Love In a Time of War

February 13, 2023 Posted by: Ranger Kelly

One of the greatest love stories ever told happened right here, at Fort Schuyler/Stanwix!

Throughout the American Revolution, Colonel Peter Gansevoort (commander of the 3rd NY Regiment at the fort) courted Catherine "Caty" Van Schaick of Albany, NY. The two were married on January 12, 1778, just a few months after the 1777 Siege of Fort Schuyler, and had 6 children. Their grandchildren include Herman Melville (author of "Moby Dick") and several U.S. naval commanders.

Throughout the Revolution, the pair exchanged letters, concerns, and love.
Below are excerpts from several of these letters exchanged between Peter and Caty:

Fort George 24th Septr 1776
Dear Caty I was Honor'd with your agreeable Epistle of the 27th August three or four days since inclosed in your Brother Johns. I was much surprized at you Brother in forwarding your Letter sooner.
I should think myself very ungratefull had your Letter been received soon after the above date not to have answered it till now.
You conclude in yours with the thoughts of seeing me this Month I dread much that we shall not have the pleasure of seeing each other till the Latter of the next month - I dont Expect to obtain Liberty to leve this post till the fate of Ticonderoga is Determined, if Genl Carelton means to attack the last Mentioned post it will be within One Month, how long and tedious will that month Needs prove till I shall have the pleasure of seeing her in whom my future Happiness depends, but I shall indeavor to pass away the time in Contemplating my past happy Moments I have had in your Agreeable Company.
I beg you that you will Deliver the inclosed by the first Opportunity I must concludue with the Sincerest Sentiments of Love
Your affectionate and Sincere Friend
P: Gansevoort
PS I must beg an answer to this by the first convenient opportunity
To Miss Caty Van Schaick


Fort Schuyler, 5th June 1777
Dear Caty Your Agreeable receiv’d Letter was handed me by Mr. Edward S. Willett.
You mention in yours that you will be glad to hear of coming Down soon, I must observe to you that since my arrival at this post, I have receiv’d an Order Publish’d by his Excellency General Washington, that no officer is to leave his post or Choir without Permission in Writing from a Genl Officer Commanding in the Department - By this order you will find that I shall not have it in my power to pay you as many Visits, this season as I expected - You may be assur’d that I shall indeavor to get have to go down as soon as possible
I must inform you that I have exceeding good living here plenty of Veal Pigion’s and Fish of Different Sorts -
The Express is just going off I must therefore conclude Adieu and may God bless and Prosper you
I am in Sincerity D[ea]r Caty Yours very affectionately
Peter Gansevoort


Albany 31th July 1777
Dear Sir I received your of the 26th Instant it gave me pleasure to hear of your being in good Health - I was glad to find your Letter so peaceble it was to me as Cordial to a Faint Heart, but of Short duration I have Since ben informed that an Express arived here from your Fort who brings account that a party of Regulars Canadians and Indians to the Amount of three Thousand are by their way from Oswego...All my fear is that you will be blocked up in the Fort and will be forced to Surender for the want of provision and left to the mercy of those brutes...
I am sory to leve this place I hope it is for the Best, I Content myself with the thoughts of hearing from you as oftern as poseble, I Tremble to hear that our army is at Stilwater I have more to say but my heart is overwhelmed may I once more see you is my sinces Wiches may the Lord give serve us all I remain
Your Sincerest
Catherine Van Schaick


Camp Otsego Lake 6th August 1779
My Dear Caty ...We shall leave this next Monday morning, And when we shall have the pleasure of hearing from each other again God only knows, As we shall for some time travel through the wild wilderness whare it is not probable an express will find us and as we shall constantly be marching from one place to another,
It however gives me some consolation when in my serious moments reflecting on my being absent from you at a time when I could most wish to be with you...Let me intreat you my Dear Caty to make yourself as easy on Account of my absence as possible And let us trust, that God will be pleased to let the happy period soon arrive when we shall again meet in Love, and in Joy,
Remember me to our Parents and Families And believe me My dear Caty to be yours with the Sincerest Sentiment of Love while
Peter Gansevoort

Portraits of Peter and Caty surrounded by hearts.


love, HermanMelville, AmericanRevolution

Last updated: February 13, 2023

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