The creation of the Tryon County, New York militia was authorized on March 8, 1772, when the Province of New York passed a bill for the establishment of organized militia in each county in the colony. By 1776 (at the start of the American War of Independence), the Tryon County militia had in effect become an army of rebellion under the control of the Tryon County Committee of Safety. The Tryon County militia would go on to fight at the important battles of Oriskany and Johnstown (among others) during the war.
Early in 1772, the Colony of New York passed a bill for the establishment of organized militia in each county. In 1775, the Tryon County militia comprised four regiments, organized according to geographical location:
A 5th regiment from the Harpersfield area was created under the command of a local resident, Colonel John Harper on March 3, 1780. Three companies are designated, falling under the commands of: Captain Alexander Harper, Captain Daniel McGillevrey, and Captain Lodwick Breakman. Before they fled to the Canadian Provinces in 1775, Hendrick Frey, Daniel Claus, Sir John Johnson and Guy Johnson were each colonels in command of these regiments.
On August 22, 1775, by order of the New York Provincial Congress, the Tryon County militia and the Albany County militia were joined to form a brigade. One fourth of each company were selected as minutemen.
On October 5, 1776, a resolution of the New York State congress appointed Nicholas Herkimer as brigadier general of the “Brigade of Militia of Tryon County, New York.”
On August 6, 1777, the militia, under the command of Herkimer, fought in the Battle of Oriskany with British forces (under the command of Barry St. Leger, Sir John Johnson, Colonel John Butler, and Captain Joseph Brant). While British casualties were high, the Tryon County miltia suffered a casualty rate of almost 70%
In 1779, the Tryon County militia was combined with the Albany County militia. On March 20, 1780, Brigadier General Robert Van Rensselaer was given command of a brigade of militia which included the Tryon County militia. In 1781, Marinus Willett was given over-all command of the Tryon County, New York militia.
The first regiment, or battalion, of the Tryon County Militia was commanded by Colonel Samuel Campbell and later Colonel Ebenezer Cox (killed in the first volley of the Battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777).
The second regiment, or battalion, of the Tryon County Militia was commanded by Colonel Jacob Klock. Officers of the second regiment under the command of Colonel Klock included Captain Henry Divendorf, who was killed on the Oriskany Battlefield on August 6, 1777, and his brother Jacob Dievendorf (died 11/23/1816) who was promoted to Captain upon the death of his brother Henry.
The third regiment, or battalion, of the Tryon County Militia was commanded by Colonel Frederick Fisher, or Visscher. Lieutenant Colonels were Adam Fonda and Volkert Veeder. Majors were John Bliven and John Nukerk. Adjutants were Robert Yates, Peter Conyn, John G. Lansingh, Jr., and Gideon Marlett. Quarter Masters were Theodorus F. Romine, Abrahan Van Horn, and Simon Veeder. Surgeons were John George Folke and Surgeon William Petry.
Eight companies constituted the third regiment. As of 26 Aug 1775 these were led by the following:
The fourth regiment, or battalion, of the Tryon County Militia was commanded initially by Col. Hansyoot Herkimer, and after his death in 1775, by Colonel Peter Bellinger, formerly lieutenant colonel of the regiment.
Sixty men served as minutemen under Colonel Samuel Campbell and Captain Francis Utt.
A company of exempted soldiers acted as a home guard under the command of Captain Jellis Fonda.
Rangers were raised for service in their home counties: “unless called forth for the defence of a neighboring County or State by the Mutual Consent of the bordering County Committees of the respective Counties or States”.
On July 23, 1776, by order of the Provincial Congress of New York, three ranger companies were established under the commands of:
These ranger companies were disbanded on March 27, 1777