Cruger, John Harris

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Cruger, John Harris

CRUGER, JOHN HARRIS. (1738–1807). Tory officer. New York scion of the Cruger family. Like his father before him, he was a member of the New York city council. He later became its mayor and by the start of the Revolution was its chamberlain. A son-in-law of Oliver De Lancey (the elder), he was given command of one of the Loyalist battalions raised by him and went south with the expedition of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell that captured Savannah, 29 December 1778. It was the First Battalion that Cruger commanded. Posted at Fort Sunbury, he was recalled to take part in the defense of Savannah on 9 October 1779, where he held a redoubt on the southern side of the perimeter against the poorly managed secondary attack of General Isaac Huger. He is mentioned several times in this article on Savannah and is quoted on the low caliber of American troops engaged. Captured at Belfast, Georgia, in June 1780, he was soon exchanged for John ("Come and Take It") McIntosh. He then succeeded Nisbet Balfour around mid-August as commander of the Tory stronghold at Ninety-Six, and led the relief column from this place that relieved the siege of Augusta, 14-18 Sept. 1780.

He then distinguished himself in commanding the defense of Ninety Six, 22 May-19 June 1781, the operation for which he was justly praised for his vigilance and gallantry by Clinton. Joining the main British army in the South, he was commended for his conduct and gallantry at Eutaw Springs, 8 September 1781. Speaking of the defenses of Charleston as organized the end of 1781, Baurmeister reported that "Colonel Cruger and 350 men are posted at the Stono; Colonel Stewart is in command of six battalions of British and provincials posted … across the narrowest part of the Neck." This assignment of Cruger, a Provincial officer, to one of the two defensive sectors is evidence of the high regard the British commander had for him and his troops.

Cruger's property having been confiscated, he went to England after the war and died in London.

SEE ALSO Augusta, Georgia (14-18 September 1780); Eutaw Springs, South Carolina; Ninety Six, South Carolina (22 May-19 June 1781); Savannah, Georgia (29 December 1778); Savannah, Georgia (9 October 1779).