Long Beard's Blog

08 Nov 2022

The Other Yorktown

| Long Beard

Usually one blog per week suffices, however with the interest shown in the original it seemed appropriate to include this one which came with today's mail. So we'll consider it part two of the week's blog, only shorter with the history reflective of the title. Enjoy!

If you've read the earlier blog, you'll recall how the town of Hudson, New Hampshire had four names before arriving at it's current, that of Nottingham West during the Revolutionary War. The same can be said of this piece represented in part two. At this point in time, Yorktown, New York had not existed, rather it was one of several hamlets and villages from which it eventually became incorporated as it's namesake. Any way, New York almost certainly did not, nor would it have, enter one's mind being overshadowed by the her more famous sister well to the south in Virginia. Yet this small, little known place played it's own part in the war for Independence, complete with a battle all be it on a much smaller scale. For this, Yorktown, New York proved equally important.

Pines Bridge, Crontonville, Crompond and Cronton Heights were four of the aforementioned villages and hamlets which encompass Yorktown as incorporated in 1788. Pines Bridge sat at a unique crossing of the Cronton River, the only bridge across the river throughout much of the war. This river was a vital, natural barrier protecting lower Westchester County. This crossing became important since the British were garrisoned in the Morrisania section of the Bronx and limited their movement north. This section of land, encompassing only several miles, stretching from the Bronx to the Cronton had simply been a no-man's land of where the inhabitants were frequently raided and robbed by both sides. So vital was this area, that General George Washington realized the importance and established a command post at the Davenport House overlooking Pines Bridge. The 1st Rhodes Island Regiment had been quartered inside the house as well as the surrounding area in tents along with local volunteers. The two main officers were Lt. Colonel James De Lancey of His Majesty's Army and Lt. Colonel Christopher Greene of the Continental Army.

At the war's onset, roughly 1/3 of the colonists remained loyal to the crown. As the conflict grew, and pressed on, De Lancey began fighting a war of attrition, a combat method which does not distinguish between combatants and noncombatants. So great were the atrocities and crimes that Washington ordered Greene to apprehend and arrest him. An order not unknown by De Lancey considering the area and those still loyal to Britain.

Each night, the Colonials would pull up the bridge planks to prevent the enemy from crossing and leave one or perhaps a few sentries to guard the northern side should troops approach. Greene had underestimated his opponent assuming that no one would attempt a daylight crossing. In the early morning of May 14, 1781 James De Lancey did just that, although a short distance east at Oblenis Ford with two-thirds of his troops. Aided by a loyalist who knew every rock, tree and ditch guided De Lancey's troops westward along the river avoiding patriot patrols. Adding insult, the sentries posted at Pines Bridge had left their post for breakfast. The patriots could only manage a few shots before being over run, Greene himself shot and stabbed several times taken prisoner. Thrown over a horse, he either fell off or was simply discarded and left to die. The next day, his body found by two Continental officers. This attack and return to New York only fueled the hatred within Washington. In the end, neither the capture of James De Lancey or retaking the impregnable British fortress New York had become until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. For what it's worth, a few months later in the fall, Washington crushed the British in the south at the other Yorktown with Lord Cornwallis' subsequent surrender.

As was all too often the case during the Revolutionary War, the Colonials were out-generaled. The very observance John Adams had noted prior to this event. With better leadership, perhaps this very bridge would have served as an attack on the British stationed in New York prior to or just after the Virginia campaign. Although we know how things ended in 1873, Yorktown, New York could have made a much bigger name for it's self. Today, only a few reminders are left for those who look. A monument at the First Presbyterian Church on Crompond Road and the musket ball holes still in the Davenport House. The bridge it's self, supposedly only visible during a severe drought.

This particular medal is pewter, about the size of an Eisenhower Dollar and was struck by the Medallic Arts Company of Danbury, CT. It was accompanied with the original ring-sized box. Tough to find these intact as issued.



Level 5

Wonderful medal and great history lesson. I really enjoyed reading your blog.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Beautiful medal and an even better recounting of its significance. Thanks LB, you are a historian for sure.


Level 6

Amazing how this medal inspired a fantastic history lesson from a pro. I learned so much from you on these 2 blogs. If only I had teachers like you while I was in school. Great job. I appreciate your work to bring this lesson to us. Carry on. Please. Thanks LB.


Level 6

Beautiful Medal! I like that pewter finish. Enjoyed a wonderful history lesson from you! ; )

It is interesting that winchester changed hands 72 times during the war!


Level 7

First your history taught me more about the battles of the war. Second the coin is amazing. One of your great pick ups. My wife has relatives in a small town named Winchester Va. From my door its five hours. We were going to visit them and some battle fields. Little did I know Winchester changed hands 72 times during the war!!.Think about that. That little town was an important place because of supplies. George Washington had his survey business there. Thank you for bringing back some good memories and I have learned again from your blogs.


Level 6

It is nice to learn history of little know places in the country/ Looking forward to more medal blogs.


Level 4

Long Beard, another a great glimpse into U.S. history at its earliest beginnings, and how people use numismatics to reflect and represent that history. Thanks for sharing another wonderful blog.

Long Beard

Level 5

Appreciate the compliment. I am merely humble history buff, the full credit lies with the designers of these masterpieces for the physical reminder. Without them, I probably would continued overlooking the importance of such small obscure places and people.


Level 4

Spectacular!! I’m not big on medals, but that’s amazing! I think the pewter really makes it stand out.

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