September 10, 2018 at 2:31 pm #515
Earlier, I lamented the lack of documentary evidence of George Washington’s visits to the Van Cortlandt House despite the claims. Well, I just found something that verifies one of the dates. It comes from the McDonald papers, a copy of which is housed at the Westchester County Historical Society. The papers are a series of interviews conducted by John MacDonald in the first half of the 19th century. The interviewees were Bronx and Westchester residents who had memories of the revolution.
One of the interview subjects was Augustus Cregier. It seems that he was the son of Thomas Cregier, a patriot ship captain during the revolution who lived in Kingsbridge. The Cregier home was about a quarter mile north from the Van Cortlandt House on the Albany Post Road (near the intersection of today’s Fieldston Terrace and Post Road). So, the Cregiers were some of the closest neighbors of the Van Cortlandts. According to Augustus Cregier, “General Washington on the 3rd of July 1781, dined on camp fare at Van Courtland’s big house.” This jibes with a British intelligence report that I mentioned in a previous post. According to the report, Frederick Van Cortlandt stated that on July 3, 1781 generals “Washington and Parsons came to his House[.] the former did not go in.”
This dinner would have come after a serious skirmish in Kingsbridge that involved thousands of Patriot and French troops clashing with the British and Hessians. The attack did not quite turn out as Washington had planned. He had hoped to get a foothold on Manhattan in order to eventually retake the city itself. Washington was near the action as several of his personal bodyguard unit were among the casualties. The fighting that day could be the subject of its own article so I am not going to delve too deeply into that event but when multiple sources put Washington at the Van Cortlandt House on the 3rd, I consider it to be fact.
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