Nathaniel Woodhull – Member of the New York Provincial Congress


General Nathaniel Woodhull (1722-1776) was a leader of the New York Provincial Congress and a brigadier-general of the New York Militia during the American Revolution. He was born on December 30, 1722 in Mastic, Long Island, Province of New York, the son of Nathaniel Woodhull and Sarah Smith. His family had been prominent in New York affairs since the mid seventeenth century. Woodhull entered the military and in 1758 held the rank of major. He fought in numerous battles during the French and Indian War. He was at the Battle of Carillon under General Abercromby, and at the Battle of Fort Frontenac under General Bradstreet. In 1760, as colonel of the 3rd Regiment of New York Provincials took part in the invasion of Canada during the under General Amherst. After the end of hostilities, he returned to farming and community affairs. In 1761 he married Ruth Floyd, the sister of William Floyd a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Sentiment against England’s taxation of the colonies led to Suffolk County electing Woodhull to Province of New York assembly. From 1769 to 1775 he served as a member of the Province of New York assembly for Suffolk County. As such, he spoke against the Crown’s colonial policies. He represented Suffolk also in the convention which chose delegates to the First Continental Congress, and in the New York Provincial Congress. In May 1775, the Provincial Congress assumed control of the colony and reorganized the militia.

In October 1775 he was made brigadier general of the Suffolk and Queen’s County militia. In 1776 took part in the Battle of Long Island. Leading up to the battle, his militia began removing livestock and matériel to prevent its use by the British. The Battle of Long Island resulted in his being cut off and he retired to Jamaica. Relief was not forthcoming, and his situation deteriorated.

Woodhull was captured near Jamaica by a detachment of Fraser’s Highlanders led by captain Sir James Baird. He was struck with a sword multiple times, injuring his arm and head by a British officer purportedly for not saying, “God save the King”, as ordered, saying instead “God save us all”. He was taken to a cattle transport, serving as a prison ship in Gravesend Bay. A sympathetic British officer had him transferred to the century-old house built by Nicasius di Sille in the Dutch village of New Utrecht which is now a part of Brooklyn. The house was demolished in 1850 by the owner Baret Wyckoff. It was located in the current vicinity of 84th St. and New Utrecht Ave. His arm was amputated in an effort to save his life, he managed to call for his wife who was at his side when he died on September 20, 1776. He was buried at his family home.