New York Navy Sloop General Schuyler

General Schuyler

Captain James Smith

Armed Sloop

17 April 1776-1 June 1776

New York Navy Sloop

Commissioned/First Date:

17 April 1776/20 December 1775

Out of Service/Cause:

1 June 1776/transferred to Continental Army



Date Reported: 28 June 17761

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 6 cannon/

Broadside: 3 cannon/

Swivels: four








New York Navy Sloop General Schuyler, the first vessel of the New York Navy, was authorized about 20 December 1775, when a Committee of Two was appointed to purchase, fit out, and man a vessel, at a cost not to exceed £600. The vessel was to interdict supplies being shipped to the British Army and Navy at Boston by persons “inimical to the liberties of the American Colonies.”2

By March 1776 the Committee of Two had purchased and outfitted the sloop General Schuyler. Her command was given to Captain James Smith, a veteran of sorts, as he had very briefly held the command on the lakes in the summer of 1775, with the title “Commodore on the Lakes.”3 On 17 April 1776 the New York Committee of Safety commissioned Smith by adopting an unusual expedient. He, along with the other captains of the New York Navy, executed a Continental privateer bond, and was issued a privateer commission. This was apparently done because New York was angling to have the Continental Congress pick up the expenses of their Navy.4

Meanwhile, the seat of the war was moving to New York, and Washington arrived in the area in mid April 1776. Washington requested the loan of the New York Navy vessels to assist in the defense of New York City in conjunction with a fleet he was organizing. After some disagreements upon the terms on which the vessels would serve, the General Schuyler and the General Putnam passed into Washington’s (Continental) service.5

In late May, about the 24th, the General Schuyler was stationed at Fire Island Inlet, about half way up the south side of Long Island, with two whaleboats. Her mission was to interdict local Tory trafficking with the British shipping, ensure safe arrival of inbound American munitions vessels, and harass the incoming British  transports.6 Captain James Smith resigned command of the General Schuyler on 31 May 1776. The New York Provincial Congress received his letter on 1 June and accepted at once.7 It would seem that the Continental Army took control of the General Schuyler at this point. From this time forward the General Schuyler may be considered as a vessel of the Continental Army’s New York Squadron. [See Continental Army Sloop General Schuyler]

1 NDAR, “Daniel Tillinghast’s Account Against the Prize Sloop Charlotte,” VII, 1169

2 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 471, citing the Journal of the New York Provincial Congress, 20 December 1775

3 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 471

4 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 472, 473

5 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 473, 474n1, citing journals of the New York Committee of Safety, 24 April 1776 and 10 May 1776

6 NDAR, “Major General Israel Putnam to George Washington,” V, 231-232

7 NDAR, “Journal of the New York Provincial Congress,” V, 337

Posted 21 September 2014 ©