Few places have been as shrouded in mystery as has Fort McKeen. Rufus Grider and Samuel Ludlow Frey both had differing opinions as to its location and significance. Jeptha R. Simms did not mention it at all. Thus, all known references to this fortification in Revolutionary War Pension Applications have been gathered together here.

PHILIP AUSTIN, RWPA #S16035. Austin states that he was discharged from Lieutenant Colonel Marinus Willett's Corps at Fort McKeen in January of 1783.

EDWARD EVANS, RWPA #S8437. Edward was born on August 9, 1767 in Dutchess County, New York. He enlisted as a private in Captain Jonathan Pierce's Company of Lieutenant Colonel Marinus Willett's Regiment, Lawrence Tremper being the Second Lieutenant, in April of 1782 for a term of nine months, but shortly there after was persuaded to enlist for two years on the pledge of being clothed and equipped on his arrival in the City of Albany. He states that at Albany he only received the equipment he was promised. From Albany he was marched to Fort Hunter on the Mohawk River where his company was divided into groups and he was sent under the command of First Lieutenant Josiah Richardson to Quarrystown to guard a piquet Fort Erected there until in the latter part of October when they were ordered to Fort Plain for winter quarters. Upon his arrival at Fort Plain he states that each of them received a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings, one pair of small cloths and one vest until in January when each of them received a full suit of clothing and a change of shirts & stockings. He states that in late January or early February of 1783 they were joined by a regiment of Rhode Island Troops and were marched out on an expedition towards Oswego. He states that Oswego expedition failed because they were misled by Capt John. He states that from Oswego, he returned to Fort Plain where he continued until May of 1783 and then marched to Fort Herkimer where they were engaged in repairing and rebuilding bridges which had previously been destroyed by the Rebels to slow the advance of the enemy. In the fall of 1783, he marched to Fort Stanwix and there assisted in building a log store & two block houses. Late in the fall of 1783, he marched from Fort Stanwix to the City of Schenectady where he was discharged by order of General George Washington.


Vernon Trumbull County Ohio May 8th 1835

. . . That among the Documents removed from Albany is a power of attorney of Edward Evans (who subscribed it with a cross mark) and in favour of Capt Jonathan Pearsee for his pay from May 1st 1782 to January 1st 1783 dated Fort Ranselaer dated April 1st 1783 I have no distinction of the transaction but have an impression of something of the kind taking place that he was going to Phillidelphia & was disposd to make an effort for our Relief as we then had been in service about one year & had Received no pay but I think it must have passed in the negative as I received no pay But I distinctly Recolect that he went out to the south about that time & was absent from the Regiment I should Judge between two & three months As it Respects the execution by a cross mark I can only say that at its date & prior I had never written & of course it would have been the only way which I could execute that or any other instrument in writing As to the Name of the place where it was alone the history is the following Late in autumn 1782 the Major part of the Regiment commanded b[y] Col Willet with one or two companies of Artillerymen were stationed at a place call Fort Plain & it appeared that there had some time previous been slain by the enemy a Capt McKeen whose remains were taken from the place where they had been deposited & removed to the burying ground near the Fort & Reintared with Millitary Hounors & the firing of cannon & in general orders Read at the head of the Millitary by order of the commandant that the fort should from hence forth be known & call'd by the name of Fort McKeen & of course for a time all official writs were dated & Recorded don at Fort McKeen but how long the order remaind in force I do not recolect but subsequently another order probibaly from higher authority but without any publick exhibition at least upon the Ground it was deemed that it should be known & calld by the name Fort Renslear & I believe as long as the Regiment remainded the place all official proceedings were dated at Fort Renslear but the original name it appears is most formilliar & signifficant & I believe as universally known & calld by the Name of Fort Plain which is also the name of the Post office in the place I have written to my son at Brock port to forward my original Declaration & sent to your office . . .

PETER FLAGG, RWPA #W12099. . . . And this deponent further says, that in the year 1781. And he thinks in the month of May, he Enlisted in Capt Mc Keens Company, Robert Mc Keen, in Col Marinus Willett's Regiment, for the Term of nine Months, that he Enlisted at Fort Plain in the then County of Tryon now county of Montgomery -- That in the fall of the year part of the Regiment and some company's of Militia were ordered to take the Enemy who were encamped in the Woods near a place called Turlock or Durlock that they marched out in the night and next morning they had a battle with the Enemy & Deponents Captain was killed in the Engagement, he did not die on the filed, but was wounded and carried by the men to Bowmans kill, and next day died when they were removing him to Fort Plant, at which he was buried -- That this deponent was also Engaged in the battle of Johnstown under Col. Willett against the Enemy under the Command of Major Ross, that Col. Willett had about four hundred men and some Militia and the Enemy were about seven hundred strong picked troops, that Ross was defeated & lost one brass field piece which he had before take, that there were a number of prisoners taken from the Enemy at that time -- that after the battle they came back to Fort plain; . . .

JESSE JONES, RWPA #R5709. Of his 1781 tour, he states . . . he was in an engagement against the Indians at a place called Turlough, now called Sharon in the month of June under the Command of Col. Willet at this time Captn McKeen was wounded and Carried back about a Mile to a house Where he died of his wounds the same night after the ingagement his remains were removed to Fort Plains, Where his burial was attend under arms. . . .

WILLIAM NELLES, RWPA #S5825. Nelles states all that all but two of Captain Robert McKeen's Company were killed killed or died of wounds received in the Battle of Turlough on July 10, 1781. Of the two survivors, William states that one was wounded in the ear and the other [Samuel McKeen] in his mouth.

JESSE JONES, RWPA #R5709. Of his 1781 tour, he states . . . he was in an engagement against the Indians at a place called Turlough, now called Sharon in the month of June under the Command of Col. Willet at this time Captn McKeen was wounded and Carried back about a Mile to a house Where he died of his wounds the same night after the ingagement his remains were removed to Fort Plains, Where his burial was attend under arms. . . .

ASA RIPLEY, RWPA #W22077/BLWt #27654-160-55. On September 5, 1832 affidavit Ripley testified . . . That in the year 1781 in the month of August he enlisted in the New York State Troops called the New Levies under Captain Thomas Skinner and served in a Regiment and Served in a Regiment commanded by Colonel Marinus Willett in which Aaron Rowley was Major - marched to Albany from there to Schoharie thence to Turlough or Tilow where they had a battle with the Tories and Indians - from thence to Fort Plain and assisted in building Fort Plain [this is a direct reference to the construction of what would be known for a few short weeks as Fort McKeen] thence to Fort Herkimer where about the 17th of October 1781, our troops had a battle with the tories and Indians commanded by Major Butler a tory - that said Major Butler, about two days after the battle, was killed by one of our Indians at West Canada Creek - . . . And, in the supplementary to his September 5, 1832, he testified that . . . the first of August ad 1781 he enlisted under Captain Thomas Skinner under Major Rowley and Colonel Willet marched to Albany from thence to Schoharrie thence to Tilaw had A battle the Tories and Indians from thence to what is now Fort plain thence to fort Herkimer . . . As Ripley's original application of September 5, 1832 was consider inadequate by the Pension Commission of the War Department he was denied his pension on first application. Thus, Ripley proceeded to swear out two additional two depositions, one on September 4, 1833 and the other on June 24, 1835. In his explanatory application, dated September 4, 1833, Ripley stated . . . That in the year 1781, in the month of August, he thinks, he volunteered under Capt. Samuel Thomas Skinner - went to Albany - thence to Schoharrie thence to Turlough or Tilow where they had a battle with the tories and indians, called Turlough battle - was then under said Capt. Skinner, & Col. Willett who was present at the battle - thence marched to Fort Plain & built Fort Plain - thence to Fort Herkimer, then back to Fort, after the fort was completed Plain, & thence to Johnstown . . . In Mister Ripley's final deposition of June 24, 1835, he is quoted as stating . . . that he was once more out as a volunteer he thinks in the year 1781 or 1782 he Joined an embodied Corps of Columbia County Militia of the State of New York under Capt Thomas Skinner of said County and was ordered on a march from thence to Albany and from thence right up the Mohawk River to a Station where Fort Plain was afterwards built and from thence to Fort Herkimer on said River where he joined formed a junction with a body of American Troops under the Command of Col Marinus Willet and from Fort Herkimer he was marched back with a Detachment of troops to where Fort Plain was to be erected where he and his fellow Soldiers were ordered to Commence building the Said Fort called Fort Plain, . . . Whilst this applicant was employed in building Said Fort and when about half completed a body of Tories and indians made an attack on the America Troops at Fort Hunter on the Mohawk from which the enemy were repelled with loss The tories and indians and this applican thinks Some british were Commanded by the famous but infamous Col. Butler. . . . That this applicant & his fellow soldiers by order of Col. Willet gave up the Pursuit of the enemy [following the Battle of West Canada Creek in which the said Butler was] and were marched back to Fort Plain where the Troops Completed the building of the Fort and this applicant when he had served out his Engagement for 4 four months he received a written discharge Signed by Col Willet and handed to hm by a subaltern officer -

DAVID STORM, RWPA #S4900. Storm states that he was present when Captain Robert McKeen was buried in 1781.

BUDD STUART, RWPA #W1662. Concerning the Battle of Turlough and the death of Captain Robert McKean, Budd states this . . . Deponent assisted Corporal Scott & two others to carry Captain McKean from the field of Battle and was afterwards present at his burial at Fort Rensselaer . . . Stuart states Captain McKean's son was wounded in the mouth during the Battle of Turlough.

JACOB STUFFLEBEAN, RWPA #W16739. Jacob states that Elihu Marshall was appointed captain in the billet vacated by McKeen's death in 1781.

GEORGE VAN SLYKE, RWPA #S10016. Van Slyck states that he was one of those who carried the wounded Captain McKeen home from the Battle of Turlough.

PETER WALRADT, RWPA #S11684. Walradt states that . . . In the early part of summer the day of the month nor the month deponent is not quite certain in 1781 Col Willet commanded at Fort Plank or Fort Plain as it is since called & ordered a company of men to the Town of Turlock or Durlock now Sharon & County of Schoharie to attack the Indians under the command of the Tory Dortslaster a distance of 16 or 18 miles from Palatine -- Deponent Volunteered in the expedition -- a battle ensued -- Where the Indians and Tories were defeated & dispersed -- Col McKean was killed -- Col. Willet commanded in person. Started from Fort Plank in the afternoon & traveled all night -- Was absent three or four days & returned home -- . . .


The Orderly Book of Brigade Major William Scott of the New Hampshire Brigade, Manuscript #Am 6344, found within the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Head Quarters Albany Octr. 22d 1782

Some confusion and inconviences have arisen from some of our posts being called by a veriety of names particularly at Canajohary, where the fort and works originaly called Fort Renselaer has by some since been called Fort Plain. In order such inconveniance for the future that post with its appendages is by all persons belonging to the army within this department and all those opperating with it either in the military or civil branches in all their reports, returns and letters on business to be called Fort Renselaer and no other

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