The Church During the American Revolution
"I made a halt at the church by Tarrytown, till dusk." __Washington's Diary, July 2, 1781
Philipseburg Manor was part of the region called "Neutral Ground" during the American Revolution. Considered a buffer between the British Army in New York City, and the Patriot HQ in the Hudson Valley to the north, it was, however, far from neutral. Rather, from the start to the end of the war, partisan warfare was waged here. To be a Tory was dangerous, but to be a patriot was far more so. Farmers were plundered of their food and possessions, and what the enemy couldn't carry they destroyed, burned houses and barns, and turned families out into the cold in winter. Many men were carried off to British prisons or prison ships. Because the roads were not safe, the church was closed during the Revolution, for the only time in its history.
Most of the farmers of the manor were patriots. Early in the war, Frederick Philipse III summoned his tenant farmers to meet him at White Plains after they refused to sign a protest against "Congresses and Committees." But to his mortification, Philipse could not awe his tenants into compliance. Plain, common folk of rugged character, they knew by instinct, at least, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that there is no such thing as "the divine right of kings to rule." .
It was of the militiamen that the English Gen. Howe said: "I can do nothing with this Dutch population; I can neither buy them with money nor conquer them with force."
On the upper verge of the Burying Ground, on Battle Hill, which overlooks the church is an old redoubt thrown up during the Revolution, evidently to protect the old bridge across the Pocantico River. The redoubt is the only fortification still standing intact in this neighborhood. Today near the redoubt stands a memorial dedicated to the patriots of Philipseburg Manor, some 70 of them laid to rest in the old churchyard.
In the neighborhood of this church, in Revolutionary days, brave deeds took place. On one morning in September 1780, the fate of the young nation hung on Captain Andre, a British spy carrying plans for treason was captured by three local militiamen, preventing the fall of West Point and its military fortifications that controlled the Hudson River to the enemy.
On July 2, 1781, Washington and his army, during the historic military campaign of that year that ended in decisive victory at Yorktown, VA, halted at the church to rest. A few miles to the south, in early August 1781, Washington and Rochambeau, conceived the strategy of the Virginia campaign that ended the war.
The great majority of the patriots survived the war, and the last Revolutionary War soldier was laid to rest in the BG in November 1851. Frederick Philipse III, who loved his king better than his country, had to forfeit his estates and endure banishment from home. He fled to England, where he is buried. __Excerpted from the Souvenir of the Revolutionary Soldiers' Monument Dedication at Tarrytown, NY, Oct. 19, 1894.