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ETERNAL VIGILANCE
     
 


"Eternal Vigilance"
June, 1779, Crompond (Yorktown) NY
Image Size 11" x 17"
Release Date: October 2002
Edition size 500: 50 A/P: 25 Remarques
The Official Commemorative Print of the Yorktown Historical Society

Price: S/N Regular edition of 500: $175.00 each Unframed plus $10.00 flat shipping:


Price: S/N Regular edition of 500: $350.00 each, professionally and handsomely framed plus $40.00 shipping:



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The Official Commemorative Print of the Yorktown Historical Society

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of
patriots and tyrants."


Thomas Jefferson to William S. Smith,
November 13, 1787

This artwork began as a commission to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Yorktown Historical Society and the 225th anniversary of the American Revolution. During its final conception however, it evolved into a metaphor for the reawakened “Spirit of America”, and a reminder that we, as American citizens, must always be on guard in order to preserve our freedom.

My spring and summer of 2001 were spent researching the history of the Revolutionary War in Yorktown Heights, then known as Hunt's Tavern or Crompond. Eight primary scenarios were considered as subject matter for the historical artwork I was asked to create. All of these historical events represent the significant and important role that Yorktown played during the American Revolutionary War period. They were

Pines Bridge Winter of 1778 Gen. Putnam 3rd Conn. Regiment, Gen. Knox’s Artillery and Col. John Glover’s 14th Continental Regulars

Pines Bridge Crossing, Fall 1779: View looking south east across Croton River, with Crow hill in background and fortifications near the Bridge. (Gen. William Howe: 2nd North Carolina Regiment and 5th Mass Regiment)

Pines Bridge Crossing, Fall 1779: View looking North from redoubt and trenches atop Crow Hill with fortifications near the bridge. Possible inclusion of Crompond Corners, Hunt’s tavern, etc. in the distance.

Gen. Washington at Crompond, July 18, 19, 1778: View of General Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Staff at the home of Samuel Delevan near Hallocks Mill Pond

British Major John Andre at Crompond Corners, September 22, 23, 1780. View of Andre and Joshua Smith at Millers tavern, the Underhill house or passing through town or crossing Pines Bridge with signed pass from Benedict Arnold and the plans to West Point in his boot.

The Davenport House Attack, May 14, 1781: View of the Davenport House with Col. Green, Major Flagg and their 1st Rhode Island Militia.

General Jean Baptiste Rochambeau’s French troop encampments: before and after the Battle of Yorktown Virginia. View of French encampments at Hunts Tavern and Hallocks Mill, August 1781: Hunts Tavern and French Hill, September, October 1782.

June 3 and June 26 (25) 1779 British raids on Crompond. British and Hessian units under the command of Lt. Col. Abercromby, Col. Tarleton and Lt. Col. Simcoe, attack Crompond from the South, East and West. Col. Drake’s 3rd and 4th NY Rebel Militia are surprised and killed or captured after a brief skirmish. The Presbyterian Church and perhaps one home were burned by the British.

The relative historical importance of each event, site visits and artistic considerations narrowed the choices down to 3. Return visits and additional research left me with 2 primary choices. The Davenport Attack and the First Presbyterian Church raids.

While grappling with the decision of which scenario to depict, the horrendous events of September 11 brought my work to a screeching halt. Like most Americans, as I struggled with my feelings in the wake of the terrorist attacks I rode an emotional roller coaster of Sadness, shock, outrage and anger. Struggling to refocus on my necessary daily tasks, I reviewed my sketches for the first time after the attacks, on the weekend of September 15, just 6 days after September 11. as I looked over my ideas, I thought about what had transpired in our country during that fateful week. The choice for my final drawing became immediately and definitively clear.


Thomas Jefferson is also attributed with saying, "The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance."

On the morning of June 3, 1779, liberty cost a dear price when vigilance was lax in the hamlet of Crompond. The parsonage of the First Presbyterian Church in Crompond was used as a meeting place and a munitions storage house during the Revolution. Col. Drakes 3rd and 4th NY Militia had their headquarters and barracks there. It was a rallying place for the local militia as well as the meeting place of the local “Committee of safety” whose task it was to “Disarm the disaffected and punish the incorrigible” meaning the local Tories. A local committee of congress also met there. From this location the patriots, who were also under the command of Captain Henry Strang, struck out in raids against the British throughout Van Cortlandt Manor and lower Westchester. Attempting to neutralize the pesky patriots, Col. Tarleton’s British Legion struck the town in the morning of June 3, and burned the parsonage and a store house to the ground, meeting little resistance. The patriots then moved their operations to the Presbyterian church also known as the Meeting House. That evening and for several days following the June 3 raid the local patriots were on a heightened state of alert. Now using the Church itself as headquarters, Col. Drake continued harassing the British from that location throughout the remainder of June. They also supported the defense of the Croton River, specifically Pines Bridge crossing, which hampered the British operations on the Hudson.

The British knew the patriots were again organizing at the Church and realized that a second attack on Crompond was necessary to put down the rebel activities in the area. On June 26 (24) a second raid was launched against Crompond. Col. Tarleton’s Legion, consisting of about 700 men, including 200 mounted troops, struck the town from the east via the Pines Bridge, while a light infantry unit of about 130 men, probably the 37th regiment of foot, under Lt. Col. Robert Abercromby, struck from the west from Verplank via The Kings Highway (route 202.) All total about 1000 British soldiers participated in the attack on the town while some 400 men of The Queens rangers, commanded by Lt. Col. John Simcoe attacked the Pines Bridge, securing the crossing for Tarleton’s retreat.

Unfortunately for the local patriots, they had let their guard down again. The June 26 dawn raid on the church and town surprised Col. Drake’s men who were eating breakfast in local homes or just getting out of bed at the church barracks and tents. The rebels fought back as best they could but the surprise was complete and they were unable to organize any sustained resistance. The rebels eventually dispersed into the woods. Those who stayed behind were either killed or captured. Although the primary sources are contradictory and not well documented, it seems that around 30 rebels were killed, and anywhere from 35 to 300 men were captured including 5 officers. The attack was probably designed to be quick and punitive, yet it seems that only the Church and one other home were torched by the British.

My painting , entitled “Eternal Vigilance” interprets the first of the two historical actions of June in Crompond. The scenario depicts a Rebel militiaman standing guard on the Kings Highway (route 202) in front of the Church on the evening of June 3, 1779. Smoke from the smoldering parsonage behind the church still curls ominously into the late afternoon sky. The parsonage and the church that was burned 3 weeks later would eventually be rebuilt by the congregation.

During the revolutionary war The First Presbyterian Church was presided over by the pastor, Rev. Sackett, an outspoken patriot rebel, who at least once had to flee the area for his own safety.

The church that was burned by the British that day in June, 1779, was the original building that was erected in 1738 with finishing touches added in 1760. A new church was built by the congregation after the war in 1785, on top of the original foundation. That Church was torn down and rebuilt, again on the same foundation in 1839. The 1839 structure is the one that still stands today. All indications are that the present, 1839, structure was an exact replica of the 1785 building. My research was unable to determine if the original, 1738 church, resembled the two later structures. Without any engravings of the original church, or any other substantial evidence to prove how it DID look, I have chosen to include the current structure in the drawing; the premier recognizable and historical edifice in Yorktown.

Although the Constitution specifically denotes the separation of Church and state, The Church is meant to symbolize freedom. In this case the freedom of religion , and the right of Americans to choose our own religion. It is also representative of our freedom from persecution because of religious beliefs.
This self evident freedom, written by our founding fathers is exemplified by the diversity of the United States’ religious and ethnic cultures.

The central element of the artwork is the patriot soldier. He is wearing a uniform indicative of a continental soldier or local militiaman from New York during this time period. Cradled across his shoulders and ready to swing into action is a standard English “Brown Bess” smooth bore musket, model 1762. A standard American cartridge box, Brown Bess bayonet, blue painted wooden canteen, standard haversack of white buff leather and a standard American pack complete his accouterments. He wears a blue regimental coat with red facings, knee length breeches, knee high stockings and standard army shoes. He also wears a vest waistcoat or wescott, a neck stock and a black felt bicorn hat, cocked to the left.

He defiantly stands his ground, prepared to defend the church from further British attack. However, as the subsequent events of June 26th 1779 poignantly attest, the lesson of June 3 was not learned, a sad commentary on what we have experienced throughout our history.

For the main emotional impact of the drawing, my intent was to focus on the soldiers facial expression. All the typical attributes of the American fighting man were meant to be stressed. He is after all, the first American soldier. In his eyes, I tried to capture a look of fierce determination, and fearlessness. Honor, courage, dignity, strength and resolve, along with the implied virtues of compassion and generosity are also expressed. Representative of the long line of citizen soldiers who responded to our country's call in her time of need, he symbolizes the best of the American character. My wish is for the viewer to see in his face, the same resolve and determination seen upon the faces of the fireman, policemen and civilians who responded to a similar call on September 11. In a larger sense he represents ALL American Soldiers and citizens who have fought for freedom and liberty at home and abroad, throughout the history of the United States of America.

"Eternal Vigilance" is intended to commemorate the rich revolutionary war history of Yorktown Heights. It honors the Patriots who fought and sacrificed for their freedom and independence from oppression. It celebrates the strength, dignity and indomitable resiliency and spirit of the American people, then AND now. It serves to remind us of the danger of complacency and the need for Americans to remain forever on our guard.

PAUL R. MARTIN III
October, 2001


"The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance."








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