Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Tired With Being There" Henry Beekman Livingston's Brief Time as a Guest of the British Navy

Granny Gates
As he took stock of his situation after the Battle of Saratoga General Horatio Gates felt the need to address the situation to his south. While Gates and the Northern Army had been drubbing General John Burgoyne, General Sir Henry Clinton had launched an attack up the Hudson River Valley, taking Forts Clinton and Montgomery, burning Kingston, burning Clermont and a number of other private homes. Gates found this offensive and let Clinton know it in a harshly worded letter.
A perfect choice for messenger boy
          To deliver the letter Gates sent Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston of the 4th New York Regiment who had a personal stake in the matter as the British had burned down his mother’s house in their attack. Gates ordered Henry to find the enemy at Fort Montgomery, assuming that they would have occupied the fort after they had taken it. They had not, choosing instead to return to New York City.
          Henry, of course, decided to exceed his orders and headed south. At King’s Bridge he was taken aboard the H.M.S. Mercury under the command of James Montagu. Montagu immediately passed Henry off on his first officer Lieutenant Logan.
James Montagu's statue in West Minster Abbey
          Lt. Logan took Gage’s message from Henry and sent it ashore. As for Henry he now found himself a sort of guest, sort of prisoner on the ship. While he was not put in chains he had very little in the way of freedom while he waited for an answer to his message. He could not set foot ashore. Henry described his treatment as “very Indifferent.”
Henry Clinton, not great at checking his messages
          After two days aboard the ship it appears that Montagu and Henry had begun to get on each other’s nerves. Henry was constantly bombarding Montagu and Logan with demands to send more messages to Clinton or for answers as to why he had not had an answer yet. Finally,Henry demanded to send another message to Clinton, from whom he was yet to receive a response and Montagu refused to offer him any more help. Henry was “Tired of being here.”
          It was time for Montagu to get rid of Henry. He could have simply turned him over to one of the prison hulks in New York Harbor, but for a pesky sense of honor. Henry had traveled under a flag of truce so Montagu put Henry ashore back at King’s Bridge.
HMS Jersey, the most famous prison hulk
How many ships did you sink?

This allowed Henry to return to his regiment in time to join them at Valley Forge and serve in the army for another year.(Read all about that here!) On Christmas Eve of 1777 Montagu ran the H.M.S. Mercury into a sunken obstacle in the Hudson River and lost her. The obstacle had been placed by the Americans, maybe by the Committee to Defend the River of which Henry's brother Robert R. Livingston was a member. He would have a rather unimpressive career after that until June 1, 1794 when he was killed at the Battle of Ushant, the Glorious First of June during the Napoleonic Wars.[i]
Not shown, James Montagu getting hit by a cannon ball early in the battle.

[i] Henry Beekman Livingston wrote a report on his journey south to George Clinton on November 13, 1777.  The letter is now in the New York State Archives Henry Livingston Papers collection.
Not that George Clinton

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wholly Destitute; Henry Livingston's Christmas at Valley Forge

Yeah, its another one about this dude.
          It would be tough to decide which members of the Livingston family had the worse Christmas in 1777. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston had suffered the destruction of his house by the British Army and was forced to take Christmas dinner at his cousin Peter R. Livingston’s house. Margaret Beekman Livingston, who had also lost her home to the British was in Connecticut staying at a house that belonged to Robert Livingston, 3rd Lord of Livingston Manor. On the other hand, Henry Beekman Livingston was settling in to his winter quarters with the Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
After being briefly held by the British as a quasi-prisoner of war in November of 1777 Henry rejoined his regiment, the 4th New York, in time to join them in winter quarters. On December 24, 1777 Henry, had written to his brother Robert; “We are now building huts for our winter quarters without tools or nails so I suppose we may render ourselves very comfortable by the time winter is over.” He went on to explain that his men were "in general mostly naked and very often in a starving condition." He and his troops were lousy with bugs and only 18 men could muster fully clothed, the rest missing shoes, stockings, coats or breeches[i]
The huts may have looked something like this reproduction

Christmas Day did not show much improvement for the men in Valley Forge. George Washington’s general orders to the army begin with order 9 men from each brigade and three wagons to be assigned “for the purpose of collecting flour, grain, cattle and pork, for the army.” They end with a warning against plundering the local inhabitants and that anyone caught was to be “severely punished.”[ii] This would seem to indicate a shortage of food and possibly other supplies in the camp.
Not this George Clinton
This one
Henry wrote to Governor George Clinton of New York that day. He wrote; “Wholly destitute of clothing, the men and officers are now perishing in the field at this season of the year, and that at a time when troops of almost every other state are receiving supplies of everything necessary and comfortable.”[iii]
Harry and his men made it through Christmas though many of them would fall sick over the course of the winter. Henry himself fell so ill he had to be removed from the camp to a private house several miles away. He soon recovered though, boasting, in a letter to George Washington, that he had “never been sick before in My Life that I shall be enabled to return to my Duty in a few days.”[iv]
The "Prussian Lieutenant General" von Steuben
 It turned out that it would take Henry six weeks to recover. By the end of March 1778 he was back in camp with his regiment learning how to be a real soldier. Over the next few months Henry and his men trained extensively under the Baron von Steuben who Henry described as "an agreeable man". Henry found the training "more agreeable to the dictates of reason and common sense than any mode I have before seen,"[v] 
In June of 1778 Henry Beekman Livingston, the 4th New York and the entire Continental Army emerged from their winter quarters at Valley Forge transformed. They were an army that could stand in the field against the British Army (Click here to read all about that). Still though, Christmas 1777 was pretty bad.

A copy of this apocryphal image hangs in the study at Clermont supposedly showing George Washington praying for his troops at Valley Forge.

[i] Boyle, Joseph Lee Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment December 19,1777- June 19, 1778 Volume 2. Heritage Books, Maryland 2007 p 2.
[ii] “General Orders, 25 December 1777, ”Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives .gov/documents/Washington/03-12-02-0647.
[iii] Public Papers of George Clinton Volume II Published by the State of New York, Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co, New York, 1900, p 605-606
[iv] “To George Washington from Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 10 February 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13,2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-13-02-0417
[v] ] Boyle, Joseph Lee Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment December 19,1777- June 19, 1778 Volume 2. Heritage Books, Maryland 2007 p 92-94

Monday, November 19, 2018

History Comics Club: Connecting Students to the Heritage One Panel at a Time

Clermont is an inspiring place. On any given summer morning, you’ll find painters in the parking lot, carefully unloading their oil paints and easels, trekking down the sheep fold to capture views of the Hudson that have inspired artists for centuries. Countless couples choose the views of the mountains and gardens as the backdrop for wedding photos that will grace their walls for a lifetime. On the walking trails, DSLRs are more commonly strapped to necks than scarves are draped-- a quick search on Instagram will reveal just how many iPhone photographers capture small moments on the grounds every day.
The natural beauty of Clermont is ever-present and well known. The Livingston family, from The Chancellor to Alice, worked hard to make the grounds and buildings beautiful, impressive, and inspiring to friends, family, visitors, and passersby.
But, personally, I find the stories inside the house just as inspiring as the grounds surrounding it.    
History Comics Club: Origins
Hi! I’m Emily!
Proof that you can in fact be addicted to a historic site.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I attended Junior History Club at Clermont for the first time. I had been to other history-based summer camps before, but none of them grabbed me the way Clermont did. Looking back, I see it was the narrative: Clermont tells the story of 7 generations of an unimaginably complex and interesting family, with the point of entry being two little girls who, a century ago, were about your age and had pets and played with dolls and did kid things that kids still do today. Back in the early 00s, the narrative at Clermont was the most kid-accessible one I had come across, and it immediately endeared me to the story. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I’d come back every year, as a camper, then a camp counselor, and eventually a tour guide. I’d write and illustrate stories that were clearly derived from the history of Clermont as well as the grounds.
Nowadays, I’m the Education Assistant and Camp Director at Clermont State Historic Site. I’m also a professional comic artist and author.
The Birth of History Comics Club
The inspiration for the program came from, well, inspiration! Clermont is an inspiring place, and I
knew from my own experience that this was a wonderful way to get kids invested in local history. With the motto of “Connecting students to their heritage, one panel at a time” we started History Comics Club at Germantown Central School in the fall of 2016. Since then, we’ve run 8 History Comics Clubs at local schools and libraries, served 4 summer camps, and one field trip. In total, the program has worked with about 800 students in the Hudson Valley, ranging from second graders to seniors in high school.
2018 has been our most exciting year by far.
This year, we ran 5 History Comic Clubs, the most we’ve ever done!
Students created biographical comics following the lives of Livingstons.

Others created fantastic adventures about the dogs of Clermont throwing parties and running detective agencies.

For the first time ever, History Comics Club had a booth at a convention!
The Hudson Children’s Book Festival hosted us. We gave out nearly 200 copies of student work.
The success of History Comics Club created a professional spin-off series called Captain Clermont! Written by curator Geoff Benton and illustrated by Kevin Nordstrom

Finally, HCC made it’s debut at New York Comic Con!

I hosted a panel at NYCC for education professionals about History Comics Club this past October!
About 50 people packed into a small classroom at NYPL. It was a wonderful experience.
It’s been a wonderful year for History Comics Club. We just started another Club yesterday with a record number of students. They spent the day reading student work and learning about the Livingstons. As they left, they excitedly told me about who they connected with and why (Margaret Beekman, Katharine, and Punchy are always popular.) We live in a time where being a comic fan has never been so acceptable or accessible, while history is so easily rewritten or brushed aside. I’m overjoyed to see so many young people taking a genuine interest in both.

We already have two History Clubs planned for this winter and summer. if your school, library, or organization is interested in hosting one, feel free to reach out to me via email: Emily.Robinson@parks.ny.gov


Monday, November 5, 2018

The Boy in the Solider's Coat: Eugene Livingston and the Civil War

         The American Civil War was hell. Per the American Battlefield Trust there were more than a million casualties during the war. 620,000 men died because of battle or disease. Most of these men didn’t die the quick, painless, glorious deaths so often seen in paintings and movies. They died screaming for their mothers on bloody, stinking battlefields or feverish in sick bed slowly succumbing to disease. Such is the story of Eugene Livingston.
Aryyl house in 1869
          Eugene Livingston was born on January 6, 1845 in Philadelphia. His parents were Eugene Augustus Livingston and Harriet Coleman. Eugene Augustus was the son of Robert L. and Margaret Maria Livingston, He would have spent at least part of his childhood at Arryl House, formerly the home of his grandfather Chancellor Robert R. Livingston and now the home of his brother, Montgomery Livingston.
          Eugene Augustus and Harriet soon made a home at Teviot, the Hudson River estate immediately south of Clermont. Harriet gave birth to a daughter they named Mary Coleman Livingston. Unfortunately, Harriet died shortly thereafter. Eugene Augustus married Elizabeth Rhodes Fisher in 1851.
          At the same time the country was falling apart. Following the election of 1860 and the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president, eleven southern slave holding states illegally withdrew from the union and revolted against the United States.
Eugene Livingston's enlistment record from the National Archives
          The war was expected to end quickly but after a humiliating defeat at the First Battle of Manassas the Union ramped up recruitment for the army as well as production of war materials.
          On February 1, 1862, the younger Eugene enlisted in the 95th New York Infantry and was mustered in that same day. He lied about his age. He was 17 but his enlistment record says he was 21. We do not know what inspired Eugene to enlist. Perhaps he felt strongly about saving the Union or ending slavery. Perhaps he was worried about being called a coward if he did not fight. Perhaps he was inspired by stories of his famous ancestors. Whatever his reasons, Eugene gave up his life of comfort and safety on the Hudson River to join a brutal war.   
Monument to the 95th Regiment at Gettysburg
The 95th would go on to see some of the most intense fighting of the Civil War. They served at; The Second Battle of Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania and Appomattox. Eugene saw none of this. 
         On March 8, 1862 Eugene posed for a photo in uniform. Ten days later his regiment finally left New York City. They were assigned to help defend Washington D.C. Shortly after arriving in the capital Eugene fell sick with Tuberculosis. On April 27, 1862, he was discharged from the army with a surgeons’ certificate of disability.
Eugene Livingston
          Eugene never recovered his health. He returned to his father’s house, Teviot, hoping the country air would cure his consumption. It did not. On Wednesday December 31, 1862 Eugene died at Teviot, a week short of his 18th birthday.

In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall.

Abraham Lincoln, May 25, 1861 Letter to Ephraim D. and Phoebe Ellsworth

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Great Britain has never paid much attention to rights which interfere with her Views: Newfoundland and the American Revolution

Captain James Cook's 1775 chart of Newfoundland

  Newfoundland and its associated fishing grounds were among the most valuable properties in the new world. France and Britain had long warred over the islands. Spain tried to claim a share of the fishing trade and Basque fishermen used the fishing grounds for hundreds of years. The French had largely been forced off the island by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of Spanish Succession, although they still held the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon just a few miles off the south coast of Newfoundland. At the end of the French and Indian War these two small islands were France’s only holdings in North America. 
As valuable as the island and its fishing was, the British government long discouraged permanent settlement on the island, preferring instead a mainly migratory population that followed the fishing trade. The fishing trade was
Fishing was a little different then
 estimated to be worth about £600,000 per year. The island’s position on the globe also meant that’s its ports offered safe harbor during Atlantic crossings.
          The impact of the troubles in the thirteen American colonies was felt in Newfoundland before the actual fighting broke out. As mentioned before Newfoundland had a largely migratory population and needed to be provisioned from elsewhere. Boston became the primary supplier of provisions to Newfoundland and acted as a middleman in the trade of fish with the West Indies. Fisherman sent fish south and rum and molasses made their way north.
          Following the imposition Intolerable Acts of 1774, which shut down the port of Boston and imposed many other limitations on trade in the colonies in response to the Boston Tea Party and other troubles, the colonies declared an embargo on trade with the British. This included Newfoundland. When the fishing fleets arrived that summer, they found no supply of bread and flout to keep them fed. What had not arrived from the colonies could not be replaced from England or from Quebec although attempts were made.
          With the outbreak of the shooting war in 1775 the food shortage did not improve. The price of flour and bread tripled, people went hungry and there were reports of some starving to death. This led to more attempts at farming on the island and several people leaving their small outports and heading for the larger population centers like St. Johns.
          Many Americans saw the value of disrupting the British fishery at Newfoundland. Only the lack of a navy of any size prevented a full-on attack on the 
Vice Admiral John Montagu
island. Vice-Admiral John Montagu, commander of the Newfoundland station, had only four ships and a few smaller armed vessels to attempt to defend the coast, the Grand Banks fishing grounds and to disrupt American shipping to Europe. This meant that American privateers could wreak havoc almost at will. Most privateers were after the profit of capturing a British merchant vessel so the small fishing ships were not valuable targets in and of themselves but taking a fishing ship allowed privateers to resupply their stocks of food, water, naval stores and in some cases even men. They also began to attack the small outport villages on the southern coast of Newfoundland.
          The presence of American privateers seriously cut into the fishing off Newfoundland. In addition, the threat of impressment onto the British men of war stationed at Newfoundland or making an Atlantic crossing gave even more incentive to fishermen to stay off the seas. For the first time the resident population of Newfoundland exceeded the
migratory population.[i]
          The entrance of the French into the war brought a whole new level of importance to Newfoundland. Shortly after receiving news of the new alliance in 1778, Admiral Montagu took his small force and conquered St. Pierre and Miquelon. The islands had no defenses and were of little value but it really was a thumb in the eye to the French. This led Count D’Estaing to write to George Washington that he had heard the islands had been ravaged and that “We hope that with your assistance the day will come, when France shall partake the Cod-fishery with other nations.”[ii]
          Benjamin Franklin also caught on to the French interest in Newfoundland. On February 25, 1779, he suggested an attack on Nova Scotia and Newfoundland say “Halifax being reduced, the small forts of Newfoundland would easily follow…” He also stated that the fishery was a source of money for the British and “a great Nursery of Seamen.” A place where the British could man their naval vessels with experienced sailors.[iii]
          When the English government finally got serious about negotiating a peace treaty to end the war the rights to fish around Newfoundland were not only incredibly important to the Americans, but a major sticking point for the British. On January 7, 1782, Robert R. Livingston, who had the unenviable task, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, of trying to supervise the peace negotiations in Paris 
Just when you were wondering what this blog had to do with anything

from Philadelphia wrote to negotiator Benjamin Franklin; “The fisheries will probably be a source of Litigation, not because our rights are doubtfull, but because Great Britain has never paid much attention to rights which interfere with her Views.”
He went on to explain more fully:
The Arguments of which the People of America found their claim to fish on the Banks of Newfoundland, arise first from their having once formed a part of the British Empire, in which State they allways enjoyed as fully as the People of Britain themselves, the right of fishing on those banks. They have shared in all the Wars for the extension of that right, and Britain could with no more justice have excluded them from the Enjoyment of it (even supposing that one Nation could possess it to the exclusion of an other) while they formed a part of that Empire, than they could exclude the People of London or Bristol. If so the only enquiry is how have we lost this right, if we were Tenants in Common with Great Britain while United with her, we still continue so, unless by our own Act we have relinquished our Title. Had we parted with mutual Consent, we should doubtless have made partition of our common Rights by Treaty. But the oppressions of Great Britain forced us to a seperation, (which must be admitted, or we have no right to be independant) it cannot certainly be contended that those oppressions abridged our Rights or gave new ones to Britain, our rights then are not invalidated by this seperation, more particularly as we have kept up our Claim from the commencement of the War, and assigned the attempt of Great Britain to exclude us from the fisheries as one of the causes of our recurring to Arms.
The second Ground upon which we place our right to fish on the Banks of Newfoundland provided we do not come within such distance of the coasts of other powers as the law of Nations allows them to appropriate, is the right which Nature gives to all Mankind to use its common Benefits, so far as not to exclude others. The Sea cannot in its nature be appropriated. No Nation can put its mark upon it, Tho’ attempts have sometimes been made to set up an Empire over it, they have been considered as unjust usurpations, and resisted as such in turn by every Maritime Nation in Europe.[iv]
Interestingly, in November of 1782, John Adams used a nearly identical 
John Adams and his "original" ideas
argument during a negotiation session with British agents. As he recounted in his diary:
When God Almighty made the Banks of Newfoundland at 300 Leagues Distance from the People of America and at 600 Leagues distance from those of France and England, did he not give as good a Right to the former as to the latter. If Heaven in the Creation gave a Right, it is ours at least as much as yours. If Occupation, Use, and Possession give a Right, We have it as clearly as you. If War and Blood and Treasure give a Right, ours is as good as yours. We have been constantly fighting in Canada, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia for the Defense of this Fishery, and have expended beyond all Proportion more than you. If then the Right cannot be denied, Why should it not be acknowledged? and put out of Dispute? Why should We leave Room for illiterate Fishermen to wrangle and chicane?       [v]
It seems reasonable that Adams may have seen Livingston’s letter to Franklin at some point but the terrible relationship between the two men would never have allowed Adams to give any credit to Livingston for the ideas.
          Ultimately the Treaty of Paris was finalized in 1783 and signed. It consisted of ten articles. The first was America independence from Great Britain. The second defined the borders of the new United States. The third reads thusly:
It is agreed that the People of the United States shall continue to enjoy unmolested the Right to take Fish of every kind on the Grand Bank and on all the other Banks of Newfoundland, also in the Gulph of St. Lawrence and at all other Places in the Sea where the Inhabitants of both Countries used at any time heretofore to fish. And also that the Inhabitants of the United States shall have Liberty to take Fish of every kind on such Part of the Coast of Newfoundland as British Fishermen shall use, (but not to dry or cure the same on that Island) and also on the Coasts Bays & Creeks of all other of his Britannic Majestys Dominions in America, and that the American Fishermen shall have Liberty to dry & cure Fish in any of the unsettled Bays Harbours and Creeks of Nova-Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled, but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the sd: Fishermen to dry or cure Fish at such Settlement, without a previous Agreement for that purpose with the Inhabitants, Proprietors or Possessors of the Ground.[vi]
After independence, a share of the fishing trade was considered one of the most important objectives of the American negotiators. Its not until the 7th article that they actually get around to ending hostility and stopping the war.
It was all about this beautiful, majestic, delicious creature
          The importance of Newfoundland to America cannot be overstated. The territory would flare up again during the quasi-war with France at the end of the 18th century. In the 19thcentury fisherman from all over the east coast, including the City of Hudson would sail for the Grand Banks. At the beginning of World War II Franklin Delano Roosevelt traded a bunch of broken down destroyers to the British for the rights to put a base on Newfoundland. The base ended up operating throughout the war and the rest of the 20th century, only being scaled down in the 1990’s. It seems that this rocky island has inextricably connected to the fate of the United States.

[i] Much of this information come from several ariticles by Olaf Janzen publish on www.heritage.nf.ca and to Olaf Janzen’s article JANZEN, OLAF. "The Royal Navy and the Defence of Newfoundland during the American Revolution." Acadiensis 14, no. 1 (1984): 28-48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30303382.
[ii] “To George Washington from Vice Admiral d’Estaing, 6 October 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-17-02-0295. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 17, 15 September–31 October 1778, ed. Philander D. Chase. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 279–280.]
[iii] “From Benjamin Franklin to Vergennes: Two Letters, 25 February 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-28-02-0515. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 28, November 1, 1778, through February 28, 1779, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990, pp. 603–607.]
[iv] “To Benjamin Franklin from Robert R. Livingston, 7 January 1782,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-36-02-0267. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 36, November 1, 1781, through March 15, 1782, ed. Ellen R. Cohn. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 390–402.]
[v] “1782 November 29. Fryday.,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/01-03-02-0001-0004-0023. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, vol. 3, Diary, 1782–1804; Autobiography, Part One to October 1776, ed. L. H. Butterfield. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961, pp. 79–81.]
[vi] “Definitive Treaty of Peace between the United States and Great Britain, 3 September 1783,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-40-02-0356. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 40, May 16 through September 15, 1783, ed. Ellen R. Cohn. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 566–575.]

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Harry's Hairy Time on Long Island

Henry Beekman Livingston 
In the summer of 1776 Lt. Col. Henry Beekman Livingston was sent with three companies of the 2nd New York Regiment to guard the Eastern end of Long Island. In July Henry wrote to George Washington to explain the disposition of his troops. He had assigned one company to Montauk Point, one to Shelter Island and one to Oyster Pond Point (present day Orient Point.) He was guarding more than 1,600 cattle, 500 horses and 10,000 sheep. The local committee of safety had given him two canons but no ammunition for them. He hoped Washington could send him some because he felt “they would be of Service to us in the Enemy Should ever take it in their Heads to visit us.”[i]
            On July 20th Nathaniel Woodhull, a member of the New York Convention and a general of the Long Island militia wrote to Washington. At the end of his letter he asked that Henry and his men be left at their current post and not removed. He feared “the Inhabitants would totally abandon the Country should those troops be drawn off.”[ii] This was a fear that Henry shared and the loyalty of the citizens of Long Island would play a major role in the events of the next couple of months. The British fleet had arrived in New York Harbor in early July. Everyone was holding their breath to see where the British would attack.
32,000 troops in New York Harbor

"I've got the weirdest feeling we forgot something"
            On August 22, 1776, the British began landing on Long Island near present day Brooklyn, on the other end of Long Island from Henry’s position. By the end of the month the British had pushed Washington and the main army off Long Island, leaving Henry and his men trapped behind enemy lines.
            All the while Henry was receiving intelligence about what was happening on the west end of the island he held his post. On August 30, he watched, what he took to be, three British frigates, a brig and a sloop sail into Long Island Sound. He realized that “Communication by water between this and New York is now cut off.” Henry offered to attack the British rear if he could have reinforcements from Connecticut. The country was exposed to the “Ravages” of the enemy and he was seeking orders.[iii]
            Henry wrote to Washington again the very next day. The situation was getting worst. The British ships were still in the sound, General Woodhull had been wounded and captured by the British (he would later die of his wounds) and British horsemen were disarming the population. Henry began to march his men west hoping to raise the local militias as he went and perhaps attack the British.[iv]
Right before Woodhull accidentally fell on that soldiers
sword over and over again
            On September 4th, Washington finally had a calm moment to write back to Henry. He was not encouraging. He wrote: “it is not in my power to give you any instructions for your Conduct…” He encouraged Henry to deny the British forage but ultimately left Henry’s fate up to Henry.[v]
            Henry had not idle while waiting to hear from Washington. As he marched west, he had gathered about 150 militia men.  Unfortunately, they all deserted when they heard that Washington had abandoned Long Island. At about the same time he received a letter from the people of the town of Huntington, begging him to “for Gods Sake” not advance toward their town as they had already surrendered to the British and feared that the presence of his men would cause the British to destroy the town.
            Henry saw that his options were getting slimmer and slimmer. He began to retreat. Along the way, he disarmed any loyalists he found. By the time, he was ready to cross the Long Island sound to Connecticut he had gathered 236 small arms, 6 canons, 5 casks of gunpowder, 2 and ½ boxes of musket balls, 190 cartridge boxes, 160 full powder horns and 153 bayonets.[vi]
A replica of the type of boats Henry and his men used to
cross Long Island Sound. Not shown: sea sick sheep.
Henry and his men loaded into whale boats, somehow avoided the British navy and made it to Connecticut on September 2. He immediately began planning a return to Long Island. Shortly after writing his letter to Washington on September 11, Livingston and his men rowed back to Long Island. They landed at Shinnecock and carried off 3,129 sheep and 400 cattle. One of his companies also headed into Setauket, to break up a tory militia that was forming there. They attempted to arrest the captain of the Tories, Richard Miller Jr., but he resisted and was shot. He soon died of his wounds. 
Don't let the doe eyes fool you, Oliver Delancey Jr
would put a price on you.
            This raid proved to be too much for another loyalist, Oliver Delancey. The Delanceys had been long time political foes of the Livingston family. Because of this raid, Oliver Delancey put a bounty of 500 pounds on Harry’s head. Harry offered to put the same price on Delancey’s head if Washington agreed.[vii]
            Henry’s time on Long Island was reaching its end though. During October of 1776 Henry worked on a plan for a large raid on Long Island involving his troops as well as troops from Connecticut and Massachusetts. He had Washington’s full support but when the whale boats he had been promised failed to show up it appears the plan was aborted. In November of that year Henry was promoted to colonel and given command of the 4th New York Regiment in the Hudson Highlands. His duties carried him away before he had a chance to further harass the British on Long Island.

[i] “To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, July 1776” Founders Online, National Archives
[ii] “To George Washington from Nathaniel Woodhull, 20 July 1776” Founders Online, National Archives.
[iii] “To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 30 August 1776” Founders Online, National Archives
[iv] “To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 31, August 1776” Founders Online, National Archives.
[v] “From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 4 September 1776” Founders Online, National Archives. I couldn’t find any reference to Washington agreeing to a price on Delancey’s head.
[vi] To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 11 September 1776” Founders Online, National Archives.
[vii] “To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston, 24 September 1776” Founders Online National Archives