"PREPARING FOR THE MOST VIGOROUS DEFENCE" (AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1776.) Manuscript orderly book of Capt. John Schenck, working on the New York defenses. 101 manuscript pages. 4to, original boards, rebacked in vellum at an early date, worn; several leaves excised before the present page numbers were added in pencil, minor foxing. Vp, 18 February to 10 April 1776
Estimate $6,000 - 9,000
An original unpublished orderly book from the first year of the Revolution, showing the desperate efforts to prepare New York for an inevitable British attack. It was kept by Captain John Schenck of Poughkeepsie, NY, who served in Colonel Jacobus Swartwout's "Regiment of Minute Men" from Dutchess County. During this period, the regiment was under the command of General Charles Lee. Washington had tasked Lee with the defense and fortification of New York. Orders are given for every day from 19 February to 10 April, with the exception of an excised leaf that had the 7-8 March orders. Passwords and countersigns are given daily. The first order, dated 19 February, suggests that the regiment was newly formed. It instructs that the captains "parade their companies at 9 o clock in the morning to march to the Trinity Church to be view'd by Lord Sterling [Brigadier General William Alexander]," that the captains drill their men twice daily, and that each was to "furnish themselves with an orderly book." Other orders relate to the construction of fortifications; on 20 February the men were ordered to bring fascines into town from Warren's Woods, and to assist in the transport of cannon. All troops in the city were ordered on 13 March to parade "in the commons without firearms but with all the shovels, spades & pick axes and hoes they provide themselves with, all the male negroes in town also to parade . . . untill this place is put in a proper posture of defence." An ammunition manufactory is discussed on 14 March: "Two of the middle rooms of the bridewell be altered for the laboratory under the direction of Anthony Griffith, and that he receive the powders from them . . . for fitting the cartridges ordered." The importance of the British departure from Boston was reported on 31 March: "As the ministiral troop have evacuated Boston, taken shiping and the place of their destination uncertain, and in as much as their is some probility that New York may be their object, the General strongly recommends . . . preparing for the most vigorous defence" (Howe's British force would land on Staten Island in July, and took Manhattan in September). General Washington's order on uniforms appears on 1 April. The last dated order is 10 April, reading in part that "Swartwout's regiment to hold themselves in readiness to be dismissed." It is followed by a partial undated order and several excised leaves. This volume is not purely just an orderly book. It also includes rolls, returns, and morning reports for Schencks's company, naming dozens of his soldiers. A few financial accounts list the supplies purchased by the company (351 pints of milk and 179 quarts of beer on 26 February). In the back of the volume are four pages of accounts for Colonel Freer's militia regiment dated July through December 1776.