July 19, 1997
On page 131 of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.,'s The Almanac of American History, published in 1983 by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, is an entry for August 19, 1779: Revolution: North. "American Major Henry Lee drives the British from Paulus Hook, their last major garrison in New Jersey."
One of the more useful sources of accurate stories about McAllisters in American history are serial publications, such as the Virginia Historical Magazine. A principal difficulty is finding these stories. The following is a verbatim account taken from pages 27 -28, Volume XXI, No. 1, January 1913. It tells about this military action in which Lt. Archibald McCallister of the 1st Maryland Regiment, and Lieutenant Michael Rudolph of Lee's Light Dragoons, among others, were cited and rewarded by the Continental Congress for heroism. On August 19, 1779, an American force under Major Henry Lee ("Light Horse Harry") captured Paulus Hook, a British fortified post on the present site of Jersey City, and captured 159 prisoners. Henry Lee of Westmoreland County, VA (1765-1818), was a captain, major, and lieutenant-colonel in the Revolutionary Army, and was later the Governor of Virginia and father of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A., 1862-1865. Henry Lee received from Congress a gold medal for the capture of Paulus Hook.
The following is the account from the Virginia Historical Magazine. Some of the original spelling has been modified for clarity:
"Headquarters, West Point, October 8, 1779
The honourable the Congress on the 28th September was pleased to pass the following Resolve - and his Excellency the President adds that the Important business in which Congress have been Engaged - has prevented an Earlier attention to the Brilliant action at Powlis Hook. Resolved that the Thanks of Congress be Given to Major Gen'l Lord Sterling for the JudiciousMeasures taken by him to forward the Enterprise and Secure the Retreat of the party. Resolved that the thanks of Congress be Given to Major Lee for the Remarkable prudence, address and bravery Displayed by him in the Action & that they approve the Humanity shown by him in Circumstances prompting to Severity, as Honorable to the Arms of the United States and Correspondent to the Noble principles on which they were assumed. Resolved that Congress Entertain the higher Sense of the Discipline and fortitude manifested by the Officers and Soldiers under the command of Major Lee in the March, Action & Retreat and while with Singular Satisfaction, they acknowledge the Merit of these Gentlemen. They feel an additional pleasure by Considering them as part of an army, in which many brave officers and Soldiers have proved by their Cheerful performance of Every Duty under Every Difficulty that they ardently wish to Give The Truly Glorious Example they now receive. Resolved that Congress Justly Esteem the Military Caution so happily Combined with Daring Activity by Lieut. McCallister & Rudolph in Laiding on the forlorn hope - Resolved that a medal of Gold Emblematical of this affair be Struck under the Direction of the board of Treasury and presented to Major Lee. Resolved that Brevets and the pay & Subsistence of Captain be Given to Lieut's McCollister & Rudolph Respectively. Resolved that the sum of 15,000 Dollars be put into the hands of Major Lee to be by him Distributed amongst the Non-Commissioned Officers & Soldiers of the Detachment he Commanded at the attack & Surprise of Powlis Hook, in such manner as the Commander-in-Chief shall Direct."
The resolution goes on to cite other Army personnel who distinguished themselves in a separate attack on Stony Point on July 15, 1779. It was interesting to note that many of the phrases used, although in the eighteenth century style, are familiar to anyone who has served in the military forces of the United States. The phrase "Laiding on the forlorn hope," in the sixth paragraph, combines two eighteenth century military terms: (1) Laiding - use of the verb to lay, meaning to act, like "laying on," as MacBeth told MacDuff to do with his sword in Shakespeare's play; (2) the forlorn hope - a body of men selected, usually from volunteers, to attempt a breach or scale a wall, or perform other perilous service, which is what the Lieutenants and their men actually did at Paulus Hook on July 19, 1779.
The Paulus Hook peninsula, part of present day Jersey City, NJ, was first settled by the Dutch about 1630. Gradually the Hook became a strategic link between New York and cities to the west and south. As such it played an important role in the American Revolution. Captain Archibald McAllister was a grandson of Archibald McAllister, the progenitor of the Clan McAlister of America (CMA) family line designated A04. Lt Archibald McAllister's designation is A04-3-3, means that he was the third child of James McAllister (A04-3) who had moved in 1777 from Cumberland (now Adams) County, PA to Martinsburg, Berkeley County, VA, where he was in the mercantile business. James later moved to Springfield, Hampshire County, VA. His will was probated there in July 1807.
The entry for Captain Archibald McAllister on page 28 of Mary Catharine McAllister's 1898 book, Descendants of Archibald McAllister, 1730 - 1898, reads, "The supposition is that he enlisted during the Revolution in a Maryland Regiment, and was commissioned Ensign in the First Maryland, Dec. 10, 1776 and Second Lieutenant, April 17, 1777, First Lieutenant, May 27, 1778. He retired April, 1781. After the war, he bought a large rice plantation near Charleston, NC, (I believe that she meant SC - RMcA) and was in partnership with Roger Moore, whose widow he afterwards married. Archibald McAllister died at Charleston in the Hospital, from wounds received during the War. He married first a Miss Hagel, and had a son, William. He married second, in North Carolina, Mrs. Roger Moore."
In the Appendix to Mary Catharine McAllister's book are two items about Archibald McAllister. Item 26, on pages 52 and 53 of the Appendix, is the Certificate of Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati for Archibald McAllister, signed at Mount Vernon, VA, by President George Washington on March 31, 1787. The Society of the Cincinnati was instituted on May 13, 1783, as an association of the officers who had fought in the Revolution. Although it established a charitable fund to benefit impoverished officers, it was attacked by some who felt that it was an aristocratic threat to some citizens' hard-won liberties. It is interesting to note that in the 1995 Roster of the Society of the Cincinnati, two McAllister "Propositi," i.e., Revolutionary officers, are listed: (1) Colonel Richard McAllister of PA (A04-2), who was Lt. Archibald McAllister's uncle; and (2) Captain Coll McCallister of NC (R02-1-1-1), a great grandson of Ronald McAllister, some of whose grandchildren emigrated in the 1730's and 1740's from the Kintyre area of Scotland directly to the Cape Fear River colony of NC, settling near the present city of Fayetteville.
Item 28, on page 53 of the Appendix, is an extract from the Diary of General Nathaniel Greene which he kept during his journey north after the ending of the Revolutionary War.
"At Wilmington, NC. We dined with Mr. McCallister (Archibald), who formerly had the advance party at the taking of Powley's Hook by Lieutenant Colonel Lee. He put into this place by accident from Charleston (S.C.), heard of a rich widow, boldly attacked her in the Hudibrastic style, and carried her off in triumph in a few weeks. She is an agreeable lady with a very pretty fortune - a handsome reward for a bold enterprise. How many difficulties are got over if but boldly attempted, as well in the affairs of love as those of the field." (Life of General Greene, by his grandson, G. W. Greene).
The term "Hudibrastic" is defined in the 1971 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume 1, page 1343 as after the manner of Hudibras, the celebrated mock-heroic satirical poem of Samuel Butler, published in 1663-78. A better definition is burlesque-heroic.
There was one other Archibald McAllister who distinguished himself in the Army during the American Revolution. He was a son of Colonel Richard McAllister of PA (A04-2) and a grandson of the A04 progenitor Archibald McAllister. According to Mary Catherine McAllister's book, page 14, this second Archibald McAllister (A04-2-4) was a Captain in Colonel Hartley's Sixth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line (i.e. a regular regiment of the Continental Army).
He fought at Germantown and Monmouth. In the latter battle, although he was only 21 years of age, for gallantry, General Washington on the field presented him with a pair of silver mounted pistols, one of which is now (in 1898) the property of James Harris McAllister, (A04-2-4-6-5), b. 6 May 1821, d. 7 Jul 1907, of Ft. Hunter, PA, the father of Mary Catharine McAllister (A04-2-4-6-5-8), b. 5 Oct 1866 - d. 28 Mar 1908, the author of the book.