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British Trapped at Manor

Footnotes to Long Island History

British Trapped at Manor
January 3, 1952

by

Thomas R. Bayles


               At the time of the Revolution the Smiths Point inlet from the ocean to the bay was an important waterway for small boats from the eastern part of the Island, and wood, farm products, game and other goods for shipment to the New York market were brought out on the small boats and transferred to larger ones outside the mouth of the inlet. Supplies from outside were brought in the same way.

                This was known to the British then in possession of New York City, and they sent 500 men to take possession of the old Smith homestead at the Manor of St. George. Their orders were to fortify it, stock it with food and supplies including ammunition and make it a base of supplies for the British forces, operating on Eastern Long Island. This order was executed ad the landing force took over the Smith estate at night. Stockades were erected and plans made to defend it in case the American forces decided to make any attack.

                The Manor house then was owned by General John Smith a descendent of Col. William Smith. The British forces began to cut wood from his farm to ship to New York, and this displeased Gen. Smith but he kept quiet and communicated with General Washington, and suggested to him a plan of sending a force of American Soldiers from Connecticut to capture the British fort.

                Gen. Smith carried out the plans by preparing a banquet for the British forces, all of whom were invited. This was on the night of November 22, 1780 and plenty of good wine that had been stored away in cellars of the old manor house for many years was brought out to top off the banquet table.

                In the meantime a force of American soldiers consisting of 80 dismounted dragoons in 10 small boats came across the sound and landed at Mt. Sinai harbor, where a beacon fire had been burning to guide them. A guide met them as the landed on that stormy night on November 21 and piloted them to a spot where they spent the night and the next day.

                The following night, a trusty servant of Gen. Smith's arrives with the message to come across to Mastic that night, and the men under Benjamin Tallmadge marched across the Island, and like the silent Indian, felt every inch of the ground until they were within gunshot of the fort. Then a mighty shout, "Washington and glory", went up together with hail of lead from three sides that greeted the British who thought Washington and his whole army had arrived.

                The dead and wounded soldiers made the scene a discouraging one to the British forces who laid down their guns and surrendered about 300 men. Then Major Tallmadge with a small force of men went to the manor house captured the rest of the British officers.

                When daylight came and the British saw the small force of Americans that had captured them and their fort with its supplies of guns and ammunition they were much humiliated.

                Major Tallmadge marched his prisoners back to Mt. Sinai and returned back that night to Connecticut without the loss of a single man.

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