Mastic, Scene of 1780 Battle

Footnotes to Long Island History

Mastic Scene of 1780 Battle


Thomas R. Bayles

Benjamin Tallmadge, pictured with a sword, at Fort St. George in Mastic.
Vance Lock Mural- Setauket School

    In November 1780 one of the most daring expeditions of the Revolution in Brookhaven town was planned to and carried out by Major Benjamin Tallmadge. This was the capture of the British Fort, St. George, located on the south side of the island at Smiths Point, Mastic. At this point a triangular enclosure of several acres had been constructed at two angles of which were strongly barricaded houses and at the third fort, 96 feet square well protected by sharpened pickets projecting from the earthen mound at an angle of 45 degrees.

    The fortification had just been completed and two guns were mounted. It was intended as a safe depository for merchandise and munitions of war. the garrison numbered about 50 men. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of November 21, Major Tallmadge with two companies of dismounted dragoons, numbering in all 80 men , left Fairfield, Connecticut in eight open boats and crossed the sound landing at Mount Sinai about 9 o'clock in the evening. After  securing their boats in the bushes and stationing a guard over them, the troops were set in motion to cross the Island. They had proceeded but a few miles when a severe rainstorm came on, which compelled them to return and take shelter under the boats. Here they remained all night and the next day.

   About 7 o'clock in the evening of the 22nd, The rain stopped and the me again started on their march arriving within 2 miles of the fort by 3 o'clock the following morning. Here the troops were divided into three detachments, each of which proceeded by a different route for the purpose of making  an attack upon the fort at different points. Major Tallmadge himself led the main column, whose approach was not discovered by the enemy until they were 20yards of the stockade. A breach was quickly made and the troops rushed through to the main for which they carried with the bayonet without the firing of a singles shout. At the same instant the leaders of the other two detachments mounted the ramparts and from the three sides of the triangle a chorus of "Washington and Glory" was shouted by elated victors.

   Just then a volley of musketry was discharged upon them from one of the barricaded houses in which a considerable number of the garrison were hidden. The attention of Tallmadge's men was immediately directed to that point and for a few minutes a sharp contest ensured during which the latter forced an entrance to the house and hurled a number of the enemy from the second story windows head long to the ground.

   During the encounter seven of the enemy were killed or wounded. The fort was destroyed, 54 prisoners were taken. and a quantity of merchandise brought away. A vessel lying near the fort was also burned.

    Having accomplished the object of their visit the Americans returned to Mount Sinai with their prisoners. Major Tallmadge took 12 men and went by the way of Coram where they set fire to a magazine of hay estimated at been collected there by the British. Arriving at their landing place they all returned to Fairfield the same night, Reaching their about midnight. None of Tallmadge men were killed and only a few injured. A letter of commendation was addressed to him by General Washington for the successful capture of fort St. George and the burning of the hay at Coram.

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