(p. 37) 2d April, 1776. Left New York at 5 o'clock, P. M.; sailed up North river, or Hudson's, that afternoon, about thirteen miles. About one o'clock in the night were awakened by the firing of cannon; heard three great guns distinctly from the Asia; soon saw a great fire, which we presumed to be a house on Bedloe's island, set on fire by a detachment of our troops. Intelligence had been received that the enemy were throwing up intrenchments on that island, and it had been determined by our generals to drive them off. Dr. Franklin went upon deck, and saw waving flashes of light appearing suddenly and disappearing, which he conjectured to be the fire of musquetry, although he could not hear the report.
3d. A bad, rainy day; wind north-east; quite ahead. A. M., eleven o'clock, opposite to Colonel Phillips's (a tory); pretty situation near the river; garden sloping down to it; house has a pretty appearance: a church (p. 38) at a little distance on the south side, surrounded by cedar trees. The banks of the river, on the western side, exceedingly steep and rocky; pine trees growing amidst the rocks. On the eastern, or New York side, the banks are not near so steep, they decline pretty gradually to the water's edge. The river is straight hitherto. About five o'clock wind breezed up from the south; got under way, and ran with a pretty easy gale as far as the highlands, forty miles from New York. The river here is greatly contracted, and the lands on each side very lofty. When we got into this strait the wind increased, and blew in violent flaws; in doubling one of these steep craggy points we were in danger of running on the rocks; endeavored to double the cape called St. Anthony’s nose, but all our efforts proved ineffectual; obliged to return some way back in the straits to seek shelter; in doing this, our mainsail was split to pieces by a sudden and most violent blast of wind off the mountains. Came to anchor: blew a perfect storm all night and all day the fourth. Remained all day (the fourth) in Thunder Hill bay, about half a mile below Cape St. Anthony's nose, and a quarter of a mile from Thunder Hill. Our crew were employed all this day in repairing the mainsail. The country round about this bay has a wild and romantic appearance; the hills are almost perpendicularly steep, and covered with rocks, and trees of a small size. The hill called St. Anthony's nose is said to be full of sulphur. I make no doubt this place has experienced some violent convulsion from subterraneous fire: the steepness of the hills, their correspondence, the narrowness of the river, and its depth, all confirm me in this opinion.
(p. 39) 5th. Wind at north-east, mainsail not yet repaired. Sailed about twelve o'clock from Thunder Hill bay; just before we doubled Cape St. Anthony's nose, Mr. Chase and I landed to examine a beautiful fall of water. Mr. Chase, very apprehensive of the leg of mutton being boiled too much, impatient to get on board; wind breezing up, we had near a mile to row to overtake the vessel. As soon as we doubled Cape St. Anthony's nose a beautiful prospect opened on us. the river, from this place to Constitution fort, built on Marbler's rock, forms a fine canal, surrounded with high hills of various shapes; one, in particular, resembles a sugar loaf, and is so called. bout three miles from Cape St. Anthony's nose is another beautiful cascade, called "the Buttermilk." This is formed by a rivulet which flows from a lake on the top of a neighboring mountain; this lake, we were told, abounds with trout and perch. Arrived about five o'clock at Constitution fort; Mr. Chase went with me on shore to visit the fort; it is built on a rock called Marbler's rock; the river at this place makes a sudden bend to the west; the battery (for it does not deserve the name of a fort, being quite open on the north-east side) has two flanks, one fronting the south and the other the west; -- on the south flank were planted thirteen six, and one nine pounder; on the west flank, seven nine pounders and one six pounder, but there were no cannoniers in the fort, and only one hundred and two men fit to do duty; -- they intend to erect another battery on an eminence called Gravel hill, which will command vessels coming up the river as soon as they double Cape St. Anthony's nose. A little above this cape a battery is projected (p. 40) to annoy the enemy's vessels, to be called Fort Montgomery; they intend another battery lower down the river, and a little below Cape St. Anthony's nose. In the highlands are many convenient spots to construct batteries on; but, in order to make them answer the intended purpose, weighty metal should be placed on these batteries, and skilful gunners should be engaged to serve the artillery. About nine o'clock at night, the tide making, we weighed anchor, and came to again about two o'clock in the morning, the sixth instant. The river is remarkably deep all the way through the highlands, and the tide rapid. When we came to an anchor off Constitution fort we found the depth of water above thirty fathoms. These highlands present a number of romantic views, the steep hills overshadow the water, and in some places the rocks, should they be rolled down, would fall into the river several feet from the banks on which they stood. This river seems intended by nature to open a communication between Canada and the province of New York by water, and by some great convulsion, a passage has been opened to the waters of Hudson's river through the highlands. These are certainly a spur of the Endless mountains.
6th. Weighed anchor about seven o'clock in the morning; had a fine breeze; the country more cultivated above the highlands; passed several mills, all of them overshot; saw two frigates on the stocks at Pokeepsay, building for the service of the United Colonies; saw a great many lime-kilns in our run this morning, on both sides of the river, the banks of which begin to slope more gradually to the water's edge. We wrote to General Heath, from off Consti- (p. 41) tution fort, and sent the letter to the commanding officer of the fort, with orders to forward it by express immediately to the general at New York. The purport of the letter was to inform the general of the very defenceless condition of the fort, that measures might be immediately taken to put it in a better posture of defence. If Howe was a man of enterprise, and knew of the real state of the fort, he might take it in its present situation with sixty men, and without cannon. He might land his party a little below the fort on the east side, march over a marsh, and attack it on the back parts. It was proposed to erect a battery of some cannon to sweep this marsh; but this, and also the battery above mentioned, on Gravel hill, have been strangely neglected, and nothing as yet has been done towards constructing either of these batteries, more than levelling the top of Gravel hill.
Six o'clock, P. M., came to anchor four miles from Albany; had a most glorious run this day, and a most pleasant sail; including our run in the night, we ran this day ninety-six miles -- Constitution fort being one hundred miles from Albany, and sixty from New York. We passed several country houses pleasantly situated on the banks, or rather, eminences, commanding the banks of the river; the grounds we could discover from the vessel did not appear to be highly improved. We had a distant view of the Katskill mountains. These are said to be some of the highest in North America; they had a pleasing appearance; the weather being somewhat hazy, they appeared like bluish clouds at a great distance; when we were nearest to them, they were distant about ten miles. Vast tracts of land on each side of (p. 42) Hudson's river are held by the proprietaries, or, as they are here styled, the Patrones of manors. One of the Ransalaers has a grant of twenty miles on each side of the river. Mr. Robert R. Livingston informed me that he held three hundred thousand acres. I am told there are but ten original patentees between Albany and the highlands. The descendants of the first proprietaries of these immense tracts still keep them in possession; necessity has not as yet forced any of them to sell any part.
7th. Weighed anchor this morning about six o'clock. Wind fair: having passed over the overslaw, had a distinct view of Albany, distant about two miles: -- landed at Albany at half-past seven o'clock; received, at landing, by General Schuyler, who, understanding we were coming up, came from his house, about a mile out of town, to receive us and invite us to dine with him; he behaved with great civility; lives in pretty style; has two daughters (Betsy and Peggy), (p. 43) both lively, agreeable black-eyed girls. Albany is situated partly on a level, and partly on the slope of a hill, or rising ground, on the west side of the river. Vessels drawing eight or nine feet water may come to Albany, and five miles even beyond it, at this season of the year, when the waters are out. The fort is in a ruinous condition, and not a single gun mounted on it. There are more houses in this town than in Annapolis, and I believe it to be much more populous. The citizens chiefly speak Dutch, being mostly the descendants of Dutchmen; but the English language and manners are getting ground apace.
9th. Left Albany early this morning, and travelled in a wagon in company with Mrs. Schuyler, her two daughters, and Generals Schuyler and Thomas. At six miles from Albany I quitted the wagon and got on horse-back to accompany the generals to view the falls on the Mohawk's river, called the Cohooes. The perpendicular fall is seventy-four feet, and the breadth of the river at this place, as measured by General Schuyler, is one thousand feet. The river was swollen with the melting of the snows and rains, and rolled over the frightful precipice an impetuous torrent. The foam, the irregularities in the fall broken by projecting rocks, and the deafening noise, presented a sublime but terrifying spectacle. At fifty yards from the place the water dropped from the trees, as it does after a plentiful shower, they being as wet with the ascending vapor as they commonly are after a smart rain of some continuance.
1776-04-02 -- Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Journal of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, during His Visit to Canada, in 1776, as One of the Commissioners from Congress. Baltimore, 1845.
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