Goose Van Schaick

A signature on parchment paper.
The signature of Goose Van Schaick

National Park Service

Quick Facts
Colonel Goose Van Schaick was the commander of the 1st NY Regiment. He led his regiment through New York, including to Fort Stanwix and through Onondaga Territory.
Place of Birth:
Albany, NY
Date of Birth:
September 5, 1736
Place of Death:
Albany, NY
Date of Death:
July 4, 1789
Place of Burial:
Colonie, NY
Cemetery Name:
Albany Rural Cemetery

Goose Van Schaick was born in Albany, NY in 1736. His father, Sybrant, was mayor of Albany from 1756-1761. Van Schaick had a distinguished military career over the course of two wars.

At age nineteen he was comissioned a lieutenant in Philip Schuyler's company of Provincials. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Lake 1755, in which a force of provincials under William Johnson knighted as a result) defeated a French and Indian force Dieskau. In 1756 he was part of the expedition against Crown Point. In 1758 he was at the side of Lord George Augustus Lord Howe was killed while reconnoitering Fort Carillon and Van Schaick received a fierce blow in the face from the butt of a French musket; a wound that would trouble him later in life. It is believed no images of him exist as he was concious of the scar left on his face from the wound. By the end of the French & Indian War he had also served as a Lt. Col. for the 2nd NY Provincials and 1st NY Regiment.

In June of 1775 Van Schaick became a colonel in charge of the 2nd NY Regiment. He and his men joined Montgomery as part of the American invasion of Canada. Early next year, 1776, he was commissioned commander of the 1st NY Regiment while at Johnstown in the Mohawk Valley. He was wounded at Ticonderoga in 1777. He commanded a brigade during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Around the same time he also became a brother-in-law to young Col. Peter Gansevoort as his sister Catherine became Gansevoort's new bride.

What he might be best known for is his raid against the Onondagas while under command of Fort Stanwix in April of 1779. This preceded the Clinton/Sullivan Campaign of that year. Van Schaick left the fort with approximately 550 men, marched through the surrounding Onondaga territories for five days and 180 miles, was able to considerably disable the Nations forces for making war, captured 37 prisoners, 100 muskets, and never lost a single person before returning to the gates of the fort. He was given the thanks of Congress on May 10, 1779 for his actions.

Van Schaick remained in command of Albany during the Clinton/Sullivan Campaign before marching south to participate in the Yorktown Campaign. On October 10, 1783, he was breveted Brig. Gen., and one month later he retired from the American Continental Army.

Van Schaick's facial scar from twenty years earlier became cancerous as he aged. According to most sources, Goose Van Schaick died on July 4, 1789, most likely as a result of that cancer. 

Fort Stanwix National Monument, Yorktown Battlefield Part of Colonial National Historical Park

Last updated: December 28, 2022