Horton's Historical Articles
by Gerald Horton
Timeline for 1776
Jan-Mar 1776 General Henry Knox drags 50 large cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston (Dorchester Heights). The placement of the cannon on the heights increases the rebel threat to the city and British General Howe abandons Boston. (see entry for Mar 17, 1776).
Jan 9, 1776 Thomas Paine publishes "Common Sense".
Jan 20, 1776 Sir John Johnson and his tenants surrender their arms to Rebel General Philip Schuyler at Johnstown.
During the fall of 1775, Sir John Johnson had begun fortifying Johnson Hall at Johnstown. He was also supplying his tenants with arms and ammunition. This Loyalist activity was reported to General Schuyler who then reported it to General Washington and Congress. Congress was greatly concerned about such a Loyalist force on the northern border. It ordered General Schuyler to take a detachment and disarm Sir John and his tenants. Schuyler left Albany with 700 men to undertake this mission.
The Mohawks were alarmed at this force passing through their lands. Schuyler assured them no harm would come to Sir John or his family and tenants. When several Mohawk sachems were allowed to travel with Schuyler's force and witness the disarming, they agreed to let Schuyler pass.
Along the way, the local militia turned out in force. General Herkimer brought 1,000 of the Tryon County Militia to Johnstown to join Schuyler. By the time Schuyler reached Johnstown, his force numbered about 3,000.
Several days of written negotiations between Sir John and General Schuyler ensued. Sir John and his tenants gave up their arms and munitions on January 20th.
Feb 1776 John Butler appointed Deputy Indian Agent by Governor General Guy Carleton. Butler makes Fort Niagara his headquarters.
Mar 17, 1776 British General Sir William Howe abandons Boston. He retreats with troops and Loyalists to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Apr 29, 1776 Council with Rebels called by Iroquois at Albany.
The Iroquois complained that there were no traders on the frontier. "the shops everywhere were empty". The Indians needed clothing, blankets, and ammunition.
At this time most of the Iroquois sachems were still preaching neutrality. The lack of trade goods from the Rebels would become a factor in the Indians' decision to abandon neutrality and unite with the British.
May 6, 1776 Governor General Carleton broke the siege of Quebec. The Rebel troops surrounding Quebec began a retreat to Ft. Ticonderoga.
May 10, 1776 Continental Congress authorizes the thirteen colonies to form local (provincial) governments.
May 21, 1776 Colonel Elias Dayton with 300 men arrive at Johnson Hall to arrest Sir John Johnson.
Since disarming Sir John and his tenants in January, General Schuyler had received numerous complaints of Johnson's aiding the Loyalist effort. Schuyler decided Sir John should be taken into custody. He dispatched Colonel Elias Dayton with 300 men to arrest Sir John and bring him to Albany.
Sir John received word that a Rebel force was coming to arrest him. He immediately started preparing to escape to Canada. Colonel Dayton was held up for several days negotiating with the Mohawks to cross their lands with his troops. This gave Sir John time to plan his escape.
Sir John left his pregnant wife and two children behind. He was going to trek through the Adirondack Mountains and the family agreed such a trip would be too exhausting for his wife and children. With several Mohawk guides and approximately 170 of his tenants, Sir John set off for Canada. The trip was much harsher than expected and the party eventually had to eat roots, wild onions, and any other edible vegetation simply to stay alive. They finallyreached the St. Lawrence River and traveled from there to Quebec.
Sir John's wife and children were taken into custody and held in Albany. For an account of the incarceration and escape of Lady Johnson, see Adventures of a Lady in the Books area of this website. Another account may be found in a book by Mabel Dunham titled Trail of the King's Men.
Jul 1, 1776 Residents of Cherry Valley, Newtown-Martin, and Springfield petitioned the Provincial Congress of New York to keep a militia ranger company at Cherry Valley. Their request was granted and a company of rangers under CaptainWinn was ordered there.
Jul 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence is signed at Philadelphia.
Aug 19, 1776 Some Rebels attempt to plunder Johnson Hall but were caught and sent to Albany for court-martial.
Loyalist homes and furnishings were sold to American Patriots as a means of raising money for the the war effort. Therefore, looting and burning of Loyalist property was not condoned.
Aug 27, 1776 Battle of Long Island.
Sep 11, 1776 Peace conference held on Staten Island with British General Lord Richard Howe and Rebel representatives John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Benjamin Franklin. The conference failed when Howe demanded the Colonists revoke the Declaration of Independence.
Sep 16, 1776 Battle of Harlem Heights, NY.
Sep 18, 1776 Fire in New York City destroys over 300 buildings.
Oct 11, 1776 Battle of Valcour Island.
In early October, the Governor General of Canada, Guy Carleton, sailed onto Lake Champlain with 30 war vessels. These were followed in several days by 7,000 troops in about 400 bateaux. Carleton planned to capture Fort Ticonderoga then move south to take Albany, NY by winter.
Apparently, the only high ranking official to foresee this threat was Benedict Arnold. On the march south from Quebec, Arnold had observed ships being built by the British at several locations on the Richelieu River. He knew the British intended to use them to command Lake Champlain and support an invasion from Canada.
Immediately following his return to Ft. Ticonderoga in June, he pleaded with Congress to send him shipbuilders. In early summer, Congress agreed to send Men with the required skills, and Arnold set about building a fleet of ships including three 2-masted schooners, to oppose the British threat on the lake.
By early October, Arnold sailed from Skenesborough with 15 vessels to find the British fleet. Arnold's scout vessels found the enemy and he decided to surprise them at Valcour Island.
On October 11th the naval battle began. It lasted several days until the rebel ships were captured, sunk, or run aground. For a full account of the battle, see the website: www.historiclakes.org/valcour/valcour.html
Governor General Carleton decided it was too late in the season for his plan to succeed. He turned his force around and prceeded back to Quebec for the winter.
Oct 28, 1776 Howe defeats Washington at Battle of White Plains, NY.
Dec 25, 1776 Washington crosses the Delaware River at Trenton and defeats Hessian Troops stationed there.
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