Van Cortland, Phillip. 1749-1831.
On June 18, 1775, Phillip Van Cortland was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the 4th New York Regiment. He would, however, miss the first major action that his unit participated in. He recruited several companies for the regiment and then took them to Albany, NY, where he fell ill. The regiment would proceed without him on Montgomery's invasion of Canada.
His regiment up in Canada, Van Cortland joined George Washington's army and temporarily became one of Washington's aides. Van Cortland eventually was promoted to colonel and given command of the 2d New York Regiment. He did not physically assume command of the regiment until after the successful American attack on Trenton. The 2d New York was eventually sent to the Northern Department where it fought at the Battle of Saratoga.
Van Cortland and his regiment spent most of 1779 in the Northern Department fighting indians. During an interlude in the action, Van Cortland served as a member of the court-martial board that was judging Benedict Arnold in December 1779. Arnold was being court-martialed for alleged misconduct while he commanded at Philadelphia. A majority of the board voted against the court-martial. Van Cortland, however, voted for it and recommended that Arnold be dismissed from the army.
Van Cortland served in the Northern Department until June 1781 when he and his regiment were ordered to join Washington's army. During the Yorktown Campaign, the 2d, 4th and 5th New York Regiments were consolidated under Van Cortland's command. He served well at Yorktown and throughout the rest of the war. He was breveted brigadier general in September 1783, shortly before he left the army.
Van Cortland remained in public service at state and national levels throughout the rest of his life. In 1824, he accompanied Lafayette on a portion of his 1824 tour of America. Van Cortland never married and died a bachelor on November 5, 1831.
Last updated: February 26, 2015