“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Battle of Edgar's Lane

The Battle of Edgar's Lane Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), March 6, 2022
1. The Battle of Edgar's Lane Marker
"It was like blacksmiths hammering a bar of iron."
—Eyewitness account, the McDonald Papers, Westchester Historical Society

On Wednesday, September 30, 1778, Lieutenant Colonel Butler marched at 3 a.m. with about 350 men both on foot and on horseback, and moved along "the heights" between Dobbs Ferry and the Saw Mill River, into the vicinity of what is now Edgar's Lane and Zinsser Park. The goal was to counter Hessian patrols.

Butler positioned Major Henry Lee's Dragoons and Major Benjamin Ledyard's infantry and prepared an ambush. Butler "divided the party so as to fall on them in three places, front, center & rear." Continental foot soldier Joseph Plumb Martin, in the center serving under Butler, described how the trap was set: "[We] concealed ourselves in some bushes; we placed our sentinels near the road, lying down behind bushes, rocks and stone heaps…"

Meanwhile, Hessian Captain Karl Moritz von Donop proceeded north from Yonkers. His fellow officer Captain Johann Ewald, who had scouted the area earlier in the morning, reported back that he had "discovered no trace
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
of the enemy," but warned von Donop to be careful to cover his rear and flanks and "to let only a few men go past the defile [narrow pass] up to the heights of Post's plantation."

Von Donop ❶ ignored this advice and let Lieutenant Alexander Bickell and 30 infantry cross the defile, making them vulnerable to attack.

Suddenly "shots rang out," as ❷ Bickell was attacked by Ledyard's men. Lieutenant Mertz and his mounted Jägers dashed ahead from the rear to relieve Bickell ❸.

Joseph Plumb Martin recorded that when the Hessians "had arrived 'within hail' our Colonel [Butler rose up from his lurking place and very civilly ordered them to come to him ❹.... [T]he commander [Mertz] seemed to hesitate [and our] Colonel then, in a voice like thunder, called out to him, 'Come here, you rascal!' upon which our Colonel ordered the whole regiment to rise from their ambush and fire upon them."

❺ Major Lee's corps cut in on the road behind Mertz and separated his mounted Jägers from von Donop's larger force in the rear. Mertz tried to cut through the Continental forces, but was surrounded. He fought on until his horse fell, his saber broke, and he was captured. Every soldier in his company was either killed or wounded. While Hessian accounts of the battle said that Bickell's foot Jägers fled into the woods towards the
The Battle of Edgar's Lane Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), March 6, 2022
2. The Battle of Edgar's Lane Marker
Saw Mill River, historian Robert Bolton in his 1848 history of Westchester claimed that soldiers tried to escape by fleeing towards the Hudson River. Hessian Captain Ewald later visited the site and wrote, "I have never seen a battlefield on a small scale more horrible than the little spot on which this slaughter had taken place…"

Contemporary accounts gave conflicting casualty figures, but at least 16 Hessians were killed, and more were wounded or taken prisoner. The Continentals claimed that they had no losses, although Captain Ewald claimed that the Americans admitted to one death among their soldiers.

"Uck" Odell, Local Guide
Guides were essential to military success in the rugged terrain of 1770s Westchester. Isaac "Uck" Odell accompanied Major Butler at the Battle of Edgar's Lane. His cousin, John Odell, served as Washington's favorite guide during the War.

Ambush at Westchester, Don Troiani, 2018
Renowned military illustrator Don Troiani visited this site in 2018 to visualize this dramatic moment in the battle, as Lee's dragoons set upon mounted Jägers on the Albany Post Road (now Broadway). This first-ever depiction of the battle looks south from what is now Five Corners, as the Continentals ambushed them in the vicinity of today's Zinsser Park.

The Continental soldiers are all wearing tan with green trim,
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
except for their bugler, astride his white horse in the foreground. He is seen attacking Hessian Lieutenant Balthasar Mertz, also in green but with red trim. Hessian foot soldiers can be seen on the right trying to escape toward the Hudson River.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Revolutionary. A significant historical date for this entry is September 30, 1778.
Location. 40° 59.885′ N, 73° 52.902′ W. Marker is in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, in Westchester County. Marker is at the intersection of Broadway (U.S. 9) and Warburton Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Broadway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hastings on Hudson NY 10706, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. After the Battle (here, next to this marker); The Hessians: Hired by the King (here, next to this marker); Washington's Continental Army (here, next to this marker); Seven Years of Fear: Hastings and the Neutral Ground (here, next to this marker); The American Revolution in 1778 (here, next to this marker); Community Gardens in Zinsser Park / Los Jardines Comunitarios en el Parque Zinsser (a few steps from this marker); The Skirmish of Edgar's Lane (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Edgar's Lane (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hastings-on-Hudson.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 15, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 12, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 231 times since then and 82 times this year. Last updated on March 15, 2022, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 12, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
Paid Advertisements

Jun. 4, 2023