YORKTOWN, NY – After nearly a decade of effort by local historians, a piece of Yorktown’s Revolutionary War history will now be preserved. On the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Pine’s Bridge, which took place on May 15, 1787, the town’s Pines Bridge Memorial Plaza and Walkway will be officially unveiled tomorrow.
Funding for the $250,00 project came from a variety of private and government sources, including a $50,000 State and Municipal Grant secured by the office of former State Senator Terrence Murphy.
Matt Slater, candidate for Yorktown Supervisor and former Chief of Staff for Senator Murphy, praised the community effort to preserve an important part of the town’s past. “People often forget how rich our region is with history dating back to the Revolutionary War,” Slater said. “The efforts by the Yorktown Historical Society, Michael Kahn, Town Planner John Tegeder and the Yorktown Planning Department will ensure future generations know about the important role our town played during our nation’s fight for independence and the story of the Rhode Island Regiment in particular.”
Though the colonists ultimately lost the Battle of Pine’s Bridge, it was one of the most heated engagements involving the Rhode Island Regiment, which was one of the first racially integrated units fielded in battle by American forces. The Rhode Island Regiment integrated European, African and Native American soldiers more than 150 years before the United States Army officially took similar action under President Truman in 1948. The unit suffered 14 killed and 30 captured while defending the Croton River against the British at the Pine’s Bridge crossing. The unit’s commander, Colonel Christopher Greene, and its executive officer, Major Nathaniel Flagg, were executed by loyalist guerrillas and are now interred near the First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown.
Former State Senator Terrence Murphy added, “I am proud to have been able to support this important memorial during my time in the State Senate. During a time when history seems to have taken a back seat in our culture, it is refreshing to be a part of a community that embraces its history and protects it for future generations to learn from.”
Under the Grace Administration, the Pines Bridge Memorial received two installments from the Town of Yorktown totaling $167,500. Originally to be displayed at Downing Park, the monument and plaza were relocated to Railroad Park in the Heights Hamlet.
Yorktown Councilman Tom Diana added, “As a lifelong resident of Yorktown I am thrilled to see this important historical memorial and plaza be completed. All good things come to those who wait and I thank everyone who helped pitch in to make this a reality.”
Yorktown Councilman Ed Lachterman stated, “I am proud to have been part of a town board that not only recognized, but took action, to promote the historical significance of Yorktown. All of the hard work that went into this has finally paid off. I would like to especially thank the Pines Bridge Committee for their dedication, and of course, Lorraine DeSisto who unfortunately passed before its completion.”
Commemorative bricks will remain on sale to raise funds for the memorial and be installed annually at similar events to commemorate the Battle of Pine’s Bridge.
As Senator Murphy’s Chief of Staff, Slater was instrumental in maximizing the project’s funding. Originally, State Senator Greg Ball provided a $50,000 grant through the Community Capital Assistance Program in 2012. CCAP grants can benefit municipalities and non-profits. In 2015, Slater reprogrammed the original money to support Putnam ARC, while securing a $50,000 appropriation from the State and Municipal Facilities Program, which directly supports municipal projects. Ultimately, it was the funding from the 2015 allocation that was used to complete the Pines Bridge Monument while Putnam ARC was able to renovate their headquarters in Carmel.