to be familiarly called 
"The Governor's Island." In the course of time the word 
"The" has been eliminated from the title by common usage. 
Some authorities dispense with the possessive apostrophe, but 
this use has not been generally adopted.* An example is found 
in the use of "The," as referred to, in a letter from Governor 
Tryon to the Earl of Dartmouth, dated 5th September, 1775, 
in which he says: 

"The City has remained quiet . . . Fresh provisions are 
to be delivered on the Governor's Island for the Asia." 

The later Governors in some cases leased the Island for 
their own profit. There is a tradition that Governor Clinton 
leased the Island for a race course to a Dr. Price who built a 
hotel in 1784 and that horse races were run upon it in 1784-5. 
The account given by F. B. Hough in the Historical and Sta- 
tistical Record of the University of the State of New York is 
authentic. He says: 

"By Act of March 31, 1790, for the encouragement of edu- 
cation. Governor's Island was granted to the Regents unless 
needed for Military purposes. The Committee consisted of 
Genl Schuyler, Mr L'Hommedieu and Mr Benson. It was 
leased to Mr John Price for twenty one years at an annual 
rental of £93 with a deduction for taxes." However, this was 
not to last long, for, as the Report goes on to state, "in 1794 
Commissioners were appointed to erect fortifications, works 
were begun on Governor's Island and the Regents' title was 
voided." 

♦The Eastern Department in official papers has for some time past dis- 
continued the use of the apostrophe. 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Other works cooperating later with the fortifications of 
Governor's Island may be mentioned as throwing light upon 
the progress of military art in the early days of the Province. 
Fort Amsterdam (at Bowling Green) not having been com- 
pleted up to the time of Van Twiller's arrival in 1633, the 
structure was finished in 1635.* A barracks for tlie newly 
arrived soldiers was built within the walls, while to the south 
was erected the (garrison) Church in Governor Keift's time; 
1642. The principal gate opened upon Bowling Green and 
was guarded by a small redoubt called a horn, which many 
think stood just where the present enclosed area now is. In 
1664 when the English took New York the name of the fort 
was changed to Fort James, later to Fort Anne and then to 
Fort George. 

In 1667 Governor Nicolls referred to Bedlow's Island as 
the "largest of the Oyster Islands." It received its name from 
Isaac Bedlow, patentee under Governor Nicolls. Fort Wood 
was erected on this Island in 1841 at a cost of $21,300. It 
mounted 77 guns and accommodated a garrison of 350 men. 
This was built upon the site of the first fortifications erected 
about the year 1800. 

Governor Lovelace in 1669 issued a commission for Isaac 
Bedlow (Bedloo) as follows, and a year later conferred special 
privileges upon Love Island, which later became known as 
Bedlow's Island and is so called today : 

Commission for Mr. Isaac Bedloo 

TO BEE CaPT. of A FFOOT-COMPANY IN THIS CiTY. 



1669. By Vertue of ye Commission & Authority unto 
mee given by his Royall Highness James Duke of Yorke 
and Albany &c — I doe Constitute & Appoint you Isaac 
Bedloo to bee Captn of a Foot Company Lysted or to bee 
Lysted wth in this City and precincts. You are to take into 
yor Charge & care ye said Company as Captaine thereof 
& duely to Exercize both yor inferiour Ofiicrs & Souldyers 
in Armes & to use your best care, skill & Endeavour to 
keep them in good Order & Discipline; hereby requiring 

* See illustration p. i6. 

26 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

all inferiour Officers and Souldyers under yor Command 
to obey you as their Captaine ; * * * * according to ye 
Discipline of Warr. Given under my Hand & Scale ye 
irst day of [ ] in ye 2itli yeare of his Maties Reigne, 
Anno Domini 1669. 

Francis Lovelace. 

From Minutes of the Executive Council 
of the Province of New York. 

On August 10, 1670, Lovelace gave the new name of "Love 
Island" to a "Certaine Little Island in ye Bay neare this Citty 
comonly called Oyster Island" for which Bedlow had had a 
"patent graunted by Col Richard Nicolls and the Island was 
made a "Priviledged place where no Warrant of Attachmt or 
arrest shall be made of force or served unless it be by ye 
Governors Speciall Warrant in Cases of breach of ye peace or 
Cryminall Mattrs." 

Ellis Island, called at one time Gibbet Island on account of 
the execution of a number of pirates upon it, called also Buck- 
ing Island in 1674, and Oyster Island in 1808, had Fort Gibson 
built upon it in 1841 at a cost of $5,096, mounting 15 guns 
manned by a garrison of 80 men. 

As early as 1809 the Secretary of War reports on Bedlow's 
Island a mortar battery, and on Ellis Island an open barbette 
battery for heavy ordnance. 

A council was held at Fort William Henry on the 26th of 
September, 1691, at which it was decreed that Nutten Island 
and the so-called Oyster Islands, viz, Bedlow's, Ellis and a 
third (smaller) Island now submerged, be added to the County 
of New York, whereupon Colonel Cortlandt and Chidley 
Brooks, Esq., brought back the bill to the Assembly desiring 
to except Nutten Island from the provisions of the bill inas- 
much as it "belongs to his Majestie's Fort and Garrison." 
This decision being sent up again to the Fort and approved by 
the Governor and Council, the bill was finally sent to England 
for the King's approval and it was confirmed May 2nd, 1708, 
Nutten Island being excepted from the County, but later by 
the Montgomery Charter of 1750 Governor's Island was made 

27 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

part of the City of New York and by act of March 7, 1788, of 
the County of New York, 

In this connection it is interesting to note the more romantic 
way in which our sister (Staten) Island gained her alhance 
with the Empire State, 

Colonel Morris in his History of Staten Island states that 
under the Dutch rule Staten Island taxes were collected by 
the New Jersey authorities without protest. When the Eng- 
lish came into power a number of the settlers on the Island 
refused to pay taxes altogether. 

In 1668, the trouble between the interested parties increas- 
ing, James, Duke of York, who had been made by his brother, 
King Charles II, the nominal ruler of the English Provinces 
in America, decided that "all Islands in the Harbour of New 
York which could be circumnavigated in twenty-four hours 
should belong to the Colony of New York ; otherwise, to New 
Jersey," whereupon Captain Christopher Billopp, commander 
of a little vessel at the port of Perth Amboy, made the 
voyage around Staten Island with an hour or so to spare. 
It is said that he covered the deck of his vessel with 
empty barrels, thus gaining considerable sailing power. His 
reward from the Duke was the present of a tract of land of 
1163 acres. 

The village of Tottenville now stands upon this tract. In 
spite of the settlement made by the Duke of York the question 
of State ownership still remained more or less open between 
New York and New Jersey until it was finally adjusted to 
mutual satisfaction in 1833. 

The English Colonial Governors Sloughter, Fletcher and 
Cornbury, from 1691 to 1702 urged the fortification of New 
York Harbour. All that was secured was £1500 for defences 
at the Narrows, which sum, a large one at that day, was ex- 
pended by Lord Cornbury for a pleasure house on Governor's 
Island to which he and other Governors were wont to retire 
to "free themselves from business." The picturesque title it 
bore described it well, no doubt — "The Smiling Garden of the 
Sovereigns of the Province." Governor Clarke in 1738 again 

28 



EXGLISII COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

urged the importance of proper defences. Lord Loudoun's 
arrival with a large fleet in 1756, however, allayed fears of 
invasion and until June 28, 1775, Governor's Island was suc- 
cessively the perquisite and residence of Governors Hardy, 
Delancy, Golden, Aloore, Dunmore and Tryon.* Other Gov- 
ernors leased it during their terms of office, as we learn inci- 
dentally from a communication to Lord Dunmore. 

In 1770 Richard Deane petitioned Lord Dunmore in the 
following plaintive strain: "Your Lordship's Petitioner most 
humbly showeth that he hath rented an Island called the 
Governor's Island from his Honour ***** that he 
hath been at great expence cultivating said Island * * * * 
that your Lordship's Petitioner hath been led by Ruleing hand 
of kind Providence to be your Lordship's first tenant in 
America * * * * And your Petitioner as in duty bound 
will not only ever pray — ^but will pay your Lordship's Rent 
very punctually." It does not appear from what has come 
down to posterity just what Richard Deane desired to obtain 
from his noble landlord, but let us hope the sentiment with 
which he closed his appeal had the desired effect. 

Lord Cornbury came into possession of the Island as Gov- 
ernor of the Province of New York in 1702 and caused :£i500 
to be raised by various assessments, among the many enumer- 
ated being a "tax of Five shillings and six pence for every per- 
son that Wares a Perl Ring: Every Bachelor above the Age 
of twenty-five years two shillings and five pence," and used 
that money, according to Lt.-Governor Cadwallader Colden, 
and as above noted, to build a pleasure house for himself and 
succeeding Governors. 

It is not known on what part of the Island this Governor's 
House was situated. It seems most reasonable to suppose 
that Lord Cornbury chose the finest situation for elevation and 
general outlook in the middle of the Island where the present 
Fort Jay now stands. The building now used for Post Head- 
quarters was called "the Governor's House" as late as 1840, 

* Governor Kieft, who succeeded Van Twiller, had a plantation on the 
Island which he leased at an annual rental of 150 pounds of tobacco. 

29 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

but there appears no other reason than that to suppose it was 
built by Lord Cornbury. 

An oil painting from the collection of the late Revd. Charles 
Hoffman, D.D., now the property of his daughter, Mrs. J. Van 
Vecliten Olcott of New York, marked "Governor's Island, 
1750 — F. Willa," shows a splendid castle in French renaissance 
style upon the N. E. part of the Island where the Post Head- 
quarters building now stands. This building is so massive 
and extensive that it appears incredible it should have disap- 
peared and left no trace behind. The presence in the channel 
of many Dutch vessels (1750) and other apparent inconsisten- 
cies lead to a belief that the artist used his imagination to an 
extent not justified by the facts in the case. 

The pomp and circumstance attending the office of Gover- 
nor at this period and the formality of official language are 
well illustrated in an Address presented to Lord Cornbury 
upon his arrival. This is taken from the Minutes of the 
Common Council of the City of New York, published by 
authority : 

To His Excellency the Right Honble Eduard Lord Corn- 
bury Capt Genii and Governour in Chiefe of his Majesties 
Province of New Yorke and Territories depending thereon 
in America and Vice Admiral of the same, &c.* 

The Humble Address of the Mayor Al[d]ermen and 
Commonality of the Citty of New Yorke 
(486) May itt please your Excellency 
In the Name and on the behalfe of the Freemen and 
Inhabitants of this his Majesties Corporation and Citty 
of New Yorke Wee doe heartily Congratulate your 
Lordships safe Arrival in this your Government & as 
Wee Cannot Entertain to Gratefull A sence of his 
Maje^^ties Roy all bounty * * in making soe Excellent 
and prudent A Choice in sending your Lordship A per- 
son of so great and Noble birth Skillfull in the Art of 
Warr * * to secure us from the * * Enemy Abroad 
and Cause us to flourish with * * Tranquility att 
home * * soe Shall we Studiously Endeavour to 

* Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, succeeded in 
1709 to the title of his father, Henry, 2nd Earl of Clarendon. 

30 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

Demonstrate and Express that Gratitude in our ready 
Complyance with Everything in our power which Your 
Lordship * * shall judge Necessary and Contrihute to 
his Majesties' Service and Honour * * * That God in 
his Infinite Mercy and goodness will Vouchsafe to bless 
his Majesty with A long And happy Reign Over us 
* * * is the fervent prayer of 

Your Lordship's most dutifull 
May, 1702. humble servants. 

Governor Cornbury, twenty-second Lord of Governor's 
Island, built an official residence here in the early years of the 
1 8th century according to good authority, but no records of it 
are to be found.''' 

That the cost of living was high in New York in the time 
of Cornbury as now we learn from an order published for the 
benefit of officers and soldiers by the Common Council of the 
City of New York held at the City Hall on Tuesday the 26th 
day of May Anno Dom 1702, at which were present 
Thomas Noell, Esqr., Mayor, 

Sampson Shelton Broughton, Esqr., Recorder and ten 
Aldermen. 

The order is as follows : 

Whereas his most sacred Majestyf Among many Other 
princely favours Shown to this Province hath sent Over 
during the Late Warr A Considerable Number of forces 
to protect and secure us from the Insults of our Enemies 
the French of Canada and their Indians * * * And 
Whereas all manner of Provisions and Api)arrell arc much 
dearer in this Citty than in England whereby the said 
Soldiers Cannot Conveniently subsist of their pay only, 
but the most of them being Tradesmen which had they 
A Liberty to Exercise within this Corporation itt would 
not Only Enable them to live [492] Comfortably but Im- 
pede their dissertion and Encourage them /;/ tlicin in their 
duty, * * And Whereas by the i»y Laws of this Cor- 
poration No person Whatever Can Keep Shop or Exer- 
cise Any handy Craft Trade or Occupation but such as 
are Freeman thereof, Therefore this Court doe hereby 

•See p. 29. t With reference to capitalization see note on p. 9. 

31 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Resolve and Order that all the Officers and Soldiers (who 
are his Majesties Natural born Subjects belonging to his 
Majesties Garrison Forte William Henry* within this 
Citty be made Freemen of this Corporation Gratis & Or- 
dered that the Mayor Recorder and Aldermen Administer 
unto them the Oath of A Freeman and Grant them Cer- 
tificates thereof under the scale of the Citty and that the 
Town Gierke Register their Names as Freemen Accord- 
ingly Any former Law to the Contrary in Anywise Not- 
withstanding. 

The provisions of this humane regulation were extended, 
as far as possible, to the troops later stationed on Governor's 
Island. 

In 1 710 large bodies of Palatines were sent to America and 
it was decided by the Colonial Authorities that Nutten Island 
was the "properest place to put them," and two carpenters, 
Johannes Hebon and Peter Williamse, were ordered to "wait 
on the Presidentf to Nutten Island at two in the afternoon with 
respect to Building huts" for the Exiles, Governor Hunter 
immediately established special Courts of Judicature "because 
the said Island lyeth not within the body of any County of this 
Province and in noe wise subject to the Jurisdiction of any of 
the Courts that are established within the same." 

It is stated that from seven to ten thousand of these exiles 
were encamped here at one time. They were later sent up the 
Hudson to Greene and Columbia Counties, where their de- 
scendants may be found to this day. 

Governor Cosby during his office used Governor's Island 
for a game preserve. In 1738 the Legislature passed an act to 
preserve the breed of English pheasants in this colony. The 
Act declares that "whereas the late Governor (Cosby) did 
place about one half dozen couple of English pheasants upon 
Nutten Island and pinioned them to the end that they might 
remain there to propagate their species with a view that their 
increase would spread from there and stock the country with 
their kind ; and whereas the said fowls not only have increased 
vastly upon the said Island but many of them have already 

* The Fort at Bowling Green, t Peter Schuyler. 

32 



f ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

spread over to Nassau (Long Island) and in all probability- 
will soon stock the country if people are restrained from de- 
stroying them for a few years, the present Governor being also 
desirous that the whole Colony may be stocked with these 
birds — it is enacted that no birds shall be killed nor eggs taken 
for one year."* So from the time the 103 head of cattle were 
landed on Pagganck Island from the "New Netherlands" in 
1623 and Wouter Van Twiller had his 21 pairs of goats in 
1637 and the Government in 1738 went into the business of 
pheasant farming, down to the present day, when the squirrels 
introduced by Major-General Nelson A. Miles in 1895 are 
still under official protection, our Island has maintained a 
creditable reputation for interest in animal life. 

The Governors of tliat period, however, took thought for 
more important matters than the propagation of valuable 
birds, as we learn from Governor Clarke's speech of 5th Sep- 
tember, 1738, in which he strongly recommends fortifications. 

Addressing the Legislature the 15th of April, 1741, he said: 
"There is great cause to apprehend a speedy rupture with 
France. Your situation ought therefore to awaken you to see 

the importance of erecting batteries in proper places 

and one at Red Hook to prevent the enemy landing upon 
Governor's Island." Governor Clinton, addressing the As- 
sembly April 17th, 1744, also urged action to prevent the 
enemy landing any force or artillery on Nutten Island. 

The first mention of troops on Governor's Island is in con- 
nection with Alajor-General William Pepperell's Regiment as 
follows : 

"New York, June the 3rd, 1755. 
Rec'd of the TTonorable James l)e Lansea, Esq., the 
sum of Three Pounds, fourteen shillings and nine pence 
for five cords and three quarters of Oak wood for tlie use 
of Sir. Wm. Pepperell's Regiment encamped on Nutten 
Island in full pr. Me ben hildreth." 

It is interesting to note that this Major-General Sir William 
Pepperell was an American Soldier, born in Kittery, Maine, 

* From "Social Life under the Georges," by E. Singleton. 

33 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

in 1696. In 1726 Pepperell was made Colonel of Militia and 
in 1730 a Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. 

In 1745 he was Commander-in-chief of the New England 
force of 4000 men which, assisted by a British Squadron under 
Commodore Peter Warren, captured the French fortress of 
Louisburg. For his services Pepperell was created a baronet, 
the only New Englander so honoured. He received the rank 
of Lieutenant-General in 1759. 

General James Grant Wilson and John Fiske say of Pep- 
perell that "the greater names of Washington and the Revo- 
lutionary generals have eclipsed that of Pepperell, but it should 
not be forgotten that he did more than any other man to pre- 
pare the army that was afterward to achieve American inde- 
pendence." 

A later reference to the regiment of Sir William is found 
in a bill for straw under date of Aug. 23, 1755, when it was 
stationed on Governor's Island : 
James Delansea, Esq., 

To Cornelius Tiebout. 
To 322 bundles straw for Gene'l Pepparill's Redgement, 
@ 4 d. is" 7" 4- 

The following orders, taken from the certified minutes of 
the Common Council, make mention of the Military Establish- 
ment on Governor's Island in official records. 

At a Common Council held at the City Hall of the said City 
on Saturday the 28th day of August, Anno Dom. 1756, 

(462) 

Mr. Mayor Informed this board that Collo. Young in 
the name of Collo. Stanwich Desired that this Corporation 
would be pleased to advance and furnish his IMajesties' 
forces on Nutten Island with Straw and wood during 
their Stay there, whereupon this board having Considered 
the Same Do agree that this board Do advance on the 
Credit of the Government a Sum not exceeding fifty 
pounds for the purpose aforesaid. 

Governor Hardy as early as 1756 saw the strategical im- 
portance of Governor's Island and wrote as follows : 

34 



ENGLISH COLOXTAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

Governor Hardy to the Lords of Trade. 

Fort George, New York 

27 October. 1756. 

:{: Hi :iJ :J: * * * * * 

It will be highly proper to put this Province into a 
State of Defence from any attack by Sea. * * * Some 
heavy cannon should be mounted upon Nutten Island on 
the Ground that if the enemy should attack the City with 
a fleet they will make themselves masters of it from 
whence they can easily bombard the City. 

References to a Colonial Regiment styled the Royal Ameri- 
cans are found in the following orders. It will be noticed that 
the date is twenty years preceding the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence : 

Common Councill, 
City Hall, Oct. 19, 
No. Anno Domini, 1756. 

1345 

Warrant issued. 

Order'd the Like of Mr. Christopher Bancker or his 
order the Sum of Nine pounds two shillings in full for 
the Like sum by him advanced and paid for his fire wood 
for the use of the Royall Americans on Nutten Island as 
per his said Account Audited by this board and allowed of. 

Meeting of Common Councill, 
No. City Hall, Nov. 8, 1756. 

1346 
Warrant issued. 

Ordered that Mr. Recorder issue his warrant to the 
Treasurer of the City to pay to Jacob Bremington or his 
order the sum of five pounds four shillings in full of his 
account for Straw by him provided for the Royal Ameri- 
cans. 

Ten years later we read in Captain John Montressor's Jour- 
nal of further plans for the fortification of Governor's Island. 
Captain Montressor was styled the "Chief Engineer of 
America," and he reports as follows under date of Sept. 9, 
1766: 

35 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

Delivered to the Commander in Chief my Report. 
Made my design 'on a Scale of 200 feet to the inch for 
fortifying Governor's or Nutten Island." 

And again: 

May 12, 1767. 
On return from inspection at Albany, May 12th, a fair 
wind & the 13th at York. The whole Regiment was 
found encamped on the Island, the 22nd and two Bat- 
talions of Royal Americans. Encamped outside of ye 
Stockade also the 44th." 

This Report indicates the presence of two Regiments in ad- 
dition to the Royal Americans and makes incidental reference 
to a stockade which probably enclosed the main Garrison. 

In Jared Sparks' Life of Washington we learn something of 
the formation of this Regiment, the first one of whicli there is 
record by name on Governor's Island. 

"Lord Loudoun as Commander of the forces in America," 
he says, "was empowered to raise a Regiment in the Colonies 
consisting of four battalions to be commanded by officers bear- 
ing the King's Commission and called the Royal American 
Regiment. Recruiting officers were employed in Virginia en- 
listing men for the Royal Regiment. The Assembly voted 
£8000 to be paid for enlisting men and transporting them to 
New York. 

The Maryland Assembly appropriated £5000 to aid enlist- 
ments in that Colony for the Royal Americans and resolved to 
raise 300 men. A bounty was given not exceeding £5 for each 
man enlisted. 

Horatio Gates, later (June, 1775) Adjutant-General in the 
American Army with the rank of brigader-general, was an 
officer in this Regiment. Gates was aide-de-camp to General 
Monckton in his expedition against Martinique in 1762. He 
was a bearer of despatches to London announcing the success- 
ful result of this victory and was rewarded by being made 
Major in the Royal Americans. 

It is fair to assume he was stationed on Governor's Island 
in 1767, for Captain John Montressor in his Report of May 

36 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

I2th in that year, says he "found the whole Regiment encamped 
on the Island, the 22(1, and two Battalions of Royal Americans, 
also the 44th Regt." (p. 36). 

In the Military Department of the New York Public Library 
is a valuable set of Army lists of the British Forces, published 
by order of the Honorable Secretary at War, of separate vol- 
umes in superb bindings, 1754 to 1842. The volumes bear the 
crest and bookplate of Colonel FitzClarence, Earl of Munster, 
who died in London, 1842. The changes in the personnel of the 
various years are carefidly written in. From these reports we 
learn that the 62nd Regiment of Foot was styled "Royal Ameri- 
cans" in 1756. In 1757 the number was changed to 60th Regt 
of Foot and so remained, the Regiment being stationed here 
continuously till 1773 when it was ordered to the West Indies. 

The uniform of the Royal Americans originally was Red 
faced with Blue, but as we learn from these Reports, the uni- 
form was changed in 1770 to "Red faced with Blue, White 
Lace, with 2 blue Stripes." 

The uniform of the 44th Regiment of Foot, stationed in 
1767 on Governor's Island, was Red faced with Yellow. 

The uniform of the 22d Regiment of Foot, which we learn 
from Montressor's Report was here with the Royal Americans, 
was Red faced with pale Blue. 

John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun, was appointed Com- 
mander in Chief of the British forces in America, March 20, 
1756. Lord Loudoun commanded the Royal Americans for a 
number of years with the title "Colonel in Chief," having under 
his command in 1756 four "Colonels Commandant," viz.: John 
Stanwix, Joseph Dusseaux, Charles Jefifcryes, James Prevost 
and Majors J. Young, J. Robertson, J. Rutherford, Augustine 
Prevost and Chaplains Thomas Gawton and Wm. Nicholas 
Jackson. 

Eighteen years later, when the Regiment had been for a 
year at Jamaica and Antigua, 1774, many names of the officers, 
advanced in grade, and of Chaplain Jackson, are still found 
which were on the roster of 1756 at Governor's Island. 

The Royal American, 60th Regiment of Foot, is (1913) the 

37 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

King's Royal Rifle Corps. Uniform, Green with Scarlet fac- 
ings. Two battalions are stationed in England and two in 
India. 

Motto : 
Celer 

et 
Aiidax 

The 44th Regiment of Foot is now the Essex Regiment. 
One battalion is stationed at Qiietta and one at Bordon. 

The 22d Regiment of Foot is now the Cheshire Regiment. 
Uniform, Scarlet with Bufif facings. One battalion is at Bel- 
fast and one at Jubbulpore. 

Hart's Annual for 1913 gives the King's Rifle Corps, as 
"formerly the 60th." The Colonel in Chief is His Majesty 
the King and the Senior of the four Colonels Commandant is 
the Rt. Hon. Francis Wallace, Lord Grenfell, K.C.B., G.C.M.G. 
The other Colonels Commandant are Sir Wykeham Leigh 
Pemberton, K.C.B., Sir Cromer Ashburnham, K.C.B., and 
Sir Edward Thomas H. Hutton, K.C.M.G., K.C.B. 

During the Revolutionary War concerts were given by the 
Royal American Band at Burns' New Assembly Rooms. This 
popular assembly, where the fashionables gathered much as 
they do at Delmonico's and Sherry's today, was at the upper 
end of Bowling Green, near the Van Courtlandt House. Bene- 
dict Arnold lodged here for a time after his desertion from 
.the Army. 

Another reference is found to this early Governor's Island 
Regiment during the Stamp Act troubles when General Gage 
ordered Fort George at Bowling Green to be dismantled in 
order to appear to the people "Less menacing and unfriendly." 
The work was performed by the detachments of Royal Ar- 
tillery, assisted by the Royal American Regiment who went 
over from Governor's Island for that purpose. 

It was not long before the mutterings of war were heard. 
An intimation of this which shows that Governor's Island was 
of value not only for "refreshment after the cares of business," 

38 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

but for more important reasons, is disclosed in a letter from 
Governor Tryon to the Earl of Dartmouth, 

New York, i6th Oct. 1775 
My Lord:i — 

The City has been in continual agitation and ferment 
encreased by a recommenda'tn and resolve of the Con- 
tinental Congress that this provincial Congress should 
take into consideration the expediency of siezing or 
securing the Crown Officers * * * j kept out of Town 
all Thursday at the Governor's Island and in the evening 
the Asia boat landed me at Long Island and (I) lay at 
Mr. Astell's at Flatbush. 

In a letter to Lord Dartmouth under date of June 7th, 1775, 
the Governor speaks of "the critical and dangerous situation 
of the British soldiers quartered in New York, the men desert- 
ing in considerable numbers and being the object of attack. 

General Gage proposed putting the soldiers and their families 
on board H. B. M. S. "Asia." After some delay, the situation 
becoming more acute, the following order was issued : 

To Major Hamilton, 
i8th Regiment, 
Spring Hill. 

5th June, 1775 
The difficulty about the Women and children which 
occasioned an alteration of our first Determination to put 
the troops Tuider Command on board of the Asia being 
obviated by removing the Women to Governor's Island 
***** You have my leave to encamp the Women 
on the Governor's Island and if there is any room in the 
House which the Family who live there do not make use 
of, I am willing the woinen should have it. You will 
please to give orders that they by no means burn or de- 
stroy the Fences or do any kind of Injury to any thing on 
the Island. 

I am, etc., 

Cadwallader Colden, 
Lieut. Gov'r Province of New York. 

A citadel and outworks were begun in 1775. General orders 

39 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

of April i6th, 1775, read: "Colonel Prescott's Regiment is to 
encamp on Governor's Island * * * They are to give every 
assistance in their power to the works erecting thereon." This 
Regiment, the famous Bunker Hill Regiment, was joined later 
by the 4th Continental Infantry, Colonel Nixon Command- 
ing. 

Some highly interesting facts in regard to the fortification 
of the Island at this period are learned from a letter written 
by Benjamin Franklin to General Lee in which he encloses a 
long communication from Trevor Newland Stafford. The 
fact of its quotation implies Franklin's approval of the senti- 
ments expressed by Stafford. Extracts from the letter 
follow : 

To the Honourable Charles Lee, Esq., 

Lieut.-General of the Continental Army, 
New York. 

5th February, 1776. 
********* 

I'm amazed at a ship or two laying at New York in 
open violation of ye United Provinces. The Asia lay 
along in the North River and refused to go into ye Sound. 
***** 'piigj-e is Nutten (Governor's Island) well 
situated to place Guns and I imagine 300 or 400 men 
would be sufficient to compleat all the works in one night : 
the greatest difficulty would be to get cannon to Nutten 
Island. It would be impossible to point out Either the 
facilitys or difficultys in the course of a letter. The great- 
est difficulty will be to keep it secret from the people of 
New York. ***** jf there was a lodgement with 
some Guns upon Nutten Island ''' * * as soon as the 
Batterys upon Nutten Island began to play there should 
be some of the Connecticut men ready to run down upon 
the Wharfs with some few guns ahead and astern with 
grape to clear tlie decks and fire into the ports. Six Guns 
would be sufficient upon Nutten Island and 12 pdrs would 
be heavy enough. * * * * l imagine Lord Stirling 
would be a very proper person to command the detach- 
ment.* B. Franklin. 

*Frora the Lee Papers — New York Historical Society. 

40 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD • 

That the fortifications were finally completed we learn from 
a letter written three months later by General Washington to 
Lieutenant-General Charles Lee, as follows : 



New York, l\Iay 9, 1776. 
My dear Lee : 

We have done a great deal of work at this place. In a 
fortnight more I think the City will be in a very respect- 
able posture of defense. * * * Governor's Island has a 
large and strong work erected and a Regiment encamped 
there. All the ships of war have left this place and gone 
down to the Hook except the Asia * * * With compli- 
ments to the gentlemen of my acquaintance with you and 
with the most fervent wishes for your health and success, 
I remain your most affectionate 

G. Washington. 



That the guns mounted on Governor's Island gave an ac- 
count of themselves we learn from the journal of Lieut. -Colonel 
Stephen Kemble* of H. M. 60th Foot. He notes under date of 
July 6, 1776, two months following Washington's statement, 
that Governor's Island has a large and strong work — "Observe 
the Rebels have fortified Governor's Island very strongly" — 
and on July 12, 1776, that "About half after three in the After- 
noon His Majesty's Ship Phoenix, commanded by Captain 
Parker, and the Rose, by Captain Wallace, with the Tryal 
Schooner and two Tenders got under sail to pass the Town of 
New York. 

They received the whole of the Rebel fire from Red Hook, 
Governor's Island, the Battery and from some Guns in the 
Town. * * * :k * ^|. j^^if pj^g^ fQ^jj. ^i^g ships were past all 

the Batteries. Number of Shots fired by the Rebels, 196. 

* Stephen Kemble was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1740 
he was commissioned an Ensign in H. M. 44th Regt. of Foot, and in 1765 
a captain in the Rojal Americans, H. M. 60th Foot. 

Colonel Kemble served under General Gage and Sir William Howe 
later In Boston, and in 1779 joined the 60th Foot in Jamaica. 

41 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

In August Lord Stirling wrote:* "The General bids 
me say that in our present situation Governor's Island is 
more strong and better guarded than any other post in the 
Army," 

The obstructions between Governor's Island and the Bat- 
tery mentioned in orders consisted of hulks sunk in the 
Channel. 

Cooperating with the defences at Governor's Island, which 
in those days of short range might be almost considered as 
outworks, were others in the City itself and it may surprise the 
reader of today to know of their number in close proximity 
to Governor's Island. General Washington had, very shortly 
after July 4, 1776, a force of 20,000 men, poorly equipped, 
armed and disciplined. They manned, among other works, 
the following: Grand Battery (still called The Battery), 23 
guns : Fort George, Bowling Green, 2 guns ; McDougall's 
Battery, just west of Trinity Church, 4 guns; Grenadier's (or 
Circular) Battery, north of this point, 5 guns ; Jersey Battery, 
near this, 5 guns ; Coenties' Battery on the East River, 5 guns ; 
Waterbury's Battery, 7 guns; and at other points near by, all 
within a small radius, Thompson's Battery, 9 guns ; the Inde- 
pendent Battery, on Centre Street and breastworks at Peck, 
Beekman, Burling, Coenties and Old Slips, the Coffee House, 
Exchange, Broad Street and others, besides Brooklyn Heights, 
Red Hook, and a line of works from Fort Green at the Walla- 
bout (now New York Navy Yard) to Gowanus Creek. There 
was also a "barrier" or fortified line across the Island which 
crossed the Bowery in the line of the present Grand Street. 
This was begun in 1775 and strengthened by the British during 
their occupation of the City, 1776-1783. 

With this description may be compared a letter from Peter 

* Fort Stirling was situated on Brooklyn Heights, near the present 
Montagu Street. Lord Stirling, born in New York, was heir to a Scotch 
title. He married the daughter of Philip Livingston. He was Colonel 
of the 1st New Jersey Regiment of Militia and after the Battle of Long 
Island received the commission of Major General from the Continental 
Congress. 

42 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

Elting to Capt. Richard Varick under date of 30th Jul}', 1776, 
in which he says : 

"You would be surprised to see what Number of Empty 
houses there are in this place Verry few of the inhabitants 
Remain in town that are not ingaged in the Service. 
* * * * Great preparations are making here With Shiver 
de freeses and Vessels to stop up the Channel & sundry 
fire ships preparing two Brigs are Ready, something great 
will Be attempted soon five or seven Rogallies are already 
Come down from the Eastward * '"'' * the fleet Remains 
Verry Quiet But the men of the two menvvar up the 
River have a small brush Once in a While with our 
Guards long the River." 

The reader who needs a translation of some of the terms 
used in this letter for the information of Captain Varick will 
find it in the Memoirs of ]\Iajor General William Heath, who 
notes therein, on the next day after, August ist, that thirty 
British sail have arrived at the Hook and that three or more 
row-galHes have gone up the Hudson, and further, that in 
bringing the hulks, cheveux de frise, &c., round from the 
East River to the Hudson one sloop was sunk between Gover- 
nor's Island and the Grand Battery. 

General Putnam arrived in New York on April 4th, 1776, 
and wrote to the President of Congress ; 

"After getting the works in such forwardness as will be 
prudent to leave I propose immediately to take possession of 
Governor's Island which I think a very important Post." The 
works in June mounted four 32 and four 18 pdrs. 

On April 9th Colonel Silliman of Connecticut wrote to his 
wife: "Last evening draughts were made from a number of 
Regiments here, mine among the rest, to the number of 1000 
men. With these and a proper number of officers Gen'l. Put- 
nam at candle lighting embarked on Board of a number of 
vessels with a large Number of intrenching tools and went 
directly on * * * Nutten Island where they have been in- 
trenching all night * * * and have got a good Breast work 
there raised which will cover them from the fire of the Ships." 

The "New York Gazette" announces that on "Monday night 

43 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

looo Continental troops stationed here went over and took 
possession of Governor's Island and began to fortify it." 

General Putnam lived at this time in No. i, Broadway, 
Bowling Green, in a house called the Kennedy House. Since 
1643 ^^h' three houses have occupied this site. The present 
one is called the Washington Building on account of the fact 
that General Washington frequently visited the original Ken- 
nedy House on the same site. 

Col. Wm. Douglas in a letter to his wife, Northford, Conn., 
dated N. York Aug'st 31, 1776, says: 

"We have evacuated Governor's Island where we have lost 
some cannon. They fired smartly from Fort Stirling yester- 
day at our boats passing from Governor's Island." 

In thinking of an historical period far removed from our 
own time one is apt to have in mind a general impression or 
composite picture of the whole in which unknown details are 
summoned up by the imagination to form a confused image 
of the shadowy Past. This is unsatisfactory at best and in 
order to make more clear to the reader the actual state of 
affairs at this time in the history of our City and Island, when 
Putnam and his men came over in all haste at candle lighting 
to fortify against the British attack, an extract follows from 
Lamb's History of New York. With its aid one seems to live 
in the scenes of war preparation it so admirably illuminates. 
"New York was one of the busiest spots on the Western Conti- 
nent just now. Men were working night and day on the forts, 
troops were coming in from all quarters of the compass in the 
most picturesque and greatest variety of costume. The old 
red coats used in the French War had been brought from the 
garrets and turned to account in Connecticut. In juxtaposi- 
tion with the tow colored frocks worn by her volunteers 
appeared every now and then a dingy regimental of scarlet 
with a tarnished three-cornered laced hat. Some of the Mary- 
landers wore green hunting shirts with leggings to match. 
Troops came from Delaware in dark blue coats with red fac- 
ings. Some of the New Jersey riflemen were in short red 
coats and striped trousers; others in short blue coats, old 

44 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

leather breeches, hght bkie stockings, shoes with brass buckles 
and wool hats bound with yellow. The Pennsylvania Regi- 
ments were in all the colours of the rainbow — 'brown coats 
faced with buff, blue coats faced with red, brown coats 
faced with white and studded with great pewter buttons, buck- 
skin breeches and black cocked hats with white tape bindings, 
also blue coats faced with white. The Virginians wore white 
smock-frocks furbelowcd with ruffles at the neck, elbows and 
wrist, black stocks, hair in queues and round-topped broad- 
brimmed black hats. A little later the Light Dragoons were 
uniformed in blue coats faced with red or in brown coats faced 
with green. 

The Washington Guards wore blue coats faced with buff, 
red waist coats, buckskin breeches, black felt hats bound with 
white tape and bayonets with belts of white. Hunting shirts, 
the 'moral aversion of the Red-coat,' with breeches of the same 
cloth as the shirts gaiter fashion about the legs were seen on 
every side, and being convenient garments for campaigning 
were soon adopted by the British themselves. This was the 
origin of the modern trouser or pantaloon." 

Of such composition was the force under General Putnam 
busy in throwing up the breastworks on Governor's Island. 
We can imagine the feverish haste of the day and night fortifi- 
cation work, the clumsiness of the hunters, the lack of disci- 
pline among the farmer boys, the fatigue of the volunteers 
from the counting-house. We can well believe many brown 
coats with their great pewter buttons were cast aside when the 
pick and shovel were taken up and that three-cornered hats 
and ruffles at the neck, elbows and wrist fared badly in the 
trenches. These men had coats of many colours, but their 
hearts were one for union and defence. Our admiration and 
gratitude must be theirs as their heritage is ours. 

We read further in Lamb's interesting account : "The scene 
was like one vast bee hive. Soldiers and civilians ran hither 
and thither in the performance of some exacting duty. Aside* 
from the numerous fortifications and batteries in and around 
New York, on Governor's Island and Long Island, barricades 

45 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

were thrown np in every street leading to the water, chiefly of 
mahogany logs taken from West India cargoes. City Hall 
Park was almost entirely enclosed, Broadway was obstructed 
in front of St. Paul's Chapel, a barrier rose at the head of 
Vesey Street, another at the head of Barclay, one at the head 
of Murray Street, and many others — at Centre St., Frankfort 
and Chatham Streets and an angular defence where the 
Tribune Buildinsf now stands." 



Trinity Church was the old Royalist Parish of 1696. The 
citizens, accustomed as they were and had been for three- 
quarters of a century to prayers in the Parish Church for the 
King and Royal Family, demanded however that they should 
now cease. 

The Reverend Charles Inglis, the Rector, was insulted 
wherever he went in the streets and finally his life was threat- 
ened if he did not desist from using the liturgy according to 
the text. To officiate publicly and abstain from the mention of 
England's monarch in his supplications would be to violate 
his oath and the dictates of his conscience. His embarrassment 
was very great. One Sunday morning a company of 150 
soldiers marched into the church with drums beating and pipes 
playing and bayonets glistening on their loaded guns. The 
congregation was panic stricken and women fainted. 

It was supposed that if the Rector should read the collects 
for the King and Royal Family he would be shot in the sacred 
desk. But he went on 'boldly to the end, omitting no portion 
of the service, and although there were restless and hostile 
demonstrations he escaped injury. 

In a private letter to Peter Van Schaack, 23d February, 
1776, two months before General Putnam began the works on 
Governor's Island, Frederick Rhinelander indicates the feel- 
ing of alarm in the City due to the arrival of American troops 
in force, when he says: *'To see the vast number of houses 
shut up one would think the City almost evacuated. Women 
and children are scarcely seen in the streets." 

In a note of the same period we read: "Friday, Sept. 13, 

46 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

1776. In the afternoon some Men of War went up the East 
River; the few cannons left fired on the ships which caused 
that they fired back from Long Island and Governor's Island, 
and very smartly." 

This was shortly after the Battle of Long Island, August 
27, 1776, the "day that though so full of sorrow for the Ameri- 
cans, shed so little glory on British arms." Washington had 
20,000 troops ; Prescott's and Nixon's Regiments were sta- 
tioned on Governor's Island. Lord Howe sailed up the Bay 
and anchored near the Island, whereupon our troops withdrew 
to the mainland, sustaining only one injury, a soldier wounded 
as he was embarking, by a ball from the British man-of-war. 

Thomas Jones, a staunch Tory, Justice of the Peace for tlie 
Province, writes as follows: "Sept., 1776. The rebels in 
their hurry upon leaving Long Island left the Garrison upon 
Nutten Island (which they had strongly fortified) consisting 
of 2,000 men, 40 pieces of heavy cannon, military stores and 
provisions in abundance without the least means of quitting 
the Island. The Royal Army consisted of near 30,000 men 
****** yet no steps were taken to make prisoners of the 
garrison and get possession of the forts, stores, artillery and 
provisions. 

In the evening of the same day (unaccountable as it is) a 
detachment of the rebel Army went from New York to Nutten 
Island with a number of boats and carried off the troops, the 
stores, artillery and provisions. * * * * * *" 

Had Lord Howe taken his fleet up the East River on the 
day of the action upon Long Island and the River been lined 
with the Ships from Governor's Island to Hellgate, "not a 
rebel would have escaped from Long Island. lUit this was 
not done, and why it was not done, let the brothers Howe tell." 

A more detailed account of this action is found in a con- 
temporary note by a Royalist: "In the evening of the 27th of 
August the army (British) encamped in front of the enemy's 
works. On the 28th at night they broke ground 600 yards 
from a redoubt upon their left and on the 29th at night the 
Rebels evacuated their intrenchments and Red Hook (Brook- 

47 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

lyn opposite Governor's Island) with the utmost silence and 
quitted Governor's Island the following evening, leaving their 
cannon and a quantity of stores in the works. 

At daybreak on the 30th their flight was discovered. The 
piquets of the line took possession and those most advanced 
reached the shore opposite New York as their rear guard was 
going over and fired some shot among them. 

Admiral Howe at this time sent up four ships which an- 
chored about two miles below the Island and kept up a most 
tremendous fire against the rebel fortifications there." 

Cannon balls are frequently dug up on the Island, as in 
making the foundations for the new Chapel in 1905, in laying 
the water mains across the parade and in digging trenches 
for telephone cables. In fact, digging of any considerable 
amount always discloses old cannon balls which are be- 
lieved to be, or some of them at least, from this bombardment. 

The British forces under General Howe and Admiral Howe 
seized Governor's Island shortly after this and occupied it until 
the evacuation of New York in 1783. 

The Battle of Long Island occurred on August 27th. Wash- 
ington called a Council of War on September 12th, which de- 
cided to evacuate the City. On September 15th the British 
occupied the City. "Once more," says Jenkins in "The Great- 
est Street in the World," "the banner of Great Britain flew 
over the ramparts of the Fort, while the parade was trodden by 
men in the red coats of the English, the kilts of the Highlanders 
and the green coats of General Gage's men. * * * * They all 
departed forever on November 25th, 1783, when the American 
Army of occupation resumed possession of the City and Fort 
and flung its starry banner to the breeze." Botta, writing of 
the action of the retreat after the Battle of Long Island, says : 
"Whoever will attend to all the details of this retreat will 
easily believe that no military operation was ever conducted 
with more ability or prudence." He might have added that 
arms, ammunition and stores were never taken away from 
their victorious captors by the defeated with more skill and 
impudence. 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

The American forces at this time were not able to hold New 
York, as the following letter from the highest authority indi- 
cates : 

8th September, 1776. 
That the enemy mean to winter in New York, there can 
be no doubt; that they can drive us out is equally clear. 
Nothing seems to remain but to determine the time of 
their taking possession. G. Washington. 

Whereupon Congress resolved that the President should 
inform General Washington it was by no means the sense of 
Congress in their resolves of the 3rd instant respecting New 
York that the Army or any part of it should remain in that 
City a moment longer than he should consider proper. 

Governor's Island remained in the possession of the British 
troops, who fortified it heavily, from 1776 until the restoration 
of peace in 1783. 

The following extracts from "Revolutionary Papers" (New 
York Historical Society) throw light upon the activities of the 
British during their occupation of Governor's Island. 

In 1779, Gen'l. Patterson, the English Commandant, wrote 
to the Lord Townshend that "he is repairing the ruined forti- 
fications and batteries erected by the Rebels on Governor's 
Island. We secured by public appeal the services of 500 citi- 
zens, a great many of them merchants and shopkeepers, who 
with great cheerfulness labored at the fortifications and would 
accept no pay. Those who required pay received ten shillings 
and rations per day." 

We have little information regarding the period of occupa- 
tion by the British. The following letters and orders are of 
interest and value in throwing light upon this era of the 
Island's history: 

To Admiral Arbuthnot: 

Major General Pattison presents his Compliments to 
Admiral Arbuthnot and is justly sensible of his kind dis- 
position to contribute to the Comfort of the Army and 
***** the Sick of the Troops will be removed to 
Governor's Island to-morrow. 

New York, Sept. i, 1779. 

49 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

An order of Sept. 29, 1779, directs that by orders of Major 
General Pattison a "daily allowance of provisions, Rum and 
Spruce Beer be issued to 300 laborers employed on the King's 
works on Governor's Island and that tents, blankets, camp 
kettles, fuel and boats be ready at 6 o'clock in the morning at 
White Hall." 

To Major Andr^ 

New York, Oct, 4, 1779. 
Sir: 

I am directed by Major Gen'l. Pattison to acquaint you 
that * * he has deferred giving orders for removing 
Lieut. Col. Buskirk's Battalion to Governor's Island 
till His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief's Pleasure 
shall be known. * * * * /^g there are 150 of Lowes- 
berg's Regiment returning from sea, * * * the greater 
part of Buskirk's Battalion might be sent to Governor's 
Island. 

Gen'l. Pattison therefore requests that you will take 
His Excellency's Commands. I am, etc. 

Major Andre Step. P. A\t)e, 

A. D. C. 



To Captain Mercer, 

New York, December 2, 1779. 
Sir: — 

I am directed by Major Gen'l Pattison to signify to 
you that it is indispensably necessary that Guard should 
be on Governor's Island for the protection of the Bastions, 
etc., the Guns being at present exposed to be spiked every 
night. He desires that a Guard Room sufficient to contain 
20 men may be erected there and that you will inform him 
when it is ready. 

I have, etc. 
, Capt. Mercer S. P. A. 

Com'dg. Eng'r. (Step. P. Ayde) 

As a state of alarm among the British is disclosed in the 
foregoing order of 1779, so the dawn of peace is suggested in 
the following report from General Heath : 

50 



english colonial and revolutionary period 

Headquarters 
Continental Village, Sept. 23rd, 1781. 

To Governor Clinton, 
Sir: — 

I am honoured by yours of the 22d. * * * * An 
account from Long Island says a 74 gun ship was taken 
and that three were dismasted. The greatest part of the 
troops with Governor Chnton are embarked. 

All the heavy cannon both of the Grand Battery and of 
Governor's Island have been taken on board the ships. 

W. Heath, 

Major General. 

There are few records known to exist during the intervening 
years relative to Governor's Island. The war ceased in 1783 
and from the Clinton AISS. the following orders are taken: 

Amphion, off New York, 

25th November 1783. 
Governor Clinton. 
Sir: — 

I have given orders that all the Buildings now re- 
maining upon Governor's Island shall be left untouched, 
whenever I am able to leave. I am, sir, your most 
Obed't humble servt. 

(Admiral) Rob't. Digby 



Governor's Island, 
Dec. 3rd. 1783. 

7 A. M. 

Sir: — 

Having received orders from Rear Admiral Digby to 
withdraw the Guard together with the whole Naval Hos- 
pital from this Island I acquaint you Excellency that at 
the hour of eleven a. m. this day the Guard together with 

the Naval Hospital will be withdrawn from tlie Island. 
****** 

I am also desired to inform your Excellency that the 
only property disposed of belonging to Government on 
Governor's Island are the hulls of two I5rigantines hauled 
up on each side of the wharf. 

I shall do myself the honour to inclose for your Excel- 

51 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

lency's better information a list of the different buildings 
regularly numbered with the keys to the person you shall 
think it fit to take charge of them from Lieutenant Gra- 
ham. 

I have the honour to be your Excellency's most obed't 
and most humble serv't 

James Duncan, 
Capt. in the Navy etc. 
To His Excellency 

Governor Clinton etc. etc. 
State of New York. 

The descriptive list includes among other buildings, etc., 
a Captain's and Lieutenant's Barracks and Kitchens, a guard 
house, a convalescent hospital, a barn, a gardener's house, all 
of which have long since disappeared.* 

With the close of the Revolution in 1783 the American com- 
mand was reestablished on Governor's Island and the British 
works were occupied. That the young Republic was mindful 
of its dignity is shown by an order from the President through 
the Secretary of War dated Nov. 18, 1794, stating that the 
Secretary of War Knox informs the Ofificer Commanding upon 
Governor's Island that the Minister of the French Republic 
has represented that the French frigate "Semillante" had 
saluted the flag with fifteen guns and that the fort had not re- 
plied and that the President of the United States wishes the 
Commanding Officer immediately to fix a time when he would 
fire the Federal Salute of Fifteen guns. 

On April 19, 1795, Alex. Thompson, Capt. Corps, of Ar- 
tillerists and Engineers respectfully reports to Governor 
Clinton that the French man-of-war has left the North River 
and that at this time the fifteen gun salute was duly delivered 
from the battery which he commands on the Island. 

Another bit of correspondence on the subject of Salutes is 
interesting to compare with our modern telegraph-telephone- 
quick-order-fixed-ammunition methods. 

* This guard house is probably the one mentioned in Major General 
Pattison's Orders (p. 50), as that was evidently of hasty construction. 
The Convalescent Hospital was part of the British Naval Hospital 
(v. p. si). 

52 



english colonial and revolutionary period 

"" Governor's Island, 

Oct. II, 1794. 
To His Excellency. 

Sir: 

Yesterday morning Admiral Murra sent a Lieutenant 
to this Island" to learn from me as a commanding officer 
whether it would be proper or whetlier it had been custom- 
ary to salute the Flag of the United States at such a dis- 
tance and what number of guns would be given. In an- 
swer to his salute, I informed the Lieutenant that the 
Admiral lay at such a Distance I thought it Improper to 
Salute, but should it so happen that the Admiral did Come 
Up within I mile in a S. Direction of this Island accord- 
ing to Your Excellency's orders, I should Return his 
Salute. But as to Stipulate for the No. of Guns it was 
out of my power, But that our Natl. Salute was 13 at 
present. 

Agreeable to your Excellency's Orders sometime ago, 
I shall attend to Returning the Salute should the Admiral 
Come Up. Your Excellence will please to understand 
that Admiral Murra lays at the watering place so called 
here Staten Island. 

I am Yours Excellency's 

Most Obt. and Humble servt. 
Corns. R. Sedam,* 

Captain ist Sub Legion, 

On February 28, 1794, the Committee of the House of Con- 
gress directed to report on such Harbour forts as required to 
be put in a proper state of defence made a report in relation 
to Governor's Island stating that the expense of constructing 
batteries, embrasures and platforms for 24 pieces was $1727.52; 

♦Spelled also "Suydam" (Heitman). The Legion of the United States 
was organized March 5, 1792, and comprised Infantry, Dragoons and 
Artillery. It consisted of four Sub Legions, each commanded by a Lt. 
Colonel. The rst Infantry (1784) formed part of the First Sub Legion. 
Nov. I, 1796, the Legion was disbanded, the Infantry of the ist, 2d, 3rd and 
4th Sub Legions becoming respectively the ist, 2d, 3rd and 4th Regiments 
of Infantry. Two companies of Light Dragoons were also formed from 
The Legion. The uniform of the ist Sub Legion was white binding upon 
their caps, with white plumes and black hair. 

53 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

a redoubt for embrasures, $8io; a magazine, $200; a block 
house or barracks, $500. 

On March 26, 1794, Congress appropriated for fortifications 
on Governor's Island $150,000. 

This expenditure was under the direction of George Clinton, 
Mathew Clarkson, James Watson, Rich'd Varick, Nicholas 
Fish, Ebenezer Stevens and A. Hammond. 

A further sum of $100,000 was appropriated on April 6, 
1795, to complete the works on Governor's and Ellis' Islands. 

In 1797 $30,117 were appropriated for the Fort now known 
as Fort Jay. Such was the fear of French invasion that the 
Professors and Students of Columbia College came to the 
Island and worked with shovels and barrows to complete the 
work. The Garrison at this time consisted of one Major, one 
Captain, one Surgeon, two ist Lieutenants, one cadet, three 
Sergeants, one corporal, four musicians, five artificers and 34 
privates. 

It was not alone at this period that Columbia College showed 
its practical patriotism. Again, in the war of 181 2, the students 
assembled on Sept. 8, 1814, and worked at the fort in Harlem, 
going to that then distant part of the City by steamboat. 

In 1799 $30,116 were appropriated for the work; in 1800 
$20,124; in 1801 $ic)>338. 

The Secretary of War had reported to Congress in 1794 
that one bastion commanding two low batteries had been under- 
taken but that the works, being only sodded, would not last 
long. Later, in 1796, January 18, he reported that Gover- 
nor's Island had been fortified with an earthen fort of two 
bastions partly lined with brick masonry, two air furnaces, a 
large powder magazine and barracks. 

From 1794-1797 Quarantine was located here. 

The building of Castle Williams, and especially of Fort Jay, 
which was forty years in construction (1794-1833) and had 
many periods, is difficult to describe smoothly in connection 
with other events and the reader's indulgence is asked for such 
lack of sequence or repetition as he may observe. 

In 1801 Fort Jay had a 'Tiandsome gateway with a corps de 

54 




S o 



O O I 



H 2 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

garde drawbridge." In connection with this gateway there is a 
pretty legend which, though persistent, cannot be verified as to 
time or person. The story is that a prisoner who was a stone- 
cutter by trade was detailed to make the fine carving which 
adorns the gateway. During the progress of the work one 
day the commanding officer's little daughter stood under the 
gateway with the stonecutter who was inspecting his work 
from below. Just then a heavy block of stone or a stone 
cannon ball fell and would have killed the child, but the 
prisoner, too late to pull her aside, interposed his own body 
and saved her life with serious injury to himself. His re- 
ward for the gallant act was pardon. If the story cannot be 
proved, neither can it be disproved, and it has been told long 
enough to entitle it to a respectful hearing and a willing accept- 
ance. 

In the centre of the Fort Jay of 1801 was a square block- 
house of timber two stories high, but probably not cannon- 
proof, with a well under it. This is probably the block house 
for which Congress appropriated $500 in 1794. As for the 
well, as late as 1905 the remains of the superstructure of the 
pump remained in situ, requiring everyone who crossed the 
quadrangle to make a detour. It has lately been removed, but 
its situation in the crosswalks is plainly indicated. No further 
improvements were made till 1806, when Fort Jay was de- 
molished, except the walled counterscarp, the gate, sally port, 
magazine and two barracks. All the rest of the works was 
removed to allow of more durable material to be used in con- 
struction. 

On the site of old Fort Jay was erected a new Fort with the 
name changed to Fort Columbus, which name was retained 
until 1904 when by orders of the War Department it was 
re-named Fort Jay. The new fortification consisted of an en- 
closed pentagonal work with four bastions of masonry to hold 
100 guns. On three of its sides it was built the same as Fort 
Jay the elder with the addition of 14 feet on each side ; and on 
the north wall of a ravelin with two retired casemated flanks. 
Guns to command the (dry) moat were located here. Their 

55 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

casemates are now bricked up. The minutes of the Military 
and Philosophical Society of West Point (1808) state that two 
detached batteries were built about this period, one mounting 
four 18 pdrs. and one 8 in. French mortar, with platforms for 
four others; and the other, ten pieces, 18 and 24 pdrs. The 
parapet had 52 emhrasures and it would take 1,000 men to man 
the parapet. This work was completed in 1809. 

Castle Williams was begun in 1807 and completed in 181 1, 
as the crumbling dates in the stone over the gateway set forth. 
It was designed and built by Lieut. -Colonel Jonathan Williams, 
Engineer Corps. The material of the castle is Newark red 
sandstone. It rests on a bed of rock at the extreme north- 
westernly point of the Island. In form it is 3/5 of a circle, 
200 feet in diameter. The walls are 40 feet in height, case- 
mated with bomb-proof arches for 2 tiers of guns. Guns were 
also mounted upon the top, to which access was had by two in- 
terior stone turret staircases. The walls are 8 feet thick on the 
lower tier and seven feet on the upper tier. It had on each 
side of the gate on the inside a stone building. One of these 
was used for a powder magazine and one for solitary con- 
finement at some period. There is a walk for sentry duty in 
the thickness of the wall over the main gate and a picturesque 
stone sentry box at the angle. 

The stone buildings referred to here have been taken down 
(1912-13) and the material is being used for the building of a 
two-story structure on the same site. The lower story contains 
a guard house and the upper story rooms for court martial 
and other purposes. It is an admirable re-arrangement, giv- 
ing at once much needed facilities for garrison administration 
and increasing the military appearance of the interior court of 
the Castle. 

For many years Castle Williams has been used as a military 
prison. During the Civil War it is said 1500 prisoners were 
confined in the Castle at one time. All the tiers were used for 
the prisoners and a large cooking house was erected in the 
middle of the court. A stockade was built in front of the gate 
and strongly guarded. The reveille gun and saluting battery 

56 



ENGLISH COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 

are mounted on the top of the castle and a fog bell and siren 
are a part of its equipment. 

A passageway connected the Castle with the main fort in the 
middle of the Island. Its remains are clearly visible to-day. 
What is left of the way extends from the Fort to the Post 
Hospital. The rest of it was destroyed evidently to make way 
for modern constructions on the northern edge of the Island. 
A large tree has grown up in this passage. 

The question as to the name of the Castle frequently arising, 
it may be of interest to quote the order on the subject: 

1ST Indorsement, 
II I 1709 

WAR DEPARTMENT, 

The Military Secretary's Office, 

Washington, March 20, 1906. 

In a letter dated New York, November 27, 18 10, adi 
dressed to the Secretary of War, Colonel Jonathan Wil- 
liams of the Corps of Engineers says : "1 take the earliest 
opportunity of expressing my gratitude for the high 
honour conferred upon me by adding my name to the 
Castle I erected on the west point of Governor's Island in 
this harbor." 

Accompanying the letter referred to above is a copy of 
an order dated Fort Columbus, 24 November, 1810, issued 
by Colonel Henry P)urbeck, commanding Harbor New 
York, which directs that "In future the stone tower on 
this Island (by the approbation of the Secretary of War ) 
will bear the name of Castle Williams, in honor of the 
commandant of the United States Corps of Engineers who 
designed and erected it." 

E. F. L.\DD, 
Military Secretary. 

The earliest designation of the Castle seems to have been 
"The Tower," as in the order above quoted and also in the 
following, issued a year later: 

57 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Orders: Fort Columbus 

7th Deer, 1811. 

The practice of landing and leaving boats at the Tower 
is improper. In addition to violation of orders, it gives 
a facility to desertion : boats therefore of any description 
are prohibited landing at or near Castle Williams. 

By order of Col. Burbeck. 

C. Van Deventer, 
Lieut, and Acting Adjutant, 

The S. W. Battery, built at the lower end of Manhattan by 
Colonel Jonathan Williams, was called Castle Clinton after 
May, 1812, and in 1823 its name was changed to Castle 
Garden. The North Battery was thrown up at the foot of 
Hubert Street, and Fort Gansevort at the foot of Gansevort 
Street, while on the Staten Island shore were Forts Rich- 
mond, Tompkins and Hudson. Opposite was Fort Diamond 
(now Fort Lafayette). These four forts mounted about 500 
guns. 

Other early military defences near Governor's Island were 
Half Moon batteries at Coenties Slip and at the water gate of 
Wall Street, now occupied by the O. M. Dept. pier. 

There were also defences in those days along Wall Street 
and a curtain at the land gate, where Trinity Church was 
built in 1697. These fortifications were mounted with the 
miniature guns of the period, known as demi-culverins, 
sakers and minions. 




CHAPTER III. 
Period of the War of 1812. 

The "Second War of American Independence" found us 
with an army of 10,000 men, maximum limit, composed of 46 
regiments of infantry, 4 rifle regiments, an artillery corps, a 
regiment of light artillery and of dragoons and an engineer 
department. It is interesting to notice that the Infantry regi- 
ments were to be recruited each from the State or district 
assigned. The districts were numbered, however, not named. 
The farthest west were the "territories of Indiana, Michigan, 
Illinois and Missouri." The district in which Governor's 
Island was situated was designated as "New York from the 
sea to the Highlands of New Jersey except that part of the 
state which furnishes the ist division of Militia." 

From an old Garrison Order book of 1810-11 are taken the 
few extracts following, some of which may be considered ap- 
propriate to a chapter on the War of 1812 as disclosing pre- 
parations for the War. Others are interesting as reminding 
us of the fact that human nature and Garrison conditions pre- 
sent the same difficulties in one century as in another. Colonel 
Burbeck, who assumed command of all the troops in New 
York Harbour in 1810, shows an earnest desire in his orders 
to preserve order and to promote discipline in every way. 

This book of orders is almost pathetic in its simplicity. It 
consists of a number of sheets of paper, yellow^brown with 
age, tied together with red tape of the pattern used today, 
though faded to a lighter shade. The penmanship is uniformly 
excellent and abounds in the graceful flourishes characteristic 
of the period. 

They are all signed Justus, Post Adjt, except one signed by 
Lt Van De Venter, Actg Adjt and one of 18 12 by Amos Stod- 
dard, Majr Comdg. . 

Colonel Burbeck had served in General Knox's Regiment, 
Continental Artillery and other Regiments from 1775 to 1789, 

59 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

and in the Artillery and Engineers to 1798. Lieut. Chris- 
topher Van De Venter entered the U. S. Military Academy 
from New York in 1808, and Major Stoddard, Major ist Ar- 
tillery March, 181 2, died in 181 3 of wounds received at the 
siege of Fort Meigs, Ohio. 

We learn from the pages of this hook that Colonel Burbeck 
assumed command of all the troops in the Harbour of New 
York on the 17th August, 1810, and issued, among other 
orders from Fort Columbus, several showing the activity of 
fortification construction work. In the first Garrison order 
issued, 26th August, 1910, occurs the following: * * * 

"All's Well" will be called out every quarter of an hour 
from Tattoo till day light, beginning at No. i at guard house. 
All the other sentinels will observe to answer the call in rota- 
tion, * * * in doing which they will observe to turn their 
faces towards the guard house that they may be the more 
distinctly heard by the Sergt. or Corporal of the guard who 
will pay particular attention that it be repeated all round." 

This order, dated Fort Columbus, is signed "Justus Post 
Adjt." 

Another order of the same month forbids all officers, non- 
commissioned officers, soldiers, citizens and all other persons 
of every description from getting upon the parapet, and also 
directs the Adjutant to sign the returns for the extra Liquor 
served the fatigue men employed upon the public works. On 
Sept. 3d it was ordered that only those prisoners confined in 
the guard house who had been sentenced to hard labour would 
be indulged in the privilege of their ration of liquor, but that 
rations retained would be left in store and the amount thereof 
appropriated to furnish articles of nourishment for the sick 
of the Garrison. An order of 1811 forbids the landing of 
rum, brandy, gin, spirits, cordial or ardent spirits of any kind 
except for the use of the officers of the Garrison and the ration 
liquor furnished by the Contractor. Another states that "as 
the smoaking of pipes or segars in the open air is both danger- 
ous and indecorous," it is strictly forbidden (except in quar- 
ters) at any post in the Harbour. 

60 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

Still another one, regretting that "some of the soldiers of 
this Garrison had so far abandoned the strict principles of 
honour as to bear the stigma of a black eye or a bruised face," 
states that those thus disqualified will not be permitted to ap- 
pear on parade or to mount their guard, but will be obliged to 
make up all omitted tours of guard upon the cessation of such 
disqualification. The commanding officers of Garrisons and 
Companies are ordered (August 5, 181 1) never to sufifer more 
than two men to be absent in one day on pass or furlough. 

On a military map of the Island made in 1857 cowsheds are 
shown, but an order of this period dated 4th October, 18 10, by 
Colonel Burbeck directs that "Swine being considered a nui- 
sance to a Garrison and improper animals to range or be 
harbored, after those which now belong here shall have been 
disposed of, none will be suffered to be landed or kept upon 
the Island, 

The extracts from this Garrison order book will close with 
one upon a more serious subject. 

Garrison Orders. 

Fort Columbus, 

23d Novr., 1810. 

The sixteen gun Battery being now completed it will be 
appropriated to the particular use of firing salutes and the 
old Guard will hereafter be considered the party to per- 
form that duty * * * under the immediate direction of 
Sergt Campbell. No one except the non-commissioned 
officers will go into the Magazine and those will be careful 
when they enter it to leave their shoes without the door. 

Of the period of 181 2 on Governor's Island we learn many 
interesting details through the courtesy of (the late) Brig. 
Genl. T. F. Rodenbough, who has allowed the author to quote 
from the original MSS. Garrison order book of 1814-15. This 
book, formerly the property of General Harvey Brown, was 
presented to the Military Service Institution by Miss Emily 

* See also order issued the following day (plate, p. 65). 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

Brown. No better idea of the social manners and military 
usages of that day could be given than by a few of the quota- 
tions from this voluminous official record, which the author 
has the pleasure of doing. These orders are written in a clear, 
beautiful hand, with a quill pen, and show a careful style of 
literary composition sadly lacking in these days of typewriting 
haste. 

It may be of interest in this connection to quote the Regula- 
tion concerning stationery for the Army issued (May 2, 1814) 
at this time : 

^ 3|C ^ 3fC 5fC JjC ^ 

To a Major General as much stationery as necessary for the 
discharge of his public duties. To other General officers 
24 quires of paper per annum. 

To a Major 6 quires of paper and i blank book per annum. 
For the use of every other commanding officer 2 quires per 
annum and a proportion of other stationery at the rate of 50 
quills, as many wafers and a paper of ink powder to each 
6 quires. 

The orders include a large number of court martial cases 
with charges of desertion, absence without leave and disobedi- 
ence of orders. The sentences on the whole appear lenient, 
the various courts evidently being actuated by a desire to 
temper justice with mercy. Others are of necessity severe, 
as became a state of war. 

A few examples are given, as throwing light on the prac- 
tices of the day: 

Fort Columbus, May 10, 1814. 
Garrison Orders. 

At a Garrison Court Martial whereof Lieut. Bailey was 
President, convened on the 9th inst., was tried the fol- 
lowing offender, , a private in Captn Swett's 

Company, charged with neglect of duty in leaving his 
post, stealing whiskey and getting two of his guard drunk 
while on post on the morning of the 2d May, 18 14, to 
which charge the prisoner pleaded not guilty. The court 
found the prisoner guilty of the charge and sentenced him 

62 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

to be confined four days in the Black Hole* and to be 
drummed off the Island. 

The same court found a private in Captn 

Humphrey's Company guilty of suffering a patroling 
party to pass into the South Battery without demanding 
the countersign, being himself a sentry at the gate, and of 
making use of abusive language to the Sergeant of the 
Guard, and sentenced him to be confined three days in the 
Black Hole on bread and water and to have his whiskey 
stopped 30 days. 

Apropos of the stoppage of whiskey imposed in this and 
other sentences, it may be mentioned that on Dec. 8, 1830, the 
issue of whiskey was by G. O. commutated for cash and on 
Nov. 5, 1832, this money allowance for whiskey was converted 
into a coffee or ration allowance. 

The Black Hole referred to in the orders of 1814 is believed 
from indirect references in other parts of this order book to 
have been in the present Post Headquarters Building (1913). 
An order of Jan. 8, 181 5, orders the officer of Police to have 
the window of the Black Hole stopped up and well secured 

that Private may begin his 10 days' solitary 

confinement therein. 

A sentence which would be considered to day "unusual," if 
not "cruel," is seen in the following order : 

Garrison Orders. 

Fort Columbus, Aug. 13, 1814. 

A Garrison Court Martial will convene this morning at 
10 o'clock A. M. for the trial of such prisoners as may be 
brought before it. Captn Bennete will preside. The 
court being duly sworn in the presence of the Prisoners 

proceeded to the trial of , a private in Captn 

Swett's Company of Artillery. Charge, theft ; spcfn., 
stealing a watch from Private Bernard. Plea, guilty. 
The court sentenced him to be drummed once up and 
down the Parade with the rogues' march, with his coat 
turned and the word thief written thereon in large 

*V. Addendam, page 175. 

63 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

letters : further, that he stand within view of the evening 
parade each day for one week with his coat in the same 
manner, except when on guard duty, and to have his 
whiskey stopped for one month. 

Another order of this character is noted under date of 

Jan. 19, 181 5, according to which Corporal is to be 

"reduced to the ranks at guard mounting when his knot will be 
taken from his shoulder on parade in front of the Battalion ;" 
and Mary of Captain Watson's Company was con- 
victed of conveying whiskey to a Sentinel on post, whereupon 
the court sentenced her "to be drummed off the Island im- 
mediately after guard mounting and never to be suffered to 
return." 

Another order of the same period orders that Corporal 

shall have his knot cut from his shoulders by the 

smallest drummer in the Battalion. 

An Execution Order follows: 



Garrison Orders : 

Ft. Columbus, July 7, 1814. 

The Troops on Governor's Island will parade tomorrow 
morning at half past 11 o'clock on the Grand Parade for 
the purpose of witnessing the execution of the prisoner 
sentenced by a Gen'l order of the 2d inst. to be shot to 
death. The Troops will form three sides of a square, the 
Artillery will form the right : left flank the Infty ; the rear, 
the execution party consisting of a Sergeant and 12 pri- 
vates which will parade at half past 11 o'clock, and be 
placed under the command of Lieut. Farley, Provost 
Marshal. 

The guards of the advanced posts will leave their 
entries at their respective posts and will repair to the 
Parade at half past 11 o'clock, those under charge of the 
Provost Marshal will join the execution party for the 
purpose of escorting the Prisoner to the place of execu- 
tion. The execution party in Divisions preceded by the 
music with the Provost Marshal at their head will march 
in front of the Prisoner, the music playing the Dead* 

* The dirge played at the military executions of this period was "Roslyn 
Castle," with muffled drums. 

64 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

March : the guards formed in divisions will march in rear 
of the Prisoner. The procession will enter the Square 
from the rear, face ten paces from the cofifin placed in the 
center upon which the Prisoner kneels. By a signal from 
the Provost Marshal the music ceases, tlie signal to fire is 
then given to the execution party. 

By order of 

M. SwETT, Com'g. 

A pleasing incident of pax inter helium is discovered in an 
Artillery order of Jan. i, 1815, when Mars unbends for the 
moment and in the presence of the ladies of the "Stocking, 
Hood and Mockason Society" removes his helmet and becomes 
amenable to the softening influence of woman's sympathy. 
The courtesies of the day are well illustrated in the charming 
reply of the gallant commanding officer. 

Artillery orders. Fort Columbus, Jan. i, 1815. 

^: ^: ^: ^c ;)C ^ ^ ^ 

Lieut. Col. House has received the following communi- 
cation from the ladies of the "Stocking, Hood and 
Mockason Society of New York," accompanied with 46 
Hoods and 46 prs. of mittens to be presented to the Sol- 
diers and Sentinels on duty at the several Artillery posts 
under his command : 

New York, Dec. 30, 1814. 
"Sir: 

(After reciting the action of the Society) 

The Society regrets that the present state of their funds 
does not enable them to do more for those whose claims 
are strengthened by every consideration of Patriotism and 
Gratitude. 

By order of the Board of Managers. 

CoL. Hou.se. N. D. S. Bradish, Sec. 

"This Humane and pleasing attention to the wants and 
privations of the Soldier from a Body of tiie most respect- 
able Ladies of New York cannot fail to excite in the minds 
of every individual the most grateful sensation, and to 
animate in his bosom a peculiar ardour and zeal in the 
performance of his duty. I am honored, madam, with 

65 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

your letter of the 30tli ult. with 46 Hoods and 46 prs. of 
mittens. I beg leave, madam, to assure you that this 
flatering attention to the wants and privations of the Sol- 
dier from so respectable a Body of Ladies cannot fail to 
animate every bosom with a degree of Chivalrick ardour 
when it is recollected that the service in which they are 
engaged is the defence of the City of their amiable and 
virtuous patronesses. Accept, madam, for yourself and 
the Society the assurances of respect with which I have 
the honor to be, 

Yr. most obt. Servt. 

Jas. House, Lieut. Col. Arty. 



A few extracts typical of the rest follow from the Garrison 
Order Book: 

Garrison Orders. Fort Columbus, July 15th, 1815. 

Parole — Europe. 
C. Sign — American. 

Officer for the day — Capt. Howell. 

Officer for the guard — Lieut. Berier. 

The Parole and Countersign will in future be com- 
municated to the officers of the Guard Mounting con- 
formable to an antient practice. 

Garrison Orders. Fort Columbus, Aug. 8, 1815. 

Parole — Galatin. 
Csign — Bayard. 

Officer for the day tomorrow — Lieut. Davis. 
General's Guard from Capt. Richard's Company. 
Corporal Snarts, privates Mandaville, Plunkett and 
Bond of Major Hall's Company, and Texton, Holt and 
Spencer of Captain Howell's Company are detailed for 
Col. House's boat, and to report on daily duty until fur- 
ther orders. 

By Order, 

Chas. Anthony, 
Adjt. 
66 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

Garrison Orders. Fort Columbus, 

9th Sept. 1815. 
******** 

For the preservation and better regulation of the boats 
belonging to the Island, those for use are appointed as 
follows : The boats formerly in the use of Lt. Col. House, 
Major Hall and Adjutant Anthony and the yellovy oared 
barge are assigned to the use of the Corps or Artillery at 
this post, to be turned over to and distributed by Lieut. 
Col. House. For the use of the Infantry are assigned the 
Green six-oared barge, the whale boat and the seven- 
oared barges which are to be turned over to and distrib- 
uted by Lt. Col. Swetting. The 4-oared Green boat is 
reserved for the Gen. Hospital. No. 12-oared barge 
known by the name of Genls. Barge and the 6-oared 
Green boat are reserved for the use of the Commandant. 
No interference is to be made by either Corps with the 
boats assigned to the other. ******* 

Another Order relating to transportation is extracted as 

follows : 

Garrison Orders. Ft. Columbus, 

May 6, 1815. 
****** ^- * 

The licensed ferry Boats wnll be governed by the fol- 
lowing Regulations: Neither shore to be left destitute 
of a ferry Boat for more than twenty minutes between 
the rising and setting of the Sun. * * * Where one Boat 
starts from one shore, leaving no Boat there, another Boat 
starts at the same moment from the opposite shore, 
whether w^ith or without a passenger. * * * 

Jas. House, 

Lt. Col. Artillery. 
Comdg. 

Orders for Sept. 15, 1815, show the retention of the old 

English name for Mess call. 

Sept. 15, 1815. 
******** 

Parole — Wolf. 
Csign — Montgomery. 

Troop will be beat at 8 a. m. 

Roast beef at half past 12. 

67 



History of governor's island 

The War of 1812 followed shortly upon the building of the 
Castle. Governor Daniel D. Tompkins reports as follows: 

New York, Jan. 19, 1810. 

Fort Columbus on Governor's Island is finished and 
cajiable of mounting 104 guns, of which 50 are already on 
the parapets. This is a regular erected work of masonry 
with a ditch, counterscarp, covert way and glacis capable 
of resisting a long siege. 

Two tiers and platforms in the Castle are finished, each 
capable of receiving 26 guns. Eleven French 36 pdrs. 
are already mounted. The whole armament of the 
Castle when completed may be stated as 100 guns, includ- 
ing the terrace on the top. 

The following Report is valuable as referring to a fort on 
Buttermilk Qiannel. This was probably situated at or near 
the present South Battery. It is not known when it was 
demolished, but probably at the time of building South Bat- 
tery. It is indeed possible that South Battery is an enlarge- 
ment of the fort of 1812. 

New York, March 15, 1813. 
Fort Columbus, Castle Williams, and a fort to guard 
the pass at Buttermilk Channel, all upon Governor's 
Island, are completed and equipped with everything need- 
ful for action. * * * * There is an abundant supply of 
cannon balls on Governor's Island, 27,000 blank cannon 
cartridges, six travelling forges and a number of grates 
for heating shot. 



At this time considerable alarm was felt by the inhabitants 
of the City at a report that the troops stationed on Governor's 
Island had been ordered to the Northern frontier. 

The "National Advocate" in its issue of August 30th, 1812, 
allayed the natural fears of the people in saying: "We are 
authorized to state that no troops stationed on Governor's 
Island have proceeded or are ordered to proceed to the North. 
The rumour that such an order is to be given is false and 
groundless." 

68 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

Apropos of the importance of troops in the Harbour of New 
York, not only in popular feeling but also in the judgnient of 
the War Department, a brief extract may be quoted from the 
autobiography of Major Joseph Delafield, 46th U. S. Infantry 
(Lieut.-Colonel Wm. S. Tallmadge commanding), who was 
commissioned April 15, 1814: "The term of service being 
about to expire and Majr Tallmadge & myself being desirous 
to remain in the Army and to seek some more active service 
concerted a plan to form a new regiment, to select our officers 
from the Volunteer regiment and upon the strength of our 
recruits and the experience of our officers to ask for their com- 
missions. These arrangements being made Majr Tallmadge 
and myself proceeded to Washington and presented our scheme 
to the Secretary of War (Genl. Armstrong). At this time an 
Act of Congress authorized the addition of five regiments to 
the line of the Army. We were given one of the new regiments, 
Major Tallmadge to be Lieut. Col : Captains Par Lee and my- 
self Majors and the Company officers all in compliance with 
our scheme of selection and commissions were given accord- 
ingly. We began to recruit with activity and soon had be- 
tween two & three hundred men ; and as the most of us had 
been confined to the harbor defense and were desirous of more 
active service we established our headquarters at Pokeepsie, 
which district was beyond the command of the officer com- 
manding in N. York. Being in charge of the recruiting ser- 
vice my orders were to prepare the men as rapidly as possible 
to march North to join the Army on the Canada frontier. Our 
recruiting district embraced the State of New York. The 
enemy however continued to threaten attacks along the coast, 
and the alarm for the safety of the city was so great that all 
the available forces were collected in the harbor and orders 
were obtained from Washington to bring our detachment to 
the harbor. We joined the garrison on Governor's Island and 
there remained until the close of the War." 

In the Sunmier of 1814 there were over 1000 officers and 
men in the Garrison and great activity was displayed in pre- 
paration for actual war, as the following order indicates : 

69 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Garrison Orders. 

Fort Columbus, Aug. 28, 18 14. 

The Artillery and Infantry will be drilled at the Battery 
on Governors' Island every Monday, Wednesday, and 
Friday from 5 to 6:30 a. m. commencing at Fort Colum- 
bus, taking the guns in course through all the batteries. 
The commanding officers of companies will cause their 
companies to be drilled with muskets every Tuesday, 
Thursday and Saturday at the same hours. All officers 
are punctually to attend drills. 

Sgt. Dillahunty will drill the non-commissioned officers 
of Artillery from 9 130 to 11 until further orders. 

At the sound of the alarm by the bugle the troops will 
turn out on their company parade. The Infantry will be 
conducted by their Senior officers to the covert way of the 
ditch of Fort Columbus as its proper alarm post, and the 
Artillery will be conducted by companies to their bat- 
teries. The conductor of Artillery aided by the Q. M. 
Sergeant and Powder Monkeys will furnish implements 
and ammunition and arrange them at the batteries. 

By order, 

Chas. Anthony,, 
Adjutant Corps Artillery. 



The Island served a valuable purpose during this war as a 
basis for recruits and school of instruction. Colonel Burbeck 
according to orders issued in June instructed in Artillery exer- 
cises the Pennsylvania Detachment under command of Cap- 
tain Connely, the New York Detachment under Captain Sproul, 
and Captain Ogden's Company of Artillery of the Jersey Line, 
while Lieut. Colonel David Brearly forwarded to Fort Colum- 
bus all the recruits of the Pennsylvania and Jersey Lines from 
the Trenton Depot. 

Some details of pay and equipment prevailing at this period 
are quoted as a basis of comparison with the conditions a cen- 
tury later. The extracts are from Regulations in force May 
2d, 1814: 

70 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

Pay in 1814. 

PAY PER FORAGE RATIONS 

MONTH NO. OF HORSES PER DAY 

Major-General $200 7 15 

Brigadier-General 104 5 ^^ 

Brigade Chaplain 50 2 4 

Professor of Math. Eng. Corps 50 3 4 

Apothecary General i ,800 per annum. 

Commissary General 3,000 per annum. 

Cadet 16 

Colonel (ex. of Cavalry) .... 75 4 6 

1st Lieut, (ex. of Cavalry).. 30 o 3 

(Forage supplied for Lieut. Artillery and Light Dragoons.) 

Corporal $10 

Private, bombardier, sapper 

and miner 8 

(Women in proportion of i to every 17 men a ration in kind.) 

Private waiters — Major-General 4 

Colonel 2 

and others in proportion. 

Clothing 100 Years Ago for Infantry. 

Regulations of 1814. 

Coat $6.07 

Cap 2.18 

Frock i.57>^ 

Shirts (4 at $1.30) 5.20 

Stockings 54 

Socks 10 

Shoes 1.05 

Stock 12 

Cockade and eagle 8}^ 

Pompon 25 

While the pay and clothing of 1814 were more satisfactory 
to the troops than during the Revolutionary Period, the thou- 

71 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

sand ofificers and men stationed on Governor's Island in the 
summer of 1814 undoubtedly suffered many discomforts. The 
Castle had been completed, however, just before the outbreak 
of the War. 

Inasmuch as this is an important building, always in evi- 
dence but really little known, the author quotes at some length 
from Guernsey's technical description of Castle Williams in 
his "New York in the War of 1812," which states that the 
lower tier had 27 French 35 pdrs. and the second tier, 39-20 
pdrs. The terrace over the bomb proof, he tells us, formed a 
barbette battery upon which 45 columbiads carrying 50 pd. 
balls could be placed. 

The walls are about 40 feet high, of Newark red sandstone, 
hammered, and consist of 13 arches of 30 ft. span, 2 ft. thick 
and 24 long. The cross walls are 7 ft. thick between the arches 
and 12 ft. at the termination of the segment. 

The guns are mounted in such manner that the centre of 
motion is immediately under the muzzle of the gun, so that, 
although the angle of fire is 54°, the mouth of tlie gun occu- 
pies always the same place, which permits the throat of the 
embrasure to be so small that a shot could not pass between 
the gun and its side and the line of fire cross at 20 feet distance. 

The interior of the Castle is open to the sky and the aper- 
tures for smoke to escape amounts to 144 square feet in the 
rear. The walls are 8 feet thick on the ground tier and 7 feet 
on the next tier and in the mass of the wall arches are turned 
over each pair of embrasures, so that if it were possible to 
batter or break into the lower tier, the upper one would rest 
upon these arches and exhibit the appearance of a bridge com- 
posed of very solid tiers. The outside cut of the wall was 
laid in Flemish bond and each stone dovetailed in such a man- 
ner that no one could be dislocated without first being broken 
to pieces. Over each embrasure is a flat arch of remarkable 
strength. It also contains 2 stone magazines for 200 barrels 
of powder and within the walls is an inexhaustible well of finest 
water from which all the shipping might be watered with 
ease. 

72 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

Colonel Williams resigned his commission July 31, 1812, 
on account of dissatisfaction felt and expressed by the 
Artillery at an Engineer officer's being assigned to command 
the Castle. Major Joseph A. Swift relieved Colonel Williams 
as Colonel and Chief Engineer, with headquarters in New 
York. 

The Hon. Saml. Mitchell pays a deserved tribute to Colonel 
Williams in his letter of October 9th, 1808, written during the 
construction of the Castle, as follows : "The Chief Engineer 
who planned the general fortifications of New York and who 
actually superintended their construction is Colonel J. Wil- 
liams, the learned and ingenious director of the American 
Military Academy at West Point and President of the Ameri- 
can Philosophical Society. The high professional talents dis- 
played by this gentleman in projecting the works have been 
very ably seconded in carrying them into operation. 

At Governor's Island Fort Columbus is now finished. It 
consists of 4 bastions, 3 curtains and an attached casemated 
ravelin with two retired flanks, the whole capable of mounting 
96 guns and might without inconvenience bring one-half its 
face at one instant against any passing ship, while it com- 
pletely commands the East River. 

It is a work composed of a walled rampart 8 feet thick at its 
base, diminishing by its slope to 6 feet at the line of the cordon 
with counter forts of five feet in depth at the distance of 13 
feet from each other, surmounted by a solid brick parapet of 
10 feet in thickness. The ditch is about 40 feet wide, with a 
walled counterscarp, a walled covert way and a sodded glacis 
extending to the water edge. 

At Bedlow's Island a mortar battery commands all the chan- 
nel. This battery is on the level of the ditch of a Star fort in 
its rear which not only commands it but commands and pro- 
tects Ellis Island. 

The old wooden parapet is taken down at Ellis Island and a 
platform for a gun battery is completed. Under charge of 
Colonel Williams a Castle at the Battery is being built similar 
to that on Governor's Island. The North Battery, foot of 

73 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Hubert Street, is a circular battery of 20 guns in one tier 
which will cross fire with the S. W. Battery. 

In Fort Columbus there are actually in place 60 cannon, in 
Castle WilHams 52, in S. W. Battery (Castle Clinton) 28, at 
Bedlow's Island 24, at North Battery 16, Ellis Island 14, 
Arsenal near Custom House 34. 

Adding for the uncompleted third tier of Castle Williams, 
Governor's Island, 26, and for the bomb battery at Ellis Island 
4 mortars, we have a total of 258 pieces. 

The estimated complement to man these guns is as fol- 
lows : 

On Governor's Island : Fort Columbus 780 men, Castle 
Williams 1014; Bedlow's Island 312, Ellis Island 182, S. W. 
Battery 364, North Battery 208, Arsenal 442, making a total 
requirement of 2,302 men." 

The larger estimate for Castle Williams is based upon the 
additional 26 guns in the third tier. 

The above quoted letter of the Hon. Saml. Mitchell was 
written in 1808. During the continuance of the War of 1812- 
15, references to which are to be found in this Chapter, oc- 
curred a practical test of the efficiency of the guns of Castle 
Williams in a target practice for the benefit of the Artillery 
Militia. 

The one of which we have an account took place on the 
14th August, 18 12. The target was an old hulk anchored in 
the stream about 1,000 yards from shore, equidistant from 
Castle Williams and the Fort at the Battery. General Mor- 
ton's Brigade at the Battery Parade opened fire with 6, 9, 12 
and 18 pdrs. 

The Veteran Corps of Artillery commanded by Captain 
Delamater fired from a long nine, which repeatedly raked the 
hull of the target.* 

Several heavy shot from the guns in Castle Williams also 
hulled the target. After the firing had continued two hours 



* The Veteran Corps of Artillery nearly a century after this event in- 
stituted relations with Governor's Island of a more peaceful character, 
(v. p. 150). 

74 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

the hulk was perceived to be on fire. This was caused by the 
hot shot fired by Colonel Curtenius' Regiment, which were 
heated in a travelling forge attached to the Brigade. The re- 
sult of the firing was as follows : 

NO, OF SHOTS. EFFECTIVE. MISSED. 

Castle Williams 3° 27 3 

Castle Clinton 40 36 4 

The Artillery V. C. A. 

and others 3H 254 60 



384 317 67 

The military activity of the regular forces on Governor's 
Island at this period was reflected in the atmosphere of ex- 
pectation that prevailed throughout the City. In every walk 
of life there was but one theme of conversation, and the various 
armed organizations, whether shooting long nines or smoking 
churchwardens, were parati ad helium. Even the fashionable 
restaurants of the day were redolent of war, as we judge from 
the description of the Shakespeare Tavern, which was one of 
a number of similar establishments. 

The Shakespeare Tavern was situated at the southwest cor- 
ner of Fulton and Nassau Streets. It was here that the Vet- 
eran Artillery Corps had their holiday dinners, although it 
also dined, as it does to this day, at Fraunces' Tavern, on 
occasions of ceremony. 

The Shakespeare was kept by one Hodgkinson and it was 
adorned in 181 5 by a great sign of Columbia and Britannia 
with joined hands and an olive branch and the words, "Forgive 
and Forget." 

Over the Eagle were draped the American colours and over 
the Lion was the shield of Great Britain. Over all were the 
names of our Commissioners, Adams, Bogart, Gallatin, Clay 
and Russell, and the word "Peace," with intertwined flags. 

The decorations thus described were added to the other at- 
tractions of the Tavern at the establishment of peace, which 
was officially announced in the following orders : 

75 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

General Orders. 

Adjt. Gen. Office, 

3D Military District, New York. 
Feb. 6th, 1815. 

A Martial Salute will be fired tomorrow from Gover- 
nor's Island in honor of the Glorious Victory obtained 
over the enemy at New Orleans on the 8th January by the 
troops under Major Gen. Jackson. 

This order was followed by a Gen. order, Feb. 20, reciting 
that a Treaty of Peace had been signed between the United 
States and Great Britain at Washington on Feb. 17th, and 
ordering a Martial Salute to be fired at noon on Feb. 21st 
from Governor's Island and all posts from Sandy Hook to the 
forts at Harlem, the Salutes to be followed by a "Feu de 
joie" and an "Extra Ration of Liquor to be oflfered to the 
troops to drink the glorious termination of an honorable 
War." It was also ordered that Feb. 25th should be "passed 
by the Troops of this Garrison in festivity and rejoicing and 
in the evening an illumination of the officers' Quarters and 
Barracks and Guard House to begin at dusk and to continue 
till 9 o'clock. At half after 7 o'clock in the evening "18 
rockets will be discharged from the castle under the direction 
of the Artillery Quarter Master." 

That War was over and Peace assured may be gathered 
from the following Orders relative to details generally neg- 
lected under war conditions: 

Artillery Orders. Fort Columbus, 

14 March, 181 5. 

A long standing Genl. Order regulating the cut of Hair 
& Whiskers has for some time past been too little attended 
to and there appear in the ranks as many fashions with 
regard to this part of the dress as there are kinds of men. 
There may be some excuse for these irregularities in new- 
raised Regts., but it ought to be expected that so old and 
respectable a corps of the Army as the Artillery would 
set the example of neatness. ********* 

At the next weekly inspection every non-Com officer 
and Soldier will appear with his whiskers trimmed off in 

76 



PERIOD OF THE WAR OF l8l2 

a line from the tip of the car to the bottom of the nose 
and the Hair cropped, and it is expected that Officers of 
Companies will set the example. 

By order — Chas. Anthony, 

Adj. Corps Artillery. 

It is interesting to compare with these Orders of 1815 the 
following Orders on the same subject thirty-three years later 
at the close of the Mexican War: 

Genl. Orders War Department, 

No. 35 Adjutant General's Office, 

Washington, July 6, 1848. 

A Proclamation by the President of the United States 
of America announcing the termination of the War with 
Mexico. 

(Here follows the Treaty) 

(Here follow directions as to discharge of officers and 
men of the ten additional Regiments, of the Volunteer 
troops, Recruits, &c., in 10 paragraphs.) 



Paragraph No. 11 is as follows : 

II. The Jwir to be- short, or what is generally termed 
cropped: the whiskers not to extend below the lower tip 
of the ear, and a line thence with the curve of the mouth : 
Moustaches will not be worn (except by Cavalry regi- 
ments) by officers or men on any pretence whatever. 
(Army Regulations, page 21^.) 

The non-observance of the above regulation (tolerated 
during the war with Mexico) is no longer permitted. It 
is enjoined upon all officers to observe and enforce the 
regulation. 

By order of the Secretary of War. 

R. Jones, 

Adjt Genl. 




CHAPTER IV. 

Mexican and Civil War Period. 

The Mexican and Civil Wars were so far removed geo- 
graphically from New York that the activities of the Gover- 
nor's Island Garrison were naturally of a different nature 
from those in the stirring times of the Revolution of 1776 and 
of the lesser War of 1812. This period may therefore be 
passed over more briefly in order not to prolong unduly our 
story. 

In 1847 the 1st New York Volunteer Infantry was mustered 
in on Governor's Island, Colonel Ward Burnett, a graduate of 
West Point, commanding. After gallant service in Mexico 
the Regiment returned to New York and their colours were 
preserved for many years in the Governor's Room in the City 
Hall. In 1907 they were presented to Governor's Island by 
the City and with imposing military and ecclesiastical cere- 
monies were installed in the chapel of Saint Cornelius the Cen- 
turion, where their tattered remnants now hang. A dozen or 
more survivors of the Mexican War participated in the cere- 
monies. The history of the colours which follows is taken 
from the official tablet accompanying the flags upon their re- 
moval from the City Hall. 

History of the Colors 

OF THE 

1ST N. Y. Regiment — Mexican War, 

The First Regiment of New York Volunteers in the 
Mexican War was presented with a stand of Colors on 
January 8th, 1847, by the City of New York. The 
Colonel of the Regiment, Ward B. Burnett, received the 
Colors personally, part of the Regiment having sailed for 
Mexico before the date of presentation. The flags were 
received by the Regiment when the first parade took place 
after the presentation, on the Mexican Island of Lobos 
about sixty miles north of Vera Cruz where the fleet con- 

78 



MEXICAN AND CIVIL WAR PERIOD 

taining the army assembled. The officers of the Regiment 
were called to the front and centre, where they formed 
a circle about the Colors. Each officer placed his left 
hand on one of the staffs, raised his right hand, and took 
a solemn oath under the direction of Colonel Burnett to 
protect the flags with his life blood. The Colors consisted 
of two flags and two guide colors, one the national flag 
and the other a red flag with the coat of arms of the City 
of New York on one side and the coat of arms of the 
State on the other. The red flag was the first over the 
inner wall of the Castle of Chapultepec, on the morning of 
September 13th, 1847. Color Sergeant Hipolite Dardon- 
ville carried the red flag. Orderly Sergeant Robert M. 
Harper, of Company D, supported him on one side and 
1st Lieutenant Francis E. Pinto supported him on the 
other. All went over the wall together. The Regiment 
took an active part in the siege and capture of Vera Cruz, 
the storming of Cerro Gordo Pass, the taking of the City 
of Puebla. the battle of Contreras and Churubusco, where 
Color Sergeant Romein was killed, the storming of the 
Castle of Chapultepec, where Color Guide Zimmerman 
was killed inside of the inner wall of the Castle, and the 
capture of the City of Mexico. The Regiment belonged 
to the 1st Division that entered the City at daybreak of 
the morning of September 14th, 1847. 

Four cannon, 24 pdr. bronze howitzers, are mounted at the 
steps of the Chapel leading from the nave into the choir. The 
inscription on each of these cannon, which are used to carry 
chains across the choir, is as follows: 

Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, 

Churubusco, Chapultepec, 

City of Mexico, 1847. 

A letter from Captain Hungerford to George W. Morton, 
Esq., New York, gives some additional data in regard to this 
distinguished Regiment, mustered in on Governor's Island 
and memorialized by the exhibition of their Colours in the 
Chapel. It may be mentioned in this connection that Veterans 
of this Regiment come occasionally to look upon their old 

79 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

colours and at the cannon mounted below them inscribed with 
the names of the battles in which they served. The letter 
follows : 

City of Mexico — Halls of Montezuma. • 

Deer 7", 1847. 

The 2d Regt New York Volunteers in the IMexican 
War (known later as the ist New York) were at Churu- 
busco with 300 men, 2 companies being on detached ser- 
vice. 

The Regiment lost in killed and wounded 115. At 
Chapultepec the Regiment was the first to enter the 
works, carrying our colours, and the National standard 
was the first that took the breeze over Chapultepec. The 
flag of the Empire State was displayed from the balcony 
of the building (City Hall?) the Colour Sergeant not 
being able to find the passage leading to the top of the 
building. 



The colours are in a very tattered condition, the National 
ensign in particular having only part of the Union and a little 
fringe left. This is reasonably supposed to be the state 
in which they were brought back from Mexico, as they have 
been preserved since 1847 in a glass case in the Governor's 
Room, New York City Hall. 

Another interesting reminder of the Mexican War to be 
seen in the Chapel is a large oil painting, a Pieta, which was 
once the property of Colonel Thomas Staniford. The brass 
plate underneath recites that the ''painting is donated as a 
memorial to the widow of the late Doctor N. S. Jarvis, U. S. A., 
Jennie B. Jarvis, a noble and faithful servant of God, identified 
with the Army for a period of over 70 years, who died ]\Tay 
26, 1907." Colonel Staniford was a veteran of the War of 
1812, and was distinguished for gallantry and good judgment 
in the Florida and Mexican Wars. He served on Governor's 
Island in the 30's. 

The Votive Shield in the Chapel referred to on p. 148 
recalls the dramatic sinking of the San Francisco in 1853. 

80 



MEXICAN AND CIVIL WAR PERIOD 

111 November and December, 1853, tlie Headquarters, Band 
and Companies, A. B. C. D. G. H. I. K. and L. of the 3rd Ar- 
tillery, about 300 officers and men, were on Governor's Island 
awaiting orders for station on the Pacific Coast. 

They sailed for San Francisco via Cape Horn on December 
22, 1853, on the "San Francisco," a side wheel steamer of 
3000 tons, Captain James T. Watkins. There were 740 per- 
sons on board. Before leaving they had placed in tlie Gover- 
nor's Island chapel an heraldic shield with the name of the 
organization and date of their being here, little thinking of the 
way in which they were to return to their station. • The "San 
Francisco" almost at once ran into heavy weather which soon 
became a tornado, and at 9 a. m. on December 24th a huge 
wave swept everything from the upper deck, including the 
main cabin, and carried with it about 175 persons who had 
taken refuge there. The brig "Napoleon," too small to render 
practical assistance, carried news of the wreck to Boston. 
The Government at once sent vessels to the rescue, and the 
survivors, nearly 600 persons, were taken off the "San Fran- 
cisco" by the American Ship "Antarctic," the American bark 
"Kilby" and the British ship "Three Bells." The boats of 
the vessel were swept away by the sea and her fires were 
put out and she soon sprang a leak. The soldiers and 
other passengers rendered aid by manning the pumps and 
jettisoning the cargo. Lieutenant L. K. Murray, U. S. N., 
a passenger on the "San Francisco," set a splendid example 
of heroism. 

The "Kilby" took her rescued people to Boston. The 
"Antarctic" proceeded to Liverpool, where the survivors of the 
wreck were not allowed to land and after long delay they 
were returned to New York. The survivors of the "Three 
Bells" were more fortunate, being landed at New York Janu- 
ary 13th, 1845, three weeks after the disaster. 

The return of the survivors to Governor's Island is de- 
scribed by the son of a 3rd Artillery bandsman, whose father 
and mother were on the "San Francisco," as being a thrilling 
occasion. Visitors to the Chapel will find a second shield 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

erected by the survivors of the Regiment "in sorrow and 
thankfuhiess." The shield is described with others of the 
Mexican War period, on p. 148. 

The 3rd Artillery at the time of leaving Governor's Island 
was commanded by Colonel William Gates. His son was lost 
in the wreck, also the wife of Captain George Taylor. The 
officers lost were ]\Iajor John Macrae Washington, ist Lieu- 
tenant Horace B. Field, ist Lieutenant Richard H. Smith, all 
of the 3rd Artillery. 

Period of 1861. 

"Another interval of pipeclay and monotonous guard duty 
was succeeded by the stirring times of 1861-65, when Gover- 
nor's Island became the important depot for the United States. 
The ancient Castle became the dungeon for Confederate 
prisoners of war, large numbers being confined there during 
the war and several executions taking place." Doctor Rob- 
ertson recalls an interesting event of 1863. During the draft 
riots of that year the troops stationed on Governor's Island 
were guarding the Sub-Treasury in Wall Street. Their ab- 
sence was seized by the rioters as a time for attacking the 
Island and capturing ammunition, rifles and stores. The City 
authorities, hearing of this movement, withdrew all ferry-boats 
from their slips. The rioters, however, secured other boats 
and soon were on their way to the Island. Eighty employes 
of the Ordnance Department hurriedly armed themselves with 
muskets, trained some cannon on the invaders and succeeded 
in repulsing the attack. At various periods of the Civil War 
large bodies of troops were encamped on Governor's Island 
going to and returning from the front. On one occassion 
seven regiments were encamped here at one time and an eye- 
witness has described to the author the stirring events of 
those days and the inspiring scene from the glacis when this 
large body of troops was formed for retreat. 

A Hospital was erected at this period. The middle wing 
survives in the present Dept. Hdqrs. Bldg., the school build- 

82 



MEXICAN AND CIVIL WAR PERIOD 

ing, printing office and Hospital Steward's quarters repre- 
senting various wards. The Castle was crowded with prison- 
ers during the Civil War. Chaplain IMcVickar, who began 
his chaplaincy in one war and ended it in another, with the 
visitation of Cholera in 1849 between the two, had much to do 
with and for these prisoners of War. Bishop Whittinghani 
of Maryland waiting to him in 1861, says: "I am greatly 
pleased to find how thoroughly you had anticipated all that 
I wished to ask you about your work in the Port of New 
York." 

The Castle is still (1913) used as a Military Prison. The 
stone magazines at the gate have been taken down to provide 
place for a much-needed guard house, which is being built 
of the same material just inside the main gate. 

A picture in Harper's Weekly (May, 1861) shows troops 
drilling on Governor's Island near the Administration Build- 
ing. A view of the courtyard of the Barracks discloses a 
fence around the centre of the enclosure. 

The book records on file in Washington of Fort Columbus 
at this period are as follows : Record of Convalescents, Strag- 
glers, etc., Union Forces, Received and Forwarded, 1863, 

1864, 1865, and Record of Deserters and General Prisoners 
confined 1865- 1870. To transcribe these would be hardly 
warranted by the scope of this book. An incident of April, 

1865, throws light upon the use of the Castle for prisoners 
of war, of whom there were sometimes 1,000 confined at 
one time. 

The account was written lately in connection with the elec- 
tion of the hero of this incident, William Robert Webb, as 
United States Senator from Tennessee. 

"Three days before the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, 
in April, 1865, a young Confederate officer, William Robert 
Webb, was held as a prisoner of war in the stockade about 
Castle Williams on Governor's Island. He had been brought 
North from Virginia only one day before. W^ebb coidd look 
over the stockade toward the lower end of Manhattan, and 
could see the city easily. Although he had been so badly in- 

83 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

jured that he could not march with the infantry, and had 
changed to the cavalry arm, he seemed to see only the city 
wharves, and not the four hundred yards of water in the 
channel between. After dark he climbed the stockade and 
slipped from the wall into the bay. 

"The chill of early April was still in the water. In spite of 
it, Webb swam across to a point just below Castle Garden 
now the Aquarium, and lifted himself upon the dock. He 
wore a faded Confederate uniform, and found himself enjoy- 
ing the doubtful freedom of a hostile city clad in this garb and 
wringing wet. A citizen spoke to him in Battery Park. 

" 'Who are you?' he said. 'How did you come to fall in?' 

" 'I swam across from the Island,' Webb answered. 'I 
escaped from the prison stockade over there. I am Capt. 
Webb of the Confederate army.' 

"The citizen laughed and passed on. There with the lights 
of the prison twinkling just across the channel several other 
loungers and passers-by asked Webb the same questions and 
got the same answer. 

"Webb stayed in the city for three days wearing his uniform 
and telling every one who asked for his story the plain truth. 
Doubtless if the war had gone on for some time, he might 
have been retaken. As it was, he went free." 

Webb was Captain and Adjutant of the 2nd North Carolina 
Cavalry. 

Another amusing escape from the Castle related by a con- 
temporary was that of a Confederate soldier who in some 
way managed to get out of a gate just as the sentry had passed. 
He ran as far as he could while the sentry was on the beat. 
Just before the sentry turned the prisoner also turned and 
boldly approached the main gate. The sentry, perceiving 
him, ordered him peremptorily away from the Castle, stating 
that visitors were not allowed to come near the gate, an 
order that coincided remarkably with the views of the 
Southern tourist who carried it into instant effect and did 
not return. 

The inscription on the Castle, not often seen because of the 

84 



MEXICAN AND CIVIL WAR PERIOD 

overgrowth of vines, is the name Castle Williams carved on a 
keystone over the main gate with graceful flourishes. To the 
left on a large block of stone are the words 

Commenced and to the right, in the Compleated 
1807 spelling of the day, 181 1 

The guns, except those on the parapets, were removed in 
1893- 




CHAPTER V. . 

Garrison Events and Notes, 1868-1913. 

In this chapter various data of more or less importance are 
cited to throw light upon the life of the Garrison. 

Governor's Island remained an Artillery post till 1850, then 
it was a Recruiting Depot till 1878, when it became Division 
Head Quarters with an Artillery Garrison. In 1894, the Gar- 
rison became an Infantry one and so remains. 

The following brief extracts are taken from the Medical 
History of the Post by Surgeons Page and Elbrey, 1866: 

Sea wall built at S. W. side of Island — 1868 — July, Mean 
strength of the Garrison in this month — 618 men. 

1870 — August — 172 cases of yellow fever — Troops in camp 
— drills omitted. 

1869 — The Music Boys being too crowded in South Bat- 
tery, half their number went into camp, wall tents being used. 

1870 — September — yellow fever — 66 cases. 

The S. E. portion of the Island appears the most infected. 
In one set of quarters 21 were sick out of 22. In another, 33 
out of 40. This part of the Island was quarantined from the 
rest. The caretaker in the Chapel stricken with the disease — 
removed to hospital. 

October — Total number of cases of yellow fever, 131. 
Patients transferred to West Bank Hospital, 10 miles down 
the Bay. Many died as result of transfer. Chaplain Alex- 
ander Davidson caring for soldiers, takes the disease and dies. 

1 871 — March — Buildings in which yellow fever existed torn 
down. 

In 1868 the barracks in Fort Jay were as now, but the one 
on west side was used for Officers' Quarters. The officers' 
quarters were divided on either side of the sally port into two 
parts by a hall, on each side of which were communicating 
rooms, 16 rooms in all and 8 kitchens reckoned for 8 sets of 
quarters. 

86 



HARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

From Circular No. 8, Surgeon Generals' Office, by Surgeon 
J. J. Millan we learn some details as to buildings on the 
Post. The building now used as Administration Building 
was at one time a Court Martial and billiard room and was 
used occasionally for dances. This is the long building just 
east of the Main Fort. The Q. M. Row, near Corbin Hall 
was built in 1871. This Row contains 19 quarters for families 
of employes. On the site of the present Chapel stood a frame 
building used for band quarters, later for Post Library and 
later still as residence for the Boat Captains. In 1905 when 
the Chapel was built it was removed to a position near tlie 
Quartermaster's Office and stables. 

This building at one time was the Garrison Library and 
contained a fine collection of books. The first floor was used 
for school purposes ; the second floor for the library. It was 
burned in 1869 and the books were destroyed. 

The first cemetery was near the present Colonel's Row ; the 
second was near the old Chapel. The victims of the yellow 
fever and cholera were buried here. The iron fence that sur- 
rounded this graveyard stands now behind the General's 
Row on the Lower Road. The Pest House stood near the 
present Colonel's quarters, Regimental Row. The present 
hospital was built about 1878. No interments were allowed 
in the Cemetery after 1878 and in 1886 the remains were re- 
moved to the National Cemetery, Cypress Hill?, Brookyn. 

A few years ago (1907) remains were found during ex- 
cavations for repairs at one of the quarters in Colonel's Row. 
This discovery recalled the site of the first Cemetery estab- 
lished on Governor's Island. There is no known record of its 
date, and it is quite possible that the British used it during 
their occupation, 1776-1783, as war conditions would make it 
difficult to establish one elsewhere. 

Governor's Island was visited by epidemics of cholera in 
1854, 1857, 1866, 1867 and 1868, and by the yellow fever in 
1856 and 1870. These epidemics were general in their char- 
acter, affecting not only New York but adjacent territory. 
The fact of the Island's being a Recruiting Station during 

87 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

that time serves to explain the failure to quarantine the Gar- 
rison. 

The Hospital was overcrowded with soldiers and the other 
cases of which there were an enormous number, as noted on 
p. 86, were treated in the various houses in which they 
occurred. 

The following list of burials, while accurate in detail, prob- 
ably omits the names of some, especially of those who were 
transferred to West Bank Hospital during the yellow fever of 
1870, and of the prisoners of War, it being believed that more 
died in confinement than given in the list below : 

List of Officers and Members of their Families Buried 
ON Governor's Island. 

DATE OF DEATH 

Charles Frye, child Sept. 27, 1798 

Constant Freeman, child AU|g. 5, 1799 

Robert Heaton, Jr., Lieut. 2d U. S. Art'y Oct. 17, 1799 

Mildred K. Souder, child Sept. 6, 1807 

James H. Boyle, Major U. S. Art'y Feb. 8, 1816 

Helen S. Churchill, child Sept. 27, 1818 

Samuel Armstrong, Lieut. U. S. Art'y Sept. 8, 1819 

Lydia Gates, wife of Major Lemuel Gates. . . . Aprl. 26, 1822 

W. J. Page, child Febr. 10, 1823 

James C. DeKamp, status unknown Febr. 29, 1854 

Susan J. DeKamp, wife of above Sept. 11, 1824 

James Mann, Surgeon Nov. 7, 1843 

Eliza F. Brown, child of Capt. H. Brown June 3, 1835 

Julia A. Brown, child of Capt. H. Brown Dec. 15, 1836 

William Gates, Col. and Bvt. Brig.-Genl., 3d 

U. S. Art'y Oct. 7, 1868 

Collinson R. Gates, Bvt. Major, 8th U. S. In- 
fantry June 28, 1849 

Sarah M. Gates, wife of Col. Wm. Gates Oct. 27, 1843 

88 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

DATE OF DEATH 

Mary Reed Collins Gates, child of Wm. Gates. Dec. 3, 1838 

Lydia Bedloe Gates, child of Wm. Gates Febr. 28, 1839 

Samuel L. Russel, Capt. 2d U. S. Inf'y Febr. 26, 1839 

James Green, Capt. 2d U. S. Arty Aug. 17, 1842 

Alexander Cummings, Colonel Jan. 31, 1842 

L. M. Shackleford, Lieut, ist U. S. Art'y Oct. 12, 1847 

H. D. Wallen (Samuel G.), child of H. D. 

Wallen Mar. 22, 1848 

Sidney Smith, Lieut, ist U. S. Art'y Nov. 6, 1849 

B. K. Pierce, Lt.-Col. ist U. S. Art'y Aprl. i, 1850 

Pierce, daughter of above No date 

F. F. , Lieut No date 

C. B. , Lieut No date 

William Walters, Capt. M. S. K June 27, 1864 

Katie Walters, daughter of above June 26, i860 

Ward Miller, child of Lieut. T. E. Miller Sept. 25, 1862 

Robert O. Abbott, Col. and Surgeon June 16, 1867 

T. A. H. Gabel, Lieut. Batn. Major 45th U. S. 

Infantry Dec. 12, 1868 

Bessie Auman, child of Lieut. Auman Febr. 19, 1875 

Joseph Plympton, Col. ist Inf'y. ) No date 

*removed to Woodlawn Cemetery, N.Y.C. f .Nov. 6, 1897 

Courtney, child No date 

Thomas B. Weir, Captain 7th U. S. Cavalry. .Dec. 9, 1876 

Charles McCormick, Col. and Surgeon U. S. A. .Aprl. 28, 1877 

Officers and families 39 

Enlisted men and their families known are 169 

Enlisted men and their families unknown are. . . 191 

Military convicts 4 

families 60 

Total 463 

* From National Cemetery, Cypress Hills. 

89 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

The reinterment of officers was made in a row on the North 
side of the Cemetery; of the non-commissioned officers and 
privates about the middle of the Cemetery, east of the centre 
line. 

Among the stones which were removed from Governor's 
Island and re-erected in 1878 are two of a fine brown sand- 
stone, beautifully cut in the ancient style with inscriptions 
which are given here : 

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM MCINTYRE, 
LATE SERJEANT IN CAPT. RICHARD WHILEY's 
COMPANY U. S. REGT, OF ARTILLERISTS, WHO 
DEPARTED THIS LIFE MAY THE I2TH 1808. 



The other is in memory of 

HIRAM ANDRUS 

OF CO. F, 4TH REGT. OF 

U, S. ARTILLERY 

WHO DIED AT FORT COLUMBUS 

JULY ID, 1833. 



Another of white marble, with a non-commissioned officer's 
sword and belt carved at the top records the death of 

SERGEANT CHARLES HENKE 

BORN IN DENMARK 

NOV. 12, 1794 

DIED JAN'y 14, 1872 

AGED 78 YEARS 

IN THE 5OTH YEAR OF HIS SERVICE IN THE 
U. S. ARMY 

90 



garrison events and notes, 1868-i913 

List of Enlisted Men and their Families and Civilians 
Buried on Governor's Island. 

■ DATE OF DEATH 

William Mclntyre, Sergt. U. S. Art'y May 12, 1868 

Ann Snelling, child Oct. 28, 181 5 

William Patterson, Sergt Sept. 3, 1826 

Catherine Littlefield, wife of Walter Littlefield . Aprl. 11, 1829 

William Cherrington July 10, 1830 

Adeline M. McGuire, daughter of James Mc- 

Guire Oct. 3, 1830 

John B. Manning June 2, 1831 

Hiram Andrus, 4th U. S. Art'y Febr. 10, 1833 

Harman L. Hemstreet, Music Boys Mar. 7, 1833 

Douglas Morrison, child Dec. 19, 1833 

May Morrison, child Dec. 19, 1833 

Ann E. L. Morrison Aug. 27, 1845 

Jane Douglass, wife of R. Douglass Mar. 24, 1847 

George W. Douglass, child of R. Douglass. . .,.Mar. 24, 1847 

William F. Fried, child Oct. 31, 1848 

Wilhelmina Fried No date 

John Fried, Sergt. Co. B, Union Boys Sept. 20, 1865 

John Hughes, Sergt. 4th U. S. Art'y Jan. 7, 185 1 

Martha Hughes, wife of John Hughes ,.Mar. 7, 1852 

Mary , "our Mary," child of John 

Hughes (supposed) No date 

Charles Stanley, Musician Mar. 18, 1854 

Ann Henke, wife of Charles Henke Sept. 2, 1856 

Charles Henke, Sergt. Co. B, Music Boys Jan. 14, 1872 

Esther T. Pfefferle, child July 28, 1856 

Francis Smith Oct. 3, 1856 

David L. Walsh, Sergt Jan. 9, 1857 

Jessie Horan, child May 15, 1861 

91 



i HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

DATE OF DEATH 

Ann M. Lowe, child July 17, 1861 

Alexander D. Hoyt, child May 29, 1861 

John B. Pinghard Feb. 28, 1856 

Maria Pinghard, wife of John B. Pinghard. . .May 29, 1862 

Bridget Stuart, wife of Sergt. Patk. S. Stuart. Aug. 12, 1868 
William R. Stuart, child of Sergt. Patk. S. 

Stuart May 5, 1863 

Mary J. Stuart, child of Sergt. Patk. S. Stuart. Apr. 28, 1868 

Rosanna Stuart, child of Sergt. Patk. S. Stuart . Aug. 22, 1868 

John Haintz, Sergt. Ordnance, U. S. A Feb. i, 1864 

Julia Haintz, child of John Haintz April 18, 1865 

Mary Haintz, child of John Haintz No date 

Fred Haintz, child of John Haintz Sept. 25, 1870 

P. H. Guerin, Sergt. Co. A, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Feb. 23, 1864 

Emeline Allen, wife of G. W. Allen Apr. 16, 1864 

John Henion, Pv't Co. B, Union Boys Nov. ai, 1864 

William Head, Sergt Apr. 24, 1865 

William N. Head, child of Wm. Head Nov. 3, 1865 

James Casey, Pv't Co. A, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Aug. 13, 1866 

Hutchinson M. Howe, Pv't. Co. A, Permt. 

Party, U. S. A Sept. 13, 1870 

Albert Lagenboner, child Jan. 24, 1877 

Gustav N. Lagenboner, child Feb. 9, 1877 

Hannah M. Kieley June 12, 1861 

Patrick Kieley, child No date 

Giles D. Taylor, child July 15, 1869 

Winford R. Farlie, child May 18, 1864 

George H. Arthur, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 16, 1866 

92 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

DATE OF DEATH 

William Meredith, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 



U. S. A.. Aug. 5 

John Moore, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Aug. 3 
David Lieberson, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 8 

James Smith, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Aug. 6 
Thomas Kelly, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. . Aug. 5 
Patrick Riley, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .July 28 
Rudolph Kaimer, Mus. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 20 

Charles McKoon, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 15 

Robert Wolf, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Aug. 4 
Herbert Dailey, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 21 

Elias Morris, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .July 24 
John McHugh, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 25 

Thomas Wheeler, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 30 

Thomas Martin, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 30 

Isaac J. Robinson, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 28 

Peter Glandon, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July i5 

James Connors, Prisoner July 15 

Francis King, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .July 13 
John McMahon, Pvt. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 18 

John McColgan, Mus. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 20 

93 



866 
866 

866 
866 
866 
866 

866 

866 
866 

866 
866 

866 

866 

866 

866 

866 
866 
866 

866 

866 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

DATE OF DEATH 

Lawrence Broderick, Mus. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 20, 1866 

Frederick W. Johnson, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July ai, 1866 

Alexander Wise, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 19, 1866 

Henry Wier, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. July 31, 1866 
George Rixford, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 26, 1866 

David Ewing, Prisoner Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 3, 1866 

David Forney, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. . Sept. 28, 1866 
Fritz Mathisson, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 18, 1866 

Daniel Dunford, Mus. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 20, 1866 

Francis Lurst, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. II, 1866 

Monroe McKelsey, Pvt. Co, C, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Aug. 7, 1866 

Carl Gross, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Aug. 7, 1866 
Charles Howe, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 4, 1866 

Martin Coster, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 15, 1866 

Henry Boyer, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A, .Aug. 3, 1866 
Josiah Harrison, Mus. Boys, Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 20, 1866 

Emanuel Ferguson, Pvt. 9th U. S. Inf'y July 23, 1866 

Abraham Walk, Pvt. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 31, 1866 

Joseph Emerson, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. ID, 1866 

94 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I9I3 

DATE OF DEATH 

John R. P. Smith Aug. i, 1866 

J. Denanny No date 

James Neland, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. . Sept. 26, 1866 
Christ. Saltmeyer, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 12, 1866 

Peter Burke, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 2G, 1866 

John Bush, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 17, 1866 

Lewis T. Young, Pvt Jan. 3, 1856 

EHzabeth G. Ives July 7,1873 

Charles Bessamore, Co. B, Union Boys June 20, 1861 

Frederick O'Brien, child Mar. 24, 1862 

Winifred O'Brien, child Mar. 27, 1862 

Fred. Reynolds Aug. 17, 1862 

• Reynolds No date 

William Gulick, Sgt. Co. F, Permt. Party June 25, 1863 

Alexander Moore, Pvt. Co. M, 2d U. S. Art'y.Sept. 24, 1861 

Franz Hooper, Pvt. Co. A, Permt. Party Apr. 28, 1865 

C. McCormick, Sgt. Co. A, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Aug. 12, 1865 

F. Holfriede, Pvt. Co. F, ist U. S. Art'y- -, Nov. 2, 1861 

Frederick Grunert, child July 11, 1872 

J. Johnson, Pvt. Co. C, 6th U. S. Infty Dec. 25, 1861 

Walter Kilborn, Pvt. Co. K, 91st N. Y. Infty. .Jan. 5, 1862 

J. Morrison, Pvt. Co. G, 98th N. Y. Infty Jan. 6, 1862 

W. A. Huckbonc, Pvt. Co. I, 91st N. Y. Infty. .Jan. 9, 1862 

W. McBride, Pvt. Co. F, Permt. Party May 19, 1862 

John Fish, Pvt. Co. E, 91st N. Y. Infty Jan. 17, 1862 

W. Simmons, Pvt. Co. I, 91st N. Y. Infty. . . .Jan. 30, 1862 
Joseph or James Trumble, Sgt. Co. G, Permt. 

Party Dec. 2, 1861 

David Flecke, Corp. Co. A, Permt. Party Dec. 16, 1861 

95 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

DATE OF DEATH 

Francis Shields, Sgt. Co. I, Permt. Party Oct. i, 1861 

Robertson, woman No date 

Grace Robertson, child No date 

P. Griffin, Pvt. Co. H, ist U. S. Infty Feb. 20, 1862 

Alfred Pitt, Pvt. Co. E, 98th N. Y. Infty Feb. 23, 1862 

Patrick Conkly, Pvt. Co. H, 28th Alass. Infty. .Afar. 7, 1862 

James Carr, Musician Feb. 22, 1863 

Charles Allen, Corp. Co. K, 7th N. Y. Infty. . .Dec. 18, 1864 

Rudolph Schaer, child Sept. 15, 1867 

William Muller, Pvt. Co. D Mar. 6, 1866 

James Kellog, Gen. Serv., U. S. A Sept. 19, 1867 

Fernando Snyder, Gen. Serv., U. S. A Sept. 18, 1867 

Adelbert Rogers, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 16, 1867 

William Swain, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 14, 1867 

Christ. Nolte, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 6, 1867 
Adolph Aikens, Pvt. Co. C, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. II, 1867 

John H. Etzold, Pvt. Gen. Serv., U. S. A Sept. 12, 1867 

Benjamin Williams, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 5, 1867 

John Horan, Recruit, U. S. A Sept. 3, 1867 

Christ. Liesbert, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. I, 1867 

Henry Peck, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 5, 1867 

Edward McLaughlin, Pvt. U. R. C, U. S. A. . . Sept. 3, 1867 
Charles Donnely, Pvt. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. I, 1867 

Frank Gallagher, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 31, 1867 

96 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

DATE OF DEATH 

Francis McKeon, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 2, 1866 

Thomas Patston, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 24, 1867 

James Patston, child of T. Patston No date 

Lewis Vassell, Pvt. Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 2, 1867 

Joseph Recaid, Recr. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Aug. 31, 1867 

Oliver Hersher, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A July 4> 1866 

William Hilliers, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 6, 1866 

Patrick Hart, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Aug. 8, 1866 
Frederick Weil, Prisoner, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 22, 1866 

Simon S. Schultz, child Sept. 16, 1866 

P. McGuire, Pvt. Co. G, 28th Mass. Infty Feb. 19, 1862 

Henry Shipley, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., * 

U. S. A Oct. 3, 1866 

Andreas P. Karberg, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 6, 1866 

Henry Schlegel, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 13, 1866 

Frank Jones, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Oct. 15, 1866 
John H. Totten, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 19, 1866 

John Heberger, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 20, 1866 

John Sanberg, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 27, 1866 

Frederick Traub, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Nov. 6, 1866 

97 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

DATE OF DEATH 

Martin Leonard, Pvt. Co, D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Dec. 4, 1866 

Edward Tryer, Pvt Feb. 2, 1867 

John Jones, Corp. Co. C, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Mar. 27, 1867 

Louis A. Harry, Pvt Apr. 6, 1867 

Andrew Flickinger, Pvt Apr. 15, 1867 

Thomas McHiigh, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Nov. 7, 1867 

John Hooley, Pvt. ist Prov. Co., Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Apr. 14, 1869 

Thomas Cryon, Pvt. Co. C Aug. 25, 1868 

Patrick Byrne, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Apr. 25, 1868 

John Kennedy, Pvt. Co. A, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Jan. 3, 1868 

John Burke, Pvt. Co. A, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Nov. 22, 1867 

John Smith, Pvt. Co. A, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. .Oct. 29, 1867 
Charles Huber, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Oct. 8, 1867 

Frank Burke, Pvt. Co, A, Gen. Serv., U. S, A., Sept, 26, 1867 

Carl Schaer, Pvt. Gen. Serv., U. S, A Sept. 18, 1867 

Henry Weber, Pvt. Co. C, Gen. Serv., U. S. A. .Sept. 14, 1867 

George Gass, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Sept. 14, 1867 
Robert F. Jern, Pvt. Co. C, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. II, 1867 

John Hyler, Pvt. Gen. Serv., U. S. A Sept. 10, 1867 

Thomas McGrath, Prisoner Co. B, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 9, 1867 

Thomas Flynn, Pvt. Co. D, Gen, Serv,, 

U. S. A Sept. 6, 1867 

Frank Keckynar, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S, A Sept. 8, 1867 

98 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

DATE OF DEATH 

James C. Elliot, Pvt. Co. D, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 6, 1867 

Charles Dillman, Pvt. Co. B, Union Boys, 

U. S. A Sept. 29, 1865 

Andrew T. Ford, Sergt. Co. C, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Sept. 10. 1865 

Jacob riaefele, Sergt. Co. C, Permt. Party, 

U. S. A Apr. 20, 1873 

James Bodgers, child Jan. 15, 1878 

Magdalen Stigler, wife of Band Master Mar. 11, 1878 

Ann Monrifif No date 

George E. Ilanna, child Oct. 28, 1861 

Samuel Meades, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv.," 

U. S. A Apr. 26, 1871 

William Gibson, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Mar. 31, 1870 

Stephen D. Lockwood, Pvt. Co. A, Permt. 

Party, U. S. A Feb. 20, 1870 

Ellen Farrell, child Apr. 11, 1862 

Mela Reynolds, child Aug. 25, 1873 

Chris Marlin, Pvt. Co. B, Music Boys May 23, 1873 

William McFarland, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A Sept. 16, 1870 

Peter Luck, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv., U. S. A.. Aug. i, 1870 
James Kelcher, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv., 

U. S. A June 24, 1870 

Francis Bungent, Pvt. Co. D, Select Recruits. .Apr. 12, 1870 

William Seery, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Recr. . .Feb. 18, 1872 

TTenry Carroll, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Recr. . .Jan. i, 1872 

William F. Curtis, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. 

Recruit Aug. 27, 1871 

Joseph Villenger, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Recr. .Jan. 18, 1871 

99 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

DATE OF DEATH 

Thomas Sullivan, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Recr..Sept. 25, 1870 

Henry Rathkamp, Pvt. Co. A, Permt, Party. . .Sept. 27, 1870 

Henry Bennett, Pvt. Co. B, Music Boys Oct. i, 1870 

Patrick Daley, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv Feb. 8, 1871 

Willet C. West, Fifer Co. B, Music Boys Mar. 25, 187 1 

Michael Kinsell, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets. .May 7, 1871 

James Colgan, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets Mar. 5, 1872 

Patrick Golden, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets. . .May 25, 1872 

Peter Storms, Sergt. Co. A, Permt. Party Oct. 19, 1863 

Lizzie Corliss Lynch, child No date 

Daniel Nowlan, child No date 

John C. Indale, child No date 

Alfred B. Haynes, Pvt. Co. B, Music Boys. . . .July 23, 1873 

Julius Steinman, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets. .Oct. 24, 1873 

Michael ^orrissey, Pvt. Co. C, 22d U. S. Infty . Aug. 20, 1872 

Albert O. Dennis, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets.. Mar. 29, 1872 

Justus Schlessing, Pvt. Co. E, Gen. Serv. Rets. Mar. 13, 1872 

Henry Christopher, Pvt. Co. C, Permt. Party. .Jan. 8, 1872 

William Skelly, Pvt. Co. M, 5th U. S. Arty. . .Dec. 17, 1871 

Robert Scott, Pvt. Co. A, Permt. Party June 10, 1871 

Jacob Mertins, Sergt. Co. A, Permt. Party. . . .Sept. 19, 1870 

Patrick Leonard, Corp. Co. C, Permt. Party. . .Sept. 17, 1870 

Ernest Dallye, Pvt. Co. A, Permt. Party Sept. 13, 1870 

Peter Creamer, Corp. Co. B, Music Boys vSept. 10, 1870 

Confederate Prisoners of War. 

J. E. Barbury, Co. D, 28th N. Carolina June 7, 1862 

Hosea G. Blount, Co. F, 7th N. Carolina Sept. 29, 1861 

David L. Rodgeron, Co. F, 7th N. Carolina. . .Oct. 8, 1861 

M. G. Roberson, Co. F, 7th N. Carolina Oct. 11, 1861 

100 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I9I3 

DATE OF DEATH 

Stephen Kite, Co. G, 7th N. Carolina Oct. 27, 1861 

Saml. D, Titterton, Co. F, 7th N. Carolina Oct. 29, 1861 

Simpson, Co. F, 7th N. Carolina Nov. 19, 1861 

Alpha Modlin Nov. 24, 1861 

Jennings Mar. 11, 1862 

Smith Bartley May 30, 1862 

G. Townsend, Pvt. Co. E, 27th N. Carolina. . .June 3, 1862 



In the early days Governor's Island must have been a dark 
place after retreat. Up to 1854 candles were the only source 
of illumination. Later, whale oil was introduced and then 
kerosene. Until 1878, when General Hancock made his head- 
quarters here, there were no street lights at all, except one 
light at the dock, a condition which was not so brilliant as that 
enjoyed by New York in 1697, when the Common Council 
ordered the city to be lighted by lanterns from poles that pro- 
jected from every seventh house. 

The Common Council, at a stated meeting held at the House 
of John Simmons, Innholder at the N. W. corner of Wall and 
Nassau Streets (now the site of the Bankers' Trust Building) 
on the 17th day of February, 1784, issued a Warrant No. 15 
to Wm. Deal and others for lighting the City lamps, to the 
amount of £21 5s. 

Electric lighting was introduced on May 10, 1904. The 
Arsenal at that time had and for some time later continued 
to use acetylene gas manufactured at a private plant in the 
Yard. 

Dances were held in various places at various times: at one 
time in the present Administration Building; in the Hospital 
(now Dept Headquarters Building), where the Grand Duke 
Alexis of Russia was entertained in 1872, a marquee being 
erected in front ; at one time in the present Q. M. Storehouse, 
east side of Island, and later, as now, in the Officers' Club 
House, Corbin Hall. 

xoi 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

The water supply was in those days a troublesome question. 
Surgeon Page in his history (1868) writes: 

"The wells are four in nmnber. One is in Castle Williams 
and furnishes a small supply of tolerably good water. It 
dries in ten minutes and requires some time to refill.* An- 
other well is in front of Fort Columbus, but unfit for drinking 
purposes. Another is near the Hospital (now Department 
Headquarters) and is the best and most used on the Island, 
all the animals being watered at this well." 

Water from the City (Ridgewood) was introduced by mains 
under Buttermilk Channel about 1880, soon after General 
Hancock's arrival. 

The Hospital mentioned in this report is the Hospital of 
1868, now (191 3) Eastern Department Hdqrs. The pump 
connected with this well was in situ, handle and all, as late as 
1905. Another well not mentioned was in the Arsenal Yard. 
This was quite a pretty spot, arranged in the nature of a 
spring house, with a flight of stone steps going down and a 
little arbour to protect it from the sun." 

A well of pure water in South Battery is also mentioned by 
Surgeon Page, who goes on to say that rain water is collected 
from the roofs of nearly all the buildings in cisterns. No 
attempts were made to sink artesian wells on account of the 
geological formation and great dip of the strata. In this con- 
nection it may be interesting to mention the natural history of 
Governor's Island. 

"The basic rock of the Island is gneiss composed of quartz, 
feldspar and mica arranged in laminae, the rock being strati- 
fied and hypozoic, covered with alluvial and drift deposit. 
The direction of the stratum corresponds with N. S. and the 
dip, though generally to the west, averages within 10° vertical. 
The water now in use, derived from shallow wells, is hard and 
contains a great quantity of organic matter. The high angle 
dip and deep surrounding channels make good water unattain- 
able. The alluvial deposits consist of loam, clay, sand and 
gravel. The drift is composed of abraded boulders, gravel 

*It was more efficient in 1812 (v. p. 72). 
102 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I9I3 

and sand and all were driven probably by ice pressure. The 
alluvial and diluvial deposits are probably lOO feet deep at the 
N. and S. ends." 

The Island was undoubtedly separated from the mainland 
during the Glacial period. 

Circular No. 8 (1875) states that the cisterns frequently 
ran dry. At these times they were cleaned and fumigated and 
filled with Croton water brought from the City in tanks of 
Quartermaster boats. 

These cisterns are being gradually filled. A number were 
filled from the excavations of the new Chapel in 1905-6. 

The use of the drum for calls was given up about 1876. 
There is a tradition that the last official drum hung in the tree 
where it was kept for a year or so after that time. An officer 
has told the author he remembers seeing it so on several occa- 
sions. 

A marked depression in the surface of the Park near the 
fountain often arouses curiosity, as to what it represents in 
the otherwise level surface of the ground. 

Major Kendall, a veteran of the War of 1812, lived on 
Governor's Island after retirement with his daughters and held 
the position of Sutler. His residence was at the western 
end of a long row of houses that stretched from the present 
Post Quartermaster's office and carpenter shop to what is now 
No. 18, Colonels' Row. 

This row was of wooden houses, one story in height, with 
cellar, and besides the Sutler and his store accommodated a 
number of soldiers and their families. 

According to tradition, these buildings were erected for the 
accommodation of the builders of Fort Jay after the American 
Revolution. Some believe they represent the English occupa- 
tion of 1776-1783.* The beams and all the wood were of very 
heavy construction. Some were burned down in 1856, and the 
rest were removed after the yellow fever epidemic in 1870. In 
removing them it was found inconvenient to fill in all the cellars, 

♦This is confirmed by the fact that the group of buildings as late as 
1850 was called "Rotten Row." 

103 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

the supply of earth being limited. The depression alluded to 
marks this ancient row and probably Major Kendall's quarters. 

Major Kendall, upon the burning of his quarters in 1856, 
moved to quarters in the S. E. angle of the barracks, Fort 
Columbus. 

The condition of the works on Bedlow's and Ellis' Island 
and of the fortification at the Battery may be learned from 
Colonel Williams' Report of Jan'y 19, 1810, in which he says 
Ellis Island mounts 8 32 pdrs. with a platform capable of 
mounting 20; that Bedlow's Battery is ready for 8 or 10 
mortars, with the main work of 40 guns half completed, and 
that by July the first tier of a castle at the Old Battery will be 
completed, mounting 30 of the heaviest guns. This castle was 
at first officially known as the South West Battery, after the 
war as Castle Clinton, whence its peaceful designation of 
Castle Garden was derived. 

In 1822 Castle Clinton was ceded by the Government to the 
City of New York, and the soldiery were removed to Gover- 
nor's Island. At this time and for many years following 
Castle Clinton was separated from the shore by a channel and 
access was had by a long wooden bridge. 

In addition to its military uses Governor's Island served as 
a flagging station to report the arrival of ships before the in- 
vention of the telegraph. New York's most famous hotel in 
1823 was Holt's, afterward the United States Hotel, on Fulton 
Street. This hotel had a lofty cupola in which a ship signal 
station was located. When ships were sighted at Sandy Hook 
the news was flagged to Staten Island, from Staten Island to 
Governor's Island, the station being probably at the Castle, 
and from there to the station on Holt's Hotel for the benefit 
of the whole City. 

In Wall's painting of the Castle (frontispiece") appears on 
the parapet a cupola which it is reasonable to suppose was the 
ship signal station. 

Old pictures of the Castle, though later than this painting, 
show a flag flying from a staflf erected in the middle of the 
courtyard. This flag was used 25 years ago for saluting and 

104 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

Other special purposes only, the garrison flag being at Fort 
Jay. The staff was removed about 20 years ago. The guns, 
except those on the parapet, were removed about the same 
time. 

In 182 1 Fort Cokimbus was garrisoned by a battery of the 
ist Artillery under the command of Lieut. Peter Melendy, Jr.* 
It is not known what troops garrisoned Governor's Island 
upon its occupation in 1809. In 1826, Bvt. Colonel W, Mac- 
Rea, 2nd Artillery, was in command. 

In 1832, thorough repairs of the works were begun and prose- 
cuted until August, when the work was abandoned on account 
of the cholera. In September, 1832, new barracks were begun 
within the fort, some of the troops having previously en- 
camped on the parade. The scarp wall, the counter scarp 
revetments and the revetments of the glacis were completed, 
also the facing of the covered way revetment leading from 
Fort Columbus to the Castle. 

In this year the Post was re-occupied by Battery F, 4th 
Artillery, under command of Captain L. Whiting. In Sep- 
tember Captain W. W. Tompkins with a large detachment 
of recruits of the 2nd Dragoons arrived and assumed com- 
mand. 

In 1833 the sum of $50,000 was appropriated for repairs to 
Castle Williams and Fort Columbus. How this was expended 
so far as the fort is concerned we learn from the report of 
Capt. J. L. Smith, Corps of Engineers, who writes under date 
of Oct. 19, 1833 (condensed) : 

"The scarp and curtain are finished. The counter scarp 
and revetment of the glacis are finished except the W. front. 
The passage way through the postern is raised to the height 
of the spring of the arch. Four cisterns, of 4,000 gallons each 
are finished under the rampart. Four more are to be made. 
The redan with casemated flanks on the N. front was formerly 
approached from the parade through a gap in the rampart. 
The gap has been filled by a ma,gazine. 

The part of the hollow passage near the salient of the redan 

•For full list of Commanding Officers (v. p. i6i). 
105 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

is to be occupied by two magazines for fixed ammunition or 
storage. This will enlarge the terreplain and the salient of 
the redan. The parapets are sodded and the glacis is being 
graduated." 

Other additions and repairs to the Castle and Fort were 
made in 1836, for which were appropriated $20,000. 

Company B of the permanent party called the "music boys," 
a detachment of recruits for the field music of the army, occu- 
pied the South Battery. On Dec. 28, 1836, the troops in gar- 
rison, with the exception of the recuits of the 2nd Dragoons, 
were ordered to Florida for the Seminole War. 

On April 18, 1837, a battery of the ist Artillery under Capt. 
J. Dimick occupied the post and Fort Columbus continued to 
be an Artillery Post until November 15, 1852, when Gover- 
nor's Island became a General Recruiting Depot vice Fort 
Wood, pursuant to Genl. Orders No. 38, Series of 1852, A. G. 
Office. 




GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I9I3 

The Post was at once occupied by Battery A, 1st Artillery, 
under command of Capt. Joseph P. Sanger, the garrison being 
shortly afterwards strengthened by Battery D, of the same 
Regiment. 

From the Adjutant General's Notes we learn that a new 
Barbette battery was built in the 8o's. This extended from the 
neighborhood of the Post Chapel N. W. across the Parade 
towards the Castle. It mounted a few guns and a modern 
earthwork battery was begun but not completed, and the entire 
battery was removed about 1893.* 

Plans were drawn as early as 1869 for a "New Barbette 
Battery" to cross the parade from the Castle S. E. to the 
Colonels' Row, but this was for some reason never begun. 

In June, 1892, the armament of this Post, as given by the 
Adjutant General, was: 

Thirty-six lo-inch Rodman guns, five 15-inch Rodman 
guns, two 8-inch siege howitzers, five loo-pdr. Parrott guns, 
two 4^-inch rifles, two 24-pdr. Coehorn mortars, two 8-incli 
siege mortars, two lo-inch siege mortars, one 13-inch sea 
coast mortar. Field Artillery — three Catling guns, long bar- 
rel, caliber 45. 

No continuous records exist to show the dates of the various 
buildings on the Island except the fortifications. The best 
available data at present indicate the building dates about as 
follows : 

The Administration Building — date unknown — probably 
about 1840, 

The Post Headquarters Building is believed to be of some 
antiquity. As stated elsewhere, the old name for it was "The 
Governor's House," whicb, if historically correct, would take 
it back to 1775 at the least. As late as 1872 and later it was 
used for the main guard.f 

The Commissary Building, 1845, ^^^ the Commanding Gen- 
eral's Quarters, 1840. 

* Remains of this battery were discovered in the Summer of 1910, when 
the salt-water mains were laid across the Island, 
t See p. 174. 

X07 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Numbers 2-5 inclusive, General's Row, 1855-7. 

Other quarters in General's Row, 1875. 

Colonels' Row — Various periods — 1875, 1878, 1888 and 
1905. 

Old Hospital — Main wing, now (1913) used as Eastern 
Dept. Headquarters, 1840. 

Regimental (Brick) Row, 1889 to 1908 (various dates). 

New Hospital, 1880. 

South Battery, 1812. 

A tradition that this Battery was erected in 1834 arose 
probably from the fact that a second story was added to it in 
that year. This upper story was in red brick. The lower 
story was painted yellow, and for several years this striking 
artistic effect prevailed. At some period, perhaps the same, 
the outer walls of the Battery, built of the Newark sand- 
stone used for Castle Williams, were treated to a similar 
wash, which is happily disappearing under the kindly in- 
fluence of Nature. 

Second addition to South Battery (Corbin Hall), 1904. 

The present Officers' Club (South Battery) was used as a 
Club house first about 1879. No records are available to show 
the date of the foundation of the Club. A tradition lingers 
that General Schofield was the founder of the Club, but this 
cannot be verified. 

Previous to that time at various periods dances had been 
given in the (present) Administration Building (west end), 
the old Hospital, and in the (present) Quartermaster's Store 
House adjoining the Post Quartermaster's Office. The wooden 
wings of the Hospital of 1840 were built in 1862 and used 
as a General Hospital during the Civil War. The School 
House and Printing and Telegraph Offices are reminders of 
this War Hospital. 

Circular No. 4 (1870) mentions a married quarters near the 
old brick Hospital, and states that the Post Cemetery referred 
to elsewhere consisted of about half an acre. 

An engineer map of 1857 shows a pump in the courtyard 
of the Castle just 15 feet south of the centre. 

108 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I9I3 

As late as 1870 there was in the courtyard of the Castle a 
reminder of the Civil War time in a long wooden building 
used as a mess hall and kitchen for recruits. The upper tiers 
of the Castle were used as recruit quarters during the re- 
cruiting period, 1852- 1878. The wooden building in the 
Castle was 60 x 30 feet and had a roof-pitch of 8 feet. It 
contained three small store-rooms and was furnished with 
two doors and ten windows. 

A reference to this is found under date of Deer. 7th, 1871, 
when permission was asked to remove the powder from the 
magazines in the Castle and to store it in the Post magazines 
on the ground that "the fires kept in a wooden building used 
as a mess room and kitchen renders the opening and closing 
of the magazines dangerous." 

In spite of the apprehension expressed in 1871, the powder 
remained till after the arrival of General Hancock, when it 
was removed from the Island except that which is stored in 
the Garrison magazine on the west glacis of Fort Jay. 

This magazine in the midst of traffic, passed monthly by 
thousands, is probably not visited annually by a half dozen, 
and yet it is, next to the Castle, the oldest building in undis- 
turbed condition on Governor's Island, and is worth, for that 
reason, a few words of description. 

This little magazine on the west glacis slope is a stone build- 
ing with a stone dove-tailed roof and double walls, the interior 
ones of brick with ventilating apertures arranged to avoid 
the outside windows. The interior sheathing of the magazine 
is one inch white pine. On the north side is a ventilating win- 
dow which at some period was bricked up and cemented. The 
wooden inside door is furnished with fine copper bolts. The 
interior ceiling is of heavy rough-hewn oak beams. On these 
beams are painted in black a number of names and initials of 
an early period, showing the magazine to date from at least 
the period of the Castle, 1807-11, and probably earlier, as the 
Castle had its own magazines and Fort Jay was (in part) of 
earlier construction. These names are painted in bold char- 



109 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

acters and some of them are of artistic excellence. Among 
them are 

W H 1812 

C M 1812 
C F Morton 181 5 

This magazine is at present used for the storage of saluting 
powder. It is surrounded by a fence of venerable appearance 
which is believed to have done picket duty long enough to 
entitle it to honourable mention. The warning sign over the 
door, though frequently renewed, also shows evidence of 
antiquity in the lettering employed. 

Other powder magazines are to be found in Fort Jay in the 
north side of the barrack square. These magazines are on the 
right and left of the enclosed area under the ramparts. They 
have copper ventilators and barred entrances. In magazines 
Nos. 2 and 6 are inside wooden doors, grated, with small 
wooden trap doors near the top secured by a button on the 
outside. These have no value for purposes of ventilation and 
it is believed that at one period the magazines were used for 
prisoners and that the traps were for passing in food. 

During the Civil War a double guarded cell was maintained 
in what is now the basement of K Co., 29th Infantry. This 
consisted of an outside cell in which 'the guard was locked in 
and an inner one for the prisoner. One or more celebrated 
Confederate officers were imprisoned here before execution, 
including Captain John G. Beall, a Naval officer, who with 
two others, captured the S.S. "Philo Parsons" and S.S. "Island 
Queen." His execution took place February 24, 1865. 

An historical account of Governor's Island would not be 
complete without reference to its oldest inhabitant, to whom 
the author of this work wishes to express his thanks for many 
notes of historical interest. 

Sergeant David Robertson, Hospital Steward, U. S. A., 
entered the Army in July, 1854, and has served continuously 
in the Hospital Corps for 59 years. 

Such length of service is almost unprecedented, and when it 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

is combined with unbroken duty in one Garrison it deserves 
more than passing mention. In addition to his length of ser- 
vice, Doctor Robertson has endeared himself to thousands of 
officers and their famiHes by his kindly nature as well as by 
his professional skill of high order which has been unsparingly 
given to all who needed his care, commanding Generals, offi- 
cers of every rank, soldiers and civilians for nearly sixty years 
of service, during three epidemics of cholera and two of yel- 
low fever, besides the innumerable cases, surgical and medical, 
that have been submitted to his skillful treatment. 

While Doctor Robertson has been retired with full pay and 
allowances he still remains (1913) on active duty, where his 
friends hope long to find him. 

Doctor Robertson and his wife lived for many years in their 
cottage near the Chapel in the midst of an old-fashioned 
garden that was one of the sights of Governor's Island. Mrs. 
Robertson was the daughter of Lieutenant Michael Moore, 
who was born July 4, 1800, and enlisted in 1812 for the War, 
He retired in 1871 after many years of meritorious service 
on Governor's Island. 

Thus these two officers in one family represent in their own 
persons 118 years of active service. 

The little group of Lombardy poplar trees still left (191 3) 
at the edge of the Arsenal Yard is a reminder of a forest that 
adorned Manhattan and Governor's Islands 100 years ago and 
should be viewed with the respect due to the survivors of an 
ancient race. The poplar was largely used in the i8th cen- 
tury for the beautifying of the city. Guernsey tells us in his 
book, "New York in the War of 1812," that Broadway was 
literally lined with them on both sides from Bowling Green to 
Sailors' Snug Harbour (loth Street) and that they were found 
along the streets and lanes of the City and in the door-yards 
of the homes. Paintings of that i)eriod sliow Governor's 
Island with a lordly crown of stately poplars from its Eastern 
to its Western end, notably the "Wall View," by Wm. C. 
Wall, 1823, now the property of Mr. Wm. Havermeyer. An- 
other view by Wall, belonging to the same family, painted in 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

1820, shows Castle Williams with the surf breaking at its 
base and a sentry in uniform of the 1812 period.* Drawings 
and paintings of Governor's Island by Chapman, Wood, 
Howell, Stubbs, Stevenson and Bachman in the 30's and 40's 
also show the long regimental line of poplars now shrunken 
to the dimensions of a squad, but well worth notice, both for 
their dignified beauty and for the story they tell us of the days 
when old New York was young. John W. Francis in his 
''Old New York" says the Lombardy Poplar was found in 
great abundance in 1800-1805 and that it was introduced in 
New York under direction of Louis XVI, who sent out the 
elder Michaux from the Jardin des Plantes accompanied by a 
gardener, Paul Sanier, who spread the poplar everywhere. 

The old name of Jay, which had been discontinued about 
the year 1810, was restored in 1904, according to the following 
order : 

General Orders. War Department, 

No. 18. Washington, January 25, 1904. 

The following order is published to the Army for the 
information and guidance of all concerned — 

War Department, 
Washington, January 20, 1904. 
The fortification on Governor's Island, New York 
Harbor, partly built 1794- 1795, enlarged and completed 
1798-1801, and partly rebuilt 1806-1808, now known as 
Fort Columbus, is hereby restored to its original name 
of Fort Jay ; and the said fortification and the Military 
post located on the said Island will hereafter be known 
and designated as Fort Jay. 

Elihu Root, 

Secretary of War. 

The change of name from Jay to Columbus is supposed to 
have been due to Jay's temporary unpopularity with the Re- 
publication party, which was not satisfied with the Jay Treaty 
with England (1794). The treaty, however, proved its value, 

* (Frontispiece.) 



^ GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

and Jay was twice elected Governor of New York after its 
adoption. 

The restoration of the original name is a graceful recog- 
nition of the splendid character of the man of whom Daniel 
Webster said: "When the spotless ermine of the judicial 
robe fell on John Jay it touched nothing less spotless than 
itself." 

Buttermilk Channel, 

The question of the early condition of what we now call 
Buttermilk Channel has been for many years an interesting 
one. References to the matter appear in the Peter Jay Origi- 
nal Letters (New York Historical Society). Peter Jay was 
the Father of John Jay. The date of these letters was about 

1750. 

"Marabie Bevois says she is aged 84 years (near 85), was 
born in New York. It's last May 63 years since she came to 
live at Brookland (Brooklyn). Heard Jeromus Remsen's 
mother say that there was only a small creek between Nutten 
Island and the shoar and that a squah carried her sister over 
it in a tub." 



"Joost Van Brunt aged 'jy years and upwards, born and 
lived at New Utrecht — says he was about seven years old when 
the Dutch came to take New York — says that a great deal of 
the land's washed away against Nutten Island and it went 
further out than now but can't say how much. Jeromus Rem- 
sen aged yj years says that he heard his mother say she was 
carried off Nutten Island by a squah and that it was all sedge 
and meadow, only a creek between Nutten Island and Long 
Island; it is now 116 or 117 years since his mother was born; 
has often heard people say that there was but a small creek 
between Nutten and Long Island." 

"A Mr. Van Alstine, upwards of eighty years of age in 
1786, said he remembered when Governor's Island was sepa- 
rated from Long Island only by a narrow creek, which was 
crossed upon logs raised above the high tide." 

113 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

The Minutes of the Common Council of New York furnish 
this early reference to Nutten (later, Governor's) Island, 
which indicate that at that time it was so slightly separated 
from the main land as to serve as a point of reference for the 
main shore line. Otherwise the Red Hook line would have 
been mentioned. 

Report of the Committee appointed for enquiring into the 
Ancient Rights and Privileges of this Citty — was read in the 
words following (vizt.) 

New York, Jan. Ye 24th, 1698 (9). 

We have viewed And Examined the Records of the Citty 
and doe find * * * * that all that Land from Ye Eastern 
End of Nutten Island for half A Mile deep to Ye West point 
of Ye Wallabout," &c.— 

In the Colonial Documents (London) we read of this period 
that in 1691 

"Governor Sloughter arrived in New York in the Ship 
"Arch Angell" in March, the troop ship having arrived two 
months before. The officers of the two foot companies de- 
manded entrance into their Matyes Fort of the Cittey but were 
denied entrance by Jacob Leisler with the Stile of Lieut Gover- 
nour. * * * * ' 

The Sd Leisler fortified himself in ye Fort and had 16 or 
17 bulletts in ye fire Red hott to fire ye towne withall. 

The Noyze and Shouting yt followed upon ye Govr's landing 
(being come in ye pinnas by the back side of Nutten Island) 
made the hearts of his followers to divide," &c. 

Nearly one hundred years later General Scott wrote as fol- 
lows to John Jay, son of the Peter Jay whose Original Letters 
are above quoted relative to Buttermilk Channel : 

New York, 6th September, 1776. 

We are liable every moment to have the communication 
between us and the City cut off by the entrance of frigates 

114 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

into the East River between Governor's Island and Long 
Island, which General McDougall assured us from his 
own nautical experience was very feasible. 

Later, same date. 



The Garrison was drawn off in the afternoon after our 
retreat under fire of shipping which are now drawn up 
just behind Governor's Island and the fire of some cannon 
from the Long Island Shore, but with no other loss than 
that of one man's arm. 

Watson's Annals state that "an old gentleman in 1828 re- 
members that as late as 1786 the Buttermilk Channel was 
deemed unsafe for boats to pass through it because of numer- 
ous rocks there. It was, however, secured for a boat channel 
through which boats with milk and buttermilk usually made 
their passage. My mother told me that when she first entered 
New York Harbour (then a girl) she was surprised to see 
all the market boats in the East River rowed by robust 
women, their heads fitted with close caps, two women to an 
oar." 

Also the same authority states of Nutten Eylandt that it 
was formerly nearly joined to Long Island by a low interven- 
ing morass and a small dividing creek and that cattle passed 
to and fro at low water. 

Mr. James Le Baron Willard of Brooklyn writes to the 
author: "1 do not like to give up the idea which I have held 
as a truth since childhood of 'crossing the channel' told by 
those whose word was well worthy of credence. It may be 
the tales were but traditions so often told that they became 
accepted as facts. However, I kno7v that our Bay tides were 
very much lower formerly than now." 

There seems to be a strong consensus of opinion among 
residents of Brooklyn Borough that the Channel was fordable 
at an early period. Mr. Charles B. Pearson, a gentleman in 
his 90th year, writes to Mr. Willard on the subject. He says 
his father in law John Davidson was born in 1802 and was 

115 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

a Trinity Church school boy and chorister and that he had 
often told the writer of wading across from Brooklyn to Gov- 
ernor's Island through mud and over the stones — that he 
used to skate from the Battery on the Hudson to Canal Street, 
the main inlet, and along the inlet to Broadway and under a 
stone bridge to the present Tombs prison. In those days 
Water Street, as its name indicates, was on the East River 
front. Now, there are two streets east of it, thus narrowing 
the River there as the Atlantic Docks later did east of the 
Island and deepening the channel to a considerable extent. 
The excavations for the Atlantic Docks were made in 1842 
and at a depth of 20 feet many roots of trees were found and 
beneath them peat was discovered in considerable quantities. 

Other old residents of Brooklyn recall that the tides in the 
Buttermilk Channel were formerly less high than now ; and 
that the Red Hook flats were not filled in until after 1846. 
These facts, coupled with the building of the Atlantic Docks 
opposite the Island and subsequent dredging of the Channel, 
would easily explain the present navigable conditions of the 
Channel. A resident of Governor's Island told the author 
that she walked half across the Channel in 1849. This was 
with the use of stepping stones at low tide. 

It is difficult to reconcile the foregoing statements in toto 
without fuller knowledge of conditions. For example, we 
have the statement that in (about) 1630 it was a small creek 
and that a "squah carried a child over in a tub" : that it was 
crossed in 1710 by "log:s raised above the high tide"; that the 
"pinnas of the 'Arch Angell' came to the back side in 1691"; 
that the British frigates (or shipping of war) were drawn up 
"just behind Governor's Island" in 1776; that it was "full of 
rocks and unsafe" in 1786: that John Davidson, born in 1802, 
"waded across as a boy," probably in 1812, and that the "fort 
to guard the pass at Buttermilk Channel was completed and 
equipped" in March, 1813. 

From the building of the fort in 1813 the obvious conclusion 
is that it was navigable for ships of war, as Genl. Scott inti- 
mates in his letter to John Jay in 1776, and yet statements of 

116 



GARRISON EVENTS AND NOTES, 1868-I913 

most undoubted veracity are made from 1630 to 1812 that it 
was a sedgy creek, a fordable stream, a crossing for cattle, a 
wading place for children. 

Probably the safest conclusion in absence of positive infor- 
mation is that local conditions varied with the years and that 
it may have been possible to cross it occasionally under ex- 
ceptional conditions of wind and tide, as the falls of Niagara 
under certain conditions of ice formation may be crossed by 
the daring adventurer. Of one thing we may be certain, viz, 
that the sedge marsh of the 17th century is today a highly 
important artery in the commercial system of the Port of New 
York with a channel 1000 feet wide at the narrowest point 
and a depth of 25 feet. The Navy Department sends large 
battleships now through Buttermilk Channel, in striking con- 
trast with the wooden Dreadnaughts of 1776, and it is planned 
to increase the Channel to a depth of 35 feet, as it affords a 
more direct route from the Navy Yard to the sea and also 
obviates the necessity of excavating Diamond Reef, which 
lies between Governor's Island and the Battery. The encircling 
sea wall was built at diflferent periods in the development of 
the Island — the S. W. portion in 1866, and the N. portion from 
the Castle to the Arsenal at a later period by the now well- 
known writer, F. Hopkinson Smith. 

We learn from the Tompkins papers that a fort existed at 
an early period to defend Buttermilk Chamiel (p. 68). A 
plan of the Fortifications of New York in 1814 in Lossing's 
Field Book of the Revolution shows a considerable work at 
the South Battery. This corresponds closely with this order 
and with the fact that repairs were ordered for the South 
Battery in 1832. 




CHAPTER VI. 

Transportation in Four Centuries. . 

1600-1913. 

The Governor's Island Ferry in Four Centuries. 
1600-1913. 

It is a long cry from the Indian canoe of prehistoric times 
and the colonial barge of Wouter Van Twiller in 1637 to the 
"General Otis" of to-day; from the Pagganck Island of the 
aborigines and the Nutten Island of the Dutch and the Gov- 
ernor's Island as it began to be called in the time of Charles II 
of England, to the Department and Regimental Headquarters 
of the United States Army of 1913. With little imagination 
one can see the gliding canoe of the red men putting out from 
its wooded shores, and at a later period the thick-prowed yawl 
of the Dutch occupation, succeeded again after 1674 by the 
stately barge of the English Colonial Governors. 

How busy our little port must have been when the famous 
sawmill was built in 1639, and again when it was burned in 
1647 "to save the Iron!" How our shores must have re- 
sounded to the tramp of visiting thousands during the days of 
the racetrack, in the time it was used as quarantine for immi- 
grants by the act of June 13, 1710, and subsequent periods, 
especially when the ten thousand Palatines were detained here 
before being sent to populate Columbia and Greene Counties ! 
What stirring scenes during the erection of Castle Williams, 
with landing of stores and supplies, and the feverish building 
of the original Fort Jay, when professors and students of 
Columbia College came down with their shovels and picks to 
help the workmen complete the fort! 

How the English Governors Hardy, De Lancey, Colden, 
Moore, Dunmore and Tryon crossed over in the days when 
our Island served as their official residence, the "Smiling 
Garden of the Sovereigns of the Province," as an old historian 

118 



TRANSPORTATION IN FOUR CENTURIES 

calls it, we do not know, but one can imagine the dignified 
barges of that period, with their passengers of official import- 
ance and the pleasant social activities which they served much 
as our Quartermaster transports do to-day. 

In 1732 appeared in Parker's "Post Boy" the following 
advertisement : 

"On Monday the 2nd of October next will be exposed for 
sale at Publick Vendue a large fine barge with Awning and 
Damask Curtains, two sets of oars, sails and everything that 
is necessary for her. She now lies in the Dock and did belong 
to the late Governor Montgomerie." 

The following orders throw light upon the subject of later 
English Colonial transportation: 

Common Council, 

City Hall, Nov. 8, 1756. 
No. (1346) Warrant issued. 

Ordered that Mr. Recorder issue his warrant to tlie 
Treasurer of this City to pay the further sum of twenty- 
eight pound, sixteen shillings, and five pence in full for 
the Government Tax * * * of the ferry (to Governor's 
Island). 

The latest use of the term "Nutten" vice "Governor's" 
the author has found contained in the MSS. Minutes of 
the Common Council of the City of New York under 
date of May 5, 1794, in which John Hillyer is authorized 
to keep the Ferry to Nutten Island for one year and is 
enjoined to provide "good boats." He is allowed to "re- 
ceive three pence for each passenger and to carry fatigue 
parties free." 

From MSS. Minutes of Common Council. 

Monday the 22nd June, 1795. 

The Committee on the subject of a ferry from this City 
to Governor's Island made a verbal report on the sub- 
ject — 

Whereupon it was ordered that it be referred to the 
Committee for directing public works on Governor's 
Island, to make such arrangements for the establishing 
of a safe and convenient ferry from this City to said 

119 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Island as they shall judge most proper, and that the 
keeper of the said ferry be allowed to demand and receive 
from each person (except such as shall be employed at 
the Public Works and the Troops of the Garrison there) 
six pence for going and six pence for returning. 

Coming down to modern times we are reminded of the Civil 
War period when the Castle was filled to overflowing with 
prisoners and when at one time seven regiments were en- 
camped within our limited borders. One who was living 
here at the time describes the scenes in those days as being 
stirring in the extreme. The Wisconsin regiment marched 
on the Island 1,200 strong and made a particularly fine ap- 
pearance, and the scene at Retreat from the parapets of Fort 
Jay, with seven regiments, seven bands and seven separate 
functions going on at once is described as having been a 
thrilling spectacle. 

About ten years before the Civil War the recruiting depot 
was transferred from Governor's to Bedlow's Island. This 
was before the advent of the steam ferry and the difficulties 
encountered by all who had occasion to visit either Post may 
be gathered from the recorded mention of the movements to 
and fro of the Reverend John McVickar, D.D., Chaplain of 
Governor's Island from 1844 to 1862, as found in Dr. Dix's 
History. He says (p. 9 of his book) : "Transit was effected 
by open barges. In all seasons of the year, in stormy or fair 
weather, on Sundays and when required on week days, the 
venerable Chaplain might be seen making his journeys from 
the Battery to the two Islands, visiting the permanent gar- 
rison at Governor's Island and the recruits at Bedlow's ; and 
in the most bitter winter's cold, sitting in the stern sheets, 
wrapped in his military cloak, as the oarsmen pushed their way 
through drift ice in the bay and against the strong tides off 
the Battery." This transfer of recruits to Bedlow's Island 
was only temporary. 

During Dr. McVickar's Chaplaincy there was no steam ser- 
vice between the Islands and the City. All communication 
was by barge at all seasons of the year, the Government land- 



TRANSPORTATION IN FOUR CENTURIES 

ing being at Castle Garden, now the Aquarium in New York 
City, which at that time was connected with the Battery by a 
bridge-way. 

Such adverse circumstances were met daily by the members 
of the Garrison in the winter months. 

A lady who is now making her home with an officer's 
family on Governor's Island remembers distinctly the barge 
in which she used to travel to and from the City in visiting 
the Island sixty-eight years ago. It was similar in general 
appearance to the launches now used by the Navy and had a 
close-fitting canvas cover. 

Great were the difficulties of passage for those on pleasure 
bent in cold and storm and darkness, but, as she recalls, 
greater still was the difficulty of remembering the counter- 
sign without which no one was admitted within the frowning 
draw-bridge gate of Fort Jay, where in those days all the 
officers' families resided. 

It is interesting to note that the Barge Office at the Battery 
recalls by its title the fact that from the earliest days of the 
occupation of Governor's Island by the Colonial Governors 
in the 17th Century to the Civil War of the 19th Century 
transportation with the mainland was effected by small boats 
and barges. 

The first place of which we have record as a point of de- 
parture from the Battery was a landing just south of the 
Castle, later Castle Garden, now the municipal Aquarium. 
This was in 1854 and probably had served for very many 
years, as the Castle was until the Civil War period separated 
from the mainland by water and the land on which the pres- 
ent Barge Office now stands was not made until about the 
same period. 

There were at this time two barges in service, similar to the 
one in the illustration, one the Commanding Officer's, and one 
for general service. These boats carried twelve passengers 
each and were manned by a crew of six rowers in naval uni- 
form, with a non-commissioned officer in command as cox- 
swain. They made three trips a day each, the last one being 

121 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

at 5 P. M. in summer and 4 in winter. The landing-place on 
Governor's Island was at a stairway just north of the present 
pier. 

The Ordnance maintained its own boat, rowed by two men. 
There were in addition to these official barges a fleet of eight 
or ten small boats plying to Pacific Street, Brooklyn, which 
were found convenient for persons going to market. The 
fare on these boats was 12}^ cents a trip. The late Captain 
James Feeney began his career in this service about the year 
i860, and these private boats continued in service some time 
after the steamboat era. 

During the contract period of transportation the price of 
passage was fifteen cents, return for twenty-five cents. School 
children received commutation rates of ten cents a day, and a 
late theatre boat cost fifteen dollars. 

The family of the late Reverend E. H. C. Goodwin, Chap- 
lain from 1871-1904, have in their possession an original 
order signed by General Hancock, as follows: 

Headqrs Military Division of the Atlantic 

AND 

Department of the East. 
Governor's Island, N. Y. 

To the A.A.G.— October 30, 1883. 

or Captain Tug "Atlantic" — 

Let there be an extra boat coming this way for Rev. 
Mr. Goodwin and party at 11:30 p. m. to-night. 

W. Scott Hancock, 

Major Gen., U. S. A. 
(From Battery at 11 :30 p. m.) 

It was in 1861 that the steam vessels were first engaged 
regularly in the ferry service. The first boat was the "Gen- 
eral Scott." This was succeeded by the "General McClellan," 
and that by the "Governor's Island." These were small ves- 
sels of the tugboat type. In 1878 the "Atlantic," a larger 
boat of the same type, was employed. At this time Head- 
quarters of the Department were established on the Island, 



o 



o r 

D 



n 




TRANSPORTATION IN FOUR CENTURIES 

and with this boat, or possibly earlier with the "Governor's 
Island," a Government contract was made and persons using 
them were not required to pay ferriage. At first, and for 
some time, the steamers ran only till dark. This service has 
been gradually improved till the present admirable schedule 
of a boat every half hour from 6:45 a. m. till i a. m. has been 
reached. 

The "Madden," a small tugboat, owned by Sergeant Gub- 
bins and a man named McKitchie, ran from 1870 to about 
1873, when its owners sold it and bought the "Governor's 
Island," which was used for about five years. The fare on 
this boat was twenty-five cents the round trip. 

In 1898 a great improvement was inaugurated in the build- 
ing of the "General Hancock," a vessel on ferry-boat lines, 
which has done good work for fifteen years. 

The "Col. Wikof" served as an auxiliary boat for about 
twelve years, and there have been various launches of late 
years for the use of the Department Commander, the present 
one, the "Lieutenant Ward Cheney," being a beautiful speci- 
men of marine architecture. In 1910 the "General Otis" 
took the place of the "General Hancock" as the transport 
between Governor's Island and the Battery. This boat, with 
its larger cabins, more ample decks and accommodations for 
horses, carriages, wagons and motor cars, gives better service 
than has ever been enjoyed before, and in the fourth century 
of the history of the Governor's Island ferry points to the 
future of the enlarged Post and populous Garrison that is to be. 
The official figures given by the Chief Quartermaster's Office 
for transportation of passengers between Governor's Island 
and the Battery on the Q. M. Steamers "General Hancock" 
and "General Otis" for the month of April, 19 13, state the 
number as 45,999. This is considered an average month. 

A new landing has been made on the north side of the 
Island near the Quartermaster Storehouse. When this is in 
service the time of transit will 1)e reduced. A new Barge 
Office is also being constructed at the Battery just opposite. 

The accompanying illustration of the barge is the only one 

123 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

known to exist, and is taken from a photograph belonging to 
the late Captain James Feeney, who served, with great faith- 
fulness, forty-nine years, boy and man, in the transportation 
of the Governor's Island Garrison to and from the City. 

Captain Wm. Gray Loring has been in the Government 
transportation service for 40 years, of which 4 have been 
spent in Boston Harbour and 36 in the Governor's Island 
service. There are few officers of long service in the Army 
who do not know Capt. Loring and all who know him recall 
with pleasure his genial character, his fund of deep-sea yarns 
and his attachment to the friends he has made on his countless 
trips across the salt highway. 



CHAPTER VII. 
The New York Arsenal. 

The date of the establishment of the New York Arsenal is 
unknown. In Vol. I of "Ordnance Reports" Colonel Decius 
Wadsworth of the Ordnance in a letter to the Secretary of 
War dated Nov. 13, 1812, relative to the duties of the Ord- 
nance Department as a "new Establishment" and of needed 
stations says: 

"The present establishment at New York may be continued 
on a reduced scale as subordinate for the purpose of supplying 
the seaboard with such articles as a laboratory can most con- 
veniently furnish." 

During the War of 1812 Governor's Island was the scene 
of great military activity, but whether the laboratory men- 
tioned above was in New York City or on the Island cannot 
be definitely determined from the records here. 

Colonel Wadsworth in another letter to the Secretary of 
War dated February 8, 1816, says: * * * * 

"The laboratory near New York will suffice for supplying 
Maritime posts." * * * Whether this refers to a place on 
Governor's Island cannot be determined from the context. It 
is passible the reference is to one of the Arsenals in the City. 

In June, 1812, as we learn from Guernsey, there was a 
United States Arsenal on Bridge Street, back of Government 
House, near the Battery. This was of brick and was con- 
sidered a good work for the locality. There was also a three- 
story brick magazine near it. 

The United States also held a plot of 2 acres on the Hudson 
River at the foot of West 12th Street on which were a maga- 
zine, arsenal and laboratory. The laboratory was surrounded 
by a brick wall 9 feet high. Fort Gansevoort was erected 
later upon this site. 

Another U. S. Arsenal was at the junction of the old Bos- 
ton Road and Middle Road (now Madison Square), in the 

125 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

grounds laid out for the Parade in 1811. This Arsenal was 
built by State appropriation with the expectation that the 
United States would repay. The Parade contained 238 7/10 
acres and extended from 23d to 34th Street and from 7th 
Avenue to 3rd Avenue. It was used for military exercises 
and for a place to assemble the forces destined to guard the 
City. 

In April, 1814, it was reduced to 89 i/io acres; later to 
less than 7 acres, the present Madison Square. 

On page 68, Vol. I of "Ordnance Reports," referred to 
above, will be found a "Statement of the battering cannon, 
mortars, howitzers, shots, shells and carriages not in service, 
deposited in the several arsenals and depots in the United 
States." A statement is given there of the number of each 
stored at "Arsenal, New York City." This is under date of 
January 29, 1822, and refers, no doubt, to an ordnance storage 
yard on Governor's Island. 

The Arsenal may be said to have been definitely started 
when buildings were commenced here in 1833 under an ap- 
propriation made by Congress, the work being carried out by 
an Engineer Officer, Captain J. L. Smith, Captain of Engineers, 
under direction of the Chief of Ordnance. The buildings were 
paid for by the Ordnance Department. 

The Commanding Officer's quarters and quarters No. 2 
were erected in 1839 and enlarged in 1852. Quarters No. 3 
were built in 1884. The old office was built in 1853, the new 
(present) office in i860. The seven other buildings were 
erected between 1835 and 1904. A fire engine was maintained 
in service on the Arsenal Reservation from 1867 till 1910, 
when salt water mains were installed for the entire Island. 
An old Engineer map of the Arsenal marks a pump at a point 
near the S. E. corner of the store-house connected with the 
commanding officer's quarters. This probably represents the 
spring house described on p. 102. 

In 1878 the Military Service Institution was formed, with 
General Winfield Scott Hancock as its head. The Institution 
was located on Governor's Island, where it established its 

186 



THE NEW YORK ARSENAL 

headquarters, with library and museum. It is at present 
(1913) housed in the building known as the "Clock Tower 
Building," in which the late Brig.-Gen. T. F. Rodenbough, 
Secretary, had his office and where the present Secretary, 
Brig.-General James N. Allison, is now located. 

The area of the Arsenal is about 6)^ acres. 

A list of commanding officers, from 1831 to the present day, 
follows : 

New York Arsenal. 

ASSUMED 
NAMES OF OFFICERS RANK COMMAND 

Samuel Perkins M. S. Keeper Dec. 31, 1831 

S. H. Weber M. S. Keeper Nov. 11, 1834 

Samuel Perkins M. S. Keeper April 5, 1835 

J. A. J. Bradford Capt. O. D Sept. 15, 1835 

Geo. D. Ramsey Capt. O. D Oct. i, 1836 

L. L. Van Kleeck M. S. Keeper Nov. 9, 1836 

J. F. Lee Lt. Cps. Engrs Oct. 11, 1837 

Geo. H. Talcott Lt. O. D Oct. — 1838 

I. A. D'Laguel Capt. O. D Mar. 27, 1839 

L. L. Van Kleeck M. S. Keeper May 21, 1840 

W. A. Thornton Capt. O. D July 2, 1840 

Geo. H. Talcott Bvt. Lt.-Col. O. D. .July 31, 1849 

W. A. Thornton Bvt. Major O. D. . .Oct. 1,1851 

R. H. K. Whiteley Capt. O. D Nov. 20, 1854 

W. A. Thornton Bvt. Major O.D...May 31, 1858 

R. H. K. Whiteley Capt. O. D May 14, 1861 

R. A. Wainwright Major O. D Oct. 23, 1862 

Silas Crispin Capt. O. D Apr. 14, 1864 

A. R. BuFFiNGTON Capt. O. D July 12,1864 

W. A. Thornton Col. O. D June 19, 1865 

C. Bryant Lieut. O. D Apr. 6, 1866 

T. T. S. Laidley Maj. O. D May 15, 1866 

127 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 



NAMES OF OFFICERS RANK 

Silas Crispin Lt.-Col. O. D 

T. G. Baylor Maj. O. D. , . 

G. W. McKee Maj. O. D. . . 

T. G. Baylor Col. O. D 

Chas. Siialer Capt. O. D. . . 

A. MORDECAI Lt.-Col. O. D 

J. McAllister Col. O. D 

A. MoRDECAI Lt.-Col. O. D 

CiiAs. Shaler Capt. O. D, . . 

A. Mordecai Lt.-Col. O. D 

J. E. Greer Capt. O. D. . . 

A. Mordecai Lt.-Col. O. D 

G. CoMLY Maj. O. D. . . 

Frank Heath Capt. O. D... 

F. H. Phipps Maj. O. D. . . 

John G. Butler Maj. O. D. . . 

J. W. Reilly Lt.-Col. O. D 

J. E. Greer Lt.-Col. O. D 

R. Birnie Lt.-Col. O. D 

O. B. Mitcham Lt.-Col. O. D 



ASSUMED 
COMMAND 



Apr. lo, 1 87 1 
June 10, 1876 

17, 1883 
3, 1883 

i5> 1885 



.July 
.Oct. 

.May 



..May 25, 1886 

..July I, 1886 

..Dec. 30, 1886 

..Mar. 28, 1887 

. . Apr. 16, 1887 

. .Dec. II, 1889 

. .'Dec. 17, 1889 

. .Feby. 9, 1892 

. .Apr. 19, 1894 

. .May 18, 1894 

. .June 10, 1899 

..Sept. 13, 1900 

..Aug. I, 1903 

. . Sept. 19, 1907 

. .Oct. I, 1907 



The New York Arsenal has a charm and interest all its 
own, with its well-situated quarters, its groups of offices, its 
trees and walks and splendid views of the City, its towering 
buildings, the harbour, rivers and bridges. The records of 
Commanding Officers herewith given for a period of 82 years 
are exact and the author is indebted for these and for the 
dates of the buildings to the present Commanding Officer, 
Colonel Orin B. Mitcham, Ordnance Department. 



128 



CHAPTER VIII. 
Religious Work and Influence. 

The earliest mention of religious ministrations on Gover- 
nor's Island, beyond the occasional services of the Church of 
England held for Colonel Prescott's Regiment in 1776, is in 
connection with the Reverend John McVickar, D.D., Chap- 
lain of Governor's Island from 1844-1862. 

Dr. McVickar was a resident of the City of New York, a 
man of culture and distinction in literary and church circles, 
and at that time professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, 
belles-lettres, political economy, and the evidences of natural 
and revealed religion in Columbia College, a position which he 
filled with dignity and success. As he had already reached the 
age of fifty-five, his friends were fearful of the consequences 
of adding to his other duties those of an army chaplain; nay, 
strenuous efforts were made to persuade him to decline the 
offer. But remonstrance was in vain ; Dr. McVickar was a 
devoted churchman and deeply interested in mission work, 
and had felt for a long time a warm and special interest in 
soldiers and all their concerns. He therefore promptly ac- 
cepted the proffer of the Government, and, as the call came 
during vacation at the college, he entered on his duties with- 
out the loss of a day. For eighteen years (1844-62) he held 
that position, serving not merely with eificiency, but with 
what might be called an enthusiastic devotion to the work. 
It is recorded of him by his biographer that he declared that 
he would resign his professorship in Columbia rather than 
the chaplaincy with its hard work among the soldiers and its 
salary of $700 a year. He was obliged, however, to resign in 
1862, at the age of seventy-five. 

There was then no chapel and Dr. McVickar held services 
in fine weather in a little grove of trees near the present 
Colonels' Row. At other times he used one of the rooms of 
the Post Headquarters, which proved inconvenient to all con- 

i2g 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

cerned. He made requisitions for a chapel building, but 
without success. 

He therefore set about building one himself, and with gener- 
ous contributions from his own family and of friends whom 
he interested in the work and with substantial aid from Trinity 
Church, New York, which at that early date evinced an inter- 
est it has never ceased to hold, he gathered funds sufficient for 
the purpose. 

The Commander-in-Chief, General Scott, was strongly in- 
terested in the plans and gave them the benefit of his influence 
for the good of the churchless garrison. The War with 
Mexico broke out during the period of the Chapel's erection, 
but it helped rather than hindered the work, and the little 
building, which Chaplain McVickar describes as "having the 
two elements of humility and reverence,'' was soon completed 
and was consecrated by the Rt. Reverend Wm. H. De Lancey 
on April 19, 1847. 

Chaplain McVickar served with great faithfulness from 
1844 to 1862, at which time the War Department insisted that 
the Chaplain, owing to war conditions, should reside on 
Governor's Island. This was impossible in that day of limited 
transportation, and so with great regret he resigned his posi- 
tion and devoted the remainder of his active life to his Col- 
lege duties. 

Chaplain McVickar was born in New York the loth of 
August, 1787, and died in 1868, six years after giving up his 
much-loved duties on Governor's Island. 

Inasmuch as he was the founder of religious work and in- 
fluence here, it may not be deemed amiss to mention some 
matters of interest connected with his life and work in and 
for the Garrison taken from his biography written by his son, 
William A. McVickar. 

Speaking of Dr. McVickar's appointment by the Secretary 
of War upon the nomination of the Council of Administration 
of the Garrison of which Dr. Joseph Pynchon Russell, Post 
Surgeon, was a member, in 1844, his biographer says: 

"My father had now reached his fifty-sixth year; a time of 

130 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

life when most men, if they do not think of rest, do still hesi- 
tate about adding to their work. Yet we find him this year 
accepting the chaplaincy of Fort Columbus in the harbor of 
New York. 

He had always been fond of parochial work, and was not 
only ever ready to assist his brother clergymen, but constantly 
went out of his way to do so ; generally singling out those, 
whether young or old, who he had reason to believe were 
over-worked. A friend and relative knowing his feelings in 
this respect, and being also acquainted with the officers of this 
Post, mentioned his name and secured his appointment. This 
miexpected proffer of missionary work, for it was really such, 
the performance of which was rendered possible by residence 
at tlie post not being required, came during the college vaca- 
tion, and my father accepted it at once. 

On first entering upon his duties, the chaplain found no 
place set apart for public worship, except the large room used 
on week-days as Post Headquarters, and on several Sundays 
business requirements forced him to vacate even this and go 
to an inconvenient upper room for service. This quickly de- 
termined him to make an effort for a chapel, but he found 
the matter surrounded with apparently insurmountable diffi- 
culties. Government was not accustomed to build chapels; 
nor was it willing either to make an appropriation for the pur- 
pose, nor to allow others, even if prepared, to build on gov- 
ernment ground. But there was determined perseverance on 
the one side, and probably friends at court on the other; not 
least among the latter being the then commander-in-chief of 
the army, General Scott. The result was a personal lease 
from the government of about one hundred and fifty feet 
square, on the south side of the island, subject to the exigen- 
cies of war; and within the year, the completion of a most 
tasteful and church-like building of wood after my father's 
own plans, and from funds, given and collected by himself. 

The war with Mexico breaking out at this time increased 
greatly the difficulties to be overcome. These were fully ap- 

131 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

predated, as the following extract from a letter from an Army 
officer to the chaplain shows : 

"To me, and I believe all of us, the interest of the Churcli 
is greatly enhanced by its erection in war times on the very 
scene of active preparation for distant service. It seems a 
happy omen of those times when war shall be known no more. 
That it is fairly erected and completed seems to me almost a 
miracle, and to you, dear sir, it must seem almost a creation. 
It has taught me a lesson in the power of faith and perseverance 
that I trust I shall never forget. Those of us who knew the 
peculiar and tormenting discouragements under which you 
labored, and which seemed to us insurmountable, cannot too 
highly appreciate a labor which not only benefits Governor's 
Island but the whole army." 

Another officer, writing from the far-off field of battle, 
says : 

"I am much pleased to hear of your final and complete suc- 
cess in building a church on the Island, and shall place my 
small donation in your hands at the first good opportunity. 
May its hallowed walls echo back strains of pure devotion 
from the hearts and lips of its fortunate attendants, and may 
its erection prove the means of turning many from the power 
of Satan unto God. If it shall be my privilege to return again 
to the United States, it will arouse no ordinary feelings of 
emotion in my heart to enter into the courts of our little 
sanctuary, and there to join the voice of prayer and praise to 
Him who is the God of dangers and of protection. Be so 
kind, my dear sir, in your next letter, as to describe its posi- 
tion and its form, even in details." 

Fort Columbus from 1850 was the great recruiting depot of 
the army; the numbers, therefore, that came under the chap- 
lain's notice in war times was greatly increased. As the com- 
mon soldier is not generally considered very impressible, we 
may judge somewhat of the spiritual power of the work 
centring round this little chapel by knowing that it received 
several bequests from soldiers dying in the hospitals of Mexico. 
The circle of its influence was a large one. The regiments 

132 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

were often changed, and when they were, a practical symbolism 
was enlisted to give permanency to the spiritual impressions 
already made. The communicants among the commissioned 
officers were assembled by the chaplain and requested to 
choose a Bible text which should be the motto of their regi- 
ment, this was then inscribed, with proper device and color, 
on a metal shield, with the name of the regiment and solemnly 
hung on the walls of the chapel, a binding link to the absent, a 
suggestive subject of reflection to the present worshippers. 

In July, 1849, writing to an absent son, my father says: 
"The little Church of St. Cornelius is growing in historic in- 
terest as well as beauty. The three successive commands of 
the Island have all their mementoes on its walls — texts selected 
by them with appropriate shields; and what is more satis- 
factory yet, I never had better attendance from the officers."* 

An interesting episode occurred after the close of the Mexi- 
can War in the encampment for a time on Governor's Island 
of what was called the California Regiment of Colonel Steven- 
son. This was a semi-military colony, under government 
patronage, going to take practical possession of the newly 
acquired territory of California. The proposed expedition 
aroused all my father's clear-sighted zeal, both for the com- 
monwealth and the Church. He saw how much of the future 
of California, civil and ecclesiastical, might depend on the 
character and moral impetus of these men. He knew that 
they were mostly adventurers, but he never doubted the germ 
of goodness within. He worked among them untiringly, and 
before they sailed — ^they were going by the six months' voyage 
round the Horn — he persuaded them to elect a chaplain, de- 
termine on daily prayers on shipboard, and take the nominal 
position at least of a God-fearing body. The American Bible 
Society and the New York Bible and Common Prayer Book 

♦These shields are described on p. 148. When the new Chapel was 
built (1906) they were removed from the old Chapel, carefully mounted 
on oak and hung on the walls of the south transept, where they serve as a 
reminder of the devotion of Dr. McVickar and of the manly piety of the 
soldiers of his day and generation. Requiescant omnes in pace. 

133 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

Society were brought into requisition to enable him to make 
distribution to every man of a Bible and, to every one that 
desired it, a Prayer Book. This distribution was made the 
occasion of a farewell address, which, at the request of the 
officers, was printed and distributed among the men as a 
memento of home, for California was then a terra incognita, 
and felt to be, as it really was, very far away. 

The request of the Committee of Officers for a copy of this 
farewell address, which was made at the distribution of Bibles 
and Prayer Books to the Regiment prior to its sailing for Cali- 
fornia and which was printed, is dated "Camp Polk, Gover- 
nor's Island, 7th Reg't N. Y. U. S. A. Volunteers, Sept. nth, 
1846," and the Doctor's acknowledgment of the courtesy was 
dated the following day. 

Of his ministrations among the sick, it is sufficient to say 
that he was faithful, and never allowed personal fear, and 
seldom personal weariness, to interpose a barrier. When the 
cholera was raging on Governor's Island in 1849, he writes to 

an absent member of his family : "Dr I was with 

last night, who, both for his own sake and that of his family, 
is very dear to me. I am afraid we shall lose him. It has 
terminated in cholera, which has carried off so many. I shall 
return to a sorrowing, perhaps desolate house, but God's will 
be done. It is painful beyond measure to lose, as I do, the 
mourners also, by their removal from my care and sympathy." 

As I copy these lines, evidently written before breakfast, 
after an anxious night's visitation, and telling of the simple 
way in which the chaplain went in and out among his cholera 
sick, I am forcibly reminded of his devoted successor in the 
chaplaincy, the Revd. Alexander Davidson, the second chaplain 
from Trinity Church, who has but just laid down his young 
life, a sacrifice to the same sense of duty, as he went in and 
out among the sick soldiers, during the late prevalence of yel- 
low fever on the island. His record as given by his com- 
manding officer is a very noble one, and if imagination might 
be allowed to picture choice meetings in the spirit world, it 
would find here congenial material. 

134 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

]\Iany letters show the personal interest which my father 
took in the new recruits, especially those who had seen better 
days, and who, by misfortune or wrong-doing, had been in- 
duced to enlist in the army. Several, so situated, were through 
his influence at Washington freed from their enlistment and 
restored to their friends. Foreigners also, who could neither 
speak nor write English, but who were well educated, and who 
from necessity had been forced to enlist, often found in the 
Latin tongue a means of communication which must have 
been to them a great comfort. ***** 

The following letter, found among the Chaplain's papers, is 
an example of this, pathetic in its simplicity. 

DoMiNE Pastor: 

Quod tibi scribo, excusa me. 

Te'^rogare volui ut curam haberes pro me Majorem 
optare ut me in Partem Permanentem transferret. 

Simul curriculum vitse mese tibi refero ut de me judi- 
care possis. 

Filius Pastoris primarii Magdeburgiensis sum. In 
prima classe Gymnasii Latini Halbertstadiensis versatus 
sum, 

Postea quinque annos mercator fui in quibus Collegium 
Carolinum Brunoswigii visitavi. 

Capitanus in Bello Danico fui et infelix fortuna politicio 
me in hanc partem mundi translulit. Non amicum qui 
me novit habeo. Rogo ut te meum optatum audias. 

* Carolus Arminius Thryhsson. 

The "permanent party" referred to in the above was the per- 
manent garrison of the Island, the members of which were not 
liable to be sent to distant posts, and had other privileges. 

* Translation — 

Reverend Pastor: 

Excuse me for troubling you with a letter. 

I wish to asi£ you to be so very kind as to request the Major to transfer 
me to the Permanent Party. 

I will now tell you something of my life so that you can judge what kind 
of man I am. 

I am the Son of the Chief Pastor of the City of Magdeburg and a grad- 

135 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

Only the best men were put upon it and it was considered an 
honor as well as an advantage to belong to it. 

These chaplaincy duties, running over a period of eighteen 
years, having commenced with one war, were destined to 
terminate with another. My father's feelings with regard to 
the War of the Rebellion are well expressed in the following 
few lines of a home letter : — 

"April 17, 1861, — Our April has been stormy, but less so 
than our national affairs. It is a crisis I could never have 
believed in, and even now can scarcely realize ; but it alters 
not our rule of life — duty and Christian hope. When earth is 
dark, we must look to Heaven for light. Civil war is upon 
us. It might, perhaps, have been avoided, but must now be 
met, and the Federal government supported at all hazards and 
any cost. We must now conquer peace. The interval, long 
or short, will be one of trials and self-denials such as we have 
not been accustomed to, but with a brave heart and God's 
Blessing we shall go through them." 

Under the regulations then in force soldiers were required 
to attend divine service and on the sounding of the Church 
call were marched to and seated in the lower half of the 
Chapel. Those only were excused who were on duty that 
prevented or who could plead religious scruples. These, how- 
ever, had to remain in quarters during divine service and have 
the Articles of War and Regulations read to them and some 
amusing tales are traditional from McVickar's time of men 
who after comparing the Regulations and the Chaplain's ser- 
mons decided in favour of the latter as the less of two evils. 

The reader who has followed thus far this historical ac- 
count will have observed that Governor's Island is sui generis 

uate in the highest class of the Latin Classical Academy of Halbertstadt 
(Prussia). 

For five years after my graduation I was engaged in business during 
which time I attended the Caroline College at Brunswick. 

I also served in the Army with rank of Captain in our war with Den- 
mark and then by an unhappy turn of the wheel of fortune I find myself 
in this part of the world, unknown, without a friend to help me. I 
earnestly beg that you will hear this my prayer. 

136 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

in every department of its military and social activities. It 
will not be surprising, therefore, to find it so in its ecclesiastical 
relations. 

Dr. McVickar was selected by the Post Council of Ad- 
ministration according to the regulations of 1838. In those 
days the pay of Chaplain was forty dollars a month, four 
rations per day, quarters and fuel, increased in 1849 to not to 
exceed sixty dollars a month, subject to the approval of the 
Post Council. 

The Chaplaincy of Governor's Island has remained during 
all succeeding years on the basis of its establishment in 1844, 
except that since 1868 the financial support of the Chaplain 
has been borne by the Trinity Church Corporation. This is 
somewhat analogous to the corps of Acting Post Chaplains 
in the British Army, of whom there are a number carried on 
the rolls in addition to the regular commissioned Chaplains. 
These have their regular parochial work but may be called 
upon, as reserves, by the War Department for special duty 
when their services are required. The arrangement in force 
at Governor's Island is more favourable to the Government, 
however, as is also the status of the Chapel building, which is 
for the sole use of the Government in the persons of the 
Governor's Island establishment, whereas in England and 
Germany today the Military Garrisons in most cases share a 
parish Church with the regular congregation, as, for instance, 
at Carlisle, where the author has been present at iycrvice on 
Sunday, the command from the Castle in the City marching in 
and occupying assigned sittings, the officers sitting in the 
choir stalls. 

In Germany there are but a few Garrison Chapels besides 
the ones at Berlin and Potsdam and the garrisons use the local 
churches as best they may. The author quotes the following 
passage on this subject from the valuable observations of 
Chaplain Joseph Clemens, 15th U. S. Infantry, on duty at 
Tientsin, China: 

"The French have no chaplains, neither have the Italians, 
except for soldiers in the provinces. The Germans have 

137 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

Romanist and Protestant chaplains at all garrisons, who also 
visit the smaller posts perioclicall\\ When no chaplain is ob- 
tainable the commanding officer reads the service. Regimental 
chaplains rank as captains, superintending chaplains as lieu- 
tenant colonels. They are paid from the war budget. Roman 
Catholic and Protestant chaplains are forbidden to talk to any 
but those of their own faith; the orthodox (Lutheran) may 
talk to all. They visit the hospitals and prisons. 

The Russians provide an Orthodox, a Romanist and a Pro- 
testant at each large garrison. For smaller posts they provide 
an Orthodox chaplain, and for each prison and hospital, but 
for others they provide chaplains by districts. They do not 
rank as officers nor wear uniforms, on account of the union of 
Church and State. The chaplains of one creed are not for- 
bidden to talk to men of another creed. In Russia soldiers 
are ordered to service twice a week, but elsewhere a priest 
comes at certain times, and the CO. conducts services on holy- 
days and special occasions. Chaplains are paid from the war 
budget. 

The British provide chaplains for soldiers everywhere, ac- 
cording to the credal preference made by the soldiers when 
entering the service, whether Orthodox (Church of England), 
Romanist or Dissenters (Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, 
etc.). Chaplains rank from citizens to a chaplain general, but 
do not wear uniforms. They visit the outposts of their com- 
mands weekly. When civilian chaplains are employed they 
receive one shilling a man per annum. An officer accompanies 
each detail of men to their various services once a week under 
orders. 

Speaking generally, it may be said the chaplains of European 
Armies are employed in religious work only." 

Dr. McVickar, the venerable founder of the work here, was, 
like some of the recognized Chaplains in the British Army 
to-day, a civilian chaplain, and all who have followed him for 
70 years have been the same, except Chaplain La Tourette, 
who served here 1865-8. 

The students of Columbia in the 40's and 50's had a song 

138 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

about this distinguished scholar and cleric in allusion to his 
Army chaplaincy which it is supposed anuised him as much as 
the students themselves. The refrain was as follows: 

"O! Johnny McVickar's a ivarlike man; 
He's built on the preaching and fighting plan — 
He's chaplain of Governor's Island." 

At this time Columbia College was at Park Place near the 
Battery. Dr. McVickar wore a military cape and cap in his 
attendance at the College as well as when on duty at Fort 
Columbus and was accustomed to hang them on a hook in 
view of the students. The author has been told by a dis- 
tinguished clergyman of the Church who was a student at 
Columbia under Dr. McVickar in the Class of 1856 that the 
Reverend Professor-Chaplain was very proud of his chaplaincy 
at Governor's Island as well as of the cap which he wore, and 
the students, who, it seems, were very much as students are 
today, appreciating this very pardonable pride, but determined 
to turn it to good account, formulated a set of verses of which 
the chorus as given above alone remains. 

Columbia College thus has three points of connection with 
Governor's Island — first, when under the early Governors a 
certain tract was set apart for the College Revenue, but never 
used; second, in 1797, when its Professors and students in a 
body worked on the fortifications; and third, in giving one of 
its Professors, from 1844 to 1862, as the Chaplain of Gover- 
nor's Island. The labours of the College body on the Harlem 
fortifications in 1814 must also be remembered (p. 54). 

The following inscription is carved on one of the stone 
sedilia in the Chapel: 



139 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

In 

Memory of 

John McVickar 

Priest and Doctor 

Born 1787, Died 1868 

Chaplain of this Post 

1 844- 1 862 
By whose wisdom and 

liberality the first 

Chapel of St. Cornelius 

the Centurion was 

erected in 1846 

The law of truth 
was in his mouth, 

and iniquity 

was not found in 

his lips. 

Dr. McVickar was succeeded in the chaplaincy by the Rev. 
Mr. Scudder, who held that office from 1862 until 1865. 

Upon his retirement the Rev. James Armour Moore La 
Tourette was appointed in his place. He was a clergyman of 
the Episcopal Church and served as commissioned chaplain 
from 1865 until 1868. 

One of the Sanctuary sedilia has been designated as a 
memorial of him, and is thus inscribed : 

In 

Memory of 

James Armour Moore 

La Tourette, 

Priest. 

Born 1826. Died 1891. 

Chaplain of this 

Post, 

1865-1868. 

Faithful in the dis- 
charge of duty, notably 
in the siege of Asiatic 
cholera of 1866. 
Instant in season 
Out of season. 

140 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

In 1868 it was announced by the War Department that as 
the Island is within the Hmits of the City of New York, the 
religious bodies of that city ought to feel interest enough in 
the spiritual welfare of the men on the Island to supply them 
with the ministrations of religion. Trinity Church being in 
the First Ward, in full view from the Island and close at hand, 
the Rector and Vestry responded without delay to the sug- 
gestion of the Government, and immediately made a pro- 
posal to the War Department to maintain a clergyman at the 
post at their own expense, who should perform the accustomed 
duties of a commissioned chaplain. The proposal was ac- 
cepted August, 1868, as appears from the followng extracts 
from the collection of documents relating to this subject: 

War Department, 
Adjutant General's Office, 

Washington, August nth, 1868. 
Brevet Major General D. Butterfield, 
Superintendent Gen'l Rec'g Service, 
New York City. 
Sir: 

Referring to the recommendation contained in your in- 
dorsement of the 31st ultimo forwarding a proposition 
made by the Vestry of Trinity Church, New York, to fur- 
nish and pay a clergyman to conduct religious and school 
exercises at Governor's Island, New York Harbor, said 
clergyman to be allowed quarters and fuel by the Govern- 
ment and have the facilities usually furnished to chap- 
plains, you are respectfully informed the same has been 
approved by the Secretary of War. 
Very respectfully 

Your obedient servant, 
(Signed) E. D. Townsend, 
Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Gen'l Rec'g Service, 

New York City, August 14, 1868. 
Official copy respectfully furnished Brevet Brig. Gen- 
eral H. D. Wallen, Commanding Fort Columbus, N. Y. H., 
for his information and guidance and with reference to 

141 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

copy of the letter of Rev. Dr. Dix furnished him from 
this office, July 31st ultimo. 

By order of Bvt. Major Gen'l Butterfield. 

(Signed) Asa Bird Gardiner, 
I St Lieut, of gth Infantry, A. A. A. G. 

The first chaplain under this arrangement was the Reverend 
J. B. C. Beaubien, appointed October 12, 1868, in the following 
Orders : 

General Orders No. 104. 
H'dq'rs Principal Depot, G. R. S. 
Ft. Columbus, N. Y. Harbor, 

Dec. 3, 1868. 
The Commanding Officer has the pleasure of annoimc- 
ing to the Command that through the generosity and 
Christian sympathy extended by Trinity Church, New 
York City, the services of the Rev. J. B. C. Beaubien 
have been secured as resident chaplain of the Depot; and 
that certain necessary improvements are about to be made 
in the Chapel of St. Cornelius for the comfort and con- 
venience of the officers and soldiers here stationed. 

Under this beneficent arrangement worship is perma- 
nently resumed at the Depot: with Sunday morning and 
evening services: a Sabbath School and Bible Class. 

Although "it is earnestly recommended to all officers 
and soldiers diligently to attend divine service," and not- 
withstanding all are cordially invited to attend, yet this 
invitation is in no sense compulsory and must not be so 
considered or construed by the officers or non-commis- 
sioned officers of the Depot. All must be left free to 
worship God after their own forms and in accordance 
with the dictates of their own consciences. 
By order of Bvt. Brig. Gen. H. D. Wallen. 

I. E. Putnam, 
1st Lieut. 1 2th Inf'y & Bvt. Capt. U. S. A., Post Adjutant. 

At the same time order was taken for certain work for the 
improvement of the chapel and supplies for the schools in 
charge of the chaplain. 

He was transferred after a little more than a year to an- 
other Post and the Rev. Alexander Davidson was appointed, 
January 10, 1870. 

Dr. Dix writes of him as follows in his History of the 
Chapel of St. Cornelius the Centurion: 

142 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

"The name of this devoted young priest shines brightly in 
the annals of our venerable parish ; he attained an honor which 
many have coveted but few secured — the death of those who 
give their lives for their fellow-men. His career w^as brief, 
but glorious. Cordially welcomed to the Island by Bvt. Brig. 
Gen. Thomas H. Neill, commanding the Depot, and furnished 
by that officer with instructions for his information and guid- 
ance, he began his work with the opening of the year and 
speedily gave proof of ability and devotion. But, unfortun- 
ately, his health was not strong, and after a few months it 
was deemed advisable that he should take such time as might 
be necessary for a complete recovery. While he was away 
on leave of absence, the yellow fever broke out on the Island, 
late in the summer, attacking officers and men. On receiving 
the news Davidson returned at once to his post of duty, in 
spite of the remonstrances of his friends, and after laboring 
strenuously among the sick contracted the fatal disease and 
died. His name has been borne upon our rolls thenceforth as 
one who fell in the service of Christ and of the brethren. In 
appreciation of his character and acts the vestry adopted these 
resolutions : 

(October lo, 1870.) 

The Comptroller was authorized to pay the expense of 
printing connected with the memorial of the late Reverend 
Alexander Davidson, Post Chaplain at Governor's Island, 
who died recently from yellow fever contracted in his 
attendance on the sick soldiers under his charge. 

Resolved that a tablet be erected in Trinity Church in 
memory of the Reverend Alexander Davidson, late in the 
service of this Parish as Chaplain on Governor's Island, 
who died at that post during the epidemic lately prevail- 
ing there, in the discharge of his duties to the men under 
his spiritual care. 

And that it be referred to a Committee of three, of which 
the Rector shall be chairman, to procure a design for such 
tablet and to select a suitable position for it, and to report 
the same to the Vestry with an estimate of its cost. 

Mr. Strong and Mr. Sackett were appointed on the 
Committee. 

143 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

At the same meeting a substantial gift was made to the 
mother of the deceased Chaplain, and an appropriation was 
voted to enable the Rector to provide for the services at St. 
Cornelius' Chapel in the interval between the death of Mr. 
Davidson and the appointment of his successor. 

The tablet to his memory was placed in Trinity Church, and 
may now be seen in the sacristy. It bears this inscription : 

In memory of the Rev. 

Alexander Davidson 

Chaplain at Ft. Columbus 

New York Harbor 

Who died of Yellow Fever 

Sept. A.D. 1870 

Though absent on sick leave when the Disease 
broke out he came back, and while ministering 
to the Sick and Dying was himself struck 
down and thus gave his life for his Brethren. 

The above inscription is also carved in stone on one of the 
memorial sedilia in the new Chapel. 

The Revd. Edward Hackley Carmichael Goodwin was ap- 
pointed chaplain Jan'y 17, 1871, and served with great faith- 
fulness until Sept. 30, 1904, when he was retired on a pension. 

Upon his reporting at Governor's Island the following 
orders were issued : 

Headquarters Principal Depot Recruiting Service, 
Fort Columbus, New York Harbor, 
Special Orders,^ Jan'y 17, 1871. 

No. 15. 5 

[extract.] 

II. Rev. Mr. E. H. C. Goodwin having reported at 

these Headquarters is hereby announced as Chaplain of 

the Post. He will be obeyed and respected accordingly. 

By command of Lieut.-Col. T. H. Neill, 6th Cavalry. 

James Regan, 
1st Lt. pth Infantry, Post Adjutant. 

144 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

When he went to Governor's Island there were two separate 
commands, Fort Cohmibus and the New York Arsenal, Fort 
Columbus was a two-company post, commanded at that time, 
as appears from the special order just quoted, by Lieut.- 
Col. Thos. H. Neill, 6th Cavalry, while Lieut.-Col. Theodore 
T. S. Laidley was in command of the Arsenal. To these two 
officers Mr. Goodwin was indebted for a very cordial recep- 
tion, and for whatever assistance could be reasonably expected 
by one entering on duties so novel. Mr. Goodwin speaks of 
the feeling toward him throughout his long term of office, 
both personally and in his work, as so kindly that it is difficult 
to single out names for mention. Colonel Neill's successors, 
as a rule, were as warmly his friends as was that distinguished 
officer. Of Colonel Laidley he has spoken to me with peculiar 
affection, remarking that he was never absent from the chapel 
when it was open for service, and that, if on the Island, the 
Colonel was always in his place, with kindly greeting, wise 
counsel, helpful suggestion, and hearty sympathy. Among 
the officers subsequently in command at the Arsenal may be 
specially mentioned Col. Alfred Mordecai, Col. Julian Mc- 
Alister, Col. J. W. Reilly and Col. John E. Greer. 

Of the ladies resident from time to time on Governor's 
Island, Mrs. Hancock organized an efficient choir and played 
the organ at the chapel services, besides being at the head of 
several entertainments on the Island given by the officers and 
ladies at the Post for the benefit of the Chapel. Mrs. Schofield 
may also be mentioned as greatly interested, and as having 
made altar cloths and other vestments for the Chapel. The 
subject of the music was a difficult one, as it was entirely 
voluntary, an arrangement rendered uncertain and unsatis- 
factory by the changes in command and the coming and going 
of regiments. During the whole of her residence Mrs. Han- 
cock took charge of the musical part of the service ; Miss Julia 
Gilliss was also noted for prolonged attention to the work; 
Mrs. David Robertson, wife of Hospital Steward Robertson, 
was for a long time the acceptable leader of the choir. Mrs. 
Schofield, Mrs. Ruggles, Mrs. Arnold, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. 

145 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

Roger Jones, Mrs. Morrison, and many others, were active 
helpers of Chaplain Goodwin, and aided in many ways ih the 
adornment of the chapel with contributions of sacramental 
vessels, altar cross, eucharistic and other lights, altar desk, 
vases, etc., and hangings which were the work of their own 
hands or purchased by them and presented as offerings of 
love and devotion. The sympathy of the ladies has been al- 
ways a strong encouragement to the chaplain and an incentive 
to, as well as a reward of, his work ; and so it continues to the 
present day. 

I may also add to this record the names of General Gillespie, 
who was especially interested in the work; of Col. J. W. 
Reilly, who supplemented the offices of the quarter-master by 
having the pews repaired by the workmen in his employ, and 
raised money to recarpet the entire chapel; and of Col. 
Samuel Brook, adjutant-general, who provided cushions for 
the pews. 

Upon retirement of Chaplain Goodwin the Revd. Edmund 
B. Smith was appointed and announced by special orders : 

Headquarters Atlantic Division, 
Special Orders,^ Governor's Island, New York City, 
No. 72. 5 October 28, 1904. 

[extract.] 
I. The Reverend Edmund Banks Smith having re- 
ported at these headquarters on the ist instant, is hereby 
announced as Chaplain of this station pursuant to au- 
thority of the War Department contained in letter dated 
Adjutant General's Office, Washington, August 11, 1868. 
He will be obeyed and respected accordingly. 

By command of Brigadier General Grant: 

H. O. S. Heistand, 
Colonel, Assistant Adjutant General, 
Adjutant General. 

"In 1904, after nearly sixty years of constant use, the old 
chapel was found to be in a state of partial decay and no 
longer safe or convenient for occupancy. There were leaks 
in the roof and sides; one of the window frames fell out in a 
high wind; it was very cold in winter; it was battered by the 

146 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

Storms of years. The Corporation, after due consideration, 
abandoned the idea of repairing or endeavoring to restore the 
old edifice, notwithstanding the associations connected with it, 
and decided to ask permission of the Government to replace 
it with a new building. Negotiations with the War Depart- 
ment were carried on for several months, during the years 
1904 and 1905, during which time we were greatly indebted 
to Maj.-Gen. James F. Wade, Maj.-Gen.. Frederick D. 
Grant, Brig.-Gen. John W. Clous (retired). Col. H. O. S. 
Heistand, Majors E. M. Weaver, H. Rowan, G. H. G. Gale, 
and Albert Todd, for valuable advice and assistance, both 
here and in Washington. To these officers I now have the 
honor to present our thanks for their cooperation in our 
cherished plan, and their assistance in enabling us to carry it 
into effect. After due time consent was given by the War 
Department; designs for the new building having been sub- 
mitted, examined, and approved, and a site was designated not 
far from that of the old chapel. The ceremony of laying the 
cornerstone, by the Right Rev. David H. Greer, D.D., Bishop 
Coadjutor of New York, took place on Friday, October 27, 
1905, and the chapel was consecrated, with imposing ecclesi- 
astical and military ceremonies, October 19, 1906." 

The architect selected to build the chapel was Mr. Charles 
C. Haight, a gentleman well known and esteemed in his pro- 
fession. He has a military record which merits attention in 
this connection. During the war for the Union, Mr. Haight 
served as captain of the 39th Regiment, New York Volunteers. 
On the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness he com- 
manded that regiment and was severely wounded. He also 
served as adjutant of the 31st Regiment, United States Volun- 
teers, and in other capacities during the war. His wife was a 
grand-daughter of the Rev. Dr. John McVickar, chaplain, by 
whom the first chapel was built, and his eldest son is Capt. 
Charles Sidney Haight, 5th U. S. Cavalry. 

A number of historical shields of metal which had hung for 
many years in the Chapel of 1846 were removed to the new 
Chapel upon its completion and are in the South transept : 

147 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

A shield commemorating the wreck of the "San Francisco" 
has on it: 

"Wreck of the San Francisco, Christmas, 1853. The 
survivors of the 3d Arty in Sorrow and in Thankfulness 
hang up this Shield." 

Four smaller shields bear the following inscriptions: 

"Recruiting Depot. Came, 17th March, 1842. In- 
scribed these to the Glory of God. Trinity S., 1849." 

"I St Regt Arty Cos. A, B & E. Came Oct., 1848. 

These as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, 

Whitsunday, 1849." 

"3d Regt Arty, Octr, Novr, Deer, 1853." 

"4th Regt Infy 

J"?^' [1852" 
July, i ^ 

fwo shields placed in memory of the soldiers who fell dm- 
ing the Mexican War are inscribed : 

"Thou, O Lord, hast covered my head in the day of 
battle." 

"Thy truth, O Lord, shall be my shield and buckler." 

A smaller shield above these two is inscribed : 

"These Shields are set up at the cost of Soldiers re- 
turned from Mexico, 1848." 

Military trophies connected with the Mexican War are 
mentioned in the chapter dealing with that period. On the 
walls hang flags representing every branch of the service, in- 
cluding a number of Spanish captures. Their number is 
being added to from time to time. The saine is true of 
memorials to officers of the Army. The list at present in- 
cludes memorial windows to Major-General Winfield Scott 
Hancock and Mrs. Hancock and to General Daniel Butter- 
field; a massive stone font in memory of Bvt. Colonel Alex- 

148 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

ander H. Hoff and Ann E. Van Rensselaer, his wife; altar 
vases in memory of Sylyvester Day, Surgeon, U. S. A., Bvt. 
Brig.-Gen. C. Hannibal Day and Maria Houghton his wife, 
Lieut. Russel H. Day, U. S. A., Murray S. Day, U. S. N., and 
Bvt.-Col. A. H. Hoff and Clifton Comly, Major Ordnance 
Corps ; in the side chapel a credence and piscina of carved 
stone in memory of Sumter Loring Edmunds, a credence at 
the high altar to commemorate the marriagje in the old chapel 
of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn. Other gifts are 
crosses in memory of Charles C. Morrison, Capt. Ordnance 
Corps, and of Chaplain McVickar, given by his great grand- 
children; tablets in memory of Joseph Pynchon Russell, Sur- 
geon, 1790-1849, who served at Fort Columbus 1824-1849, of 
his son Lieut.-Colonel Edmund Kirby Russell, ist Artillery, 
who was born on Governor's Island in 1840, and of members 
of their family; a Bible in memory of Brig.-Gen. John W. 
Clous and a group of paintings of sacred subjects in memory 
of General Grant. These are assembled in a shrine under a 
flag canopy and are marked by a brass tablet inscribed by Mrs. 
Grant, who presented the paintings, as follows : 



Hn ^emoriam 

Frederick Dent Grant 
Major-General United States Army 

April 13-26 1912 



Services of the Roman Catholic Church have been held for 
many years on the Island. Prior to 1883 they were under tlie 
auspices of St. Peter's Church in Barclay Street, but for 
twenty-eight years past they have been attended from the 
Mission at No. 7 State Street, New York. 

At one time, according to the remembrance of old residents, 
services were held in a building near the old Hospital, at other 

149 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

times in the barracks and the Castle for a short period till a 
more suitable place could be found. In later years, and for a 
long time, they have been conducted in the South Battery, 
and with the completion of the new building in the Battery in 
1904 a spacious hall has been used for that purpose, where 
service is held every Sunday morning. 

The Clergyman in charge (191 3) is the Rev. Michael 
Joseph Mitchell, from the State Street Mission. 

For several years past the 22nd Regiment, Corps of En- 
gineers, N. G. N. Y., Colonel Walter B. Hotchkin command- 
ing, has had an annual Church parade on Memorial Sunday. 

The Veteran Corps of Artillery, Military Society of the 
War of 1812, of whose services in 1812 mention is made on 
p. 74, comes to Governor's Island annually at All Saints' for 
a Memorial Service. 

This annual service of commemoration of Departed Com- 
rades who have served with honour in the Army and Navy 
of the United States of America and in the Militia of the 
State of New York, in the War of the Revolution and in later 
National Wars is authorized by the Secretary of War and 
contains, in addition to the features usual at such a service, 
the ancient Bidding Prayer as used at Oxford University, 
the Academic offices and titles being replaced by Military. 
The Prayer is given here, not only for its beauty of noble 
English and the high ideal of national life it sets forth, but 
because, so far as can be learned, this is the only military 
station in England or America at which it has ever been used. 

THE BIDDING PRAYER 

Ye shall pray for Christ's Holy Catholic Church and 
for that pure and Apostolic branch of it which God has 
planted in these United States of America : and as I am 
more especially bound, I bid your prayers for the Parish 
of Trinity Church in the City of New York, that our Lord 
may bless its labours for Religion in the Army and in the 
Commonwealth. 

Ye shall pray for the President of the United States, 
and for the Governor of this State, and for all that are 
in civil authority over us ; that all, and every of them, in 

150 



RELIGIOUS WORK AND INFLUENCE 

their several callings may serve truly to the glory of God, 
and the edifying and well-governing of His people, re- 
membering the account they have to give. 

Ye shall pray for the Secretary of War, the Secretary 
of the Navy, and all others in authority: and more espe- 
cially for the Commanding General of this Military De- 
partment and for those who serve with him : for the Com- 
mander of this Post and all officers and soldiers here 
stationed, that they may by Thy Divine assistance pre- 
serve peace and tranquillity in our Land. 

Ye shall pray for the National Guard of this State and 
for all the Military Societies of the Nation, and herein 
more especially for the members of this Venerable Corps 
and Military Society, that they may adorn the doctrine 
of God our Saviour in all things: and that in this State 
and City and throughout the land whatsoever tends to 
the advancement of patriotism and true loyalty may for- 
ever flourish and abound. 

Finally, let us praise God for all them that are departed 
out of this life in the faith of Christ, for the Patriarchs 
and Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Doctors, Martyrs 
and Confessors, whom He hath bestowed on His Church 
to shine as lights in their generations from the beginning 
of the world; for patriots and soldiers, for those who 
have given their lives in defence of country, for the 
Founders of this Corps and those who bear their names : 
and for all our departed members who having finished 
their course in faith do now rest from their labours. 

There was found, a number of years ago, in a little gilt 
frame of ancient design, a Prayer for Soldiers, evidently com- 
posed by the Revd. Dr. McVickar. This prayer is still used 
today at the public services of the Chapel, and is given here- 
with: 

A PRAYER FOR THE ARMY, 

Chapel of St. Cornelius the Centurion, 

Governor's Island, New 

York Harbour. 

O Almighty Lord God, Who didst choose Thy Servant 

Cornelius the Centurion, a devout man, and one that 

feared God with all his house, to be the first fruits of the 

Gospel among the Gentiles, and an example to those who 

151 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

should follow him in the profession of arms, we humbly 
implore Thy blessing upon those who serve in the Army 
of the United States. Make them to have a love of order 
and good discipline : may they have the victory over all 
their enemies, and by Thy Divine assistance preserve 
peace and tranquility in our land. Do Thou comfort and 
help the sick and show Thy pity upon all prisoners and 
captives. [*Look with the eyes of Thy mercy upon the 
wounded, and have in Thy holy keeping the souls of those 
who have fallen in battle.] 

More especially we pray for St. Cornelius' Chapel and 
all Benefactors of the same, and this Station in which we 
dwell. Send a blessing upon the officers and other soldiers 
and all under authority: and grant that in the true Faith 
of Thy Holy Name we may manfully fight under Christ's 
banner against sin, the world and the Devil, and continue 
His faithful Soldiers and Servants unto our lives' end: 
All which we ask in the name and for the sake of the 
great Captain of our Salvation, Thy Son our Saviour 
Jesus Christ. Amen. 

* In time of war. 




CHAPTER IX. 

Governor's Island Extension. 

It was not until 1797, after Washington had retired from 
the Presidency, that the irritation between the United States 
and France grew serious. Pressing remonstrances were made 
to Congress that the City be protected in its helpless condition, 
the State having by the Constitution ceded to the General 
Government the power of providing for the common defense. 
The Government contended that it had not the power to pass 
any law impairing the obligations of contracts; that a balance 
of $2,075,846 due from the State of New York to the United 
States by an award of the "Commissioner of Accounts," dated 
Philadelphia, Dec. 1793, must first be paid. At length, after 
much altercation, Congress declared, by a law passed May 3, 
1798, that "Where any State, which was found indebted to the 
United States, should, with the President's approbation, pro- 
ceed to finish or complete any fortifications heretofore com- 
menced by such State for the defense of any port or harbor 
within the same, or shall, under the direction of the President, 
make and erect any additional fortifications, pursuant to the 
act entitled 'An Act to provide for the further defense of the 
ports and harbors of the United States,' providing that no 
expenditures exceeding the balance found and reported 
against the respective States shall be allowed as aforesaid : and 
provided, that the fortifications for which the whole or any 
part of the expenditures shall be allowed and credited as 
aforesaid, with their privileges and appurtenances shall be, 
and shall be declared and established, as the property of the 
United States while maintained by them." 

Under the provisions of the Act, the State was duly credited 
with the several amounts of money it had expended by au- 
thority of legislative acts, in the erection of fortifications on 
Governor's Island. By the authority of an act passed March 
26, 1794, £30,000 had been so appropriated. This sum had 

153 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

been expended under the supervision of George Clinton, Mat- 
thew Clarkson, James Watson, Richard Varick, Nicholas 
Fish, Ebenezer Stevens and EHjah Hammond. 

A further sum of £20,000 had been granted April 6, 1795, to 
complete certain works on Governor's Island and Ellis' Island. 
This Island, together with other islands in the vicinity, was 
ceded to the United States Government by an act of the Legis- 
lature passed February 15, 1800. The following is a copy of 
the said act: 

Chapter 6, Laws of 1800. 
An Act to cede to the United States the jurisdiction of 
certain islands situate in and about the harbour of 
New York. 
Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York 
represented in Senate and Assembly: That the following 
islands, in and about the harbour of New York, and in 
and about the fortifying of which, this State hath hereto- 
fore expended or caused to be expended large sums of 
money, to wit, all that certain island called Bedlow's 
island, bounded on all sides by the waters of the Hudson 
River; all that certain island, called Oyster Island, 
bounded on all sides by the waters of the Hudson River; 
and all that certain island called Governor's Island, on 
which Fort Jay is situate, bounded on all sides by the 
waters of the East River and Hudson River, shall here- 
after be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States: 
Provided, that this cession shall not extend to prevent the 
execution of any process, civil or criminal, issuing under 
the authority of this State, but that such process may be 
served and executed on the said islands respectively, any 
thing therein contained notwithstanding. 

The island referred to as Oyster Island, in the foregoing act, 
was subsequently named and is now known as Ellis' Island. 

The Sundry Civil Act of 1901 made an appropriation for 
beginning the Extension of Governor's Island. This was ex- 
tended to include an addition of about 82 acres to the area of 
the Island by enclosing with a bulkhead part of the shoal to 
the S. W. of the Island and filling the enclosure, the building 
of a wharf on the N. shore and dredging to a depth of 26 feet 
in front of the wharf and the erection of buildings. The work 

154 



GOVERNOR'S ISLAND EXTENSION 

of enlargement, including the construction of a wharf and 
dredging, was estimated to cost $1,100,000, and was assigned 
to the Engineer Corps. By a modification of the plan adopted 
in April, 1902, the enlargement was to be extended S. W. over 
the shoal to reclaim an additional area of about 19 acres, 
making the total area on enlargement 103 acres. In January, 
1913, the Extension was turned over by the Engineer Depart- 
ment to the Commanding Officer, Fort Jay. 

That it was the intention of the Legislature to cede title as 
well as jurisdiction is clearly evident from the Act approved 
May 7, 1880, ceding certain lands covered with water, which 
is as follows : 

Section i : "All the right and title of the State of 
New York to the following described parcels of land 
covered with water, adjacent and contiguous to the lands 
of the United States, in the harbor of New York, at 
Governor's Island, ********** and jurisdic- 
tion over the same, are hereby released and ceded to the 
United States under Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 17 
of the constitution, for the purpose of erecting and main- 
taining docks, wharves, boat-houses, sea walls, batteries, 
and other needful structures. Provided that jurisdiction 
hereby ceded shall continue no longer than the United 
States shall own said land at Governors Island, * * * * 
******* and the adjacent lands covered with water 
herein described and hereby released ; and provided fur- 
ther that all civil and such criminal process as may law- 
fully issue under authority of this state may be served or 
executed over said released lands." 

Subsequent to the passage of the foregoing Act, to wit, 
May 26, 1880, the submerged premises were granted and 
conveyed to the United States of America by the Gover- 
nor of the State of New York, by letters patent, * * * * 
*****. Patent recorded in Book of Patents, No. 44, 
page 604, etc., in the office of the Secretary of State for 
the State of New York. 

Laws of the State of New York, Chapter 57. Consoli- 
dated Laws of 1909, Article 4, Section 22. "Title and 
jurisdiction to the following described tracts or parcels of 
land have been ceded to the United States by this state on 
condition, etc., ********** Governor's Island," 
&c. 

155 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 

Referring to the letters patent (as above), the acting Cor- 
poration Counsel, City of New York, stated June i6th, 1910, 
in a communication addressed to the President of the Depart- 
ment of Taxes and Assessments, New York, that the "lands 
under water covered by these letters patent are the property 
of the United States and therefore exempt from taxation."* 

The actual extension of work was begun August, 1901, and 
the sea wall was first built to enclose the area. Its length is 
7,219 feet and there are 4,787,748 cubic yards in the extension, 
the material having been obtained from dredged channels and 
excavation earth, New York City. The number of acres is 
103.55 ""i the extension, as compared with 69.8 in the Old 
Island, 173.35 acres in all. 

The work was done by the Engineer Department under the 
command of Colonel W. L. Marshall (Retired Brig.-Gen.) 
and Colonel S. W. Roessler, both of the Corps of Engineers. 

When work on the enlargement was begun the contractors 
for building the sea wall were required to mark the end of 
their work with a lantern. As the foundation advanced into 
deeper water, better signals became necessary, and a wrecked 
schooner was used for the purpose. In the winter of 1910 the 
schooner was released and a house built on the land. The 
lantern, fog bell and striking mechanism were loaned by the 
Light House Bureau. This light was taken over by the Light 
House Bureau May loth, 1912. The average number of men 
employed was 40; locomotives, 3; engines, 3; derricks, 2. 

As late as the year 1900 the sea wall was in front of the 
present Regimental line (Brick Row), and when the sea was 
high, spray would dash upon the front of the houses. A fine 
level plain (sown to grass in 1911) now stretches its hundred 
acres of refreshing green to the west and south. 

The estimated cost of this improvement was $1,100,000 and 
the Engineering Department completed the extension for this 
amount. The approximate cost per acre was $10,000. 

* It appears from the foregoing that the United States owns Governor's 
Island in fee simple. 



156 



o 



w 




CHAPTER X. 

Commanding Generals, Post Commanders, 
British and American Forces, 

1755-1913- 

July I, 1878, the Headquarters of the Military Division of 
the Atlantic and the Department of the East were transferred 
from the Army Building, Houston Street, to Governor's 
Island, in compliance with G. O. 42, c. s., with the following 
personnel : 

Maj.-Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, Commanding. 
Colonel James B. Fry, Adjutant General, 
Major Guido N. Lieber, Judge Advocate. 
Colonel Langdon C. Easton, Chief Quarter-Master. 
Colonel Marcus D. L. Simpson, Chief Commissary of 
Subsistence. 

Colonel John M. Cuyler, Medical Director. 
Colonel Nathan W. Brown, Chief Paymaster. 

Attached. 

Captain Wm. G. Mitchell, 5th Infantry, aide-de-camp, 
Acting Engineer Officer. 

Captain John S. Wharton, 19th Infantry, aide-de-camp. 

1ST Lieut. George S. L. Ward, 22nd Infantry, aide-de- 
camp. 

Om detached service. 

Colonel Nelson H, Davis, Inspector General's Depart- 
ment. 

Battery A, ist Artillery, Captain J. P. Sanger, 2nd Lieut. 
A. Slater, Adjutant, was transferred from Fort Warren, 
Mass., to Governor's Island, arriving July 2nd, 1878. 
Battery D, ist Artillery, was ordered here from Fort Inde- 
pendence, Mass., arriving July 19, 1878, relieving the Garrison 

157 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR*S ISLAND 

which in April, 1878, consisted of the following: Co's. A and 
C, Permanent Party; Co. B, Music Boys, quartered in South 
Battery (now Corbin Hall); Co. D, select; Co's. E. and F 
recruits; Co. PI, coloured Infantry, Capt. E. G. Bush, loth 
Infantry, commanding. 

Commanding Officers. 

With the coming of the Division and Headquarters Com- 
manding General and Stafif a change was made in the life and 
interest of the Garrison, The Recruiting Service which had 
had its Depot here was transferred to David's Island (Fort 
Slocum) where it still remains. 

Fort Wood was at this time garrisoned by a detachment of 
the 3rd Artillery, under command of Lieutenant J. C. White. 

The various events connected with the period have been 
mentioned incidentally. It remains now to give the names 
and years of command of the General Officers who have served 
on Governor's Island since it became a Division Headquarters : 

Maj.-Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, July i, 1878- 
Feby. 9, 1886. 

Maj.-Gen. John M. Schofield, April 13, 1886-Dec. 12, 
1888. 

Maj.-Gen. Oliver D. Howard, Dec. 12, 1888-Nov. 8, 1894. 

Maj.-Gen. Nelson A. Miles, Nov. 20, 1894-Oct. 4, 1895. 

Maj.-Gen. Thomas H. Ruger, Oct. 4, 1895- April 10, 1897. 

Maj.-Gen. Wesley Merritt, April 10, 1897-May 19, 1898. 
January 7, 1899-May 19, 1900. 

Brig.-Gen. Royal T. Frank, U. S. V., May 19, 1898-June 
30, 1898. 

Brig.-Gen. George L. Gillespie, U. S. V., June 30, 1898- 
Oct. 4, 1898. 

Maj.-Gen. Wm. R. Shafter, U. S. V., Oct. 4, 1898-Jany. 
7, 1899. 

Maj.-Gen. Wesley Merritt, Jany. 7, 1899-May 19, 1900. 

Maj.-Gen. John R. Brooke, May 10, 1900-July 21, 1902. 

Maj.-Gen. Arthur MacArthur, July 21, 1902-Nov. 8, 
1902. 

158 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS, ETC. 

Maj.-Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, Nov. 21, 1902-Oct. 26, 1903. 

Maj.-Gen. Henry C. Corbin, Dept. East, Oct. 26, 1903- 
Oct. I, 1904. 

(Atlantic Division, Jany. 5, 1904-Oct. i, 1904.) 

Maj.-Gen. Frederick Dent Grant (Dept. East), Oct. i, 
1904-N0V. 10, 1908. 

Maj.-Gen. James F. Wade, Dec. i, i904-April 4, 1907. 
(Atlantic Division discontinued June 30, 1907.) 

Maj.-Gen. Leonard Wood (Dept. East), Nov. 10, 1908- 
July 19, 1910. 

Brig.-Gen. Walter Howe (Dept. East), April 8, 191Q- 
July 20, 1910. 

Maj.-Gen. Frederick Dent Grant (Eastern Division and 
Dept. East), July 25, 1910-April 11, 1912.* 

Brig.-Gen. Tasker H. Bliss (Eastn. Div. and Dept. East), 
Jan y 29, 1912-Aug. 31, 1912. 

Maj.-Gen. Thomas H. Barry (Eastern Division and East- 
ern Department), Sept. i, 1912. 



Regiments of the English and American forces have been 
stationed on Governor's Island as follows ; 

English. 
1756-1773. 
H. M. 6oth Regiment of Foot, the Royal Americans. 

1755-1767- 

Maj.-Gen. Sir William Pepperell's Regiment. 

1767. 
H. M. 44th Regiment of Foot, 

1767. 
H. M. 22d Regiment of Foot. 

* Major-General Frederick Dent Grant died April 11, 1912. His body 
lay in the Chapel under guard from April 13 till April 26, on which day 
the funeral ceremonies took place. The interment was in the Cemetery 
at West Point. 

159 



HISTORY OF governor's ISLAND 

American. 

1775- 
General William Prescott's Regiment, the "Bunker Hill 

Regiment." 
1776. 
The 4th Continental Infantry, Colonel John Nixon com- 
manding. Brig.-Gen'l, 9th August, 1776. 

April, 1776. 

Genl. Putnam's forces, 1,000 men, draughts from Colonel 
Silliman's Regiment, Colonel Wm. Douglas' Regiment 
and others. 

August, 1776. 

2,000 tropps, Regiments not specified. 

English. 

Aug., 1776, to Dec. 3d, 1783. 

Forces under Major-General Pattison, Buskirk's Battalion 
and other troops — detailed list not known. 

American. 
1794 — Artillery. 
Capt. Cornelius R. Sedam, Sub-Legion. 

1795 — Artillery. 

Captain Alexander Thompson, Corps of Artillerists and 
Engineers. 

1799 — 2nd Artillery. 

Implied in the recorded burial of Lieut. Robert Heaton, Jr., 
2nd Artillery. 

1808 — Artillery. , 

Capt. Richd Wiley. 

1810 — 14. 
Colonel Henry Burbeck, Lieut. Vandeventer, Justus, Ad- 
jutant of the Artillery. 

1811 — 1st Artillery — Major Stoddard. 

160 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS, ETC. 

1814 — Infantry. 

Lt.-Col. Tallmadge, Major Delafield. 
1 81 5 — Artillery troops. 
James House, Lt.-Col., commanding. Charles Anthony, 
Adjutant. 
1816 — Artillery troops. 

Implied in the recorded burial of James H. Boyle, Major 
of Artillery. 
1819 — Artillery troops. 
Implied in the recorded burial of Samuel Armstrong, Lieut, 
of Artillery, 

From 1821-1913 the following list of commanding officers 
is furnished by the kindness of The Adjutant-General, Wash- 
ington, who states that there are no returns on file previous 
to 1821. The early records were destroyed by the British 
when they invaded Washington in 1812, and no records be- 
tween that date and 1821 are on file. 



Post Commanders 

I82I— I9I3. ASSUMED 

COMMAND 

1ST Lieut. Giles Porter ist Art'y May, 1821 

1ST Lieut. Peter Melendy. . , ist Art'y June and 

July, 182 1 

Capt, S. Churchill 4th Art'y Aug. and 

Sept., 1821 

1ST Lieut. Giles Porter ist Art'y Oct., 1822 

Capt. Mild Mason ist Art'y April, 1823 

1ST Lt. W. Wheelright, . . , .1st Art'y July, 1823 

Capt. A. C. W. Fanning 2d Art'y Aug., 1823 

Capt. Milo Mason ist Art'y Sept., 1823 

Capt. A. C, W, Fanning 2d Art'y Ck:t,, 1823 

1ST Lt, E. Lyon , .2d Art'y Ajpril, 1824 

Lt.-Col. Wm. McRae 2d Art'y Aug., 1824 

161 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

ASSUMED COMMAND 

Capt. R. a. Zantzinger 2d Art'y April, 1827 

Major I. B. Crane 4th Art'y Aug., 1828 

Lt.-Col. a. Eustis 4th Art'y June, 1831 

Major I. B. Crane 4th Art'y Nov., 1831 

Major A. C. W. Fanning. . .4th Art'y Feb. 10, 1833 

Capt. B. K. Pierce 4th Art'y June 2,1834 

Lt.-Col. A. S. Brooks 4th Art'y May 2,1835 

Capt. Wm. W. Tompkins 2d Dragoons. . .Sept. 28,1836 

Lt. John C. Pemberton 4th Art'y Aug. 26, 1837 

Capt. Wm. L. McClintock. . .3d Art'y Oct. 5, 1837 

Lt. William Hoffman 6th Inft'y Mch. 23,1837 

AssT. Surg. Joseph Eaton. . . Jany., 1838 

1ST Lt. E. C. Ross 4th Art'y June 30, 1837 

Capt. John Erving 4th Art'y Sept., 1838 

(Entire Regiment) 

Lt.-Col. A. C. W. Fanning. . .4th Art'y Apr. 30, 1839 

Col. D. E. Twiggs 2d Dragoons. . .June 5, 1839 

Capt. Justin Dimick ist Art'y Nov., 1839 

Col. James Bankhead 2d Art'y Aug., 1841 

Capt. Chas. S. Merchant. . ,4th Art'y Dec. 10,1841 

Lt.-Col. A. C. W. Fanning. . .4th Art'y Jan. 2, 184^ 

Col. James Bankhead 2d Art'y July 2, 1842 

Capt. Gabriel J. Rains 7th Inft'y Jan. 13, 1847 

Col. I. B. Crane 4th Art'y Sept. 12, 1848 

Major John L. Gardner 4th Art'y Dec, 1850 

Major Gabriel J. Rains 7tli Inft'y July 26, 1852 

Lt.-Col. John L. Gardner — . .4th Art'y. .... .Aug. 5, 1852 

Lt.-Col. M. M. Payne 4th Art'y Sept. 26, 1852 

Capt. John T. Sprague 8th Inft'y Nov. 27, 1852 

Lt.-Col. J. J. Abercrombie.. .2d Inft'y Aug. 2,1854 

Major Electus Backus 3d Inft'y July 2,1855 

162 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS^ ETC. 

ASSUMED COMMAND 

Major Albermarle Cady 6th Inft'y July 12, 1857 

Major Theophilus H. 

Holmes 8th Inft'y July 2,1859 

Maj. Samuel P. Heintzle- 

MAN 1st Inft'y Apr. 14, 1861 

Lt.-Col. Charles F. Smith. . . loth Inft'y- • • .May 8, 1861 

Col. Gustavus Loomis 5th Inft'y Aug. 26, 1861 

Capt. John D. Wilkins 3d Inft'y Aug. 6, 1864 

Col. J. D. Bomford i6th Inft'y. . . .Sept. 6, 1864 

Major M. Cogswell 8th Inft'y Feb. 16, 1865 

Lt.-Col. Julius Hayden loth Inft'y May 27, 1865 

Lt.-Col. Henry D. Wallen. . . 14th Inft'y Mch. 7, 1867 

Lt.-Col. Thos. H. Neill Inft'y May 5,1869 

Major M. M. Blunt 14th Inft'y June 22, 1871 

Major James P. Roy 6th Inft'y Feb. 26, 1873 

Major R. E. A. Crofton 17th Inft'y. . . .Oct. 2, 1874 

Major Alex. Chambers 24th Inft'y. . . .Oct. 14, 1876 

Capt. E. G. Bush loth Inft'y June 30, 1877 

Capt. J. P. Sanger ist Art'y July 3, 1878 

Capt. Thomas Ward ist Art'y July 2,1880 

Major John Mendenhall. . . ist Art'y Nov. 9, 1880 

Capt. Thomas Ward ist Art'y Oct. 5,1881 

Capt. F. L. Guenther 5th Art'y Nov. 4, 1881 

Capt. W. B. Beck 5th Art'y Nov. 11,1882 

Major R. A. Jackson 5th Art'y Dec. 21, 1882 

Capt. W. F. Randolph 5th Art'y Nov. 7,1886 

Major M. P. Miller 5th Art'y May 6, 1888 

Capt. W. B. Beck 5tb Art'y Dec. 8, 1888 

Major Tully McCrea 5th Art'y May 16, 1889 

Capt. W. B. Beck 5th Art'y June 18, 1889 

Major Tully McCrea 5th Art'y Oct. 9, 1889 

163 



HISTORY OF GOVERNORS ISLAND 



ASSUMED COMMAND 

Major W. L. Haskin ist Art'y May 15, 1890 

Capt. P. H. Ellis i3tli Inft'y Oct. 2,1894 

Lt.-Col. W. S. Worth 13th Inft'y- • • .Dec. 30, 1894 

Capt. Luigi Lomia 5th Art'y Apr. 20,1898 

Col. Thomas H. Barber. . . \ ,^^} ^' Z' I . .June 11, 1898 

( Vol. Inft y. ) 

Capt. Thomas R. Adams 5th Art'y July 8, 1898 

^ ^ ^ ^ ( ist Mass. ) . 00 

Lt. E. S. Fullerton -j HeavyArt'y f • -^"S- 5. 1898 

Major P. H. Ellis Infantry Sept. 14, 1898 

Lt.-Col. John N. Coe 13th Inft'y Sept. 19, 1898 

Capt. B. K. Roberts 5th Art'y Apr. 20, 1899 

Major G. A. Cornish 15th Inft'y. . . .Jan. 23, 1900 

Major E. R. Hills 5th Art'y July 24, 1900 

Major A. L. Myer nth Inft'y Aug. 11, 1900 

Lt.-Col. C. L. Davis nth Inft'y. . . .Dec. 22, 1900 

Major E. R. Hills Arfy Corps. . .April 7, 1901 

Capt. John Conklin Art'y Corps. .. .Aug. 24, 1901 

Capt. x^rchibald Campbell, . .Art'y Corps. , .Sept. 9, 1901 

Major W. P. Duvall Art'y Corps. . .Dec. 4, 1901 

Col. W. E. Dougherty 8th Inft'y Oct. 12,1902 

Capt. John Stafford 8th Inft'y Jan. 25, 1904 

Capt. W. Y. Stamper 8th Inft'y Aug. 26,1904 

Col. F. a. Smith 8th Inft'y Aug. 13,1904 

Ma J. Francis P. Fremont. . .5th Inft'y Feb. 20, 1906 

Col. Leven C. Allen 12th Inft'y- - • -May 24, 1906 

Capt. Moor N. Falls 12th Inft'y. . . .July 16, 1906 

Capt. Winfred B. Carr C. A. C Aug. 5, 1906 

Ma J. J. S. Mallory 12th Inft'y. . . .Aug. 31, 1906 

Col. Leven C. Allen 12th Inft'y. . . .Sept. 30, 1906 

Lt.-Col. Robert F. Ames.... 12th Inf t'y - • • • May 27,1908 

164 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS^ ETC. 

ASSUMED COMMAND 

Capt. James P. Harbeson. . . .I2th Inft'y June 12,1908 

Col. Wm. H. C. Bowen i2tli Inft'y. . . .July 15, 1908 

Ma J, Chas. L. Beckurts 5th Inft'y June 29, 1909 

Col. H. K. Bailey 29th Inft'y Sept. 18, 1909 

Capt. J. F. Madden, Adjt 29th Inft'y May 21,1910 

Capt. Chas. H. Paine, Q. M, . .29th Inft'y June 12, 1910 

Capt. J. F. Madden, Adjt 29th Inft'y. . . .July 31, 1910 

Col. H. K. Bailey 29th Inft'y Aug. 27,1910 

Capt. J. F. Madden, Adjt 29th Inft'y. . . .Aug. 24, 191 1 

Col. G. R. Cecil 29th Inft'y. .. .Sept. 3,1911 

Capt. A. C. Dalton, Q. M. , . .29th Inft'y. . . .July 6,11912 

Col. G. R. Cecil 29th Inft'y Aug. 8,1912 

Col. John S. Mallory 29th Inft'y Sept. 10, 1912 

Infantry Commands. 

The Garrison remained an Artillery one till October, 1894. 
In June, 1894, the last Artillery command consisted of Bat- 
teries B, H, and M, ist Artillery, Major Wm. L. Haskin 
commanding. 

The command was relieved on October 2nd and 3rd, 1894, 
by the arrival of the following companies of the 13th In- 
fantry — Co. F, Capt. J. Forance; Co. B, Capt. H. Gilman; 
Co. D, Capt. P. H. Ellis. Lt.-Colonel Daingerfield Parker 
was assigned to the command. He was relieved in 1895 by 
Lieut-Colonel W. S. Worth. 

The 13th Infantry remained till April 19, 1898, when it was 
ordered to Cuba. It returned from Montauk Point in Sep- 
tember, 1898, and left for service in the Far East April 28, 
1899. 

The 13th was temporarily relieved by Battery A, 5th Ar- 
tillery, Captain Benjamin K. Roberts commanding the Bat- 
tery. 

A battalion of the nth Infantry, Lieut. -Col. Charles S. 

165 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS, ETC. 

Davis commanding the Post, was stationed here from August 
12, 1900, to April 7th, 1901. 

In April, 1901, Fort Columbus was Garrisoned by the 49th, 
52nd and 83rd companies C. A. C. and the 8th Artillery band 
under command of Major E. R. Hills. 

Headquarters, Band and the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 
under command of Colonel W. E. Dougherty, arrived October 
12, 1902, and left for Manila Feby. 19, 1906, under com- 
mand of Colonel Frederick A. Smith. 

The Headquarters, Band and one Battalion of the 12th 
Infantry were stationed here from May 24, 1906, to June 29, 
1909, commanded successively by Colonels Leven C. Allen and 
W. H. C. Bowen, and were relieved Sept. 18, 1909, by the 
Headquarters, Band and 3rd Battalion of the 29th Infantry, 
Colonel Hobart K. Bailey in command, the ist and 2d Bat- 
talions being at Forts Porter and Niagara respectively. 

Colonel Bailey was followed upon his retirement by Colonel 
G. R. Cecil Sept. 3, 191 1, and Colonel Cecil by Colonel John S. 
Mallory, Sept. 10, 1912. 



It seems fitting to give in full at this point in the history of 
Governor's Island the names of the officers on duty at this 
Station. It is obviously impossible to reproduce the roster in 
full for a period of one hundred years. The list, therefore, 
up to this time has been of commanding officers only. The 
following names are of those on duty (June, 1913) at Depart- 
ment Headquarters and at Fort Jay, taken from the published 
rosters of Department Headquarters and Fort Jay respectively : 



HEADQUARTERS EASTERN DEPARTMENT. 

Governors Island, New York City. 

Maj.-Gen. Thomas H. Barry commanding. 

Capt. John E. Woodward, 29th Infantry, Aide-de-Camp. 

166 



commanding generals, post commanders, etc. 

Staff. 

LiEUT.-CoL. William G. Haan, Gen. Staff, Chief of Staff. 

Col. Samuel W. Dunning, Officer in Charge of Militia 
Affairs. 

Col. William A. Simpson, Adjutant. 

LiEUT.-CoL. Frank L. Dodds, Judge Advocate. 

Col. Stephen C. Mills, Inspector. 

Col. John B. Bellinger, Quartermaster. 

Col. L. Mervin Maus, Surgeon. 

Col. William M. Black, Engineer Officer. 

Col. Orin B. Mitcham, Ordnance Officer, commanding 
New York Arsenal. 

Lieut.-Col. Samuel Reber, Signal Officer. 

Additional Staff. 

Lieut.-Col. Benjamin Alvord, Asst. to Adjutant. 

LiEUT.-CoL. Alfred E. Bradley, Sanitary Inspector. 

Lieut.-Col. William C. Brown, Cav., Acting Inspector. 

Lieut.-Col. Alfred M. Hunter, C. A. C, Inspector. 

Maj. William B. Rochester, Q. M. Corps, Asst. to Dept. 
Quartermaster. 

Maj. William E. Horton, Q. M. Corps, Asst. to Dept. 
Quartermaster. 

Maj. Gordon G. Heiner, C. A. C, Acting Inspector. 

Maj. Frank H. Lawton, Q. M. Corps, Asst. to Dept. 
Quartermaster. 

Maj. Albert E. Truby, M. C, Attending Surgeon. 

Capt. Paul Giddings, Q. M. Corps, Asst. to Dept. Quarter- 
master. 

Capt. George D. Arrowsmith, Q. M. Corps, Asst. to Dept. 
Quartermaster. 

167 



HISTORY OF GOVERNOR S ISLAND 

Capt. Elisha G. Abbott, S. C, Asst. to Dept. Signal 
Officer. 
Capt. James J. Mayes, Inf., Asst. to Dept. Judge Advocate. 

Major Jay E. Hoffer, Ord. Dept., Resident at New York 
Arsenal, Governor's Island, on duty at Sandy Hook Proving 
Ground. 



Revd. Edmund Banks Smith, Chaplain. 



Officers of the 29TH U. S. Infantry on duty at Fort 
Jay, Governor's Island, June, 191 3. 

Headquarters and 3RD Battalion. 

Colonel John S. Mallory commanding. 
Major Douglas Settle, commanding 3rd Battalion. 
Captain Robert H. Allen, Adjutant. 
Captain Kirwan T. Smith, Quartermaster. 
Captain Henry C. Clement, Jr., Commissary. 
Lieut. Jacob H. Rudolph, Battalion Quartermaster and 
Commissary. 

1ST Lieut. Carroll R. Baker, M. R. C. 



Captain John F. Madden, commanding Company K. 
Captain James A. Moss, commanding Company M. 
Captain Thomas W. Darrah, commanding Company I. 
Captain George H. Shelton, commanding Company L. 

168 



COMMANDING GENERALS, POST COMMANDERS^ ETC. 

Lieutenants. 

First Lieutenant Carroll B. Hodges, on duty with Com- 
pany L. 

First Lieutenant Charles A. Dravo, on duty with Com- 
pany I. 

First Lieutenant James G. McIlroy, on duty with Com- 
pany K. 

Second Lieutenant John R. Emory, Jr., on duty with 
Company L 

Second Lieutenant William E. Larned, on duty with 
Company M. 

Second Lieutenant William J. Morrissey, on duty with 
Company L. 

Second Lieutenant Henry C. McLean, on duty with Com- 
pany K. 




^.^;> 



ADDENDA 



BRITISH REGIMENTS STATIONED ON 
GOVERNOR'S ISLAND. 

Reference has been made in Chapter II to the Royal Troops 
stationed here in the Colonial days. A record of their service 
will be of interest on account of their association with Gover- 
nor's Island. 

H. M. 22d Regiment of Foot, stationed here in 1767, now 
the Cheshire Regiment, served at the Battle of Louisburg, 
where Major-General Sir William Pepperell, whose Regiment 
was stationed here in 1755, won his title, also at Bunker Hill 
and at Quaker Hill. 

H. M. 44th Regiment of Foot, now the Essex Regiment, 
stationed here in 1767, saw service at Ticonderoga, Fort du 
Quesne, Niagara, Brandywine, and the Battle of Long Island, 
and later at Bladensburg under Colonel Brooke and at Balti- 
more under Major Johnson. 

The Regiment of most interest to Americans, however, is 
the Royal American Regiment, H. M. 60th Regiment of Foot, 
now the King's Royal Rifle Corps, of which H. M. the King 
is the Colonel in Chief. 

This was raised in 1755, the recruits coming mainly from 
Virginia and Maryland, and was organized on Governor's 
Island and for many years was on duty here, as mentioned 
in Chapter II. Walter Richards in "Her Majesty's Army" 
points out that this Regiment and the Rifle Brigade are the 
only Infantry Regiments the Chief Officers of which are 
denominated Colonel in Chief and Colonel Commandant, and 
that a distinctive feature of the King's Rifle Corps is that no 
fewer than six Acts of Parliament have been passed concern- 
ing it. 

"Their first active employment," he says, "was in 1757, 
two years after their organization on Governor's Island, when 
they were engaged at Charleston, on the Canadian frontier 

171 



ADDENDA 

and at the affair of Port William Henry. The following year 
(1758) gained for them their first distinction, which com- 
memorates the share they had in the 2nd Expedition against 
Louisburg. Nor was Louisburg the only scene of their 
prowes. Six companies were with the British force * * * at 
Ticonderoga. They fought at Kingston and Prince Edward's 
Island. In 1759 they fought under General Prideaux at Fort 
Niagara : some of the Regiment were with Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 
while others again were with Wolfe when on the Heights of 
Abraham he gained Canada for the British Crown and died 
in the gaining. 

Here they so distinguished themselves that according to 
tradition the gallant Wolfe himself bestowed on them their 
motto 

Celer et Audax 

It does not seem that there exists any positive record of 
this fact, but the wording of the order in 1824 giving special 
permission for tlie resumption bears out the theory. The 
order was as follows: 

Sir: 

I have the honour to acquaint you by direction of the 
Commander in Chief that His Majesty has been pleased 
to permit the 60th Regiment to resume the motto Celer 
et Audax which was won by the Regiment in commemo- 
ration of its distinguished bravery whilst employed with 
the British Army in North America under Major General 
Wolfe in the year 1759. 

The Regiment has as a badge a bugle on the glengarry. On 
the helmet plate is a bugle and a maltese cross bearing the 
motto. 

On the cross are the names of the great Regimental battles, 
viz. : Louisburg, Quebec, 1759, Roleia, Vimiera, Martinique, 
Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d'Onor, Albuera, Ciudad Rodrigo, 
Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, 
Toulouse, Peninsula, Punjaub, Mooltan, Goojerat, South 
Africa (1851-3), Delhi, Taku Forts, Pekin, South Africa 
(1879), Ahmad Khel, Kandahar (1880), Afghanistan (1878- 

172 



ADDENDA 

80), Egypt (1882-4), Tel-El-Kebir, Chitral, S. Africa (1899- 
1902), Defense of Ladysmith, Relief of Ladysmith." 

It is a cause of deep satisfaction to realize that this dis- 
tinguished Regiment, ccler et audax in practice as well as by 
motto, not only came from our soil in the persons of its first 
recruits, but that it gained its growth and training in this 
Island-Garrison, where it remained for a long tour of duty, 
and that by what we may now regard as a most happy occur- 
rence of military routine it was ordered away to the West 
Indies before the outbreak of hostilities in 1775-6. Thus the 
60th Foot were never arrayed against those who were their 
brethren in blood as well as in sympathy, and the author 
ventures at the close of this story of the Past to present his 
compliments, with which he feels he can unofficially join those 
of the Command Stationed on Governor's Island today, to 
the 60th Foot of 1756, the King's Royal Rifle Corps of 1913. 

It is not alone in arms that Governor's Island is bound by 
lasting ties of interest and sympathy to the mother country. 
The Church and the Army in every land have much in com- 
mon — the Army to protect and the Church to bless. This 
Garrison has been no exception to the rule. There is, how- 
ever, a deeper connection than would appear upon the surface 
as a part of our history. It is that the ministrations of religion 
here for nearly seventy years carried on at the request of the 
Army by the venerable Corporation of Trinity Church have 
been, and are today, possible because of the Royal endow- 
ments of the British Crown which constitute the wealth of 
the Parish of Trinity Church. The Parish regards it a privi- 
lege to minister to the spiritual needs of the Army. From 
the point of view of the historian there is an added interest in 
reflecting that when in the providence of God the existing 
close relations between the Army and the Old Parish began, 
they not only opened the way to mutual acquaintance and 
esteem, but gave the Parish an opportunity among its other 
works to pay from the Royal endowments a tribute of appre- 
ciation of this very distinguished Regiment of the British 
Army born on Governor's Island. 

173 



ADDENDA 

Thus remembrance of the Past and loyalty to the Present 
go hand in hand. The Prince of Wales' Feathers still bend 
over the pulpit of old Saint Paul's Chapel, the Coronation 
of His Majesty King George V is solemnly observed in the 
Parish Church. Such things as this help to show that men 
do not even in this age altogether forget the deeds of their 
forefathers, a careful remembrance of which, with entire de- 
votion to the duties of the Present, will constitute a nation 
admired of men and blessed of God. 

THE POST HEADQUARTERS BUILDING. 

Although, as stated in Chapter V, no date can be assigned 
for the erection of the building now used as Post Head- 
quarters, it seems clear to the author, as well as to others, 
that it is at least one of the oldest buildings on Governor's 
Island. Reference to it will be found on page 107. 

A careful examination of the building indicates that it was 
built for a dwelling-house and used for a guard house or 
headquarter building. The rose panel decorations over the 
doorways and windows and the expensive character of the 
base mouldings carry out this theory. 

This was possibly the family house mentioned in the British 
orders, page 39, but it was undoubtedly the guard house and 
headquarters of the period of 1812.* The lower part was 
at one time used for the main guard house, as the heavy iron 
bars of the ancient four-sided pattern clearly indicate, as well 
as their considerable corrosion at the lower ends due to the 
settling of moisture. One bar has been replaced by a modem 
round bar, revealing a probable escape, and one window is 
now entirely without bars, but the square sockets are plainly 
to be seen in the upper sill. The building itself is cross or T 
shape and additions of frame construction have been added 
at some unknown period. In one of these, at the N. W. angle, 
may be seen the sill of an exterior door. This shows signs 

* Previous to 1840, when the present Comd'g Genl's Quarters were built, 
the Post Crad'r lived with his family in this building. It was as late as 
that period called "The Governor's House." 

174 



ADDENDA 

of long use in the wearing away of the surface. In the lower 
part of the house the walls have been ceiled with wood and 
plaster and in one place part of the old foundation appears, 
disclosing a red sandstone similar to that used in Castle 
Williams, but for the most part the foundations, like the walls 
throughout, are of brick. 

The lower room now used as a furnace room contains 
within it an interior apartment with remains indicating a door 
in the thickness of the wall. This is lighted by a very small, 
deep-set window with double iron bars of the old pattern. It 
is more than reasonable to believe this was the Black Hole 
referred to on page 63. 

In addition to the fine rose mouldings on the first floor, a 
fire place and mantel of elaborate construction and the original 
arrangement of doors, both exterior and interior, lead to the 
theory held by some that although undoubtedly the guard 
house of 1812, it was perhaps used as a dwelling house at an 
earlier period as its common name of "Governor's House" in 
1830 would seem to imply. An interior stair case was re- 
moved a few years ago and an outside stairway was erected, 
connecting the Sergeant-Major's oflFice below with the Com- 
manding Officer's above. The author inclines to a belief that 
it is at least of the post-Revolutionary early American reoccu- 
pation (1783), built for the Commanding Officer of the Gar- 
rison. 



Letter from General Grant regarding the New Chapel. 

"Governor's Island, New York, 

October 7th, 1908. 
To the Rector, Churchwardens and Vestrymen of 

Trinity Church. 
My dear Sirs: — 

As Commanding General of the Department of the 
East, residing here on Governor's Island, I beg to express 
on my own behalf and for the officers of the United 
States Army in general, and more especially for those 
stationed here, with their families, as well as on behalf of 
the enlisted men and all others residing here within my 

175 



ADDENDA 

command, the very deep appreciation felt by myself, and 
by those mentioned, of the work so generously and liber- 
ally carried out by Trinity Church here, for years past. 
It appears from the records that the first Chapel building 
in 1846-7 was due largely to the contributions of Trinity 
Church Corporation, and for many years after the date 
mentioned, annual appropriations were made by the 
Church regularly, for its support and to assist the Chap- 
lain here in his work on Governor's Island. From 1868 
to the present time, by authority of the Secretary of War, 
Trinity Church has maintained the Chaplain, and in 1906, 
completed the beautiful stone chapel, which was dedi- 
cated that year, October 19th, with ceremonies of a Mili- 
tary and Ecclesiastical character. 

St. Cornelius Chapel is the most beautiful and in- 
spiring place of worship of the United States Army, now 
in existence, and decorated with its historic flags and 
cannons is deeply appreciated by all who enter within its 
sacred walls, and has been the cause of several requests 
from other Military Garrisons that similar Chapels might 
be built in those Garrisons as inspirations for Christian 
work, and benefit. I, myself, gratefully realize the happy 
relations existing between the Church and the Army 
brought about by the munificent donation of Trinity 
Church in placing this Chapel on Governor's Island. The 
Reverend Morgan Dix, late Rector of Trinity Church, 
was in his lovable, noble example and his Christian char- 
acter, a wonderful aid and inspiration in establishing the 
happy relations between the Church and the Army, and 
he exerted a most elevating influence over those coming 
within the sphere of his labors and gentle sympathy. 

I deeply appreciate the opportunity I have had, as De- 
partment Commander here, to witness the work so nobly 
accomplished by Trinity Church for the good of the 
United States Army, and I beg to express my own grate- 
ful thanks, to you, the Rector, Churchwardens and Vestry- 
men of Trinity Church, for your Christian help extend- 
ing in results from Governor's Island throughout the De- 
partment of the East and to the Army of the United 
States. 

Believe me, Sirs, 

Your faithful servant, 
Frederick D. Grant, 

Major General, U. S. A." 

176 



EPILOGUE 

History is more than a mere statement of facts. It is, or 
should be, all of this for accuracy, for truth, but many are 
satisfied with statement as the end, whereas it should be but 
the beginning. 

Herein lies the explanation of the frequent failure of the 
nation or the individual to learn by experience, which is an- 
other name for applied History, in that many mistake experi- 
ences for experience and fail to recognize in the rapid onward 
march of individual events the slower, grander movement of 
History, which is the sum total of the fleeting figures which 
compose it. These figures come and go ; they are added up by 
the infallible hand of time and are erased to make room for 
others. All that shall finally remain is Result. We may not on 
that account despise the fact nor the figure because it is small, 
but rather pay our respect because it, so small, is a controlling 
factor in the great Result, in some way contributing to that 
"one far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves." 

Emerson tells us that History is the "record of the works 
of the one mind common to all individual men ; that a man is 
the whole encyclopaedia of facts: that the creation of a thou- 
sand forests is in one acorn, and that Egypt, Greece, Rome, 
Gaul, Britain, America lie folded already in the first man." 

These profound words may be applied to the subject of this 
history. If the fate of a nation lies folded in one man, it is 
certainly true that three hundred years of the activity of many 
men concentrated in one spot must have an enormous influence 
upon the community in which that spot is enshrined. And 
Governor's Island, the "Jewel of New York," as the author's 
friend Baron Nicholas de Lodygensky calls it, lying a pendant 
of her larger sister of Manhattan, both by geographical posi- 
tion and in history carries out the idea of concentration and 
importance as well as of beauty. 

Governor's Island is a name to conjure by in our City and 
State and Nation, both military and civilian, for the reason 

177 



EPILOGUE 

that it has without exception in all its history represented im- 
portant circumstance and high ideal. Purchased honourably 
by treaty from its aboriginal owners, it passed at once into the 
official life of the Dutch Colonial Government. Consequent 
upon the final English conquest of 1674 it increased in im- 
portance as in value. The "Smiling Garden of the Sovereigns 
of the Province" in the piping times of peace, it took on the 
frown of war when danger beset its borders. Governors, 
Statesmen, the Military, all agreed in its value for defence. 
Washington issued orders for the breastworks of 'y6 and Put- 
nam made haste at candle-lighting. The literates of Columbia 
College toiled in the post-Revolutionary trenches, and from 
that day to this it has been a citadel of defence; artillery , and 
infantry in turn have garrisoned its forts and mounted the 
guard upon its grassy slopes. Of later years it has become in 
addition the Headquarters of Administration, and thus in its 
whole career it has exemplified the two cardinal principles 
of continuity and progress. In our haste for results rather 
than for the Result we forget that progress can be best secured 
by conservative continuity. This would seem to be the lesson 
Governor's Island teaches. 

It is a silent lesson and it is to be read in the mirror of 
experience into which he gazes who studies History, or even 
so small a part of it as this brief book contains. 

Continuity of official life in one spot for three hundred years 
means much in the history of any land. When it is recalled 
that official status on this Island has prevailed under the flags 
of three distinct Powers, each one at war with the one follow- 
ing or preceding, and one with both, it will be granted that the 
subject of this history has inherited sufficient conservatism to 
explain some things that harass the would-be progressive to- 
day. Our Island in its story recalls to the thoughtful mind 
visions of the shadowv red man lurking in its virgin forest, 
traditions of the sturdy Dutch with their windmill and planta- 
tion, of the elegant English Colonial of the Charles and the 
Georges, and coming finally to our own more recent history 
and to the present day, we confess to conscious pride when 

178 



EPILOGUE 

we view our splendid soldiery, which in its personnel of officers 
and men unconsciously inherits and exemplifies the virtues of 
those who under other flags but with much the same ideals 
have trod this land before us. 

The three Flags of Holland, England and America have 
known the winds of our Island since 1637. This spot has 
had its part in the forging of the nation, the welding together 
of materials differing in their character but not in their sub- 
stance. The work is going on here today of perfecting the 
work so well begun but never to be so completed that labour 
may cease. 

This is continuity, and because it is on right lines, actuated 
by high motives, it will receive the reward that a distinct law 
of nature prescribes. 

The purpose of the author in writing this history has been 
attained if he has correctly stated facts as they occurred and 
if he has so entwined the Three Flags which have floated here 
that while each preserves its identity, it still lends colour to 
the rest and deepens the strength of that Flag we must love 
best because it is ours. 

In the great destiny of Nations we know not yet what part 
we shall play. Continuity on the lines of that wisdom which 
belongs to the ages and progress in every application to the 
changing conditions of the century or of the hour are elements 
of lasting power and prepare a people for that struggle which 
is sure to come soon to the weak and some time to the strong. 

It is not too much to say that Governor's Island has played 
well and consistently its part for God and Country in the 
past, and not too much to hope it will ever do so in the un- 
known years that are to come. 




. ■a-:uor- •!».• , ■■ • . 



^?^*^^^^?^^^^f^^^^ 







ENLARGEMENT 

GOVERNORS ISLAND 

NEW YORK 

CoMPLE.TeD Enlargement 
OUTLINE8 AND Elevations 

OCTOBCR.191? 



t AtttA &UAVL' 



T tNaiNtCft».U&A. 



Engineers' Plan — Governor's Island — 1912,