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Claims and Memorials
Letter to the Commissioners
from Philip Van Cortland

To the honble Commissioners of American Claims


‘tis my earnest desire to lay before you every information that may tend to prove to your satisfaction my losses during the late Rebellion in America & if I should be so fortunate as to succeed it will afford additional pleasure to those reflections which arise from a consciousness of having done my duty to the utmost of my abilitys,

When America forsook her allegiance I was happily situated on my farm at Hanover in New Jersey with my family & friends around me in circumstances flourishing, & at an early period was called upon to join the Standard of Rebellion & resign my Commissions under Government as all the Officers of the County were to assemble the 15th June 1775 for that purpose.

This I absolutely refused, & sent a letter No. 1 with my reasons.

Soon after this a deputation waited on me & said they brot. proposals from Congress for me to join in converting my Pearl Ash Manufactury into Nitre Works & that I should receive such a proportion Clear as would yield me an amazing profit Pr. week.

Very soon after, another deputation with an offer of a Collns. Commission in their Army & promisses of Speedy promotion exert their influence tho’ with as little success as I treated both proposals with contempt,- what could not be effected by fair means they were determined to accomplish by oppression.

A citation was sent me from the Chairman of the County Committee to answer charges of Offences against Congressional measures &c &c.

To which I appeared & in the crouded County Hall plead guilty to the charge, with this observation “that the prospect of loosing property & life would never induce me to draw my Sword against my Sovereign, & no tortures they could inflict should ever influence me to change my principles.”

I was ordered out of the Hall & after an hour’s consultation was remanded & then dismissed with a Certificate No. 2 - in order to shun future calls I went on a jaunt to Pensylvania & Maryland where some time elapsed before my return.

The Spirit of the times had now risen to such height that no person could be seen in safety without the Uniform of Rebellion. I therefore went on another excursion to the Northward, but to little purpose, as their applications to bear arms were more frequent & the consequence of refusal was repeated fines as Pr. No. 3.

It was now judged improper to trust in my hands any firearms, which were accordingly taken from me at different times & appropriated to the use of the Militia.

Finding my Situation grow very precarious & from the great circulation of Congress money I was induced to take all my valuable goods out of my Store & place them for security in chests among my family Cloaths;

this occasioned the loss of my property to be the greater which had been secreted amongst the Dutch farmers in Sussex & when plundered by the Rebel party under Capt. Dodd at the Cecaucus ferry-

On the arrival of General Lee with his Army in the County of Morris he was immediately advised that it was unsafe to leave me in the Province as the open & avowed declaration of my principles sufficiently evinced that I was an enemy to their cause.

A party of Rebel Light Horse was detached to take me prisoner & to convey me to Easton- just before their arrival a note was handed me from a friend who was acquainted with Lee’s design, informing me of it, which afforded me a few Minutes to make my escape into the Country, leaving to their mercy a helpless family, whose sufferings during three months before they joined me at New York were such as to excite painfull Idea’s at the recollection, & which ‘tis my study to being in oblivion.

On my Arrival at New York in 1776, I received a Warrant to raise a Battn. with the Rank of Lieut. Coll. in the New Jersey Brigade of Royal Provincials & untill the Troops left America in 1783 continued to exert my feeble (tho’ Zealous) efforts in the service, to suppress the Rebellion & to reestablish His Majesty’s Government-


Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 54, folio 657-658.

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