American Patriot, Revolutionary War Hero. Hailed as a martyr to the cause of American liberty, General Nathaniel Woodhull was compelled to surrender in the wake of the Battle of Long Island, and as a prisoner of war, was struck down and mortally wounded by his British captors. Born into a prominent Long Island family, he was a gentleman farmer and capable army officer who had gained valuable experience during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), rising to the rank of colonel. He later married Ruth Floyd, also a member of a distinguished Long Island family, and entered politics as a Whig, advocating American independence and opposing anti-colonial legislation such as the Stamp Act of 1765. He was elected to the Colonial Assembly in 1769, and in 1775 served as president of the Provincial Congress. Appointed a brigadier general that same year, he was responsible for preparing the militia to help repel the British invasion of New York. At the Battle of Long Island, however, the American defenders were overwhelmed by Major General Sir William Howe's troops, the largest British force deployed during the entire war. After the battle Woodhull was ordered to herd all cattle in the area away from the advancing enemy, a task complicated by a severe thunderstorm. Pausing at Carpenter's Tavern in Jamaica, Queens, on August 28, 1776, he was surrounded and captured by British dragoons. According to legend, when one of their officers demanded that he say "God save the King!", Woodhull responded, "God save us all!". The dragoon consequently slashed at the prisoner's head and arm with a cutlass until a second British officer intervened. The wounded American general was then incarcerated on one of the notorious prison ships in Wallabout Bay, where his condition continued to deteriorate for want of a surgeon to amputate his mangled arm. Mrs. Woodhull succeeded in obtaining her husband's release so that the necessary operation might be performed, but amputation failed to stop the infection that had developed, and the 54-year-old general died of gangrene three weeks after the attack. He was buried in the Woodhull family's burial ground, located on Cranberry Drive near West Elm Road in Mastic Beach, Long Island, approximately 70 miles from New York City. A monument in Brooklyn's New Utrecht Dutch Reformed Cemetery was also erected in the general's honor.
Bio by: Nikita Barlow
Ruth Floyd Woodhull