Philip Van Cortlandt


General Philip Van Cortlandt

Gilbert Descendants
Cousins and Tourists
Canal Explorations
Lossing's Fieldbook

Brig.Gen. Philip Van Cortlandt
(21 Aug 1749, Van Cortlandt Manor NY)
(5 Nov 1831, Van Cortlandt Manor NY)

Henry published a poem on the death of Gilbert, Philip's brother.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949, page 1948
VAN CORTLANDT, Philip (brother of Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr.), a Representative from New York; born in New York City August 21, 1749; pursued classical studies; attended Coldenham Academy and was graduated from King's College (later Columbia University) in 1768; engaged as a civil engineer; member of the Provincial Congress in 1775; during the War of the Revolution served as lieutenant colonel and was mustered out of the service with the rank of brigadier general for gallant conduct at the siege of Yorktown under General Lafayette; delegate to the State convention which adopted the Federal Constitution in 1788; served as supervisor of the town of Cortland, and as school commissioner and road master; member of the State assembly 1788-1790; served in the State senate 1791-1793; elected as a Democrat to the Third and to the seven succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1793-March 3, 1809); engaged in agricultural pursuits; accompanied General Lafayette on his tour through the United States in 1831; was a charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati; died at Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton on Hudson, Westchester County, N.Y., on November 1, 1831; interment in Hillside Cemetery, Peekskill, N.Y.

Gilbert Livingston Descendants, Kinead
On Nov 30, 1776, he was commissioned Colonel of the Second New York Regiment, by Gen. Washington, and took an active part in the Revolution. He was present at the surrender of Gen. Burgoyne and, in 1779, he was with Gen. Sullivan in the Indian Campaign in western New York. In 1781, he took part in the Virginia Campaign and witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. After peace was declared Congress gave him the rank of Brigadier General. Subsequently, he was a member of the New York Assembly and he represented the Westchester District in Congress from 1793 until 1809. He was an officer of the Society of the Cincinnati and, in 1824, he accompanied Gen. Lafayette on his travels through the United States

Cousins and Tourists
The son of Henry's aunt Joanna and uncle Pierre Van Cortlandt, Philip Van Cortlandt first joined the Army in 1775 as the lieutenant colonel of the 4th New York Regiment.

September 6.-Coll'o CortlandtW4 & myself hir'd a chaise & took a ride to Cohoes, Nestiguine & Schenectady & return'd at noon next day. From Albany to the first branch of the Mohawk river abt 6 miles the road is very good & for the first 4 miles it runs thro low land-in general the low land extends abt half a mile back from the river. Leaving Hudsons and coursing up the south branch of Mohawk we find the land poor & the roads bad, a strong gravelly soil in general abt 4 miles from Hudsons river is Cohoes fall, the river there is abt 3 or 400 yards wide, the banks very high and rocky on each side at the falls & more or less so all the way down. The fall is abt 60 or 70 feet high & almost perpendicular, from Cohoes its little more than 2 miles to Half Moon. The several branches of the Mohawk run with considerable rapidity till they discharge themselves in Hudsons river. From One Fondas abt a mile beyond Cohoes its abt 6 miles to Nestiguine. The land all the way high & stony & few inhabitants. At Nestiguine the soil is excellent, the very best of low land and lying on Mohawk river ab 3/4 mile broad from the river. The river itself is generally abt 40 yards wide. From here to Schenectady is one continued pine Barren as it is from Schenectady to Albany. The former town is beautifully situated on the banks of the M. river & low land stretching all around it on the E. & W. sides. It contains abt 2 or 300 Houses many of which are elegant. It has 3 Churches-a Dutch, presbyterian & Episcopalian.

It was while waiting for Philip in a tavern that Henry composed the earliest poem still existing, one for his new baby daughter Catharine, who would grow up to marry Arthur Breese, the uncle of Samuel F.B. Morse.

"...It is beyond description to conceive what the men suffer..."
Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt, Camp Valley Forge 2nd N.Y. Regiment in a letter to George Clinton Governor of New York. 13 February 1778

Canal Exploration
In 1791, with Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Elkanah Watson, and Stephen Bayard, General Philip Van Cortlandt made a tour through the state, traveling from Cayuga Lake to Geneva along New York's Seneca River, to examine into the practicability of the schemes for inland navigation.

Henry refers to this trip in his piece on Indian fortifications.

Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. 1, Chapter 31
General Philip Van Cortlandt was the last possessor of the manor house, near Croton, by entail. He was born in the city of New York on the 1st of September, 1749, and was reared at the manor house. At nineteen, he commenced business as a land surveyor, but when the Revolution broke out, agreeing in sentiment with his father, Honorable Pierre Van Cortlandt, he joined the Republican army. His Tory relatives tried to dissuade him from his purpose, and Governor Tryon forwarded him a majorís commission in the Cortlandt militia. He tore it in pieces, and accepted a lieutenant colonelís commission in the Continental army. He was appointed a colonel in 1776, and in that capacity served at the battles of Stillwater. He also served against the Indians on the New York frontier in 1778, and in 1779-80 was a member of the court martial convened for the trial of Arnold. He commanded a regiment of militia under La Fayette in 1781, and for his gallant conduct at the siege of Yorktown he was promoted to a brigadierís command. Seven hundred of the British and Hessian prisoners of war were afterward intrusted to his care while on their march from Charlottesville to Fredericktown, in Maryland. He was for sixteen years a member of Congress, but in 1811 declined a re-election. General Van Cortlandt accompanied La Fayette in his tour through the United States in 1824. He died at the manor house, at Croton, November 21st, 1831, at the age of eighty-two. With him expired the property entail.


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