Enoch Crosby, Pension Application
ENOCH CROSBY (b. 1750) In any war, intelligence from the enemy is a tremendous help and a necessity. The person who spies on the enemy does it at great risk to personal health, the penalty for being caught is death. Usually by hanging. It takes a special person to be able to carry off the deception and to handle the risk.
Crosby was born in Harwich on Cape Cod, he grew up in New York State and was living in Danbury, Connecticut, when the war broke out. He served one tour in Waterbury's Connecticut regiment, marching to St. johns and back. On his way to join his regiment for a second tour of service in August 1776, he fell in with and gained the confidence of a Westchester Tory named Bunker. Crosby had the temperamental fascination with danger that is a primary qualification for a spy, and he was encouraged by john jay and the New York Committee on Conspiracies. He infiltrated the Tory recruiting system, and the intelligence he provided aided the capture of numerous loyalists about to join the British army.
James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy (1821) was probably based on Crosby's career.
In 1779, after previous spy work made further involvement of the sort !oo dangerous, Crosby joined a New York regiment and served two tours of duty along the Hudson. He submitted this deposition and was granted a pension in 1832.
In the month of April, late, or in the first part of May, 1775, deponent enlisted n the town of Danbury in the state of Connecticut into Capt. Noble Benedict's company in Colonel Waterbury's regiment of troops to defend the country for eight months' service. The regiment met at Greenwich in Connecticut. Stayed there two or three weeks, went to New York under General Wooster. Stayed in New York a few weeks.
The regiment was there carried to Albany in sloops and went directly to Half Moon; was there a few days. Went to Ticonderoga; stayed there a few days to have the bateaux finished which were to convey them further. General Schuyler had the command to the Isle aux Noix. When, General Schuyler being ill, General Montgomery took the command. The declarant went to St. Johns, which, was at time besieged by the Americans. In about five weeks surrendered, and the fort was taken. The declarant then went to Montreal; that he came from there with Colonel Waterbury's regiment to Albany and having served the eight months, was at [that] place (Albany) permitted to leave the regiment and return home. He had no written discharge.
And this declarant further says that in the latter part of the month of August in the year 1776, he enlisted into the regiment commanded by Colonel Swartwout in Fredericksburgh, now Carmel, in the county of Putnam, and started to join the army at Kingsbridge. The company left Fredericksburgh before declarant started, and he started alone after his said enlistment, and on his way, at a place in Westchester County about two miles from Pines Bridge, he fell in company with a stranger who accosted the deponent and asked him if he was going "down." Declarant replied he was. The stranger then asked if declarant was not afraid to venture alone and said there were many rebels "below" and he would meet with difficulty in "getting down." The declarant understood from the observations of the stranger that he supposed the declarant intended to go to the British, and, willing to encourage that misapprehension and turn it to the best advantage, he asked if there was any mode which he, the stranger, could point out by which the declarant could "get through" safely. The stranger, after being satisfied that declarant was wishing to join the British army, told him that there was a company raising in that vicinity to join the British army, that it was nearly complete and in a few days would be ready to "go down," and that declarant had better join that company and "go down" with them. The stranger finally gave to the declarant his name, it was Bunker, and told the declarant where, and showed the house in which he lived, and also told him that Fowler was to be the captain of the company then being raised and Kipp was the lieutenant.
After having learned this much from Bunker, the declarant told him that he was unwilling to wait until the company could be ready to march and would try to get through alone. He parted from him on his way down and continued until night, when he stopped at the house of a man who was called Esquire Young and put up there for the night. In the course of conversation with Esquire Young, in the evening, declarant learned that he was a member of the Committee of Safety for the County of Westchester and then communicated to him the information he had obtained from Mr. Bunker. Esquire Young requested the declarant accompany him the next morning to the White Plains in Westchester County, as the Committee of Safety for the County were on that day to meet at the courthouse in that place.
The next morning the declarant, with Esquire Young, went to the White Plains and found the committee there sitting. After Esquire Young had had an interview with the committee, the declarant was sent for and went before the committee then sitting in the courtroom and there communicated the information he had obtained from Bunker. The committee, after learning the situation of declarant, that he was a soldier enlisted in Colonel Swartwout's regiment and on his way to join it, engaged to write to the colonel and explain the reason why he did not join it, if he would consent to aid in the apprehension of the company then raising. It was by all thought best that he should not join the regiment but should act in a different character, as he could thus be more useful to his country.
He was accordingly announced to Captain Townsend, who then was at the White Plains commanding a company of rangers, as a prisoner, and the captain was directed to keep him until further orders. In the evening after he was placed as a prisoner under Captain Townsend, he made an excuse to go out and was accompanied by a soldier. His excuse led him over a fence into a piece of corn then nearly or quite full grown. As soon as he was out of sight of the soldiers, he made the best of his way from the soldier, and when the soldier hailed him to return, he was almost beyond hearing. An alarm gun was fired, but declarant was far from danger.
In the course of the night, the declarant reached the house of said Bunker, who got up and let him in. Declarant then related to Bunker the circumstances of his having been taken prisoner, of his going before the committee at the courthouse, of being put under the charge of Captain Townsend, and of his escape; that he had concluded to avail himself of the protection of the company raising in his neighborhood to get down. The next morning Bunker went with declarant and introduced him as a good loyalist to several of the company. Declarant remained some days with different individuals of the company and until it was about to go down, when declarant went one night to the house of Esquire Young to give information of the state and progress of the company. The distance was four or five miles from Bunker's. At the house of Esquire Young, declarant found Captain Townsend with a great part of his company, and after giving the information he returned to the neighborhood of Bunker's, and that night declarant, with a great part of the company which was preparing to go down, were made prisoners. The next day all of them, about thirty in number, were marched to the White Plains and remained there several days, a part of the time locked up in jail with the other prisoners. The residue of the time, he was with the committee. The prisoners were finally ordered to Fish kill or Vis kill, in the county of Dutchess, where the state convention was then sitting. The declarant went as a prisoner to Fish kill or Vis kill. Captain Townsend with his company of rangers took charge of the company at Fish kill or Vis kill.
A committee for detecting conspiracies was sitting, composed of John Jay, afterwards governor of New York, Zephaniah Platt, afterwards first judge of Dutchess County, Colonel Duer of the county of Albany, and a Mr. Sackett. The declarant was called before that committee, who understood the character of declarant and the nature of his services. This the committee must have learned either from Captain Townsend or from the committee at White Plains. The declarant was examined under oath and his examination reduced to writing. The prisoners with the declarant were kept whilst declarant remained at Fish kill or Vis kill in a building which had been occupied as a hatter's shop, and they were guarded by a company of rangers commanded by Captain Clark. The declarant remained about a week at Fish kill or Vis kill, when he was bailed by Jonathan Hopkins, to help the cover story.
Before the declarant was bailed, the Fish kill or Vis kill committee had requested him to continue in this service, and on declarant mentioning the fact of his having enlisted in Colonel Swartwout's company and the necessity there was of his joining it, he was informed that he should be indemnified from that enlistment, that they would write to the colonel and inform him that declarant was in their service. The committee then wished declarant to undertake a secret service over the river. He was furnished with a secret pass, which was a writing signed by the committee, which is now lost, and directed to go to the house of Nicholas Brawer, near the mouth of Wappinger's Creek, who would take him across the river, and then to proceed to the house of John Russell, about ten miles from the river, and make such inquiries and discoveries as he could.
He proceeded according to his directions to said Brawer's and from thence to John Russell's and there hired himself to said Russell to work for him but for no definite time. This was a neighborhood of loyalists, and it was expected that a company was there raising for the British army. The declarant remained about ten days in Russell's employment and during that time ascertained that a company was then raising but was not completed. Before declarant left Fish kill or Vis kill on this service, a time was fixed for him to re-cross the river and give information to someone of the committee who was to meet him. This time having arrived and the company not being completed, the declarant re-crossed the river and met Zephaniah Platt, one of the committee, and gave him all the information he had then obtained. Declarant was directed to cross the river to the neighborhood of Russell's and, on a time then fixed, again to meet the committee on the east side of the river.
Declarant returned to Russell's neighborhood, soon became intimate with the loyalists, was introduced to Captain Robinson, said to be an English officer and who was to command the company then raising. Captain Robinson occupied a cave in the mountains, and deponent, having agreed to go with the company, was invited and accepted of the invitation to lodge with Robinson in the cave.
They slept together nearly a week at the cave, and the time for the company to start having been fixed and the route designated, to pass Severns to Bush Carricks, where they were to stop the first night. This time for starting having arrived before the appointed time to meet the committee on the east side of the river, the declarant, in order to get an opportunity to convey information to Fish kill or Vis kill, recommended that each man should the night before they started sleep where he chose, and that each should be by himself, for if they should be discovered that night together, all would be taken, which would be avoided if they were separated. This proposition was acceded to, and when they separated, declarant not having time to go to Fish kill or Vis kill, and as the only, and as it appeared to him the best means of giving the information was to go to a Mr. Purdy, who was a stranger to declarant and all he knew of him was that the Tories called him a wicked rebel and said that he ought to die, declarant went and found Purdy, informed him of the situation of affairs, of the time the company was to start, and the place at which they were to stop the first night, and requested him to go to Fish kill or Vis kill and give the information to the committee. Purdy assured the declarant that the information should be given.
Declarant returned to Russell's and lodged in his barn. The following evening the company assembled, consisting of about thirty men, and started from Russell's house, which was in the town of Marlborough and county of Ulster, for New York, and in the course of the night arrived at Bush Carricks and went into the barn to lodge after taking refreshments. Before morning the barn was surrounded by American troops, and the whole company, including Captain Robinson, were made prisoners. The troops who took the company prisoner were commanded by Capt. Melancton Smith, who commanded a company of rangers at Fish kill or Vis kill. His company crossed the river to perform this service. Colonel Duer was with Captain Smith's company on this expedition. The prisoners, including the declarant, were marched to Fish kill or Vis kill and confined in the stone church, in which there was near two hundred prisoners. After remaining one night in the church, the committee sent for declarant and told him that it was unsafe for him to remain with the prisoners, as the least suspicion of the course he had pursued would prove fatal to him, and advised him to leave the village of Fish kill or Vis kill and to remain where they could call upon him if his services should be wanted.
Declarant went to the house of a Dutchman, a farmer whose name is forgotten, about five miles from the village of Fish kill or Vis kill and there went to work at making shoes. After declarant had made arrangements for working at shoes, he informed Mr. Sackett, one of the committee, where he could be found if he should be wanted.
In about a week, declarant received a letter from the committee requesting him to meet some one of the committee at the house of Dr. Orsborn, about one mile from Fish kill or Vis kill. Declarant, according to the request, went to the house of Dr. Orsborn, and soon after John Jay came there, inquired for the doctor, who was absent, inquired for medicine, but found none that he wanted. He came out of the house and went to his horse, near which declarant stood, and as he hopped he said in a low voice, "It won't do. There are too many around. Return to your work."
Declarant went back and went to work at shoes, but within a day or two was again notified and a horse sent to him requiring him to go to Bennington in Vermont and from thence westerly to a place called Maloonscack and there call on one Hazard Wilcox, a Tory of much notoriety, and ascertain if anything was going on there injurious to the American cause. Declarant followed his instructions, found Wilcox, but could not learn that any secret measure was then projected against the interest of the country at that place, but learned from Wilcox a list of persons friendly to the British cause who could be safely trusted.
From that place quite down to the south part of Dutchess County declarant followed the directions of said Wilcox and called on the different individuals by him mentioned but could discover nothing of importance until he reached the town of Pawling in Dutchess County, where he called upon a doctor whose name he thinks was Prosser and informed him that he wished to go below but was fearful of some trouble. The doctor told him that there was a company being raised in that vicinity to go to New York to join the British army. The captain's name was Sheldon; that he had been down and got a commission; that Prosser, was doctoring the lieutenant, whose name was Chase. If declarant would wait a few days he could safely go down with that company; that he could stay about the neighborhood and should be informed when the company was ready. That declarant remained in that vicinity, became acquainted with several of the persons who were going with that company, was acquainted with the Lieutenant Chase but never saw the captain to form any acquaintance with him.
The season had got so far advanced that the company were about to start to join the enemy to be ready for an early commencement of the campaign in 1777. It was about the last of February of that year when a place was fixed and time for meeting. It was at a house situated half a mile from the road and about three miles from a house then occupied by Colonel Morehouse, a militia colonel. After the time was fixed for the marching of Captain Sheldon's company, the deponent went in the night to Colonel Morehouse and informed him of the situation of the company, of the time appointed for meeting, of the place, etc. Morehouse informed declarant that they should be attended to. The declarant remained about one month in the neighborhood and once in the time met Mr. Sackett, one of the committee, at Colonel Ludington's and apprised him of what was then going on and was to have given the committee intelligence when the company was to march, but shortness of time between the final arrangement and the time of starting was that declarant was obliged to give the information to Colonel Morehouse.
The company consisting of about thirty met at the time and place appointed, and after they had been there an hour or two, two young men of the company came in and said there was a gathering under arms at old Morehouse's. The inquiry became general. What could it mean? Was there any traitors in the company? The captain soon called one or two of the company out the door for the purpose of private conversation about the situation, and very soon declarant heard the cry of "Stand! Stand!" Those out the door ran but were soon met by a company coming from a different direction. They were taken, the house surrounded, and the company all made prisoners. The colonel then ordered them to be tied together, two and two. They came to declarant, and he urged to be excused from going, as he was lame and could not travel. The colonel replied, "You shall go dead or alive, and if in no other way, you shall be carried on this horse with me."
The rest were marched off and declarant put onto the horse with Colonel Morehouse. All went to the house of Colonel Morehouse, and when the prisoners were marched into the house, the declarant with the permission of Morehouse left them and made the best of his way to Colonel Ludington's and there informed him of the operations of the night. He reached Colonel Ludington's about daylight in the morning. From thence he went to Fish kill or Vis kill to the house of Dr. Van Wyck where John Jay boarded and there informed him of all the occurrences on that northern expedition. Jay requested the declarant to come before the committee the next night, when they would be ready to receive him. He accordingly went before the committee, where he detailed under his oath all that had occurred since he had seen them. There was no more business at that time in which they wished to employ declarant, and being somewhat apprehensive that a longer service in that employment would be dangerous and the time for which he enlisted in Colonel Swartwout's regiment expired, he came home with the approval of the committee.
This was about the last of May, 1777, and in the course of the fall after, the declarant saw Colonel Swartwout at his house in Fish kill or Vis kill and there talked over the subject of this employment of the declarant by the committee, and the colonel told declarant that he had drawn his pay the same as if he had been with the regiment. That the paymaster of the regiment lived in the town of Hurley in Ulster County; declarant went to the paymaster and received his pay for nine months' service or for the term for which the regiment was raised. The declarant was employed in the secret service for a period of full nine months.