Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GANSEVOORT, Peter, soldier, born in Albany, New
York, 17 July, 1749; died there, 2 July, 1812. He was appointed major of the 2d
New York regiment, 19 July, 1775, and in August joined the army that invaded
Canada under Montgomery. He was made lieutenant colonel, 19 March, 1776, colonel
of the 3d regiment, 21 November, 1776, and appointed to the command of Fort
In April, 1777, he had charge of Fort Schuyler,
previously called Fort Stanwix, and gallantly defended it against the British
and Indians under St. Leger, whose co-operation with Burgoyne he prevented. The
siege lasted twenty days, and for his vigorous service he received a vote of
thanks from congress.
In the spring of 1779 he was ordered to join Sullivan in
his western expedition. He distinguished himself at the head of a body of picked
men by surprising the lower Mohawk castle, and captured all the Indian
inhabitants by the dexterity of his movements. He was appointed
brigadier-general in 1781 by the legislature of New York. In 1783 he accompanied
General Washington on his tour to the northern battle-fields.
During the controversy caused by the New Hampshire land
grants, many of the insurgent regiments belonged to General Gansevoort's
brigade. These disturbances arose in Schaghticoke, St. Coych, and adjacent
regions. He repaired to Saratoga and solicited troops from General Stark, but
the latter refused to interfere unless ordered by General Heath, his superior
officer. With what volunteers he could raise, Gansevoort advanced to St. Coych,
where he found a force of 500 men ready to support the insurgent militia. Having
only 80 men, he retired five miles, and attempted, by writing to the leaders, to
induce them to lay down their arms, but his request was in vain, and the
so-called rebels remained undisturbed.
General Gansevoort filled several important offices. He
was Commissioner of Indian Affairs, commissioner for fortifying the frontiers,
and military agent. He was made a brigadier-general in the United States army in
--His brother, Leonard Gansevoort, born in Albany
in 1751; died there in 1810, was a delegate to the Continental congress from New
York during 1787-'8. He was also a member of the New York provincial congress,
state senator in 1791-'3 and 1797-1802, and member of assembly in 1778-'9 and
1788. His country-seat of White Hall, near Albany, formerly renowned for its
generous hospitality, was occupied by his descendants until recently, when it
was destroyed by fire.
--Peters' cousin, Leonard Gansevoort, born in
1754; died in 1834, was first judge of Albany County in 1794-'7.
--Peter's grandson, Guert Gansevoort, naval
officer, born in Gansevoort, Saratoga County, New York, 7 June, 1812; died in
Schenectady, New York, 15 July, 18(18, was the son of Leonard H. Gansevoort. He
was appointed midshipman in 1823; lieutenant in 1837; commander, 14 September,
1855; captain, 16 July, 1862; and commodore in 1866. He was lieutenant on the
brig "Somers" when Commander Alexander S. Mackenzie executed Midshipman Spencer
for mutiny (see MACKENZIE), and was one of the council of officers that approved
and sustained the act.
He rose to prominence during the Mexican war, in which
he distinguished himself in command of the "John Adams." He was engaged in the
Indian war of 1856, and did honorable service in the battle of Sitka on the
Pacific coast. For some time after the beginning of the civil war he was chief
of the ordnance department at the Brooklyn navy yard, but subsequently was in
command of the iron-clad "Roanoke." His last cruise ended in September, 1864,
and he retired as commodore on 28 January 1867. His service in the navy covered
a period of forty-five years, eighteen being spent at sea.
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