Peter Gansevoort Jr. was born into the Dutch aristocracy of Albany to Harman Gansevoort (1712–1801) and Magdalena Douw (1718–1796). His younger brother Leonard Gansevoort, was politically active, serving in the state assembly and senate, as well as the Continental Congress.
Peter Gansevoort joined the Albany County militia, was given a commission by Philip Schuyler, and then participated in the Invasion of Quebec (June 1775 – October 1776), the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Gansevoort served in the expedition that left Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 under Richard Montgomery. He led the regiment during the siege of Fort St. Jean.
In late October, to improve the effect of the siege, Montgomery sent Gansevoort and his men down the river to seize Fort Chambly, where they captured over 120 barrels of gunpowder and a large mortar, which they nicknamed the Old Sow, with which Montgomery fired on and captured Fort St. Johns.
Gansevoort took part in the assault on Montreal which nearly captured British General Guy Carleton, but during the march to Quebec City he had to be carried on a stretcher due to illness.
After the invasion collapsed at Quebec City in the spring of 1776, (during which Montgomery was killed and Benedict Arnold wounded), he led the remaining New York forces south in a fighting withdrawal that stopped the British advance at Lake Champlain. In June 1776, he was assigned to command Fort George at the south end of Lake George.
In November of 1776, Gansevoort was promoted to Colonel and given command of the 3rd New York Regiment, which he recruited and trained in early 1777. Lt. Colonel Marinus Willett became his second in command. There area of responsibility was from the Hudson River and Fort Edward and Fort George, along the Mohawk River to Fort Oswego in the northwest, the area included the path of the British attack from the west to take Albany.
Gansevoort successfully defended Fort Stanwix in 1777 during the Siege of Fort Stanwix against the allied British and Indigenous forces under Brigadier General Barry St. Leger, preventing their joining with General John Burgoyne at the Battles of Saratoga. He afterward moved his headquarters to Fort Saratoga in what is now Schuylerville, Saratoga County.
He took part in the Sullivan Clinton Expedition of 1779 under Generals John Sullivan and James Clinton. The campaign’s goal was to completely destroy the principal villages and food supplies of the Cayuga and Seneca Indian Nations.
After the war, Gansevoort continued lived in Albany where he operated the family brewery. He expanded his farms, adding grist mills and a lumber mill, in the area that eventually became Gansevoort, NY.
In 1790, he served as sheriff of Albany County, an as a commissioner of Indian affairs. In the Election of 1800, he ran for US Senator from New York but was defeated by Gouverneur Morris of the Federalist Party.
In 1809, he was made a Brigadier General in the United States Army and commanded the Army’s Northern Department. He was in active command at the outbreak of the War of 1812 but, died July 2nd 1812 at the age of 63.
On Saturday, August 19, 2023 at 11 am at Albany Rural Cemetery, the Gansevoort Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will dedicate a plaque at the Gansevoort’s grave in Section 55, Lot 1 of the cemetery just north of Albany.
The public is invited to this free event. Follow event signs for parking and transportation will be available to the dedication site.
Illustrations, from above: Detail from a portrait of Gansevoort by Gilbert Stuart, 1794; and a Gansevoort statue in Rome, NY, site of Fort Stanwix.