Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Fourth New York Regiment 1778-1780
The Second New York Regiment, 1780-1783
by Samuel Tallmadge and Others
with Diaries of Samuel Tallmadge, 1780-1782 and John Barr, 1779-1782
Prepared for publication by Almon W. Lauber PH.D. of The division of Archives and History
Albany, The University of the State of New York, 1932.


In some way not clearly revealed these Orderly Books, at the close of the American Revolution, were in the possession of Lieutenant Samuel Tallmadge. It seems probable that since he was adjutant of the regiment to which he belonged when it was mustered out of service in 1783, he retained not only the Orderly Books which he had kept but also those written by others, the possession of which had come to him officially.

It is quite evident that he had a full realization of the value of these Orderly Books and carefully preserved them during his residence at Rhinebeck, N. Y., and at his second home in Charleston, N. Y. Just what use he made of them, if any, is not known. Upon his death in 1825, they passed into the hands of his son, Isaac Smith Tallmadge, who resided until his death on October 7, 1876, at Glen, N. Y. Then they descended to the latter's son, William James Tallmadge, who inherited his father's old home at Glen. N. Y. Upon the demise of William James Tallmadge. Charles Tallmadge Conover of Seattle, Wash., a great grandson of Lieutenant Samuel Tallmadge, "wrote his aunt, Mrs Martha A. Tallmadge. William's widow [still living at Glen] inquiring about the nature of some manuscript books relating to the Revolutionary War that he recalled having seen in his boyhood days in an old rawhide covered trunk in the attic of his grandfather, Isaac Smith Tallmadge."

This interest of Mr Conover resulted in the transfer of the Orderly Books from Glen, N. Y., to his keeping in Seattle, Wash. Fascinated by the old manuscripts, he "pored over the faded writing" until his eyes were seriously affected. He had a typewritten copy made in order to add a measure of safety to the originals. Realizing their historical value to his ancestral state, he presented them through the State Historian to the State of New York "to ensure their safe keeping and to render them available to students."


During the American Revolution Orderly Books, which were books of convenient size in which the military orders of army life from day to day were recorded, were kept by the various military units having the rank of regiments, battalions, brigades etc. It was one of the duties of the adjutant to record the commanding officer's orders. These orders were given out in the first instance by the commander in chief through his adjutant to the whole army or to such parts of it as he might wish to impart special instructions. The major generals and generals, in turn, through their adjutants, passed on to the regiments and battalions under them the orders from their superiors, and issued their own. The colonels, in like manner, through their adjutants, transmitted instructions from above, and added their own for the guidance of their regiments and battalions.

In this way it was constantly known from day to day what a given military unit would do. Guards and officers for the day were appointed. Special tasks were assigned. Details were sent out for particular military operations. Courts martial were held and their decisions recorded. Regulations were issued concerning life in the camp, deportment, sanitation, the erection of quarters, food and drink, shoes and clothing, drills, the care of weapons and ammunition, auctions, forage, the care of horses, the canteen, the reception of visitors, the infliction of punishment, celebrations, firing salutes, promotions and demotions, and the numerous other happenings in a fort or camp, and while on the march. It may readily be seen, therefore, that an Orderly Book is an important historical document which reflects the activities of the army and the daily life of the soldiers and officers, the morale of the various military units, the manners and customs and the plans for military operation.

As source materials for an understanding of the War of Independence, the Orderly Books supplement the records of committees, conventions and legislative bodies and the letters, diaries and public papers of officials and private individuals. They are valuable, likewise, for local history, for genealogical research arid for biographical study because they contain information not found elsewhere. These reasons justify the publication of Orderly Books for the purpose of making available to students of history the historical information they contain. These particular Orderly Books are printed by the State of New York for the reason that they reveal the activities of so many New York soldiers and officers during the five years from 1778 to 1783, not only within New York but also in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Here is found a version of the Sullivan Clinton Campaign in 1779, the activities of 1780, the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781, the treason of Arnold,(63) camp life along the Hudson in 1782, and the Treaty of Peace in 1783. The hardships and privations in the patriot army, which resulted at times in a serious breach of discipline and even mutiny, are portrayed. The fun, amusements, petty thievery from irritated farmers and housewives, and the stealing of articles of clothing, cooking utensils and food by the soldiers from each other are set forth often in comical language. One living in our

(63) Magazine of American History, v. VIII, p. 95ff.

day is astonished at the large quantities of rum consumed by. troops and officers. The shortage of provisions, clothing, shoes, blankets, tents, ammunition and other necessities is realized. After reading these Orderly Books one comes to admire the soldiers for their long marches, for their cheerfulness after sleeping on beds of straw, for their bravery before the enemy, for their obedience to their officers, and for their loyalty to the American cause under congressional inactivity and compensation in worthless paper money. Here was the republic in the making. Here was revealed a staunch faith in the righteousness of human freedom, an unconquerable optimism, a devotion to certain convictions about the rights of man, and a stubborn belief that a new era in human history was dawning in the New World.


These Orderly Books tell their own story to the specialist without further explanation. It is felt, however, that identifications and interpretations will increase their value to students generally. Consequently personal names, where not clear, have been identified so far as possible and the military units to which they belong designated. In some instances, with such common names as "Smith" and "Brown," this has been difficult and at times impossible. Places not commonly known are located. Misspelled names of sites and individuals not easily recognizable are corrected either by bracketed names or in footnotes. Brief biographical sketches, or at least the known military services of officers, have been given. Omissions due to torn out pages, portions of the manuscript rendered indistinguishable by blots, bad writing and the fading of the ink, and words and lines crossed out by the writer are indicated. Special pains have been taken to identify the soldiers and officers of New York. Repetitions will be found. But it is believed that to repeat will prove more helpful than to refer to other pages or to force the reader to make identifications through the index. In general, to make the text clear has been the purpose in adding explanatory notes.

The spelling, punctuation and paragraphing of the various Orderly Books have been reproduced literally as written because they have a revelation of their own to make. References to the sources of information used in the interpretative notes are given so that the student may check up on the accuracy of the identification of names and places for himself and thus more easily extend his research.

The Orderly Books and Diaries have been edited and prepared for publication by Dr Almon W. Lauber of the Division of Archives and History, under the supervision of the State Historian. Several local historians and county officials have supplemented the meager information about Samuel Tallmadge. Further biographical data concerning his ancestors have. been supplied by Charles Tallmadge Conover.


Lieutenant Samuel Tallmadge deserves credit for collecting these Orderly Books during the latter part of the Revolutionary War and for preserving them during more than 40 years subsequently. Although they are known as the "Samuel Tallmadge Orderly Books," yet it is quite clear that Samuel Tallmadge was not the writer of all of them. The penmanship, spelling, composition and contents show that Peter Elsworth, Henry Dodge, Christopher Hutton, Charles Nukerk, Theodosius Fowler and other persons wrote certain parts of them. Since the adjutants making the records did not sign their names, it is difficult to determine with certainty precisely which portions were written by Samuel Tallmadge and which were recorded by others.

Acting as "clerk and orderly sergeant" as early as 1776 Tallmadge was evidently a handy man in the regiment and may have written the records for adjutants before he was promoted officially to the rank of adjutant. It seems probable that more than half of these Orderly Books were written wholly or in part by him.

State Historian.

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