Fort George, Long Island, New York

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Fort George, Long Island, New York

FORT GEORGE, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK. 21-23 November 1780. During the period of British occupation of New York City, western Long Island Sound was the scene of a unique form of raiding known as "whaleboat warfare." Patriot and Loyalist parties both used large rowboats, easily hidden in the rocky coves lining the coast, to carry out such attacks. In the afternoon of 21 November, Major Benjamin Tallmadge put eighty dismounted troopers of the Second Continental Light Dragoons in eight boats. Crossing from Fairfield, Connecticut, they landed on Long Island at 9 p.m. at Old Man's Harbor (later Mt. Sinai Harbor). Tallmadge's objective was Fort St. George at Mastic on Long Island's south shore. Loyalist refugees from Rhode Island had recently occupied the manor house of General John Smith on Smith's Point in Great South Bay, erecting a triangular stockade as a base for wood-cutting operations and as a depot for Suffolk County. Bad weather forced Tallmadge to remain hidden for twenty-four hours, but he surprised and easily captured Fort St. George at dawn on the 23rd. He not only eliminated that objective, but on the return trip to his hidden boats, he personally led twelve men to Coram, where they destroyed three hundred tons of hay collected for the British army. Tallmadge reached Fairfield in the early evening with fifty-four prisoners. The raid also cost the Loyalists seven killed or wounded; only one of Tallmadge's dragoons was wounded. Tallmadge's coup drew official recognition from both Washington and Congress.