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Bedford Marks Anniversary Of 1779 Burning By British

Revolutionary War re-enactors participate in an 1980 depiction of the July 11, 1779, British attack on Bedford. Every building, except one, was burned down during the raid.
Revolutionary War re-enactors participate in an 1980 depiction of the July 11, 1779, British attack on Bedford. Every building, except one, was burned down during the raid. Photo Credit: Westchester County Archives

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- A glance around Bedford’s village green will tell you that there’s a lot of history here.

And that’s not surprising -- the quaint Westchester town was established in 1680.

What that quick peek might not reveal is that all the buildings you see were built after the Revolutionary War.

All of the original homes and businesses were burned down by the British in the summer of 1779.

And on Monday, July 11, local historians will mark the 237th anniversary of the attack which was carried out by about 400 British troops led by Lt. Col. Samuel Birch.

According to an account penned by local historian Evelyn H. Ryan in 2004, the Bedford attack took form on July 2, 1779, when Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, under orders from Gen. Henry Clinton, led hundreds of British and Hessian troops on a raid through Westchester. They cut a swath from Yonkers, through Bedford, to Pound Ridge.

Tarleton and his raiders had hoped to surprise and capture Col. Elisha Sheldon of the 2nd Continental Dragoons near Bedford, Ryan wrote.

However, Sheldon had been tipped off and was waiting for Tarleton. When the British arrived, they were confronted by the militia and had to retreat to Mount Kisco, according to Ryan’s account.

Tarleton did manage to burn a few houses as he and his troops fled, Ryan wrote.

Gen. George Washington, reacting to the July 2 raids, had sent reinforcements to Bedford, but the troops had to be pulled out and sent to Connecticut after the British attacked the coast, Ryan wrote.

While the Continentals were otherwise engaged, the British returned and set Bedford aflame.

To read more of Ryan’s account, click here.

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