A History of the 1st Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade
The 1st Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade was authorized to be raised in September of 1776 for the defence of Long Island and other places. The 1st & 3rd Battalions DeLancey's remained on Long Island from the time of their raising through 1778. They garrisoned such places as Hallett's Cove, Lloyd's Neck, Huntington, Setauket, Newtown and Flushing.
In October of 1778, the 1st & 2nd Battalions DeLancey's were ordered to embark on an expedition under the command of Lt. Col. Archibald CAMPBELL of the 71st Regiment. This expedition was sent to capture Savannah, Georgia, in conjunction with a British force advancing North from East Florida. After the fall of Savannah on December 29th 1778, DeLancey's helped garrison the various outposts for the better part of the following year.
In September of 1779, a combined French-American army laid siege to the city. During the siege, the 1st Battalion DeLancey's, under the command of Lt. Col. John Harris CRUGER, defended one of the principal redoubts. On October 9th, 1779 a massive assault was launched by the allies to try and take the city. This attack was totally defeated with heavy casualties on the part of the assailants. The French embarked their forces for the West Indies and the siege was lifted.
Both battalions of DeLancey's remained in Georgia (except the light infantry company) while the main British army laid siege to and captured Charleston, South Carolina. On March 27th, 1780 a force of 300 Rebels advanced close to Savannah. A body of the 1st Battalion, DeLancey's engaged them, leading to the death of Captain CONKLING and two of his men, while wounding a subaltern and four others.
By July 10th, 1780 the 1st Battalion, DeLancey's and 3rd Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers were ordered to march from Savannah to the post at Ninety Six, South Carolina, via Augusta, Georgia. They quickly returned to Augusta the September following to successfully lift the siege of that post. During the time of their garrisoning Ninety Six, the corps was involved in numerous skirmishes against the numerous Rebel partisans.
In May of 1781 the Continental General Nathanael Greene laid siege to Ninety Six. The garrison had been ordered to evacuate numerous times by the British commander Brig. General Francis Lord RAWDON, but all the couriers had been captured by the Rebels. The post, commanded by Lt. Col. CRUGER, held on for over a month against superior forces. The garrison would sally out of the fort every night to harrass the Americans working on the siege lines. One of these sallies resulted in the death of Lieutenant John RONEY.
By the middle of June the British were finally made aware that the post had not been evacuated and was under attack. A relief column under Lord RAWDON quickly marched to their aid. General Greene, apprised of the advancing British, attempted to storm the post but was repulsed with heavy losses. The British forces arrived soon after the Rebels had lifted the siege and the crisis was over. Lord RAWDON ordered the post evacuated and delegated the removal of all stores, militia and civilian loyalists to Lt. Col. CRUGER. Marching from Orangeburgh in July of 1781, all troops were drawn into a defensive perimeter around Charleston.
The last large battle of the war in the South involving the 1st Battalion, Delancey's occurred on September 8th, 1781. On that date Nathanael Greene engaged the British commanded by Brig. General STEWART of the 3rd Regiment at a place called Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. After initial success in driving back the British line, the troops, part of them under the command of Lt. Col. CRUGER, rallied and drove back Greene. Many of the participants called it the fiercest action they had been in and the losses, particularly amongst the officers, were great.
For the rest of 1781 and virtually all of 1782, the 1st Battalion, DeLancey's did garrison duty in and around Charleston. Both battalions of DeLancey's in the South were but a shell of what they had embarked with at New York four years earlier. To return the unit to its establishment (i.e., the number of officers and men the regiment is authorized to have), the 1st and 2nd Battalions were combined together to form a "new" 1st Battalion, still under the command of Lt. Colonel CRUGER. The 3rd Battalion, DeLancey's, still garrisoning Long Island, became the "new" 2nd Battalion.
The 1st Battalion, DeLancey's, along with the remainder of the Charleston garrison, evacuated the city and sailed for New York in December, 1782. Arriving in New York Harbor the beginning of the new year, the corps resumed garrison duty of various posts on the west end of Long Island. The officers and men of the Provincial Corps were given the option to receive their discharge in New York or muster out of the regiment in Nova Scotia. Those going to Nova Scotia would receive grants of land, provisions, weapons, implements and a chance to live under the government they fought for. Those opting to stay behind would attempt to make peace with the new republican government and try to resume their lives.
Those who left embarked for the wilds of Nova Scotia between September 3rd-10th, 1783. The regiment, along with the remainder of the Provincial Corps in Nova Scotia, was discharged on October 10th, 1783. For the next several years, the disbanded soldiers, refugees and their families wrangled with the government and the surveyors over their land grants. DeLancey's eventually received theirs along the Saint John River. The men resumed their lives and created the new Province of New Brunswick, where many of their descendants remain today.
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