The Burning of Kingston 2013 (a brief history)
Kingston, New York - The City of Kingston is pleased to host the re-enactment of the October 1777 Burning of Kingston by the British Troops this October 4th, 5th, and 6th. Watch as British soldiers land on the same soil they did hundreds of years ago. Observe as soldiers of the King advance along the historic streets of the Stockade District opposed by the local militia. View street battles and a public trial. Tour the campgrounds, and attend an 18th century Grand Ball. All events are free and open to the public. For the complete schedule and other information, please visit the City of Kingston website at: www.kingston-ny.gov
To download this document and schedule, please click here.
Burning of Kingston 2013 will be held on October 4th, 5th, and 6th, to re-enact the October 16, 1777 destruction of New York's first capitol by British troops under General Vaughn. The British fleet’s original intention had been to rendezvous with General John Burgoyne once he had captured Albany. These plans were foiled at Saratoga by an American army under General Horatio Gates, leaving the fleet carrying General Vaughn without a destination or a purpose. Instead, Vaughn decided to burn out the "nestof vipers" that lay near Esopus Creek. Kingston, first capitol of infant New York State, then felt the frustrated force of the King's arms.
Little resistance was put forward by local militia. Most of its members were fighting with Gates at Saratoga or with General George Clinton at the recently fallen Fort Montgomery above West Point. With those battered troops that had escaped capture at Ft. Montgomery (including elements of Kingston's 1st Ulster County Militia and other local regiments) Clinton raced northward in a vain attempt to intercept Vaughn's force and save the Capitol. His advance scouts arrived too late, viewing the burning remains of more than 300 buildings from a high ridge just south of the city. It had taken Vaughn's soldiers only a few hours to disembark, march to what is now Kingston's Rondout district and the Stockade district uptown and burn to the ground every house, barn and outbuilding, save one, before returning to their transport ships.
The citizenry that had fled before Vaughn returned to their homes to find only blackened timbers and smoldering ruin. Fortunately, the solid stone walls their homes remained standing and these were rebuilt over the harsh winter months. Many of these structures remain today and constitute Kingston's Historic Stockade District and the nucleus of the 2013 reenactment.
British and American camps will once again be located Uptown in Forsyth Park, adjacent to the Historic District. As in the past, the weekend begins on Friday evening, October 4, with a reenactment of a Committee of Safety Meeting at the Hoffman House Tavern and restaurant at the northwest corner of the Stockade District. Highlights of the meeting are the grumblings of the locals, news of Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga and finally, the news that a British fleet lies in the Hudson River off Kingston Point. Following the meeting are planned a candlelight tour of the Old Dutch Church cemetery where some of Ulster County's Revolutionary soldiers are buried, followed by an organ recital at the Old Dutch Church.
Saturday, October 5, begins with a morning reenactment of the fight over the landing of British troops (at the original site) at Kingston Point Park on the Hudson River. A token, but stubborn resistance is expected from the Americans before being overwhelmed and driven off by General Vaughn and his soldiers. On Saturday afternoon, soldiers of the King would advance along the streets of the Stockade District, opposed by remnants of the local militia. Since the original destruction of the city was unopposed, the planning committee felt free to improvise and deviate from historical accuracy by incorporating into the street battle the "Siege of the Persen House" modeled after the fight over the Chew House at the Battle of Germantown. The Persen House, built in the 1660's (and showing scorched earth beneath its sidewalks quite possibly from the 1777 Burning) sits at one point on the last four corners in the United States occupied exclusively by 17th/18th century stone buildings. There is room on the original street grid for British forces to attack the house and its defenders with both cannon and infantry. Once the Americans are driven out, the Uptown Stockade area will be occupied by the King's Army.
Following the afternoon's fighting, Kingston's Mayor will be placed on trial for treason. Trial will be held in the park adjacent to Persen House. Witnesses will be called and a decision rendered.
A Grand Ball will be held Saturday evening in the Common Council Chambers at Kingston’s City Hall. Instruction in 18th century dance, with live music, will commence at 7pm with the Ball itself beginning a little later in the evening. Both re-enactors and the community are invited, and since instruction is provided, one does not have to be familiar with the dance styles to participate. 18th century dress is encouraged but not required, and there will be refreshments available. The entire event is free of charge.
Sunday, October 6 holds a mid-day tactical demonstration in the upper regions of Forsyth Park. The area is part of the park's nature trail system and is wooded and rugged with bolder outcroppings, fallen trees and brambles. The tactical is unscripted and open to whatever may develop. Following the tactical, a powder allotment will be distributed to participating units and the camp will be struck early so that re-enactors can make their way home.
Burning of Kingston 2013 Schedule
Friday Oct. 4
7:00 p.m. "Burning of Kingston" presentation and Committee of Safety Meeting at Hoffman House
7:30 p.m. Lantern tour of Old Dutch Church cemetery and notables buried there
7:45 p.m. Pre-concert opener of chamber music common during the Revolution provided by Old Dutch Church
8:15 – 8:45 p.m. "A Tribute to the Patriots" a concert on the great organ
Saturday Oct. 5
Senate House (296 Fair Street) will provide demonstrations of meat smoking, dipping candles, pressing apples into cider, hearthside cooking, hands-on activities of making cornhusk dolls and dried apple wreaths. The 3rdUlster Militia will be on site demonstrating 18thc. camp life. 18thc. music will also be performed. The event is free and open to the public. It runs from 11:00 a.m-3:00 p.m.
The Friends of Historic Kingston (63 Main Street) are pleased to offer the Stockade National Historic District Walking Tour at 2:00 p.m.
The Old Dutch Church (272 Wall Street) Sanctuary will be open for tours and viewing from10:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Matthewis Persen House (74 John Street) will be pick-up location for Loyalty Papers from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Volunteer Firemen’s Museum (265 Fair Street) will be open 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. Forsyth Park- British and American Camps open to the public
9:15 a.m. Assembly and safety inspection of British and American troops by regiment company drill
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Senate House opens at 10:00 a.m. 18th century demonstrations with 3rd Ulster County Militia begin at 11:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m. Landing Battle in Rotary Park- Site of Oct. 16, 1777 landing of British troops from transport ships. Marked the beginning of the march to burn Kingston, New York's first capital. Landing is opposed by American forces who are driven off.
1:45 p.m. Third Ulster Militia flee with goods beginning at Senate House.
2:00 p.m. Street battle commences- British advance west on Main St., encounter Americans near Old Dutch Church. Dominae rescues church's bible as British Troops pound on church doors. Americans retreat west on Main St. to Crown St.; retreat north on Crown St. to Persen House. British pursue and flank along Wall St. and John St.
2:00 p.m. "Siege of the Persen House"- American forces occupy Persen House. British advance on Crown and John Sts. and assault with musketry and cannon. Americans resist, but are eventually dislodged and retreat north on Crown pursued by British forces.
2:00 p.m. Deputy County Clerk, Christopher Tappen flees the Matthewis Persen House with the final county records as the British advance on Persen House.
2:45- 3:00 p.m. American forces retreat to Frog Alley. British occupy Stockade area. British troops persuade remaining inhabitants to swear loyalty to the King.
3:00 p.m. Trial of Kingston's Mayor for treason against the Crown (Site of old Schneller's beer garden).
6:30 p.m. Forsyth Park: Tours available of camp with impromptu lectures on the Revolution/Rebellion by re-enactors.
8:00 p.m. Camp closes to public
7:00 p.m.- Grand Ball at City Hall (dancing instruction 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.) Colonial Refreshments compliments of the Old Dutch Church Fellowship served in the Grand Foyer at City Hall
8:00 – 10:30 p.m. Grand Ball
Sunday Oct. 6
Friends of Historic Kingston will be open Sunday from 10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.
The Persen House will be open that day from 10:00 -2:00 p.m.
Old Dutch Church 10:30 a.m. worship.
The Senate House will offer guided tours provided by costumed interpreters at the rate of $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors; kids 12 and under are free.The Senate House is located at 296 Fair Street. For more information, please call the site at: (845) 338-2786 or go the state parks website: www.nysparks.com Senate House is open from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Firemen's Museum will be open from 11-3pm.
(7:30 a.m. Reveille)
9:00 a.m. Camp opens to public
9:30- 10:30 a.m. Assembly, safety inspections, company drill
12:30 p.m. Troops engage in "Battle of Upper Forsyth Park" Tactical DemonstrationAmerican and British troops battle for possession of upper park area, which is wooded and has some large stone outcroppings to defend and attack.