The battle actually took place in and around this house: the Davenport House, now a private dwelling.

According to the New York Times:

The First Rhode Island’s ranking officer was Col. Christopher Greene, 41, Nathanael Greene’s third cousin, who had come from Valley Forge. Other white officers included Col. Jeremiah Olney, Lieut. Col. Samuel Ward Jr. and Maj. Ebenezer Flagg.

Traveling west from Newport on Jan. 5, 1781, to join the main army, the First Rhode Island was observed at a Connecticut ferry crossing by the Marquis Francois Jean de Chastellux, one of Rochambeau’s five major generals. Chasetellux wrote in his journal: “The majority of these enlisted men are Negroes or mulattoes, strong, robust men. Those I saw made a very good appearance.”

On April 15, 1781, the First Rhode Island was assigned a defensive position at the northern bank of the Croton River, on the American lines guarding the northernmost part of Westchester County’s Neutral Ground, an almost uninhabited, unfortified area between the two armies.

The area protected by Greene’s First Rhode Islanders included several fords across the Croton plus one strategic structure, the Pines Bridge, over which the spy Maj. John Andre, displaying Benedict Arnold’s pass, had crossed the previous fall.

The Pines Bridge was guarded at all times. But the pickets at the fords were customarily withdrawn at dawn, on the assumption that an enemy force would not try a daylight crossing.

As was customary at the time, the country around the river crossings was infested by Tories. Many disaffected farmers had fled to New York City to join Col. James De Lancey’s Loyal Westchester Refugee Corps. De Lancey, always eager to strike an unexpected blow at the Americans, received intelligence about the intermittently guarded fords across the Croton.

Late on May 13, 1781 — 215 years ago this week — De Lancey assembled a sizable loyalist force of 60 cavalry and 200 infantrymen and slipped north on back roads through the Neutral Ground. His destination, Blenis Ford on the Croton River, was kept secret. There were too many spies on both sides.

Halting just short of the ford, the British raiders remained hidden in the woods until, with the first gray light of May 14, the American guards withdrew for breakfast. Minutes later De Lancey’s troopers crashed out of the shrubbery and galloped across the ford, riding hell for leather up a steep slope toward the elegant Davenport house, where Greene and his officers were still sleeping.

It was far from the first British hit-and-run cavalry attack in upper Westchester County, but it was one of the bloodiest.

De Lancey was angered by a pistol shot from an upstairs window of the house. His Refugees dismounted and tore into the house, sabering Colonel Greene and killing Major Flagg and his lieutenant.

Outside loyalist infantrymen overwhelmed the Rhode Islanders, who were outnumbered 2 to 1. The raiders killed 14, wounded 100 and took 30 prisoners, most of whom were soon sold into slavery in the British West Indies.

De Lancey, without a single casualty, left as swiftly as he had arrived, riding down the hillside and crossing Pine’s Bridge.

Colonel Greene, in his nightclothes, was thrown over a saddle and died.

Taken with a Sony RX100 M3.

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