43 Wolfert's Roost.
The Roost stood in the very heart of what at that time was called the debatable ground, lying between the British and American lines. The British held possession of the city and island of New York ; while the Americans drew up towards the Highlands, holding their
head-quarters at Peekskill. The intervening country from Croton River to Spiting Devil Creek was the debatable ground in question, liable to be harried by friend and foe, like the Scottish borders of yore. It is a rugged region, full of fastnesses. A line of rocky hills extends through it like a backbone sending out ribs on either side ; but
these rude hills are for the most part richly wooded, and enclose little fresh pastoral valleys watered by the Neperan, the Pocantico,* and other beautiful streams, alone: which the Indians built their wigwams in the olden time.
In the fastnesses of these hills, and along these valleys, existed, in the time of which I am treating, and indeed exist to the present day, a race of hard-headed, stout-hearted yeomen, descendants of the
primitive Nederlanders,—men obstinately attached to the soil, and neither to be fought nor bought out of their paternal acres. Most of them were strong Whigs throughout the war ; some, however, were
Tories, or adherents to the old kingly rule, who considered the revolution a mere rebellion, soon to be put down by his majesty's forces.
A number of these took refuge within the British lines, joined the military bands of refugees, and became pioneers or leaders to foraging
parties sent out from New York to scour the country and sweep off supplies for the British army.
In a little while the debatable ground became infested by roving bands, claiming from either side, and all pretending to redress wrongs * The Neperan, vulgarly called the Saw-Mill River, winds for many miles through a lovely valley, shrouded by groves, and dotted by Dutch farm-houses, and empties itself into the Hudson at the ancient Dorp of Yonkers. The Pocantico, rising among woody hills, winds in many a wizard maze through the sequestered haunts of Sleepy Hollow. We owe it to the indefatigable researches of Mr. Knickerbocker, that those beautiful streams are rescued from modern commonplace, and reinvested
with their ancient Indian names. The correctness of the venerable historian may be ascertained by
reference to the records of the original Indian grants to the Herr Frederick Philipsen, preserved in the county clerk's office at White Plains.
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