James Livingston (American Revolution)

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James Livingston
Congress Own Regiment
Born (1747-03-25)March 25, 1747
Albany, New York
Died March 9, 1832(1832-03-09) (aged 84)
Saratoga, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Continental Army
Years of service 1775–1781
Rank Colonel
Unit 1st Canadian Regiment
Commands held 1st Canadian Regiment
Battles/wars Siege of Fort St. Jean
Battle of Quebec
Battle of Trois-Rivières
Battles of Saratoga
Battle of Rhode Island
Relations Livingston family

James Livingston (March 27, 1747 – March 9, 1832) born in New York, was living in Quebec (as Canada was known following the French and Indian War) when the American Revolutionary War broke out. He was responsible for raising and leading the 1st Canadian Regiment of the Continental Army during the invasion of Canada, and continued to serve in the war until 1781. He retired to Saratoga, New York, where he served as a state legislator and raised a family of five children.

Pre-war life[edit]

James Livingston was born March 27, 1747, to John Livingston and Catherine Ten Broeck, in Albany, New York, where his father was from the locally prominent Livingston family, and his mother was the sister of General Abraham Ten Broeck. By 1765, the family had moved to Montreal.

American Revolutionary War[edit]

Livingston was living in Chambly, working as a grain merchant, when the invasion of Quebec began in September 1775. As early as August, he had been in contact with General Philip Schuyler, mostly through the efforts of John Brown, an American spy. On August 18, he sent a messenger to Schuyler at Fort Ticonderoga, presumably with information on British military readiness at Fort Chambly and Fort Saint-Jean; however, this messenger destroyed the message, fearing he might be captured with it. General Richard Montgomery (who was married to one of Livingston's relatives), who was in command of Ticonderoga at the time, sent John Brown back to Livingston. On the 28th, they sent word back to Montgomery with news that spurred him to begin the invasion: the British had almost completed ships capable of threatening the American naval superiority on Lake Champlain.

Up to, and then also following, the arrival of the American forces at Île aux Noix in early September, Livingston was active in the Chambly area, raising local support for the Americans. On September 15, he reported to Schuyler that militia under his control had cut off Fort Chambly from communication with Montreal, and that Brown and Ethan Allen were raising additional troops and guarding the southern shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

Forces under his command, numbering about 200, participated in the capture of Fort Chambly on October 18, along with militia under Brown's command. On November 20, Montgomery made him a colonel in the Continental Army, and gave him command of the 1st Canadian Regiment, consisting mainly of the troops he had recruited. This regiment then served at the battle of Quebec in December 1775, and the ensuing retreat. They later saw action in the Saratoga campaign, including the relief of the siege of Fort Stanwix in August 1777, both Battles of Saratoga, and the Battle of Rhode Island.

Livingston was in command of Verplanck's Point on the Hudson River in September 1780, when he played a crucial role in the unmasking of Benedict Arnold's treachery. While on guard duty, his troops fired on the British sloop of war Vulture, forcing that vessel to retreat southwards. This ship had brought British Major John André to meet with General Arnold. After being driven off in his approach by water, he attempted to re-approach on land by portaging in civilian clothing.[1] He was captured with incriminating papers in his possession. André was hanged as a spy, and Arnold, knowing that his plot had been discovered, managed to escape to the British lines.

Livingston retired from the Continental Army on January 1, 1781. In recognition of his service, he was granted 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land[2] near where Tyre, New York is today.[citation needed] In 1801, Congress awarded him another 1,280 acres (5.2 km2) of land near the modern location of Columbus, Ohio.[3]

Life after the war[edit]

Livingston had married Elizabeth Simpson, an immigrant from Cork, Ireland living in Montreal, in 1772;[4] they had at least two sons, Edward and Richard Montgomery (named after the general in his memory) and three daughters, Elizabeth, Catharine and Margaret. Elizabeth married a business partner of John Jacob Astor, Peter Smith, and was the mother of the famed abolitionist Gerrit Smith. Margaret married Daniel Cady, and one of their children was Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

After the war, Livingston settled in Saratoga. From 1783 to 1794 he served in the New York State Legislature. He died in Saratoga at age 85 in 1832.