The Village of Hurley During the Revolutionary War
October 16,1777 through December 18,1777
When the British forces under General John Vaughan burned the village of Kingston on October 16,1777, they found the village vacated, with the exception of a few stragglers and the militia forces who were defending it. The residents of Kingston had fled southward, through the lower section of the Town of Hurley the evening before, and those who did not, did so the following morning when the artillery battle between the American and British ships began around 9:00a.m.
During the afternoon of the 17th, a party of British regulars had started down Hurley Avenue, burning houses and barns as they went. The last house they burned was the Schoepmoes house on the Town Line. At the time of the Revolution, that house was in plain sight of Hurley's Main Street (trees near homes had been cut for firewood). The billowing smoke from the burning buildings on Hurley Avenue would have been very noticeable in Hurley, and those who saw it would have fled in fear, knowing that they were next, as there were no forces to stop or slow the advance of the British.
Hurley and its grain crop was saved from destruction when the British soldiers on Hurley Avenue heard the "retreat" signal blown on a whistle and were called back to the Strand to board their ships. The other reason the British did not reach Hurley was the four-hour artillery fight that had been made by the militia of the first Ulster regimen under Colonel Johannes Snyder and Major Adrian Wynkoop. This battle delayed the British from advancing on Kingston and Hurley. There is little doubt that General Vaughan had intended to destroy the granaries of Kingston and Hurley on his way to assist General John Burgoyne in Saratoga. The loss of the entire fall crop at Kingston, Hurley and Marbletown, would have been a severe blow to the colony, New England and the war effort that winter of 1777.
General George Clinton had anticipated the British advance up the Hudson to Kingston, however, his Continental Army was in poor condition from the recent battle at Forts Montgomery and Clinton on October 6th and could not move as fast as necessary. The Continental Army also ran into masses of people fleeing south from Kingston on the evening of October 16th and was further delayed while that traffic jam was sorted out.
The advance units of the Continental Army reached the outskirts of Kingston during the British withdrawal on the 17th but did not engage the enemy. General Clinton decided to encamp his troops at the village of Marbletown, from where he could watch the movements of the British and temporarily establish his headquarters at the Oliver House (on old Rt. 209). A reconnaissance of the Kingston area the following morning revealed that the British force had moved up the river. The need to be closer to Kingston and the Hudson River was recognized and general Clinton moved his command to the village of Hurley that day, however, the main body of the army remained at Marbletown.
Hurley village was an ideal location for a military outpost. Hurley Avenue provided ready access to the village of Kingston and areas south. Dewitt Mills Road provided access to the strand an area on the Rondout Creek and Hurley Mountain Road was the back road to Saugerties and Kaatsbaan to the north.
Hurley Main Street became a military outpost with guards stationed at all the roads leading into the village. There were also guards stationed at the A.B. Houghtaling home, the Wynkoop Inn and the Dumond (Guard) House. These guards, from Col. Samuel Webb's Connecticut Regiment, were dressed in British uniforms - red with yellow facing. The uniforms were originally slated to be replacement uniforms for the regiments under British General John Burgoyne, but the ship carrying them to Montreal had been captured by the American navy.