by Mary Foster Ludvigsen

My ancestor Daniel Griswold served in Knowlton’s Rangers, and was captured and imprisoned by the British for 2 years. My research notes read as follows:

Knowlton’s Rangers was a small body of select troops, not over 130 or 140, chosen from different regiments early in the war, after the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Long Island [27 Aug 1776], by Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton. Pvt. Daniel Griswold was detached from Sargent’s Massachusetts Regiment. The British took New York early in the war and held it for the duration, it was their main stronghold. During the run-up to this, the Rangers’ “first service gave it no little reputation in the army.

After the retreat from New York, Sept. 15, ’76… Washington ordered Knowlton to move out early on the 16th from Harlem Heights and ascertain the position of the enemy. Knowlton marched over to Bloomingdale Heights, and found the enemy’s outposts somewhere along the line of 110th St. on the main road, now Broadway. A skirmish occurred and Knowlton fell back to the American lines…. The British light infantry followed him. Washington thereupon directed Knowlton to attack again, turning their right, while other troops attacked them in front and left. A successful engagement followed, the enemy being driven back over the Bloomingdale grounds with loss.”

Knowlton was killed in this battle, as was no less a person than Nathan Hale, a captain in this unit, a few days later on Sept. 22. America’s biggest defeat of the war in the north occurred at Ft. Washington on Nov. 16, up in the northern tip of Manhattan, across from Ft. Lee, NJ. The colonel at Ft. Washington requested their continuance rather than disbanding them, “as being his main dependence for the security of his outposts.” One combatant said that near Harlem “we were warmly engaged on all sides. We were about two miles below the fort and well sustained the attack until the enemy made good their landing across Harlem River, when we had hard fighting to reach the fort. Just as we had reached the gate, the flag went out and surrenderd the fort and ourselves prisoners of war.”

Daniel Griswold was one of 3000 POWs taken and was held probably for two years. Sources: Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service, 1775-1783, p. 121-122; Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition.

Note: Captain Nathan Hale served with Knowlton’s Rangers. (About March 4-5, 1776) “Colonel Knowlton, one of the Connecticut regiments, organized a special corps, which was known as Knowlton’s Rangers. On the rolls of their own regiments the officers and men are spoken of as ‘detached on command.’ They received their orders direct from Washington … and were kept close in front of the enemy, watching his movements from the American line in Harlem. It was in this service, on September 15th, that Knowlton’s Rangers, with three Virginia companies, drove the English troops from their position in an open fight. It was a spirited action, which was a real victory for the attacking force. Knowlton and Leitch, the leaders, were both killed. In his general orders Washington spoke of Knowlton as a gallant and brave officer who would have been an honor to any country.”

Daniel Griswold, a son of Joseph Griswold Jr. and Lydia (Graves) Farnham, was born 18 Feb 1755 in Killingworth (now Clinton), Middlesex Co., CT, and d. after 1829, location unknown. He married first 17 June 1779 in Walpole, Cheshire Co., NH Abigail Graves born ca. 1757 in Walpole, died before 1829, location unknown (6 children: Allen, Abigail, Daniel, Elind G., Gilbert C., Hesekiah). He married second 26 Oct 1829 in CT Laura Bolster (1 child: Frances G. Griswold). Elind G. Griswold, born 06 Apr 1794 in either RI or NY, is my 3-greats grandfather.

Additional Links:
Nathan Hale