Henry Beekman Livingston was born on November 9, 1750. He was the sonof Judge Robert Livingston and Margaret Beekman. This scion of a politicallyprominent family grew up at Clermont Manor on the Hudson River .With the outbreak of the War of Independence, Livingston received anappointment as a captain in the 4
New York Regiment on June 28, 1775. That command had been authorized by the Continental Congress on May 25, 1775, toserve out the year. It consisted of ten companies drawn from Ulster , Duchess,Orange , and Suffolk Counties . The 1
, and 4
New York Regimentsmarched north to participate in the Rebel invasion of Canada . Captain Livingstonwas detached from his regiment in July to serve as an aide-de-camp to BrigadierGeneral Richard Montgomery, a former officer of the British Army who had married
the captain’s sister Janet on July 24, 1773.
Livingston followed his brother-in-law to
the gates of Quebec , where the latter fell trying to storm the city’s works on
December 31, 1775. After that disaster, Livingston learned that Congress had voted
to award him a sword worth $100 for his role in Montgomery ’s earlier victory at
Chambly . Promoted to major, Livingston joined the staff of Major General PhilipSchuyler in February 1776 and served again as an aide-de-camp until November of that year.New York raised a new 4
Regiment consisting of eight companies in the
spring of 1776 to serve once again to the year’s end.
The devastatingly successfulcampaign that General William Howe conducted to capture New York City taught Continental authorities the folly of short-term enlistments. The 4
New York Regiment was accordingly resurrected early in 1777 with men enlisted for threeyears or the duration. Henry Beekman Livingston had been named colonel of thisthird incarnation of the 4
New York on November 21, 1776. He would go on to
lead the regiment through the Battle of Freeman’s Farm in 1777, the winter
encampment at Valley Forge , and the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Livingstonresigned his commission and returned to civilian life on January 13, 1779. ColonelLivingston married Anne Hume Shippen, the daughter of Dr. William Shippen, onMarch 11, 1781. He would go on to live a long life, dying on November 5, 1831, at the age of eighty.In this magnificent portrait miniature by Charles Willson Peale, ColonelLivingston wears a white regimental coat with scarlet facings and lining.
The coat’sbuttons are gilt, and a gold epaulette adorns Livingston ’s right shoulder.
(As a fieldofficer, he probably also sports an epaulette on his left shoulder). He wears a whiteruffled shirt with a white neck stock.
Livingston ’s waistcoat, however, is scarlet,
and it is trimmed down the front with gold lace and gilt buttons. The colonel wearshis hair powdered and
with side curls.
Livingston ’s por
trait confirms the written record. In late 1778, the rank andfile of the 4
New York Regiment received white coats with red facings andlining. In an additional touch of sartorial splendor, these garments had brass